Amir, ten years old, abducted by Israeli soldiers from his bed

Nora Barrows-Friedman writing from Hebron, occupied West Bank, Live from Palestine,

March 8 2010

Amir and his mother just hours before he was abducted by Israeli soldiers. (Nora Barrows-Friedman)
Amir al-Mohtaseb smiled tenderly when I asked him to tell me his favorite color. Sitting in his family’s living room last Thursday afternoon, 4 March, in the Old City of Hebron, the ten-year-old boy with freckles and long eyelashes softly replied, “green.” He then went on to describe in painful detail his arrest and detention — and the jailing of his 12-year-old brother Hasan by Israeli occupation soldiers on Sunday, 28 February.

Hours after our interview, at 2am, Israeli soldiers would break into the house, snatch Amir from his bed, threaten his parents with death by gunfire if they tried to protect him, and take him downstairs under the stairwell. They would beat him so badly that he would bleed internally into his abdomen, necessitating overnight hospitalization. In complete shock and distress, Amir would not open his mouth to speak for another day and a half.

In our interview that afternoon before the brutal assault, Amir said that on the 28th, he was playing in the street near the Ibrahimi Mosque, on his way with Hasan to see their aunt.

“Two of the soldiers stopped us and handcuffed us,” Amir said. “They brought us to two separate jeeps. They took me to the settlement and put me in a corner. I still had handcuffs on. They put a dog next to me. I said that I wanted to go home. They said no, and told me I would stay here forever. They refused to let me use the bathroom. They wouldn’t let me call my mother. They blindfolded me and I stayed there like that until my father was able to come and get me late at night.”

Amir’s detention inside the settlement lasted nearly ten hours. “The only thing that I thought about was how afraid I was, especially with the dog beside me. I wanted to run away and go back to my house,” he said.

Amir and Hasan’s mother, Mukarrem, told me that Amir immediately displayed signs of trauma when he returned home. “He was trying to tell me a joke, and trying to laugh. But it was not normal laughter. He was happy and terrified at the same time,” she said. “He wet himself at some point during the detention. He was extremely afraid.”

Amir revealed that he hadn’t been able to sleep in the nights following his detention, worried sick about his brother in jail and extremely afraid that the soldiers would come back (which, eventually, they did). Today, approximately 350 children are languishing inside Israeli prisons and detention camps, enduring interrogation, torture and indefinite sentences, sometimes without charge. The number fluctuates constantly, but thousands of Palestinian children between the ages of 12 and 16 have moved through the Israeli military judicial system over the past decade since the outbreak of the second Palestinian intifada. Israel designates 18 as the age of adulthood for its own citizens, but through a military order, and against international law, Israel mandates 16 as the age of adulthood for Palestinians. Additionally, Israel has special military orders (#1644 and #132) to be able to arrest and judge Palestinian children — termed “juvenile delinquents” — as young as 12 years old.

“This way, they have a ‘legal’ cover for what they are doing, even though this is against international laws,” said Abed Jamal, a researcher at Defence for Children International-Palestine Section’s (DCI-PS) Hebron office. “However, in Amir’s case, they broke even their own laws by arresting and detaining him as a ten-year-old boy. These laws are obviously changeable according to Israel’s whim. We have yet to see a prosecution for crimes such as these.”

I asked Amir and Hasan’s father, Fadel, to describe how one is able to parent effectively under this kind of constant siege.

“It’s not safe for the children to go outside because we’ve faced constant attacks by the settlers and the soldiers,” he explained. “This by itself is unimaginable for us. And now, we have one son in jail and another traumatized … they’re so young.”

On Sunday, 7 March, exactly a week after Hasan’s arrest and Amir’s detention, the family and members of the local media made an early-morning journey to Ofer prison where Hasan had been held since his initial arrest. After a lengthy process in which the Israeli military judge admitted that the boy was too young to stay in prison, Hasan was released on the condition that he would come back to the court to finish the trial at a later date. This trial followed the initial hearing last Wednesday at Ofer, where Maan News Agency reported that the judge insisted that Fadel pay the court 2,000 shekels ($530) for Hasan’s bail. According to Maan, Fadel then publicly asked the court, “What law allows a child to be tried in court and then asks his father to pay a fine? I will not pay the fine, and you have to release my child … This is the law of Israel’s occupation.”

Consumed by their sons’ situations, Mukarrem and Fadel say they are trying to do the best for their family under attack. “What can we do?” asked Fadel. “We lock the doors. We lock the windows. We have nothing with which to protect our family and our neighbors from the soldiers or the settlers. If a Palestinian kidnapped and beat and jailed an Israeli child, the whole world would be up in arms about it. It would be all over the media. But the Israelis, they come into our communities with jeeps and tanks and bulldozers, they take our children and throw them into prison, and no one cares.”

DCI-PS’s Jamal reiterates the point that international laws made to protect children under military occupation have been ignored by Israel since the occupation began in 1967. “Most of the time, we try to do our best to use the law, the Geneva Conventions, the UN Convention for the Rights of the Child as weapons against this brutality,” said Jamal. “All of these laws exist, but Israel uses their own military laws as excuses to defy international law. As Palestinians, we have to work together to create solidarity against this brutality. Through our work, we try to tell the international community what’s going on with Palestinian children to create a wide berth of support against this situation. We believe that the only way this will stop is through the support of the international community.”

Amir slowly began speaking again 36 hours after the beating by Israeli soldiers. Zahira Meshaal, a Bethlehem-based social worker specializing in the effects of trauma in children, said that Amir’s “elective mutism,” a symptom of extreme psychological shock caused by his beating and detention, is a common response, but that it is a good sign that he began talking again. “This is a reaction of fear on many levels. Amir’s house and his family are his only source of security,” said Meshaal. “This was taken away from him the moment the soldiers invaded his home. It’s easy to attend to the immediate trauma, but the long-term effects will undoubtedly be difficult to address. He’ll need a lot of mental health services from now on.”

Meshaal comments on the nature of this attack in the context of the unraveling situation inside Hebron. “We are talking about a place that is on the front lines of trauma,” she said. “This is an ongoing and growing injury to the entire community. Parents have to be a center of security for their children, but that’s being taken away from them. Especially in Hebron, the Israeli settlers and soldiers know this, and use this tactic to force people to leave the area. It’s a war of psychology. This is a deliberate act to make the children afraid and force people to leave so that their children can feel safer.”

At the end of our interview last Thursday, Amir sent a message to American children. “We are kids, just like you. We have the right to play, to move freely. I want to tell the world that there are so many kids inside the Israeli jails. We just want to have freedom of movement, the freedom to play.” Amir said that he wants to be a heart surgeon when he grows up. His mother and father told me that they hope Amir’s own heart — and theirs — heals from last week’s repetitive and cumulative trauma at the hands of the interminable Israeli occupation.

Source

This is everyday life for those in the West Bank. This not how children should be treated.

Related

The systematic and institutionalised ill-treatment and torture of Palestinian children by Israeli authorities

There are also two other very good reports on the Prison system run by Israel. One for Adults and one for Children HERE as well . Be sure to read them and then maybe you will understand just how horrible things really are for Palestinians. International Laws are defiantly broken and often.

No democratic country, with the exception of the US with their prison system like Guantanamo  for Prisoners of war, does this to people.

A Palestinian student has been handcuffed, blindfolded and forcibly expelled to the Gaza

How would you feel if these things were done to your children? Children should not live in constant fear.

Terrorizing children. You don’t want to know what I am thinking, really you don’t.

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Published in: on March 9, 2010 at 8:49 am  Comments Off on Amir, ten years old, abducted by Israeli soldiers from his bed  
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E-book on Jewish National Fund’s role in colonization of Palestine

Released March 7, 2010

Edited by Mortaza Sahibzada, JNF: Colonising Palestine since 1901

Press release, Scottish Palestine Solidarity Campaign, 16 February 2010

The Scottish Palestine Solidarity Campaign has published an e-book on the Jewish National Fund (JNF) that meets a need for an affordable introduction to the activities of the JNF, an organization supported financially by the British taxpayer but whose activities in Israel/ Palestine are politically-driven, and whose politics are nakedly racist. This little book reveals how a British charity works openly for the dispossession of Palestinian Arabs and the establishment of fully segregated Jewish-only communities and areas that exclude Arabs.

The book explains why, when the JNF Committee sought legal advice from England in 1905 as to the possibility of registering as a charity, their legal advisors were unanimous that it would be impossible:

“We therefore conclude that the purpose of the Fund will be a political rather than a charitable one and that limiting the Fund’s use to strictly charitable purposes would run counter to the main purpose of the Fund …”

The JNF initially failed to secure charitable status, being refused by the House of Lords in 1932, but it now enjoys charitable status for activities that would be illegal if carried out in the countries where it raises the funds, including the UK where the JNF enjoys the patronage of Prime Minister Gordon Brown and the leaders of the other two main political parties.

Edited by Mortaza Sahibzada, JNF: Colonising Palestine since 1901 is available for download from the Scottish Palestine Solidarity Campaign.

Ilan Pappe’s introduction reveals through the open commitment of the JNF’s founders to the expulsion, what is today termed “ethnic cleansing,” of the native Palestinians and their replacement by Jewish immigrants. Pappe discusses the JNF’s success in obtaining much of the land pillaged from the Palestinians by the Zionist militias through murder and violence in 1948 and its effective control of much more through its role as an agent of the State of Israel in keeping almost all the land surface of Israel for exclusively Jewish ownership at the expense of Israel’s one million Palestinian citizens. The author shows the JNF’s audacity in presenting itself as a “green” movement as it plants trees with the express aim of obliterating all traces of ethnically cleansed and destroyed Palestinian communities.

Abe Hayeem of Architects and Planners for Justice in Palestine analyses the intense politicization of Israeli architects and their complicity in Zionist war crimes. While the JNF was intimately involved in the racially-driven confiscation of Palestinian lands, architects also worked easily in the nightmare world of legally-designated “Present Absentees,” i.e. Palestinians still inside Israel after 1948 but whose land was slated for transfer to exclusively Jewish ownership. Bringing the story up to date, Hayeem notes the JNF’s involvement in illegal confiscation operation on behalf of the Israeli state, in collusion with illegal settlers in the occupied West Bank, the intimidation of Palestinian land-owners by Jewish authorities, and the complicity of the country’s architects in racist schemes to oppress and dispossess Palestinians.

Uri Davis examines the British Park, proclaimed in a sign there as “a gift of the Jewish National Fund of Great Britain.” The British Park is built on the ethnically cleansed Palestinian villages of Ajjur and Zakariyya, making the UK JNF complicit in war crimes and unfit for charitable status on grounds of multiple violations of international humanitarian law. Astonishingly, Prof. Davis alleges that the British Park is used to store some of Israel’s nuclear weapons of mass destruction.

Susannah Tarbush looks at Gordon Brown’s decision to become a Patron of the JNF on his arrival in 10 Downing St, shortly after the Israeli Knesset passed a racist law confirming the apartheid nature of JNF-controlled lands in Israel, forbidding their transfer to any non-Jew. She deals with the petition from Architects and Planners for Justice in Palestine and the inevitable accusation from Israelis that the British architects who criticized the JNF’s involvement in human rights violations as “anti-Semitic.”

Sonja Karkar criticizes Australian PM John Howard for allowing a JNF park to be named after him in the Negev, where the Israeli system of apartheid takes the form of forcing the local Bedouin Arabs off their land and into villages that the government they are citizens of refuses to recognize or supply with basic services. The John Howard Park shares the Negev with Government crop-spraying aircraft which destroy the Bedouin’s crops.

Ben White, author of Israeli Apartheid: A Beginner’s Guide, tackles the Kafka-esque mind-game of an Israeli park being dedicated to Black civil rights leader Martin Luther King, the non-Jewish property owners being categorized as “present absentees,” and the fruits of Zionist ethnic cleansing supposedly “perpetuating the message of equality and peace.” White shows how the attempt to associate the Zionist colonial venture with the US civil rights movement comes up against the harsh reality of Israeli ethnic cleansing with the JNF center stage.

In similar vein, Raheli Mizrahi argues that the Venezuelan and Bolivian governments should take action against their local JNF bodies and deny the Israelis the ideological cover provided by their appropriation of the symbols of the anti-colonial struggle in South America. She touches on the sometimes cruel treatment of Arab, notably Yemeni, Jews in Israel.

The authors of the closing remarks section report on the intra-Zionist discussions at a London JNF fundraiser before their vocal protest at the JNF’s ongoing land theft and racism.

Seven appendices contain important documents relating to the struggle to end the impunity the JNF derives from official support in many countries.

Download the full report [PDF]

Source

The Report is well worth reading. Some Charity.You don’t want to know what I am thinking, really you don’t.

Another Israeli Charity.

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BADIL RESOURCE CENTER: Israel penalising Nakba commemoration: one more step down the path of Apartheid

March 3 2010

The Israeli parliamentary Law Committee has recently approved a law proposal the (“Nakba bill”) that, if passed by the Knesset, would impose economic sanctions on the organizers of Nakba commemorations. Every year in May, Palestinians and supporters of their right of return commemorate the Nakba of 1948, which marks the single most traumatic and far-reaching event in the long and ongoing process of forced displacement and dispossession of the Palestinian people by the state of Israel. Nakba commemorations are important events in Israel, where some 335,000 Palestinians, citizens of Israel, continue to be denied their right to return to their homes, lands and communities, and are forced to live as internally displaced persons within their own country. Read More…

Jeff Halper: An Israeli in Palestine
Jeff Halper immigrated to Israel near the end of the sixties. As a peace activist he then founded The Israeli Committee Against Home Demolitions to protect and rebuild the Palestinian homes destroyed by Israeli bulldozers.

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Published in: on March 7, 2010 at 3:00 pm  Comments Off on E-book on Jewish National Fund’s role in colonization of Palestine  
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Israel on Trial – The Russell Tribunal on Palestine

March 5 2010

The first session of The Russell Tribunal on Palestine (RTP) has found European Union member States to be in Breach of International and internal European Union Law with respect to the protection of Palestinian human rights.

Full findings here.

The jury, comprised of eminent legal experts and human rights defenders heard two days of reports from international experts and witnesses on the issues of:

  • the principle of respect for the right of the Palestinian people to self-determination;
  • the settlements and the plundering of natural resources;
  • the annexation of East Jerusalem;
  • the blockade of Gaza and operation Cast Lead;
  • the construction of the Wall in the Occupied Palestinian Territory;
  • the European Union/Israel Association Agreement.
  • The RTP found that Israel was violating the Palestinian right to self determination as enshrined in The Declaration on the granting of independence to colonial countries and peoples (A/Res. 1514(XV), 14 Dec. 1960) and all United Nations General Assembly (NGA) resolutions that have reaffirmed the right of the Palestinian people to self-determination since 1969 (A/Res. 2535 B (XXIV), 10 Dec. 1969, and, inter alia, A/Res. 3236 (XXIX), 22 Nov. 1974, 52/114, 12 Dec. 1997, etc);

    Furthermore, by occupying Palestinian territories since June 1967 and refusing to leave them, Israel violates the Security Council resolutions that demand its withdrawal from the territories concerned (SC/Res. 242, 22 Nov. 1967; 338, 22 Oct. 1973)

    The RTP also found Israel´s discriminatory acts towards Palestinian populations inside Israeli territory and occupied Palestinian territory as violating the Convention on the Suppression and Punishment of the Crime of Apartheid of 18 July 1976, which is not binding on Israel, though this does not exonerate Israel in that regard.

    The acts include the closure of the borders of the Gaza Strip and restrictions on the freedom of movement of its inhabitants; prevention of the return of Palestinian refugees to their home or land of origin; prohibition on the free use by Palestinians of certain natural resources such as the watercourses within their land.

    By annexing Jerusalem in July 1980 and maintaining the annexation, Israel violates the prohibition of the acquisition of territory by force, as stated by the Security Council (SC/Res. 478, 20 August 1980).

    By constructing a Wall in the West Bank on Palestinian territory that it occupies, Israel denies the Palestinians access to their own land, violates their property rights and seriously restricts the freedom of movement of the Palestinian population, thereby violating article 12 of the International Covenant on Civil and Political rights to which Israel has been a party since 3 October 1991; the illegality of the construction of the Wall was confirmed by the International Court of Justice (ICJ) in its Advisory Opinion of 9 July 2004, which was endorsed by the UNGA in its resolution ES-10/15.

    By systematically building settlements in Jerusalem and the West Bank, Israel breaches the rules of international humanitarian law governing occupation, in particular article 49 of the Fourth General Convention of 12 August 1949, by which Israel has been bound since 6 July 1951. This point was noted by the ICJ in the above-mentioned Advisory Opinion.

    By pursuing a policy of targeted killings against Palestinians whom it describes as “terrorists” without first attempting to arrest them, Israel violates the right to life of the persons concerned, a right enshrined in article 6 of the Covenant on Civil and Political Rights 1966.

    By maintaining a blockade on the Gaza Strip in breach of the provisions of the Fourth Geneva Convention of 12 August 1949 (art. 33), which prohibits collective punishment.

    By inflicting extensive and serious damage, especially on persons and civilian property, and by using prohibited methods of combat during operation “Cast Lead” in Gaza (December 2008 – January 2009).

    EU member states were found to be violating provisions of the Lisbon Treaty (2010) including foundational principles of the EU itself as set down in article 2 which confirms attachment ´to the values of respect for human dignity, freedom, democracy, equality, the rule of law and respect for human rights´.

    EU states as high contracting parties to the Geneva Conventions 1949 were found to be breaching elementary obligations of due diligence and ensurance of peremptory legal norms which cannot be derogated from, by failing to react to and remedy violations of the convention committed by Israel. As such they were found to be assisting Israel in its breaches of international law.

    Article 146 compels EU Member states ´to undertake to enact any legislation necessary to provide effective penal sanctions for persons committing, or ordering to be committed, any of the grave breaches of the present Convention defined in the following Article.´

    Grave breaches include: wilful killing, torture or inhuman treatment, including biological experiments, wilfully causing great suffering or serious injury to body or health, unlawful deportation or transfer or unlawful confinement of a protected person, compelling a protected person to serve in the forces of a hostile Power, or wilfully depriving a protected person of the rights of fair and regular trial and extensive destruction and appropriation of property, not justified by military necessity and carried out unlawfully and wantonly.

    International Law Commission articles on state responsibility for wrongful acts were found to apply to EU member states as is the 1966 covenant on Civil and Political Rights which states:

    ´Every State has the duty to promote through joint and separate action universal respect for and observance of human rights and fundamental freedoms in accordance with the Charter´.

    Reports from experts brought to light passive and active forms of assistance in the alleged commission of breaches by the EU and its member states particularly through:

  • exports of weapons and components of weapons by EU states to Israel, some of which were used during the conflict in Gaza in December 2008 and January 2009;
  • exports of produce from settlements in occupied territories to the EU;
  • participation by the settlements in European research programmes;
  • failure of the EU to complain about the destruction by Israel of infrastructure in Gaza during the Cast Lead operation;
  • failure of the EU to demand Israeli compliance with clauses concerning respect for human rights contained in the various association agreements concluded by the EU with Israel;
  • the decision by the EU to upgrade its relations with Israel under the Euro-Mediterranean Partnership Agreement;
  • tolerance by the EU and its member states of certain economic relations between European companies and Israel involving commercial projects in the occupied territories, such as the management of the Tovlan lan/ite in the Jordan valley and the construction of a tramline in East Jerusalem.
  • The participation of illegal Israeli settlements in European research programmes, the failure of the EU to complain during the Cast Lead operation about the destruction by Israel of infrastructure that the EU had funded in Gaza, and the (proposed) upgrading of bilateral relations between the EU and Israel are characterized by a number of experts as assistance to Israel in its alleged violations of international law.

    In conclusion of the first Barcelona session, the RTP calls on:

    (i) the EU and its member states to fulfil its obligations forthwith by rectifying the breaches specified in the final ruling

    (ii) the EU in particular to implement the EU Parliament resolution requiring the suspension of the EU-Israel Association Agreement and thereby putting an end to the impunity that Israel has benefited from until now.

    (iii) EU Member states to implement the recommendation at para 1975 (a) of the UN Fact Finding Mission Report on the Gaza Conflict (Goldstone Report) regarding the collection of evidence and the exercise of UJ against Israeli and Palestinian suspects; and

    (iv) EU Member states to repeal of any requirements in any member state that a suspect must be a resident of that member state or of any impediments to the compliance with the duty to prosecute or extradite for trial all suspected war criminals sought out by the member states

    (v) EU Member states to ensure that UJ laws and procedures are made as effective as possible in practice, including through co-ordination and the implementation of agreements on the mutual co-operation of states on criminal matters, through the EU contact points on cross-border and international crime, EUROPOL and INTERPOL etc.

    (vi) EU Member states to make no regressive changes that would blunt the effect of existing Universal Jurisdiction laws, so as to ensure that no EU member state becomes a safe haven for suspected war criminals

    (vii) The Parliaments of Austria, France, Greece and Italy to pass laws providing the penal legislation required by article 146 IVGC to enable UJ to be exercised in those countries.

    (viii) individuals, groups and organisations to take all avenues open to them to achieve compliance by EU member states and the EU of their aforementioned obligations, as exemplified by the use of universal jurisdiction over individual criminal suspects, domestic civil proceedings against individual governments and/or their departments or agencies and private companies, in respect of which it is the intention of the RTP to commission and/or encourage others to commission research into which countries and jurisdictions these matters can most effectively be pursued; and

    (ix) the existing legal actions and campaigns in the context of BDS to be stepped up and widened within the EU and globally.

    The Russell Tribunal on Palestine calls on the European Union and on each of its member states to impose the necessary sanctions on its partner Israel through diplomatic, trade and cultural measures in order to end the impunity that it has enjoyed for decades. Should the EU lack the necessary courage to do so, the Tribunal counts on the citizens of Europe to bring the necessary pressure to bear on it by all appropriate means.

    CONTACT – Russel Tribunal on Palestine Co-ordinator Frank Barat 0044 771 8998 695 russelltribunal@yahoo.co.uk

    Source

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    Assassination latest act in nightmare without end


    Mahmoud al-Mabhouh’s mother holds up a photo of her murdered son. Photo / AP
    February 28 2010

    By Matt McCarten

    It’s sad but not a surprise that we don’t hear so much as a peep from our Government or the United States over the assassination of Hamas leader Mahmoud al-Mabhouh.

    Could you imagine the world outrage if Hamas stole the passports from other countries’ citizens to use as cover for an execution squad?

    Imagine the shrill condemnation if they tricked an Israeli military leader to travel to another country where he or she was ambushed and throttled to death.

    Imagine a death squad of up to 26 assassins infiltrating a neutral country to carry out such an atrocity.

    It seems we can’t get over the myth we’ve created of the little plucky nation of Israel defending itself against the Islamic hordes intent on destroying them.

    The fact is Israel has the fourth largest military machine in the world and is the only nuclear power in the region.

    Israelis think it’s acceptable to have their country, that was built on the theft of land and the homes of the original inhabitants and that imprisons the entire Palestinian people, and then arm themselves with nuclear missiles to intimidate any country that objects.

    It is the sole superpower in the region backed up by the only world superpower. It’s a different story for Iran, which has its two closest neighbours invaded and occupied by massive hostile armies.

    It is surreal that our news of the killing of al-Mabhouh is focused on passport thefts rather than the cynicism of a rogue nation that feels a God-given right to assassinate its enemies as it sees fit.

    The posturing from those nations, who had their citizens’ identities used as aliases for terrorism, is pathetic.

    The best they could come up with is calling in the Israeli ambassador for a telling off. Without doubt, these victims of passport theft will be on the international terrorist watch list whenever they travel.

    When their governments are pushed about what actions will be taken against Israel for putting their citizens in danger, they retreat into gobbledygook. Israel is already gloating that these protests are just for show and will die down soon enough. That is until next time it decides to murder someone.

    The international media seem more interested in the mechanics of murder. There’s certainly no discussion about sanctions against Israel or calling for the murderers to be extradited to face justice.

    It is almost accepted that it’s okay for Israel to entrap and murder its enemies as some sort of pre-emptive strike.

    I will assume al-Mabhouh was indeed a leader of Hamas prepared to import arms into Gaza. But this is a land where almost a million and a half citizens are walled off from the rest of the world by Israel and being bled into submission. Nothing goes in and nothing out.

    The Palestinian people there are in desperate peril, yet the rest of the world ignores their plight. When these people try to fight back with home-made bombs they are invaded, their civilians massacred and their homes levelled.

    Israel keeps the media away, then denies its atrocities and attacks anyone who tries to tell the truth.

    So Palestinians see people like al-Mabhouh as freedom fighters fighting for them.

    The twisted and ugly truth is Hamas was actually created and funded by Israel to undermine the secular, nationalist Fatah. Now it’s backfired.

    Fatah would do anything for a deal with Israel, but can’t because of Hamas.

    So everyone in Israel and Palestine is stuck in a revolving nightmare with no end.

    Peace will only come when Israel admits it has visited a monstrous evil against the land’s indigenous people and that a genuine settlement can only be reached if it gives up some of its stolen land, pays compensation for the rest and recognises an independent state of Palestine.

    Instead it thinks it can continue to use brute force to impose its will on the weak and hunt down and murder those who dare to fight back.

    This is a nation gone mad. It’s worse than terrorism.

    Source

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    To Israel Hamas is not al-Qaida

    The two are radically different – the position of the democratically elected Hamas is about land, not religion, creed or race.

    September 21 2009

    By Anas Altikriti

    The exiled Democratically elected Hamas leader, Khaled MeshalThe exiled Hamas leader, Khaled Meshal, speaking at a press conference in Damascus in 2008. Photograph: Louai Beshara/AFP/Getty

    The New Statesman’s interview with Khaled Meshal, the Hamas leader, was one of the most significant interviews with the leading figure in a movement that has been demonised and excommunicated by most of the western world and its media. The fact that Meshal realises that his words will be scrutinised by his allies and supporters as closely as his adversaries confirms that he speaks of the official position of Hamas on a number of crucial issues which the pro-Israel propaganda apparatus has managed to manipulate for so long.

    Arguably, the most important assertion made in the interview, conducted by Ken Livingstone, is that in which Meshal clearly stated that the Palestinian struggle was anything but a conflict between Muslims and the Jewish people. He insisted that the Palestinians were fighting against the occupier who had dispossessed them of their homes and lands, regardless of religion, creed or race. He also went on to confirm that the concept of coexistence was largely present in the Palestinian psyche, and that genocide, as suffered by Jews in Europe (and which he described as “horrible and criminal”) was alien not only to the Palestinians but to the inhabitants of the region as a whole.

    His statement that Jews, Muslims and Christians had for centuries lived side by side – implying there was nothing intrinsic to prevent this happening again in the future – is crucial. This mirrors Ismail Haniyeh’s response, after he became prime minister in 2006, to the question of whether the Palestinians wished to throw the Jews into the sea: “Does a besieged people that is waiting breathlessly for a ship to come from the sea want to throw the Jews into the ocean? Our conflict is not with the Jews, our problem is with the occupation.”

    This unequivocal stand is one that ought to be welcomed by Jewish communities around the world. Rather than the fear-mongering tactics of the Israeli media machine, particularly during the Gaza attack earlier this year, warning Jews of imminent attacks against them and their facilities, Meshal was sending a clear message of assurance that the Palestinian struggle was political rather than religious and about real political grievances and not against the Jewish people per se. This comes after Meshal had himself publicly rejected any attack committed anywhere in the world which exploited the premise of the Palestinian struggle.

    His comments on democracy were equally enlightening. He explained that since the Palestinian people included the entire political, religious and ideological spectrums, Hamas would abide by the outcome of their vote, respect the rights of different faiths and political views, and refrain from imposing Islamic law against the wishes of the people. This position has been condemned by al-Qaida and the leading Salafi-jihadi theologian Abu Muhammad al-Maqdisi who stated that they and Hamas shared “neither ideology nor doctrine”.

    Meshal’s interview was denounced by Foreign Office minister Ivan Lewis on grounds that would equally exclude the government from talking to Israel were it not for the double standards applied to Palestine and the Middle East. Indeed, the very fact that Ivan Lewis should be made a minister with responsibility for the Middle East, given his clear bias as a former deputy leader of the Labour Friends of Israel, is a sad indication of how little interest it displays in convincing people of any kind of fairness in its approach to this part of the world.

    The British government led the way in proscribing Hamas when the Islamic movement won the majority of seats in the Palestinian parliament in January 2006. More recently it is reported that the British government has been heavily involved in training and supporting the security forces of the Palestinian Authority in the West Bank, which have been accused of imprisoning, torturing and physically abusing members of Hamas and other political factions. While finding time to condemn an interview in a weekly magazine, neither Ivan Lewis nor the British government as a whole has accepted the finding of the authoritative UN report on Gaza authored by a committee led by a South African judge well known for his support for Israel, which condemned Israel for war crimes and possibly even crimes against humanity in Gaza.

    A few weeks ago in Oxford, the foreign secretary, David Miliband, spoke promisingly on the Palestinian issue, making clear that al-Qaida and Hamas were quite different. On that he was right. When the Twin Towers were attacked in September 2001, the Palestinian intifada was at its peak and people around the world were gripped by the resolve and tenacity of the Palestinian people. Visiting South Africa at the time, I found most universities had unions supporting the Palestinian struggle and comparing it to their own successful struggle against apartheid.

    However, one immediate reaction to the collapse of the towers and the death of almost 3,000 Americans was the mobilisation of the Israeli propaganda machine which claimed that the fight it was engaged in on the streets of Palestinian towns and villages was the same as that which the US and its people had horrifically come face to face with. The message was that Hamas, which was in the forefront of the Palestinian struggle, was one and the same as al-Qaida, and that their persecution of Hamas was simply part of the global war on terror. The radical different policies and methods of Hamas and al-Qaida, not least the refusal of Hamas to take up arms outside Palestine, were dismissed.

    Even the most superficial examination exposes these lies. Al-Qaida has four main features: it has called for a “global war on the Crusaders and Jews“; it sees any target anywhere around the world that serves its cause as legitimate; it dismisses democracy as an affront to Islam and a satanic system of rule; and it believes in enforcing Sharia law in all Muslim countries, if not beyond.

    As Gideon Levy, a columnist for the popular Israeli daily newspaper Haaretz, explains in the New Statesman, Hamas is totally different. In fact, Hamas supports democracy, is the democratically elected majority representative of the Palestinian people and takes up arms solely within Palestine because there is no alternative against an illegal occupying power that confiscates its people’s lands and destroys their livelihoods. In similar circumstances, as Israeli leaders have themselves admitted, any people in the world would do the same.

    It is high time that we act assertively to resolve the 61-year Palestinian tragedy and end the ongoing crisis. It is time for the British government to stop discrediting itself by blatant double standards and to listen to many, including the Commons Foreign Affairs Committee, and to recognise and speak directly to those whom the Palestinian people have chosen to represent them: Hamas.

    Source

    People should be allowed to elect who they want to represent them.

    The West and Europe should be ashamed of themselves.

    PA minister accuses Israel of neglecting prisoners’ health Plus two very good reports on the way Israel forces Palistinians to plead Guilty to crimes they didn’t commit

    UN nuclear assembly has called for Israel to open its nuclear facilities to UN inspection

    Published in: on September 23, 2009 at 8:21 am  Comments Off on To Israel Hamas is not al-Qaida  
    Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

    Interview: Adam Shapiro, co-founder of the ISM/UN Reports Gaza/ US Aid to Israel

    January 29, 2009
    By Kourosh Ziabari

    Adam Shapiro, the symbol of a courageous, pure peace advocate, has long been under fire for his unconditional and categorical criticism of Israeli occupying state.

    Photo from Palestine Think Tank

    Photo from Palestine Think Tank

    Born in 1972, the perseverant and steadfast anti-Zionist campaigner and co-founder of International Solidarity Movement vigorously makes efforts to broadcast the voice of subjugated and downtrodden nation of Palestine.

    Following his meeting with Yasser Arafat in his Mukataa (government center) in Ramallah while it was besieged during the March 2002 Israeli military operation in the West Bank and Gaza, Adam Shapiro attained an international popularity and was put under the spotlight of Zionist media thereafter.

    Despite enduring a stack of insults and invectives from the side of Zionist campaign in the past years, Adam Shapiro neither has relinquished nor alleviated his stance so far; rather intensified his anti-Zionist statements in the particular situations such as the horrendous 22 days of Israeli incursion into Gaza.

    This interview has been done in the midst of Israeli genocide in Gaza as it’s apparent in some points of the conversation; nevertheless, it contains some informative and revealing information which are prone to be read and reflected thoughtfully.

    Would you please elucidate about the salient and prominent activities which you usually carry out in the International Solidarity Movement? What are your agenda, modus operandi and plans to help the survivors of recent offensive in Gaza?

    The International Solidarity Movement (ISM) started off in 2001 as an effort to join international solidarity to the Palestinian resistance to Israeli occupation and oppression. This was through the joining of foreign activists with Palestinian activists in civilian-based non-violent active resistance in the west bank and Gaza. this kind of popular resistance has always been part of the Palestinian movement, and we felt that adding the international component would force the world to recognize that the conflict was not about Jew vs. Arab or Jew vs. Muslim, but rather a situation of oppression and discrimination based on ethnicity and religion in a sense similar to the anti-apartheid movement in south Africa.

    Nowadays, the ISM role continues in this way, but is also more and more involved with being an eyewitness and reporting on the atrocities of what is happening to the Palestinian people. ISM volunteers spend longer periods of time in the territories and get to know the situation in depth.

    Currently ISM has 5 volunteers in the Gaza Strip, who are responding during this assault on the people of Gaza – they are escorting ambulances and medical personnel who are responding to emergency calls; they are documenting what is happening and reporting out to the world, even as the Zionist government bars foreign journalists; they are assisting in the distribution of food and water as they can and to areas that are under major threat; and they are documenting evidence of war crimes, such as the use of white phosphorous artillery shells.

    According to what you said, one effective and impressive choice that could help the progressive flow of Palestinians’ extrication and release from the harsh situation is to promote the notion of imposing sanctions, embargo on Israel. How is it possible to boycott and isolate the terrorist regime in the international stage?

    There is a call from Palestinian civil society to boycott Israel, and it is for this reason that we are compelled to adhere to this call. That said, sanctions will most likely be symbolic at best, given the penetration of businesses in Israel and the difficulty to render such an impact. Symbolically, however the boycott, sanctions and divestment (BDS) campaign is very useful, particularly in the west, where it enables us to alter the debate away from spurious charges of anti-Semitism towards pointing out specifically why such measures are necessary. Additionally, the academic and cultural boycott can have tangible results, forcing Israeli academics, artists and intellectuals to confront the reality of their own position and force them to take a stand. There are very credible and valuable efforts in this regard, including a recent determination by a UK-based teachers union. However, in a sense, we need to remember that far more dramatic action is required, given that this situation for the Palestinians has been going on for 60 years, and the scale of the devastation and oppression of the entire Palestinian people is at such a level that symbolic actions – while good – do not meet the urgency of the situation.

    Nevertheless, US and its European allies flagrantly veto any anti-Israeli resolution which comes on the top of UNSC agenda and don’t allow the international community to express its unequivocal and clear condemnation of Israeli massacre freely. What’s the reason, in your view, and how can that be opposed?

    The reason has to do with domestic factors for the US more than anything else. I think for the European nations it is connected to the lingering guilt over the holocaust, a situation that is exploited by Israel and some of the Jewish organizations in those countries to maintain a code of silence when it comes to clearly calling out Israel for what has been a 60-year effort of crimes against humanity and ethnic cleansing. For the US, there really is no organized constituency willing to vote or donate to politicians campaigns based on this issue. Those who would are small in number and largely ineffective. the pro-Israel lobby in the US is not only among the organized Jewish community, but includes Christian Zionists, the military-industrial complex in the US, the information technology industry, the biotech industry, the medical community and others, all of which have significant relationships with Israel from a business perspective. This all has repercussions in the US political system and set the parameters of the debate in the US around us support for Israel.

    That said, I also think the Palestinian leadership has missed opportunities over the years, but most importantly it accepted the framework of peace as a means of addressing the conflict, which helped set up a false sense of parity between the two parties. Instead of maintaining a position of national liberation, or creating a movement based on equal rights or ending oppression/discrimination, the choice for 2 states in the framework of peacemaking has helped allow the us and others to ‘blame both sides’.

    All of these inconsistencies aside, neither the American double standards about the Israel’s nuclear case are bearable. They are folding their arms and sitting back relaxed while everybody, even ex-President Carter has confessed that Israel deposits 200 nuclear warheads!

    Indeed, on this point in particular the hypocrisy reaches the level of absurd. Add to the points you raise in the question to the fact that Israel has been at war more than any other state in the region and almost always as the initiator and aggressor; not only in the formal wars, but also in the cross-border skirmishes, as occurred with Egypt and Lebanon in the past. If any regime in the region was volatile and prone to use military force it is Israel. A s such, there should be great world concern about its weapons of mass destruction, also since we have seen that Israel is willing to use dubious weapons and disproportionate force such as we witnessed in Lebanon in 2006 (cluster bombs) and Gaza today (white phosphorous artillery).

    Accordingly, it seems that the mainstream media are pusillanimously afraid of the Israeli tyrannical lobby which rules the global corporate media. They censor any kind of news reflecting demonstrations, condemnations and anti-Israeli remarks by the world’s statesmen. How can they justify this unilateral and hostile approach in conveying the information?

    I think many of the same factors that influence how the US and European governments act also influence the media’s role. But there is also an element of having a media strategy that requires examination. Israel and its allies around the world have a clear, organized and effective media strategy to promote the messaging and images that they want. Sure, there is media bias, but it would be false to think that that bias is the beginning and the end. After all, I know many journalists who cover the conflict and who seek to promote different perspectives in their newspapers and broadcasts. On the Palestinian side, there really is not an effective media strategy, and certainly not one that is organized. Some of these very practical details can make a very big difference in the coverage of the issue. While I don’t think this can fully overcome the bias that does exist, it can start making changes in the overall system.

    I also think with the advent of new media, including Al-Jazeera and Press TV in particular, mainstream western media outlets are being challenged and being forced to change. Even the BBC’s own Arabic service has forced a certain change in BBC’s English service, which while subtle, nonetheless has important consequences.

    Finally, I think it is also somewhat easy to overcount the media, in that worldwide, the Palestinian position of justice and ending occupation and oppression is the majority opinion, despite the media coverage. It is not world opinion that necessarily needs to change; it is the actions of governments.

    So what actions are needed to administer justice about Israel? How could the world’s countries prevent it from committing further, predictable atrocities and seeking adventurous war-games in the region?

    There needs to be unequivocal action in the international community to force Israel to end is aggression in Gaza. This should entail full suspension of diplomatic relations (as we have seen in Venezuela and Bolivia); full arms embargo on Israel; and the establishment of a criminal court under the ICC (mandated by the Security Council) to bring forward war crimes charges. while these maybe long-shots, we have to remember that the Palestinian people, unlike virtually any other people in the world, are wholly dependent on the international community to act to help, both because it is the international community that is responsible for the original partitioning and displacement of the Palestinians and because Palestinians do not have a state, an army or any means of self-defense. The UN General Assembly can also act and take dramatic action, and it should – and this would be a way to overcome a us veto.

    And what about an international investigation on the illegal employment of unconventional weapons, mass killing of women and children, beleaguering the densely-populated strip for a long time and killing journalists, media correspondents and representatives of international communities?

    There needs to be a tribunal established to try these crimes committed in Gaza. But this is truly not sufficient. The crimes of 60 years need to be addressed. Because of the impunity Israel has enjoyed since 1948, the lesson it learned is that there are no consequences for its actions and no limits. The Palestinians have borne the brunt of that ‘freedom to act’ for 60 years. It is not enough to say what Israel is doing in Gaza today is too much. What was done in Deir Yassin, in Tantoura, in Lid, in the Jenin refugee camp, in Israeli prisons, and hundreds of other places and over the course of years, has been beyond the limit of international law and human rights. Of course, I would welcome justice for the crimes committed in Gaza, but this should just be the beginning.

    Source

    Roughly every second Palestinian in the world is a recipient of UNRWA services.

    Around 47% of Palestine refugees are under 20 years of age, and 64% of Palestine refugees are under 30 years of age.

    In 1948

    British Mandate ends on  May 15. Israel proclaims independence one day before.

    Between April and August, more than 700,000 people flee their homes in Palestine and become refugees.

    By 1966

    Registered refugee population surpasses 1.3 million. UNRWA schools accommodate 175,900 pupils and health centres register 4.5 million patient visits during the year.

    By 1981

    Registered refugee population reaches 1.9 million, with 321,000 pupils enrolled in UNRWA schools and 4.5 million patient visits at UNRWA clinics.

    By 1986

    Heavy fighting in and around Beirut camps. Israeli air raids on camps in south Lebanon.

    Refugee population surpasses 2 million, enrolment at UNRWA’s 635 schools reaches 349,200 pupils, training centres accommodate 4,808 students, and clinics handle over 4 million patient visits during the year.

    By 1992

    Refugee population reaches 2.7 million with UNRWA providing education to 392,000 pupils and vocational and technical training to 5,100 students; Agency health centres handle 6.1 million patient visits.

    By 1995

    UNRWA marks 45 years of service to Palestine refugees. Number of Palestine refugees reaches 3.2 million.
    As of June 30 2008 Total number of Refugees 4,618,141
    As Israel Bulldozes and takes their homes the numbers grow. . Every Red Dot is an Israeli Settlement.

    israeli-settlements-ocupation-1967-on

    west-bank-fragmentation-checkpoints-etc

    International Humanitarian Law requires all medical personnel and facilities be protected at all times, even during armed conflict. Attacks on them are grave violations of International Humanitarian and Human Rights laws. Access to heath is a fundamental human right.

    CASUALTIES and AFFECTED
    According to the MoH on 19 January at 16:00, the number of people killed in the Gaza Strip since 27 December was approximately 1300, including 410 children and 104 women. Approximately 5300 people have been injured, including 1855 children and 795 women*.
    (*The reason for the high increase in the death count is the identification of many bodies that were previously not identified or found under the rubble or in areas previously not accessible.)

    UNRWA reports that 44 out of the 50 emergency shelters established to accommodate the displaced people are still in place for 46 000 displaced people.
    HEALTH PERSONNEL
    Since 27 December 2008, 16 health personnel have been killed and 22 injured while on duty, according to the MoH health information centre in Gaza.

    Since the cease-fire, most health personnel have been reporting to work regularly and working for one ore two continuous shifts, each shift for 12 hours.
    DAMAGE TO HEALTH FACILITIES
    Since 27 December, 34 health facilities (8 hospitals and 26 PHC clinics) have been damaged or destroyed in direct or indirect shelling.

    Of the 8 damaged hospitals, two were not functioning as of January 20. The 8 are:

  • Al Dorah Hospital – damaged on 3 occasions – 3, 12, 13 January (functioning only for emergency cases)
  • Gaza Pediatrics Hospital – damaged 3 January
  • Al Awda Hospital – damaged 5 January
  • Gaza European Hospital – damaged 10 January
  • El Nasser Pediatrics Hospital – damaged 10 January
  • Al-Quds PRCS Hospital – damaged twice 4, 15 January (not functioning)
  • Al Wafa Hospital – damaged 15 January
  • Al-Fata Hospital – damaged 15 January (not functioning)
  • Of the damaged PHC clinics, 20 were identified between 17 and 19 January after staff were able to inspect areas previously inaccessible due to insecurity. The number may increase as all sites are visited.

    WHO is investigating the extent of damages to these health facilities.

    Map of Damages to Gaza Jan 2009

    The Terror that begot Israel

    By Khalid Amayreh

    “We committed Nazi acts.” Aharon Zisling, Israel’s first Agriculture Minister


    “There is no doubt that many sexual atrocities were committed by the attacking Jews. Many young (Arab) girls were raped and later slaughtered. Old women were also molested.”
    General Richard Catling, British Army Assistant Inspector after interrogating several female survivors (The Palestinian Catastrophe, Michael Palumbo, 1987)

    As the state of Israel is celebrating sixty years of ethnic cleansing and atrocities against the native Palestinians, many people around the world, especially  young generations,  will not be fully aware of the manner in which Israel came into existence. Similarly,  the younger Zionist generations who don’t stop calling their Palestinian victims “terrorists” should have a clearer idea about Israel’s manifestly criminal past which Zionist school textbooks  shamelessly glamorize and glorify

    Prior to “Jewish” statehood, three main Jewish terror organizations operated in Palestine, primarily against Palestinian civilians and British mandate targets. The three were: The Haganah, the Zvei Leumi or Irgun and the Stern Gang. The Haganah (Defence) had a field army of up to 160,000 well-trained and well-armed men and a unit called the Palmach, with more than 6,000 terrorists. The Irgun included as many as 5,000 terrorists, while the Stern Gang included 200-300 dangerous terrorists.

    The following are merely some  examples of Zionist terrorism prior to the creation of the Zionist state in 1948:  The list doesn’t include the bigger massacres such as Dir Yasin, Dawaymeh, Tantura and others.

    1937-1939

    During this period, Zionist terrorists carried out a series of terror attacks against Palestinian buses resulting in the death of 24 persons and the wounding of 25 others.

    1939

    Haganah blew up the Iraqi oil pipeline near Haifa/Palestine. Moshe Dayan was one of the participants in this act. The technique was used in 1947 at least four times.

    1940

    On 6 November, 1940 , Zionist terrorists of the Stern Gang assassinated the British Minister resident in the Middle East , Lord Moyne, in Cairo .

    1940

    On  25 November, S.S. Patria was blown up by Jewish terrorists in Haifa harbour, killing 268 illegal Jewish immigrants. The explosion, carried out by the Haganah terrorist group, was only meant to prevent the ship from sailing. However, it seemed that the terrorists had miscalculated the amount of explosives needed to disable the vessel.  Other sources reported that this was no miscalculation and was a deliberate  mass murder of Jews by Jews aimed at drawing sympathy and influencing British immigration policy to Palestine .

    1946

    Zionist terrorists blew up the King David Hotel in Jerusalem, which housed the civilian administration of the government of Palestine, killing and injuring more than 200 persons. The Irgun gang claimed responsibility for this criminal act, but subsequent evidence indicated that both the Haganah and the Jewish Agency were involved.

    1946

    On 1 October, the British Embassy in Rome was badly damaged by a bomb explosion for which Irgun claimed responsibility.

    1947

    In June 1947, a postal bomb addressed to the British war office exploded in the post office sorting room in London, injuring 2 persons. It was attributed to Irgun or Stern Gangs (The Sunday Times, Sept. 24, 1972), p. 8.

    1947

    In December 1947, six Palestinians were killed and 30 wounded when bombs were thrown from Jewish trucks at Arab houses in Haifa; 12 Palestinians were killed and another injured in an attack by armed Zionists at an Arab coastal village near Haifa.

    1947

    On 13 December 1947 , Zionist terrorists believed to be members of Irgun Zevi Leumi murdered 18 Palestinian civilians and wounded 60 others in Jerusalem , Jaffa and Lud areas. In Jerusalem , bombs were thrown in an Arab market-place near the Damascus Gate; in Jaffa bombs were thrown into an Arab café; and in the Arab village near Lud, 12 Arabs were killed in an attack with mortars and automatic weapons.

    1947

    On 9 December, Haganah terrorists attacked an Arab village near Safad, blowing up two houses, in the ruins of which were found the bodies of 10 Arabs, including 5 children. Haganah admitted responsibility for the attack.

    December 13, 1947- February 10, 1948

    Seven bombing attacks by Jewish terrorists took place and the targets were innocent Arab civilians in cafés and markets, killing 138 and wounding 271 others. During this period, there were 9 attacks on Arab buses. Moreover, Jewish terrorists attacked passenger trains on at least four occasions, killing 93 persons and wounding 161 others.

    1947

    On 29 December, two British constables and 11 Palestinians were killed and 32 others were injured at the Damascus Gate in Jerusalem when Irgun terrorists threw a bomb from a taxi.

    1948

    On 1 January,  Haganah terrorists attacked a village on the slope of Mount Carmel , killing 17 Palestinian civilians and wounding 33 others.

    1948

    On 4 January, Haganah terrorists wearing British Army uniforms penetrated into the centre of Jaffa and blew up the Sarai, which was used as headquarters of the Arab National Committee, killing more than 40 persons and wounding 98 others.

    1948

    On 5 January, the Arab-owned Semiramis Hotel in Jerusalem was blown up, killing 20 civilians, among them Viscount De Tapia, the Spanish Consul. Haganah admitted responsibility for this outrage.

    1948

    On 7 January , seventeen Arab civilians were killed by a bomb at the Jaffa Gate in Jerusalem , 3 of them while trying to escape. Further casualties, including the murder of a British officer near Hebron, were reported from different parts of the country.
    1948

    On 16 January, Jewish terrorists blew up three Arab buildings, killing 8 children between the age of 18 months and 12 years.

    1948

    On 15 February , Haganah terrorists attacked an Arab village near Safad and blew up several houses, killing 11 civilians, including four children.

    1948

    On  3 March, heavy damage was done to the Arab-owned Salam building in Haifa (a seven-story block of flats and shops) by Jewish terrorists who drove an army truck to the building and escaped before detonation of 400 pounds of explosives, killing 11 Arab civilians and 3 Americans. The Stern Gang claimed responsibility.

    1948

    On 22 March, Jewish terrorists from the Stern Gang blew up a housing block in Iraq Street in Haifa , killing 17 and injuring 100 others. Four members of the Stern Gang drove two truckloads of explosives into the street and abandoned the vehicles before the explosives went off.

    1948

    On 31 March, Jewish terrorists mined the Cairo-Haifa Express, killing 40 people and wounding 60 others.

    1948

    On 16 April, Jewish terrorists attacked the former British army camp at Tel Litvvinsky, killing 90 Palestinians.

    1948

    On 19 April, fourteen Palestinian civilians were killed in a house in Tiberias, which was blown up by Zionist terrorists.

    April 25, 1948- May 13, 1948

    Wholesale looting of Jaffa was carried out following armed attacks by Irgun and Haganah terrorists. They plundered and carried away everything they could, destroying what they could not take with them.

    1948

    On  11 May, a letter bomb addressed to Evelyn Baker, former commanding officer in Palestine , was detected in the nick of time by his wife.

    1948

    On 17 September, Count Folke Berndadotte, UN Mediator in Palestine was assassinated by members of the Stern Gang in the Zionist-controlled sector of Jerusalem . Bernadotte’s aide Col. Serot was also killed and murdered by Jewish terrorists.

    1948

    In November, the Christian Arab villages of Igrit and Birim were attacked and destroyed, killing and injuring many unarmed civilians, including women and children. All the Christian Arab inhabitants were forcibly expelled from their homes. The State of Israel still refuses to allow them to return to their villages despite several court orders.

    1948-1949

    The greatest acts of Jewish terror took place when Jewish terrorists, now called Israeli Defence Forces (IDF), uprooted 700,000 Palestinians from their ancestral homeland in Palestine . Since then the refugees have consistently been denied the right to return home. After the expulsion, the Zionist terrorist army razed to the ground hundreds of Arab towns, villages and hamlets and obliterated their remains. Eventually, Israeli villages, Kibbutzim and towns were built on the remaining rubble.

    Source

    1945 Land ownership

    land-ownership-1945

    The question of Palestine was brought before the United Nations shortly after the end of the Second World War.

    The origins of the Palestine problem as an international issue, however, lie in events occurring towards the end of the First World War. These events led to a League of Nations decision to place Palestine under the administration of Great Britain as the Mandatory Power under the Mandates System adopted by the League. In principle, the Mandate was meant to be in the nature of a transitory phase until Palestine attained the status of a fully independent nation, a status provisionally recognized in the League’s Covenant, but in fact the Mandate’s historical evolution did not result in the emergence of Palestine as an independent nation.

    The decision on the Mandate did not take into account the wishes of the people of Palestine, despite the Covenant’s requirements that “the wishes of these communities must be a principal consideration in the selection of the Mandatory”. This assumed special significance because, almost five years before receiving the mandate from the League of Nations, the British Government had given commitments to the Zionist Organization regarding the establishment of a Jewish national home in Palestine, for which Zionist leaders had pressed a claim of “historical connection” since their ancestors had lived in Palestine two thousand years earlier before dispersing in the “Diaspora”.

    During the period of the Mandate, the Zionist Organization worked to secure the establishment of a Jewish national home in Palestine. The indigenous people of Palestine, whose forefathers had inhabited the land for virtually the two preceding millennia felt this design to be a violation of their natural and inalienable rights. They also viewed it as an infringement of assurances of independence given by the Allied Powers to Arab leaders in return for their support during the war. The result was mounting resistance to the Mandate by Palestinian Arabs, followed by resort to violence by the Jewish community as the Second World War drew to a close.

    After a quarter of a century of the Mandate, Great Britain submitted what had become “the Palestine problem” to the United Nations on the ground that the Mandatory Power was faced with conflicting obligations that had proved irreconcilable. At this point, when the United Nations itself was hardly two years old, violence ravaged Palestine. After investigating various alternatives the United Nations proposed the partitioning of Palestine into two independent States, one Palestinian Arab and the other Jewish, with Jerusalem internationalized. The partition plan did not bring peace to Palestine, and the prevailing violence spread into a Middle East war halted only by United Nations action. One of the two States envisaged in the partition plan proclaimed its independence as Israel and, in a series of successive wars, its territorial control expanded to occupy all of Palestine. The Palestinian Arab State envisaged in the partition plan never appeared on the world’s map and, over the following 30 years, the Palestinian people have struggled for their lost rights.

    The Palestine problem quickly widened into the Middle East dispute between the Arab States and Israel. From 1948 there have been wars and destruction, forcing millions of Palestinians into exile, and engaging the United Nations in a continuing search for a solution to a problem which came to possess the potential of a major source of danger for world peace.

    In the course of this search, a large majority of States Members of the United Nations have recognized that the Palestine issue continues to lie at the heart of the Middle East problem, the most serious threat to peace with which the United Nations must contend. Recognition is spreading in world opinion that the Palestinian people must be assured its inherent inalienable right of national self-determination for peace to be restored.

    In 1947 the United Nations accepted the responsibility of finding a just solution for the Palestine issue, and still grapples with this task today. Decades of strife and politico-legal arguments have clouded the basic issues and have obscured the origins and evolution of the Palestine problem, which this study attempts to clarify.

    The US took over by providing Israel, with billions in Aid.

    A Conservative Estimate of Total Direct U.S. Aid to Israel: Almost $114 Billion

    By Shirl McArthur

    November 2008

    TABLE 1: Direct U.S. Aid to Israel (millions of dollars)

    Year
    (Total
    (Military
    Grant
    (Economic
    Grant
    (Immigrant
    (ASHA
    (All Other
    1949-1996
    ***
    (68,030.9
    (29,014.9
    (23,122.4
    (868.9
    (121.4
    (14,903.3
    1997
    (3,132.1
    (1,800.0
    (1,200.0
    (80.0
    (2.1
    (50.0
    1998
    (3,080.0
    (1,800.0
    (1,200.0
    (80.0
    (?
    (?
    1999
    (3,010.0
    (1,860.0
    (1,080.0
    (70.0
    (?
    (?
    2000
    (4,131.85
    (3,120.0
    (949.1
    (60.0
    (2.75
    (?
    2001
    (2,876.05
    (1,975.6
    (838.2
    (60.0
    (2.25
    (?
    2002
    (2,850.65
    (2,040.0
    (720.0
    (60.0
    (2.65
    (28.0
    2003
    (3,745.15
    (3,086.4
    (596.1
    (59.6
    (3.05
    (?
    2004
    (2,687.25
    (2,147.3
    (477.2
    (49.7
    (3.15
    (9.9
    2005
    (2,612.15
    (2,202.2
    (357.0
    (50.0
    (2.95
    (?
    2006
    (2,534.53
    (2,257.0
    (237.0
    (40.0
    (?
    (.53
    2007
    (2,500.24
    (2,340.0
    (120.0
    (40.0
    (?
    (.24
    2008
    (2,423.8
    (2,380.6
    (0.0
    (39.7
    (3.0
    (.5
    Total
    (103,614.67
    (56,024.0
    (30,897.0
    (1,557.9
    (143.3
    (14,992.47
    Notes: FY 2000 military grants include $1.2 billion for the Wye agreement and $1.92 billion in annual military aid. FY 2003 military aid included $1 billion from the supplemental appropriations bill. The economic grant was earmarked for $960 million for FY 2000 but was reduced to meet the 0.38% rescission. Final amounts for FY 2003 are reduced by 0.65% mandated rescission, the amounts for FY 2004 are reduced by 0.59%, and the amounts for FY 2008 are reduced by .81%.
    Sources: CRS Report RL33222: U.S. Foreign Aid to Israel, updated Jan. 2, 2008, plus the FY ’08 omnibus appropriations bill, H.R. 2764.

    Shirl McArthur, a retired U.S. foreign service officer, is a consultant based in the Washington, DC area.

    This estimate of total U.S. direct aid to Israel updates the estimate given in the July 2006 issue of the Washington Report on Middle East Affairs. It is an estimate because arriving at an exact figure is not possible, since parts of U.S. aid to Israel are a) buried in the budgets of various U.S. agencies, mostly that of the Defense Department (DOD), or b) in a form not easily quantifiable, such as the early disbursement of aid, giving Israel a direct benefit in interest income and the U.S. Treasury a corresponding loss. Given these caveats, our current estimate of cumulative total direct aid to Israel is $113.8554 billion.

    It must be emphasized that this analysis is a conservative, defensible accounting of U.S. direct aid to Israel, NOT of Israel’s cost to the U.S. or the American taxpayer, nor of the benefits to Israel of U.S. aid. The distinction is important, because the indirect or consequential costs suffered by the U.S. as a result of its blind support for Israel exceed by many times the substantial amount of direct aid to Israel. (See, for example, the late Thomas R. Stauffer’s article in the June 2003 Washington Report, “The Costs to American Taxpayers of the Israeli-Palestinian Conflict: $3 Trillion.”)

    Especially, this computation does not include the costs resulting from the invasion and occupation of Iraq—hundreds of billions of dollars, 4,000-plus U.S. and allied fatalities, untold tens of thousands of Iraqi deaths, and many thousands of other U.S., allied, and Iraqi casualties—which is almost universally believed in the Arab world to have been undertaken for the benefit of Israel. Among other “indirect or consequential” costs would be the costs of U.S. unilateral economic sanctions on Iran, Iraq, Libya and Syria, the costs to U.S. manufacturers of the Arab boycott, and the costs to U.S. companies and consumers of the 1973 Arab oil embargo and consequent and subsequent soaring oil prices partially as a result of U.S. support for Israel.

    Among the real benefits to Israel that are not direct costs to the U.S. taxpayer are the early cash transfer of economic and military aid, in-country spending of a portion of military aid, and loan guarantees. The U.S. gives Israel all of its economic and military aid directly in cash during the first month of the fiscal year, with no accounting required of how the funds are used. Also, in contrast with other countries receiving military aid, who must purchase through the DOD, Israel deals directly with the U.S. companies, with no DOD review. Furthermore, Israel is allowed to spend 26.3 percent of each year’s military aid in Israel (no other recipient of U.S. military aid gets this benefit), which has resulted in an increasingly sophisticated Israeli defense industry. As a result, Israel has become a major world arms exporter; the Congressional Research Service (CRS) reports that in 2006 Israel was the world’s ninth leading supplier of arms worldwide, earning $4.4 billion from defense sales.

    Another benefit to Israel are U.S. government loan guarantees. The major loan guarantees have been $600 million for housing between 1972 and 1990; $9.2 billion for Soviet Jewish resettlement between 1992 and 1997; about $5 billion for refinancing military loans commercially; and $9 billion in loan guarantees authorized in FY ’03 and extended to FY ’10. Of that $9 billion, CRS reports that Israel has drawn $4.1 billion through FY ’07. These loans have not—yet—cost the U.S. any money; they are listed on the Treasury Department’s books as “contingent liabilities,” which would be liabilities to the U.S. should Israel default. However, they have been of substantial, tangible benefit to Israel, because they enable Israel to borrow commercially at special terms and favorable interest rates.
    Components of Israel Aid

    Israel is the largest cumulative recipient of U.S. aid since World War II (not counting the huge sums being spent in Iraq). The $3 billion or so per year that Israel receives from the U.S. amounts to about $500 per Israeli. Most of this money is earmarked in the annual Foreign Operations (foreign aid) appropriations bills, with the three major items being military grants (Foreign Military Financing, or FMF), economic grants (Economic Support Funds, or ESF), and “migration and refugee assistance.” (Refugee assistance originally was intended to help Israel absorb Jewish refugees from the Soviet Union, but this was expanded in 1985 to include all refugees resettling in Israel. In fact, Israel doesn’t differentiate between refugees and other immigrants, so this money is used for all immigrants to Israel.)

    Not earmarked but also included in congressional appropriations bills is Israel’s portion of grants for American Schools and Hospitals Abroad (ASHA) and monies buried in the appropriations for other departments or agencies. These are mostly for so-called “U.S.-Israeli cooperative programs” in defense, agriculture, science, and hi-tech industries.

    Before 1998, Israel received annually $1.8 billion in military grants and $1.2 billion in economic grants. Then, beginning in FY ‘99, the two countries agreed to reduce economic grants to Israel by $120 million and increase military grants by $60 million annually over 10 years. FY ’08 is the last year of that agreement, with military grants reaching $2.4 billion (reduced by an across-the-board rescission), and zero economic grants. Then, in August 2007, U.S. and Israeli officials signed a memorandum of understanding for a new 10-year, $30 billion aid package whereby FMF will gradually increase, beginning with $2.55 billion in FY ’09, and average $3 billion per year over the 10-year period.
    Methodology
    TABLE 2: Foreign Aid and DOD Appropriations
    Legislation Since FY 2004

    Basic Documents Conference Report Public Law
    FY ’04 Defense H.R. 2658 H.Rept. 108-283 P.L. 108-87
    Omnibus H.R. 2673 H.Rept. 108-401 P.L. 108-199
    FY ’05 Defense H.R. 4613 H.Rept. 108-662 P.L. 108-287
    Omnibus H.R. 4818 H.Rept. 108-792 P.L. 108-447
    FY ’06 Defense H.R. 2863 H.Rept. 109-359 P.L. 109-148
    Foreign Aid H.R. 3057 H.Rept. 109-265 P.L. 109-102
    FY ’07 Defense H.R. 5631 H.Rept. 109-676 P.L. 109-289
    Foreign Aid H.J.Res. 20 P.L. 110-5
    FY ’08 Defense H.R. 3222 H.Rept. 110-434 P.L. 110-116
    Omnibus H.R. 2764 H.Rept. 110-497 P.L. 110-161
    Notes: H.R.=House Resolution; S.=Senate Resolution; H.Rept.=House Report; the “public law” is the final, binding version, as signed by the president. In FY ’04, ’05, and ’08 defense was passed separately and foreign aid was included in the consolidated or “omnibus” bill. In FY ’07 defense was passed separately and foreign aid was included in the continuing resolution, H.J. Res. 20, which continued ’07 appropriations at the ’06 level with some exceptions—including, of course, for Israel.

    As with previous Washington Report estimates of U.S. aid to Israel, this analysis is based on the annual CRS report, U.S. Foreign Aid to Israel, which uses available and verifiable numbers, primarily from the foreign operations appropriations bills. Although the CRS report does include such things as the old food for peace program, the $1.2 billion from the Wye agreement, the $1 billion in FMF included in the FY ’03 Emergency Supplemental appropriations bill, the subsidy for “refugee resettlement,” and money from the ASHA account, it does not include money from the DOD and other agencies. Nor does it include estimated interest on the early disbursement of aid.

    The January 2008 CRS report on aid to Israel shows a total of $101.1908 billion through FY ’07. Table 1, on the previous page, is drawn from the summary table of that report, plus $2.4238 billion from the FY ’08 omnibus appropriations bill and estimates for ASHA and “other” amounts in FY ’08, for a total of $103.6147 billion through FY ’08.

    To that has been added $10.2407 billion, as detailed below, for a grand total of $113.8554 billion.

    Estimated Amounts Not Included in Table 1:
    $10.2407 Billion

    Defense Department Funds: $7.694 Billion. For previous estimates, a search going back several years was able to identify $6.794 billion from the DOD to Israel through FY ‘06. Adding $450 million from the FY ’07 DOD appropriations and $450 million from the ’08 appropriations gives a total of $7.694 billion. (The FY ’08 appropriations bill earmarks $155.6 million for Israel. However, AIPAC’s Web site reported that the total for earmarked and non-earmarked programs was $450 million—and who would know better than the Israel lobby itself?)

    The military aid from the DOD budget is mostly for specific projects. The largest items have been the canceled Lavi attack fighter project, the completed Merkava tank, the ongoing Arrow anti-missile missile project, and several other anti-missile systems, most recently the “David’s Sling” short-range missile defense system. Haaretz reported in June that a senior U.S. defense official has said the U.S. will support and help Israel’s development of the advanced Arrow 3 designed to intercept advanced ballistic missiles. The fact that the U.S. military was not interested in the Lavi or the Merkava for its own use and has said the same thing about the Arrow and the other anti-missile projects would seem to jettison the argument that these are “joint defense projects.” The FY ‘01 appropriations bill also gave Israel a grant of $700 million worth of military equipment, to be drawn down from stocks in Western Europe, and the FY ’05 defense appropriations bill includes a provision authorizing the DOD to transfer an unspecified amount of “surplus” military items from inventory to Israel. In addition, since 1988 Israel has been designated a “major non-NATO ally,” giving it access to U.S. weapons systems at lower prices, and preferential treatment in bidding for U.S. defense contracts.

    Interest: $2.089 Billion. Israel receives its U.S. economic and military aid in a lump sum within one month of the new fiscal year or the passage of the appropriations act. Applying one-half of the prevailing interest rate to the aid for each year (on the assumption that the aid monies are drawn down over the course of the year), the July 2006 estimate arrived at a total of $1.991 billion through FY ’06. To that, using an interest rate of 4 percent, is added $50 million for FY ’07 and $48 million for FY ’08, for a cumulative total of $2.089 billion through FY ’08.

    Other Grants and Endowments: $457.7 Million. The July 2006 report included $456.7 million in U.S. grants and endowments to U.S.-Israeli scientific and business cooperation organizations. The two largest are the BIRD (Israel-U.S. Binational Research & Development) Foundation and the BARD (Binational Agriculture and Research and Development) Fund. While these are mostly self-sustaining, the BARD Fund gets about $500,000 a year from the Agriculture Department. Adding $0.5 million for each of FY ’07 and ‘08 to the ’06 total gives a new total of $0.457.7 billion.

    For the convenience of those who wish to look up more details, citations for the foreign aid and DOD appropriations bills for the past five years are given in Table 2 above.

    Source

    On average Israel got or gets about “6.5 million dollars a day” from the US. The tax payers are however the ones who pay for it.

    US puts up $20 million for Gaza relief. Now isn’t that just so generous. Like WOW

    Spain: Judicial probe looks at 2002 Gaza War Crimes Claims

    Letting AP in on the Secret: Israeli Strip Searches are Torture

    Why Americans get a distorted View of the Conflict between Israel and Palestinians

    Gaza detainee treatment ‘inhuman’

    Israeli troops fire warning shots at European diplomats

    Israel Broke Ceasefire From Day One

    Illegal Israeli settlement construction in the West Bank increased sharply in 2008

    Aid Workers Protest Restricted Access to Gaza

    Army rabbi ‘gave out hate leaflet to troops’,Israel: ’We Could Destroy All European Capitals’

    Information Wanted by the International Criminal Court/ UN: Falk Likens Gaza to Warsaw Ghetto

    The making of Israel’s Apartheid in Palestine

    Indexed List of all Stories in Archives


    Published in: on January 31, 2009 at 12:58 pm  Comments Off on Interview: Adam Shapiro, co-founder of the ISM/UN Reports Gaza/ US Aid to Israel  
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    Why Americans get a distorted View of the Conflict between Israel and Palestinians

    This is quite interesting. Seems they were less then honest.

    Imagine how distorted the conflict in Iraq or Afghanistan must be.

    I just happened upon this and thought it needed to be shared.

    Accuracy in Reporting of Israel/Palestine

    ABC World News Tonight
    CBS Evening News
    NBC Nightly News

    Study Periods:
    September 29, 2000 – September 28, 2001
    January 1, 2004 – December 31, 2004

    Figure 16
    In 2004, ABC, CBS, and NBC news reporting on Palestinian children’s deaths followed virtually the same line as Israeli children’s deaths, in stark contradiction to the reality, in which Palestinian children were being killed at a rate 22 times greater than Israeli children.

    Download Report
    Press Release

    Abstract

    This study consists of a statistical examination of ABC World News Tonight, CBS Evening News, and NBC Nightly News coverage of the first year of the current Palestinian uprising, and of their coverage of that uprising in 2004. The categories examined are coverage of conflict deaths and, as a subcategory, children’s deaths. Our findings indicate significantly distorted coverage by all of these network news shows. In the first study period ABC, CBS, and NBC reported Israeli deaths at rates 3.1, 3.8, and 4.0 times higher than Palestinian deaths, respectively. In 2004 these rates increased or stayed constant, to 4.0, 3.8, and 4.4, widening still further, in the case of ABC and NBC, the disparity in coverage. An additional sub-study of deaths reported in introductions revealed a similar but even larger disparity. The networks’ coverage of children’s deaths was even more skewed. In the first year of the current uprising, ABC, CBS, and NBC reported Israeli children’s deaths at 13.8, 6.4, and 12.4 times the rate of Palestinian children’s deaths. In 2004 these large differentials were also present, although they decreased in two cases, with deaths of Israeli children covered at rates 9.0, 12.8, and 9.9 times greater than the deaths of Palestinian children by ABC, CBS, and NBC, respectively. Given that in 2004 22 times more Palestinian children were killed than Israeli children, this category holds particular importance. We could find no basis on which to justify this inequality in coverage.

    Introduction

    Beginning in 2003, If Americans Knew1 began issuing report cards to media across the country on their coverage of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. This study of ABC World News Tonight, CBS Evening News, and NBC Nightly News (we will call them, collectively, the networks) covers the first year of the current uprising (September 29, 2000 through September 28, 2001). This period was selected for study because it set the context within which all subsequent reporting on the conflict is viewed. We also studied these networks’ coverage for 2004 to discover whether the patterns we found for the first year had continued, diminished, or increased.

    Given that the media have a desire and a responsibility to cover this topic accurately, we provide these reports in the hope that our analyses can assist them in achieving this goal.

    In addition, we are making these reports public, as a way to help viewers evaluate for themselves the reliability of their sources of information on this issue.

    The goal of this report is to

    • Establish clear standards for assessing accuracy in reporting.
    • Provide, in a consistent format, an assessment of the media’s accuracy in reporting on the Israel/Palestine conflict.

    Methodology

    We recognize that reporting on Israel/Palestine has been an exceptionally controversial topic. Therefore, while there are many potential yardsticks for measuring accuracy, we chose criteria that would be widely acknowledged as significant, conducive to statistical analysis, and immune to subjective interpretation.

    We chose to focus on the reporting of deaths, because this allows meaningful statistical analysis that would be impossible in a qualitative study. This unambiguous yardstick allows us to determine whether media demonstrate even-handed respect for human life, regardless of ethnic or religious background. Fortunately, accurate data for both populations is available from the widely respected Israeli human rights organization, B’Tselem2. We only included Israeli deaths directly caused by the actions of Palestinians, and vice versa. In addition, we did not examine the coverage of killings that took place outside Israel and Palestine.

    As a subcategory, we investigated the coverage of children’s deaths, since children are illegitimate targets of violence. Each such death represents a universally recognized human tragedy, and we felt it would be important to study how the media are covering these events among both populations.

    Another sub-category examined was deaths reported in introductions, since these bring added attention and emphasis to such reports.

    Finally, we gathered data on the networks’ reporting of cumulative death counts. While such cumulative statistics are not equivalent to individual reports on the deaths, they can provide useful contextual information, particularly when appended to high-quality daily reporting.

    For this study we used the LexisNexis database to access transcripts of all of the ABC, CBS, and NBC evening news programs broadcast during our study periods.

    Findings:

    I. Coverage of All Deaths: First Year of the Uprising

    During the first year of the current uprising, 165 Israelis were killed by Palestinians and at least 549 Palestinians were killed by Israelis.3 The majority of those killed among both populations were civilians.

    165 Israelis and 549 Palestinians were killed during the first year of the current uprising.

    Examining this first year of news coverage, we found a significant disparity in the likelihood of a death being reported based on the ethnicity of the person killed.

    This disparity was compounded by the fact that while the networks periodically reported on deaths more than once, through follow-up stories and mentions in later news reports, such repetitions were found to be more frequent in reporting on Israeli deaths than in reporting on Palestinian deaths. In fact, such repetitions caused the networks in some cases to report on Israeli deaths in greater rates than they had actually occurred. Palestinian deaths, on the other hand, were significantly under-reported by all three networks.

    In its first year of coverage, we found that ABC reported on 305 Israeli deaths and 327 Palestinian deaths – 185% of Israeli deaths and 60% of Palestinian deaths.

    CBS reported on 334 Israeli deaths and 296 Palestinian deaths – 202% of Israeli deaths and 54% of Palestinian deaths.

    NBC reported on 227 Israeli deaths and 190 Palestinian deaths – 138% of Israeli deaths and 35% of Palestinian deaths.

    Figure 2

    In other words, ABC reported Israeli deaths at a rate 3.1 times greater than Palestinian deaths, CBS reported Israeli deaths at a rate 3.8 times greater than Palestinian deaths, and NBC reported Israeli deaths at a rate 4.0 times greater than Palestinian deaths.

    On average, the networks reported Israeli deaths at a rate 3.5 times greater than Palestinian deaths (175% of Israeli deaths and 49% of Palestinian deaths).

    II. Coverage of Children’s Deaths: First Year of the Uprising

    In the first year of the current uprising, 28 Israeli children and at least 131 Palestinian children were killed.4 (Children are defined by international law as those who are 17 and younger.)

    Thus, Palestinian children were killed at a rate 4.7 times greater than Israeli children. 825 of these Palestinian children were killed in the first three-and-a-half months of the conflict, before any Israeli children had been killed.

    Figure 3

    During the conflict Palestinian children have consistently made up a disproportionately large number of Palestinian deaths. In this first year children’s deaths accounted for 24% of the Palestinians killed, while children’s deaths accounted for 17% of Israelis killed.

    During this time, ABC reported on 56 Israeli children’s deaths (including repetitions in later newscasts) and 19 Palestinian children’s deaths – 200% of Israeli children and 15% of Palestinian children, a ratio of 13.8 to 1.

    CBS reported on 37 Israeli children’s deaths (including repetitions) and 27 Palestinian children’s deaths – 132% of Israeli children’s deaths and 21% of Palestinian children’s deaths, a ratio of 6.4 to 1.

    NBC reported on 45 Israeli children’s deaths (including repetitions) and 17 Palestinian children’s deaths – 161% of Israeli children and 13% of Palestinian children’s deaths, a ratio of 12.4 to 1.

    Figure 4

    Collectively, the networks reported on an average of 46 Israeli children’s deaths – 164% of the Israeli children killed – and 21 Palestinian children’s deaths – 16% of the Palestinian children killed. In other words, the networks reported on Israeli children’s deaths at a rate 10.2 times greater than Palestinian children’s deaths.

    To understand the pattern of network news coverage of children’s deaths, it is useful to compare the number of deaths reported to the actual number that took place. While repeated coverage of Israeli children’s deaths creates an impression of a higher number of Israeli victims than there actually were, omissions of the majority of Palestinian children’s deaths considerably under-represents the number of Palestinian child victims.

    Figure 5

    Comparing the day-by-day reporting of children’s deaths to the actual daily death toll reveals an additional dimension of the distortion. In this comparison, we discover that the reports on Palestinian children’s deaths followed the curve for Israeli children’s deaths, rather than the much steeper curve of their actual death count.

    This finding underscores the tendency by all three networks to report a fictional situation in which Israeli and Palestinian deaths occur at more or less the same rate, and illustrates the substantial gap between the reality of Palestinian fatalities and the coverage of them. It suggests that the desire to appear ‘balanced’ is too often prioritized above the need for accuracy.

    Chronological Running Totals of Children’s Deaths – Reported and Actual
    First Year of Uprising (9/29/2000 – 9/28/2001)

    Figure 6 Figure 7
    Figure 8

    III. Coverage of Deaths in Introductions: First Year of the Uprising

    As another sub-category, we looked at the networks’ reports of deaths in introductions to newscasts, since such anchor lead-ins tend to lend additional emphasis to a report. Interestingly, for all three networks the disparity in coverage found in full newscasts grew even larger in this category.

    ABC reported on 99% of Israeli deaths and 25% of Palestinian deaths in introductions. Hence, an Israeli death was 4.0 times more likely to receive coverage than a Palestinian death in the introduction, an even larger disparity than the ratio of 3.1 found in ABC’s coverage in full newscasts.

    CBS reported Israeli deaths at a rate 5.8 times greater than Palestinian deaths in introductions. (128% of Israeli deaths and 22% of Palestinian deaths were reported.) This is up from the ratio of 3.8 to 1 present in coverage throughout full newscasts.

    NBC’s rate of covering Israeli deaths over Palestinian deaths, 4.0 to 1 in full newscasts, grew to 5.9 to 1 when only introductions were studied. NBC covered 72% of Israelis killed compared to 12% of Palestinians killed in introductions.

    Figure 9

    IV. Coverage of All Deaths: 2004

    In studying the networks’ 2004 coverage, we found that these patterns continued and, in many cases, increased.

    During 2004 violence against Israelis had significantly decreased relative to the first year of the uprising. At the same time, violence against Palestinians was much higher than it had been in the first year.

    In 2004, 107 Israelis were killed by Palestinians and at least 821 Palestinians were killed by Israelis.6 Thus the ratio of Palestinian to Israeli deaths was 7.7 to 1, more than double the first year’s ratio of 3.3 Palestinian deaths for each Israeli death.

    Figure 10

    During this period, ABC reported on 168 Israeli deaths and 322 Palestinian deaths – 157% of Israeli deaths and 39% of Palestinian deaths, a ratio of 4 .0 to 1, up from 3.1 in its first year’s reporting.

    CBS reported on 112 Israeli deaths and 227 Palestinian deaths – 105% of Israeli deaths and 28% of Palestinian deaths – a ratio of 3.8 to 1, the same ratio as its first year reporting.

    NBC reported on 165 Israeli deaths and 287 Palestinian deaths – 154% of Israeli deaths and 35% of Palestinian deaths – a ratio of 4.4 to 1, up from 4.0 in the first year.

    Figure 11

    Taken together, then, the three networks reported on Israeli deaths, on average, at a rate 4.1 times greater than on Palestinian deaths, an increase over the 3.5 to 1 average ratio during the first year of the uprising.

    V. Coverage of Children’s Deaths: 2004

    In 2004, as with adults, fewer Israeli children and more Palestinian children were killed than in the first year of the conflict.

    Eight Israeli children and 179 Palestinian children were killed in 2004. This ratio of 22 times more Palestinian children killed than Israeli children was nearly a five-fold increase over the first year’s ratio of 4.7 to one.

    Again, Palestinian children were making up a much greater part of the total number of Palestinians killed than Israeli children were of Israeli conflict casualties. Children’s deaths accounted for 22% of the Palestinians killed, while Israeli children’s deaths had decreased to only 7% of Israelis killed during this period.

    Figure 12

    ABC reported on 8 Israeli children’s deaths and 20 Palestinian children’s deaths – 100% of Israeli children and 11% of Palestinian children, 9.0 to 1, down from 13.8 in the first year.

    CBS reported on 4 Israeli children and 7 Palestinian children – 50% of Israeli children’s deaths and 4% of Palestinian, a ratio of 12.8 to 1, up from 6.4 in the first year.

    NBC reported on 8 Israeli children’s deaths and 18 Palestinian children’s deaths – 100% of Israeli children and 10% of Palestinian killed during 2004, a ratio of 9.9, down from 12.4.

    Figure 13

    On average, the networks reported 83% of Israeli children’s deaths and 8% of Palestinian children’s deaths. That is, an Israeli death was 9.9 times more likely to be reported than a Palestinian death (compared to the first year’s ratio of 10.2 to one).

    Visual representation of this pattern of omission gives a sense of the size of the disparity.

    Figure 14

    Comparing running totals for actual deaths and reported deaths once again reveals that television reporting on Palestinian children’s deaths followed virtually the same line as Israeli children’s deaths, in stark contradiction to the reality, in which Palestinian children were being killed at a rate 22 times greater than Israeli children. Again, all three networks revealed similar patterns of reporting.

    Chronological Running Totals of Children’s Deaths – Reported and Actual
    2004

    Figure 15 Figure 16
    Figure 17

    VI. Coverage of Deaths in Introductions: 2004

    In 2004 the trend of emphasizing Israeli deaths over Palestinian deaths, by reporting them at a higher rate in the introductions, continued.

    ABC included mentions of 92% of Israeli deaths in introductions and only 10% of Palestinian deaths. That is, ABC covered Israeli deaths at a rate 9.68 times higher than Palestinian deaths, much higher than the ratio of 4.0 found in their coverage in full newscasts.

    CBS’s rate of covering killings of Israelis over those of Palestinians was also greater in introductions: 4.7 to 1, up from 3.8 in full newscasts.

    Only NBC’s ratio of coverage of Israeli deaths to Palestinian deaths dropped when we examined introductions in 2004: NBC covered Israeli deaths at a rate 3.6 times higher than Palestinian deaths in introductions, as opposed to the ratio of 4.4 in their full newscasts.

    Figure 18

    VII. Coverage of Cumulative Totals

    In addition to counting daily reports of deaths, we examined the networks’ mentions of cumulative deaths: reports summarizing the number of deaths that had occurred over an extended period of time (longer than one week), rather than reports on specific incidents.

    The most complete (and therefore most informative) type of cumulative report is what we call a full two-sided cumulative – a report of the total number of conflict deaths for both populations as of the date of the news report. Also useful in analysis are partial two-sided cumulatives: reports of the total number of conflict deaths for both populations over a period of time longer than one week, but shorter than the duration of the conflict or with some other limiting parameter.

    Unfortunately, we found that full two-sided cumulative reports were almost never given, and partial two-sided cumulatives were only rarely given. Instead, we found that it was far more common for the networks to report one-sided cumulatives. These, whether full or partial, make it more difficult for the viewer to make a comparison and draw conclusions on the relative levels of violence. In fact, such one-sided cumulatives may at times do more to obscure understanding of the conflict than to enhance it.

    In May of the first year ABC gave one full two-sided cumulative report on children’s deaths. CBS gave three full two-sided cumulatives, one of which included numbers of children killed. NBC also gave three full two-sided cumulative reports, although they were all in the first two months of the uprising. Additionally during this time, partial two-sided cumulatives were reported, twice by CBS and once by NBC.

    In 2004, none of the networks reported a single full two-sided cumulative, and only CBS reported a partial two-sided cumulative, with the following remark on March 7: “Over the last year … nearly 200 Israelis have been killed, more than 600 Palestinians as this conflict grinds on.”

    The networks’ full one-sided cumulative reports display an interesting pattern.

    All three networks reported full cumulatives of Palestinian deaths without corresponding numbers for Israelis in the first few months of the uprising, but quickly discontinued this practice: In the first two weeks of the uprising ABC twice reported the total number of Palestinians killed. CBS reported the total numbers of Palestinians killed once in the first month. NBC reported full cumulative numbers of Palestinian deaths five times, all in the first five months of the uprising, and once reported the full number of Palestinian children killed, in May of 2001. (Again, not counting the two-sided reports discussed above). The only full one-sided cumulative for Israelis during the study periods was reported by CBS in February, 2004; this was also the only full one-sided cumulative reported in 2004 by any of the networks.

    Finally, one-sided cumulative reports fall into the following groupings:

    1. Numbers of Israelis killed by specific Palestinian organizations, people, or tactics (e.g. suicide bombings). Of this type, ABC reported four cumulatives (all in 2004), CBS reported two, and NBC reported ten.
    2. Numbers of Palestinians killed by specific Israeli tactics, e.g. the campaign of “targeted assassinations.” ABC provided such reports five times, CBS three, and NBC four. Notably, this type of report carries the suggestion that the victims are legitimate targets of military action.
    3. The remainder of cumulatives were simply reports of numbers of people killed in some extended period of time, possibly also in a limited area. ABC reported six of this third type (number of Palestinians killed along a specific road, number of Palestinians killed in Bethlehem, number of Israelis killed since Arial Sharon was elected Prime Minister of Israel, and three other Palestinian cumulatives). CBS reported this type once (Palestinian). NBC gave four reports of this kind (three Palestinian, one Israeli).

    In examining these cumulative reports, a consistent pattern emerges in which cumulative reports of Israeli fatalities provide information on extensive periods of time – most often back to the beginning of the uprising, while cumulative reports of Palestinian deaths cover far shorter periods of time – often only weeks. Thus, similar numbers of deaths are reported in these cumulatives, despite the fact that throughout the conflict Palestinians have been killed in substantially larger numbers than Israelis.

    Additional Notes

    While gathering our data, we came across a number of additional patterns of distortion that merit further examination.

    Most significantly, it appeared that context was largely missing from this reporting. While we realize that the exigencies of network news programming decree that reports be relatively short, there is an obligation, nevertheless, to ensure that brevity does not create inaccuracy. In particular, there seemed insufficient information on the unusual historic and geographic dimensions of this conflict. Many viewers, given the nature of the reporting, may not realize that in the multitude of fatal incidents Israeli armed combatants were invading and occupying Palestinian territories, not vice versa.

    A few patterns of omission were particularly startling. The Israeli press, international human rights organizations, and medical relief agencies have all reported on the targeting of Palestinian children by Israeli forces. In the first year of the conflict, for example, at least 45 Palestinian children were confirmed to have been killed by Israeli gunfire to the head.9 Yet, two of the networks carried no reports on this disturbing phenomenon, and one network, CBS, reported on it only once (“…a 12-year-old boy shot in the head by an Israeli soldier…” 10/10/00).

    Finally, while reports of deaths were repeated on both sides, we found a significant difference in the types of deaths repeated. Follow-up stories on Israeli deaths often focused on civilians. By contrast, repetitions of Palestinian deaths were primarily devoted to the deaths of combatants, particularly members of militant groups.

    Such reporting significantly distorts the reality of the conflict, in which civilians are being killed in great numbers on both sides, and the number of Palestinian civilian deaths is considerably greater than the number of Israeli ones.10

    Conclusions

    It is sometimes said that the only uncontroversial aspect of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict is that it is controversial. Indeed, many news sources are simultaneously accused of displaying diametrically opposed biases. If Americans Knew has undertaken this study with the aim of providing objective, verifiable analysis of coverage.

    The Middle East is currently among the most volatile regions in the world. The Israeli-Palestinian conflict is one of the central issues of this region, and intimately related to the escalating regional violence we see today. American forces are presently deployed in one country in the region, and it is uncertain when they will be withdrawn. More US tax money goes to Israel than to any other nation; and more American money is sent to the Middle East than to the rest of the world combined. For all these reasons and more, it is essential that Americans receive full and accurate news coverage on Israel/Palestine.

    Unfortunately, our findings indicate that this is not occurring. Our analysis reveals troubling patterns of omission and disparities in emphasis that, we feel, profoundly hamper the ability of viewers to understand this conflict.

    In the first year of the current uprising, when there were four times more Palestinians being killed than Israelis, two out of three networks reported on more Israeli deaths than Palestinian deaths. This gives the viewer an essentially inverted view of the violence, which persists in following years. Such distortion also creates a chronological reversal, in which Israeli forces are seen as retaliating, when in reality many Palestinians were killed in the West Bank and Gaza before any Jewish Israelis were killed inside Israel.

    Reporting on children’s deaths was even more flawed.

    In 2004, when 22 times more Palestinian children were being killed than Israeli children, we found that ABC, CBS, and NBC were reporting Israeli children’s deaths at rates 9 to 12.8 times higher than Palestinian children’s deaths. By omitting the killings of a great number of Palestinian children, ABC, CBS, and NBC were failing to perform their function as new agencies – the reporting of the news. In the course of completing this study we found that there was no lack of newscasts on the subject – during many periods there were daily reports from the area – there was simply a pattern of omitting violence against Palestinians while emphasizing violence against Israelis.

    Finally, we found that the networks virtually never reported the total number of deaths among both populations in this conflict. This is a bizarre and highly perplexing omission. Such numbers are easily available and immensely significant. At the same time, we found the networks’ tendency in 2004 to report on the fact that “hundreds of Israelis have been killed” without at the same time mentioning the number of Palestinians killed (several times greater) inexplicable. Such reporting can only mislead. We hope that by alerting the networks to this lapse, they will correct it.

    We are deeply disturbed at the findings contained in this report. We hope that ABC, CBS, and NBC will be as concerned about these patterns as we are, and will undertake whatever actions are necessary to rectify the flaws in their coverage.

    Summary of Data

    Reporting of All Deaths – First Year of Uprising (9/29/2000 – 9/28/2001)

    Israeli

    Palestinian

    Actual Number of Deaths

    165

    549

    ABC

    Deaths Reported

    305

    327

    Percentage of Deaths Reported

    184.8%

    59.6%

    Ratio (Israeli % : Palestinian %)

    3.1 : 1

    CBS

    Deaths Reported

    334

    296

    Percentage of Deaths Reported

    202.4%

    53.9%

    Ratio (Israeli % : Palestinian %)

    3.8 : 1

    NBC

    Deaths Reported

    227

    190

    Percentage of Deaths Reported

    137.6%

    34.6%

    Ratio (Israeli % : Palestinian %)

    4.0 : 1

    Reporting of Children’s Deaths – First Year of Uprising (9/29/2000 – 9/28/2001)

    Israeli

    Palestinian

    Actual Number of Children’s Deaths

    28

    131

    ABC

    Children’s Deaths Reported

    56

    19

    Percentage of Children’s Deaths Reported

    200.0%

    14.5%

    Ratio (Israeli % : Palestinian %)

    13.8 : 1

    CBS

    Children’s Deaths Reported

    37

    27

    Percentage of Children’s Deaths Reported

    132.1%

    20.6%

    Ratio (Israeli % : Palestinian %)

    6.4 : 1

    NBC

    Children’s Deaths Reported

    45

    17

    Percentage of Children’s Deaths Reported

    160.7%

    13.0%

    Ratio (Israeli % : Palestinian %)

    12.4 : 1

    Reporting of All Deaths in Introductions – First Year of Uprising (9/29/2000 – 9/28/2001)

    Israeli

    Palestinian

    Actual Number of Deaths

    165

    549

    ABC

    Deaths Reported in Introduction

    164

    137

    Percentage of Deaths Reported in Introduction

    99.4%

    25.0%

    Ratio (Israeli % : Palestinian %)

    4.0 : 1

    CBS

    Deaths Reported in Introduction

    212

    122

    Percentage of Deaths Reported in Introduction

    128.5%

    22.2%

    Ratio (Israeli % : Palestinian %)

    5.8 : 1

    NBC

    Deaths Reported in Introduction

    119

    67

    Percentage of Deaths Reported in Introduction

    72.1%

    12.2%

    Ratio (Israeli % : Palestinian %)

    5.9 : 1

    Reporting of All Deaths – 2004

    Israeli

    Palestinian

    Actual Number of Deaths

    107

    821

    ABC

    Deaths Reported

    168

    322

    Percentage of Deaths Reported

    157.0%

    39.2%

    Ratio (Israeli % : Palestinian %)

    4.0 : 1

    CBS

    Deaths Reported

    112

    227

    Percentage of Deaths Reported

    104.7%

    27.6%

    Ratio (Israeli % : Palestinian %)

    3.8 : 1

    NBC

    Deaths Reported

    165

    287

    Percentage of Deaths Reported

    154.2%

    35.0%

    Ratio (Israeli % : Palestinian %)

    4.4 : 1

    Reporting of Children’s Deaths – 2004

    Israeli

    Palestinian

    Actual Number of Children’s Deaths

    8

    179

    ABC

    Children’s Deaths Reported

    8

    20

    Percentage of Children’s Deaths Reported

    100.0%

    11.2%

    Ratio (Israeli % : Palestinian %)

    9.0 : 1

    CBS

    Children’s Deaths Reported

    4

    7

    Percentage of Children’s Deaths Reported

    50.0%

    3.9%

    Ratio (Israeli % : Palestinian %)

    12.8 : 1

    NBC

    Children’s Deaths Reported

    8

    18

    Percentage of Children’s Deaths Reported

    100.0%

    10.1%

    Ratio (Israeli % : Palestinian %)

    9.9 : 1

    Reporting of All Deaths in Introductions – 2004

    Israeli

    Palestinian

    Actual Number of Deaths

    107

    821

    ABC

    Deaths Reported in Introduction

    98

    78

    Percentage of Deaths Reported in Introduction

    91.6%

    9.5%

    Ratio (Israeli % : Palestinian %)

    9.6 : 1

    CBS

    Deaths Reported in Introduction

    59

    96

    Percentage of Deaths Reported in Introduction

    55.1%

    11.7%

    Ratio (Israeli % : Palestinian %)

    4.7 : 1

    NBC

    Deaths Reported in Introduction

    77

    165

    Percentage of Deaths Reported in Introduction

    72.0%

    20.1%

    Ratio (Israeli % : Palestinian %)

    3.6 : 1

    Source

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    Illegal Israeli settlement construction in the West Bank increased sharply in 2008

    By Daniel Luban
    January 28 2009
    WASHINGTON
    Israeli settlement construction in the West Bank increased sharply in 2008, despite Israel’s pledge at the beginning of the year to freeze all construction, according to a new report by an Israeli non-governmental organisation.

    The report, released Wednesday by the group Peace Now, found that settlement construction in 2008 increased by almost 60 percent, including new construction both inside and outside of the security barrier and within illegal settlement outposts.

    The Peace Now study was released on the same day that newly appointed U.S. peace envoy George Mitchell – a longtime critic of settlement construction – arrived in Israel. The increase in construction is expected to be a source of friction in Mitchell’s negotiations with Israeli leaders.

    Critics warned that the increase in construction is likely to damage the already fragile prospects for a two-state solution in Israel and Palestine.

    “Every structure built in a settlement makes the two-state solution more difficult to achieve and further jeopardises Israel’s future as a Jewish democratic country,” said Debra DeLee, president of Peace Now’s sister organisation Americans for Peace Now.

    The report found that at least 1,257 new structures were built in West Bank settlements in 2008, up sharply from 800 in 2007. This figure did not include the 261 new structures built in illegal outposts in the West Bank.

    Nearly 40 percent of the new structures were built east of the security barrier, many of them extending deep into the West Bank.

    And despite the Israeli government’s pledge to crack down on the illegal outposts, the study found that “not a single real outpost was evacuated”.

    Additionally, the report found evidence that land confiscations were continuing to take place, contradicting the government’s stated policy.

    Following the Annapolis peace conference in late 2007, Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert pledged to freeze settlement construction and remove some existing settlements.

    In November 2008, he announced that the government would cut off funding for illegal outposts – thereby admitting that it had continued to fund them up to that point.

    The Peace Now report found that the Israeli government had encouraged the increase in settlement construction both through active aid and through non-enforcement of its stated policies.

    Also on Wednesday, U.S. envoy Mitchell arrived in Jerusalem and met with leaders including Olmert, Foreign Minister Tzipi Livni, and Defence Minister Ehud Barak. He is scheduled to meet with Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas and Prime Minister Salaam Fayad in Ramallah, and Likud party chief Binyamin Netanyahu on Friday.

    Although preliminary reports indicated that the aftermath of the war in Gaza was the primary topic under discussion at Wednesday’s meetings, the settlements are expected to be a continued sticking point going forward.

    Mitchell served an earlier stint as Middle East peace envoy in 2001, after which his committee released a report that was harshly critical of Israeli settlement policies.

    The 2001 Mitchell report called on Israel to “freeze all settlement activity, including the ‘natural growth’ of existing settlements”. This call was taken up in the George W. Bush administration’s “road map” for the peace process, which formed the basis of the 2007 Annapolis conference.

    Mitchell’s insistence on a settlement freeze as a precondition for the peace process led many right-leaning pro-Israel groups in the U.S. to oppose his recent selection as peace envoy. Abraham Foxman, the influential head of the Anti-Defamation League, stated that he was “concerned” about Mitchell’s “meticulously even-handed” approach to the region.

    Nevertheless, in the eight years since Mitchell’s initial report, his calls for a halt to the settlement project have become a mainstream consensus view.

    Olmert and his predecessor Ariel Sharon – who had been an original architect of the settlement project – both came to believe that it was likely to doom Israel if left unchecked.

    Given the basic demographic trends, an Israeli state encompassing the West Bank and Gaza would soon have an Arab majority. This would force Israel to choose between becoming a secular and binational state with full political rights for all citizens, or an undemocratic state that denied full political rights to Arab residents.

    It was partially this logic led Sharon to withdraw from the Gaza Strip and remove Israeli settlements there in 2005.

    However, the challenge in the West Bank is much greater. There are now estimated to be over 285,000 settlers in the West Bank, many of them militantly opposed to a two-state solution. The Israeli government has generally paid lip service to the goal of curbing the West Bank settlers, but has been reluctant to crack down on them.

    If Netanyahu becomes the next Israeli prime minister, as currently seems likely, he and Mitchell could be set to clash on the settlements issue.

    Netanyahu has recently tacked to the centre on the issue, telling Quartet envoy Tony Blair on Sunday that a Likud-led government would build no new settlements.

    However, Netanyahu said that he would continue to permit “natural growth” of existing settlements – a qualification that strips his promise of much of its meaning.

    Israel has not officially created any new settlements in over a decade, instead ascribing all settlement construction to “natural growth”. It was this consideration that led both Mitchell’s 2001 report and Bush’s road map to explicitly forbid construction under the auspices of “natural growth”.

    Gershom Gorenberg, author of “The Accidental Empire”, a 2007 history of the settlements, urged Mitchell to stand firm against Netanyahu in an open letter published Wednesday in The American Prospect.

    Netanyahu’s position is a “con”, Gorenberg wrote. “You need to insist on [a full settlement freeze] publicly in the months ahead”.

    At the moment, however, none of the leading candidates for prime minister appears to have much appetite to confront the settlers. How much pressure Mitchell and the Obama administration are willing to exert on the Israeli government to do so will be one of the first tests of the U.S.-Israel relationship in the months ahead.

    Source

    Israel will never keep it’s word. They just keep lieing or coming up with scams to steal land that is not theirs.

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    “Exterminate all the Brutes”: Gaza 2009

    “Exterminate all the Brutes”: Gaza 2009

    January 20, 2009
    By Noam Chomsky

    On Saturday December 27, the latest US-Israeli attack on helpless Palestinians was launched. The attack had been meticulously planned, for over 6 months according to the Israeli press. The planning had two components: military and propaganda. It was based on the lessons of Israel’s 2006 invasion of Lebanon, which was considered to be poorly planned and badly advertised. We may, therefore, be fairly confident that most of what has been done and said was pre-planned and intended.

    That surely includes the timing of the assault: shortly before noon, when children were returning from school and crowds were milling in the streets of densely populated Gaza City. It took only a few minutes to kill over 225 people and wound 700, an auspicious opening to the mass slaughter of defenseless civilians trapped in a tiny cage with nowhere to flee.

    In his retrospective “Parsing Gains of Gaza War,” New York Times correspondent Ethan Bronner cited this achievement as one of the most significant of the gains. Israel calculated that it would be advantageous to appear to “go crazy,” causing vastly disproportionate terror, a doctrine that traces back to the 1950s. “The Palestinians in Gaza got the message on the first day,” Bronner wrote, “when Israeli warplanes struck numerous targets simultaneously in the middle of a Saturday morning. Some 200 were killed instantly, shocking Hamas and indeed all of Gaza.” The tactic of “going crazy” appears to have been successful, Bronner concluded: there are “limited indications that the people of Gaza felt such pain from this war that they will seek to rein in Hamas,” the elected government. That is another long-standing doctrine of state terror. I don’t, incidentally, recall the Times retrospective “Parsing Gains of Chechnya War,” though the gains were great.

    The meticulous planning also presumably included the termination of the assault, carefully timed to be just before the inauguration, so as to minimize the (remote) threat that Obama might have to say some words critical of these vicious US-supported crimes.

    Two weeks after the Sabbath opening of the assault, with much of Gaza already pounded to rubble and the death toll approaching 1000, the UN Agency UNRWA, on which most Gazans depend for survival, announced that the Israeli military refused to allow aid shipments to Gaza, saying that the crossings were closed for the Sabbath. To honor the holy day, Palestinians at the edge of survival must be denied food and medicine, while hundreds can be slaughtered by US jet bombers and helicopters.

    The rigorous observance of the Sabbath in this dual fashion attracted little if any notice. That makes sense. In the annals of US-Israeli criminality, such cruelty and cynicism scarcely merit more than a footnote. They are too familiar. To cite one relevant parallel, in June 1982 the US-backed Israeli invasion of Lebanon opened with the bombing of the Palestinian refugee camps of Sabra and Shatila, later to become famous as the site of terrible massacres supervised by the IDF (Israeli “Defense” Forces). The bombing hit the local hospital – the Gaza hospital — and killed over 200 people, according to the eyewitness account of an American Middle East academic specialist. The massacre was the opening act in an invasion that slaughtered some 15-20,000 people and destroyed much of southern Lebanon and Beirut, proceeding with crucial US military and diplomatic support. That included vetoes of Security Council resolutions seeking to halt the criminal aggression that was undertaken, as scarcely concealed, to defend Israel from the threat of peaceful political settlement, contrary to many convenient fabrications about Israelis suffering under intense rocketing, a fantasy of apologists.

    All of this is normal, and quite openly discussed by high Israeli officials. Thirty years ago Chief of Staff Mordechai Gur observed that since 1948, “we have been fighting against a population that lives in villages and cities.” As Israel’s most prominent military analyst, Zeev Schiff, summarized his remarks, “the Israeli Army has always struck civilian populations, purposely and consciously…the Army, he said, has never distinguished civilian [from military] targets…[but] purposely attacked civilian targets.” The reasons were explained by the distinguished statesman Abba Eban: “there was a rational prospect, ultimately fulfilled, that affected populations would exert pressure for the cessation of hostilities.” The effect, as Eban well understood, would be to allow Israel to implement, undisturbed, its programs of illegal expansion and harsh repression. Eban was commenting on a review of Labor government attacks against civilians by Prime Minister Begin, presenting a picture, Eban said, “of an Israel wantonly inflicting every possible measure of death and anguish on civilian populations in a mood reminiscent of regimes which neither Mr.Begin nor I would dare to mention by name.” Eban did not contest the facts that Begin reviewed, but criticized him for stating them publicly. Nor did it concern Eban, or his admirers, that his advocacy of massive state terror is also reminiscent of regimes he would not dare to mention by name.

    Eban’s justification for state terror is regarded as persuasive by respected authorities. As the current US-Israel assault raged, Times columnist Thomas Friedman explained that Israel’s tactics both in the current attack and in its invasion of Lebanon in 2006 are based on the sound principle of “trying to `educate’ Hamas, by inflicting a heavy death toll on Hamas militants and heavy pain on the Gaza population.” That makes sense on pragmatic grounds, as it did in Lebanon, where “the only long-term source of deterrence was to exact enough pain on the civilians — the families and employers of the militants — to restrain Hezbollah in the future.” And by similar logic, bin Laden’s effort to “educate” Americans on 9/11 was highly praiseworthy, as were the Nazi attacks on Lidice and Oradour, Putin’s destruction of Grozny, and other notable attempts at “education.”

    Israel has taken pains to make clear its dedication to these guiding principles. NYT correspondent Stephen Erlanger reports that Israeli human rights groups are “troubled by Israel’s strikes on buildings they believe should be classified as civilian, like the parliament, police stations and the presidential palace” – and, we may add, villages, homes, densely populated refugee camps, water and sewage systems, hospitals, schools and universities, mosques, UN relief facilities, ambulances, and indeed anything that might relieve the pain of the unworthy victims. A senior Israeli intelligence officer explained that the IDF attacked “both aspects of Hamas — its resistance or military wing and its dawa, or social wing,” the latter a euphemism for the civilian society. “He argued that Hamas was all of a piece,” Erlanger continues, “and in a war, its instruments of political and social control were as legitimate a target as its rocket caches.” Erlanger and his editors add no comment about the open advocacy, and practice, of massive terrorism targeting civilians, though correspondents and columnists signal their tolerance or even explicit advocacy of war crimes, as noted. But keeping to the norm, Erlanger does not fail to stress that Hamas rocketing is “an obvious violation of the principle of discrimination and fits the classic definition of terrorism.”

    Like others familiar with the region, Middle East specialist Fawwaz Gerges observes that “What Israeli officials and their American allies do not appreciate is that Hamas is not merely an armed militia but a social movement with a large popular base that is deeply entrenched in society.” Hence when they carry out their plans to destroy Hamas’s “social wing,” they are aiming to destroy Palestinian society.

    Gerges may be too kind. It is highly unlikely that Israeli and American officials – or the media and other commentators – do not appreciate these facts. Rather, they implicitly adopt the traditional perspective of those who monopolize means of violence: our mailed fist can crush any opposition, and if our furious assault has a heavy civilian toll, that’s all to the good: perhaps the remnants will be properly educated.

    IDF officers clearly understand that they are crushing the civilian society. Ethan Bronner quotes an Israeli Colonel who says that he and his men are not much “impressed with the Hamas fighters.” “They are villagers with guns,” said a gunner on an armored personnel carrier. They resemble the victims of the murderous IDF “iron fist” operations in occupied southern Lebanon in 1985, directed by Shimon Peres, one of the great terrorist commanders of the era of Reagan’s “War on Terror.” During these operations, Israeli commanders and strategic analysts explained that the victims were “terrorist villagers,” difficult to eradicate because “these terrorists operate with the support of most of the local population.” An Israeli commander complained that “the terrorist…has many eyes here, because he lives here,” while the military correspondent of the Jerusalem Post described the problems Israeli forces faced in combating the “terrorist mercenary,” “fanatics, all of whom are sufficiently dedicated to their causes to go on running the risk of being killed while operating against the IDF,” which must “maintain order and security” in occupied southern Lebanon despite “the price the inhabitants will have to pay.” The problem has been familiar to Americans in South Vietnam, Russians in Afghanistan, Germans in occupied Europe, and other aggressors that find themselves implementing the Gur-Eban-Friedman doctrine.

    Gerges believes that US-Israeli state terror will fail: Hamas, he writes, “cannot be wiped out without massacring half a million Palestinians. If Israel succeeds in killing Hamas’s senior leaders, a new generation, more radical than the present, will swiftly replace them. Hamas is a fact of life. It is not going away, and it will not raise the white flag regardless of how many casualties it suffers.”

    Perhaps, but there is often a tendency to underestimate the efficacy of violence. It is particularly odd that such a belief should be held in the United States. Why are we here?

    Hamas is regularly described as “Iranian-backed Hamas, which is dedicated to the destruction of Israel.” One will be hard put to find something like “democratically elected Hamas, which has long been calling for a two-state settlement in accord with the international consensus” — blocked for over 30 years by the US and Israel, which flatly and explicitly reject the right of Palestinians to self-determination. All true, but not a useful contribution to the Party Line, hence dispensable.

    Such details as those mentioned earlier, though minor, nevertheless teach us something about ourselves and our clients. So do others. To mention another one, as the latest US-Israeli assault on Gaza began, a small boat, the Dignity, was on its way from Cyprus to Gaza. The doctors and human rights activists aboard intended to violate Israel’s criminal blockade and to bring medical supplies to the trapped population. The ship was intercepted in international waters by Israeli naval vessels, which rammed it severely, almost sinking it, though it managed to limp to Lebanon. Israel issued the routine lies, refuted by the journalists and passengers aboard, including CNN correspondent Karl Penhaul and former US representative and Green Party presidential candidate Cynthia McKinney. That is a serious crime — much worse, for example, than hijacking boats off the coast of Somalia. It passed with little notice. The tacit acceptance of such crimes reflects the understanding that Gaza is occupied territory, and that Israel is entitled to maintain its siege, even authorized by the guardians of international order to carry out crimes on the high seas to implement its programs of punishing the civilian population for disobedience to its commands – under pretexts to which we return, almost universally accepted but clearly untenable.

    The lack of attention again makes sense. For decades, Israel had been hijacking boats in international waters between Cyprus and Lebanon, killing or kidnapping passengers, sometimes bringing them to prisons in Israel, including secret prison/torture chambers, to hold as hostages for many years. Since the practices are routine, why treat the new crime with more than a yawn? Cyprus and Lebanon reacted quite differently, but who are they in the scheme of things?

    Who cares, for example, if the editors of Lebanon’s Daily Star, generally pro-Western, write that “Some 1.5 million people in Gaza are being subjected to the murderous ministrations of one of the world’s most technologically advanced but morally regressive military machines. It is often suggested that the Palestinians have become to the Arab world what the Jews were to pre-World War II Europe, and there is some truth to this interpretation. How sickeningly appropriate, then, that just as Europeans and North Americans looked the other way when the Nazis were perpetrating the Holocaust, the Arabs are finding a way to do nothing as the Israelis slaughter Palestinian children.” Perhaps the most shameful of the Arab regimes is the brutal Egyptian dictatorship, the beneficiary of most US military aid, apart from Israel.

    According to the Lebanese press, Israel still “routinely abducts Lebanese civilians from the Lebanese side of the Blue Line [the international border], most recently in December 2008.” And of course “Israeli planes violate Lebanese airspace on a daily basis in violation of UN Resolution 1701” (Lebanese scholar Amal Saad-Ghorayeb, Daily Star, Jan. 13). That too has been happening for a long time. In condemning Israel’s invasion of Lebanon in 2006, the prominent Israeli strategic analyst Zeev Maoz wrote in the Israeli press that “Israel has violated Lebanese airspace by carrying out aerial reconnaissance missions virtually every day since its withdrawal from Southern Lebanon six years ago. True, these aerial overflights did not cause any Lebanese casualties, but a border violation is a border violation. Here too, Israel does not hold a higher moral ground.” And in general, there is no basis for the “wall-to-wall consensus in Israel that the war against the Hezbollah in Lebanon is a just and moral war,” a consensus “based on selective and short-term memory, on an introvert world view, and on double standards. This is not a just war, the use of force is excessive and indiscriminate, and its ultimate aim is extortion.”

    As Maoz also reminds his Israeli readers, overflights with sonic booms to terrorize Lebanese are the least of Israeli crimes in Lebanon, even apart from its five invasions since 1978: “On July 28, 1988 Israeli Special Forces abducted Sheikh Obeid, and on May 21, 1994 Israel abducted Mustafa Dirani, who was responsible for capturing the Israeli pilot Ron Arad [when he was bombing Lebanon in 1986]. Israel held these and other 20 Lebanese who were captured under undisclosed circumstances in prison for prolonged periods without trial. They were held as human `bargaining chips.’ Apparently, abduction of Israelis for the purpose of prisoners’ exchange is morally reprehensible, and militarily punishable when it is the Hezbollah who does the abducting, but not if Israel is doing the very same thing,” and on a far grander scale and over many years.

    Israel’s regular practices are significant even apart from what they reveal about Israeli criminality and Western support for it. As Maoz indicates, these practices underscore the utter hypocrisy of the standard claim that Israel had the right to invade Lebanon once again in 2006 when soldiers were captured at the border, the first cross-border action by Hezbollah in the six years since Israel’s withdrawal from southern Lebanon, which it occupied in violation of Security Council orders going back 22 years, while during these six years Israel violated the border almost daily with impunity, and silence here.

    The hypocrisy is, again, routine. Thus Thomas Friedman, while explaining how the lesser breeds are to be “educated” by terrorist violence, writes that Israel’s invasion of Lebanon in 2006, once again destroying much of southern Lebanon and Beirut while killing another 1000 civilians, was a just act of self-defense, responding to Hezbollah’s crime of “launching an unprovoked war across the U.N.-recognized Israel-Lebanon border, after Israel had unilaterally withdrawn from Lebanon.” Putting aside the deceit, by the same logic, terrorist attacks against Israelis that are far more destructive and murderous than any that have taken place would be fully justified in response to Israel’s criminal practices in Lebanon and on the high seas, which vastly exceed Hezbollah’s crime of capturing two soldiers at the border. The veteran Middle East specialist of the New York Times surely knows about these crimes, at least if he reads his own newspaper: for example, the 18th paragraph of a story on prisoner exchange in November 1983 which observes, casually, that 37 of the Arab prisoners “had been seized recently by the Israeli Navy as they tried to make their way from Cyprus to Tripoli,” north of Beirut.

    Of course all such conclusions about appropriate actions against the rich and powerful are based on a fundamental flaw: This is us, and that is them. This crucial principle, deeply embedded in Western culture, suffices to undermine even the most precise analogy and the most impeccable reasoning.

    As I write, another boat is on its way from Cyprus to Gaza, “carrying urgently needed medical supplies in sealed boxes, cleared by customs at the Larnaca International Airport and the Port of Larnaca,” the organizers report. Passengers include members of European Parliaments and physicians. Israel has been notified of their humanitarian intent. With sufficient popular pressure, they might achieve their mission in peace.

    The new crimes that the US and Israel have been committing in Gaza in the past weeks do not fit easily into any standard category – except for the category of familiarity; I’ve just given several examples, and will return to others. Literally, the crimes fall under the official US government definition of “terrorism,” but that designation does not capture their enormity. They cannot be called “aggression,” because they are being conducted in occupied territory, as the US tacitly concedes. In their comprehensive scholarly history of Israeli settlement in the occupied territories, Lords of the Land, Idit Zertal and Akiva Eldar point out that after Israel withdrew its forces from Gaza in August 2005, the ruined territory was not released “for even a single day from Israel’s military grip or from the price of the occupation that the inhabitants pay every day… Israel left behind scorched earth, devastated services, and people with neither a present nor a future. The settlements were destroyed in an ungenerous move by an unenlightened occupier, which in fact continues to control the territory and kill and harass its inhabitants by means of its formidable military might” – exercised with extreme savagery, thanks to firm US support and participation.

    The US-Israeli assault on Gaza escalated in January 2006, a few months after the formal withdrawal, when Palestinians committed a truly heinous crime: they voted “the wrong way” in a free election. Like others, Palestinians learned that one does not disobey with impunity the commands of the Master, who continues to prate of his “yearning for democracy,” without eliciting ridicule from the educated classes, another impressive achievement.

    Since the terms “aggression” and “terrorism” are inadequate, some new term is needed for the sadistic and cowardly torture of people caged with no possibility of escape, while they are being pounded to dust by the most sophisticated products of US military technology – used in violation of international and even US law, but for self-declared outlaw states that is just another minor technicality. Also a minor technicality is the fact that on December 31, while terrorized Gazans were desperately seeking shelter from the ruthless assault, Washington hired a German merchant ship to transport from Greece to Israel a huge shipment, 3000 tons, of unidentified “ammunition.” The new shipment “follows the hiring of a commercial ship to carry a much larger consignment of ordnance in December from the United States to Israel ahead of air strikes in the Gaza Strip,” Reuters reported. All of this is separate from the more than $21 billion in U.S. military aid provided by the Bush administration to Israel, almost all grants. “Israel’s intervention in the Gaza Strip has been fueled largely by U.S. supplied weapons paid for with U.S. tax dollars,” said a briefing by the New America Foundation, which monitors the arms trade. The new shipment was hampered by the decision of the Greek government to bar the use of any port in Greece “for the supplying of the Israeli army.”

    Greece’s response to US-backed Israeli crimes is rather different from the craven performance of the leaders of most of Europe. The distinction reveals that Washington may have been quite realistic in regarding Greece as part of the Near East, not Europe, until the overthrow of its US-backed fascist dictatorship in 1974. Perhaps Greece is just too civilized to be part of Europe.

    Were anyone to find the timing of the arms deliveries to Israel curious, and inquire further, the Pentagon has an answer: the shipment would arrive too late to escalate the Gaza attack, and the military equipment, whatever it may be, is to be pre-positioned in Israel for eventual use by the US military. That may be accurate. One of the many services that Israel performs for its patron is to provide it with a valuable military base at the periphery of the world’s major energy resources. It can therefore serve as a forward base for US aggression – or to use the technical terms, to “defend the Gulf” and “ensure stability.”

    The huge flow of arms to Israel serves many subsidiary purposes. Middle East policy analyst Mouin Rabbani observes that Israel can test newly developed weapons systems against defenseless targets. This is of value to Israel and the US “twice over, in fact, because less effective versions of these same weapons systems are subsequently sold at hugely inflated prices to Arab states, which effectively subsidizes the U.S. weapons industry and U.S. military grants to Israel.” These are additional functions of Israel in the US-dominated Middle East system, and among the reasons why Israel is so favored by the state authorities, along with a wide range of US high-tech corporations, and of course military industry and intelligence.

    Israel apart, the US is by far the world’s major arms supplier. The recent New America Foundation report concludes that “U.S. arms and military training played a role in 20 of the world’s 27 major wars in 2007,” earning the US $23 billion in receipts, increasing to $32 billion in 2008. Small wonder that among the numerous UN resolutions that the US opposed in the December 2008 UN session was one calling for regulation of the arms trade. In 2006, the US was alone in voting against the treaty, but in November 2008 it was joined by a partner: Zimbabwe.

    There were other notable votes at the December UN session. A resolution on “the right of the Palestinian people to self-determination” was adopted by 173 to 5 (US, Israel, Pacific island dependencies). The vote strongly reaffirms US-Israeli rejectionism, in international isolation. Similarly a resolution on “universal freedom of travel and the vital importance of family reunification” was adopted with US, Israel, and Pacific dependencies opposed, presumably with Palestinians in mind.

    In voting against the right to development the US lost Israel but gained Ukraine. In voting against the “right to food,” the US was alone, a particular striking fact in the face of the enormous global food crisis, dwarfing the financial crisis that threatens western economies.

    There are good reasons why the voting record is consistently unreported and dispatched deep into the memory hole by the media and conformist intellectuals. It would not be wise to reveal to the public what the record implies about their elected representatives. In the present case it would plainly be unhelpful to let the public know that US-Israeli rejectionism, barring the peaceful settlement long advocated by the world, reaches such an extreme as to deny Palestinians even the abstract right to self-determination.

    One of the heroic volunteers in Gaza, Norwegian doctor Mads Gilbert, described the scene of horror as an “All out war against the civilian population of Gaza.” He estimated that half the casualties are women and children. The men are almost all civilians as well, by civilized standards. Gilbert reports that he had scarcely seen a military casualty among the 100s of bodies. The IDF concurs. Hamas “made a point of fighting at a distance — or not at all,” Ethan Bronner reports while “parsing the gains” of the US-Israeli assault. So Hamas’s manpower remains intact, and it was mostly civilians who suffered pain: a positive outcome, according to widely-held doctrine.

    These estimates were confirmed by UN humanitarian chief John Holmes, who informed reporters that it is “a fair presumption” that most of the civilians killed were women and children in a humanitarian crisis that is “worsening day by day as the violence continues.” But we could be comforted by the words of Israeli Foreign Minister Tzipi Livni, the leading dove in the current electoral campaign, who assured the world that there is no “humanitarian crisis” in Gaza, thanks to Israeli benevolence.

    Like others who care about human beings and their fate, Gilbert and Holmes pleaded for a ceasefire. But not yet. “At the United Nations, the United States prevented the Security Council from issuing a formal statement on Saturday night calling for an immediate ceasefire,” the New York Times mentioned in passing. The official reason was that “there was no indication Hamas would abide by any agreement.” In the annals of justifications for delighting in slaughter, this must rank among the most cynical. That of course was Bush and Rice, soon to be displaced by Obama who compassionately repeats that “if missiles were falling where my two daughters sleep, I would do everything in order to stop that.” He is referring to Israeli children, not the many hundreds being torn to shreds in Gaza by US arms. Beyond that Obama maintained his silence.

    A few days later, under intense international pressure, the US backed a Security Council resolution calling for a “durable ceasefire.” It passed 14-0, US abstaining. Israel and US hawks were angered that the US did not veto it, as usual. The abstention, however, sufficed to give Israel if not a green at least a yellow light to escalate the violence, as it did right up to virtually the moment of the inauguration, as had been predicted.

    As the ceasefire (theoretically) went into effect on January18, the Palestinian Centre for Human Rights released its figures for the final day of the assault: 54 Palestinians killed including 43 unarmed civilians, 17 of them children, while the IDF continued to bombard civilian homes and UN schools. The death toll, they estimated, mounted to 1,184, including 844 civilians, 281 of them children. The IDF continued to use incendiary bombs across the Gaza Strip, and to destroy houses and agricultural land, forcing civilians to flee their homes. A few hours later, Reuters reported more than 1,300 killed. The staff of the Al Mezan Center, which also carefully monitors casualties and destruction, visited areas that had previously been inaccessible because of incessant heavy bombardment. They discovered dozens of civilian corpses decomposing under the rubble of destroyed houses or removed by Israeli bulldozers. Entire urban blocks had disappeared.

    The figures for killed and wounded are surely an underestimate. And it is unlikely that there will be any inquiry into these atrocities. Crimes of official enemies are subjected to rigorous investigation, but our own are systematically ignored. General practice, again, and understandable on the part of the masters.

    The Security Council Resolution called for stopping the flow of arms into Gaza. The US and Israel (Rice-Livni) soon reached an agreement on measures to ensure this result, concentrating on Iranian arms. There is no need to stop smuggling of US arms into Israel, because there is no smuggling: the huge flow of arms is quite public, even when not reported, as in the case of the arms shipment announced as the slaughter in Gaza was proceeding.

    The Resolution also called for “ensur[ing] the sustained re-opening of the crossing points on the basis of the 2005 Agreement on Movement and Access between the Palestinian Authority and Israel”; that Agreement determined that crossings to Gaza would be operated on a continuous basis and that Israel would also allow the crossing of goods and people between the West Bank and the Gaza Strip.

    The Rice-Livni agreement had nothing to say about this aspect of the Security Council Resolution. The US and Israel had in fact already abandoned the 2005 Agreement as part of their punishment of Palestinians for voting the wrong way in a free election in January 2006. Rice’s press conference after the Rice-Livni agreement emphasized Washington’s continuing efforts to undermine the results of the one free election in the Arab world: “There is much that can be done,” she said, “to bring Gaza out of the dark of Hamas’s reign and into the light of the very good governance the Palestinian Authority can bring” – at least, can bring as long as it remains a loyal client, rife with corruption and willing to carry out harsh repression, but obedient.

    Returning from a visit to the Arab world, Fawwaz Gerges strongly affirmed what others on the scene have reported. The effect of the US-Israeli offensive in Gaza has been to infuriate the populations and to arouse bitter hatred of the aggressors and their collaborators. “Suffice it to say that the so-called moderate Arab states [that is, those that take their orders from Washington] are on the defensive, and that the resistance front led by Iran and Syria is the main beneficiary. Once again, Israel and the Bush administration have handed the Iranian leadership a sweet victory.” Furthermore, “Hamas will likely emerge as a more powerful political force than before and will likely top Fatah, the ruling apparatus of President Mahmoud Abbas’s Palestinian Authority,” Rice’s favorites.

    It is worth bearing in mind that the Arab world is not scrupulously protected from the only regular live TV coverage of what is happening in Gaza, namely the “calm and balanced analysis of the chaos and destruction” provided by the outstanding correspondents of al-Jazeera, offering “a stark alternative to terrestrial channels,” as reported by the London Financial Times. In the 105 countries lacking our efficient modalities of self-censorship, people can see what is happening hourly, and the impact is said to be very great. In the US, the New York Times reports, “the near-total blackout…is no doubt related to the sharp criticism Al Jazeera received from the United States government during the initial stages of the war in Iraq for its coverage of the American invasion.” Cheney and Rumsfeld objected, so, obviously, the independent media could only obey.

    There is much sober debate about what the attackers hoped to achieve. Some of objectives are commonly discussed, among them, restoring what is called “the deterrent capacity” that Israel lost as a result of its failures in Lebanon in 2006 – that is, the capacity to terrorize any potential opponent into submission. There are, however, more fundamental objectives that tend be ignored, though they too seem fairly obvious when we take a look at recent history.

    Israel abandoned Gaza in September 2005. Rational Israeli hardliners, like Ariel Sharon, the patron saint of the settlers movement, understood that it was senseless to subsidize a few thousand illegal Israeli settlers in the ruins of Gaza, protected by the IDF while they used much of the land and scarce resources. It made more sense to turn Gaza into the world’s largest prison and to transfer settlers to the West Bank, much more valuable territory, where Israel is quite explicit about its intentions, in word and more importantly in deed. One goal is to annex the arable land, water supplies, and pleasant suburbs of Jerusalem and Tel Aviv that lie within the separation wall, irrelevantly declared illegal by the World Court. That includes a vastly expanded Jerusalem, in violation of Security Council orders that go back 40 years, also irrelevant. Israel has also been taking over the Jordan Valley, about one-third of the West Bank. What remains is therefore imprisoned, and, furthermore, broken into fragments by salients of Jewish settlement that trisect the territory: one to the east of Greater Jerusalem through the town of Ma’aleh Adumim, developed through the Clinton years to split the West Bank; and two to the north, through the towns of Ariel and Kedumim. What remains to Palestinians is segregated by hundreds of mostly arbitrary checkpoints.

    The checkpoints have no relation to security of Israel, and if some are intended to safeguard settlers, they are flatly illegal, as the World Court ruled. In reality, their major goal is harass the Palestinian population and to fortify what Israeli peace activist Jeff Halper calls the “matrix of control,” designed to make life unbearable for the “two-legged beasts” who will be like “drugged roaches scurrying around in a bottle” if they seek to remain in their homes and land. All of that is fair enough, because they are “like grasshoppers compared to us” so that their heads can be “smashed against the boulders and walls.” The terminology is from the highest Israeli political and military leaders, in this case the revered “princes.” And the attitudes shape policies.

    The ravings of the political and military leaders are mild as compared to the preaching of rabbinical authorities. They are not marginal figures. On the contrary, they are highly influential in the army and in the settler movement, who Zertal and Eldar reveal to be “lords of the land,” with enormous impact on policy. Soldiers fighting in northern Gaza were afforded an “inspirational” visit from two leading rabbis, who explained to them that there are no “innocents” in Gaza, so everyone there is a legitimate target, quoting a famous passage from Psalms calling on the Lord to seize the infants of Israel’s oppressors and dash them against the rocks. The rabbis were breaking no new ground. A year earlier, the former chief Sephardic rabbi wrote to Prime Minister Olmert, informing him that all civilians in Gaza are collectively guilty for rocket attacks, so that there is “absolutely no moral prohibition against the indiscriminate killing of civilians during a potential massive military offensive on Gaza aimed at stopping the rocket launchings,” as the Jerusalem Post reported his ruling. His son, chief rabbi of Safed, elaborated: “If they don’t stop after we kill 100, then we must kill a thousand, and if they do not stop after 1,000 then we must kill 10,000. If they still don’t stop we must kill 100,000, even a million. Whatever it takes to make them stop.”

    Similar views are expressed by prominent American secular figures. When Israel invaded Lebanon in 2006, Harvard Law School Professor Alan Dershowitz explained in the liberal online journal Huffington Post that all Lebanese are legitimate targets of Israeli violence. Lebanon’s citizens are “paying the price” for supporting “terrorism” – that is, for supporting resistance to Israel’s invasion. Accordingly, Lebanese civilians are no more immune to attack than Austrians who supported the Nazis. The fatwa of the Sephardic rabbi applies to them. In a video on the Jerusalem Post website, Dershowitz went on to ridicule talk of excessive kill ratios of Palestinians to Israelis: it should be increased to 1000-to-one, he said, or even 1000-to-zero, meaning the brutes should be completely exterminated. Of course, he is referring to “terrorists,” a broad category that includes the victims of Israeli power, since “Israel never targets civilians,” he emphatically declared. It follows that Palestinians, Lebanese, Tunisians, in fact anyone who gets in the way of the ruthless armies of the Holy State is a terrorist, or an accidental victim of their just crimes.

    It is not easy to find historical counterparts to these performances. It is perhaps of some interest that they are considered entirely appropriate in the reigning intellectual and moral culture – when they are produced on “our side,” that is; from the mouths of official enemies such words would elicit righteous outrage and calls for massive preemptive violence in revenge.

    The claim that “our side” never targets civilians is familiar doctrine among those who monopolize the means of violence. And there is some truth to it. We do not generally try to kill particular civilians. Rather, we carry out murderous actions that we know will slaughter many civilians, but without specific intent to kill particular ones. In law, the routine practices might fall under the category of depraved indifference, but that is not an adequate designation for standard imperial practice and doctrine. It is more similar to walking down a street knowing that we might kill ants, but without intent to do so, because they rank so low that it just doesn’t matter. The same is true when Israel carries out actions that it knows will kill the “grasshoppers” and “two-legged beasts” who happen to infest the lands it “liberates.” There is no good term for this form of moral depravity, arguably worse than deliberate murder, and all too familiar.

    In the former Palestine, the rightful owners (by divine decree, according to the “lords of the land”) may decide to grant the drugged roaches a few scattered parcels. Not by right, however: “I believed, and to this day still believe, in our people’s eternal and historic right to this entire land,” Prime Minister Olmert informed a joint session of Congress in May 2006 to rousing applause. At the same time he announced his “convergence” program for taking over what is valuable in the West Bank, leaving the Palestinians to rot in isolated cantons. He was not specific about the borders of the “entire land,” but then, the Zionist enterprise never has been, for good reasons: permanent expansion is a very important internal dynamic. If Olmert is still faithful to his origins in Likud, he may have meant both sides of the Jordan, including the current state of Jordan, at least valuable parts of it.

    Our people’s “eternal and historic right to this entire land” contrasts dramatically with the lack of any right of self-determination for the temporary inhabitants, the Palestinians. As noted earlier, the latter stand was reiterated by Israel and its patron in Washington in December 2008, in their usual isolation and accompanied by resounding silence.

    The plans that Olmert sketched in 2006 have since been abandoned as not sufficiently extreme. But what replaces the convergence program, and the actions that proceed daily to implement it, are approximately the same in general conception. They trace back to the earliest days of the occupation, when Defense Minister Moshe Dayan explained poetically that “the situation today resembles the complex relationship between a Bedouin man and the girl he kidnaps against his will…You Palestinians, as a nation, don’t want us today, but we’ll change your attitude by forcing our presence on you.” You will “live like dogs, and whoever will leave, will leave,” while we take what we want.

    That these programs are criminal has never been in doubt. Immediately after the 1967 war, the Israeli government was informed by its highest legal authority, Teodor Meron, that “civilian settlement in the administered territories contravenes the explicit provisions of the Fourth Geneva Convention,” the foundation of international humanitarian law. Israel’s Justice Minister concurred. The World Court unanimously endorsed the essential conclusion in 2004, and the Israeli High Court technically agreed while disagreeing in practice, in its usual style.

    In the West Bank, Israel can pursue its criminal programs with US support and no disturbance, thanks to its effective military control and by now the cooperation of the collaborationist Palestinian security forces armed and trained by the US and allied dictatorships. It can also carry out regular assassinations and other crimes, while settlers rampage under IDF protection. But while the West Bank has been effectively subdued by terror, there is still resistance in the other half of Palestine, the Gaza Strip. That too must be quelled for the US-Israeli programs of annexation and destruction of Palestine to proceed undisturbed.

    Hence the invasion of Gaza.

    The timing of the invasion was presumably influenced by the coming Israeli election. Ehud Barak, who was lagging badly in the polls, gained one parliamentary seat for every 40 Arabs killed in the early days of the slaughter, Israeli commentator Ran HaCohen calculated.

    That may change, however. As the crimes passed beyond what the carefully honed Israeli propaganda campaign was able to suppress, even confirmed Israeli hawks became concerned that the carnage is “Destroying [Israel’s] soul and its image. Destroying it on world television screens, in the living rooms of the international community and most importantly, in Obama’s America” (Ari Shavit). Shavit was particularly concerned about Israel’s “shelling a United Nations facility…on the day when the UN secretary general is visiting Jerusalem,” an act that is “beyond lunacy,” he felt.

    Adding a few details, the “facility” was the UN compound in Gaza City, which contained the UNRWA warehouse. The shelling destroyed “hundreds of tons of emergency food and medicines set for distribution today to shelters, hospitals and feeding centres,” according to UNRWA director John Ging. Military strikes at the same time destroyed two floors of the al-Quds hospital, setting it ablaze, and also a second warehouse run by the Palestinian Red Crescent society. The hospital in the densely-populated Tal-Hawa neighbourhood was destroyed by Israeli tanks “after hundreds of frightened Gazans had taken shelter inside as Israeli ground forces pushed into the neighbourhood,” AP reported.

    There was nothing left to salvage inside the smoldering ruins of the hospital. “They shelled the building, the hospital building. It caught fire. We tried to evacuate the sick people and the injured and the people who were there. Firefighters arrived and put out the fire, which burst into flames again and they put it out again and it came back for the third time,” paramedic Ahmad Al-Haz told AP. It was suspected that the blaze might have been set by white phosphorous, also suspected in numerous other fires and serious burn injuries.

    The suspicions were confirmed by Amnesty International after the cessation of the intense bombardment made inquiry possible. Before, Israel had sensibly barred all journalists, even Israeli, while its crimes were proceeding in full fury. Israel’s use of white phosphorus against Gaza civilians is “clear and undeniable,” AI reported. Its repeated use in densely populated civilian areas “is a war crime,” AI concluded. They found white phosphorus edges scattered around residential buildings, still burning, “further endangering the residents and their property,” particularly children “drawn to the detritus of war and often unaware of the danger.” Primary targets, they report, were the UNRWA compound, where the Israeli “white phosphorus landed next to some fuel trucks and caused a large fire which destroyed tons of humanitarian aid” after Israeli authorities “had given assurance that no further strikes would be launched on the compound.” On the same day, “a white phosphorus shell landed in the al-Quds hospital in Gaza City also causing a fire which forced hospital staff to evacuate the patients… White phosphorus landing on skin can burn deep through muscle and into the bone, continuing to burn unless deprived of oxygen.” Purposely intended or beyond depraved indifference, such crimes are inevitable when this weapon is used in attacks on civilians.

    It is, however, a mistake to concentrate too much on Israel’s gross violations of jus in bello, the laws designed to bar practices that are too savage. The invasion itself is a far more serious crime. And if Israel had inflicted the horrendous damage by bows and arrows, it would still be a criminal act of extreme depravity.

    Aggression always has a pretext: in this case, that Israel’s patience had “run out” in the face of Hamas rocket attacks, as Barak put it. The mantra that is endlessly repeated is that Israel has the right to use force to defend itself. The thesis is partially defensible. The rocketing is criminal, and it is true that a state has the right to defend itself against criminal attacks. But it does not follow that it has a right to defend itself by force. That goes far beyond any principle that we would or should accept. Nazi Germany had no right to use force to defend itself against the terrorism of the partisans. Kristallnacht is not justified by Herschel Grynszpan’s assassination of a German Embassy official in Paris. The British were not justified in using force to defend themselves against the (very real) terror of the American colonists seeking independence, or to terrorize Irish Catholics in response to IRA terror – and when they finally turned to the sensible policy of addressing legitimate grievances, the terror ended. It is not a matter of “proportionality,” but of choice of action in the first place: Is there an alternative to violence?

    Any resort to force carries a heavy burden of proof, and we have to ask whether it can be met in the case of Israel’s effort to quell any resistance to its daily criminal actions in Gaza and in the West Bank, where they still continue relentlessly after more than 40 years. Perhaps I may quote myself in an interview in the Israeli press on Olmert’s announced convergence plans for the West Bank: “The US and Israel do not tolerate any resistance to these plans, preferring to pretend – falsely of course – that `there is no partner,’ as they proceed with programs that go back a long way. We may recall that Gaza and the West Bank are recognized to be a unit, so if resistance to the US-Israeli annexation-cantonization programs is legitimate in the West Bank, it is in Gaza too.”

    Palestinian-American journalist Ali Abunimah observed that “There are no rockets launched at Israel from the West Bank, and yet Israel’s extrajudicial killings, land theft, settler pogroms and kidnappings never stopped for a day during the truce. The western-backed Palestinian Authority of Mahmoud Abbas has acceded to all Israel’s demands. Under the proud eye of United States military advisors, Abbas has assembled `security forces’ to fight the resistance on Israel’s behalf. None of that has spared a single Palestinian in the West Bank from Israel’s relentless colonization” – thanks to firm US backing. The respected Palestinian parliamentarian Dr. Mustapha Barghouti adds that after Bush’s Annapolis extravaganza in November 2007, with much uplifting rhetoric about dedication to peace and justice, Israeli attacks on Palestinians escalated sharply, with an almost 50% increase in the West Bank, along with a sharp increase in settlements and Israeli check points. Obviously these criminal actions are not a response to rockets from Gaza, though the converse may well be the case, Barghouti plausibly suggests.

    The reactions to crimes of an occupying power can be condemned as criminal and politically foolish, but those who offer no alternative have no moral grounds to issue such judgments. The conclusion holds with particular force for those in the US who choose to be directly implicated in Israel’s ongoing crimes — by their words, their actions, or their silence. All the more so because there are very clear non-violent alternatives – which, however, have the disadvantage that they bar the programs of illegal expansion.

    Israel has a straightforward means to defend itself: put an end to its criminal actions in occupied territories, and accept the long-standing international consensus on a two-state settlement that has been blocked by the US and Israel for over 30 years, since the US first vetoed a Security Council resolution calling for a political settlement in these terms in 1976. I will not once again run through the inglorious record, but it is important to be aware that US-Israeli rejectionism today is even more blatant than in the past. The Arab League has gone even beyond the consensus, calling for full normalization of relations with Israel. Hamas has repeatedly called for a two-state settlement in terms of the international consensus. Iran and Hezbollah have made it clear that they will abide by any agreement that Palestinians accept. That leaves the US-Israel in splendid isolation, not only in words.

    The more detailed record is informative. The Palestinian National Council formally accepted the international consensus in 1988. The response of the Shamir-Peres coalition government, affirmed by James Baker’s State Department, was that there cannot be an “additional Palestinian state” between Israel and Jordan – the latter already a Palestinian state by US-Israeli dictate. The Oslo accords that followed put to the side potential Palestinian national rights, and the threat that they might be realized in some meaningful form was systematically undermined through the Oslo years by Israel’s steady expansion of illegal settlements. Settlement accelerated in 2000, President Clinton’s and Prime Minister Barak’s last year, when negotiations took place at Camp David against that background.

    After blaming Yassir Arafat for the breakdown of the Camp David negotiations, Clinton backtracked, and recognized that the US-Israeli proposals were too extremist to be acceptable to any Palestinian. In December 2000, he presented his “parameters,” vague but more forthcoming. He then announced that both sides had accepted the parameters, while both expressed reservations. The two sides met in Taba Egypt in January 2001 and came very close to an agreement, and would have been able to do so in a few more days, they said in their final press conference. But the negotiations were cancelled prematurely by Ehud Barak. That week in Taba is the one break in over 30 years of US-Israeli rejectionism. There is no reason why that one break in the record cannot be resumed.

    The preferred version, recently reiterated by Ethan Bronner, is that “Many abroad recall Mr. Barak as the prime minister who in 2000 went further than any Israeli leader in peace offers to the Palestinians, only to see the deal fail and explode in a violent Palestinian uprising that drove him from power.” It’s true that “many abroad” believe this deceitful fairy tale, thanks to what Bronner and too many of his colleagues call “journalism”.

    It is commonly claimed that a two-state solution is now unattainable because if the IDF tried to remove settlers, it would lead to a civil war. That may be true, but much more argument is needed. Without resorting to force to expel illegal settlers, the IDF could simply withdraw to whatever boundaries are established by negotiations. The settlers beyond those boundaries would have the choice of leaving their subsidized homes to return to Israel, or to remain under Palestinian authority. The same was true of the carefully staged “national trauma” in Gaza in 2005, so transparently fraudulent that it was ridiculed by Israeli commentators. It would have sufficed for Israel to announce that the IDF would withdraw, and the settlers who were subsidized to enjoy their life in Gaza would have quietly climbed into the lorries provided to them and travelled to their new subsidized residences in the West Bank. But that would not have produced tragic photos of agonized children and passionate calls of “never again.”

    To summarize, contrary to the claim that is constantly reiterated, Israel has no right to use force to defend itself against rockets from Gaza, even if they are regarded as terrorist crimes. Furthermore, the reasons are transparent. The pretext for launching the attack is without merit.

    There is also a narrower question. Does Israel have peaceful short-term alternatives to the use of force in response to rockets from Gaza. One short-term alternative would be to accept a ceasefire. Sometimes Israel has done so, while instantly violating it. The most recent and currently relevant case is June 2008. The ceasefire called for opening the border crossings to “allow the transfer of all goods that were banned and restricted to go into Gaza.” Israel formally agreed, but immediately announced that it would not abide by the agreement and open the borders until Hamas released Gilad Shalit, an Israeli soldier captured by Hamas in June 2006.

    The steady drumbeat of accusations about the capture of Shalit is, again, blatant hypocrisy, even putting aside Israel’s long history of kidnapping. In this case, the hypocrisy could not be more glaring. One day before Hamas captured Shalit, Israeli soldiers entered Gaza City and kidnapped two civilians, the Muammar brothers, bringing them to Israel to join the thousands of other prisoners held there, almost 1000 reportedly without charge. Kidnapping civilians is a far more serious crime than capturing a soldier of an attacking army, but it was barely reported in contrast to the furor over Shalit. And all that remains in memory, blocking peace, is the capture of Shalit, another reflection of the difference between humans and two-legged beasts. Shalit should be returned – in a fair prisoner exchange.

    It was after the capture of Shalit that Israel’s unrelenting military attack against Gaza passed from merely vicious to truly sadistic. But it is well to recall that even before his capture, Israel had fired more than 7,700 shells at northern Gaza after its September withdrawal, eliciting virtually no comment.

    After rejecting the June 2008 ceasefire it had formally accepted, Israel maintained its siege. We may recall that a siege is an act of war. In fact, Israel has always insisted on an even stronger principle: hampering access to the outside world, even well short of a siege, is an act of war, justifying massive violence in response. Interference with Israel’s passage through the Straits of Tiran was part of the pretext for Israel’s invasion of Egypt (with France and England) in 1956, and for its launching of the June 1967 war. The siege of Gaza is total, not partial, apart from occasional willingness of the occupiers to relax it slightly. And it is vastly more harmful to Gazans than closing the Straits of Tiran was to Israel. Supporters of Israeli doctrines and actions should therefore have no problem justifying rocket attacks on Israeli territory from the Gaza Strip.

    Of course, again we run into the nullifying principle: This is us, that is them.

    Israel not only maintained the siege after June 2008, but did so with extreme rigor. It even prevented UNRWA from replenishing its stores, “so when the ceasefire broke down, we ran out of food for the 750,000 who depend on us,” UNRWA director John Ging informed the BBC.

    Despite the Israeli siege, rocketing sharply reduced. The ceasefire broke down on November 4 with an Israeli raid into Gaza, leading to the death of 6 Palestinians, and a retaliatory barrage of rockets (with no injuries). The pretext for the raid was that Israel had detected a tunnel in Gaza that might have been intended for use to capture another Israeli soldier. The pretext is transparently absurd, as a number of commentators have noted. If such a tunnel existed, and reached the border, Israel could easily have barred it right there. But as usual, the ludicrous Israeli pretext was deemed credible.

    What was the reason for the Israeli raid? We have no internal evidence about Israeli planning, but we do know that the raid came shortly before scheduled Hamas-Fatah talks in Cairo aimed at “reconciling their differences and creating a single, unified government,” British correspondent Rory McCarthy reported. That was to be the first Fatah-Hamas meeting since the June 2007 civil war that left Hamas in control of Gaza, and would have been a significant step towards advancing diplomatic efforts. There is a long history of Israel provocations to deter the threat of diplomacy, some already mentioned. This may have been another one.

    The civil war that left Hamas in control of Gaza is commonly described as a Hamas military coup, demonstrating again their evil nature. The real world is a little different. The civil war was incited by the US and Israel, in a crude attempt at a military coup to overturn the free elections that brought Hamas to power. That has been public knowledge at least since April 2008, when David Rose published in Vanity Fair a detailed and documented account of how Bush, Rice, and Deputy National-Security Adviser Elliott Abrams “backed an armed force under Fatah strongman Muhammad Dahlan, touching off a bloody civil war in Gaza and leaving Hamas stronger than ever.” The account was recently corroborated once again in the Christian Science Monitor (Jan. 12, 2009) by Norman Olsen, who served for 26 years in the Foreign Service, including four years working in the Gaza Strip and four years at the US Embassy in Tel Aviv, and then moved on to become associate coordinator for counterterrorism at the Department of State. Olson and his son detail the State Department shenanigans intended to ensure that their candidate, Abbas, would win in the January 2006 elections – in which case it would have been hailed as a triumph of democracy. After the election-fixing failed, they turned to punishment of the Palestinians and arming of a militia run by Fatah strong-man Muhammad Dahlan, but “Dahlan’s thugs moved too soon” and a Hamas pre-emptive strike undermined the coup attempt, leading to far harsher US-Israeli measures to punish the disobedient people of Gaza. The Party Line is more acceptable.

    After Israel broke the June 2008 ceasefire (such as it was) in November, the siege was tightened further, with even more disastrous consequences for the population. According to Sara Roy, the leading academic specialist on Gaza, “On Nov. 5, Israel sealed all crossing points into Gaza, vastly reducing and at times denying food supplies, medicines, fuel, cooking gas, and parts for water and sanitation systems…” During November, an average of 4.6 trucks of food per day entered Gaza from Israel compared with an average of 123 trucks per day in October. Spare parts for the repair and maintenance of water-related equipment have been denied entry for over a year. The World Health Organization just reported that half of Gaza’s ambulances are now out of order” – and the rest soon became targets for Israeli attack. Gaza’s only power station was forced to suspend operation for lack of fuel, and could not be started up again because they needed spare parts, which had been sitting in the Israeli port of Ashdod for 8 months. Shortage of electricity led to a 300% increase in burn cases at Shifaa’ hospital in the Gaza Strip, resulting from efforts to light wood fires. Israel barred shipment of Chlorine, so that by mid-December in Gaza City and the north access to water was limited to six hours every three days. The human consequences are not counted among Palestinian victims of Israeli terror.

    After the November 4 Israeli attack, both sides escalated violence (all deaths were Palestinian) until the ceasefire formally ended on Dec. 19, and Prime Minister Olmert authorized the full-scale invasion.

    A few days earlier Hamas had proposed to return to the original July ceasefire agreement, which Israel had not observed. Historian and former Carter administration high official Robert Pastor passed the proposal to a “senior official” in the IDF, but Israel did not respond. The head of Shin Bet, Israel’s internal security agency, was quoted in Israeli sources on December 21 as saying that Hamas is interested in continuing the “calm” with Israel, while its military wing is continuing preparations for conflict.

    “There clearly was an alternative to the military approach to stopping the rockets,” Pastor said, keeping to the narrow issue of Gaza. There was also a more far-reaching alternative, which is rarely discussed: namely, accepting a political settlement including all of the occupied territories.

    Israel’s senior diplomatic correspondent Akiva Eldar reports that shortly before Israel launched its full-scale invasion on Saturday Dec. 27, “Hamas politburo chief Khaled Meshal announced on the Iz al-Din al-Qassam Web site that he was prepared not only for a `cessation of aggression’ – he proposed going back to the arrangement at the Rafah crossing as of 2005, before Hamas won the elections and later took over the region. That arrangement was for the crossing to be managed jointly by Egypt, the European Union, the Palestinian Authority presidency and Hamas,” and as noted earlier, called for opening of the crossings to desperately needed supplies.

    A standard claim of the more vulgar apologists for Israeli violence is that in the case of the current assault, “as in so many instances in the past half century – the Lebanon War of 1982, the `Iron Fist’ response to the 1988 intifada, the Lebanon War of 2006 – the Israelis have reacted to intolerable acts of terror with a determination to inflict terrible pain, to teach the enemy a lesson” (New Yorker editor David Remnick). The 2006 invasion can be justified only on the grounds of appalling cynicism, as already discussed. The reference to the vicious response to the 1988 intifada is too depraved even to discuss; a sympathetic interpretation might be that it reflects astonishing ignorance. But Remnick’s claim about the 1982 invasion is quite common, a remarkable feat of incessant propaganda, which merits a few reminders.

    Uncontroversially, the Israel-Lebanon border was quiet for a year before the Israeli invasion, at least from Lebanon to Israel, north to south. Through the year, the PLO scrupulously observed a US-initiated ceasefire, despite constant Israeli provocations, including bombing with many civilian casualties, presumably intended to elicit some reaction that could be used to justify Israel’s carefully planned invasion. The best Israel could achieve was two light symbolic responses. It then invaded with a pretext too absurd to be taken seriously.

    The invasion had precisely nothing to do with “intolerable acts of terror,” though it did have to do with intolerable acts: of diplomacy. That has never been obscure. Shortly after the US-backed invasion began, Israel’s leading academic specialist on the Palestinians, Yehoshua Porath – no dove — wrote that Arafat’s success in maintaining the ceasefire constituted “a veritable catastrophe in the eyes of the Israeli government,” since it opened the way to a political settlement. The government hoped that the PLO would resort to terrorism, undermining the threat that it would be “a legitimate negotiating partner for future political accommodations.”

    The facts were well-understood in Israel, and not concealed. Prime Minister Yitzhak Shamir stated that Israel went to war because there was “a terrible danger… Not so much a military one as a political one,” prompting the fine Israeli satirist B. Michael to write that “the lame excuse of a military danger or a danger to the Galilee is dead.” We “have removed the political danger” by striking first, in time; now, “Thank God, there is no one to talk to.” Historian Benny Morris recognized that the PLO had observed the ceasefire, and explained that “the war’s inevitability rested on the PLO as a political threat to Israel and to Israel’s hold on the occupied territories.” Others have frankly acknowledged the unchallenged facts.

    In a front-page think-piece on the latest Gaza invasion, NYT correspondent Steven Lee Meyers writes that “In some ways, the Gaza attacks were reminiscent of the gamble Israel took, and largely lost, in Lebanon in 1982 [when] it invaded to eliminate the threat of Yasir Arafat’s forces.” Correct, but not in the sense he has in mind. In 1982, as in 2008, it was necessary to eliminate the threat of political settlement.

    The hope of Israeli propagandists has been that Western intellectuals and media would buy the tale that Israel reacted to rockets raining on the Galilee, “intolerable acts of terror.” And they have not been disappointed.

    It is not that Israel does not want peace: everyone wants peace, even Hitler. The question is: on what terms? From its origins, the Zionist movement has understood that to achieve its goals, the best strategy would be to delay political settlement, meanwhile slowly building facts on the ground. Even the occasional agreements, as in 1947, were recognized by the leadership to be temporary steps towards further expansion. The 1982 Lebanon war was a dramatic example of the desperate fear of diplomacy. It was followed by Israeli support for Hamas so as to undermine the secular PLO and its irritating peace initiatives. Another case that should be familiar is Israeli provocations before the 1967 war designed to elicit a Syrian response that could be used as a pretext for violence and takeover of more land – at least 80% of the incidents, according to Defense Minister Moshe Dayan.

    The story goes far back. The official history of the Haganah, the pre-state Jewish military force, describes the assassination of the religious Jewish poet Jacob de Haan in 1924, accused of conspiring with the traditional Jewish community (the Old Yishuv) and the Arab Higher Committee against the new immigrants and their settlement enterprise. And there have been numerous examples since.

    The effort to delay political accommodation has always made perfect sense, as do the accompanying lies about how “there is no partner for peace.” It is hard to think of another way to take over land where you are not wanted.

    Similar reasons underlie Israel’s preference for expansion over security. Its violation of the ceasefire on November 4 2009 is one of many recent examples.

    An Amnesty International chronology reports that the June 2008 ceasefire had “brought enormous improvements in the quality of life in Sderot and other Israeli villages near Gaza, where before the ceasefire residents lived in fear of the next Palestinian rocket strike. However, nearby in the Gaza Strip the Israeli blockade remains in place and the population has so far seen few dividends from the ceasefire.” But the gains in security for Israel towns near Gaza were evidently outweighed by the felt need to deter diplomatic moves that might impede West Bank expansion, and to crush any remaining resistance within Palestine.

    The preference for expansion over security has been particularly evident since Israel’s fateful decision in 1971, backed by Henry Kissinger, to reject the offer of a full peace treaty by President Sadat of Egypt, offering nothing to the Palestinians – an agreement that the US and Israel were compelled to accept at Camp David eight years later, after a major war that was a near disaster for Israel. A peace treaty with Egypt would have ended any significant security threat, but there was an unacceptable quid pro quo: Israel would have had to abandon its extensive settlement programs in the northeastern Sinai. Security was a lower priority than expansion, as it still is. Substantial evidence for this basic conclusion is provided in a magisterial study of Israel’s security and foreign policy by Zeev Maoz, Defending the Holy Land.

    Today, Israel could have security, normalization of relations, and integration into the region. But it very clearly prefers illegal expansion, conflict, and repeated exercise of violence, actions that are not only criminal, murderous and destructive but are also eroding its own long-term security. US military and Middle East specialist Andrew Cordesman writes that while Israel military force can surely crush defenseless Gaza, “neither Israel nor the US can gain from a war that produces [a bitter] reaction from one of the wisest and most moderate voices in the Arab world, Prince Turki al-Faisal of Saudi Arabia, who said on January 6 that `The Bush administration has left [Obama] a disgusting legacy and a reckless position towards the massacres and bloodshed of innocents in Gaza…Enough is enough, today we are all Palestinians and we seek martyrdom for God and for Palestine, following those who died in Gaza’.”

    One of the wisest voices in Israel, Uri Avnery, writes that after an Israeli military victory, “What will be seared into the consciousness of the world will be the image of Israel as a blood-stained monster, ready at any moment to commit war crimes and not prepared to abide by any moral restraints. This will have severe consequences for our long-term future, our standing in the world, our chance of achieving peace and quiet. In the end, this war is a crime against ourselves too, a crime against the State of Israel.”

    There is good reason to believe that he is right. Israel is deliberately turning itself into perhaps the most hated country in the world, and is also losing the allegiance of the population of the West, including younger American Jews, who are unlikely to tolerate its persistent shocking crimes for long. Decades ago, I wrote that those who call themselves “supporters of Israel” are in reality supporters of its moral degeneration and probable ultimate destruction. Regrettably, that judgment looks more and more plausible.

    Meanwhile we are quietly observing a rare event in history, what the late Israeli sociologist Baruch Kimmerling called “politicide,” the murder of a nation — at our hands.

    Source

    Shoot Then Ask, Israeli Soldiers Told

    Gaza (6) A Picture Is Worth A Thousand Words

    Outcry over weapons used in Gaza

    Unusually Large U.S. Weapons Shipment to Israel: Are the US and Israel Planning a Broader Middle East War?

    The State of Israel: Since its Creation

    Israel Navy ships turn back “Spirit of Humanity” carrying Gaza humanitarian aid

    Israel ‘rammed’ medical aid boat Dignity headed to Gaza

    79 % of the time: Israel caused conflicts not Hamas

    US Veto Blocks UN Anti-Israel Resolution

    Israel Used Internationally Banned Weaponry in Massive Airstrikes Across Gaza Strip

    700 Israelis arrested for protesting against war

    Israel’s ‘Crimes Against Humanity’

    Israel killing their own by Using Deadly Weapons of Mass Destuction against Gaza

    Gaza Families Eat Grass as Israel Blocks Food Aid

    There are more stories on Gaza in the Archives

    Indexed List of all Stories in Archives

    Iran preps humanitarian aid ship to Gaza Strip

    December 27 2008

    An Iranian freighter carrying tons of humanitarian equipment destined for the Gaza Strip will set sail from the Islamic Republic on Saturday, Iranian media reported on Friday.

    The Iranian Red Crescent Society organized the shipment which it says will reach the Gaza shoreline in defiance of the Israeli military blockade imposed on the territory since Hamas’ ascendancy to power.

    “The ship will carry medicine and foodstuffs including rice, flour, sugar as well as six tons of medicine for the impoverished population of Gaza,” said Hamed Taheri Jebelli, a spokesman for Iran’s Red Crescent Society on Thursday.

    “Despite the Zionist regime’s opposition … this consignment will leave Bandar Abbas for Palestine on Saturday and will arrive in 12 days,” a provincial Red Crescent director, Ahmad Navvab, was quoted as telling the French news agency AFP.

    “The cargo contains over 2,000 tons of food, medicine and appliances and it will be accompanied by 12 Iranian doctors and relief workers,” he told AFP.

    Earlier this month, the Red Crescent said it aimed to send a 1,000-ton shipment of grain, sugar, oil and medicine to the aid-dependent land.

    Source

    Israel’s ‘Crimes Against Humanity’

    Gaza Families Eat Grass as Israel Blocks Food Aid

    Israeli teenagers jailed for refusing to serve in army

    Published in: on December 27, 2008 at 6:05 am  Comments Off on Iran preps humanitarian aid ship to Gaza Strip  
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    Israeli teenagers jailed for refusing to serve in army

    Israeli teenagers jailed for refusing to serve in army
    December 18 2008

    Peace activists in Israel and around the world are participating on Wednesday in a day of action to call on Israeli authorities to release teenagers imprisoned for refusing to serve in the army for reasons of conscience.

    Tamar Katz, Raz Bar-David Varon and Yuval Oron-Ofir are three conscientious objectors who are all serving their third prison sentences. At least six other teenagers – male and female – have been jailed in recent months for refusing to enlist and at least two more, both young women, are at risk of imminent imprisonment.

    Their refusal stems from their opposition to the Israeli military occupation of the Occupied Palestinian Territories (OPT) and to the practices of the Israeli army there. They believe that by enlisting they would participate in committing human rights abuses in which they want no part.

    Amnesty International has added its voice to the campaign. The organization considers these teenagers to be prisoners of conscience and calls for their immediate and unconditional release.

    Tamar Katz, aged 19, has already spent 50 days in jail and is serving her third prison sentence. In her declaration of refusal she stated:

    “I am not willing to become part of an occupying army… I am not willing to become one of those holding the gun pointed indiscriminately at Palestinian civilians, and I do not believe that such actions could bring any change except ever more antagonism and violence in our region.”

    She has been held in isolation and deprived of family visits as punishment for refusing to wear a military uniform in prison.

    Eighteen-year-old Raz Bar-David Varon, also serving her third prison term, said on the day of her arrest:

    “I have witnessed this army demolishing, shooting and humiliating people whom I did not know… It hurts me when people, Palestinians, are being so brutally assaulted, and it hurts me when they later turn their hatred towards me because of it. I wasn’t born to serve as a soldier who occupies another… My responsibility is to refuse.”

    Yuval Oron-Ofir was jailed for the third time on 14 December. The 19-year-old explained his reasons for refusing to enlist:

    “There is another way, which is not the way of war. This is the path of dialogue, of understanding… of peace. This is why I shall not join an army behind whose actions I cannot stand and whose behavior I cannot justify.”

    Teenagers who refuse to enlist because they do not want to find themselves in a situation where they may contribute to or participate in committing human rights abuses are generally sent to jail for months.

    There is no civilian service alternative to military draft in Israel and, although a “conscience committee” exists within the Israeli army, exemption is only usually granted to those who refuse to serve on religious grounds. Those who make it known that they are unwilling to enlist on grounds of conscience – because they are pacifist or oppose the army’s practices in the OPT – are routinely imprisoned.

    At the same time, Israeli soldiers who commit grave human rights violations, including war crimes, such as unlawful killings of unarmed civilians, reckless shelling of densely populated residential areas or wanton destruction of homes, are routinely granted impunity.

    “Such a policy sends the wrong message to Israeli society and to young people in particular,” said Donatella Rovera, Amnesty International’s researcher on Israel and the Occupied Palestinian Territories. “All conscientious objectors should be given the opportunity to present the grounds of their objection to a decision-making body which is impartial and independent.

    “Amnesty International calls on the Israeli authorities to ensure that such a body is established, and in the meantime to immediately and unconditionally release the conscientious objectors currently detained and not to imprison others.”

    Source

    Americans support conscientious objectors to IDF military service by sending 20,000 letters to Barak

    By Natasha Mozgovaya
    December 21 2008

    WASHINGTON
    Conscientious objectors who refused to serve in the Israel Defense Forces received an unprecedented shot in the arm from North American Jewry yesterday, when demonstrators protested against their detention by presenting 20,000 letters from Diaspora Jews demanding their release.

    Dozens of activists tried to deliver the letters to Defense Minister Ehud Barak at a demonstration outside his office in Tel Aviv.
    Many letters came from a Web site called Jewish Voice for Peace, which features a video in which the objectors explain in English why they refused to enlist.

    Although most American Jews are politically aligned with the liberal left, IDF service is generally viewed as an unassailable duty. Thus, there has never been a concentrated effort to lobby Israelis to evade conscription.

    The Jewish Voice for Peace has recruited actor Ed Asner, historian and author Howard Zinn, and folk singer Ronnie Gilbert to the cause.

    “The recent election of anti-war candidate Barack Obama, who by the way received some 80% of the Jewish vote, was evidence of the American people’s disenchantment with war and occupation,” said Cecilie Surasky, the communications director for Jewish Voice for Peace. “Seven years and untold lives and dollars later, there is almost total agreement in the U.S. that our venture in Iraq has been an unqualified disaster.”

    Gilbert called on Israel to change its policies.

    “I am an old-time peace activist,” he said. “I have marched and pleaded against the cruel occupation for years. The presence of the Shministim [the Hebrew term for Israeli youths who refuse enlistment] makes me ashamed of sometimes feeling that Israel will never change. You are the change.”

    Zinn, a scholar who is no stranger to controversy, called the objectors courageous for their actions.

    “I’ve been thinking a lot about courage,” Zinn wrote in his letter. “Right now, while I’m snug and fed this Thanksgiving holiday in the comfort of my home, halfway around the world a group of teenagers is sitting in a jail cell today, demonstrating the very definition of courage and sacrifice. It’s frustrating. Humbling. And I’m damn glad to have the chance to do something big about it.”

    Surasky said she was not concerned that the campaign would be viewed as interference in internal Israeli affairs.

    “For years, money from Jewish American organizations supported the settlements in Israel. It’s logical for dovish organizations like Jewish Voice for Peace to support the Shministim, who represent the values that we wish Jews and Israel would represent everywhere – authentic commitment to the value of human lives. Especially in the days of Hanukkah. They are a small light which shines bright in days of great darkness.”

    The Jewish Voice for Peace internet site offers a ready-made text which users can send to Barak after filling out their email addresses, their names and other details.

    “I support the Shministim and their right to peacefully object to military service,” the standard letter reads. “I call for the release of those teenagers who have been jailed for their principled refusal to serve in an army which occupies the Palestinian Territories. The imprisonment of these conscientious objectors is a violation of their human rights and contrary to International Law.”

    The letter continues: “I am inspired by these caring students and their counterparts in Palestine, whose nonviolent resistance to the Occupation points the way to a just peace and security for all people in the region. They are our best hope for the future. I urge you to heed them, and not punish them.”

    The IDF objectors also received a show of support from 25 American objectors who refused to fight in the Middle East.

    “We, soldiers in the U.S. Army who refused to fight in Afghanistan and Iraq, demonstrate our solidarity with the Israeli Shministim,” they wrote. “The War on Terror, like the Israeli occupation, is fueled by racism and dehumanization.”

    Source

    The teenagers are right, Israel is committing crimes against humanity. Starvation is a crime.

    Israel starving Palestinians: UN

    ‘POLITICAL CRISIS’:

    The UN Relief and Works Agency fears that irreversible damage is being done as the latest statistics reveal the level of deprivation in the Gaza Strip

    December 22, 2008

    Impoverished Palestinians on the Gaza Strip are being forced to scavenge for food on rubbish dumps to survive as Israel’s economic blockade risks causing irreversible damage, international observers said.

    Figures released last week by the UN Relief and Works Agency reveal that the economic blockade imposed by Israel on Gaza in July last year has had a devastating impact on the local population. Large numbers of Palestinians are unable to afford the high prices of food being smuggled through the Hamas-controlled tunnels to the Strip from Egypt and last week were confronted with the suspension of UN food and cash distribution as a result of the siege.

    The figures collected by the UN agency show that 51.8 percent — an “unprecedentedly high” number of Gaza’s 1.5 million population — are now living below the poverty line. The agency has announced that it had been forced to stop distributing food rations to the 750,000 people in need and had also suspended cash distributions to 94,000 of the most disadvantaged who were unable to afford the high prices being asked for smuggled food.

    “Things have been getting worse and worse,” the agency’s Chris Gunness said yesterday. “It is the first time we have been seeing people picking through the rubbish like this looking for things to eat. Things are particularly bad in Gaza City where the population is most dense.”

    “Because Gaza is now operating as a ‘tunnel economy’ and there is so little coming through via Israeli crossings, it is hitting the most disadvantaged worst,” he said.

    Gunness also expressed concern about the state of Gaza’s infrastructure, including its water and sewerage systems, which have not been maintained properly since Israel began blocking shipments of concrete into Gaza, warning of the risk of the spread of communicable diseases both inside and outside of Gaza.

    “This is not a humanitarian crisis,” he said. “This is a political crisis of choice with dire humanitarian consequences.”

    The revelations over the escalating difficulties inside Gaza were delivered a day after the end of the six-month ceasefire between Israel and Gaza’s Hamas rulers, which had been brokered by Egypt in June, and follow warnings from the World Bank at the beginning of December that Gaza faced “irreversible” economic collapse.

    The deteriorating conditions in Gaza emerged as former British prime minister Tony Blair, Middle East envoy for the Quartet — US, Russia, the UN and the EU — warned yesterday that Israel’s economic blockade, which had been imposed a year and a half ago when Hamas took power on the Gaza Strip, was reinforcing rather than undermining the party’s hold on power. Blair said the collapse of Gaza’s legitimate economy under the impact of the blockade had allowed the emergence of an alternative system based on smuggling through the Hamas-controlled tunnels. Hamas “taxed” the goods smuggled through the tunnels.

    It was because of this that Blair wrote to Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert earlier this month demanding that Israel permit the transfer of cash into Gaza from the West Bank.

    Calling for a change in policy over Gaza, Blair said: “I don’t think that the current situation is sustainable; I think most people who would analyze it think the same.”

    Blair’s comments came as an Israeli air strike against a rocket squad killed a Palestinian militant yesterday, the first Gaza death since Hamas formally declared an end to a six-month truce with Israel.

    Also on Saturday, a boat carrying a Qatari delegation, Lebanese activists and journalists from Israel and Lebanon sailed into Gaza City’s small port in defiance of a border blockade. It was the fifth such boat trip since the summer. The two Qatari citizens aboard the Dignity are from the government-funded Qatar Authority for Charitable Activities.

    “We are here to represent the Qatar government and people,” delegation member Aed al-Kahtani said. “We will look into the needs of our brothers in Gaza, and find out what is the most appropriate way to bring in aid.”

    The arrival of the delegation reflects the growing anger in the Arab world over the Gaza siege.

    On Friday, thousands of people joined a rally in Beirut organized by Lebanon’s Hezbollah movement against Israel’s blockade of the Gaza Strip.

    Addressing the Beirut crowd, Hezbollah deputy leader Sheikh Naim Kassem called on Arab and Islamic governments to act to help lift the Gaza blockade, and urged Egypt to take an “historic stance” by opening its border crossing with Gaza.

    “Silence on the [Gaza] blockade is disgraceful. Silence on the blockade amounts to participation in the [Israeli] occupation,” Kassem said.

    Source

    Israel’s ‘Crimes Against Humanity’