Archive | December 4th, 2011

Zio-Nazi settlers harass released prisoners, threaten them with death




Hani Jaber, 36, conducts an interview in a safe location away from his family home in the Old City of Hebron.

When olive season came to the northern West Bank village of Tell, the Ramadan family could be found spreading tarps underneath trees and thwacking down the high-hanging fruits with sticks. The talk was of cousins Khwaylid and Nizar Ramadan, two native sons freed from Israeli military prison as part of mid-October’s prisoner swap deal and exiled to the Gaza Strip and Qatar, respectively. Then, the day after the swap, a group of Israeli settlers put up wanted posters of the Ramadan cousins on Facebook: $100,000 would be paid for information leading to the death or capture of each.

Khwaylid and Nizar are two of four Palestinian ex-prisoners with prices on their heads, offered and advertised by fringe ideologues in the Jewish settler community in violation of Israeli and international law. A group of settlers affiliated with the Kach party in Hebron are responsible for the $100,000 rewards on two other Palestinians, Mustafa Muslimani and Hani Jaber. Baruch Marzel, one of the settlers, has been seen in public hanging posters with Jaber’s face under stark Hebrew letters spelling, “Kill him first,” according to an article in the Israeli daily Ynet (Right-wing activists in Hebron hunt for released terrorist,” Ynet,” 26 October 2011 [Hebrew]).

The Ramadan cousins were convicted in 1998 in an Israeli military court of killing Shlomo Liebman and Harel Ben-Nun, two yeshiva students in the Jewish settlement of Yitzhar, which sits atop the opposite hill from Tell. Both were sentenced to life imprisonment, but when the Liebman family heard they had been released, they decided that “by the laws of Moses” their lives were again forfeit.

“I was and wasn’t expecting that from them,” said Khwaylid’s father, who asked that his name be withheld. “They’re more dangerous than other settlers. They’re out of their minds.”

Nonetheless, he said he’s happy to report that Khwaylid is in good health in Gaza and unworried. Others in Tell familiar with the death threat said Khwaylid had hired two bodyguards. Scoffing at the matter altogether, Khwaylid’s uncle Ahmed Ramadan repeated a fatalistic refrain.

“Our times are in God’s hands,” he said. “I’m not scared and neither is he. If you live, you live, and if you die, you die. [Khwaylid] could be in a car or plane or bus and die there.”

Settlers receiving funds from US institution

In Ahmed Ramadan’s memory, however, this is the first time settlers have put a price — much less one so high — on the head of a particular Palestinian. The wanted posters were written in English, Hebrew, Arabic and Turkish (the Liebman family originally believed Nazzar would be exiled to Turkey) and distributed on Facebook until the site deleted them after a month.

The Arabic poster, the Ramadan family fears, was specifically intended for collaborators in Gaza. The English version promises $100,000 to “the first to catch the terrorists who killed our dear brother Shlomo Liebman in 1998 while guarding the Yizhar settlement in Samaria and our revenge to avenge them [sic] by the laws of Moses” (Initial release: $100,000 on the heads of the murderers of Shlomo Liebman,” 18 October 2011 [Hebrew]).

It is not known whether the reward money in any of the four cases comes from the Liebman family wealth or otherwise private coffers in Hebron. Yitzhar receives about a half million dollars each year from the Israeli government, despite calls from the Israeli general security service Shin Bet (Shabak) to halt the funding over reports that the yeshiva’s senior rabbis were encouraging students to attack Palestinians (Shin Bet urges Israeli government to halt funding of West Bank yeshiva,” Haaretz, 27 September 2011).

The settlement also receives tens of thousands of dollars in tax-deductible donations from the New York-based Central Fund for Israel, as do Hebron settlers from the Hebron Fund (“US tax dollars fund rabbi who excused killing gentile babies,” Haaretz, 15 December 2009).

The Liebman family did not respond to media requests.

Poster: “Kill him first”

In Hebron, 36-year-old Hani Jaber remains the only ex-prisoner to be living in the same city as the men who have vowed to kill him. He resides in a temporary safe house, unable to return to his family’s home in the Old City. There, in the middle of the Israeli military-controlled H2 sector, some of the 600 illegal settlers have taken to circulating his image on the “Kill him first” posters, as well as a handwritten Arabic note offering a reward and a voice message recorded in Arabic and sent to local Palestinians’ phones.

“I expect every wise Jew not to wait and sit idly,” Kiryat Arba councilman Benzi Gopstein told Ynet in the aforementioned October article. “If you see him, you know he’s going to kill you, so jump the gun. Don’t be a sucker.”

As for Hebron’s Palestinians, a video produced by Ynet and embedded in the same article shows youths tearing Marzel’s Arabic note to pieces and throwing it back at him. Though he acknowledges the danger to his life, Jaber himself laughs throughout interviews and says he is unafraid of death.

“I believe in the [Quranic] saying, ‘Nothing will happen to us but what God has decreed for us,’” he said. “That’s why I’m not scared. I walk on this path expecting any moment to die.”

Like the Ramadan family, Jaber says he fears Palestinian collaborators above the settlers themselves.

“These settlers are paying a huge amount of money. What if some poor family gets greedy?” he asked. “At any moment, anyone can make a deal. You never know which side you’ll be attacked from. That makes me more unstable than the settlers themselves. You know how to face a settler, but somebody attacking you from behind, that you can’t deal with.”

Indeed, how Jaber faced a settler, in 1993, is at the root of his story. After the first Palestinian intifada, before Hebron had been divided into H1 (under control of the Palestinian Authority) and H2 (the zone where Israeli settlers live), the then-18-year-old had witnessed a string of settler attacks in the Old City — permitted and often watched over by the Israeli military — that gradually stoked his anger. He said he saw settlers and soldiers beating children, pulling veiled women’s hair, throwing feces and garbage and occasionally shooting into Palestinian homes. Soldiers invaded his brother’s home in the middle of the night and beat his sister-in-law so hard she miscarried. His thirty-year-old cousin Azizeh Jaber was shot to death when she was on her way to give birth.

At one point, in the spring of 1993, he was dragged into an alley by four settlers and assaulted. “I felt for certain they wanted to kill me, so I grabbed one of their necks and I took his gun and I pointed it at his head,” he recalled. “It was like I was playing an American wrestling video game. It’s a violent game, but it resembles our reality in Palestine. It’s also a game of self-defense.”

That time Jaber did not pull the trigger. After he escaped, he went to the police and reported the settlers’ vehicle plates and types of ammunition, but no action was taken. Then in May, after he witnessed 22-year-old settler Erez Shmuel beat his nine-year-old sister, he went into his house, took out a kitchen knife, and stabbed the young man to death. He was arrested in October 1993, confessed to the crime, and given two life sentences. Then 18 years old, he spent the next 18 years of his life in a military prison.

“Half and half,” he said.

Jaber, like the Ramadan family, does not dispute his role in the death of settlers. He refuses to consider it a crime but rather “an operation” carried out in the name of national duty, saying Israel’s settlement policy forms the core of a Palestinian existential crisis. He even concedes it got worse while he languished in prison — a year after he was incarcerated, Baruch Goldstein gunned down 29 Palestinian worshipers in the Cave of the Patriarchs massacre, and since 1993, the total population of settlers in the West Bank, including East Jerusalem, has nearly doubled, according to the Foundation for Middle East Peace (Comprehensive Settlement Population 1972 – 2010”). But now, Jaber’s thoughts are on more prosaic concerns.

“When I was in prison, marriage was just a dream,” said Jaber. “I wanted to have a wife and a house and now I can. But with this instability, it’s not a good idea to marry.”

Jaber says he understands why nobody would choose a 36-year-old man living in a temporary house with $100,000 on his head. He thought instead to turn his focus to his education — a degree in either psychology or social services is the goal — but the best programs are in Ramallah or Nablus, and the Shabak (also known as Shin Bet) will not let him leave the Hebron governorate.

“When I was released, [it was without] any security conditions,” he explained. “I know that for a fact. But I was summoned and they said, ‘We know where you are.’ The Shabak man said, ‘Now you have security conditions.’”

As of that appointment two weeks ago, Jaber is not allowed to leave the Hebron governorate for three years.

Israeli soldiers threatening re-imprisonment

Of the 477 Palestinian prisoners released on 18 October in exchange for an captured Israeli tank gunner, the exact number of re-interrogated ex-prisoners is unknown, since not all cases are reported. But a slew of incidents have occurred in the last few weeks, with Israeli soldiers knocking on doors from Jenin to Nablus to Ramallah, delivering interrogation summons and warning the recently released that they could be back in prison within hours (“Israeli troops arrest six including freed prisoner, raid homes in the West Bank,” Palestine News Network, 21 November 2011).

Hanan al-Hamouz, one of 27 female prisoners released in October, received such a call at 2am on 26 November. She lives in Beit Jala, near Bethlehem, but a squadron of four Israeli military vehicles pulled up to the alleyway where her 74-year-old mother lives in al-Azzeh refugee camp.

“There were three of them in the doorway,” her mother recounted. “After a little while, two more came in from outside. They were heavily armed. They said, ‘Where is Hanan?’ I said she’s not here. They said, ‘Are you Hanan or her mother?’ I said, ‘No, I’m her mother.’ They said, ‘Where is your ID?’ I gave them my ID. Then they told me to give her the summons.”

The next day at 11 am, Hanan al-Hamouz showed up to the Etzion interrogation center south of Bethlehem and was reminded of the year she spent in prison.

“They took me from room to room, from this place to that, searched me, searched my bag, searched my phone, took out the battery and looked at it, just like the weekly searches in prison,” she said. “I said is this an interview or an interrogation? I want to know. They said this is normal, we do this to all the prisoners. They said, ‘Are you afraid?’ I said, ‘I’m afraid of no one but God.’”

The interrogator, an Arabic-speaker named Samira, unrolled a map and asked if al-Hamouz knew the whereabouts of freed prisoner Amneh Muna, who was exiled to Jordan, or whether they kept in touch. Samira gave her Muna’s phone number and asked al-Hamouz to call her, but she refused. It was a bizarre provocation, she recalls, in light of the fact the Shin Bet probably already knew where Muna is.

“In prison we learned about unity, inside or outside,” she said.

When the interrogation ended, Samira told al-Hamouz to watch out for herself and asked, “Do you ever think about going back to prison?”

Episodes of harassment are not limited, however, to Israeli officials. While his cohorts in the ideological core may publish death threats, settler Aryeh King of the Israel Land Fund splits his time between buying Palestinian property for Jewish owners and running a volunteer surveillance program on the roughly sixty freed Palestinian prisoners in Jerusalem.

“People should know that people who have murdered innocents are free to walk, free to enter every coffee shop and go on public transportation,” King said in a telephone interview. “Believe me, if you sit next to one of them on the light rail in Jerusalem and notice he’s a terrorist, you will jump out the window. I want innocent people to know who the terrorists are.”

To that end, he and an unspecified number of volunteers have taken on the task of publishing the addresses, workplaces and pictures of all the ex-prisoners on fliers printed with “Warning: Murderer.” King also wants a boycott of stores owned by ex-prisoners’ families.

“It’s the father, not the son,” he said. “I don’t have anything against the son, but if he is sponsoring a terrorist family, we will call the public not to support them by not buying from them and not using their services.”

While boycotts are practiced informally in Jerusalem every day, threats on the lives of legally freed prisoners are in clear contravention of Israel’s basic laws, specifically the 2002 amendment to the Penal Law criminalizing incitement to violence. There has been, however, no investigation into the Liebman family’s threats or those of Baruch Marzel in Hebron, and an inquest with the Israeli Police Department yielded a tepid response.

“The Israeli police policy is to look into and examine if there is suspicion into incitement or the possibility to cause harm,” said police spokesman Mickey Rosenfeld in an email. “This is implemented by our investigators in all of the police districts, including Judea and Samaria [the West Bank]. We deal with cases within all the different communities.”

Meanwhile in Hebron, a huge banner celebrating the release of Hani Jaber flies triumphantly over the entrance to the city while Jaber himself returns to his safe house. His family’s home in the Old City was attacked on 19 November by settlers under the guard of the Israeli military; a cousin named Badran Jaber, and two of Hani’s brothers, Basel and Mutasim, were taken away (“Settlers following the attack on the home of liberated prisoner Jaber,” Palestine News Network, 19 November 2011 [Arabic]).

Their whereabouts have still not been reported.

Weeks before, Baruch Marzel had made a stop at a grocery store in the Old City owned by Jaber’s sister. Followed by Ynet cameras, he started asking for the prices of various items.

Marzel points to a candy bar and says, “How much for this?” “One shekel,” the woman replies. He then points to a bag of chips. “One shekel,” the woman says.

The video then shows Marzel handing over a copy of the “Kill him first” wanted poster, with Hani Jaber’s face in black and white. He asks, “How much is the life of a Jew worth?”

When she does not respond, he answers his own question, “Very expensive.”

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Unmasking Gershom Gorenberg, historian and apologist for ethnic cleansing




The expulsion of Palestinians for the benefit of Jewish settlement is still ongoing.

The popular internet magazine Slate recently published an excerpt from The Unmaking of Israel, a new book by the historian Gershom Gorenberg. The title of the excerpt asked “Did Israel actually plan to expel most of its Arabs in 1948? Or not?” (The Mystery of 1948,” 7 November 2011).

As most critical scholars of Palestinian history and the Zionist-Palestinian conflict would likely agree, this is an odd question to ask. Since Israel’s “new historians” began publishing revised histories that undermined the long-held official Zionist ideological narrative of the creation of Israel (in which the Arabs left Palestine voluntarily, or in response to urgings from the Arab states) it has become increasingly clear that Ilan Pappe was correct in suggesting a paradigm shift in historical analysis of the Palestinian Nakba (catastrophe). Instead of viewing the violent, bloody events of 1948 through the lens of “war,” Pappe proposed a framework of “ethnic cleansing” — which, as he demonstrated, is well supported by the available evidence. But despite such growing clarity and consensus, Gorenberg implicitly rejects Pappe’s framework.

Since the early Zionist leadership formed a planning body (the Situation Committee) to determine how the Palestinian minority who remained within the borders of the future Jewish state would be managed, Gorenberg concludes that David Ben-Gurion and his affiliates had no firm plans to cleanse the territory on the eve of the 1948 conflict. Of course, these leaders had contemplated “transfer,” but this was an understandable manifestation of demographic unease and only one possible option among others. Though Ben-Gurion and the liberal Zionists likely had the best of intentions toward the Arabs, the right-wing spoiled the hopes of the more progressive and committed violent atrocities.

Gorenberg thus presents an image of a powerless Zionist left, which was presented with afait accompli by the radical right and the unpredictability of the “chaos of war,” then attacked head-on by the confused natives and forced to defend itself.

By relentlessly placing the blame on a few “crazed” right-wing groups and the whims of fate, Gorenberg exculpates Zionism as such from responsibility for its brutal colonial history and leaves room for some “good Zionists,” who can doubtless count him among their number. In Gorenberg’s version of events one can detect the revenge of the “old historians,” mediated through several decades of the revisionists: the discredited fictions proffered by the Israeli state and allied ideologues are revitalized while simultaneously acknowledging the now-undeniable crimes of Zionism’s past. Though some misguided right-wing Zionists committed or caused horrendous injustices against the Palestinians, fuelling the conflict, there is a “pure” left-wing Zionism that stands apart from these acts and which was dragged against its will into a situation from which there was no easy escape. It was all an accident.

The myth of “accidental” ethnic cleansing

Gorenberg’s central conclusion requires a considerable jump in logic: as the historical record shows, though the Zionist leadership meticulously planned and executed the expulsion of the indigenous Arab population, even the most radical never imagined they would be able to completely eliminate the Palestinians. The plan was to conquer as much land and reduce the native population as much as possible. Indeed, the problem of how to establish a state with at least a large Jewish majority on territory inhabited overwhelmingly by Arabs had haunted Zionist leaders from the very beginning.

Theodore Herzl, the founder of the Zionist movement, wrote in his diary in 1895 that “we shall endeavor to expel the poor population across the border unnoticed.” These sentiments were also reflected in the enthusiastic embrace by Ben-Gurion and other prominent Zionist leaders of the British government’s 1937 Peel Commission report calling for the forced expulsion of the Arab population, which was referred to by Ben-Gurion as an “unparalleled achievement.” The plans of the “Situation Committee” Gorenberg points to, insisting that their existence is proof that there was no plan for the systematic cleansing of the locals, was no more than Ben-Gurion and the rest of the pre-state leadership determining what the Jews would do with the Arabs that remained after the expulsion.

That 1948 constituted a consciously planned ethnic cleansing on the part of the Zionist leadership is hardly in doubt. Though not mentioned by Gorenberg, Plan Dalet, devised by Ben-Gurion and the security and political leaders who joined him in a body known as the Consultancy, called for the Palestinians’ “systematic and total expulsion from their homeland” (Ilan Pappe, The Ethnic Cleansing of Palestine, 2008).

Ilan Pappe has demonstrated how, after several revisions, the final plan included a detailed description of the methods to be used in driving the population out of their lands that included “large-scale intimidation; laying siege to and bombarding villages and population centers; setting fire to homes, properties, and goods; expulsion; demolition; and, finally, planting mines among the rubble to prevent any of the expelled inhabitants from returning.” In short, Dalet was “an initiative to ethnically cleanse the country as a whole.” With the order to begin the operation, “each brigade commander received a list of the villages or neighborhoods that had to be occupied, destroyed, and their inhabitants expelled,” Pappe wrote. Accidental, indeed.

Though Gorenberg presents a picture of “two [presumably equal] national groups claiming the same territory,” the 1947 UN Partition Plan actually handed a mostly European colonial population owning just 12 percent of the land in Palestine fully 60 percent of the territory, including some of its most valuable regions. The demand that the indigenous Palestinian population accept partition was unprecedented: no colonized population had ever assented to the division of its national lands with a foreign colonizer. Even within the territory allotted the Jewish state, Palestinian Arabs made up 40 percent of the population, a troublesome fact for the Zionist leadership.

As Ben-Gurion and other Zionist leaders had made clear in the period prior to the founding of the state, not only did they consider the UN Partition Plan as simply the launching pad from which they would dramatically expand the borders of the Jewish state (as they did), but they also had no intention of tolerating such a large Arab minority in their midst afterwards. “Recently declassified Zionist documents,” historian Benny Morris has written, “demonstrate that a virtual consensus emerged among Zionist leadership … in favor of the transfer of at least several hundred thousand Palestinian Arabs — if not all of them — out of the areas of the Jewish state-to-be.” (Benny Morris, Righteous Victims: A History of the Zionist-Arab Conflict 1881-2001, 2001). All one needed to do was to wait for an opportune moment to carry out such an operation, such as a war.

Arguments don’t hold water

As those familiar with Gorenberg’s work will recognize, this thesis has become his regularmodus operandi. His 2006 book The Accidental Empire: Israel and the Birth of the Settlements 1967-1977 argues that the Israeli occupation and colonization of the remaining Palestinian territories after 1967 was an “accident,” echoing the “quagmire” argument thoughtlessly repeated in relation to supposedly failed US imperial adventures.

Though Israel went into the enterprise with the noblest of intentions, it was quickly dragged into a complex situation from which it could not extricate itself. Apart from the sophisticated arrangements needed to ensure Israeli security, the argument goes, a fringe settler lobby hijacked and corrupted Israeli policy. The vast colonial settlement enterprise that sprung up across the West Bank and Gaza after 1967 was thus the “accidental” product of a directionless but well-intentioned Zionism manipulated by a radical minority.

But like Gorenberg’s take on the Nakba, these arguments simply don’t hold water.

In the precise inverse of the relationship between the state and Jewish religious fanaticism portrayed by Gorenberg, the post-1967 settlement enterprise was characterized not by the haphazard eruption of housing construction maniacally driven by a small gang of religious fanatics. Rather, the Israeli state consciously executed a carefully planned settlement program directed to meet specific objectives. “What is now plain with hindsight,” Donald Neff, a journalist specializing in the Middle East, has written, “is that Israel operated on a premeditated and pragmatic plan of settlement” in the period after the 1967 war (Donald Neff, “Settlements in US Policy,” Journal of Palestine Studies, Spring 1994).

This “premeditated and pragmatic plan” was unveiled in 1968 by staunch Labor politician Yigal Allon, the goal of which was “to have as much land as possible with as small a number of Arabs as possible” (Shlomo Ben-Ami, Scars of War, Wounds of Peace: The Israeli-Arab Tragedy, 2006). The Allon Plan proposed “annexation of 35 to 40 percent of the territories to Israel, and either Jordanian rule, or some form of self-rule for the rest of the land on which the Palestinians actually lived,” as Israeli scholar Tanya Reinhart put it (Tanya Reinhart, Israel/Palestine: How to End the War of 1948, 2005). “For all practical purposes,” Shlomo Ben-Ami, a former Israeli foreign minister, wrote, the Allon Plan became “the accepted map of Israel’s security, and of her settlement priorities in Judea and Samaria [the West Bank].”

Yitzak Rabin, mythic leader of the pathetic Zionist left, harnessed the messianic religious fervor of Jewish fundamentalists in order to finally realize the Allon Plan, and to lay the infrastructure for the apartheid system that was formalized in the occupied territories following the signing of the Oslo accords.

While intensifying restrictions on Palestinian movement and sealing off the West Bank and Gaza in a brutal closure regime (implementing checkpoints and a pass system similar to that used in South Africa), Rabin initiated a distinction between “good” and “bad” settlements. That is, he favored settling in areas deemed important to the overall colonial plan (such as those built atop vital water resources, or in a region considered to be of strategic importance), while criticizing those “ideological” settlements that did not fit the contours of the broader plan for territorial annexation. As former Jerusalem mayor Meron Benvenisti wrote of Rabin’s settlement scheme, “the geographic boundaries on Rabin’s map [left] Israel in control of … the same areas included in the infamous Allon Plan of 1968-70, except that Rabin [had] added large areas of [the northern West Bank]” (Meron Benvenisti, Intimate Enemies: Jews and Arabs in a Shared Land, 1995).

With the first intifada, which began in 1987, leading Jordan to renounce all claims to the West Bank the following year for fear the uprising would spread to the kingdom, and Israel desperately desiring an end to the uprising, it was the Palestinian variant of the Allon Plan that was realized with the signing of Oslo and Rabin’s settlement initiative. Though wanting to retain Israeli control over the entirety of historic Palestine, Rabin realized that the survival of the Jewish state depended on minimizing its Palestinian population, lest Israel be forced to abandon even the semblance of formal democracy and equal rights. Accordingly, the “ideological” settlements he condemned lay in densely populated Arab areas, which were to be disowned but encircled by Israeli-annexed and Jewish-settled areas.

Meanwhile, Israel would be absolved of responsibility for the welfare of the suffering Arab population. After the inauguration of the post-Oslo era, such expenses were pushed onto international donors and the occupied themselves, circumventing the provisions of the Fourth Geneva Convention stipulating that these sizable costs fall upon the occupying power. Clearly, none of this was an accident.

Good guys and bad guys

I raised some of these issues with Gorenberg after a talk of his I attended in Jerusalem in June 2008. “You’re not doing history right,” he informed me, “it is never the case that one side is always in the wrong, always the bad guy.” In fact, it is Gorenberg that misses the meaning of history. Good and bad aside, there are colonizers, and there are colonized; oppressors and oppressed. Unfortunately for Gorenberg, as the evidence shows, Israeli leaders from the left to the right have been unanimously in agreement over the continuance of a colonial policy in the occupied West Bank and Gaza (fighting tooth and nail to prevent the creation of a Palestinian state), as well as on the nearly constant waves of violence unleashed on Israel’s Arab neighbors.

Indeed, as Norman Finkelstein has pointed out, “the record of Labor has been much worse on human rights violations than the record of Likud,” noting how “Mr. Rabin used to boast that he had demolished many more homes than any Likud government” (Former Israeli foreign minister Shlomo Ben-Ami debates outspoken professor Norman Finkelstein on Israel, the Palestinians and the peace process,” Democracy Now!, 14 February 2006).

And indeed, though disowning the strategically problematic “ideological” settlements, Rabin’s record on settlement construction was worse than the record of his obstinate right-wing predecessor Yitzak Shamir.

It was Ehud Olmert, then prime minister and leader of the supposedly center-left Kadima, who was responsible for the destruction of much of southern Lebanon in 2006, including littering the countryside with cluster bombs that have rendered vast tracts of agricultural land inaccessible. His successor Tzipi Livni oversaw the slaughter of over 1,000 impoverished, defenseless Palestinians in Gaza in late 2008 and early 2009, including the deliberate targeting of hospitals, schools, medical personnel and aid workers, UN facilities, and the few remaining organs of economic production. Were these “accidents” too?

An essential part of the “peace process” for the Zionists — in particular the left — has always been washing away responsibility for the colonialism inherent in the notion of Zionism. From the humiliating White House ceremony in which Yasser Arafat presented himself to the world as its repentant assailant, to today, when Zionism demands the Palestinians recognize Israel as a “Jewish state” on which the indigenous Palestinian community was merely a temporary historical aberration, it is clear that Zionism seeks to erase and rewrite history. It does so in order to avoid accepting its ugly colonial legacy.

But if the Palestinians are merely trespassing in the “Jewish state,” the occupation, the wall, the settlements, are all legitimate: the Jews are simply “defending” what is theirs. Part of the struggle, then, takes place in the realm of the past.

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World bodies must act now to save Lifta


Palestinians attend Friday prayers on the remains of an old mosque in the village of Lifta.

Earlier this year, the group 1948 Lest We Forget filed an application to the World Monuments Fund (WMF) to include the Palestinian village of Lifta in its 2012 World Monuments Watch List.

The WMF was chosen because it accepts nominations from individuals, institutions and organizations without the need for national or state endorsement. The fund is an independent organization registered as a charity and based in New York City. It is concerned with saving some of the world’s most treasured places, whether great buildings, sites or singular monuments.

In preparing the application, we carried out extensive research on Lifta — its rich history, its unique architectural, cultural and social character — and found it to be an embodiment of everything Palestinian.

The tragic history of Lifta is no less important an element in its nomination than its special architectural character. This is because Lifta, unlike most other urban environments, was built by its own inhabitants who also owned the houses and the nearly 1,200 hectares (approximately 3,000 acres) which belonged to it.

The construction of Lifta’s cube-like buildings topped by their domed roofs was only possible because of the use of the single natural material the inhabitants employed: the special Jerusalem stone. The unique cluster of buildings seem to be embedded into the gentle slopes of the hills around them, and not one house vies for recognition over its neighbor. These houses are a perfect example of how to build a community in total harmony with the physical environment without pretense or architectural pastiche.

Since its depopulation in 1948-49, Lifta has been kept deserted by the Israeli authorities and it currently faces demolition by speculative developers. As a last act of architectural violation, gangs of drug addicts and squatters have been roaming the village and destroying the elegant domed roofs in an attempt to prevent a return by Lifta’s legitimate owners.

Alas, Lifta will see darker days ahead, should genuine efforts to save it from demolition fail.

Making the case for Lifta

Our application to the WMF included many illustrations, historical documents, indicative plans and some superb photographs taken at various periods of Lifta’s recent history. An important document included with the application was our “Save Lifta” petition which attracted 2,958 signatures from around the world. This number, at which point the petition was closed in time to file the application, symbolically represented the number of Lifta inhabitants in 1948 before it was ethnically cleansed. Had we kept the petition open, we were certain it would have attracted thousands of other signatures.

The 2012 WMF Watch List criteria for assessment and eventual selection of entries to its prestigious list include the significance of the site, the urgency of the conditions and the viability of feasible action (World Monuments Fund, Nomination Guidelines).

In our application, we carefully addressed them one by one with supporting material to show that Lifta deserved recognition and protection.

Of the above criteria, urgency was the most relevant in Lifta’s case because, as is now well-documented in reports published by The Electronic Intifada, The Guardian and elsewhere, the Israel Lands Administration (ILA), which claims to own Lifta and its surrounding terrain, has parcelled the village land for sale by tender to private developersto build more than 210 luxury housing units with shops, hotels and a museum for wealthy Jewish expatriates.

Nearby and slightly below the village, it has been reported that a secure tunnel is being planned and built to connect this site to the nearby Knesset (Israeli parliament) building for use by VIPs and state officials when the future development is completed.

All of this has been planned to be carried out under the noses of the few surviving original Lifta owners and their many descendants who have not been allowed to return to the village — although a good number of them have taken refuge only a few kilometers away.

Deceased family members cannot even be graced with a burial plot in Lifta. Even a return through death has been prevented. Living in proximity to Lifta, and being buried in it, we thought, would certainly meet the WMF 2012 Watch List’s two other criteria: relevance and significance. In our submission, we had included many more compelling reasons to meet these criteria.

On 11 February, the application was successfully filed and later confirmed by the WMF to be valid and in order. A decision date, we were told, was to be expected towards the end of September 2011. Due diligence required us to contact the WMF to ensure that all was on track. This was again confirmed.

During the last week of September, the WMF website announced that the jury had made their selection and the results would be announced on 28 September. On 1 October, we received by email a letter dated 29 September signed by Erica Avrami, Director of Research and Education at WMF. It included this statement: “We regret that the Lifta Village was not selected for inclusion in the 2012 Watch.”

Significance of Lifta as a heritage site

Lifta, for us, symbolizes not only the cultural, architectural and contextual importance of a heritage site, but also its political significance. Architectural history is full of such examples, whether single buildings, or a cluster of them, where the political element in fact played an important part in their formation and evolution.

Lifta, without doubt, is considered a “hot potato” because it is as much a symbol of the Palestinian tragedy as it is a physical manifestation of it. Could it have been, we tried to guess, Lifta’s “political” dimension which de-classified it from the Watch List?

In order that a future re-nomination of Lifta may be attempted, it was important for us to get an absolute understanding of the reasons why Lifta was de-selected in order that we may avoid derailment in the future. We spoke to Avrami at the WMF and, after a brief discussion, we asked her, “was the decision to exclude Lifta a political one?” The answer came in an email about two weeks later and it confirmed our worst fears:

“The Watch nomination for Lifta village incorrectly located the site in the Palestinian Territory, when it is in fact within the current borders of Israel [our emphasis]. Factual inaccuracies are something taken into consideration in the review and selection process.”

It is worth repeating here that our application was accepted and validated back in February and there were no questions raised at the time, or since, about Lifta’s geographical location. Our application had clearly showed Lifta’s coordinates on the map which accompanied the application and positively placed it inside the Corpus Separatum zone designated by the 1947 Partition Plan under UN Resolution 181.

As the reason for disqualifying Lifta is seen now to be its geographical location and not necessarily the other criteria, we felt that we were about to be embroiled in a debate on an issue which sits at the core of the Israel-Palestine question.

For the sake of historical correctness, we had no choice but to rely on international conventions to safeguard Lifta from physical oblivion. An extract of the UN Resolution 181 Partition map was sent to the WMF with another map showing the UN designated are of Jerusalem and its environs within the Corpus Separatum international zone. Lifta sat comfortably inside that zone, and as the WMF response emphasized “the current borders of Israel,” we also sent the WMF another extract of the UN map showing the 1949 Armistice Lines which wrapped around West Jerusalem and the village of Lifta at the cessation of hostilities.

We explained that these lines are exactly what they were meant to be according to international legal definitions: “Armistice Lines represent where the hostilities between the parties ceased until the warring parties reach final agreement.” This is in accordance with international law and the Geneva Convention.

In its response dated 1 November, the WMF wrote:

“World Monuments Fund is a private, not-for-profit organization that undertakes the World Monuments Watch as part of advocacy work on behalf of heritage around the world. We are not an intergovernmental organization that must abide by international conventions…” (my emphasis).

However, the WMF is part of the United Nations, listed under the “Official Relations” section of UNESCO. By definition, therefore, it is required to respect international law (UNESCO – World Monuments Fund).

But as is usually the case at the UN, rights take a back seat to politics. The US State Department’s “Diplomacy In Action” section created the US Ambassadors Fund for Cultural Preservation, which has donated over $2 million to the WMF. In view of the fact that the US has punished UNESCO for admitting Palestine as a member on 31 October 2011, the political link between the State Department funding and the WMF cannot be underestimated.

Despite the WMF’s refusal to include Lifta on its watch list, the village’s fate appears directly relevant to the organization’s work. This can be seen from a comment made by Bonnie Burnham, the WMF’s president, in a 2006 interview with the National Trust for Historic Preservation:

“Time, war, and politics are destroyers of monuments. Which is the biggest threat? In a global context, unquestionably, the biggest is war. In addition to destroying buildings, armed conflict destroys the entire national capacity to deal with heritage” (“The Short Answer: Bonnie Burnham”).

If the WMF was prepared to address that threat, surely it would be acting to save Lifta.

Antoine Raffoul is a chartered Palestinian architect living and practicing in London. He is also a coordinator of 1948 Lest We Forget and can be reached at info AT 1948 DOT orgDOT uk.

Posted in Palestine AffairsComments Off on World bodies must act now to save Lifta

IsraHell’s grand hypocrisy Netanyahu slams ‘anti-liberal’ Arab Spring


By Jonathan Cook

Global Research

As protests raged again across the Middle East, Benjamin Netanyahu, Israel’s prime minister, offered his assessment of the Arab Spring last week. It was, he said, an “Islamic, anti-western, anti-liberal, anti-Israeli, undemocratic wave”, adding that Israel’s Arab neighbours were “moving not forwards, but backwards”.

It takes some chutzpah – or, at least, epic self-delusion – for Israel’s prime minister to be lecturing the Arab world on liberalism and democracy at this moment.

In recent weeks, a spate of anti-democratic measures have won support from Netanyahu’s rightwing government, justified by a new security doctrine: see no evil, hear no evil, and speak no evil of Israel. If the legislative proposals pass, the Israeli courts, Israel’s human rights groups and media, and the international community will be transformed into the proverbial three monkeys.

Israel’s vigilant human rights community has been the chief target of this assault. Yesterday Netanyahu’s Likud faction and the Yisrael Beiteinu party of his far-right foreign minister, Avigdor Lieberman, proposed a new law that would snuff out much of the human rights community in Israel.

The bill effectively divides non-governmental organisations (NGOs) into two kinds: those defined by the right as pro-Israel and those seen as “political”, or anti-Israel. The favoured ones, such as ambulance services and universities, will continue to be lavishly funded from foreign sources, chiefly wealthy private Jewish donors from the United States and Europe.

The “political” ones – meaning those that criticise government policies, especially relating to the occupation – will be banned from receiving funds from foreign governments, their main source of income. Donations from private sources, whether Israeli or foreign, will be subject to a crippling 45 per cent tax.

The grounds for being defined as a “political” NGO are suitably vague: denying Israel’s right to exist or its Jewish and democratic character; inciting racism; supporting violence against Israel; supporting politicians or soldiers being put on trial in international courts; or backing boycotts of the state.

One human rights group warned that all groups assisting the UN’s 2009 report report by Judge Richard Goldstone into war crimes committed during Israel’s attack on Gaza in winter 2008 would be vulnerable to such a law. Other organisations like Breaking the Silence, which publishes the testimonies of Israeli soldiers who have committed or witnessed war crimes, will be silenced themselves. And an Israeli Arab NGO said it feared that its work demanding equality for all Israeli citizens, including the fifth who are Palestinian, and an end to Jewish privilege would count as denying Israel’s Jewish character.

At the same time Netanyahu wants the Israeli media emasculated. Last week his government threw its weight behind a new defamation law that will leave few but milionaires in a position to criticise politicians and officials. Mr Netanyahu observed: “It may be called the Defamation Law, but I call it the ‘publication of truth law’.” The media and human rights groups fear the worst.

This monkey must speak no evil.

Another bill, backed by the justice minister, Yaacov Neeman, is designed to skew the make-up of a panel selecting judges for Israel’s supreme court. Several judicial posts are about to fall vacant, and the government hopes to stuff the court with apppointees who share its ideological worldview and will not rescind its anti-democratic legislation, including its latest attack on the human rights community. Neeman’s favoured candidate is a settler who has a history of ruling against human rights organisations.

Senior legislators from Mr Netanyahu’s party are pushing another bill that would make it nigh impossible for human rights organisations to petition the supreme court against government actions.

The judicial monkey should see no evil.

At one level, these and a host of other measures – including increasing government intimidation of the Israeli media and academia, a crackdown on whistleblowers and the recently passed boycott law, which exposes critics of the settlements to expensive court actions for damages – are designed to strengthen the occupation by disarming its critics inside Israel.

But there is another, even more valued goal: making sure that in future the plentiful horror stories from the Palestinian territories – monitored by human rights organisations, reported by the media and heard in the courts – never reach the ears of the international community.

The third monkey is supposed to hear no evil.

The crackdown is justified in the Israeli right’s view on the grounds that criticism of the occupation represents not domestic concerns but unwelcome foreign interference in Israel’s affairs. The promotion of human rights – whether in Israel, the occupied territories or the Arab world – is considered by Netanyahu and his allies as inherently un-Israeli and anti-Israeli.

The hypocrisy is hard to stomach. Israel has long claimed special dispensation to interfere in the affairs of both the EU and the United States. Jewish Agency staff proselytise among European and American Jews to persuade them to emigrate to Israel. Uniquely, Israel’s security agencies are given free rein at airports around the world to harass and invade the privacy of non-Jews flying to Tel Aviv. And Israel’s political proxies abroad – sophisticated lobby groups like AIPAC in the US – act as foreign agents while not registering as such.

Of course, Israel’s qualms against foreign meddling are selective. No restrictions are planned for rightwing Jews from abroad, such as US casino magnate Irving Moskowitz, who have pumped enormous sums into propping up illegal Jewish settlements built on Palestinian land.

There is a faulty logic too to Israel’s argument. As human rights activists point out, the areas where they do most of their work are located not in Israel but in the Palestinian territories, which Israel is occupying in violation of international law.

Privately, European embassies have been trying to drive home this point. The EU gives Israel preferential trading status, worth billions of dollars annually to the Israeli economy, on condition that it respects human rights in the occupied territories. Europe argues it is, therefore, entitled to fund the monitoring of Israel’s treatment of the Palestinians. More’s the pity that Europe fails to act on the information it receives.

Given the right’s strengthening hand, it can be expected to devise ever more creative ways to silence the human rights community and Israeli media and emasculate the courts as way to end the bad press.

Israelis are obssessed with their country’s image abroad and what they regard as a “delegitimisation” campaign that threatens not only the occupation’s continuation but also Israel’s long-term survival as an ethnic state. The leadership has been incensed by regular surveys of global opinion showing Israel ranked among the most unpopular countries in the world.

The Palestinians’ recent decision to turn to the international community for recognition of statehood has only amplified such grievances.

Israel has no intention of altering its policies, or of pursuing peace. Rather, Netanyahu’s government has been oscillating between a desperate desire to pass yet more anti-democratic legislation to stifle criticism and a modicum of restraint motivated by fear of the international backlash.

A cabinet debate last month on legislation against human rights groups focused barely at all on the proposal’s merits. Instead the head of the National Security Council, Yaakov Amidror, was called before ministers to explain whether Israel stood to lose more from passing such bills or from allowing human rights groups to carry on monitoring the occupation.

Deluded as it may seem, Netanyahu’s ultimate goal is to turn the clock back 40 years, to a “golden age” when foreign correspondents and western governments could refer, without blushing, to the occupation of the Palestinians as “benign”.

Donald Neff, Jerusalem correspondent for Time magazine in the 1970s, admitted years later that his and his colleagues’ performance was so feeble at the time in large part because there was little critical information available on the occupation. When he witnessed first-hand what was taking place, his editors in the US refused to believe him and he was eventually moved on.

Now, however, the genie is out the bottle. The international community understands full well – thanks to human rights activists – both that the occupation is brutal and that Israel has been peace-making in bad faith.

If Israel continues on its current course, another myth long accepted by western countries – that Israel is “the only democracy in the Middle East” – may finally be shattered.

Jonathan Cook won the Martha Gellhorn Special Prize for Journalism. His latest books are “Israel and the Clash of Civilisations: Iraq, Iran and the Plan to Remake the Middle East” (Pluto Press) and “Disappearing Palestine: Israel’s Experiments in Human Despair” (Zed Books). His website is

A version of this story was first published in the National, Abu Dhabi

Posted in ZIO-NAZIComments Off on IsraHell’s grand hypocrisy Netanyahu slams ‘anti-liberal’ Arab Spring







Learn more about our democracy, how it is ran and who runs it…





This is a very interesting podcast. We spoke about the ideology that drives the Jewish Lobby, the tribal continum between hard core Zionism and the so-called Jewish anti Zionism, anti Semitism and more


The Wandering Who-A Study of Jewish Identity Politics – available on  or


Posted in PoliticsComments Off on GILAD ATZMON ON MARK GLENN’S RADIO SHOW












British lawmaker and Newport West MP Paul Flynn was criticised on Thursday after suggesting the country’s ambassador to Israel may be biased because he is Jewish.

MP Paul Flynn has been accused of making anti-Semitic remarks after questioning whether the British ambassador to Israel should be Jewish.

Flynn added: “I do not normally fall for conspiracy theories, but the ambassador has proclaimed himself to be a Zionist.”

In my opinion, the evidence against British Ambassador Matthew Gould appears to be pretty conclusive. To read more click here.

The ultra-Zionist Jewish Chronicle (JC) quoted Flynn as saying the ambassador to Israel should be “someone with roots in the UK (who) can’t be accused of having Jewish loyalty.”

It appears that even the JC manages to differentiate here between ‘Jewish loyalty’ and ‘Jewish origin’.

But by ‘Jewish loyalty’ they surely refer to tribal and political affiliation, categories that are markedly different from ethnic origin, or religious belief.

Next, Independent legislator Denis MacShane (also notorious for his relentless advocacy of Israel and Zionism) called on Thursday for the government to show “we do not have a religious bar on diplomatic service, we do not say Jews can’t serve in Israel (or) Catholics can’t serve in Catholic countries.”

And yet, one would expect MacShane to be slightly more ‘intellectually genuine’ —  as a devoted and enthusiastic servant of Zionist interests, MacShane surely knows by now that ‘Jewishness’ does not exclusively refer to a religious affiliation: in the age of Zionism, being Jewish also potentially involves secular-political affiliation. And it is surely obvious to all that Newport West MP Paul Flynn did not criticise Ambassador Gould for being an observant Jew or for being Jewish by birth. Rather, Flynn was obviously criticising Gould’s close affiliation with Zionism; i.e. for his political ideology.

Quite rightly, Flynn rejected the allegations of anti-Semitism made against him as “ludicrous.”

He wrote on his blog on Thursday that he was “a lifelong friend of Israel and Jewish causes… Never before in my long political life has such an accusation been made…But I have been accused of being too friendly to Israel on many occasions.”

Newport West MP Paul Flynn may well realise by now that friendship with Israel means very little: Israel demands full submission. And the truth is something he had better keep for himself.


The Wandering Who-A Study of Zionist’s and AZZ’s tactics – available on




 Nazi’s in Jerusalem

After months of harassment and vandalism on part of extreme Zio-Nazi Sicarii faction, Mea Shearim store agrees to have its books supervised in exchange for truce

After months of harassment and acts of vandalism in Jerusalem’s Mea Shearim neighborhood, modern bookstore “Or Hachaim” bookstore has given in to pressure and agreed to have its books supervised by a committee affiliated with the extreme Zio-Nazi  Sicarii faction in exchange for a truce.

Racist Zionist ultra-Orthodox zealots launched an all-out war against the store several months ago, claiming that it sold “immodest books”.   As part of their struggle, they smashed the store’s door and windows several times, poured a smelly liquid outside the shop during opening hours and used additional means of pressure.

Eventually, it seems, the unstoppable harassment caused the store owners to surrender and agree to subject their books to censorship.

Ads issued recently by the “Redemption Committee” stated, “The owners of the ‘Or Hachaim’ bookstore have negotiated with the committee activists and agreed to match the store to the spirit of the neighborhood in accordance with the committee’s instructions.

“Therefore, we hereby announce that anyone with any claim or comment on the matter should turn to the committee’s representatives and all will turn out well.”

The ad, published in the capital’s haredi neighborhoods, stressed that violence must no longer be used against the store.   “A person must not take the law into his own hands and must not damage property in any way,” the ad read.

“Or Hachaim” owners declined comment, but a source in Mea Shearim said it seemed the bookstore had raised a white flag. “It took quite a long time, but they eventually gave up after many months of battle.”


Shoah’s pages


December 2011
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