by Stuart Littlewood
Part of the serialisation of ‘Radio Free Palestine’ as featured on My Catbird Seat
A Story of Betrayal – 3
Kofi Annan, Former UN Secretary General
UN secretary-general, Kofi Annan, told reporters in Madrid in April 2006:
The whole world is demanding that Israel withdraw. I don’t think the whole world… can be wrong.
The whole world, that is, except America. The US has used its veto over 40 times to protect Israel from UN Security Council draft resolutions criticizing its conduct.
Why does America consistently back this rogue state? Sharon himself supplied part of the answer when he allegedly bragged:
We, the Jewish people, control America, and the Americans know it.
Whether or not he actually said this, it is no idle boast. US presidents know which side their fundraising bread is buttered at election time, and the White House is constantly under pressure from the likes of the American-Israel Public Affairs Committee (AIPAC), whose website proclaims:
“Through more than 2,000 meetings with members of Congress – at home and in Washington – AIPAC activists help pass more than 100 pro- Israel legislative initiatives a year. From procuring nearly $3 billion in aid critical to Israel’s security, to funding joint US-Israeli efforts to build a defense against unconventional weapons, AIPAC members are involved in the most crucial issues facing Israel.”
AIPAC lobbyists meet every member of Congress and cover every hearing on Capitol Hill that touches on the US-Israel relationship.
So powerful is AIPAC that a counter-campaign, organized by the Council for the National Interest Foundation (CNIF), was recently launched to constrain the Israel lobby, which it accuses of shutting down all rational debate. “The many organizations that make up the Israel lobby include several whose main effort is to intimidate editors and producers in the media and prevent an open discourse about Israeli policies and our uncritical support for those policies.”
“The present government of Israel,” says the CNIF, “is undermining long-term American interests and the war on terror.”
A senior US diplomat, speaking at a lecture in London on US foreign policy, was “highly resentful” when someone in the audience asked about the Jewish lobby. He called the question “an ethnic slur”. Bishop Desmond Tutu of South Africa, a Nobel Peace Prize winner, observes: “
The Israeli government is placed on a pedestal, and to criticize it is to be immediately dubbed anti-Semitic.”
Ehud Barak and Yasser Arafat
One of the greatest propaganda lies circulated by the Israeli regime and its supporters is how Arafat turned down former Israeli prime minister Barak’s so-called “generous offer” in 2000 – another of the myths Israel loves to peddle.
The West Bank and the Gaza Strip, seized by Israel in 1967 and occupied ever since, comprise just 22% of pre-partition Palestine. When the Palestinians signed the Oslo Agreement in 1993 they agreed to accept the 22% and recognize Israel within ‘Green Line’ borders (i.e. the 1949 Armistice Line established after the Arab-Israeli War). Conceding 78% of the land that was originally theirs was an astonishing compromise.
But it wasn’t enough for Barak. His generous offer required the inclusion of 69 Israeli settlements within that 22% remnant. It was plain for all to see on the map that these settlement blocs create impossible borders and already severely disrupted Palestinian life in the West Bank. Barak also demanded the Palestinian territories be placed under “Temporary Israeli Control”, meaning Israeli military and administrative control indefinitely. His generous offer also gave Israel control over all the border crossings of the new Palestinian State. What nation in the world would accept that?
The truth contained in Barak’s maps was disguised by propaganda spin. At Taba, he produced a revised map. The Palestinians considered it a basis for negotiation but Barak repudiated it after his election defeat. You don’t have to take my word for it. The facts behind this gross deception are well documented and explained by organizations such as the Israeli peace movement Gush Shalom.
Israel still tries to pin the blame for the continuing peace breakdown on the Palestinians’ refusal to accept Barak’s oh-so-generous terms, a PR lie that goes unchallenged in mainstream media.
Research confirms that the media over-report Israeli deaths and under-report Palestinian deaths. Investigations into civilian deaths by the Israeli army are rare and only carried out under pressure. One soldier was sentenced to 20 months’ prison for shooting dead a Palestinian man as he adjusted his TV aerial, the longest penalty yet for killing a civilian and less than an Israeli conscientious objector gets for refusing to serve in the army.
This lack of accountability encourages a trigger-happy attitude among soldiers and promotes a “culture of impunity”, a view shared by the New York-based Human Rights Watch, which describes army investigations of civilian killings as a “sham” that allows soldiers to think they can literally get away with murder.
Daniel Day-Lewis reported in The Sunday Times, 20 March 2005,that he had read the transcript of this IDF (Israeli Defence Force) radio communications exchange, which took place in Gaza in October 2004…
Soldier on guard: “We have identified someone on two legs [code for human] 100 metres from the outpost.”
Soldier in lookout: “A girl about 10.” (By now, soldiers in the outpost are shooting at the girl.)
Soldier in lookout: “She is behind the trench, half a metre away, scared to death. The hits were right next to her, a centimeter away.”
Captain R’s signalman: “We shot at her, yes, she is apparently hit.”
Captain R: “Roger, affirmative. She has just fallen. I and a few other soldiers are moving forward to confirm the kill.”
Soldier at lookout: “Hold her down, hold her down. There’s no need to kill her.”
Captain R (later): “...We carried out the shooting and killed her... I confirmed the kill... [later]... Commanding officer here, anyone moving in the area, even a three year-old kid, should be killed, over.”
A military inquiry, said Day-Lewis, decided that Captain R had “not acted unethically”.
Six months earlier (on 14 October 2004) The Guardian had reported that the Israeli army “yesterday suspended an officer who is accused of firing up to 20 bullets into a 13-year-old Palestinian as she lay on the ground after having been shot from an army outpost.
“Another schoolgirl died yesterday after being shot while sitting at her school desk."
“The deaths were in the southern Gaza Strip, some miles away from an ongoing army operation which has seen more than 100 Palestinians killed, including many civilians."
“The Israeli army suspended the platoon commander when several soldiers threatened to refuse to serve under him if he was not removed. The soldiers told Israeli media that the officer ignored warnings that a person approaching an army outpost last week was a schoolgirl."
“After she was shot, he approached Imam al Hamas, 13, as she lay on the ground and fired two bullets at her body before emptying the contents of his rifle magazine into her, the soldiers said.”
The Guardian, 16 November 2005, reported that the court cleared Captain R of illegal use of his weapon, conduct unbecoming an officer and perverting the course of justice by asking soldiers under his command to alter their accounts of the incident.
The girl’s father said the army never intended to hold the soldier accountable. “They did not charge him with Iman’s murder, only with small offences, and now they say he is innocent of those even though he shot my daughter so many times. This was the cold-blooded murder of a girl. The soldier murdered her once and the court has murdered her again. What is the message? They are telling their soldiers to kill Palestinian children.”
Following the verdict, Captain R burst into tears, turned to the public benches and said: “I told you I was innocent.”
And what of the United Nations in all this? The UN’s website charts the organization high-sounding but ineffectual attempts to deal with the many injustices... how, in 1974, the General Assembly reaffirmed the “inalienable rights” of the Palestinian people to “self-determination, national independence and sovereignty, and to return to their lands and homes”... how, the following year, the General Assembly established the Committee on the Exercise of the Inalienable Rights of the Palestinian People... how, in 1983, the International Conference on the Question of Palestine, adopted the Geneva Declaration to oppose and reject “the establishment of settlements in the occupied territory and actions taken by Israel to change the status of Jerusalem”.By 2006 none of it amounted to a row of beans. Palestinians are left with only a small fraction of their land, much of it practically worthless thanks to deliberate separation and blockade.
Israelis play football internationally, without hindrance; not so the Palestinians. In 2004 Israel refused travel permits for some team members in the World Cup qualifying rounds and even bombed the National Football Stadium in Gaza in 2006, destroying the pitch. So they still play in the street. [photo: Stuart Littlewood]
Up until his stroke in January 2006, Ariel Sharon devoted himself to ensuring permanent Israeli control over the whole ‘Land of Israel’ and preventing the emergence of a viable Palestinian state by establishing, contrary to international law, irreversible “facts on the ground” that made a mockery of any roadmap to peace. In the process he oversaw the establishment of nearly 400 Jewish settlements and outposts on stolen land, with a result that 29 newly-built highways now incorporate those settlements into the fabric of the Israeli state and almost half a million Israelis live on the Palestinian side of the 1967 border.
At the same time 96% of West Bank Palestinians are literally imprisoned in tiny enclaves behind the Separation Wall and rendered incapable of running any half-baked Palestinian state that might be tossed like a crumb from the peace-talks table.
Dividing and isolating communities. The road to Jericho runs smack into the evil Wall. There is no convenient way round for Palestinian traffic.... [photo: Stuart Littlewood]
And here is what's on the other side. [photo: Stuart Littlewood]
In bringing his criminal enterprise to such an advanced stage Sharon was able to count on the support of the Clinton and Bush administrations and an unquestioning Congress, and on an almost equally supine EU.
The UN has conspicuously failed the Palestinian people, even in respect of its most basic Charter aims, and the 1983 “Question of Palestine” still goes unanswered.
No other minority in American history has ever hijacked so much money from the American taxpayers in order to invest in a ‘homeland’. It is as if the American taxpayer had been obliged to support the Pope in his re-conquest of the Papal States simply because one third of our people are Roman Catholic.
Had this been attempted, there would have been a great uproar and Congress would have said no. But a religious minority of less than two per cent has bought or intimidated seventy senators (the necessary two thirds to overcome an unlikely presidential veto) while enjoying support of the media.~ American author Gore Vidal
And the betrayal continues even today. The EU, under the presidency of Britain, refused to publish its own findings on Israeli government action against non-Jews in and around Jerusalem. EU ministers in Brussels, on 12 December 2005, shelved the report for fear of alienating Israel and reducing the EU’s influence. Next day Israel announced, in violation of its Road Map obligations, the building of 300 new homes in the Maale Adumim settlement, the largest in the occupied territories.
The report, however, was leaked, and 30- plus Jewish and Palestinian organizations around the world decided to publish it anyway on their websites.
Pierre Galand, Senator in the Belgian Parliament and Chairman of the European Co-ordinating Committee of NGOs, is reported to have said:
European diplomats in East Jerusalem and Ramallah had the courage to stress the alarming situation in East Jerusalem. Their report corroborates the ICJ advisory opinion ruling on the Wall and the illegal settlements, which led the ECCP to initiate the European Campaign for Sanctions against the Israeli Occupation. In order to force EU member states to respect their own commitment to International Law and Human Rights, we will publish the report on East Jerusalem on our website, despite the EU refusal to do so.
Denied justice, their hope for the future is pinned on Palestinian pride and an indomitable spirit. [photo: Stuart Littlewood]
Dan Judelson, Secretary of European Jews for a Just Peace said:
The EU are burying their heads in the sand and are thus co-responsible while East Jerusalem residents face repeated violations of international law and of simple standards of humanity, all at the hands of the Israeli state. This is not a time for thumb twiddling or inaction; if the EU sits on this report, we see it as our duty to make it as widely available as we can.
Betty Hunter, General Secretary of the UK Palestinian Solidarity Campaign, added:
It is 17 months since the International Court of Justice declared the apartheid Wall to be an illegal act by an occupying force and that settlement building should end. While Israel defies this decision, Palestinians are losing their homes, land and livelihood in the West Bank and East Jerusalem. If European countries continue to collude with this, they are also guilty of oppressing the Palestinian people.