Archive | August 5th, 2014

I$raHell and the erosion of international law

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Israeli degrading of international law

By Lawrence Davidson

By the end of the 19th century it was recognized by those concerned with human rights that the nation-state was a destructive anachronism. It was an entity that seemed addicted to periodic spasms of mass violence, particularly in the form of war carried on with little or no regard for non-combatants or other restraining factors.

As a consequence, efforts began to create instruments of international law – treaties, conventions and other agreements – to modify state behaviour in such areas as the treatment of prisoners and the victimization of civilian populations.

The precarious status of international humanitarian law

Progress was spotty until the very end of World War II, when various human rights charters came into existence as a part of the United Nations. Through that institution, provision was made – albeit in very narrowly defined circumstances – for the fielding of UN military forces (the famous Blue Helmets) to try to enforce peace and protect civilian populations. Other institutions, such as the International Criminal Court (ICC), were also eventually brought into existence.

The truth is that today only those nations which are relatively weak and have no great power patronage are in any danger of being called to task for gross violations of human rights.

The post-war move to expand international law to cover human rights and provide enforcement measures was all for the good, and in the future it will hopefully prove a powerful precedent that can be built upon. However, this period of progress did not last long. It soon gave way to a hypocritical selective application of humanitarian law.

The truth is that today only those nations which are relatively weak and have no great power patronage are in any danger of being called to task for gross violations of human rights. If you are the leader of some small African or Balkan state and you go on some ethnically or religiously inspired rampage, you run a real risk of being charged with crimes against humanity and hauled before the ICC, while the UN Security Council votes to send military forces into your country.

On the other hand, if you are a great power, or the close ally of one, you can pretty much do what you want, where you want. Great powers hold the concept of their own sovereignty sacrosanct and the us-versus-them mindset that goes along with hubristic nationalism remains unchallenged. That goes for their allies as well who, under the protection of their patron, often commit with impunity the same crimes that land smaller, unprotected powers in deep trouble.

Israel and the US undermine the law

The most blatant contemporary example of this disregard for international law as it pertains to human rights can be seen in the actions of Israel. The Zionist state’s present blitzkrieg in Gaza may be the worst of that nation’s ongoing series of violations of international humanitarian law. I would refer the reader to the Centre for Constitutional Rights’s fact sheet outlining Israel’s violation of humanitarian-law statutes.

It is not an exaggeration to say that the acclaimed “Israel Defence Forces” have become expert in violating human rights: murder and ethnic cleansing, illegal confiscation of occupied land, destruction of civilian housing, destruction of civilian infrastructure (water, electricity, sanitation, etc.), attacking of medical facilities, torture both of adults and children, the use of banned weaponry, the mistreatment of prisoners and more. And they have done it all quite openly.

Official complaints about Israeli behaviour come before the UN several times a year but to no avail. Each time Israel is called to task in the UN Security Council for violating international law, the US vetoes the resolution and therefore Israel suffers no consequences. Obviously, this only emboldens Israeli leaders to continue acting in a criminal manner. However, the impact goes beyond Israel and its victims, because each time the US casts its veto, international law designed to protect human rights suffers degradation.

The reason for US behaviour has to do with the inflated role of special interests, or lobbies (in this case the infamous Zionist lobby) in the governing structure of democratic  societies. For a more detailed discussion of lobbies and how they operate in Washington, the reader can go to my essay on lobbies. Under the present circumstances in most democratic states, if a special interest has sufficient resources and organization it can, quite legally, manipulate policy so that the very definition of national interest is warped into an expression of the interest of the lobby. This is what the Zionist lobby in Washington has done in the case of US foreign policy in the Middle East.

This regrettable state of affairs has effectively brought to a halt any progress to expand enforcement of international human rights laws. Indeed, international law in general has fallen so far out of favour that, in the case of the United States, many citizens think that this form of law and organizations such as the UN are elements of shadowy conspiracies attempting to take over their nation.

Resurgent tribalism

What does this tell us about ourselves and our politics? It suggests that at some deep level we are still tribal. The concept of us-versus-them appears deeply ingrained in our psyches and thus influences our actions. If the “us” could get bigger and bigger to the point where it encompasses all of humanity, that would be real progress. However, short of alien invasion, that seems unlikely.

In fact, the theory of natural localism – the notion that we all live our lives in localized spatial and temporal environments – suggests that tribalism in its various forms is the social organization most compatible with human nature. Those interested in the notion of natural localism should see the first part of my book Foreign Policy Inc. published by the University of Kentucky in 2009.

The promotion of international humanitarian law, which undermines tribalism by universalizing the application of law, may be felt as a threat by those whose self-concept is tied to the nation-state (or worse, an ethnically or religiously exclusive state) and therefore wrapped up with an us-versus-them worldview. This is certainly the case when it comes to the Israelis and their Zionist supporters.

So, Israeli behaviour and US protection of that behaviour is a sombre message that we have a way to go to overcome our propensity for murder and mayhem. We have managed to establish standards of humanitarian behaviour and even embody them in international humanitarian law. We have managed to create an albeit imperfect prototype for enforcement through the UN. But we have yet to overcome the problem of selective application of that law. This may be a fatal roadblock. If anyone can figure out how to overcome it, he or she will be a truly deserving candidate for the Nobel Peace Prize.

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Abuses against Journalists by Zionist Traitors Ab-a$$ Security Forces

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A Palestinian man sells newspapers in front of his shop in the Gaza strip in 2007. Hamas has since banned the Al-Ayyam daily, pictured on the lower rack.
No News is Good News

This report documents cases in which security forces tortured, beat, and arbitrarily detained journalists, confiscated their equipment, and barred them from leaving the West Bank and Gaza.

Rise in Attacks, Detentions by Palestinian Security Services
Palestinian security forces are becoming notorious for assaulting and intimidating journalists who are just trying to do their jobs. Both the Palestinian Authority in the West Bank and Hamas in Gaza need to end these blatant attacks on free expression.
Joe Stork, deputy Middle East director

(Ramallah) – Severe harassment by Palestinian Authority and Hamas security forces targeting Palestinian journalists in the West Bank and Gaza has had a pronounced chilling effect on freedom of expression, Human Rights Watch said today. In a new report, Human Rights Watch called on Palestinian authorities in the West Bank and Gaza to hold their security forces to account for systematic, severe abuses and urged foreign donors to the Palestinian Authority (PA) to condition aid to security forces on concrete accountability measures.

The 35-page report, No News is Good News: Abuses Against Journalists by Palestinian Security Forces,” documents cases in which security forces tortured, beat, and arbitrarily detained journalists, confiscated their equipment, and barred them from leaving the West Bank and Gaza.

“Palestinian security forces are becoming notorious for assaulting and intimidating journalists who are just trying to do their jobs,” said Joe Stork, deputy Middle East director at Human Rights Watch. “Both the Palestinian Authority in the West Bank and Hamas in Gaza need to end these blatant attacks on free expression.”

In the West Bank, reported incidents of official harassment of journalists by PA security services temporarily spiked during Israel’s offensive in Gaza in December 2008 and January 2009, but the overall trend has continued to worsen. According to one rights group, the Center for Development and Media Freedoms, the number of physical attacks, arrests, detentions, arbitrary confiscations of equipment, and other violations of journalists’ rights by Palestinian security forces increased in both Gaza and the West Bank in 2010 by 45 percent over the previous year.

The report, based on interviews with Palestinian journalists, journalist syndicate representatives, and PA officials, focuses on seven cases of journalists who were abused by PA security forces, and documents two cases of abuse by Hamas internal security forces in Gaza, where the situation for journalists is also dire. Abuses by Hamas in Gaza as well as by Israeli military forces throughout the occupied Palestinian territories will be the focus of future reporting, Human Rights Watch said.

In recent days, Hamas internal security services have repeatedly violated the rights of journalists covering popular demonstrations in Gaza against the political split between Hamas and the Fatah-led PA, Human Rights Watch said. For example, journalists told Human Rights Watch that on March 19, 2011, around 15 Hamas plainclothes security forces raided the offices of the Reuters news agency bureau in Gaza, smashed computers, and beat journalists, after pointing a gun at one of them and threatening to throw another out of a window. In another case, a reporter for the Al Quds radio station told Human Rights Watch that on March 27 Hamas police threatened, insulted, and detained him for more than an hour immediately after he had broadcast a report criticizing Hamas health officials. Security forces accosted him in a morgue where he had reported on a man, supposedly killed by an Israeli military attack, who was discovered still to be alive.

Since Hamas’s takeover of the Gaza Strip in June 2007, the majority of abuses against journalists in both the West Bank and Gaza have been related to tensions between the PA and Hamas, the report found. In the West Bank, the primary targets are journalists whom PA security services suspected of working for television, radio, websites, and newspapers seen as favoring Hamas or other Islamist groups such as Islamic Jihad, or are otherwise critical of the PA.

In one case documented in the report, a PA military court in the city of Jenin sentenced television journalist Tariq Abu Zeid, 34, to a year-and-a-half in prison despite two civilian court rulings ordering his release. Abu Zeid was the northern West Bank correspondent for the Al Aqsa television station, and had worked for the Gaza-based Al-Risala newspaper, both of which are considered to be pro-Hamas.

PA security services have also targeted independent journalists suspected of working on reports that might be critical of the PA. Security officials from the PA detained Muhannad Salahat, a freelance journalist and filmmaker, for 14 days in March and April 2010 without charging or notifying him of the reason for his arrest. Security officials interrogated him for days about whether he was preparing a documentary on the PA for Al Jazeera, the satellite television channel which had been critical of the PA and which the PA saw as pro-Hamas. PA security services detained Salahat for another 10 days in May 2010, and Jordanian intelligence officers later prevented him from traveling from the West Bank to Jordan, saying that he required special clearance from the PA before he could travel.

The majority of abuses documented by Human Rights Watch and reported by local rights groups involved the PA’s Preventive Security agency and General Intelligence Services, and the detention of civilian journalists by the PA’s military judiciary. In a positive recent development, the military judiciary has said it would stop exercising jurisdiction over civilians, although many civilians are still detained by the military.

Overall, the increasing number of alleged abuses against journalists takes place in the context of virtual impunity for serious human rights violations generally by PA security service officials, Human Rights Watch said. In total, Palestinian rights groups reported more than 200 allegations of torture by PA security agencies in 2010 – up from 164 complaints in 2009 – yet the courts have criminally prosecuted security officers for abusing detainees in only one case; a military court acquitted all five of the accused in July 2010.

Human Rights Watch cannot point to instructions from PA leaders to the security services directing them to commit these violations, but the utter failure of the PA leadership to address the prevailing culture of impunity for such abuses suggests that they reflect government policy.

The United States provided $350 million to the PA for security and program assistance in 2010, in addition to $150 million in direct budgetary support, while the European Union gave the PA more than €230 million ($315 million), including for security assistance. Human Rights Watch called on the US and the EU to condition support for all PA security agencies on the PA taking effective steps to investigate, prosecute, and punish security officers responsible for serious abuses.

In Gaza, Hamas internal security agents have summoned critical journalists for questioning, which the journalists interpreted as a form of intimidation, and government officials called some journalists to warn them that their coverage was “slanted” or “biased.” In one case, Hamas security services harassed a Gaza-based journalist for the pro-Fatah Al-Hayat al-Jadida newspaper, repeatedly visiting her home and threatening her over the course of three months in 2010. In another case, the Hamas Ministry of Interior summoned a journalist who published an article on torture by Hamas authorities in secret detention facilities, threatened to take legal action against him if he did not publish an apology for the article, and warned him to correct his “biased” reporting.

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Venezuela’s Maduro: ‘Stay strong Palestine!’

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In Caracas, Venezuela, on a recent encounter with the Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro, the Palestinian Ambassador Linda Ali thanked Maduro and the people of Venezuela for supporting the struggle of the Palestinians. Amid the crowd chanting “Palestine, stand strong! People of the world are rising up! Palestine stand strong! People of the world are with you!” and unable to hold back her tears, the Ambassador presented to  Maduro a Palestinian keffiyeh and said:  “Thank you for being so humane and for standing with us, with our struggle. You and the people of Latin America have shown us more support than some of our Arab brothers. Thank you.”

Calling on the people of Venezuela to join the solidarity actions for Palestine, Maduro then gave a short speech to the crowd: “Your slogan is the right one. Palestine, stay strong…do not crumble…resist. The people of the world are waking up and the common scream of the people will soon dominate the world.

“As I said before, I am saying it again: The people of Israel, you need to stand against the massacre of the people of Palestine, you need to say ‘No’… Do not stay silent.

“We hope with all hearts that the murderers of the people of Palestine will be brought to justice, that they will receive the punishment they deserve and justice will be served.

“The people of Israel, put an end to this massacre, do not watch it in silence. There is no justification, no explanation for this massacre. At this point, this is a genocide.

“And we call on to all the Muslim people, Arab people, peoples of America, all the peoples of the world: the struggle of the people of Palestine is the purest, the most just, the most humane struggle, it is a struggle we all need to support. It is the right to live, the right to live on our lands in peace. This is the most just struggle.”

The link to the video of the speech can be found here.

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Bloodsport: Racist Nazi’s Gather, Watch, Cheer, Celebrate Over 1,200 Dead in Gaza

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idf

BY  36 COMMENTS
21st Century Wire says…

Before the start of Israel’s siege of Gaza, we predicted that the government of Israel would not relent until approximately ’1,500′ Palestinians were dead. That looks to be the case this time around, as the death toll in Gaza reaches 1,200 today. Tel Aviv made noises to the effect that they want to continue their military campaign until they feel that Gaza is ‘disarmed’, or crippled with the inability to resist, in any way, Tel Aviv’s strangulation of Gaza.

Previous over-the-top bombing campaigns and ground incursions in Gaza and Lebanon have seen those numbers reached, before Israel would back down on hostilities. If past history is any guide, the 1,500 number seems to be limit before international, and even US, public opinion kicks in and demands an end to hostilities by the IDF.

Israelis Celebrate the Massacre

As Israelis gather, appearing to celebrate (see below) this latest massacre waged in the name of ‘security’, long-term observers of Israeli military’ operations can easily see a bombastic pattern, of wanton bloodsport, becoming the new standard for Israel.

There are many other, more humane voices within Israel, who are repeatedly silenced and marginalized because of their nonviolent stance. Last night on CNN, anchor Don Lemon hosted a panel to discuss the violence in Israel: Marc Lamont-Hill (American), Peter Beinart (Israeli) and of course,  Alan Dershowitz. Moderate Peter Beinart was all but ignored by Lemon, who chose to give the majority of talking time to the more militant Zionist, Dershowitz, who claimed that the entire IDF operation was only about “tunnels”. As a result of this routine marginalization of moderate, reasonable voices on the Gaza and Israel, American audiences are conditioned to believe what they hear – and on CNN, all they can hear is Dershowitz calling for more militarized violence by the IDF.

One of the most disturbing aspects of Israeli society has to be the enthusiasm with which some Israelis display for mass killing of Palestinian civilians, particularly women and children.

In the video below, dated July 26, 2014, a large crowd of young Israelis, each decked out in designer T-shirts, iPhones, back-packs, and tattoos, can be seen proudly festooning and shouting as they chant en mass, “There’s no school tomorrow, there’s no children left in Gaza! Oleh!”. From a sociological or psychological analytical perspective, this can only be described as an extremely dark, low point for humanity. Watch:

For other Israelis, the Gaza massacre is a morbid form of entertainment. A number of media reports featured people gathering on Israeli hillsides to drink, snack and pose for ‘selfies’ against a background of explosions as Palestinian death toll mounts in ongoing offensive.

“Old sofas, garden chairs, battered car seats and upturned crates provide seating for the spectators. On one hilltop, a swing has been attached to the branches of a pine tree, allowing its occupant to sway gently in the breeze. Some bring bottles of beer or soft drinks and snacks.”

“A group of men huddle around a shisha pipe. Nearly all hold up smartphones to record the explosions or to pose grinning, perhaps with thumbs up, for selfies against a backdrop of black smoke.”


IMAGE: Israelis sit on a hill to watch air strikes on Gaza, some bring drinks and snacks as they cheer the explosions a few miles away. Photograph: UPI/Landov/Barcroft Media (Photo viaGuardian)

This latest Gaza siege by Israel should be disturbing, even to a hardened neocon. The Israeli army claims to have “targeted hundreds of terror sites” in Gaza, yet, they’re not required to provide any real proof, other than “we say it is” to justify their hourly massacring of civilians and destroying homes. Out of 1.7 million residents crammed into the Gaza Strip, the main UN agency in Gaza, UNRWA, has more than 167,000 displaced Palestinians, forced to take shelter in schools and buildings – before being targeted again for Israel forces.

A Culling of Palestinians

During the 2008-2009 blitzkrieg of Gaza by the IDF, called Operation Cast Lead (December 27, 2008–January 18, 2009), roughly 1,400 Palestinians, with an estimated 90% of those being civilians, women and children – all killed by Israel military, and only 3 Israeli noncombatants and 10 IDF soldiers losing their lives. With numbers like that, it would be disengenuos to call it a ‘war’, more like shooting fish in a barrel. In fact, throughout the years of rocket attacks into Israel, a total of 29 people have been killed altogether. On top of this, Israel routinely fudges its own data on Israel deaths, as well as rockets

In 2012, during Israel’s vainly titled, ‘Operation Pillar of Cloud’, the Palestinian death toll was mild in comparison to today, with 171 Palestinians killed. The death toll is only part of the picture however. Over 100 of the 171 Palestinians killed were civilians, including 20 elderly people, and 35 children. 625 of the 648 wounded were civilians, including 214 children, 93 women, and 16 people with disabilities. On top of this, over 1,200 homes (property) were targeted and turned to dust by the IDF. During this latest siege in 2014, CNN proudly broadcast yesterday their time lapse video footage of the IDF completely leveling one Gaza neighborhood in a matter of a few minutes. A typically concerned looking Anderson Cooper was giving his play-by-play commentary of this grotesque pornographic scene, but as usual, he could not manage to utter even a word of criticism at Israel – not one word.

In 2006, Israel attacked Lebanon in a bloody siege which ended with 1,191 Lebanese dead in total (including combatants and foreign civilians in Lebanon) and over 4,000 injured. The IDF lost only 121 soldiers, and Israeli civilians said to have died were 43.

Israel has created, and actively maintains its own Wikipedia pages regarding events in Gaza. Their own version of history can be seen here, at the 2012 Gaza Siege page which glorifies the work of the IDF. Note that Israeli Wikipedia pages only list ‘militant killed’ and do not show total civilian deaths. One can only conclude then, that this is pure propaganda – and its authors have little, if any, visible empathy towards the overwhelming majority of dead victims who are noncombatants.

As the Israeli information machine rolls on, so too does the list of dead and maimed in Gaza.

Despite the predictable wall of denial and lack of accountability by Tel Aviv and the powerful Israeli Lobby based in the US, Israel’s biannual obsession with killing Palestinians and Arabs must end before any hope of peace can be achieved in this story.

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Gaza: Nazi Soldiers Shoot and Kill Fleeing Civilians Fighting in Khuza’a Shows Grave Dangers to Families Seeking Safety

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(Gaza, August 4, 2014) – Israeli forces in the southern Gaza town of Khuza’a fired on and killed civilians in apparent violation of the laws of war in several incidents between July 23 and 25, 2014, Human Rights Watch said today. Deliberate attacks on civilians who are not participating in the fighting are war crimes.

Seven Palestinians who had fled Khuza’a described to Human Rights Watch the grave dangers that civilians have faced in trying to flee the town, near the Israeli border, to seek safety in Khan Younis. These included repeated shelling that struck apparent civilian structures, lack of access to necessary medical care, and the threat of attack from Israeli forces as they tried to leave the area.

“When will there be justice for the civilians in Khuza’a, who suffered shelling for days, then faced deadly attacks by Israeli soldiers after being ordered to leave the town,” said Sarah Leah Whitson, Middle East director at Human Rights Watch.

Khuza’a, which has a population of about 10,000, was the scene of fighting between Israeli forces and Palestinian armed groups during an Israeli ground offensive in the area on July 23, Israeli newsmedia reported. Israeli forces provided general warnings to Khuza’a residents to leave the area prior to July 21. While the laws of war encourage “advance, effective warnings” of attacks, the failure of civilians to abide by warnings does not make them lawful targets of attack – for obvious reasons, since many people do not flee because of infirmity, fear, lack of a place to go, or any number of other reasons. The remaining presence of such civilians despite a warning to flee cannot be ignored when attacks are carried out, as Israeli forces have done previously.

“Warning families to flee fighting doesn’t make them fair targets just because they’re unable to do so, and deliberately attacking them is a war crime,” Whitson said.

Human Rights Watch investigated several incidents between July 23 and 25 when, local residents said, Israeli forces opened fire on civilians trying to flee Khuza’a, but no Palestinian fighters were present at the time and no firefights were taking place.

On the morning of July 23, Israeli forces ordered a group of about 100 Palestinians in Khuza’a to leave a home in which they had gathered to take shelter, family members said. The first member to leave the house, Shahid al-Najjar, had his hands up but an Israeli soldier shot him in the jaw, seriously injuring him.

Israeli soldiers detained the men and boys over age 15 in an area close to the Gaza perimeter fence. Based on statements from witnesses and news reports, some were taken to Israel for questioning. Israeli forces released others that day, in small separate groups. As one group walked unarmed to Khan Younis, Israeli soldiers fired on them, killing one and wounding two others.

Two older men whom Israeli forces briefly detained near the perimeter fence had been seriously wounded in earlier Israeli bombardments and died soon after being released, two witnesses said. The laws of war provide that wounded civilians and combatants should be given necessary medical care to the fullest extent practicable and with the least possible delay.

In another incident on July 23, Israeli soldiers fired on a group of civilians who had been told to leave their home in Khuza’a, killing Mohammed al-Najjar, a witness said.

One case illustrates the dangers facing civilians both who remain in place and who heed Israeli orders to leave. On July 25, an Israeli strike killed three civilians – Motassem al-Najjar, 5; Kamel al-Najjar, 62; and Salim Qdeih, around 70 – who were among 120 people sheltering in the basement of a home, witnesses said. Another 15 people were wounded. The local Red Cross had difficulty reaching people wounded by shellings in the town. The International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) reported that on July 25, a Red Crescent volunteer was mortally wounded in an Israeli attack in Khuza’a, and other volunteers who tried to rescue him were fired on. Under the laws of war, medical workers are civilians who may not be targeted for attack.

Those who had survived the attack on the basement fled after the strike and walked to Khan Younis, carrying white flags and raising their hands when they came across Israeli soldiers. An Israeli missile strike hit one group of them, killing a man and wounding his cousin, the cousin told Human Rights Watch.

Human Rights Watch interviewed displaced residents from Khuza’a in Khan Younis. They said they believed that several hundred people were trapped and unable to leave Khuza’a, and expressed concern that many bodies were left in the rubble after intensive Israeli shelling.

Human Rights Watch was unable to conduct research in Khuza’a itself. All four roads leading to the town were impassable due to large bomb craters, and it was not clear whether Israeli forces would permit entrance.

Previous fighting in Gaza between Israeli and Hamas forces and other Palestinian armed groups has resulted in near-total impunity for serious violations of international humanitarian law. Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas should urgently seek International Criminal Court (ICC) jurisdiction over crimes committed on and from Palestinian territory, as a step toward reducing the accountability gap for grave abuses and deterring crimes in violation of international law, Human Rights Watch said.

“The horrors of war are bad enough for civilians even when all sides abide by the law,” Whitson said. “But it’s abhorrent that Israeli forces are making matters even worse by so blatantly violating the laws of war designed to spare civilians.”

For more details about the attacks on civilians, please see below.

For more Human Rights Watch reporting on Israel and Palestine, please visit:
http://www.hrw.org/middle-eastn-africa/israel-palestine

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Nazi soldiers reveal Gaza war crimes

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By Dee Knight

A new publication by the group Breaking the Silence was announced on July 15. The group is composed of veteran Israeli soldiers who “demand accountability regarding Israel’s military actions in the Occupied territories perpetrated by us and in our name.”

Interviews and testimony by 30 Israeli soldiers regarding their experiences in “Operation Cast Lead” confirm that war crimes were specific policy in last winter’s Gaza massacre. The testimony, gathered in soldier-to-soldier interviews, began to surface in Israel shortly after the end of the December-January war.

Israel’s leading newspaper Haaretz reported on March 20, “The soldiers describe the killing of innocent civilians, pointless destruction, expulsions of families from homes seized as temporary outposts, disregard for human life and a tendency toward brutalization.”

London’s Guardian reported March 22 that the testimony “suggests widespread abuses stemming from orders originating with the Israeli military chain of command.” It adds that soldiers said they were “specifically warned by officers not to discuss what they had seen and done in Gaza.”

Soldier describes killings, destruction

The following are excerpts from that testimony: “What shocked me was a talk we had with … a colonel. Usually in such talks the commanders mention the lives of civilians and showing consideration to civilians. He didn’t even mention this. Just ‘go in there brutally.’ He said, ‘In case of any doubt, take down houses. You don’t need confirmation for anything.’

“The instruction was explicit–if you’re not sure, kill. The minute we got to our starting line, we simply began to fire at suspect places. … You see a house, a window, shoot at the window. You don’t see a terrorist there? Fire at the window. It was real urban warfare. … In urban warfare, anyone is your enemy. No innocents.

“From the onset, the brigade commander and other officers made it very clear to us that … if you see any signs of movement at all, you shoot. No consideration of civilians was to be taken.”

“The Battalion Commander said, ‘Don’t let morality become an issue. That will come up later. … It’s not that you’re out to carry out a massacre, but …’ this was the restraint to everything he had said before, and in between his own jokes. Like, ‘We have an Arabic-speaking grenade launcher and a heavy machine-gun that speaks Arabic.’

“Our objective was to demolish houses. … Houses were demolished everywhere. You see clearly that these houses had been fired at with tremendous power. We didn’t see a single house that remained intact. … The entire infrastructure, tracks, fields, roads–was in total ruin. … Nothing much was left in our designated area. … A totally destroyed city.

“This was fire-power such as I had never known. There were blasts all the time. The earth was constantly shaking. Explosions were heard all day long, the night was filled with flashes, an intensity we had never experienced before. … The air force bombed all the time. …”

White phosphorous ‘fun’?

“Most of the mosques were demolished. That brigade commander I mentioned explicitly told us we should not hesitate to target mosques. Nothing is immune, nothing and no area. He explicitly mentioned mosques.

“Our battalion mortars were also using phosphorus. I know of an officer’s tank that fired phosphorus, too. The company commander gives the mortar platoon commander a target and orders him to fire. … They define targets . … Sometimes you’d hear on radio ‘Permitted, phosphorus in the air.’ That’s it.”

An interviewer asked the soldier: “Why fire phosphorus?”

“Because it’s fun. Cool. … I don’t know what it’s used for. I was just talking about this yesterday. I don’t understand what it’s even doing in our supplies if we’re not supposed to use such ammo. It’s ridiculous. In training you learn that white phosphorus is not used, and you’re taught that it’s not humane. You watch films and see what it does to people who are hit, and you say, ‘There, we’re doing it too.’ That’s not what I expected to see.”

 

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NOTHING IS LOUDER THAN OUR SILENC

 NOVANEWS

The Palestinian woman in childbirth held up at the checkpoint by Israeli soldiers – unable to get to the hospital, unable to birth her baby, screaming and dying; the grief-laden wails of her loved ones…

The harsh shouts of the Israeli settlers as they attack Palestinian children who are walking to school, and shepherds with their flocks on their own lands, and farmers trying to tend their crops….

The noise of the Caterpillar bulldozers as they smash Palestinian homes and water cisterns and uproot olive trees and tear up the land to build more WALL …

The explosive banging on Palestinian doors by Israeli soldiers at night, breaking and smashing the meager household goods in their search for a child accused of throwing a stone, or an adult who attended a non-violent demonstration against the OCCUPATION…

The cries of the children abducted by soldiers, beaten, tortured to give false confessions, thrown into jail cells shut away from family and legal help…

In Gaza, the relentless barrage of planes and drones and bombs every five minutes, of naval ships shelling from off the Gazan coast, and the explosions as the bombs hit and crash down the buildings, homes, schools, hospitals, cafes, gas stations, water lines, sewage treatment plants, all day and all night…

The screams of the injured, the grief-wails of the dead’s families, friends..

NOTHING IS LOUDER THAN OUR SILENCE.

Only the dead have quiet.

YOUR CALLS ARE NEEDED NOW TO SAVE LIVES!

As of July 11, 2014 more than 100 Palestinians in Gaza have been killed in four days of bombing by Israel. Approximately half of these are women and children. No Israelis have been killed.

Tell Congress and President Obama:

As a taxpayer and moral human being, you want all U.S. funding and support for Israel’s occupation of Palestine to stop immediately.

Israel’s bombing of Gaza is a war crime (by definition of the Geneva Convention) because it targets a civilian population, it is disproportionate force and it is collective punishment. Israel has the 4th most powerful military in the world; Palestine has no army, no navy, no air force.

All of Israel’s West Bank Settlements and its so-called “separation” wall have been ruled illegal by the International Court of Justice.

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Dorothy Online NewsLetter

NOVANEWS

Dear Friends,

Just 6 items below (in addition to those I have already forwarded today).  The 4th item, Today in Palestine for August 3, 2014, is the only site that keeps you up to date on what is happening in the West Bank in addition to Gaza.  Well, today is different.  There was what is described in the media as ‘a terrorist’ attempt in Jerusalem to kill Israelis. That will be in the news.  But most of the rest, the daily happenings in Jerusalem and the WB are barely mentioned if at all in the media.  Thus, Today in Palestine is a crucial source of information.

In item 1 Gideon Levy sarcastically states that it took Washington 25 days to call the Gaza war “barbaric.”  The question mark does not indicate a question but rather amazement that it took so long.  His conversation by telephone with a Palestinian in Gaza explains why the amazement.

Item 2, When dead children have no names: Israel’s terrifying descent into numbness,” is about the apathy that Israel is falling into regarding the loss of human lives.

Item 3 reveals that even in war-torn Gaza there is hope.

Item 4 is Today in Palestine

And item 5 is the PCHR statistics and update for August 4, 2014.

Item 6 is a France24 newscast which begins with Gaza

That’s it for today—another dreadful one in Gaza.  What will be the end?

At least France’s president came out today against Israel’s attack on the school.

That’s it for today.  I so hope this ends tonight or at the latest tomorrow morning.  Too many dead already!  Way too many.  And it was totally unnecessary. Totally.

Dorothy

1 Haaretz Sunday, August 3, 2014

What, it took Washington 25 days to call the Gaza war barbaric?

The Palestinians’ famed barbarity has finally reached Washington in another Israeli public-relations feat.

http://www.haaretz.com/opinion/.premium-1.608490

By Gideon Levy

On Saturday morning the Palestinian Health Ministry phoned A. from Rafah and asked him to open his vegetable refrigeration room. The idea was to make room for dozens of bodies piling up in the city’s small hospital. A.’s refrigerator quickly filled up with bodies, including of many children.

In Rafah Saturday they counted 120 dead and about 500 wounded in one night of Israeli operations looking for 2nd Lt. Hadar Goldin. At midnight between Friday and Saturday I got a call from Y., A.’s brother, who told me, in fluent Hebrew, in a choked voice that turned into weeping: “What happened in Rafah today is a massacre in every sense of the word.”

With his family, Y. had fled on foot from his home toward the sea as shells fell on his neighborhood. “All the F-16s and unmanned aircraft that Israel has are now in the sky over Rafah,” said the man who had spent 33 years working in Israel.

“We’re past Rafah, as you wanted, Tal,” sang Arik Lavie in a boastful song about another war. Lavie was talking about Maj. Gen. Israel Tal, who commanded the division that captured Gaza in 1967. But this time, horrifically, we’re still not past Rafah, the most ruined city in the Strip, where as of Saturday bodies were still piling up.

While Y. was crying massacre in Rafah, the White House spokesman released a statement calling the capture of the Israeli officer and the killing of his two comrades “a barbaric violation” of the cease-fire agreement. The restrained American spokesman used the word “barbaric” for the first time in this war.

Nothing else was considered barbaric. Not the Israeli shell that landed two days earlier on Shujaiyeh’s crowded market killing 17 people and wounding 150 at the height of another cease-fire, not the shell that fell on an UNRWA school where 3,000 refugees were hiding, not the bombing of the Gaza power station, the bombing of the university, the bomb dropped by those excellent Israel Air Force pilots on a four-story dwelling in Khan Yunis without warning, killing 35, including 18 children and eight women – apparently the most deadly bombing in Gaza ever.

Only the abduction and the killing of two soldiers. This is an American spokesman also afflicted with racism; “barbarity” is preserved only for one side. Yes, Hamas is known for its barbarity, as are all the Palestinians, and word of that barbarity has finally reached Washington in another Israeli public-relations feat.

But the truth is that this war has been barbaric since it started. The dead are already more numerous than in the previous barbaric attack, Operation Cast Lead, including the shocking number of civilians killed.

Relative to the size of Gaza’s population, the numbers are approaching the dimensions of the war in Syria, the one Israel bandies about to prove the Arabs’ animal nature. Last week, a record-breaking week, 1,700 people were killed in Syria. In Gaza, whose population is less than one-tenth that of Syria’s, about that same number have been killed in three and a half weeks of Israeli intoxication of the senses – not a major difference.

What began as Operation Cast Lead and continued as Operation Pillar of Defense might turn into Operation Peace for the Galilee. Some people are talking about staying for a year in Gaza. More than 60 Israeli soldiers and officers have been killed, as well as more than 1,600 Palestinians, in a war that will achieve nothing but bloodshed.

The world cannot conceive of how unfeeling Israel is, and neither can Y. from Rafah. On Friday night he said to me on the phone: “I’m ashamed of my Israeli culture. I grew up with you from age 16; it hurts me when I hear a siren in Ashkelon, the city where I worked for years, and you don’t care at all about us, not at all.” He wept again, and I was silent.

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2 Haaretz Monday, August 4, 2014

When dead children have no names: Israel’s terrifying descent into numbness

Protective Edge may or may not stop the rocket attacks on Israel. But somewhere along the line, Israelis seem to be approaching a dangerous apathy.

http://www.haaretz.com/news/diplomacy-defense/.premium-1.608690

By Asher Schechter

Nearly a month into Operation Protective Edge, Israeli ground troops have begun withdrawing from Gaza. While it remains to be seen if the operation makes Israelis any safer, we can already discern one legacy. It seems to have brought Israel one step closer to an emotional numbness that blocks out any suffering but our own, as attested by a new, violent voice in the public discourse.

“Mohammed Malaka, two years old. Seraj Abdel-Al, eight years old. Sara al-Eid, nine years old. Saher Abu Namous, four years old. Ahmed Mahdi, 15 years old”. For 90 excruciating seconds, the woman’s voice – mimicking the detached tone of Israeli radio newscasters – read names of children killed in Gaza during the last three weeks. “This is only a partial list,” she stressed over and over again.

That was an ad submitted on July 23 by human rights organization B’Tselem to the Israeli Broadcasting Authority, which barred it from airing on the grounds that it was “politically controversial.”

The ad does not ascribe blame. All it does is list the names of children killed during the latest Israel-Hamas skirmish. Its title, “The children of Gaza have a name,” is derived from a line by Israeli poet Zelda, originally written about the Holocaust: “Every person has a name given to him by God and his parents.”

The censorship of the B’Tselem ad seems to signify a deeper, worrying trend. Last week, referring to the UN decision to investigate civilian casualties during Protective Edge, the prime minister’s office called it a farce and Justice Minister Tzipi Livni wrote in a Facebook post that she had only two words to say about the decision: “Hapsu oti” – sort of a scornful “lots of luck to you.”

And that was relatively moderate.

“We’re under attack everywhere for our brutality, our cruelty, our disproportion and you say to yourself: Screw this… let them bar each and every one of us from flying abroad, let them do whatever they want, because all this together isn’t worth a single Israeli soldier’s life,” wrote Ben Caspit, a senior columnist and TV personality, in Ma’ariv.

Some uncensored reactions to reports of civilian deaths were much, much worse. In today’s Internet culture, opinions one used to keep to oneself now get posted publicly on Facebook or as comments to media reports. “Only four dead children? What a bummer.” “Today a child, tomorrow a terrorist. Better they die now.” “That’s the price of war – next time don’t start one with us.” “So what.” Others accuse Hamas of lying. One post shrugs, “When you chop wood, chips fly.”

The way we were

Of course, those are extremists, not representative of the great majority of Israelis. Many mourn the tragic senselessness of children dying on either side. But the thing is: Israel’s scum used to be less scummy.

The fact that people are openly posting things like that tells how far the social pendulum has shifted in recent years.

In the past three weeks, it seems emotional numbness has overtaken Israel.

“Dead children? Tragic, but to be honest, I couldn’t care less. If they didn’t want their children to die they should have thought twice before starting this war,” said a middle-aged man in Tel Aviv this week. He used to vote for left-leaning Labor. “Why should we care about their children, when they target ours? … But no, we have to be more moral than anyone else. Screw that.”

Once, the accidental death of children, and civilians in general, would shock. The army would apologize, or answer tough questions. The media would cover the story at length. Even during the panicked, ultra-militaristic atmosphere of the Second Intifada, dead children were not shrugged off.

Now, as of writing, more than 1,700 Palestinian civilians have died during Protective Edge, accounting for 80% of Protective Edge’s departed. At least 300 were children.

This is a shocking, gruesome, frightening number. Yet it elicited few media reports. The military has not been taken to task.

Every person has a name, yes, but it turns out not all names are worthy of being read on TV.

To even express doubt as to the righteousness of our military has become so taboo in Israel nowadays that it has led to actual violence by right-wing groups determined to silence every “demoralizer.” The mere mention of innocents dying is labeled “leftist” and “hate speech,” including by elected officials such as Knesset member Miri Regev.

It’s not that most Israelis don’t care about the killing of children. It’s that if they are, they’re not vocalizing it.

It’s not that killing children is not wrong anymore. It’s that killing children used to be wronger.

It seems that the more children die, the less outrage sparks. Two weeks ago, when four Palestinian children were killed by an IDF airstrike while playing football on the beach, the case was widely reported and commented on. But as the list of dead children grew, most remained nameless casualties. Mere statistics, disputed statistics.

Once upon a time, they used to have names, and faces. That’s a fact.

Inured through despair

There are many possible reasons for this seeming apathy, this willful, blissful ignorance. Facing daily rocket attacks and fearing for their own children’s lives, it can be hard to feel sympathy toward people, even children, on the other side. Plus, after years of no progress towards peace, the mix of despair and anger could have led us to a collective imperviousness. The unilateral disengagement from Gaza was a bust, with the Strip turning into a “Hamastan,” exactly as opponents of Israel’s withdrawal warned. And while Israel’s south is bombarded with rockets on an almost-daily basis, criticism from the international community seemed to point fingers only at one side. Then there’s the sharp right-wing turn Israeli politics has taken in the last decade, which seems to have birthed a difficulty in distinguishing between innocents and non-innocents in Gaza.

Whatever the cause, the result is that the accidental killing of innocents during military operations, long considered a tragic cost of waging war on terror, has become “cheaper.”

Though it’s only plateaued now, this emotional numbness was years in the making. With each round of fighting – with each spouse, son, sibling, parent of friend, child lost – it seems more and more Israelis become deadened themselves. The danger is that over time, more and more people will go from caring less to not caring at all. And total apathy can descend into hate.

Meanwhile, in the most extreme margins of Israeli society, it has become okay to post hateful posts on Internet calling for “revenge”, celebrating the deaths of civilians, even children:

“Why are you reporting this? For a minute there I thought I entered the website of Hamas.” “Very good, destroy Gaza!” “Four less murderous psychopaths, good riddance.” “Let Hamas learn their names.” “Who cares?”

This is only a partial list. This is only a partial list.

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3   3 The Guardian Sunday, August 3, 2014

Women in Gaza

Everyday life in Gaza is becoming impossible. Photograph: Majdi Fathi/NurPhoto/Corbis

Gaza is not as I expected. Amid the terror, there is hope

http://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2014/aug/03/gaza-not-as-expected-amid-terror-hope

Paul Mason

The world is not so blessed that it can afford to waste the lives of the 1.8 million Palestinians who live there.

I have been reporting from Gaza all week, and, amid the stream of dead and injured civilians wheeled on trolleys before me, frantic people gesturing in my face, and nights spent in an unlit city under bombardment, I’ve come to a conclusion I did not expect: Gaza “works”.

What I mean is that, given resources, connections with the outside world, and time, this narrow political entity could function normally. With its smooth sand, blue sea and skies, it could even become a tourist destination. It already has a massive pool of trained and educated human capital – though, sadly, its most expert people are trauma surgeons. As it is, hotels stand deserted along the beachfront in Gaza City. Their embarrassed waiters struggle to boil coffee on single flames. The fishermen in the port sneak out maybe 20 yards in canoes, while hostilities are on, 100 yards in motor boats during the sporadic ceasefires.

Everyday life, even for those with money and friends in the west, is becoming impossible. Water queues form, petrol stations are empty. Equally unnerving, for the young, urbanised kids, the internet is sporadic. I met two women – educated professionals: the top floor of their apartment block had been demolished by an Israeli rocket. Now they, too, were in the world of queues, poor hygiene, homelessness. A decent handbag does not exempt you. The currency is the shekel, but the biggest concern is gold. Palestinians keep their wealth in gold and jewellery. Around 250,000 people have been displaced and moving into a packed and filthy school, to sleep alongside the donkeys of the poor, does not strike people with gold as any better than staying and waiting for the shells to hit.

Gaza works because of Gaza’s people. Since Hamas took control in 2007, the place has been run by a group designated as terrorist, and under Islamic rule. Unable to rebuild after the Israeli invasion of 2008-9, they instead built tunnels – nobody knows how long – in which the military wing of Hamas, the Qassam Brigades, live, store their rockets and fight. The tunnels are also used to bring in the essential supplies that have been banned during the seven-year siege of Gaza.

Strangely, then, for much of the day, you see the place as it might be if Hamas did not exist. Non-Hamas police keep order; women without hijabs move around as freely as the women in full veil; doctors returned from Germany and Canada saw the shattered bones of youths who have lived and may die in this small strip of land. And two-thirds of the population skip and play and wrestle – for they are children.

When this war is over, nothing good will happen in Gaza until the seige and blockade are lifted. Indeed, with 40% of the urban area unlivable because of the destruction, there will be a massive humanitarian crisis for months. Solving that crisis is not just a matter for NGOs. The way it is solved will dictate whether Gaza can survive. UNRWA, the UN agency for refugees that has opened its clean, blue-and-white schools to a dirty, chaotic surge of displaced humanity, says Gaza is “on a precipice”. The hospital I’ve just been in has 95 blast and bullet wounds to treat, with six intensive care beds.

Logic dictates that either aid flows inwards, on an unprecedented scale, or people will flow outwards – not tomorrow, but as the weeks roll by without sanitation or power. Palestinians fear that a humanitarian crisis will be used to move them permanently off the land captured by the Israelis, and ultimately into camps in Egypt.

I have been to Muslim countries where there is deep conservatism, low education and suspicion of the west. This is not one of them. I constantly meet highly educated people who speak English; cheerful and friendly people – which is amazing in itself, given the level of terror the night brings. The world is not so blessed with educated, resourceful people that it can afford to waste the lives of 1.8 million Palestinians behind the iron grilles and the concrete walls that delimit Gaza. I have lost track of how many times I’ve met a young guy, 18 or 19 years old, proud not to be a fighter, a militant, or a duck-and-dive artist on the street. When you ask what his job is, the common answer is “carpenter”. Working with wood – not metal or computer code – is the limit of what the blockade has enabled the skilled manual worker here to achieve.

Faced with such hopelessness, naturally, many become resigned: “Living is the same as being dead” is a phrase you hear among young men. It is the perfect rationale for the nihilist military organisation some choose to join. But its opposite is the resourcefulness that rewires a house after its front has been blown off; that sits on the carpet making bread on a hot pan after a home has been reduced to dust.

There are only two economic routes for life to flow back into Gaza and, given the bitterness of this conflict, the route from Israel will not be the main one. Egypt holds the key to Gaza’s economic integration to the rest of the global economy. Open the Rafah crossing, and the need for the tunnels disappears. To the world this forlorn, impoverished and totally battered society has become a byword for impossibility and despair. But nobody has told Gazans. I found them full of hope.

• Paul Mason is economics editor of Channel 4 News. Follow him @paulmasonnews

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4 Today in Palestine for August 3, 2014

http://blog.theheadlines.org/theHead/

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5 PCHR Statistics and update for August 4, 2014

http://www.pchrgaza.org/portal/en/index.php?option=com_content&view=article&id=10491:statistics-victims-of-the-israeli-offensive-on-gaza-since-08-july-2014&catid=145:in-focus

6 France24 video http://www.france24.com/en/

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Gaza Holocaust: The Pariah State

NOVANEWS

A Short History of Israeli Impunity
by EVAN JONES

‘From abroad, we are accustomed to believe that Eretz Israel is presently almost totally desolate, an uncultivated desert, and that anyone wishing to buy land there can come and buy all he wants. But in truth it is not so … [Our brethren in Eretz Israel] were slaves in their land of exile and they suddenly find themselves with unlimited freedom … This sudden change has engendered in them an impulse to despotism as always happens when “a slave becomes king,” and behold they walk with the Arabs in hostility and cruelty, unjustly encroaching on them.’

Ahad Ha’am, 1891; cited in Shlomo Sand, The Invention of the Land of Israel, 2012.

‘If Lord Shaftesbury was literally inexact in describing Palestine as a country without a people, he was essentially correct, for there is no Arab people living in intimate fusion with the country, utilizing its resources and stamping it with a characteristic impress; there is at best an Arab encampment.’

Israel Zangwill, 1920; cited in Naseer Aruri, ed., Palestinian Refugees, 2001.

‘[the Haganah] should adopt the system of aggressive defence; during the assault we must respond with a decisive blow: the destruction of the [Arab] place or the expulsion of the residents along with the seizure of the place.’ ‘The war will give us the land. The concept of ‘ours’ and ‘not ours’ are peace concepts, only, and in war they lose their whole meaning.’

David Ben-Gurion, December 1947, February 1948; cited in Aruri. 

‘The conquest [of Deir Yassin by Irgun and Stern Gang forces, supported by Haganah operatives, in April 1948] was carried out with great cruelty. Whole families – women, old people, children – were killed … Some of the prisoners moved to places of detention, including women and children, were murdered viciously by their captors.’

Yitzhak Levy, Haganah Intelligence Service; cited in Benny Morris, The Birth of the Palestinian Refugee Problem Revisited, 2004.

‘[Of the massacre at al-Daway(i)ma in May 1948] Cultured and well mannered commanders who are considered good fellows … have turned into low murderers, and this happened not in the storm of battle and blind passion, but because of a system of expulsion and annihilation. The few Arabs remain the better.’

Account of a participant soldier who Morris claims ‘appears to have based himself largely or completely on hearsay’ but who elsewhere is described as an eyewitness; cited in Uri Davis, Apartheid Israel, 2003.

‘One Friday night in September 1967 … we were left alone by our officers, who drove into Jerusalem for their night off. An elderly Palestinian man, who had been arrested on the road while carrying a large sum in American dollars, was taken into the interrogation room. While standing outside the building on security detail, I was startled by terrifying screams coming from within. I ran inside, climbed onto a crate, and, through the window observed the prisoner tied to a chair as my good friends beat him all over his body and burned his arms with lit cigarettes. I climbed down from the post, vomited, and returned to my post, frightening and shaking. About an hour later, a pickup truck carrying the body of the “rich” old man pulled out of the station, and my friends informed me they were driving to the Jordan River to get rid of him.’

Sand himself, in The Invention of the Land of Israel

‘“We take the land first and the law comes after” [claimed Yehoshafat Palmon, Arab affairs adviser to the Mayor of Jerusalem to the author]. ‘The law comes after …’. In fact, for most Arabs it did not come at all.’

David Hirst, The Gun and the Olive Branch, 1977

Let’s not mince words. Israel is an abomination. One is hard pressed to find words in English powerful enough to describe the grotesqueries. There are numerous bread-and-butter tyrannies – some of which (foremost, Saudi Arabia), curiously, we have as friends. But Israel is unique. Israel was conceived as necessitating ethnic cleansing, and was created and is sustained by ethnic cleansing. Israel was created and is sustained by terrorism. Israel is, sui generis, a force for terrorism and ethnic cleansing.

There is the view, fashionable amongst middle-of-the-road optimists harbouring a two-state solution pie-in-the-sky, that the problem is that the state has been appropriated by the political Right and the Far Right. The good Israel has been hijacked by the nasties. On the contrary. The current Israel is the natural heir of its origins and subsequent entrenchment of ethnically-based legal and cultural structures. Israel now produces racists as a majority voice, with citizens imbued with universalist values reduced to near powerlessness.

As a consequence, Palestinians, having been designated as without humanity, can be deprived of their residual dogged hold on their existence, deprived of their property and murdered at will. The current mass murder of Gazans is merely par for the course. It has become a spectator sport. Sadism against the non-people is a rite of passage.

Moshe Menuhin, famous by association as father of Yehudi and Hephzibah, appears to be now neglected as a resolute anti-Zionist. His 1965/1969 The Decadence of Judaism in Our Time explains why. His ‘almost preferred’ original title, “Jewish” Nationalism: A Monstrous Historical Crime and Curse, better conveys the book’s contents. It retains its pertinence. In Decadence we read:

‘As to Zionist Israel of the present day, I prefer the truth as fearlessly told by one honest repentant Israeli, Nathan Chofshi, in reply to all the sordid and revolting propaganda, brazenly and inhumanly and hypocritically told by such tribalistic barbarians as Ben Gurion, Moshe Dayan, Shimeon Peres, Levi Eshkol, Abba Eban and the entire lot of the military gang that runs poor misguided Israel. Said Nathan Chofshi [in 1959]: “We came and turned the native Arabs into tragic refugees. And still we dare slander and malign them, to besmirch their name; instead of being deeply ashamed of what we did, and trying to undo some of the evil we committed, we justify our terrible acts and even attempt to glorify them …”.’

The ‘entire lot of the military gang’, now fronted by the sociopath Benjamin Netanyahu, is still in charge.

Nazi parallels

It is forbidden by the censors who channel acceptable opinion to draw parallels with the Nazis’ modus operandi. But if the shoe fits …

There is Israel’s Mengelian experimentation on caged Gazans, apart from saturation bomb-ing, with nerve gas, depleted uranium, white phosphorous and flechette shells. More, the model of the Reichstag fire false flag has  been readily  replicated, not least in the 1954 Lavon Affair and, most spectacularly, in 9/11 (whence the five dancing Israelis at Liberty Park?). Practice makes perfect with false flags. Add extra-judicial murders madeto order.

Then there is the collective punishment. In late 1966, three Israeli soldiers died near the then Jordanian border when their vehicle ran over a land mine. Menuhin summarizes the Israeli response:

‘The war [June 1967] actually began earlier, at Es Samu, on November 13, 1966. Like Deir Yassin before the big war in 1948, like the shelling of Gaza in September 1955, the capture of El Auja Triangle in the Sinai desert, and other “Small Wars,” Es Samu was a diversionary attack, a good exercise for brave solider boys. Es Samu, a peaceful, undefended civilian village in Jordan, was attacked at dawn on November 13, 1966 by twenty Patton tanks, eighty armored half-track personnel carriers and jeeps with 4,000 Israeli troops, which rumbled across the frontier, overwhelmed an eight-man police post, swept into Es Samu, demolished 125 houses, 15 stone huts, destroyed the mosque, shops, an elementary school and a medical clinic, killed 26 Jordanians, wounded 54, and captured three Jordanian soldiers. Three tanks reduced the local mosque to rubble. It was wanton, indiscriminate murder and destruction, just to teach the Arabs a preliminary lesson about the real thing to come.’

And finally there is lebensraum, the idée fixe. Menuhin again:

‘The “fixed idea” – the “Ingathering of the Exiles” … became a Territorial Imperative. The evolved idea of Prophetic Judaism that “God did ‘Tshakah’” (justice, salvation, charity) to Israel (the Jews) by dispersing them among the nations of the world and that the core of their religion was universalism, humanity, ethics above all, was discarded in favor of a new religion, newly learned from the European political nationalists, – Lebensraum, statism, expansion, and thus a Greater Eretz Israel was what the Shertocks[Sharretts], Ben Gurions, Moshe Dayans and the rest of the military junta of Israel insisted on, cost what may to themselves and to their victims, the Arabs of Palestine … All this will explain the Big Wars (1948, 1956, 1967) and the many “Little Wars” which have taken place from 1948 to this day, wars of “Redemption” and Expansion to satisfy the demands of the “fixed idea”.’

Menuhin provides a minor but telling case study under the heading ‘The “Little Wars” in the Scheme of the Fixed Idea’. Citing General Carl von Horn, UN Mediator, reflecting in a 1966 book:

‘[The Israelis] developed a habit of irrigating and plowing in stretches of Arab-owned land nearby … Gradually, beneath the glowering eyes of the Syrians, who held the high ground overlooking the zone, the area had become a network of Israeli canals and irrigation channels edging up against and always encroaching on Arab-owned property. This deliberate poaching was bitterly resented by the Syrians …’

Menuhin expands on the outcome:

‘The time came to give the Syrians a typical “reprisal” attack. On February 1, 1962, the village of El-Tawafiq was razed to the ground. The Arab farmers of the Lower and Upper Tawafiq used to [citing von Horn] “observe with alarm the Israeli kibbutznik (cooperative farmers) tractor-drivers as they speeded up on each turn at the eastern boundaries of their fields, making the plows swerve out, thus slowly but surely extending their previous cultivation eastwards into [very fertile] Arab land.” … by destroying the Tawafiq villages, the Israelis got what they wanted, what the “fixed idea” dictated.

And from Uri Davis (Apartheid Israel) citing an interview of a settler, in response to the stance of Yeshaayahu Leibowitz, renowned Riga-born Israeli academic, Orthodox in the necessity of state-religion separation and opponent of the post-1967 Occupations:

‘Leibowitz is right. We are Judeo-Nazis, and why not? … Even today I am willing to do the dirty work for Israel, to kill as many Arabs as necessary, to deport them, to expel and burn them … Hang me if you want as a war criminal … What you lot don’t understand is that the dirty work of Zionism is not finished yet, far from it. True, it could have been finished in 1948 …’

And Davis citing Leibowitz in 1982, echoing Israel Shahak:

‘If we must rule over another people, then it is impossible to avoid the existence of Nazi methods. The [Shabra and Shatila] massacre was done by us. The Phalange are our mercenaries, exactly as the Ukrainians and the Croatians and the Slovakians were the mercenaries of Hitler, who organized them as soldiers to do the work for him. Even so we have organized the assassins in Lebanon in order to murder the Palestinians.’

Israel and the United Nations

The cheer squad makes much of Israel’s legitimation at the hands of the United Nations, so why then has the UN been treated by Israel with comprehensive contempt?

The initial Partition Plan of the special committee, apart from being outrageously favourable to the Jewish community (envisaged to accommodate refugee intake), was a dog’s breakfast – entirely predictable, given the absurdity of the ambition. For example, Arab opponents claimed that, with upward adjustment for the size of the Bedouin population, the proposed Jewish state would have an Arab majority. A slightly modified plan passed the General Assembly on 29 November 1947 with more than the needed two-thirds majority.

The vote was devoid of principle – it relied on the US succumbing to the seeming electoral advantages of garnering the domestic Jewish vote (and in opposition to all but one of President Truman’s myriad Cabinet and bureaucratic advisors), the Soviet Union (with its satellites in tow) pursuing purely a realpolitik agenda, and other countries bribed or threatened by Jewish lobbyists.

Menuhin evaluates the process thus:

‘Then came Partition, on November 29, 1947, the most illegal and inhuman giving away to outsiders of land that belonged to the indigenous Christian and Muslim Arab population, through political manipulation and pressure, as well as through the Christian guilt complex vis-à-vis the Jewish people, – all at the expense of the innocent Arabs.’

Alison Weir neatly summarizes the story in a Counterpunch article, October 2011. The General Assembly recommendation was never implemented by the UN Security Council. Rather Israel was established by means of terror on 14 May 1948.

The notion, implicit in the cheer squad’s defense, that the Zionist leaders would have been satisfied with the Partition Plan’s boundaries if the Arab armies had not attacked is ludicrous. Jerusalem was to be governed by international forces – out of the question for the Zionists. More, Israeli leaders were having nothing to do with the General Assembly Resolution 194 (III), 11 November 1948, which ‘… Resolves that the refugees wishing to return to their homes and live at peace with their neighbours should be permitted to do so at the earliest practicable date [etc.].’

UN Mediator Count Folke Bernadotte, appointed immediately in May to sort out the mess, was disbelieving (cited in Menuhin): “[The Israeli government] had shown nothing but hardness and obduracy towards these refugees. If instead of that it had shown a magnanimous spirit, if it had declared that the Jewish people, which itself had suffered so much, understood the feelings of the refugees and did not wish to treat them in the same way as it itself had been treated, its prestige in the world at large would have been immeasurably increased …” Moshe Shertock/Sharrett replied to Bernadotte: “The Jewish government could under present conditions in no circumstances permit the return of the Arabs who had fled or been driven from their homes during the war …”.

(Shertock and Menuhin were contemporaries at the Zionist Jaffa-Tel Aviv Gymnasia Herzlia during 1909-13. Shertok learned his lessons well; Menuhin read the wind and immediately cleared off to the US, his own promised land.)

For his troubles, Bernadotte was assassinated – an event that Menuhin recounts with the most profound disgust:

‘Bernadotte’s Peace Plan, as well as his recommendations to the Security Council, made him a marked man in Israel. … We must now go on to the date that will live for ever in infamy, September 17, 1948, when that incredible crime was committed by militant, inhumane, insane, political nationalists who worship a State that will expand their Lebensraum, in Nazi fashion. … Murderer Nathan Friedman-Yellin was soon amnestied, and in 1950, the Israeli Government allowed the murderer to stand for election to the Israeli Knesset (Parliament) of which he became a member.’

The subsequent state of play is well summarized by Davis (Apartheid Israel, p.63ff.):

‘The territory of pre-1967 Israel is classified by international law under two categories:

1. the territory allocated for the Jewish state by the UN partition Plan for Palestine;

2. the territory occupied illegally by the Israeli army in the 1948-49 war beyond the boundaries of the 1947 UN Partition Plan.

Under the UN Charter and resolutions, Israel has no legitimate rule in either category. Israeli rule over the territories allocated for the ‘Jewish state’ … was subject to a number of important conditions, notably compliance with the terms of the steps preparatory to independence and future constitution and government, none of which has been upheld by the incumbent state.

Likewise, the Israeli occupation, in 1948-49, of territories beyond the [1947 Plan] boundaries …, their colonization … and their subsequent annexation to the State of Israel are in violation of both the UN Charter and of international law, like all colonial occupation. From an international legal point of view, Israeli claims to West Jerusalem, Safad or Jaffa, occupied in 1948-49, are as thoroughly invalid as Israeli claims to East Jerusalem, Hebron or Gaza, occupied in 1967. …

The State of Israel has chosen to violate the constitutional stipulation posited by the United Nations General Assembly as a condition for its legitimate establishment. …

… the elections for Israel’s Constituent Assembly, stipulated in the 1947 UN Partition Plan, were held in July 1949. The Constituent Assembly was elected … for the explicit purpose of endorsing Israel’s constitution. … Yet, when the Constituent Assembly convened, it became clear that an agreement had been reached by the major political parties represented by the Assembly to betray the mandate on which they had been elected … the Constituent Assembly passed instead the Transition Law (1949) transforming itself by fiat into the First Knesset [to which a delegate cried out: ‘This is a political putsch!] …

But most significantly, the State of Israel is guilty of flagrant violation of the constitutional principle regarding citizenship as stipulated by the UN General Assembly in the 1947 Partition Plan for Palestine. There is no question that under the stipulations of the said Plan all the 1948 Palestinian Arab refugees and their descendants, by now some four million people defined under Israeli law as ‘absentees’, are constitutionally entitled without qualification to Israeli citizenship.’

Israel has since treated the significant number of UN Resolutions that are adverse to its ongoing belligerence as of no consequence. And Israel has cause, for it has been endowed with immunity by the Great Powers.

And to ram home the immunity, Israel bombs whenever appropriate (Lebanon, Gaza) UN facilities. Old Testament stuff, with late modern weaponry.

Apartheid Israel

Is it or isn’t it? Regarding the Occupied Territories, the answer is self-evident. Going where hair-splitters fear to tread, Davis goes to the nub of the matter behind the ‘Green Line’ (p.36ff.; 82ff.):

Racism is not apartheid and apartheid is not racism. Apartheid is a political system where racism is regulated in law through acts of parliament. … In an apartheid state the state enforces racism through the legal system, criminalizes expressions of humanitarian concern and obligates the citizenry through acts of parliament to make racist choices and conform to racist behaviour. …

Apartheid in Israel is an overarching legal reality that determines the quality of everyday life and underpins the circumstances of living for all the inhabitants of the State of Israel. … The introduction of [the] key distinction of ‘Jew’ and ‘non-Jew’ into the foundation of Israeli law is, however, accomplished as part of a two-tier structure. It is this structure that has preserved the veil of ambiguity over Israeli apartheid legislation for over half a century. …

The first tier, the level at which the key distinction between ‘Jew’ and ‘non-Jew’ is rendered openly and explicitly, is in the Constitutions and Articles of Association of all the institutions of the Zionist movement and in the first instance, the [World Zionist Organization, the Jewish Agency and the Jewish National Fund]. The second tier is the level at which this key distinction between ‘Jew’ and ‘non-Jew’ … is incorporated into the body of the laws of the State of Israel, notably the body of strategic legislation governing land tenure. …

The situation alters radically after the establishment of the State of Israel, in that now the exclusivist constitutional stipulations of the WZO, JA and JNF (for Jews only) are incorporated into the body of the laws of the State of Israel through a detailed sequence of strategic Knesset legislation … Thus organizations and bodies that, prior to the establishment of the State of Israel in 1948, could credibly have claimed to be voluntary have been incorporated … into the legal, compulsory, judicial machinery of the state: …

* 1950: Absentees’ Property Law; Law or Return; Development Authority Law

* 1952: World Zionist Organization – Jewish Agency for the Land of Israel (Status) Law

* 1953: Jewish National Fund Law; Land Acquisition (Validations of Acts and Compensation) Law

* 1954: Covenant between the Government of Israel and the Zionist Executive …

* 1958: Prescription Law

* 1960: Basic Law: Israel Lands; Israel Lands Law: Israel Lands Administration Law

* 1961: Covenant between the Government of Israel and the Jewish National Fund

In subsequent years this body of strategic legislation governing the terms of tenure of 93 per cent of Israel lands was further refined in such pieces of legislation as the Agricultural Settlement (Restriction on Use of Agricultural Land and Water) of 1967 and the Lands (Allocation of Rights to Foreigners) Law of 1980. The list above, however, represents the mainstay of Israeli apartheid …

… it is through this two-tier mechanism that an all-encompassing apartheid system could be legislated by the Israeli Knesset in all that pertains to access to land under Israeli sovereignty and control without resorting to explicit and frequent mention of ‘Jew’, as a legal category, versus ‘non-Jew’. …

In other words, in the critical areas of immigration, settlement and land development the Israeli sovereign, the Knesset, which is formally accountable to all citizens, Jews and non-Jews alike, has formulated and passed legislation ceding state sovereignty and entered into Covenants vesting its responsibilities with organizations such as the WZO, the JA and the JNF, which are constitutionally committed to the exclusive principle of ‘only for Jews’, that legal apartheid is regulated in Israel. And it is through this mechanism of legal duplicity that the State of Israel has successful veiled the reality of Zionist apartheid in the guise of legal democracy since the establishment of the State of Israel to date. …

The same procedure has been applied by the Knesset in order to veil the reality of clerical legislation in Israel. Israel is a theocracy in that all domains pertaining to registration of marriage, divorce and death are regulated under Israeli law by religious courts. …

The critical importance of these structures of veiling and obligation cannot be sufficiently emphasized. They represent one of the primary vehicles that made it possible for official representatives and various apologists of the Zionist movement and the Government of the State of Israel to deliver the claim that the State of Israel was a democracy akin to western liberal democracies, the Palestinian nakba notwithstanding. …

Pointing to these facts alone [Arab Israelis having the vote, access to the Knesset as members (in principle), and equal access to the Israeli courts (in principle)] is tantamount to an exercise in misrepresentation, manipulating these significant features in order to veil the fundamental apartheid structures of the Israeli polity in all that pertains to the right to inherit property; to access the material resources of the state (notably, land and water); and to access the welfare resources of the state (for example religious services and child benefits) such as fully justify the classification of the State of Israel as an apartheid state. …

In all matters pertaining to the core of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, the conflict between a settler-colonial state and the native indigenous population, namely, in all matters pertaining to the question of rights to property, land tenure, settlement and development, Israeli apartheid legislation is more radical than was South African apartheid legislation. … Not insisting on petty apartheid has veiled Israeli apartheid from scrutiny by the international community …

The annihilation of identity

Having denied the existence of a functioning Palestinian society before expropriation, Israel’s founders of necessity confronted its existence. Facts on the ground. The myth of the non-existent Palestinian society had to be forged in reality. First, the population had to be cleared out, fragmented – thus the nakba. The ensuing diaspora naturally precluded a modicum of social and political integration. Next, the physical space had to be furiously appropriated – the landscape destroyed, built over; everything re-named.

In addition, pulverize the crucial intangible dimension – the cultural landscape: memory, history, identity and its artefacts. Nur Masalha’s 2012 The Palestine Nakba provides an accessible summary.

‘In 1948, the Israeli state appropriated for itself immovable Palestinian assets and personal possessions, including schools, libraries, books, pictures, private papers, historical documents and manuscripts [etc.]. … several private collections of manuscripts and tens of thousands of books were looted by the Haganah and never returned [citing John Rose]. Parts of these private collections, including the diary and private papers of Khalil al-Sakakini (1878-1953), ended up in the library of the Hebrew University of Jerusalem. Al-Sakakini was one of the country’s leading Palestinian educators, linguists and authors. …

In 1958, a decade after the Nakba, the Israeli authorities destroyed 27,000 books, most of them Palestinian textbooks from the pre-1948 period, claiming that they were either useless or threatened the state. The authorities sold the books to a paper plant. …

For many years stateless and exiled Palestinians had to rely on the Beirut-based Palestinian Research Centre [founded in 1965 on the initiative of Dr Fayez Sayigh] and the Institute for Palestine Studies (also in Beirut) to preserve their national heritage. … The resourcefulness and popular success of the [PRC] were resented by the Israeli state and Israeli academia. The Centre established and amassed Palestinian archives, disseminated historical and scholarly research on Palestine and preserved Palestinian popular culture and heritage. Before the Israeli invasion of Beirut in September 1982, two attempts were made by Israel, in July and August, to destroy the Centre completely [citing Cheryl Rubenberg].

In 1982, as the POL evacuated Beirut during the Israeli invasion, Palestinian institutions in the city were destroyed. In the mid-September, the Israeli army raided the [PRC] along with other Palestinian and Lebanese institutions. Nearly all Palestinian cultural institutions in Beirut were pillaged, including the Palestine Cinema Institute, the Samed Workshop and the Palestinian Red Crescent clinic. The contents of the [PRC] were systematically looted; its historical archives and a 25,000 volume library and microfilm collection were looted and carted away by the Israeli army [citing Rashid Khalidi]. … [The army appropriated] precious documents, dating back centuries, that the Centre had purchased in Europe and restored to the cultural custody of the Palestinians. … On 5 February 1983 the [PRC] was destroyed by a bomb that killed 20 people …

In 2001 the Israeli government closed the Orient House (Bayt al-Sharq) in East Jerusalem and confiscated its archive and the collections of the Arab Studies Society housed in it. … The Arab Studies Society Library and the archives of the Orient House were a piece of living history and a monument to the long and continuing Palestinian struggle for survival in Jerusalem. [From both the 1991 Madrid Peace Conference and the 1993 Oslo Accords] Israel promised that it would not violate the right of the House to continue to operate freely. …

In 1982, as the POL evacuated Beirut during the Israeli invasion, Palestinian institutions in the city were destroyed. In the mid-September, the Israeli army raided the [PRC] along with other Palestinian and Lebanese institutions. Nearly all Palestinian cultural institutions in Beirut were pillaged, including the Palestine Cinema Institute, the Samed Workshop and the Palestinian Red Crescent clinic. The contents of the [PRC] were systematically looted; its historical archives and a 25,000 volume library and microfilm collection were looted and carted away by the Israeli army [citing Rashid Khalidi]. … [The army appropriated] precious documents, dating back centuries, that the Centre had purchased in Europe and restored to the cultural custody of the Palestinians. … On 5 February 1983 the [PRC] was destroyed by a bomb that killed 20 people …

In 2001 the Israeli government closed the Orient House (Bayt al-Sharq) in East Jerusalem and confiscated its archive and the collections of the Arab Studies Society housed in it. … The Arab Studies Society Library and the archives of the Orient House were a piece of living history and a monument to the long and continuing Palestinian struggle for survival in Jerusalem. [From both the 1991 Madrid Peace Conference and the 1993 Oslo Accords] Israel promised that it would not violate the right of the House to continue to operate freely. …

… in the Israeli reoccupation of Palestinian cities and towns in the West Bank in the spring of 2002, Israeli soldiers vandalized the Khalil Sakakini Cultural Centre in Ramallah, which was set up to preserve Palestinians’ cultural heritage.’ in the Israeli reoccupation of Palestinian cities and towns in the West Bank in the spring of 2002, Israeli soldiers vandalized the Khalil Sakakini Cultural Centre in Ramallah, which was set up to preserve Palestinians’ cultural heritage.’

Not only the latter, but at the same time, Israeli forces vandalized the entire Palestinian governmental bureaucracy. This act was under cover of ‘Operation Defensive Shield’, during the Second Intifada, as revenge for the deaths of Israelis at Palestinian hands. The comprehensive vandalization included the Finance Ministry and the Central Bureau of Statistics. Israel knows more about Palestinians (regarding data, as opposed to their mentality) than the Palestinian authorities themselves.

In July 2006, the IDF did it again in Nablus. Gael Toensing recounts:

‘The site itself was a landscape of obliteration–the legacy of the Israeli Occupation Forces’ three-day blitzkrieg on a complex of public buildings that included the muqata’a–an enormous command and administrative structure built in the 1920s by the British–a Palestinian security building, part of a prison, and the ministries of agriculture and the interior. …

Buried and half buried in the ruins of the Ministry of the Interior were hundreds of thousands of file cases and documents–birth and death certificates, identification records, passports and other travel documents, ledgers of hand written information–a heritage of historical information about Nablus residents that covered more than 100 years of successive Palestinian occupations under the Ottoman Empire, the British Mandate, the Jordanian kingdom, and the current Israeli regime.

“We offered to give the Israelis the keys of the building so they could search it to make sure there was no one hiding there, but that was not good enough for the Israelis, who insisted on demolishing everything,” said Abed Al Illah Ateereh, the director of the Ministry of the Interior in Nablus. … “There is 100 percent damage,” Ateereh said. “They destroyed the building completely, but that wasn’t enough for the Israelis. They then used their Caterpillar bulldozers to churn up everything and mix all the documents with the soil so that nothing is able to be preserved,” Ateereh said.

The ministry had at least 175,000 individual case files each containing multiple documents. It will be impossible to recover an entire case file, Ateereh said. Some of the newer documents are backed up on a computer, but the old historical records are priceless and irreplaceable. “Passports, birth certificates, family information, identity records–all the kinds of information that an interior ministry would keep are all gone. These documents were used not only by Palestinians, but also by UNICEF and other agencies and foreigners who came to the ministry to do research,” Ateereh said.’

In short, the strategic and systematic annihilation of identity.

The Hasbara

We read that student groups have been rekindled in Israel to whitewash on the netwaves the IDF’s latest mass murder. A spokesperson, Bar David, who claimed “We want people abroad who don’t know our reality to understand exactly what is going on here”, is reported by the New York Times (so it must be true) as previously serving in the military spokesman’s unit of the IDF.

Welcome to a microcosm of the Hasbara. The Hasbara would have to be the most spectacular propaganda machine in modern history (i.e. in all history). The legendary Goebbels (admittedly lacking latterday instruments) was a comparative lightweight. The Soviet Union’s western defenders, although numerous, were ghettoized and lacked access to the mainstream media and officialdom.

The 2002 Hasbara Handbook: Promoting Israel on Campus is an exemplary representative of the art. It is a weighty 128 pages (including appendices). The Handbook was funded by the ‘NGO’ Jewish Agency for Israel. The Handbook conflates the criticism of Israel (‘the haven and sanctuary of the Jewish people’) with the de-legitimization of ‘Jews everywhere’ and of Judaism. The Handbook denies the Occupation; rather Gaza and the West Bank are ‘disputed territories’. The Golan Heights and East Jerusalem have already been silently appropriated.

The Handbook provides two Communication Styles – point scoring and genuine debate.

‘Central to point scoring is the ability to disguise point scoring by giving the impression of genuine debate. … To disguise point scoring, comments need to seem to be logical, and to follow from what was said before. Use phrases that subtly change the agenda or reframe the debate to do this: “Well, that’s not really the right question …” [etc.]’

‘Genuine debate’ is reserved for those who know what’s going on (‘where listeners are mature and interested’). Here the Handbook recommends an element of subtlety – one is allowed to acknowledge that ‘Israel is an imperfect country’. The object remains, however, to offer 100 per cent support for this ‘imperfect’ Israel in the face of its many enemies. Notes the Handbook, ‘In private conversation and in friendly settings, it is reasonable to admit that Israel has made mistakes [‘policy errors’, never instanced] that she attempts to learn from (sic), whilst pointing out that other countries do this too.’

The Handbook also provides ‘two main approaches to Israel advocacy … “neutralizing negativity” and “pushing positivity”’. A standard response in the first category is ‘The action was justified because …’. Standard responses in the second category are ‘Israel is a democracy’ and ‘Israel wants peace’.

Democracy and peace – hello? In that regard, an integral component of the Hasbara is the lie. Not so much a single Big Lie. Rather, multiple related lies, that combine to a multi-component Big Lie. There’s the killing lies. Israel left Gaza in 2005. The IDF targets only terrorists, and does so with pinpoint accuracy. Hamas uses human shields. By using human shields, Hamas forces us to kill children. And, by the way, Israel’s shelling of the USS Liberty (in 1967) was an accident.

Then there’s the fundamental ‘existential’ lies. The land expropriated awaited productive utilization. Israel is a democracy (read ethnocracy). There is no such thing as Palestine. If the Arabs had accepted the UN Partition Plan and the Arab states hadn’t gone to war against Israel there would be a Palestinian state already. Israel has no partner for peace. We were here first. It’s our land by historical right (variation on the theme: God gave it to us). And so on.

Thanks to Shlomo Sand’s 2009 The Invention of the Jewish People, the narrative of the indubitable historical lineage between then and now has passed its use-by date. The ‘Diaspora’ is a misnomer. Mass conversions into Jewry (and some out of it) puts the bulk of the Zionist migration and War refugee settlement of Israel as interlopers.

Thanks to Sand’s 2012 The Invention of the Land of Israel, we learn that the myriad attempts to claim a ‘natural and historical’ right to ‘the Land of Israel’ (still ill-defined) are an incoherent and intellectually embarrassing mess. The biblical references from which one seeks legitimacy are inconsistent. The opportunist oil-and-water conflation of sacred and secular arguments is instructive of the charade. Ultimately, the various attempts to find legitimacy in historical right are all trumped by the practical necessity to leave the boundaries of ‘the Land of Israel’ undefined (emphasized by Ben Gurion), open to extension as dictated by the needs of a growing Jewish population.

But the Hasbara exists precisely to render testimony and scholarship like Sand’s invisible. Who reads books, especially dense books on troublesome subjects? The object is to dictate the agenda of the mainstream media. More, the priorities of decision-makers and opinion-makers must be channeled. Thus the perennial sponsoring of the white-washing trips to Israel of elected national legislators and of journalists, who duly arrive home as significant repositories and replicators of the myths and lies.

Right on cue, here is the witless Australian Minister for Education, Christopher Pyne, the keynote speaker at the third Australia-Israel-UK leadership dialogue (sic) in Jerusalem. (Pyne is taking a holiday from privatizing Australian higher education.)

‘Whenever there has been a congregation of freedom loving nations versus non freedom loving nations, Australia has always been prepared to be in the fight and always on the right side. And that’s how we view the State of Israel that we are on the right side. … It shows that Israel has existential threats that requires them to take firm action to protect those freedoms, firmer actions than Australia has had to take to protect our own existence [etc.].’

One of the commenters proposes: ‘I and many others would vote to make you an Honorary Jew.’ Frankly, we Down Under would be thankful if you’d take this wretched flunkey off our hands (take the whole Cabinet as a job lot gratis) before he does further damage.

I first came to this troublesome arena belatedly and by accident. It was the death of Arafat in November 2004. The Australian media went ballistic with domestic and international players of the global Hasbara. Arafat as the consummately evil terrorist. Who never missed an opportunity to make peace. Arafat walked away from Barak’s magnanimous offer at Camp David in 2000, etc.

Now hang on a minute. Didn’t Arafat recognize the right of the State of Israel to exist in peace and security’ in September 1993 as a prelude to the Oslo Accords, and accept the 1967 boundaries? Isn’t it the case that Barak offered nothing at all at Camp David (as meticulously laid out by the late Tanya Reinhart in her 2002 Israel/Palestine)?

So here was the Hasbara brigade, frothing at the mouth, lying through its collective teeth. Uri Avnery, hardly an Arafat devotee, exclaimed at the time:

‘The disgusting filth poured out over Yasser Arafat during the last few days in practically all the Israeli media makes one ashamed to be an Israeli. The demonization of the Palestinian national leader, which has been the center-piece of Israeli propaganda for decades, continues even after his death. It seems that 37 years as occupiers have bestialized our society and left it bereft even of common decency. Ministers and fishmongers, TV icons and university professors, “leftists” and outright fascists tried to outdo each other in utter vulgarity.’

Thus was my initiation into the Hasbara phenomenon. I concludedrationally, on the basis of the statements of the Hasbara crowd alone, that something was substantially rotten in the state of Denmark. And thus it has proved since that time.

If Israel is intrinsically ‘a light unto the nations’, why does it need the Hasbara?

The Triumph of Rambo Tribalism

Israel has an enviable fan base from people and groups who are citizens of other countries. It is most transparent in the groupings that percolate into the hierarchies of the ‘representative’ bodies of national Jewry. Without the support of these bodies, the ongoing barbarity of Israel towards the subject Palestinian people would cease overnight.

But there is also a litany of subaltern foot soldiers who man the press letters pages and the media comments sites in the defense of Holy Israel. They are particularly unfriendly to the defectors of Jewish ethnicity. The Australian noted anti-Zionist Antony Loewenstein is a case in point. His own Damascus moment arrived when the usual suspects unleashed another torrent of bile when Hanan Ashwari, senior Palestinian official, was awarded the Sydney Peace Prize in 2003. For his courage and forthrightness, Loewenstein has been perennially the recipient of odious abuse from the Hasbara cheerleaders. Enter the ‘self-hating Jew’ epithet.

An extraordinary dimension of Rambo Tribalism has been the Zionist simultaneous marginalization and appropriation of Judaism. Menuhin, in distress, calls it ‘Napalm Judaism’. Menuhin’s Decadence is an extended discourse, on precisely this issue:

‘Advancing, evolving, universal and spiritual Judaism, which was the core of the Judeo-Christian code of ethics, is now becoming the tool, the handmaiden, of “Jewish” nationalism, so that the ethical injunctions Thou shalt not kill, Thou shalt not steal, Thou shalt not covet have been transformed into the unethical, primitive and tribalistic “Covenant of the Chosen People” and “Israel First.” …

The parochialism, tribalism and jingoism of contemporary “Jewish” nationalism, spawned and nursed by Ben Gurion and his junta, are one of the great tragedies of the Jews and of Judaism of our time. Here is where the real degeneration played havoc with an age-old civilized and ethical and universal people.’

Menuhin completes his book with an extended cri de coeur regarding the direction of his beloved American Council for Judaism. The ACJ was founded by the German Reform-influenced Rabbi Elmer Berger in 1942 as an anti-Zionist beachhead. In August 1968, several Directors of the ACJ instigated the expulsion of Berger from the Council. A tidal wave of muscular Zionism ensued from the easy Israeli victory in the June 1967 War, and that was the effective end of the AJC as an anti-Zionist force in the US. The current hegemony of AIPAC and like-minded Jewish organizations relegates the AJC and its orientation to ancient history.

This experience of betrayal has most recently been expressed, rightly with fury, by Norman Pollack, 24 July, on this site:

‘… expressing my abhorrence to the war crimes committed by Israel, by convention, in world Jewry, THE representative of the Jewish people and religion, leading therefore to feelings of shame, alienation, and betrayal, that my religion, ancestral heritage, upbringing, could so distort the meaning of Judaism as I’ve known and loved it …’

Yet in this long process of debasing Judaism for reasons of state, Israel is now seeking from the UN (similarly debased by Israeli contempt) agreement for the recognition of Yom Kippur as a globally-oriented UN holiday! Israel has raised the bar on Chutzpah.

A curious phenomenon of wanting a foot in both camps is the Jewish faith school system in Australia (possibly elsewhere). In their mission statements, it is not unusual to find a commitment to both the inculcation of Judaic (read, universalist) moral values and to a (seemingly uncritical) support of Israel. Some examples:

‘Our purpose is to cultivate in our students a passionate sense of Jewish identity, a sense of belonging to the worldwide Jewish community with special ties to the Australian Jewish community and the State of Israel. … We build a sense of belonging and cooperation by promoting mutual respect, in line with our belief in the ideals of freedom of religion, speech and association, peace, openness, tolerance and social justice.’ (Sholem Aleichem College, Melbourne)

‘We strive to foster critical thought, cultural interests, tolerance, social responsibility and self-discipline. … Moriah not only aspires to achieve excellence in academic standards, but maintains and promotes among its students an awareness of and a feeling for Jewish traditions and ethics, an understanding of and a positive commitment to Orthodox Judaism and identification with and love for Israel.’ (Moriah College, Sydney)

Bialik College (Melbourne) is of particular interest. The first Jewish school established in Australia, in 1942 (from Wikipedia) ‘… from its beginning it was intended to be a Zionist school, with the establishment of the State of Israel central to its identity.’ From its mission statement:

‘Centrality of Israel: We are a Zionist school that inculcates a love of Israel. We recognise the centrality of Israel and Hebrew to the Jewish people. We support Israel and are committed to its well-being.’

Bialik College is the school from which one Ben Zygier graduated as an accomplished student. He evidently took the school’s values to heart – he ended up moving to Israel and being employed in some capacity in Israeli intelligence. Zygier died, in still murky circumstances, in a high security cell in December 2010 – the unqualified love of Israel can have its down side it appears. Bialik takes its entire Year 10 class to Israel for 6 weeks. This year, the class is travelling via China for a cross-cultural experience. A visit to Gaza, as a potential location for ‘Bialik’s inclusive cross-communality’ appears to be not on the itinerary.

Perhaps the saddest reflection of Rambo Tribalism is the impulsion of Jewish people, citizens of various countries, to go and join the IDF, to participate voluntarily in ongoing repression as an occupying force and in mass murder of a subject people. Those who have left comfortable environments to become jihadis for some murderous Islamist outfit in the Middle East are (rightly) seen as unstable, perhaps deranged. Those who become jihadis for Israel’s ethnic cleansing are labeled spirited, courageous, unsung heroes’.

Tribalism involves the suppression of one’s moral compass and integrity (abstract diffuse) for the close comforts of togetherness and acceptance. One can understand how it happens, and is sustained. But at what cost?

Being a compulsive newspaper letters page reader, a particular letter, from Ms X, in the Melbourne Age, 19 July 2005, remains a seminal experience:

‘Along with other progressive-minded Australians of Jewish descent, I signed a petition of support for Palestinian self-determination in 2001. Endorsing the petition is one of many endeavours to support any peoples, regardless of race or religion, struggling against occupation, dispossession and oppression. Such struggles include the Palestinian people against the Israeli state, the Iraqi people against the US and its allies, the Saharawi against Morocco and the East Timorese against Indonesia.

These state powers are from different religious traditions but are united in using the politics of hegemony and state terrorism. In 2001 the petition was published in both mainstream and Jewish newspapers. Only this week, I was told not to attend the funeral of a great-aunt as my “name appeared in the [AustralianJewish News supporting Palestine”.

Now that I have the red star of Marx pinned to my breast, what does this mean? Am I now a non-Jew or simply a self-hater? Or maybe my Jewish heritage makes me more keenly appreciate the tragic consequences of racism and oppression.’

Nine years down the track the stance of Ms X and her family relationships remains unknown. A resolute handful of anti-Zionist Australian Jews regularly front the social media (by default of exclusion from the MSM). Meanwhile the myriad ‘official’ Jewish organizations in Australia remain unrepentant functionaries for a foreign pathologically criminal state.

Buying Governments, establishing Impunity

Israel has an uncountable number of governments in tow. In the ‘democracies’ (U.K., Canada, Australia, New Zealand, France, etc.) it doesn’t matter which Party is in power, Israel has that country in tow. Some countries (notably Australia) render themselves servile indirectly via their servility to the U.S.

Israel owns the U.S., lock stock and barrel. On 17 July, all 100 Senators voted for a resolution supporting Israel ‘as it defends itself against unprovoked (sic) rocket attacks’. Beyond abject servility, it is a treasonous and criminal act. Beyond the armaments flowing from the U.S. for the continuation of the slaughter, mendicant Israel continues to enjoy billions of dollars each year courtesy of the hapless U.S. taxpayer. Vocal Congressional critics of Israel (Cynthia McKinney, Paul Findley, etc.) lose office with the Lobby funding their opponents, providing a clear warning to any hopeful seeking office to purportedly represent (a quaint idea) the American public interest.

In spite of the annual payola, the U.S. gets nothing in return. Israel treats the U.S. as its dogsbody. Thus Secretary of State John Kerry is forced to leave empty-handed from attempts at a ‘peace settlement’, with Israel subsequently belittling Kerry as weak. Which of course he is, because product of an American political structure that will not pull the plug.

Joel Kovel (Overcoming Zionism, 2007) lists some key events in which Israel’s actions have significantly harmed U.S. interests. He continues:

‘Like the murder of Rachel Corrie, they manifest a self-reinforcing circuit, which begins with wanton disregard for the ordinary principles of humanity and ends with the granting of impunity for the “special” state, which, emboldened, commences the circuit anew. The same pattern obtains throughout the entire pattern of Israeli history, most notably in the flouting of scores of UN resolutions pertaining to the Occupation of Palestine.’

Remember that the University of Michigan Press went into meltdown with this book, after attack from the Lobby, over its contract to distribute Pluto Press publications in the U.S. And Kovel was subsequently sacked from his teaching job at Bard College. Remember also Norman Finkelstein, sacked from DePaul University for his forensic dismantling of the Hasbara narrative. The necessary complement of the Hasbara is the attempted censorship and silencing of its exposure as a fraudulent enterprise.

Kovel notes that the only occasion in which Israel has not got its way is in the U.S.’ continuing incarceration of the spy for Israel, Jonathan Pollard. Thus we have the squalid scenario of Israel attempting to blackmail President Clinton over its knowledge of the Lewinsky Affair to have Pollard released to enjoy the comforts of a hero’s residency in Israel. (How many in Congress are being similarly blackmailed?) This atypical recalcitrance from the U.S. constitutes an intolerable affront to a state accustomed to fulfilling its ambitions without exception.

Symptomatic of this mentality is the fact that Israel can steal or counterfeit national passports for use in its espionage or false flag activities. States remain craven in the face of this lawlessness.

And the Future?

While addressing the emasculation of the American ‘Left’ in particular, Kovel articulates well the current impasse and its broader implications:

‘Acceptance of the “special” nature of Israel, often manifest in an appeal to just how horribly Jews have suffered, goes hand in hand with devaluation of Israel’s victims and minimization of its crimes. Given the indisputable fact that Israel’s conquest of Palestine radiates across the world and sets into motion so much hatred and disorder, the inability of progressives in the global superpower to come to grips with Zionism drags down everything they do, and makes it impossible to deal effectively with war and peace alike.

One thing that is truly special about Israel is continual moral embattlement. A seemingly eternal struggle over wrongdoing and justification dogs its every step. This has inner ramifications that cut to the heart of the Zionist project.’

The stark reality is that Israel’s ‘continuing moral embattlement’ is an attribution only for those still possessing a morality gene and thus prone to outrage. Israel holds all the aces. It possesses near absolute power, for the reasons outlined above. None of the key pillars that underpin that power – nation states, national lobbies – have cracked under the escalating Gaza death count one iota. There have been no mea culpas amongst longtime supporters. The Hasbara is going full bore, with the mainstream media on tap and the foot soldiers flooding social media.

Of significance, the situation in the Middle East has never been more favorable to Israel’s regional hegemony. Saudi Arabia and Egypt, two distinct tyrannies with their own agendas, are firmly allied with Israel. Iraq has been conveniently dismembered – the process pursued by the U.S. predominantly in Israel’s interests in the first place. Syria is in the process of being dismembered. Ditto. The U.S.-induced chaos in Ukraine has conveniently forced Russia’s attention away from Syria. Jordan is now a U.S./Israeli satrap. Iran is hobbled by crippling sanctions, again for Israeli interests. Only Hezbollah remains unchained – and that ‘impediment’ is currently being addressed.

Gaza is living, has been living, a nightmare. West Bank residents also, if to a lesser extent. The diabolical reality is that at present the forces capable of bringing Israel to heel lack the requisite morality gene in their DNA.

Thus the overwhelming and urgent de facto responsibility of the street – Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions. Israel at present experiences no ‘moral embattlement’. The effective embattlement has to come in a tangible form.

Afterword: Saving the Language Itself

Another casualty of the Israeli Hasbara machine has been language itself. Of course, language is intrinsically a vehicle of manipulation for purposes of persuasion – embodied in the personalized Rhetoric from the Classical Age to the industrial strength propaganda techniques devised in the hothouse of World War I and since imposed unstintingly on the hapless populace (thank you Edward Bernays).

There is one dimension of the propagandized structuring of language that has been brilliantly successful, because it has been applied in blanket fashion and has been rendered subliminally. It has been in the linguistic devices by which a dual world has been manufactured of ‘us’ versus ‘the other’. War propaganda fits naturally into the medium.

It is in the arena of the creation of popular support for (or the deadening of opposition to) Empire that the language of duality has been most successful. Thus Britain, in its painting the globe red, was engaged in a ‘civilizing’ mission to the great unwashed. The U.S.’s imperial thrust, massively assisted by the unprecedented propaganda machine of the Cold War, was rather an exercise in exporting ‘freedom’ to the variously oppressed.

Thus did we imbibe with Mother’s milk the verities of good guys versus bad guys, us versus them. This creed, instilled a priori and embedded in our language, has dramatically undermined our capacity for the perception and rational processing of information. Thus we might discover, no doubt by accident, that U.S. governments have knocked off the odd government, here there and everywhere, but such raw material is rendered as dissonance in our inherited mental and linguistic tool kit, and is readily discarded as unfathomable white noise. Ron Jacob’s recent piece, US and Israeli Exceptionalism, 15 July, highlights precisely this point.

With the good guys / bad guys duality hardwired, long impeding the critical faculties, along comes the Hasbara, elevating the manipulation of language to a new plateau. This is a qualitative leap. Moving beyond the difficulty of seeing the stye in our own eye, the Hasbara upends linguistic conventions. Black becomes white, evil is translated into righteousness. Victims of murderous ethnic cleansing become terrorists.

The conventions of language go completely out the door. Mass murder is self defense. The Great Wall is a barrier or a mere fence. Land grabs are voluntary relocations into disputed territories. And as Master Spinmeister for the Israeli mafia we have Mark Freiberg/Regev – unhappily an Australian export. The head spins. It is near impossible to think clearly. The jaw drops in disbelief.

When Israel is ultimately called to account, the optimists steeling the resolve, and the Hasbara machine is interred, perhaps we might be able to reclaim our language and to use it for purposes, albeit rusty for lack of practice, propelled by both reason and morality.

Posted in Palestine Affairs, ZIO-NAZI, GazaComments Off on Gaza Holocaust: The Pariah State

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