Archive | August 8th, 2014

UK activists shut down Nazi arms factory

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Police look on as protesters occupy the roof of an Elbit owned factory in Birmingham. (Photo: London Palestine Action)

Police look on as protesters occupy the roof of an Elbit owned factory in Birmingham. (Photo: London Palestine Action)

For nearly a month, Israel has bombarded Gaza from land, sea and air. More than 1800 Palestinians have lost their lives and war crimes have been committed. To our collective shame, the UK government has not only failed to take action to pressure Israel to stop its massacre, but has refused to take steps to end the material support it provides to Israel’s brutal regime of apartheid and colonialism. When governments support crimes against humanity, grassroots movements must take direct action.

A group of activists from the London Palestine Action network have today (5/8/14) chained the doors shut of an Israeli weapons factory based near Birmingham in the UK and are now occupying the roof. As part of the boycott, divestment and sanctions movement (BDS) and in response to calls for action from Palestinian movements, we are demanding the permanent closure of the factory and an end to all forms of military trade and cooperation with Israel.

Protester hangs "Elbit Arms, Israel Kills" at shutdown Elbit factory in Birmingham. The factory produces drone engines which are exported to Israel and used over Gaza. (Photo: London Palestine Action)

Protester hangs “Elbit Arms, Israel Kills” at shutdown Elbit factory in Birmingham. The factory produces drone engines which are exported to Israel and used over Gaza. (Photo: London Palestine Action)

The factory that we are occupying produces engines for drones and is owned by Elbit Systems, Israel’s largest military company and the world’s largest drones producer. Drone engines manufactured at this factory have been exported to Israel in 2010, 2011 and 2012 and Elbit Systems drones are being used in Israel’s ongoing massacre. Any claims that components manufactured at this factory are not being used in Israel’s current attack on Gaza are not credible.

Drones are a key part of Israel’s military arsenal. By allowing this factory to export drone components and other arms to Israel, the UK government is providing direct support and approval to Israel’s massacres.

Protesters call for an arms embargo and for the UK to stop arming Israel. (Photo: London Palestine Action)

Protesters call for an arms embargo and for the UK to stop arming Israel. (Photo: London Palestine Action)

The factory is also a key part of the Watchkeeper program under which Elbit Systems is leading the manufacture of a new generation of drones for the UK military. The Watchkeeper drone is based on the Hermes 450, documented as being used to kill Palestinian civilians

Activists occupying roof of UAV Engines, wholly owned subsidiary of Elbit. (Photo: London Palestine Action)

Activists occupying roof of UAV Engines, wholly owned subsidiary of Elbit. (Photo: London Palestine Action)

during the 2008-09 attack on Gaza. Elbit Systems markets its drones as ‘field tested’ – by which it means that their drones have been proven to be effective at killing Palestinians. The UK government is importing technology that has been developed during the course of Israeli massacres.

UK prime minister David Cameron and the UK government have Palestinian blood on their hands. In order to end their deep complicity with Israel’s system of occupation, colonialism and apartheid against Palestinians, they must take steps to impose a full military embargo on Israel and close the Elbit Systems factory immediately.

It is more important than ever that the solidarity we build with the Palestinian struggle is effective and impactful. Israel does not act alone but is supported by governments and corporations across the world that have names and addresses. It is time for the international solidarity movement to escalate its direct actions against those that support and profit from Israeli apartheid to take action that can lead to a genuine isolation of Israel.

Join the boycott, divestment and sanctions (BDS) movement! Stop arming Israel!

 

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Rightwing Jews who want to destroy Muslim holy site in Jerusalem raise funds on Indiegogo

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The righting fundamentalist org, the Temple Institute, is raising money on Indiegogo to draft plans to build the third temple on the holy mount in occupied Jerusalem. They’ve raised nearly $17,000 out of a hoped-for $100,000, using the messianic video above that pictures the remade temple in its last frames.

The site is one of the holiest sites in Islam because of its place in Mohammed’s life– “the Noble Sanctuary” — and the Third Temple project is explicitly aimed at destroying Muslim sites of worship, including the Dome of the Rock and the Al-Aqsa mosque. As the Temple Institute states:

Geo-politically, the Temple Mount has to be cleared of the Dome of the Rock and the mosques which are presently located upon it before the physical rebuilding of the Holy Temple can begin. Many scenarios can be imagined which would accomplish this, the most promising, and not necessarily the most far-fetched, would entail Moslem recognition of the Mount as the intended location for the rebuilt Temple.

From the Indiegogo campaign:

After millennia of yearning, only one organization is paving the way for the rebuilding of the Temple…

Now is time for one of its most ambitious projects yet: completing architectural plans for the actual construction, fusing ancient texts and modern technology.

A friend, Khalid, sent a complaint to Indiegogo, and got a response (excerpted below), but Indiegogo has taken no action.

Thank you for reaching out. Indiegogo empowers campaign owners and contributors to raise money for, or support, the things that matter to them. Since Indiegogo is an equal opportunity platform, a wide variety of subject matters and opinions may be expressed through campaigns. Due to the fact that we do not curate these campaigns, the views reflected by campaign owners are not necessarily those of Indiegogo. Because of the diversity of our community, it’s possible that something could be disagreeable or disturbing to you without meeting the criteria for being removed or blocked. With that said, we are reviewing this campaign to ensure that it complies with our Terms of Use….

We take the integrity and security of our community very seriously and we greatly appreciate your patience and understanding throughout this review process.

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The selected writings of Samantha Power

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Ambassador Power, on right, with Paul Kagame

Samantha Power, right, with Paul Kagame of Rwanda on her twitter feed yesterday

August 3, 2014. Samantha Power, US ambassador to the United Nations, condemned an attack on a U.N. school in Rafah, Gaza. The statement faulted Hamas and did not mention the perpetrator, Israel, till the 160th word or so:

Today’s strike outside an UNRWA school in Rafah, where an estimated 3,000 people were taking shelter, is horrifying….  It is imperative that all sides work towards a ceasefire that ends the rocket attacks and tunnel threat from Hamas, and the perilous situation faced by civilians in Gaza.

We call on all parties to take all feasible precautions to prevent civilian casualties, comply with international humanitarian law and respect UN facilities in Gaza. We further call on Israel to conduct a full and prompt investigation of this incident as well as the recent strikes that hit other UNRWA schools…

August 1: Power tweeted the end of a ceasefire:

Strongly condemn attack on Israeli soldiers that broke #Gaza ceasefire. Hamas must ensure immediate release of missing Israeli soldier.

July 30: Power gave a speech to Young African Leaders: 

[A]fter an especially dark couple weeks for me in my day job… grueling Security Council sessions on the heart-wrenching violence in Israel and Gaza—being here with you this evening on your last night is a true honor and it’s a bright light and has been on my calendar for some time.

July 24. Power condemned another strike on a UN school, this one in Beit Hanoun, that killed 17. Her only reference to Israel in the statement was as a victim of Palestinian attacks:

We are deeply concerned about reports of the striking of an UNRWA school in Beit Hanoun, in the Gaza Strip, today….

We condemn the use of these facilities to house rockets and launch attacks on civilians in Israel, and we emphasize that civilians seeking shelter in those facilities must be respected and protected, and that all parties comply with international humanitarian law.

July 22: Power gave a speech on the Middle East at the United Nations. The speech never put civilian killings at Israeli’s door. Hamas was to blame for civilian suffering:

Throughout the hostilities, we have consistently recognized Israel’s right to defend itself, whether through attacks by rockets overhead or tunnels below… Yesterday, in a single day, militants fired 155 rockets into Israel. In the two weeks of fighting, more than 2,000 rockets have been launched on Israel. On Sunday, Israel foiled another attempt by armed militants to use tunnels to sneak into the country and launch an attack. And then again, yesterday militants from Gaza entered Israel and killed four Israeli soldiers….

Militants in Gaza have repeatedly used civilian facilities for military purposes. Yesterday, a hospital in Gaza was struck by a tank shell, killing at least four people inside…

[G]iven a chance to help alleviate the suffering of Palestinian civilians, Hamas balked.

July 18. After Israel killed four Palestinian boys on the beach in Gaza in an atrocity seen by the worldPower gave a speech deploring violence against civilians. She began by slamming Hamas rocket attacks, and did so repeatedly. Israel only came up in a positive context.

The United States is deeply concerned about the rocket attacks by Hamas and the dangerous escalation of hostilities in the region. In particular, we are concerned about the devastating impact of this crisis on both Israeli and Palestinian civilians.

President Obama spoke with Prime Minister Netanyahu this morning to reaffirm the United States’ strong support for Israel’s right to defend itself. ..

The consequences of the rising violence are plain for all of us to see, and they are heart-wrenching. We feel profound anguish upon seeing the images of suffering from Gaza, including the deaths and injuries of innocent Palestinian civilians, including young children, and the displacement of thousands of people. Israeli civilians, including the elderly and children alike, are fleeing to shelters with little warnings to escape the barrage of rockets from Gaza…

The four Palestinian boys playing on the beach in Gaza City were like boys everywhere, restless for play. Their deaths are heartbreaking, and the loss their family members and neighbors must feel today must be searing. And the Israeli authorities have opened an investigation into their deaths.

2002. Power, who was then teaching at the Kennedy School of Government at Harvard, made her name by publishing the book, A Problem From Hell: America and the Age of Genocide. While it is not clear that Israel’s actions in Gaza would fall within Power’s definition of genocide in the book, they would seem to be“genocidal” (as Noam Chomsky has put it); for Power often cites massacres and atrocities in considering official indifference to systematic violence of an ethnic character. Excerpts:

People have explained U.S. failures to respond to specific genocides by claiming that the United States didn’t know what was happening, that it knew but didn’t care, or that regardless of what it knew, there was nothing useful to be done. I have found that in fact U.S. policymakers knew a great deal about the crimes being perpetrated. Some Americans cared and fought for action, making considerable personal and professional sacrifices. And the United States did have countless opportunities to mitigate and prevent slaughter. But time and again, decent men and women chose to look away. We have all been bystanders to genocide. The crucial question is why….

Despite graphic media coverage, American policymakers, journalists, and citizens are extremely slow to muster the imagination needed to reckon with evil. Ahead of the killings, they assume rational actors will not inflict seemingly gratuitous violence. They trust in good-faith negotiations and traditional diplomacy. Once the killings start, they assume that civilians who keep their heads down will be left alone. They urge ceasefires and donate humanitarian aid…

U.S. officials spin themselves (as well as the American public) about the nature of the violence in question and the likely impact of an American intervention. They render the bloodshed two-sided and inevitable, not genocidal. They insist that any proposed U.S. response will be futile. Indeed, it may even do more harm than good, bringing perverse consequences to the victims and jeopardizing other precious American moral or strategic interests. They brand as “emotional” those U.S. officials who urge intervention and who make moral arguments in a system that speaks principally in the cold language of interests….
The sharpest challenge to the world of bystanders is posed by those who have refused to remain silent in the age of genocide. In each case a few Americans stood out by standing up. They did not lose sight of right and wrong, even as they were repeatedly steered to a “context” that others said precluded action. They refused to accept either that they could not influence U.S. policy or that the United States could not influence the killers. These individuals were not alone in their struggles, but they were not in crowded company either. By seeing what they tried to get done, we see what America
could have done…..

The most common response is, ‘We didn’t know.’ This is not true. To be sure, the information emanating from countries victimized by genocide was imperfect… But although US officials did not know all there was to know about the nature and scale of the violence, they knew a remarkable amount…

U.S. officials have been reluctant to imagine the unimaginable because of the implications. Indeed, instead of aggressively hunting for deeper knowledge or publicizing what was already known, they have taken shelter in the fog of plausible deniability. They have used the search for certainty as an excuse for paralysis and postponement….

In a democracy even an administration disinclined to act can be pressured into doing so. This pressure can come from inside or outside. Bureaucrats within the system who grasp the stakes can patiently lobby or brazenly agitate in the hope of forcing their bosses to entertain a full range of options. Unfortunately, although every genocide generated some activism within the U.S. foreign policy establishment, civil and foreign servants typically heeded what they took to be presidential indifference and public apathy. They assumed U.S. policy was immutable, that their concerns were already understood by their superiors, and that speaking (or walking) out would only reduce their capacity to improve the policy…

George Bernard Shaw once wrote “The reasonable man adapts himself to the world. The unreasonable one persists in trying to adapt the world to himself. Therefore, all progress depends on the unreasonable man.” After a century of doing so little to prevent, suppress, and punish genocide, Americans must join and thereby legitimate the ranks of the unreasonable.

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What I said to the couple holding a banner with a swastika on it

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March on Washington DC, August 2, 2014 (Photo: Answer Coalition)

March on Washington DC, August 2, 2014 (Photo: Answer Coalition)

“What should we be saying instead, to make people listen and understand what is happening?”

The couple, with whom I spoke to on Saturday at the National Protest for Palestine in Washington DC, were holding a banner, with a swastika on it.

Upon seeing this sign, I immediately made my way over to them and asked them whether they felt their sign was a constructive, or destructive message, and whether they felt it would compel people to join us in protesting the atrocities that are happening in Gaza.

I went on to elaborate.

The swastika is a symbol of hate. It is a symbol of anti-Semitism, it is a reminder of the inhumanity of the Nazi regime. This symbol has no place in a protest that calls for peace for all peoples- Palestinians and Israelis.

The couple, and others on the march who emblazoned swastikas across their posters, told me they were using it to point out the irony of a once persecuted people, committing similar brutalities to another set of human beings. I reject that argument. That cruel piece of history does not need to be dredged up to chastise Israel. Instead, the universal simple moral truth, which sits enshrined within human rights law, is the only message that needs to be emblazoned on banners that chastise Israel and that call for change and freedom for Palestine.

Using a symbol of hate to call for peaceful justice, does not make sense. Using a symbol that carries contained within it, a sorrowful chapter of history for Jewish people, does not make sense. I speak as a person with a Jewish father and a stake in that history. Using that symbol, strengthens the position of those who do not wish to see the people of Palestine achieve freedom.

Upon hearing what I said, the couple put the sign face down, shook my hand, and asked, “What should we be saying instead to make people listen and understand?”

This question is key. This question exemplifies why this movement must have complete unity of message, and rest on a universal demand for human rights to be upheld, in order to end the war, end the occupation, and allow Palestinians their international right to self-determination.

This march was attended by approximately 20,000 passionate people from all races, religions and creeds. Peace activists, groups of faith, and unaffiliated individuals came to voice their moral indignation at the latest Israeli offensive that has, so brutally, claimed almost 1,800 lives throughout the Gaza Strip. The protest, like the many others all around the world, for the most part, represented what is good about humanity.

The overwhelming majority of protestors chose to display messages expressing concern and grief over the desperately sad nature of recent events. However, littered throughout those sentiments, there were a few voices that, I believe, will not help bring peace.

Those extreme voices become easier to reconcile with when such terrible atrocities are carried out against a helpless, innocent civilian population. The impunity the international community gives to these war crimes evoke a sense of injustice and anger that can as easily be negative, as it can positive.

This injustice and anger reverberates in each one of us. We are humans. We watch the news segments of pure devastation throughout Gaza, we hear the reports of blatant war crimes, and we look at pictures of the charred remains of children. These injustices make us angry, we are humans.

But what is needed now, more than ever, is the channeling of this anger for good. We need to be constructive, not destructive. Messages of hate are destructive, hurt the direction of the Palestinian solidarity movement, and take us all further away from living in a world that we desperately wish to live in.

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Zionist Propaganda: Bob Schieffer in a ‘world gone mad’

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Zionist Propaganda Media

Bob Schieffer has been gravely misunderstood and misquoted by Palestinians and their sympathizers when in actual fact the ones he maligned were the Israelis: If you listen carefully to the man you will find him concise and to the point, delivering his message clearly in the best of CBS sound-bite traditions. Here is the main message for which he has been maliciously faulted:

In the Middle East, the Palestinian people find themselves in the grip of a terrorist group that has embarked on a strategy to get its own children killed in order to build sympathy for its cause – a strategy that might actually be working at least in some quarters.

And yet many listeners think he is speaking of Palestinian self-abuse despite the clear giveaway. After all, who holds the Palestinians in his grip but Israel? Obviously Bob is talking about Israel. And you think he is slandering the Palestinians! No wonder he thinks that “we are in the midst of a world gone mad.”

Let me now guide you through the man’s statement a word at a time: To contextualize the message for Americans, whom we know are all pro-Palestinian, he starts with a familiar concept, the Middle East. That should be sufficient, Bob in his wisdom-fraught mind must think, to arouse their interest and set their senses on edge for the coming blitz. After all, who but our Palestinian allies have gotten us involved in our glorious crusades in Iraq, Afghanistan, Libya, Syria and the Ukraine? [Are all these countries in the Middle East, I wonder? Who is going to bother asking anyway? Let us just finish the thought.] Think of how profitable it all has been for our energy moguls. And the mere mention of “the Middle East” will undoubtedly evoke tender sentiments of sad longing for the lost millions of lives in those crusades. So much life has been wasted that Bob hasn’t slept well for years, and he looks it. So what if the lives are mostly those of non-Americans? That is Bob’s central message: We all are human brothers and sisters. The life of a Syrian farmer in the Beqa’a Valley, of an Afghan shepherd in Peshawar or of a Palestinian fisherman in Gaza, of any Moslem anywhere for that matter, is equally dear to Bob’s Orient-soaked heart.

Now that he has put his millions of mesmerized audience on edge, Bob has to sooth their nerves with a calming image they all love, that of “Palestinians.” What better word to arouse his American viewers’ tender sentiments. He knows his central message will be appreciated by the multitude of anti-Semitic pro-Palestinians across the land. Every American across the wide spectrum of Jew-haters and self-hating Jews viewing him on TV will be tantalized by the expectation of what comes next. Now is the time for Bob to release his heavy dose of venom against Israel and its backers. Bob calls the entire pack of Israelis and their financial and weaponry backers “a terrorist group.” True, he doesn’t call Israelis by name. But he leaves no doubt about whom he means: He exaggerates of course: He accuses Israel and its backers of holding the Palestinians in their grip for the mere act of controlling their land, sea and air space even when the Israelis go to the trouble of calculating the Palestinian children’s caloric survival requirements and permitting that to seep across the borders. He then claims that Israel “has embarked on a strategy to get its own children killed in order to build sympathy for its cause.”

With what more can you accuse Israel, Bob? Israel has built the most moral army in the world, as we all know. It sends its children to defend its innocent citizens. True some of those children die. But they take their revenge at a high rate, thanks to the testing of the new weaponry that their fighter-bombers with their sulfur payloads, their helicopters, their gunboats and their tanks spew. The Palestinian death rate in 2008-09 ran at one hundred to one Israeli soldier. And currently it is averaging some 20 Palestinians to one Israeli soldier. The high rate of collateral damage of civilians including children of 80% should be sufficient to let Bob realize that Israel’s children are not sent to die simply “in order to build sympathy for its cause.” You can’t level such an accusation against Israel when it passes no chance to levy a heavy price for the killing of its children. I will forgive you, Bob, for pointing accurately that Israel does willfully send its children to die on occasion. But it does its utmost to guarantee their safety, witness its Dahiya principle by which any area, residential or otherwise, from which its boys are fired at will be considered a military target regardless of the consequences. The principle is not even debated anymore. It simply is given as the justification for its repeated elimination of whole families, a dozen or two relatives at a time, and for targeting playgrounds, mosques, clinics, hospitals and UN schools. Bob, what more atrocities you want Israel to commit before you stop making your fowl accusation against it?

You know what Bob? I think you are full of shit.

(This article was previously published at Hatim Kanaaneh’s blog A Doctor in Galilee)

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Thousands of displaced Palestinians take shelter on the fringes of Gaza City

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The el-Algan family taking shelter in a construction site in Gaza City. (Photo: Allison Deger)

The el-Algan family taking shelter in a construction site in Gaza City. (Photo: Allison Deger)

In Gaza City thousands of Palestinians have taken shelter outside of United Nations facilities out of fear of air-strikes targeting the civilian sanctuaries. They live in rented rooms, in the backs of stores, in half-erected building and on the streets. If they interact with local or international non-governmental organization, they are counted in the log of displaced persons. Yet many from the northern regions which are now a flattened abyss of exploded homes are not recorded. They inhabit the fringes of Gaza City.

The el-Algan family has joined over 550,000 displaced Palestinians across the besieged Gaza Strip. They fled nearly two weeks ago from their home in Zeitoun near Shuja’iyeh, a northern town that today is a desolate, post-apocalyptic wasteland of bombed out buildings where bodies are still trapped under rubble. “I built it new eight years ago,” said Hussein Mohammed Ali el-Algan, 50, of his former home.

“When the tanks started shooting, that was it. We realized we couldn’t live there anymore,” said el-Algan while seated on a plastic chair next to the sidewalk. “When we left, we left all of us together,” with each adult carrying one of the smaller children. Even his 15-year old daughter carted a youngster as they walked aimlessly toward the sea, looking for a hideout from the shelling. “It was very hard there and we have to live and we have to survive.”

The el-Algan’s have insulated themselves inside of a three-story concrete frame of an incomplete building with another family, the Zenad’s. Together they hope to ride out Israel’s Operation Protective Edge, now in it’s 28th day. Their entire living space is a mere 250 square meters.

Shireen Zenad. (Photo: Allison Deger)

Shireen Zenad. (Photo: Allison Deger)

The ten members of the Zenad family who also reside in the construction site include three mentally disabled adults. Shireen Zenad, 33, crouched on cinder blocks stacked into makeshift stairs. She tearfully howled, still traumatized from the evening before. El-Algan explained that the night before, she and Ashraf Zenad, 37, and Asra Zenad, 18, fled into the Gaza City’s dark streets illuminated by artillery smashing into nearby buildings. The other family members chased after them, an unfortunate daily pattern of braving Israeli F-16s and drone strikes in order to retrieve their loved ones from danger.

“The Israelis, they tried to make a road for their tanks so they demolished their house,” said el-Algan of the Zenad home. His days are now filled with waiting out artillery fire and rushing to a local store to fill a one-gallon yellow water tank during the respites of ceasefires. Through a generator hooked up to a neighbor’s house el-Algan has outfitted his shelter with four hours of electricity per day. He uses it to play a radio, which has become his primary source of news. When I spoke to them on July 25th, they had not eaten or drank for days. While the Zenad’s know that their home in Shuja’iyeh was destroyed by Israeli fire, the el-Algan’s have not been able to travel back to their town to check on their belongings. The trip is dangerous and long, about an hour and a half by foot.

Children's sleeping space in the el-Algan's construction site shelter, Gaza City. (Photo: Allison Deger)

Children’s sleeping space in the el-Algan’s construction site shelter, Gaza City. (Photo: Allison Deger)

Gaza City is serving as an effective refugee camp for those fleeing the more war-torn regions to the north and east. Like many displaced Palestinians the el-Algan family decided not to relocate to a United Nations shelter. The UNRWA operates over 100 shelters with more than 80 people living in each classroom of the converted schools. Disease has started to spread—skin rashes and scabies—and so el-Algan prefers his construction site. While there are no real walls, cinder blocks and fabric drapes the openings. There is a semblance of “the most simple things like privacy and privacy during bathing,” said el-Algan’s brother-in-law, Ahmad el-Algan, 38. Still, residing outside of a designated shelter comes with uncertainty. “Even here there’s no security,” said Ahmad el-Algan explaining the night before the building behind their shelter was struck with missiles. The explosion damaged part of the structure they use as sleeping quarters.

Situated a short walk from the el-Algan’s shelter is a lush green square, a park honoring Gaza’s unknown fallen soldiers. Outside of wartime, the garden is a playground with children rushing monkey bars. But since Israel’s ground invasion began nearly four weeks ago the park has doubled as a shantytown for refugees who could not find space in shelters, afford to rent a flat elsewhere, or have family to host them. In a corner shaded by trees Rada Zaheles, 40, sits on a dirt square with her 13 children, her sisters and her sister’s children. Together there are 30 children. Her youngest is three years old. Beside Zaheles, her sister Naima Zaheles holds her nine-month old daughter.

“I prefer to die next to my house than to live here like this,” said Zaheles reaching her hands out as she spoke. “There’s no money, nothing. When people leave from the schools and the hospitals they bring us food.”

The Zaheles family, also from Shuja’iyeh split apart two weeks ago. It has become common in Gaza for families to separate under the logic that if an air strikes falls on them, the whole family will not be wiped out because others are taking shelter elsewhere. “Some are in Shifa hospital, some are in the school and we are in the park,” said Zaheles, continuing. “Why did this happen to us, we were in our house and now all we want is some privacy.”

If the el-Algan’s days in the construction site are bleak, the Zaheles’s are hellish. Gaza’s climate is warm, much warmer than Jerusalem in the summer, and sitting outdoors for long hours without food or water, starvation was a concern. The family of women had no spare clothing for the children, not even a pad to sleep on. “All I want to do is to start screaming and crying so that people will come and stand beside me,” wept Zaheles.

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Who are the true Jewish allies of Hamas?

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The destruction of the two-state solution and the suppression of nonviolent protest convince Palestinians that Israel only understands the language of force.

http://www.haaretz.com/opinion/.premium-1.609257

By Peter Beinart    |  Aug. 6, 2014

Every day on social media, someone calls me an ally of Hamas. I find the accusation odd since I’ve not only repeatedly denounced the organization, but chided other progressives for not doing so more forcefully.

But upon reflection, maybe the critics have a point. Sad as it is to admit, Hamas does have unwitting allies among our people. There are Jews who through words and deeds strengthen a group that oppresses Palestinians and tries to kill Israelis.

Worse, such people work at the highest echelons of the Israeli government and the American Jewish establishment. Who are they? They’re the Israeli and American Jewish leaders who convince Palestinians that nonviolence and mutual recognition are futile. They bolster Hamas’ greatest asset, which is not rockets and tunnels. Hamas’ greatest asset is the Palestinian belief that Israel only understands the language of force.

The first way these Jews help Hamas is by supporting – either actively or passively – the imprisonment of people like Abdallah Abu Rahma. Rahma is a leader of the Bilin Popular Committee, which, since 2005, has led unarmed protests against the separation barrier that cuts the West Bank village off from 50 percent of its land.

“In Bilin,” Rahma wrote in a 2010 letter, “we have chosen another way. We have chosen to protest nonviolently together with Israeli and international supporters. We have chosen to carry a message of hope and real partnership between Palestinians and Israelis in the face of oppression and injustice.”

Rahma’s wife smuggled the letter out of the jail where he was serving a year-long sentence for “incitement” and organizing “illegal demonstrations.” Under Military Order 101, which Israel issued when it took over the West Bank in 1967, an “illegal demonstration” is any gathering of 10 or more Palestinians that involves “a political matter or one liable to be interpreted as political.”

“Incitement” is defined as “attempting, whether verbally or otherwise, to influence public opinion in the area in a way that may disturb the public peace or public order.” In cases like Rahma’s, according to Human Rights Watch, “The Israeli authorities are effectively banning peaceful expression of political speech.”

Rahma’s case is not unusual. In 2011, Bassem Tamimi was convicted under Military Order 101 for leading illegal protests in the village of Nabi Saleh, which has seen much of its land handed over to the neighboring settlement of Halamish. (He was also convicted of urging children to throw stones on the basis of what Human Rights Watch called “a child’s coercively obtained statement [that] raises serious concerns about the fairness of his trial.”) It was Bassem’s 11th arrest. He had previously been held for three years without trial. Yet at his trial, Bassem called the Israelis who protested with him his “brothers and sisters,” and pledged that “we will still raise our children to love; love the land and the people without discrimination of race, religion or ethnicity.”

I’ve lost count of the number of times I’ve heard American-Jewish leaders cite the Hamas charter. But I’ve never heard a single one express concern about the prosecutions of Rahma or Tamimi. Indeed, I’ve never heard major American-Jewish leaders criticize Israeli restrictions on peaceful protest in the West Bank at all.

In 2010, when an interviewer asked the Anti-Defamation League’s Abe Foxman about the Rahma case, he replied, “I’m not an expert on the [Israeli] judicial system and I don’t intend to be.”

If undermining peaceful Palestinian protest helps Hamas, so does undermining Palestinian support for the two-state solution. In November 2012, Palestinian Authority leader Mahmoud Abbas, who was born in the Israeli city of Safed, told Israeli TV, “I want to see Safed. It’s my right to see it, but not live there.” Given the depth of the Palestinian commitment to refugee return, Abbas’ statement was politically perilous. Hamas quickly denounced it.

The only way for Abbas to have survived such a risky overture would have been to receive something important in return. Had Benjamin Netanyahu responded with a high-profile gesture of his own – for instance, signaling his openness to a Palestinian capital in East Jerusalem – some Palestinians might have been more forgiving of Abbas’ concession.

Instead, Netanyahu dismissed Abbas’ statement as insignificant because it bore “no connection” to his “actual actions.” Former Prime Minister Ehud Olmert criticized his successor’s response, but establishment American-Jewish leaders did not. And with that, any hope that Abbas’ gambit would not seriously undermine him among Palestinians was lost. The episode proved a boon for Hamas.

That same month, Israeli finance minister Yuval Steinitz boasted that, since 2009, Netanyahu’s government had doubled the portion of Israel’s budget going to settlements. Yet again, the news was met with silence in the American-Jewish establishment. One

person who did not remain silent, however, was then-Prime Minister Salam Fayyad, the Palestinian leader most popular among Jewish groups because of his deeply un-Hamas like embrace of nonviolence, institution building and mutual coexistence.

 

A few months later, in announcing his retirement, Fayyad cited settlement growth as one of the factors that destroyed him and bolstered Hamas. “In deeds,” he told Roger Cohen of The New York Times. “Israel never got behind me; in fact it was quite hostile. The occupation regime is more entrenched, with no sign it is beginning to relinquish its grip on our life. There are more settlements, more settler violence, more intrusiveness into all aspects of Palestinian life.” As a result, declared Fayyad, “Our people question whether the PA can deliver.” And “Hamas … is strengthened.”

 

Finally, last April, the Arab League for a third time offered to recognize Israel if it returned to the 1967 lines and found a “just” and “agreed-upon” solution for the Palestinian refugees.

 

This time, Israel’s Arab neighbors went further, declaring that Israel could keep some West Bank settlements so long as it swapped them for territory inside the Green Line. The Arab League proposal gave Abbas cover for territorial concessions of his own. Hamas rejected the offer but might have been isolated in the Arab world had not Netanyahu essentially rejected it too.

 

In a speech soon after the proposal, Netanyahu insisted that the Israeli-Palestinian conflict was not “territorial” at all and that “no matter what the borders,” Palestinians must not merely recognize Israel, but recognize it as a Jewish state (something the Arab League offer had not done). Chalk up another win for Hamas.

Sometime in the coming days, Israeli, Palestinian and Egyptian negotiators may well agree to some modest easing of the blockade that has virtually destroyed Gaza’s economic life. The people of Gaza will win this relief not because Salam Fayyad painstakingly built up Palestinian institutions, not because Mahmoud Abbas repeatedly recognized Israel’s right to exist and not because Bassem Tamimi protested nonviolently in partnership with Israelis. Tragically, under this Israeli government, those efforts have brought Palestinians virtually no concessions at all.

The people of Gaza will win some relief from the blockade – as they did when the last Gaza war ended – because Hamas launched rockets designed to kill.

“Why does Israel support Hamas?” a Palestinian acquaintance once asked me. Back then I thought he was crazy. Now I think that perhaps we are.

Posted in Palestine Affairs, ZIO-NAZI, GazaComments Off on Who are the true Jewish allies of Hamas?

Watch: I$raHell, Gaza and the BDS movement

NOVANEWS

Israel’s month-long assault on Gaza has left over 1,900 Palestinians dead, mostly civilians.

It has also sparked condemnation by the United Nations and on Twitter.

Outraged tweeps are using the hashtag #BDS – short for Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions – a growing movement to force Israel to comply with international law and respect Palestinian rights.

Posted in Palestine Affairs, ZIO-NAZI, CampaignsComments Off on Watch: I$raHell, Gaza and the BDS movement

Dorothy Online NewsLetter

NOVANEWS

Dear Friends,

I am using these few precious days of cease fire (if they last the whole 3 days) to catch up on a huge backlog, which does not yet include going through the +5000 emails that have accumulated in my inbox.  That will come too.  Eventually.

Meanwhile, below are 9 items that I think are worth reading and had intended to send yesterday, but didn’t.  By 2 AM had read all, but was too exhausted to put them together and send.  I apologize for any duplications.

Item 2, Amira Hass’s “Israel’s attack on Gaza is revenge for the Palestinian refusal to accept occupation” is from July, but is worth re-reading now in the light of what actually happened.

As for the rest, my impression is that there is much more criticism of Israel now than ever before, and many more attempts to air these to a large public (e.g., via publications as the Independent) than before.  Of course the big one is the United States, the major supplier of weapons to Israel.  Until the US stops furnishing Israel with the huge and horrible weapons of destruction, not much will change, at least not right away.  But with time and greater recognition of Israel as a pariah state, changes will come, if only because more and more Jews will wipe their hands of a country that kills thousands of innocent Palestinians and generation after generation kills its own youngsters by sending them to fight.

The articles below are largely representative of the censure.

Item 1 is on “the dangers of the tunnel vision.”  The important part of its message is in the final line, which wisely instructs donors to Israel’s defense systems “to raise their eyes above the ground, and say “make peace — not (just) obstacles.”

Item 2 is the Amira Hass piece.

Item 3 is by a young woman from Gaza who asks “Am I not Human Enough” to be treated as a human being?

In item 4 Chris Hedges explains Why Israel Lies.

Item 5 tells us why Palestinians in Gaza support Hamas.

Item 6 informs us that the Gaza war has pushed some members of JStreet to the left.  Good.   All Jews need to drop Zionism.  Period!

Item 7 discusses Israel’s 9 years of failure in Gaza.  In light of the discussion the final statement needs revising.  It reads “Israel’s victory over Hamas was never in doubt.”  It should read ‘Israel’s military victory over Hamas  was never in doubt.’  Victory would mean the end of fighting, which, without a political settlement will never be, no matter how many military campaigns Israel wins.

Item 8 is a comment on Lady Sayeeda Warsi’s ministerial resignation yesterday because she could no longer take the government’s attitude towards Gaza.

Item 9 states loudly and clearly that If Israel wants peace (not at all certain that this is a top priority) it must talk to Hamas.

That’s it for now. May the cease fire stretch out to eternity, and may Gaza finally see an end to the siege, which at present does not look likely, which means that soon the guns and bombs will be roaring and the missiles flying again. Hopefully not, but things at this point do not look promising.

Dorothy

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1 Haaretz Monday, August 4, 2014

The dangers of tunnel vision

Tunnels need to be taken out while they’re still small, before they reach their full length, because not even Iron Dome has a ground equivalent.

http://www.haaretz.com/news/diplomacy-defense/.premium-1.608722

By Amir Oren       |

As I write this, a man named Mohammed, alias “Ahmed,” is digging a tunnel from his kitchen in Qalqilyah into the bedroom of Mrs. Rosenberg in Kfar Sava. She’s heard sounds, she’s sure. No, it wasn’t the neighbors. When she comes home at night and turns on the light, she half expects Ahmed to be waiting for her.

Tunnels are the hottest 2014 summer fashion. No self-respecting sector would admit to not having any. In the north, of course, Yossi Langotsky raised the possibility nine years ago. It was reported in the press. Two years ago, it was mentioned in a State Comptroller’s report, and last week it made television. Since then, people in northern Israel have been hearing the unmistakable sounds of digging.

The real digging, however, is in army offices throughout the country. Clerks are digging through records in order to find who said what to whom, and when. Yesterday a senior defense official said that 10 years ago a colleague told the Knesset Foreign Affairs and Defense Committee the tunnels could be a good way for the Gazans to bring in goods from Egypt. They could reduce pressure without endangering Israel.

One prominent, high-ranking officer in the Israel Defense Forces, speaking on condition of anonymity yesterday but sure to be identified soon, has refused to ride the wave of focusing on the tunnels, of searching for evidence to exonerate themselves and blame others.

The officer, who has been involved with the tunnels for around five years, in various assignments, says there is no guarantee that spending huge amounts on tunnel-detection technology will pay off.

And this, he says, is the good news. It could save the IDF from spending billions that would be better spent elsewhere. The estimated cost of a detection system is about 100 million shekels per kilometer, or 6.5 billion shekels ($1.9 billion) for the length of the 65-kilometer border.

In addition to eliminating the tunnel threat from the Gaza Strip, installing and paying for the system would have two additional consequences.

First, the appearance of tunnels in other areas: the Arava Desert, the Golan Heights, the Galilee — and Mrs. Rosenberg will eventually be attacked, because the Palestinians, the Lebanese and all the rest will become diggers.

Second, the enormous blow to the state budget. The IDF would be unable to purchase the same amount of offensive weapons to be used against future tunnels, should Hamas decide to dig longer and deeper, for the next four or five years. Every offensive weapon also has a defensive aspect, like the anti-missile system fitted on tanks and advanced armored personnel carriers. That renders the choice between offense and defense unclear.

That’s a brave statement. Today, in light of the tunnel threat that has dragged the IDF into Gaza and claimed the lives of 65 soldiers, it is popular to support a “Sami Turgeman Line,” named for GOC Southern Command Maj. Gen. Sami Turgeman, an underground version of the Bar-Lev line in Sinai in the War of Attrition. Turgeman himself doesn’t really care — he’ll be moving on in a year or two to another position, perhaps deputy chief of staff. It’ll be his successors’ budget.

But in fact this is an argument about the nature of the next war and how to plan for it, part of efforts to avoid getting caught up in disputes over responsibility for the mistakes of the previous war, which seems to be coming to a close. There is a precedent for furious arguments over the exorbitant sums spent on various defensive systems over the years.

In other words: Tunnels need to be taken out while they’re still small, before they reach their full length, because not even Iron Dome has a ground equivalent. And if this senior officer is more daring, he will tell donors to raise their eyes above the ground, and say “make peace — not (just) obstacles.”

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2 Haaretz July 23, 2014

Israel’s attack on Gaza is revenge for the Palestinians’ refusal to accept occupation

Say what you will about Hamas’ rocket fire, at least they managed to scratch the surface of Israel’s faith in the normalcy of its domination of another people.

http://www.haaretz.com/opinion/.premium-1.606645

By Amira Hass

There is method in madness, and the Israeli insanity, which refuses to grasp the extent of its revenge in Gaza, has very good reasons for being the way it is. The entire nation is the army, the army is the nation, and both are represented by a Jewish-democratic government and a loyal press, and the four of them work together to stave off the great betrayal: the Palestinians’ refusal to recognize the normalcy of the situation.

The Palestinians are disobedient. They refuse to adapt. This is after we thought it was working for us, with VIP treatment for a few of them and an opportunity for swollen bank accounts for some, and with enormous donations from the United States and Europe that nurture the pockets of imaginary Palestinian rule.

The insistent, steadfast demonstrations in West Bank villages have not even scratched the surface of the Israeli faith in the normalcy of our domination of another people. The boycott, divestment and sanctions movement did manage to confuse our ego a bit, but it is still not enough to make Israelis want to get the message. The Palestinian reconciliation government seemed to move us another step forward; it had the potential to embark on the path of rejecting the show of normalcy dictated by Israel, but too many forces within Fatah and Hamas did not support it.

Then it was the turn of Hamas’ rockets to disturb the occupier’s rest. Say what you will about it, but they succeeded in doing what the demonstrations, the boycott of Tapuzina orange drink and the concert cancellations did not.

Nation, army, government and press: You have eyes and ears, yet you will not see and you will not hear. You still hope that the Palestinian blood we have already shed and have yet to shed will win a long-term lull, which will bring us back to occupation as usual. You refuse to use your competence to stop in time, before an even bigger disaster takes place — just as you refused the time before, and the time before that.

And boy, are you competent when you want to be. The armed Hamas operatives who emerged from the tunnel shaft on Kibbutz Nir Am on Monday were dressed as Israeli soldiers. Haaretz’s Amos Harel writes that in the first moments, the field commanders were not sure whether they were soldiers or terrorists. “Finally, thanks to an aerial photograph taken by a drone, they were found to be Hamas operatives,” writes Harel. “They were carrying Kalashnikov rifles, which the Israeli army does not use.”

So the photographs taken by the drone can be very precise when its operators wish. It can discern whether there are children on the seashore or on the roof — children who, even for the legal acrobats in the Justice Ministry and the army, are not a justifiable target for our bombs. The drone can also discern that a rescue team has arrived to pull out wounded people, that families are fleeing their homes. All this can be shown in a close-up photograph taken by a drone, at high enough resolution that the operators of the bombs and the shells have no reason to press the “kill” button on their keyboards. But for some reason, the eye of the drone that can tell the difference between various makes of rifles cannot tell that this figure over here is a child, and that is a mother or a grandmother. Instead, all are given a death sentence.

The Israeliness of the moment is like that drone. It chooses to see blearily. It clings closely to the good, comfortable life of a master nation, unwilling to allow its subjects to interfere with it. Defense Minister Moshe Ya’alon translated that into political language when he said, “We will not agree to recognize the reconciliation government, but other arrangements such as controlling crossing points is something we can accept. [Palestinian Authority Prime Minister Mahmoud] Abbas will control the crossing points, but he will not control the Gaza Strip itself.”

That is the routine we are cultivating. Gaza and the West Bank are cut off. Hamas controls the Gaza Strip, but under conditions that we dictate, just as Fatah and the PA “rule” in their pockets in the West Bank, in accordance with our conditions. If the Palestinians need to be tamed at times, we will tame them with blood and with more blood. And peace be upon Israel.

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3 Al Jazeera Sunday, August 3, 2014

A question from Gaza: Am I not human enough?

http://www.aljazeera.com/indepth/opinion/2014/08/question-from-gaza-am-i-not-hum-201483112622663607.html

Maisam Abumorr

‘I still have not figured out what crime I have committed to endure this kind of wretchedness,’ writes Abumorr [AP]

I remember when I attended a three-day workshop on international law and human rights by the ICRC in Gaza, one of the attendees asked the trainer: “What do I do to be qualified to obtain those human rights?” The trainer replied without much thought: “Nothing. You should be a human, that’s all”.

The question now is, what am I supposed to do/be to be qualified as a human? As far as I can tell, I live like normal humans do. I love, I hate, I cry, I laugh, I make mistakes, I learn, I dream, I hurt, I get hurt, I love pizza, I watched Titanic 6 times, I have a crush on Bradly Cooper, I get sick, I sometimes tell lame jokes to which only I laugh and last time I checked myself in the mirror I very much looked human.

The only difference is that an occupying nation came from nowhere to claim exclusive ownership of my land on which an endless chain of my ancestors lived, and they started to ethnically cleanse my people.

My only sin is that I stood up and fought for my lost land and for everything that is dear to me.

The world accused me of terrorism just because I refused to be killed like an animal. But, even an animal will fight for its life.

I obeyed the US and went to elections; I voted for a party which met my expectations. But then I was punished for practicing the very democracy they taught me. I didn’t realize that the modern definition of democracy is to elect a party approved by the US, not a party that the majority of voters want.

As a result, I was put under severe blockade and was subject to systematic starvation, locked in a tiny patch of land isolated from the rest of the world for years.

I finished my university degree in that period, studying for my finals by candle light and writing entire research papers by hand. I often spent the long school days without having enough money to buy food because my father, an engineer, had nothing to build with.

Within four strenuous years I graduated with big dreams. Unfortunately, they were bigger than my reality.

I remained jobless despite the huge potential I have.

I stood up and fought for what I perceived as my basic rights but what the whole world calls terrorism. My Gaza that has been exhausted by poverty and isolation was also subject to three deadly wars within less than a decade by the Israeli occupation whose forces are armed to the teeth with weapons of mass destruction, paid for by US tax payers.

And the world again blames me for fighting back with my very humble and often-laughed-at, hand-made weapons.

Tens of my people are being killed on a daily basis and I’m watching my childhood and youth wasted in pain and utter misery and the world is still labeling me a terrorist.

I am a terrorist because I fight for my basic rights which everyone else is taking for granted without shedding a single drop of blood and without being dehumanised.

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4 Why Israel Lies

By Chris Hedges

Posted on Aug 3, 2014

© 2014 Truthdig, LLC. All rights reserved.

Forwarded by Elana

Palestinians evacuate a survivor of an Israeli airstrike that hit a family building Sunday in Rafah, in southern Gaza.

AP/Eyad Baba

All governments lie, as I.F. Stone pointed out, including Israel and Hamas. But Israel engages in the kinds of jaw-dropping lies that characterize despotic and totalitarian regimes. It does not deform the truth; it inverts it. It routinely paints a picture for the outside world that is diametrically opposed to reality. And all of us reporters who have covered the occupied territories have run into Israel’s Alice-in-Wonderland narratives, which we dutifully insert into our stories – required under the rules of American journalism – although we know they are untrue.

I saw small boys baited and killed by Israeli soldiers in the Gaza refugee camp of Khan Younis. The soldiers swore at the boys in Arabic over the loudspeakers of their armored jeep. The boys, about 10 years old, then threw stones at an Israeli vehicle and the soldiers opened fire, killing some, wounding others. I was present more than once as Israeli troops drew out and shot Palestinian children in this way. Such incidents, in the Israeli lexicon, become children caught in crossfire. I was in Gaza when F-16 attack jets dropped 1,000-pound iron fragmentation bombs on overcrowded hovels in Gaza City. I saw the corpses of the victims, including children. This became a surgical strike on a bomb-making factory. I have watched Israel demolish homes and entire apartment blocks to create wide buffer zones between the Palestinians and the Israeli troops that ring Gaza. I have interviewed the destitute and homeless families, some camped out in crude shelters erected in the rubble. The destruction becomes the demolition of the homes of terrorists. I have stood in the remains of schools – Israel struck two United Nations schools in the last six days, causing at least 10 fatalities at one in Rafah on Sunday and at least 19 at one in the Jebaliya refugee camp Wednesday – as well as medical clinics and mosques. I have heard Israel claim that errant rockets or mortar fire from the Palestinians caused these and other deaths, or that the attacked spots were being used as arms depots or launching sites. I, along with every other reporter I know who has worked in Gaza, have never seen any evidence that Hamas uses civilians as “human shields.”

There is a perverted logic to Israel’s repeated use of the Big Lie – Große Lüge – the lie favored by tyrants from Adolf Hitler and Josef Stalin to Saddam Hussein. The Big Lie feeds the two reactions Israel seeks to elicit – racism among its supporters and terror among its victims.

By painting a picture of an army that never attacks civilians, that indeed goes out of its way to protect them, the Big Lie says Israelis are civilized and humane, and their Palestinian opponents are inhuman monsters. The Big Lie serves the idea that the slaughter in Gaza is a clash of civilizations, a war between democracy, decency and honor on one side and Islamic barbarism on the other. And in the uncommon cases when news of atrocities penetrates to the wider public, Israel blames the destruction and casualties on Hamas.

George Orwell in his novel “Nineteen Eighty-Four” called this form of propaganda doublethink. Doublethink uses “logic against logic” and “repudiate[s] morality while laying claim to it.” The Big Lie does not allow for the nuances and contradictions that can plague conscience. It is a state-orchestrated response to the dilemma of cognitive dissonance. The Big Lie permits no gray zones. The world is black and white, good and evil, righteous and unrighteous. The Big Lie allows believers to take comfort – a comfort they are desperately seeking – in their own moral superiority at the very moment they have abrogated all morality.

The Big Lie, as the father of American public relations, Edward Bernays, wrote, is limited only by the propagandist’s capacity to fathom and harness the undercurrents of individual and mass psychology. And since most supporters of Israel do not have a desire to know the truth, a truth that would force them to examine their own racism and self-delusions about Zionist and Western moral superiority, like packs of famished dogs they lap up the lies fed to them by the Israeli government. The Big Lie always finds fertile soil in what Bernays called the “logic-proof compartment of dogmatic adherence.” All effective propaganda, Bernays wrote, targets and builds upon these irrational “psychological habits.”

This is the world Franz Kafka envisioned, a world where the irrational becomes rational. It is one where, as Gustave Le Bon noted in “The Crowd: A Study of the Public Mind,” those who supply the masses with the illusions they crave become their master, and “whoever attempts to destroy their illusions is always their victim.” This irrationality explains why the reaction of Israeli supporters to those who have the courage to speak the truth – Uri Avnery, Max Blumenthal, Noam Chomsky, Jonathan Cook, Norman Finkelstein, Amira Hass, Gideon Levy, Ilan Pappé, Henry Siegman and Philip Weiss – is so rabid. That so many of these voices are Jewish, and therefore have more credibility than non-Jews who are among Israel’s cheerleaders, only ratchets up the level of hate.

But the Big Lie is also consciously designed to send a chilling message to Gaza’s Palestinians, who have lost large numbers of their dwellings, clinics, mosques, and power, water and sewage facilities, along with schools and hospitals, who have suffered some 1,650 deaths since this assault began – most of the victims women and children – and who have seen 400,000 people displaced from their homes. The Big Lie makes it clear to the Palestinians that Israel will continue to wage a campaign of state terror and will never admit its atrocities or its intentions. The vast disparity between what Israel says and what Israel does tells the Palestinians that there is no hope. Israel will do and say whatever it wants. International law, like the truth, will always be irrelevant. There will never, the Palestinians understand from the Big Lie, be an acknowledgement of reality by the Israeli leadership.

The Israel Defense Forces website is replete with this black propaganda. “Hamas exploits the IDF’s sensitivity towards protecting civilian structures, particularly holy sites, by hiding command centers, weapons caches and tunnel entrances in mosques,” the IDF site reads. “In Hamas’ world, hospitals are command centers, ambulances are transport vehicles, and medics are human shields,” the site insists.

“…[Israeli] officers are tasked with an enormous responsibility: to protect Palestinian civilians on the ground, no matter how difficult that may be,” the site assures its viewers. And the IDF site provides this quote from a drone operator identified as Lt. Or. “I have personally seen rockets fired at Israel from hospitals and schools, but we couldn’t strike back because of civilians nearby. In one instance, we acquired a target but we saw that there were children in the area. We waited around, and when they didn’t leave we were forced to abort a strike on an important target.”

Israel’s ambassador to the United States, Ron Dermer, in a Big Lie of his own, said last month at a conference of Christians United for Israel that the Israeli army should be given the “Nobel Peace Prize…  a Nobel Peace Prize for fighting with unimaginable restraint.”

The Big Lie destroys any possibility of history and therefore any hope for a dialogue between antagonistic parties that can be grounded in truth and reality. While, as Hannah Arendt pointed out, the ancient and modern sophists sought to win an argument at the expense of the truth, those who wield the Big Lie “want a more lasting victory at the expense of reality.” The old sophists, she said, “destroyed the dignity of human thought.” Those who resort to the Big Lie “destroy the dignity of human action.” The result, Arendt warned, is that “history itself is destroyed, and its comprehensibility.” And when facts no longer matter, when there is no shared history grounded in the truth, when people foolishly believe their own lies, there can be no useful exchange of information. The Big Lie, used like a bludgeon by Israel, as perhaps it is designed to be, ultimately reduces all problems in the world to the brutish language of violence. And when oppressed people are addressed only through violence they will answer only through violence.

http://www.truthdig.com/report/item/why_israel_lies_20140803

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5 Haaretz Tuesday, August 5, 2014

Why do Palestinians in Gaza support Hamas?

Unlike the Islamic State and other Islamist groups that lack local anchorage and are based on obsolete ideologies, Hamas has evolved into a political movement deeply rooted in Gaza.

http://www.haaretz.com/opinion/.premium-1.608906

By Dr. Lorenzo Kamel

The carnage witnessed in these last few days in the Gaza Strip carries with it a major lesson: Instead of turning Palestinians against Hamas, the Gaza blockade makes them more dependent on the group. But while most of the commentary is focusing on the Palestinians’ responsibilities for the election of Hamas in 2006 (it’s worth noting that over 53 percent of the population in the Gaza Strip is now under 18 years of age and thus didn’t vote), on Egypt’s role, or on analyzing who started this new round of violence, very few are concentrating on the historical roots of this tragedy.

The population in the Gaza Strip is mainly composed by families of Palestinian refugees. Many of them were expelled in 1948 from Najd, Al-Jura and Al-Majdal, present-day Or Haner, Sderot and Ashkelon (a city of Canaanite origins, that included, until 1948, al-Majdal). These villages were razed to the ground by the Israel Defense Forces to prevent the return of their inhabitants. The latters were transferred by bus to the camps and the cities that form the present-day Gaza Strip.

In the years to follow, several cases occurred in which refugees, or “infiltrators,” crossed the armistice lines to collect possessions and pick up unharvested crops, or to raid Israeli settlements adjacent to the Strip. In that phase, a number of Israeli fatalities occurred and, in historian Benny Morris’ words, “Israel’s defensive anti-infiltration measures resulted in the death of several thousand mostly unarmed Arabs during 1949-56.”

Despite the anger and fears connected to its tragic past, the population in the Gaza Strip remained largely apolitical and very hesitant toward the Palestinian Muslim Brotherhood, the precursor of Hamas.

The first local branch of the Muslim Brotherhood, already at the time composed by different factions, was established in Jerusalem in 1946. Its first representatives, however, arrived from Egypt in 1936 with the aim of encouraging the Palestinians in their struggle against the British strategy for the region and Jewish immigration.

In the 1950s and 1960s, the Brotherhood weakened due to the harsh repression carried out by Egyptian President Gamal Nasser. After the Six-Day War of 1967, the Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO) shifted increasingly toward violence and terrorism, a strategy that Hamas’s precursors did not embrace.

They chose instead to focus on social and cultural activities – benefiting for this from the tolerance of the Israeli authorities, which regarded them as a counterbalance to the main enemy, the PLO – in an environment that was increasingly turning toward religion. Between 1967 and 1987, the year in which Hamas was founded, two decades after the beginning of the Israeli occupation, the number of mosques in Gaza tripled from 200 to 600.

Hamas was created in 1987 during the outbreak of the first intifada. Its founder, the Al-Jura-born Sheikh Ahmed Yassin, established its movement out of the largely dormant Brotherhood’s Gaza branch and with the aim of assuming a driving role in the revolt of 1987.

The organization carried out its first attack against Israel in 1989, killing two soldiers. Sheikh Yassin was sentenced to life in prison and 400 Hamas activists were deported to the Israeli-occupied South Lebanon, where Hezbollah and Hamas established their ties.

Iz al-Din al-Qassam, Hamas’s military branch, was established in 1991. Two years later, they started to carry out terrorist attacks in the West Bank, and from April 1994 – two months after the massacre perpetrated by Baruch Goldstein in a mosque at the Tomb of the Patriarchs – they began their suicide bombings inside Israel. Anti-Semitic statements by several Hamas members and clerics, similar to those included in the Hamas Charter of 1988, since then became increasingly common.

In March 2004, Sheikh Yassin was killed by an Israeli missile strike. Hamas survived and began to participate in the electoral process, gaining increasing support among the local population, mainly thanks to its social activities and the effects of the Israeli occupation.

Following Hamas’ victory in the 2006 Palestinian legislative elections, Ismail Haniyeh, the newly elected prime minister, sent a dispatch to U.S. President George W. Bush, asking to be recognized and offering a long-term truce with Israel and the establishment of a border on the lines of 1967. His message, as a similar one sent to the Israeli authorities, remained unanswered. A similar destiny was reserved in the same months for the Arab League’s peace initiative.

As in the case of the Likud Charter of 1999 (whose main principles, including the rejection of a Palestinian state, have never been retracted), also Hamas was still far from being ready to recognize the State of Israel, but was willing to adopt a pragmatic approach.

Prime Minister Ehud Olmert’s decision to respond to Hamas’ takeover of Gaza with a blockade played into the hands of the organization’s military wing. Furthermore, the failure of Hamas’ political wing to remove the Israeli closure undermined any attempt to explore pragmatic solutions.

“The differences between the party’s platform and the Islamic Charter [of Hamas]”, in Menachem Klein’s words, “do not represent an attempt at deception or the empty and unconsidered use of words. They are a product of a change and modification of lines of thought as a part of the process by which Hamas has become a political movement.”

Hamas’ pragmatic evolution could be seen also in the phase following the implementation of the Egypt-brokered cease-fire of 2012, that was supposed to end or significantly ease the closure of Gaza and to guarantee Israel’s security needs. During the three months after the agreement, only one attack (two mortar shells) occurred. In the same period, Gaza suffered regular incursions and the local population, as recorded by the Israeli NGO Gisha, was once again prevented from conducting a normal existence.

The point of dredging up this complex history is not to deny Hamas’ responsibility for its actions: Its rockets threatening Israeli cities are immoral and counterproductive. Furthermore, several Hamas leaders and sympathizers have often focused on opposing Israel on principle, rather than in ameliorating the conditions of the Palestinian people.

Finally, Hamas has frequently misdirected the Palestinian cause from one where Palestinians demand their legitimate right to a state, or at least to full rights (full citizenship), to an inter-Palestinian quarrel between Hamas and Fatah, or a Gaza-Egypt dispute over the Rafah crossing.

But Hamas’ responsibilities cannot be detached from its context and from the role played by Israel in the entire process. Contrary to the Islamic State (formerly ISIS) and other similar groups, devoid of deep anchorages in the local societies and based on obsolete ideologies, Palestinian factions are firmly rooted in the history of their land. They are the product of some wrong decisions, but also, if not especially, of a century of suffering, oppression, and a long-standing quest for self-determination.

Any solution that will not address each of these issues is doomed to fail.

Dr. Lorenzo Kamel is a research fellow (2013/14 and 2014/15) at Harvard University’s Center for Middle Eastern Studies.

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6  Gaza war pushes some to the left of J Street

Ex-staffers say the liberal group is now less vocal in quest for mainstream acceptance.

http://www.haaretz.com/jewish-world/jewish-world-features/.premium-1.609063

By Debra Nussbaum Cohen     |  Aug. 5, 2014

NEW YORK — The Israel-Hamas conflict has been good for groups at the far-left edge of American Jewish Israel-related activism, propelling some people for whom J Street is now too moderate to more radical affiliations.

The platform of Jewish Voice for Peace, which is part of the global boycott-divestment-sanctions movement, calls on the U.S. government to suspend military aid to Israel. The group, whose members propelled the Presbyterian Church (USA) into divesting from companies used by Israel in occupied territories, says its membership and support have rapidly increased since the latest Israel-Hamas round of violance in Gaza began.

“We’re seeing a really incredible rate of growth,” Rebecca Vilkomerson, the group’s executive director, tells Haaretz. Dues-paying membership is up 20 percent in the past month. Five of its 40 chapters are brand new and 16 more are in development. JVP’s Facebook likes have tripled and its Twitter following doubled in the past month, says Vilkomerson. JVP members have been conducting protests they call “actions.” On July 22 a number of its members were arrested inside the midtown Manhattan office of Friends of the Israel Defense Forces when they lay down in the street in a “die-in.”

Some of JVP’s new members have jumped ship from J Street, though no mass exodus is taking place from the latter group. And while support for far-left-wing Jewish groups may have risen because of the conflict, other Israel-related organizations across the political spectrum are said to have added to their membership rolls as a result of Israel’s Operation Protective Edge.

Seth Morrison, who was chair of J Street’s Washington, D.C.-area chapter, left the organization last October and immediately got involved with JVP. “It became really obvious that the Israeli government was going to do nothing constructive, and nothing J Street was going to do would make a big enough difference,” Morrison said in an interview. “It’s very clear that the occupation is the root cause of all of these problems. Only the tough love of BDS, of cutting U.S. aid, of really strong steps, is going to make Israel change.”

Allying with JVP has cost him friendships and business, said Morrison, a marketing and strategic-planning consultant. But most of the pushback has come since Operation Protective Edge began. “A number of friends, or former friends, have said some vile things, that I’m a fake Jew, that I was being duped by my new friends, that I was ignoring the Holocaust,” Morrison says. He was pressured to resign from the leadership council of the New Israel Fund’s Washington, D.C., chapter, which he did. “Gaza has further polarized the community,” he says.

J Street, which in April failed to win membership in the Conference of Presidents of Major American Jewish Organizations after a tumultuous campaign, is still considered unacceptably left-wing by some American Jews. But many who are J Street supporters say that the group’s quest for acceptance has made it noticeably less outspoken about the Gaza crisis than it was in crises past.

While in 2009 J Street was vocal in its opposition to Operation Cast Lead, calling Israel’s escalation “counterproductive,” and got significant pushback, this time around the organization has articulated a more centrist position. In a July 30 statement it said:

“J Street strongly supports Israel’s right to defend itself proportionately against the threat of relentless rockets and to destroy tunnels leading into Israel. But it’s now time for Israel to look for a way out of Gaza. Ultimately, there is no military victory over an ideology and no military solution to a fundamentally political conflict. We adamantly oppose calls for Israel to ‘reoccupy Gaza.’ ”

J Street was burned again in 2011 when the organization called on President Barack Obama not to veto a United Nations Security Council resolution that placed all responsibility for the impasse in the peace process in Israel’s lap. Rep. Gary Ackerman, a Democrat who served in Congress for 30 years, was the ranking member of the U.S. House Committee on Foreign Affairs’ Subcommittee on the Middle East and South Asia, and had been supported by the J Street political-action committee, publicly distanced himself from the organization while blasting it for not being truly pro-Israel.

The difference in its stances then and now, says Carinne Luck, who was J Street’s first chief of staff and left the organization nearly two years ago, is that at the time of Operation Cast Lead it was new and “very tiny.

Luck now works as a consultant to advocacy groups and is a creator of If Not Now, an ad hoc group that has organized several protests outside the Conference of Presidents office and a Tisha B’Av service in Brooklyn Monday night. It remains small, attracting several dozen participants, some of whom are leaders of J Street U, the group’s student-organizing arm.

Today J Street is “a big organization,” says Luck. “It has a lot of people it represents, that it reflects, that it is accountable to. It is an organization that has to reflect its membership in the broadest possible way.

“J Street is taking a less confrontational approach,” says another former J Street senior staffer, who spoke on condition of anonymity. “They are not calling things out as clearly as they once did. There’s a chunk of constituency that doesn’t like that. Their numbers and budget continue to grow, but there are definitely some people who were once involved in J Street and have left.”

“J Street over the last few years has been involved in a moderating effort,” said another former staff member who declined to speak on the record. “It was very much an upstart organization at the beginning and is now a different one. Now it’s trying to go through conventional routes.”

In an interview with Haaretz, J Street Chief of Staff Steve Krubiner denies any change. “Our messaging continues to be anchored in our position that a two-state solution is absolutely needed for Israel to survive,” he says. “I don’t think we’ve moderated our tone or our voice.”

Isaac Luria, another former J Street staffer, says, “Do I wish that J Street had taken a riskier and probably more accurate position this time around? Definitely. But I hope that they’re right about this strategy.”

Luria, who now works at Auburn Theological Seminary as a social-justice organizer, adds, “This is a signal to the mainstream Jewish community and the more progressive Jewish left about what J Street’s going to do and not do. I hope the strategy works in terms of more mainstream acceptance, but I’m skeptical. They certainly have grown a very large and powerful organization.

“The test will be in a year or two when there’s another peace-process potential on the table and we see if the American Jewish community helps Israel move where it needs to go, to see that without this solution, they’re in real danger. That’s the next real test.”

+++

7  Haaretz Tuesday, August 5, 2014

Nine years of failure in Gaza

Israel’s operation seems to be over; when and where it started is a different question.

http://www.haaretz.com/news/diplomacy-defense/.premium-1.609065

By Anshel Pfeffer |  Aug. 5, 2014

The very last salvo of mid-range rockets fired by Hamas from Gaza – minutes before the 8 A.M. ceasefire – hit south of Jerusalem, around Bethlehem and Gush Etzion. Shrapnel fell a short distance away from the bus stop where the three Israeli teens – Naftali Frenkel, Gilad Shaer and Eyal Yifrah – took the fateful hitchhike to their deaths 54 days ago. A poignant end to this round of violence.

Writing about ceasefires has become risky business in the last few weeks. Hours of work and thousands of words have gone up the spout as after a few hours of calm rockets were launched again, and fighters emerged from yet another undiscovered tunnel. This time, however, as of Tuesday afternoon, the ceasefire agreed upon by the Palestinian factions meeting in Cairo and the Israeli cabinet in a rushed phone-vote last night seems to be holding. Both sides seem to have exhausted their options in this bout of warfare, and Egypt has finally exerted its influence to bring them to two separate tables.

Even if the operation is indeed over, for now, where and when did this start?

That Thursday night, when three teenagers were abducted and murdered, seems like an obvious starting-point. For some, it symbolizes the moment Hamas’ designs to wreak mayhem and bloodshed on Israel through terror attacks in the West Bank followed by simultaneous rocket and tunnel attacks from Gaza, were revealed.

There is no proof though that the abductors, alleged Hamas members who have yet to be apprehended, were acting upon instructions from above. And while the rocket infrastructure and tunnel network was certainly built for this kind of offensive, the sequence of events that quickly escalated into Operation Protective Edge does not necessarily indicate that Hamas planned to go all the way, at least not now.

Israel’s critics claim that the kidnapping of the teenagers was cynically used by the government and the Israel Defense Forces to land a devastating blow on Hamas, first in the West Bank and then in Gaza. The first part of this theory is partially true. The initially phase of the searches for the teenagers – who were already then believed to have been murdered shortly after the abduction – was also the trigger for a large-scale operation to dismantle Hamas’ organizational capacities in the West Bank. There was little appetite, however, for yet another large scale Gaza operation, both within the army and at the Prime Minister’s Office. Benjamin Netanyahu accepted every ceasefire proposal and withstood pressure from his ministers to expand and prolong the campaign at each stage along the way. Netanyahu didn’t want this war; he feared an operation spiraling out of his control and its ultimate costs. He hesitated at every stage, until events and public pressure dragged him in.

If it was up to the government and the army, the starting point would be July 6, when the first Hamas tunnel was destroyed, killing inside six of the movement’s militants. The next day, as Hamas retaliated with heavy barrages of rocket at Israel, Operation Protective Edge was officially launched. This time frame places the warfare in the convenient narrative of a defensive campaign and also sets up the only tangible objective the IDF can claim to have achieved – destroying the attack tunnels. This was the objective set for the ground operation that Netanyahu didn’t want. With all the tunnels the intelligence was aware of and those subsequently discovered destroyed, the objective has been achieved.

Is this success? Only if you look at what has happened over the last four weeks from a very limited perspective; but probably not, if you take into consideration more than 1,700 killed Palestinians – at least half of them civilians – and over 8,000 wounded, as well as 67 deaths on the Israeli side, the massive damage wreaked in the Gaza Strip and the cost to Israel’s economy, its diplomatic standing and image in the world.

And certainly not when you take into account that the current confrontation between Israel and Gaza didn’t in fact begin on July 7, or with the kidnapping of the three tens on June 12.

Israel has faced Gaza, its refugees, its desperation and hatred, ever since the end of the Independence War in 1949; but this phase in the six and a half decade-long enmity began this week nine years ago, when Israel pulled its forces and settlements out of Gaza without fully empowering the Palestinian Authority to take over. The Hamas takeover two years later was almost inevitable, as they were already controlling large parts of the Strip, and the PA was utterly discredited. Whatever military successes Israel had in Gaza since, it seems hardly have been worth embarking on four separate campaigns – Summer Rains, Cast Lead, Pillar of Defense, and now Protective Edge, which were basically just a surge in a constant state of warfare.

None of this excuses Fatah corruption, Hamas extremism, the exploitation of 1.8 million Palestinian citizens and their sacrifice for the rivalries of corrupt faction leaders and their need to perpetuate the “armed struggle” on their backs. Egypt used its power and crossing to Gaza just as cynically as the Hamas chieftains expropriating funds and scarce building materials to build command bunkers, tunnels and underground rocket launchers. None of this changes the fact that nine years of Israeli policy on Gaza have been an abject failure.

The Israeli blockade over Gaza was put in place immediately following the violent Hamas takeover, in July 2007. The siege succeeded in further impoverishing the already poor Gazan population, it did not motivate them to rise up against Hamas – which succeeded in building an increasingly resourceful military force, which was still capable of firing rockets at central Israel this morning, despite 4,598 Israeli airstrikes in the past four weeks and countless artillery shelling and bombardments. The failure to change course on Gaza and come up with a way of opening the Strip to trade and passage without bolstering Hamas in the process, is even greater when compared to the Israeli ingenuity in developing systems such as Iron Dome to shield its own citizens.

Whatever Ariel Sharon’s true motives for disengagement were for evacuating 8,000 settlers from their tiny enclaves in Gaza – it was the only moral and sensible move. Every other Israeli policy regarding Gaza, basically, has hopelessly backfired. It’s not that there was no one trying to challenge institutional thinking. Alternative policies to the blockade were suggested by a few IDF officers, National Security Council experts and diplomats, but none of the three prime ministers – Sharon, Olmert and Netanyahu – were interested in listening. All three of them share the responsibility. Simply blaming the vile and fascistic leaders of Hamas and the venal and inefficient ones of Fatah can’t mitigate that failure.

There is a lot of loose and empty talk of Israel or Hamas winning this battle. It’s ridiculous because the victory of a nation-state, with one of the most powerful armies in the world and a stable economy, over a terror organization based on a beleaguered sliver of land is a foregone conclusion. Over the last nine years, Israel’s economy has ridden out the global financial crisis and emerged in even better shape; its legal system has convicted a sex-offender president and a bribe-taking prime minister; and through a combination of covert operations and sanctions kept Iran from developing a nuclear weapon. Gaza has languished in poverty, while Hamas, for all its tunnels and rockets, is further than ever from its goal of destroying the Jewish State.

Israel’s victory over Hamas was never in doubt. It could have used some of its resourcefulness to allow hope for the people of Gaza as well, and find a better way of challenging Hamas rather than wasting thousands of lives.

++++

8  The Independent Tuesday, August 5, 2014

The ministerial resignation on a point of purest principle is a rare and precious thing.

http://www.independent.co.uk/voices/comment/wouldnt-we-all-resign-if-we-were-in-baroness-warsis-position-9649029.html

Matthew Norman

Most are forcibly resigned, some leave out of exhaustion or to spend more time with money-making ambitions, but not since Robin Cook in 2003, shortly before the invasion of Iraq has a significant minister walked out for no other reason than the inability to stomach what her Prime Minister is doing – or in this case, not doing – in his or her name.

With Sayeeda Warsi’s resignation as a senior Foreign Officer minister in the Lords, my only problem – and it is absurdly pedantic – is with how she styled her reasoning in the tweet that announced it. “With deep regret I have this morning written to the Prime Minister,” Lady Warsi wrote, “& tendered my resignation. I can no longer support Govt policy on #Gaza”.

The trifling objection is that the Government has no policy on Gaza. Until now, David Cameron’s solitary concern about the slaughter of innocents has appeared to be avoiding giving offence to Benjamin Netanyahu and his administration. That is not a policy. It is the cowardly abrogation of moral duty.

Others will find more in the departure of Britain’s first Muslim cabinet member about which to object than that. Those, like Melanie Phillips, who are patholigically driven to conflate heartfelt sympathy for the plight of Palestinians with hatred of Jews, will interpret it as sourced in anti-Semitism. One trusts she will treat that brand of slanderous idiocy with the cool disdain it demands.

In an earlier tweet, Warsi expressed the feelings she shares with so many of us  – Muslims, Christians, Hindus, atheists, Jews such as myself. “Can people stop trying to justify the killing of children,” she wrote. “Whatever our politics there can never be justification, surely only regret.”

You would naively have hoped that this is far too obvious to state, but while philosophically there may no such entity as a moral absolute, in real terms the indiscriminate killing of children – whatever the provocation of Hamas – is absolutely immoral. Whatever Lady Warsi’s religion, I assume that she felt compelled to act as she did not because she is a Muslim, but because she is a human being. It would profoundly trivialise and degrade her resignation to view it through the prism of tribal loyalty.

++++

9 The Independent  Tuesday 5 August 2014

Gaza conflict: If Israel wants peace, it must talk to Hamas

http://www.independent.co.uk/voices/comment/gaza-conflict-if-israel-wants-peace-it-musttalk-to-hamas-9650332.html?origin=internalSearch

Lord Steel

I suspect that there is growing anger among our population as they’ve watched on television the daily slaughter and destruction in Gaza – and the mealy-mouthed statements from both our Government and the Americans’ in response.

Spokesmen for the Israelis regularly recount the huge number of rockets fired from Gaza into Israeli territory, but fail to tell us that the vast majority of these have been successfully intercepted without casualties. In fact, over the entire past decade they have killed two dozen Israeli citizens. Unacceptably dreadful though these figures are, there is neither political nor moral equivalence with the 1,600 civilians killed in Gaza currently and the 1,400 killed in the previous Operation Cast Lead in 2009. So those “on the one hand and on the other” balanced utterances are made in shameful disregard of the facts.

I write as one who has visited Ashkelon and Siderot – two of the most regularly hit towns in the south of Israel – and talked with their people and their members of Knesset. So I fully understand their mixture of fear and justified rage. Yet as the 2009 operation amply demonstrated, bombing and blasting Gaza does not stop the rocket attacks.

I am a member of the “Friends of Israel” because I always seek to draw a clear distinction between the State of Israel and the current Israeli government. It is becoming sadly increasingly difficult to maintain that distinction in today’s world. The damage done to Israel’s standing is incalculable. In my student days in the late Fifties, many spent their vacations working in kibbutz, fired by the idealism of Israel – that has stopped. Instead, we see a revival of vicious anti-Semitic incidents all over the world in response to what is seen to be mass murder.

That contagion threatens to spread to terrorist groups fired by distorted views of Islam all over the Middle East and Africa. Our ministers have rightly expressed concern about radicalised extremists returning to our shores and undermining our security. They should wake up to the fact that Benjamin Netanyahu is their strongest recruiting agent.

The only way to stop the mutual bloodshed is to bring Hamas to the negotiating table and secure an internationally guaranteed peace. John Kerry understands that but gets little support from his own or our Government. But, it is argued, Hamas is a “terrorist organisation”. We have been here before. I recall my first meeting with Yasser Arafat in 1981 when the PLO was a “terrorist organisation” and no ministers would speak to him. I argued that he should change the PLO covenant, and that came only years later followed by the shake of hands on the White House lawn.

Yet one of the reasons for the success of Hamas in the elections in Gaza was the incompetence and corruption prevalent in Mr Arafat’s Fatah administration. The recent formation of the Fatah/Hamas unity government was a real opportunity to commence dialogue – wholly rejected by the Israeli government. I also recall in the 1970s my discussions with ANC leaders when they too were dubbed a “terrorist organisation” with whom neither the South African nor British governments would deal.

The uncomfortable truth is that the Netanyahu government is treating Palestinians as lesser human beings in exactly the same way the apartheid government treated the majority of its citizens. The Balfour Declaration of 1917 which first envisaged a “national home for the Jewish people” – an ideal given impetus after the Second World War – included the proviso “it being clearly understood that nothing shall be done which may prejudice the civil and religious rights of existing non-Jewish communities in Palestine”. Try telling that to the people of Gaza today.

Lord Steel of Aikwood is past-president of the charity Medical Aid for the Palestinians, and a former leader of the Liberal party

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Britain’s National Union of Students condemns I$raHell, calls for boycott

NOVANEWS

The governing body of the union representing seven million students in the UK has voted to tighten the boycott noose around the criminal state of I$raHell.

Members of the NUS National Executive Council shortly after they voted to support the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions campaign against Israeli oppression of the Palestinians

Members of the NUS National Executive Council shortly after they voted to support the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions campaign against Israeli oppression of the Palestinians

On 4 August the National Executive Council (NEC) of the Nation Union of Students(NUS) passed a motion in solidarity with Palestine, and for an arms embargo against Israel, the Electronic Intifada reported.

The NEC motion condemned Israel’s criminal assault on and blockade of the Gaza Strip.

It also called on union members to boycott “corporations complicit in financing and aiding Israel’s military, including G4S andHewlett Packard.”

The NUS already has a policy supporting the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions Movement (BDS), but the new motion resolves to “provide information and resources to support student unions and student organizations campaigning for boycott and divestment of companies identified as supporting Israel materially, economically, militarily, and/or as helping maintain the illegal Israeli settlements.”

Here is a copy of the full resolution:

Motion and amendment: condemn the collective punishment and killing in Gaza

To be discussed and voted on at the NUS NEC on Monday 4 August 2014.

NEC Believes:

1.As of writing around 170 Palestinians have been killed in Israeli bombings of the Gaza strip as part of its Operation “Protective Edge,” the vast majority are civilians, and Israel has warned of more attacks to come.

2.Many of the Palestinians deaths have come from Israel’s deliberate bombing of their homes, which has been condemned as illegal by the Israeli human rights group B’Tselem. On Saturday 13 of July 21 people were killed when Israel bombed the home of a Palestinian police chief. Others targeted have included special needs care homes, parks and charities.

3.These latest attacks are in the context of the populations of the Gaza Strip being subject to a blockade described by the Director of UNRWA Operations as a “Medieval siege” and as a “prison camp” by Prime Minister David Cameron.

4.Israel’s blockade has been described as “collective punishment imposed in clear violation of Israel’s obligations under international humanitarian law” by the International Committee of the Red Cross.

5.Due to long-standing effects of the blockade and the recent assault, medical and electricity supplies have run critically low in Gaza, further worsening the humanitarian crisis.

6.Israel has vowed to ignore international pressure and to continue escalating, while the Palestinian government has called on the international community to take “serious measures” to end Israel’s violations.

7.A series of mass demonstrations has taken place across the UK against Israeli attacks, including over 10,000 in London.

NEC Resolves:

1.To condemn Israel’s attacks on Gaza and to support calls for an immediate ceasefire.

2.To condemn the blockade of Gaza and support campaigns for it to be lifted in accordance with international law.

3.To continue to support existing NUS policy on companies like Veolia or Eden Springs which have been identified as being complicit in human rights abuses in Israel/Palestine.

Add amendment:

1.Within two weeks of launching Operation “Protective Edge,” the Israeli army has killed over 630 Palestinians, injured over 3800 and displaced over 118,000 with over 80 percent of deaths being civilians.

2.The Israeli army stands accused of using illegal weapons including white phosphorus bombs and DIME (Dense Inert Metal Explosive) weapons on one of the most densely-populated regions of the world, and with targets consisting mainly of civilians.

3.This disregard for human rights and international law stands consistent with Israel’s conduct during previous assaults on Gaza, including 2008/09’s “Cast Lead” and 2012’s “Pillar of Defense.”

4.That extensive funding and military aid to Israel from Western countries helps perpetuate Israel’s abuses relieves the financial pressure of warfare; the UK government also facilitates heavy arms trading and co-operation with Israel, marking their complicity in this and previous massacres.

5.That with leading Israeli politicians calling for effective genocide, ethnic cleansing of, and war crimes against Palestinians, appealing to their political establishment on a purely moral basis would be naïve.

6.That with the British government unwilling to even condemn Israel for this assault, it is now incumbent upon the public and civil institutions to exert economic and political pressure to convince Israel to abide by international law.

7.That since the launch of the assault other countries have taken substantive action, such as Chile having suspended trade talks with Israel.

8.There is precedent for economic leverage against Israeli crimes, with a further 12 EU countries recently following the UK’s earlier move in issuing explicit warnings to investors against doing business with Israeli settlements due to their contravention of international law.

9.NUS has previously affirmed active opposition to companies complicit in human rights abuses in Israel/Palestine as negatively impacting on chances for a sustainable and just settlement.

10.NUS Black Students’ Campaign, NUS London and NUS Scotland have voted to support Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions against companies and products supporting Israeli aggression and occupation.

Add Resolves:

1.To call on the British government to condemn Israel’s current assault on Gaza, cease aid and funding to Israel, impose an arms embargo against Israel, and to demand a ceasefire brokered between legitimate Israeli and Palestinian representatives.

2.To issue a call to our membership to boycott companies and corporations complicit in financing and aiding Israel’s military, including G4S and Hewlett Packard.

3.To provide information and resources to support student unions and student organizations campaigning for boycott and divestment of companies identified as supporting Israel materially, economically, militarily, and/or as helping maintain the illegal Israeli settlements.

4.To conduct an internal audit of NUS services, products and departments to ensure they do not, as far as is practical, employ or work with companies identified as facilitating Israel’s military capacity, human rights abuses or illegal settlement activity, and actively work to cut ties with those that do.

Posted in Palestine Affairs, ZIO-NAZI, Campaigns, UKComments Off on Britain’s National Union of Students condemns I$raHell, calls for boycott

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