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As war rages in Gaza, West Bank routine of violence and arrests unabated

Arrests, expulsions, home demolitions, land seizure and settlers harassing Palestinians continues: Since the beginning of the fighting in the south on July 8, soldiers and police have injured 2,139 Palestinians in the West Bank.

By Amira Hass

Last Wednesday, about an hour and a half after midnight, a group of armed men in uniforms burst into the home in the West Bank city of Ramallah of Khalida Jarrar, a member of the Palestinian Legislative Council representing the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine. One of the group tried to hand her a document written in Hebrew. She refused to accept the piece of paper. A female soldier, she recounted, read her what was written on the paper. A policeman translated it into Arabic.

Jarrar didn’t pay attention to all the details, but rather to the basics: The Israel Defense Forces was expelling her to the West Bank city of Jericho, and she was to leave within 24 hours. She refused to sign the document. It’s still at her house.

Under the signature of the IDF commander in the West Bank, Maj. Gen. Nitzan Alon, the order is dated August 15 and entitled: “Order with Regard to Security Directives (Consolidated Version), Judea and Samaria (No. 1651) 5770 2009.” And below it there is another caption: “Special Supervisory Order.”

The text of the order read as follows: “Following the accumulation of high-quality and credible intelligence material with regard to Khalida Kana’an Muhammed Jarrar (hereinafter ‘the subject’), and after I have been convinced that serious security considerations required this and that the matter was necessary and required for decisive security reasons to maintain security in the region, I hereby order that the subject be placed under special supervision. As long as this order remains in effect, the subject shall not leave the Jericho district other than with a permit from me or someone authorized by me. This order will go into effect when signed and remain in effect until February 29, 2015 at 11:59 P.M.”

Jarrar stated that she would not obey the expulsion order.

Compared to the killing and destruction that this same army is carrying out in Gaza, the issuance of an expulsion order to a political activist is a trifling matter. The violence involved in Jarrar’s case is more bureaucratic, less physical (not counting the invasion of a private home). That’s also true when compared to the routine, day-to-day violence that the defense forces employ against Palestinian citizens of the West Bank. Since this violence is such a routine and daily occurrence, it is so taken for granted that even no German Chancellor Angela Merkel and no United States President Barack Obama bother to issue any kind of declaration that the Palestinian people have the right to self-defense.

This past Friday, as on every Friday, IDF soldiers attempted to suppress West Bank demonstrations against the theft of their lands and the mass killing in Gaza. One young man in Kafr Qaddum was injured when he was hit in the head by a gas canister. In the other villages – according to reports – demonstrators choked on teargas. Between August 12 and 18, IDF troops injured 139 Palestinians at demonstrations in the West Bank. According to the United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs, 37 of them, or 27 percent, were wounded by live fire. The others were injured by rubber-coated metal bullets or teargas.

Since the beginning of the fighting in the south on July 8, soldiers and police have injured 2,139 Palestinians in the West Bank. Since the beginning of this year, IDF troops have injured a total of 3,995 Palestinians in this part of the occupied territory. In all of last year, soldiers injured 3,736 Palestinians. Since July 8, IDF soldiers have killed two children in the West Bank and 15 adults, mostly at demonstrations in support of Gaza. A trifling matter.

The expulsion order may not be routine, but army raids into homes are. Boy are they. Children awake in panic in their homes from pounding on the door, rifles drawn and soldiers who are either masked or have black face paint. Between August 12 and 18, a total of 91 such raids were carried out in various villages and neighborhoods. That’s an average of 13 per night, and according to the Palestinian Prisoners’ Club, last week IDF soldiers and police arrested 111 Palestinians in the occupied West Bank, including 20 in Jerusalem. From the beginning of August, the IDF and police have arrested 477 Palestinians in the West Bank.

And that’s without even considering home demolitions, the seizure of land and harassment by Israeli settlers. OCHA is reporting six cases of harassment of Palestinians by settlers, including the use of live fire in a Palestinian village, vandalism, stone throwing and barring access to land. Israelis have also taken control of Palestinian land in two villages. Soon probably a boutique vineyard or dairy producing gourmet organic goats’ milk will be built there.

True, Palestinians throw stones and fire bombs at settlers’ cars. We’ve heard about searches and arrests at a village from which a fire bomb was thrown that injured a settler. We have not, however, heard about arrests of settlers who fired shots at the Palestinian village of Burin. We have heard about a curfew imposed on the village of Hawara over a Palestinian fire bomb thrown at a settler.

Last Tuesday, Abu Fakher, who is from the small ancient village of Khirbet A-Twayel southeast of Nablus, called and recounted how bulldozers from the IDF Civil Administration had demolished two ancient stone houses. It can be inferred that the authorities don’t really like the fact that the owners of the homes had renovated structures that testify to the deep roots of the Palestinian presence in the area. I apologized to Abu Fakher that events in Gaza prevented me from delving into the matter, and he understood.

There are a very large number of Israelis who carry out these trifling matters, including the visible ones (soldiers and police) and the invisible ones. Think of all of the unemployed people we would have if not for the occupation: the lawyers who provide legal cover, the drafters of documents and maps, the proofreaders and those who type the military orders, and the ones whose job it is to make sure there is enough ink and paper in the fax machines and printers. Then there are the commanders, bureau heads, Shin Bet security people, drivers, inspectors and Civil Administration committee members. And think about the fathers, and the wives and children who wait for these un-unemployed at home for Friday night dinner.


3 Haaretz Monday, August 25, 2014

The judges of national resilience are keeping Israeli Arabs in their place

The fascists beat people up, the police arrest them and the judges approve. We’re talking about protesters, not people digging a tunnel from an Arab neighborhood in Haifa.

By Oudeh Basharat         |   Aug. 25, 2014

If the fire of national resilience doesn’t burn too strongly in the bones of Nazareth Magistrate’s Court President Georges Azoulay and he doesn’t show up in court, then nine young men arrested at a protest more than a month ago will be released Monday.

Last Wednesday they weren’t so lucky. Their cases reportedly landed on the desk of Judge Nabeela Dally-Moussa, who recommended that the prosecution provide an alternative to detention. But then Azoulay, who was supposedly on vacation, appeared and took over the case, since national resilience trumps a vacation.

Thus, as a result of a blunder by a probation service that was supposed to submit its evaluation that day, the judge kept the suspects in custody for another two weeks until the probation workers get their act together.

But on the same day, after the families had appealed to the Nazareth District Court, Deputy District Court President Tawfic Kteily cut the extension of their detention to five days, after castigating both the prosecution and the probation service. Kteily went so far as to point out that if the young men, most of them students without criminal records, are punished, the punishment will almost surely be less than the time they’ve already spent behind bars.

Let me assure those who might be concerned that we’re not talking about rockets fired from Nazareth at the center of the country. And there’s no evidence of a tunnel leading from Haifa’s Wadi Nisnas neighborhood to the Defense Ministry headquarters in Tel Aviv. We’re talking about legal demonstrations.

Yaniv Kubovich and Nir Hasson have reported in Haaretz that in the space of a month, 1,471 people who demonstrated against the fighting in Gaza have been arrested, nearly all of them Arabs. Meanwhile, 650 criminal files have been opened and 350 indictments handed down – all of them against Arabs. Let’s remember that most of the people attacked during those demonstrations have also been Arabs.

And so it goes. The fascists beat people up, the police arrest them and the judges approve. If an article is ever written on how Israel’s law enforcement system works, the paper absorbing the ink will blush with shame.

In another case, Supreme Court Justice Isaac Amit, while ruling on the approval of a leftist demonstration, took pains to record that the decision had been delayed “by a few minutes due to a Color Red [rocket] alert.” Really, you leftists should be ashamed of yourselves. While the adults are busy making war, you’re fooling around. Still, it would be worth explaining to his honor that the left is demonstrating precisely so that rockets shouldn’t fall.

Here’s another gem. It turns out that what really disturbed Rehovot Magistrate’s Court Judge Iryah Heuman Mordechai, who approved the protest last week by the purity-of-the-Jewish-race preservers against the marriage of Morel Malka and Mahmoud Mansour, wasn’t the dark atmosphere of the 1930s that came to life in the courtrooms. It wasn’t even the undermining of a couple’s right to privacy. What bothered the judge was that money would be wasted on securing the Jewish-purity demonstration, money that could have been used to buy Iron Dome missiles.

Could a volunteer explain to her, in a whisper, of course, that the Americans are funding Iron Dome? And in an even lower whisper, could someone explain to her that as long as Israel follows the orders of tycoon Sheldon Adelson, the Americans will continue to fund it?

But compared to other issues, it looks as if the problems of the Arabs and the left are minor. The newspaper for the resilient people, Tishreen Ahronoth, published on the front page of its Friday magazine a photo that resembles the face of the devil. When you look carefully you see that it’s William Schabas, who heads the UN commission investigating whether war crimes have been committed in the Gaza fighting.

Let’s hope they’ll investigate everything thoroughly, including how, at a speed that would shame those guys in the Islamic State, some 2,100 Gazans have been sent to the other side of the universe.

When there are no judges in Jerusalem, there are judges in The Hague.


4 Haaretz  Sunday, August 24, 2014

The difference between children

It is human that the killing of an Israeli boy, a child of ours, would arouse greater identification than the death of some other child. What is incomprehensible is the Israeli response to the killing of their children.

By Gideon Levy

After the first child, nobody batted an eye; after the 50th not even a slight tremor was felt in a plane’s wing; after the 100th, they stopped counting; after the 200th, they blamed Hamas. After the 300th child they blamed the parents. After the 400th child, they invented excuses; after (the first) 478 children nobody cares.

Then came our first child and Israel went into shock. And indeed, the heart weeps at the picture of 4-year-old Daniel Tragerman, killed Friday evening in his home in Sha’ar Hanegev. A beautiful child, who once had his picture taken in an Argentinean soccer team shirt, blue and white, number 10. And whose heart would not be broken at the sight of this photo, and who would not weep at how he was criminally killed. “Hey Leo Messi, look at that boy,” a Facebook post read, “you were his hero.”

Suddenly death has a face and dreamy blue eyes and light hair. A tiny body that will never grow. Suddenly the death of a little boy has meaning, suddenly it is shocking. It is human, understandable and moving. It is also human that the killing of an Israeli boy, a child of ours, would arouse greater identification than the death of some other child. What is incomprehensible is the Israeli response to the killing of their children.

In a world where there is some good, children would be left out of the cruel game called war. In a world where there is some good, it would be impossible to understand the total, almost monstrous unfeelingness in the face of the killing of hundreds of children – not ours, but by us. Imagine them standing in a row: 478 children, in a graduating class of death. Imagine them wearing Messi shirts – some of those children wore them once too, before they died; they also admired him, just like our Daniel from a kibbutz. But nobody looks at them; their faces are not seen, no one is shocked at their deaths. No one writes about them: “Hey Messi, look at that boy.” Hey, Israel, look at their children.

An iron wall of denial and inhumanness protects the Israelis from the shameful work of their hands in Gaza. And indeed, these numbers are hard to digest. Of the hundreds of men killed one could say that they were “involved”; of the hundreds of women that they were “human shields.” As for a small number of children, one could claim that the most moral army in the world did not intend it. But what shall we say about almost 500 children killed? That the Israel Defense Forces did not intend it, 478 times? That Hamas hid behind all of them? That this legitimized killing them?

Hamas might have hidden behind some of those children but now Israel is hiding behind Daniel Tragerman. His fate is already being used to cover all of the sins of the IDF in Gaza.

The radio yesterday already talked about “murder.” The prime minister already called the killing “terror,” while hundreds of Gaza’s children in their new graves are not victims of murder or terror. Israel had to kill them. And after all, who are Fadi and Ali and Islaam and Razek, Mahmoud, Ahmed and Hamoudi – in the face of our one and only Daniel.

We must admit the truth: Palestinian children in Israel are considered like insects. This is a horrific statement, but there is no other way to describe the mood in Israel in the summer of 2014. When for six weeks hundreds of children are destroyed; their bodies buried in rubble, piling up on morgues, sometimes even in vegetable refrigeration rooms for lack of other space; when their horrified parents carry the bodies of their toddlers as a matter of course; their funerals coming and going, 478 times – even the most unfeeling of Israelis would not allow themselves to be so uncaring.

Something here has to rise up and scream: Enough. All the excuses and all the explanations will not help – there is no such thing as a child that is allowed to be killed and a child that is not. There are only children killed for nothing, hundreds of children whose fate touches no one in Israel, and one child, just one, around whose death the people unite in mourning.



STATISTICS for Sunday, August 24, 2014!

2122 Killed, 10,621 wounded

For additional updates on other aspects in Gaza click on


6 Chicago Tribune Sunday, August 24, 2014

Israel issues warning after leveling 13-floor apartment building

Gazans recover what they can from wrecked apartment block

Residents of 13-storey apartment tower destroyed by Israeli airstrike search for their belongings between the rubble.

By Nidal al-Mughrabi and Jeffrey Heller

Palestinian civilians are told to leave sites where Hamas militants are operating.

‘Every one of these places is a target for us,’ Benjamin Netanyahu on sites where Hamas operates.

2,108 Palestinians, mostly civilians, have been killed in the Gaza conflict, health officials say.

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu warned Palestinian civilians on Sunday to leave immediately any site where militants are operating, one day after Israel flattened a 13-story apartment block in Gaza..

Israeli aircraft fired a non-explosive rocket at the building as a signal to residents to get out before attacking it on Saturday. Seventeen people were wounded in the strike on the structure, which Israel said had housed a Hamas command center.

“I call on the inhabitants of Gaza to evacuate immediately from every site from which Hamas is carrying out terrorist activity. Every one of these places is a target for us,” Netanyahu said in public remarks at a cabinet meeting.

With no end in sight to fighting in its seventh week, Netanyahu’s tough talk seemed to indicate a move towards bolder strikes against Hamas targets in densely populated neighborhoods, even at the risk of raising more international alarm.

Hours after Netanyahu spoke, a cluster of 10 homes, one belonging to a Hamas member, was destroyed in an air strike in the southern Gaza town of Khan Younis, neighbors said.

Ten people were wounded by flying debris, but no fatalities were reported. Neighbors said about 10 minutes before the attack, a warning missile was fired and residents fled.

In Gaza City, an Israeli strike on a car killed Mohammed al-Ghoul, described by the Israeli military as a Hamas official responsible for “terror fund transactions”.

Ghoul was targeted three days after Israel assassinated three top Hamas commanders in the southern Gaza Strip.

In another attack on Sunday, a mother and her four children were killed when their home was bombed in Jabalya refugee camp, hospital officials said. It was not immediately clear why the dwelling was hit, and neighbors said no warning was given.

Militants kept up constant rocket and mortar strikes on southern Israel, wounding three Israelis at the Erez border crossing with the Gaza Strip.

The military said 117 rockets and mortars were launched on Sunday, nine of them intercepted by Israel’s Iron Dome system.

A mortar attack on the Erez crossing with Gaza wounded four Israelis, and Israel said it had shut the terminal in response for all but emergency cases.

Hamas spokesman Sami Abu Zuhri described Netanyahu’s warnings to Gazans to steer clear of potential targets “a clear example of war crimes” against Gaza’s civilian population.

Thousands of homes in the Gaza Strip have been destroyed or damaged in the conflict. Nearly 500,000 people have been displaced in the territory of 1.8 million where Palestinians, citing Israeli attacks that have hit schools and mosques, say no place is safe.


Israel has said Hamas bears responsibility for civilian casualties because it operates among non-combatants. The group, it said, uses schools and mosques to store weapons and as launching sites for cross-border rocket attacks.

Palestinian health officials say 2,115 people, most of them civilians and more than 400 of them children, have been killed in the Gaza Strip since July 8, when Israel launched an offensive with the declared aim of ending Palestinian rocket fire into its territory.

Sixty-four Israeli soldiers and four civilians in Israel have been killed. Israel’s president attended the funeral on Sunday of a four-year-old boy killed in a mortar bomb attack on Friday.

The bombing on Saturday of Al Zafer Tower in Gaza City marked the first time in the Gaza war that Israel had brought down such a tall structure. It had housed 44 families, some of whom returned to the rubble on Sunday to search for belongings.

Late on Saturday, an Israeli air strike destroyed a commercial center in the southern Gaza town of Rafah and three people were hurt, local medical staff said.

Egypt called on Israel and the Palestinians on Saturday to halt hostilities and return to talks. But there was no sign that negotiations, last held before a ceasefire collapsed on Tuesday, would resume soon.

Justice Minister Tzipi Livni told Israel’s Channel 2 television a ceasefire had to precede any renewed negotiations. “Israel is not ready to talk while under fire,” she said, reaffirming Netanyahu’s policy.

Livni added that any deal that emerged to halt the fighting also must ensure that “Hamas doesn’t reap any achievements,” and put the more moderate Palestinian Authority in control of Gaza.

The start of the school year has been delayed indefinitely by the Education Ministry in the Gaza Strip.

Netanyahu said on Sunday that Israelis should be prepared for the war to continue after classes begin on Sept. 1.

But Netanyahu made clear Israel would not open any schools lacking in protection against rocket fire by that date, an official speaking on condition of anonymity said.

With mortar shootings on the rise at Israeli communities near the Gaza border, some Israelis debated whether the area should be evacuated. Israeli media said about a third of border zone residents had sought shelter elsewhere in the country.

Netanyahu told ministers Israel would consider helping anyone leaving a rocket-hit area, but the cabinet avoided broaching any officially sanctioned evacuations fearing that could be seen as a morale booster for Hamas, the official said.

At one U.N.-run school in Gaza where Palestinian families have been sheltering, children chanting “glory and eternity to our martyrs” stood in line for the national anthem, but no classes were held.

Scott Anderson, Deputy Director of Gaza operations for the United Nations Relief and Works Agency, said although school had been canceled, some instruction could be provided via television or the Internet.

Hamas has said it would not stop fighting until the Israeli-Egyptian blockade on Gaza is lifted. Both Israel and Egypt view Hamas as a security threat and are demanding guarantees that weapons will not enter the economically-crippled enclave.


7 Israeli Made “Suicidal” Drone Doubles as Missile (Video)

[Thanks to Ruth for forwarding.  D]

The Harop UAV immediately after launch. (Photo: Screenshot)

Israeli defense firm Israeli Aerospace Industries (IAI) unveiled a “suicidal” unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV) named Harop, according to a report by Ynet.

Harop is now one of the world’s most sophisticated and accurate UAV’s. With an ability to remain airborne for hours, Harop has the capability of diving and crashing into a precise target, much like a conventional missile. The UAV can receive instructions from as far as 1,000 kilometers.

Contained within the nose of the Harop is 10 kilograms of explosives. The explosives can either be detonated at impact or can be launched from various platforms, such as a ship or vehicle, to enhance its range.

Immediately after launch, the Harop’s wings unfold. Once flight begins, it is impossible to cancel the Harop’s mission. Operators of the UAV have the ability to lock on to targets that are both mobile and static.


Officials at IAI claim that production to final delivery takes a mere two weeks. Already numerous foreign militaries have reported using Harop successfully in several operations.

According to IAI, hundreds of units have already been sold. Many Harop’s were specially outfitted with special cameras capable of seeing through severe weather and the dark.

The IAI factory, located in central Israel, recently began production on an even more advanced version of Harop. The next generation model will include a launch vehicle, thereby increasing operational flexibility and making it easier to mask the missile as an airplane.

In a demonstration, Harop’s flexibility was put to the test when it was able to carry out a precise strike on a building similar to those used by Hezbollah in southern Israel to hide its operational headquarters. In a second demonstration, the UAV also carried out a direct strike on a target on a boat out at sea.


8 NYTimes Sunday, August 24, 2014

Teenager Cites Ordeal as Captive of Israelis


Ahmed Abu Raida, a Palestinian teenager who said Israeli soldiers detained him for five days. Credit Wissam Nassar for The New York Times

KHAN YOUNIS, Gaza Strip — A Palestinian teenager says that Israeli soldiers detained him for five days last month, forcing him to sleep blindfolded and handcuffed in his underwear and to search and dig for tunnels in Khuza’a, his village near Gaza’s eastern border, which was all but destroyed in the fighting.

The teenager, Ahmed Jamal Abu Raida, said the soldiers assumed he was connected to Hamas, the militant Islamist group that dominates Gaza, insulted him and Allah and threatened to sic a dog on him.

“My life was in danger,” Ahmed, 17, said in one of two lengthy interviews on Thursday and Friday. As soldiers made him walk in front of them through the neighborhood and check houses for tunnels, he added, “In every second, I was going to the unknown.”

His assertions, of actions that would violate both international law and a 2005 Israeli Supreme Court ruling, could not be independently corroborated; Ahmed’s father, Jamal Abu Raida, who held a senior position in Gaza’s Tourism Ministry under the Hamas-controlled government, said the family forgot to take photographs documenting any abuse in its happiness over the youth’s return, and disposed of the clothing he was given upon his release. The case was publicized Thursday by Defense for Children International-Palestine, an organization whose reports on abuses of Palestinian youths in West Bank military jails have been challenged by the Israeli authorities.

The Israeli military confirmed that troops had suspected Ahmed of being a militant and detained him during their ground operation in Gaza, noting his father’s affiliation with Hamas. A military spokesman promised several times to provide more details, but ultimately did not deal with the substance of the allegations, saying they had “been referred to the appropriate authorities for examination.”

A military statement also challenged the credibility of D.C.I.-Palestine, which accused the Israeli military of using Ahmed as a human shield by coercing him to engage in military actions. Throughout the current conflict, Israel has argued that Hamas uses Gaza residents as human shields by conducting militant activity in crowded public places.

“D.C.I.-Palestine’s report represents a perverse inversion of a truth in which Hamas persistently engages in the use of human shields, while the I.D.F.’s code of conduct rejects, in absolute terms, such behavior,” the military statement said, using the abbreviation for the Israel Defense Forces. It added, “D.C.I.-Palestine has exposed itself countless times as an agenda-driven and prejudiced organization with scant regard for truth and a marked disinterest in Palestinian perpetrators and Israeli victims.”

Separately, the military tried to bolster its human-shields argument against Hamas on Sunday by releasing what it said was a page from a Hamas training manual seized in battle. The page — which bore no Hamas logo and which a group spokesman called “fabricated” — says residents should hide weapons in buildings to move “the battle from open places to the closed, residential areas, which serves resistance and jihadi work,” saying, “It’s easy for fighters to work from inside buildings” and avoid “attack aircraft.”

On a battlefield surrounded by intense propaganda on both sides, Ahmed’s case highlights the difficulty of determining what actually happened. The Israeli military has been reluctant to reveal details of many individual situations, given the threat of war-crimes investigations. There are also repercussions for any Palestinians in contact with Israeli troops, as was on stark display in last week’s summary executions of suspected collaborators.

Several human rights groups in Gaza said they had heard about Ahmed’s case, which was reported on local news sites, but had not verified it. Raji Sourani, director of the Palestinian Center for Human Rights, described the case as “trivial” compared with the killings of about 500 children and destruction of more than 10,000 homes during the Israeli assault that began July 8.

After a 2002 petition by seven human rights groups, Israel’s Supreme Court banned the military’s so-called neighbor procedure — in which civilians were forced to enter a hostile’s home ahead of soldiers — and later the “prior warning procedure” that replaced it, saying they were “at odds with international law.”

D.C.I.-Palestine said it learned of Ahmed’s case from an Aug. 9 item on the website Palestine Today, which cited a report by a Geneva-based group, Euro-Mid Observer for Human Rights. After that, a D.C.I. fieldworker in Gaza interviewed Ahmed at length, met with his father and obtained Ahmed’s signature on an affidavit.

The group’s report said Ahmed detailed “an almost constant stream of abuse,” including “kicks and punches, whips with a wire and threats of a sexual nature.” In his interviews with The New York Times, Ahmed did not mention sexual threats, and spoke of violence only a few times. He said a soldier “twisted my arm and was holding it firmly” at one point, “pushed me violently inside the tank and tightened my handcuffs” at another, “brought a cable and beat me with it,” and, finally, “grabbed me from the neck firmly for about 10 seconds.”

Ahmed, the oldest of five children, said in the interviews that his ordeal began July 23 after a night in which the family huddled under the stairway of its two-story villa, horrified by the incessant sound of warplanes and artillery shells. While evacuating the next afternoon, Ahmed said, he stopped to look at a tank, and a soldier ordered him away from the crowd of about 200, then took him to a nearby home.

“He was interrogating me about the tunnels,” Ahmed said, referring to the underground passages that became the focus of Israel’s ground invasion after Palestinian militants used them to penetrate its territory. “He asked about my name, age and tunnels. ‘Where are the tunnels? In which places were there tunnels?’ I told him I’m 17 years old, and if I knew about a tunnel in the area, I would not have stayed here until now because you won’t leave the area unharmed.”

Over the next several days, he was moved among homes and made to walk ahead of groups of soldiers looking for tunnels. Food was scant, and his bathroom breaks were limited and monitored, he said; at one point he wrote a note in Arabic, saying, “In case I die or get arrested, please send my greetings to my family,” according to D.C.I.-Palestine’s report.

He said he was interrogated up to three times a day by an Arabic-speaking soldier. “During the interrogation, he releases my hands and eyes and acts in a friendly manner,” Ahmed recalled. “When he finds nothing, he would be outraged and tie and handcuff me again.”

Eventually, Ahmed said, a soldier gave him a tool and told him to dig for tunnels at a school and two wells. “He said, ‘The dogs are hungry,’ and he will let them eat me if we did not find a tunnel,” Ahmed said. “I dug for about 15 minutes, but found nothing.”

After his release July 27, Ahmed said, he walked for about an hour before hitching a ride to an aunt’s home where the family had earlier agreed to gather.

His father said he spent five days praying, hardly eating or sleeping, thinking Ahmed had been killed.

“When I saw him, I hugged him for five minutes amid tears,” said Mr. Abu Raida, 50. “He was tired, too exhausted. He was not the energetic Ahmed that I know.”

Fares Akram reported from Khan Younis, and Jodi Rudoren from Jerusalem.

A version of this article appears in print on August 25, 2014, on page A4 of the New York edition with the headline: Teenager Cites Ordeal as Captive of Israelis.

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Dorothy Online NewsLetter





Dear Friends,

7 items below tonight, in addition to the ones forwarded earlier.  There are many more.  At times as these Israel and Gaza do receive attention.  Better to not have violence, even though it means less reports.

At present, am waiting to hear whether or not the cease fire will continue past midnight (it is 10:55 in Israel now).  There was one shooting of rockets about an hour ago, which leads me to expect that the cease fire will not be extended, but one never knows.  Could be one of the lesser organizations that decided to jump the gun.  Enough killing.  Enough!

Item 1 begins with a death caused by an explosion during attempts to defuse a bomb.  Sad that these things also occur.  Five people (or perhaps 6, not clear) were killed in this blast.

Item 2 elaborates on how the US willingly blew a chance to prevent more wars in Gaza.  One sentence in this lengthy but worth reading article actually says it all: “A US-Israeli Military-Industrial alliance has provided little incentive to explore peaceful or diplomatic alternatives.”  Indeed!  The US could have by merely threatening to hold back arms have made Israel think twice before heading for a military campaign, but when both sides stand to make a profit, who cares about several thousand human beings killed and injured?

Item 3 responds to statements (heard in defense of one’s militaristic views on the war) ‘I am a leftist,’ meaning ‘I approve all the right things,’ while in fact approving all the non-leftist ones.


Items 4 and 5 similarly argue that Israel’s real danger is from within.


Item 6 responds to Jon Voight and other pro Israelites who believe that Israel can never do harm, and in the process corrects certain misconceptions.


Item 7 is, I believe, a bit overly enthusiastic about the effects of this horrid military campaign on the emotions and beliefs worldwide, but it surely is not entirely wrong in seeing among the people much more support for Gaza and much less for Israel as a result of this military campaign.


That’s it for today.  May the cease fire be extended and talks lead to an end of the siege.






1 The Guardian Wednesday, August 13, 2014


‘My wife thinks I will come home in a box’ – and three days later Gaza bomb disposal expert was dead


Rahed Taysir al’Hom headed northern Gaza’s only bomb disposal unit. He spoke to the Guardian just days before he was killed by a 500kg explosive


Rahed Taysir al’Hom

Rahed Taysir al’Hom has died after a 500kg bomb he tried to defuse exploded. Photograph: Sean Smith for the Guardian


Jason Burke in Gaza City


Rahed Taysir al’Hom was buried in the sandy soil of the cemetery of Jabaliya, the rough Gaza neighbourhood where he had grown up, at 1pm on the third day of the ceasefire.


His funeral was quick, attended by a hundred or so mourners, and accompanied by a quick sermon from a white-turbaned cleric, a sobbing father and some shots fired from a Kalashnikov by a skinny teenager.


Two breezeblocks and a ripped piece of cardboard with his name scrawled on it now mark the grave of a personable man with an easy smile, hollow eyes and a quiet intensity that was entirely understandable given his job.







The 43-year-old father of seven lies next to his brother – a Hamas fighter killed in an Israeli air strike two weeks ago. But the al’Hom who died on Wednesday was not a warrior. He was head of the sole bomb disposal unit of Gaza’s northern governorate and his job was to protect several hundred thousand people from the unexploded ordnance that now litters the streets, fields and the rubble of many homes.


Al’Hom, who died when a 500kg bomb he was trying to defuse exploded at 10.30am on Wednesday, was an incidental casualty of a month-long war that no one seems able to stop.


Three of his colleagues and two journalists were killed with him. He was well aware of the risks he was taking but believed in his work. One day last week, while the last tenuous ceasefire held in Gaza, al-Hom received 70 calls. In this conflict alone, he had dealt with 400 “objects”.


Al’Hom made safe ordnance for five of his 20 years in the Gaza police force. Photograph: Sean Smith

Al’Hom made safe ordnance for five of his 20 years in the Gaza police force. Photograph: Sean Smith





“I try to do as much as I can. Every time I hear that someone has been injured by a bomb on the ground I feel very sorry. This is my responsibility. But we are very limited and don’t have proper equipment. My wife thinks I will come home one day in pieces in a box,” he said at the weekend as he drove from site to site in the northern town of Beit Lahia, accompanied by the Guardian.


Al-Hom had been defusing bombs, rockets and shells for five of his 20 years in the Gaza police. He had some training from international experts but gained most of his skills “on the job”. He had no protective clothing and used basic tools – screwdrivers, pliers and cutters – as he worked to make everything safe, be it Hamas rockets which had fallen short of their mark or huge bombs dropped by Israeli warplanes.


Helmets, body armour and screening devices, supplied after the last conflict in 2012, had worn out or were broken.


“We have been working all the time. There is a danger to people when there is a bomb in their house. It is risky, of course, but we have to do it. So far we have had no injuries in my team, praise be to God,” he said, though one of the team had been killed in an air strike at home a month ago.


Over the weekend, before the latest ceasefire came into force, al-Hom dealt with a dozen or so urgent incidents. His work was slowed by frequent pauses as Israeli missiles hissed overhead, sometimes impacting only a few hundred metres away.


In Beit Lahia, he defused a 1,000kg bomb that had landed in a bike repair shop. Hossein Rabieh Salem, the 48-year-old owner, had been sleeping for several nights with his family of 18, above the storeroom and the live weapon. “Where can I go? I shut my eyes and trust in God,” Salem said.



Al’Hom was working amid a heap of explosives – with minimal to no protection. Photograph: Sean Smith

Al’Hom was working amid a heap of explosives – with minimal to no protection. Photograph: Sean Smith


Unable to immediately render the bomb safe, al-Hom assured the worried mechanic he would return with a truck to pick it up and transport it to the football field opposite his police station where all the ordnance – defused or live – was dumped. There, in untidy piles, lay shells and bombs and Hamas rockets, glinting in the strong Gaza sun.


Among them was a bomb lifted, still live, from the home of the Filfils in a quiet residential neighbourhood in the north of Beit Lahia. Jazia Filfil, 60, remembered how, as the dust began to clear from her living room after the air strike last month, she saw a huge, metal object half buried in the rubble where a three-piece suite had once been. She had no idea what it was.


“They dropped a truck on our home,” she shouted to her husband and sons. When the family worked out that the object was no “truck”, they called al-Hom.


“He is very brave but he was very slow in coming. We had the bomb in our house for weeks,” Filfil said on Sunday. Al-Hom, listening, laughed away the complaint, joking that “his customers” were never happy.


Over a lunch of beef kebabs, snatched rapidly down a Beit Lahia side street, al-Hom spoke about his worried wife, his two sons and five daughters, and his wider family.


His 33-year-old brother died in an air strike two weeks ago, he said. Abdel Jawad al-Hom had joined the Izz ad-Din al-Qassam brigades, the military wing of Hamas, after another brother had died following imprisonment in an Israeli jail in the early 1990s when Hamas had set out to derail the Israeli-Palestinian peace process.


A Gaza resident returns to pick up belongings after his home was turned to rubble. Photograph: Sean Smith

A Gaza resident returns to pick up belongings after his home was turned to rubble. Photograph: Sean Smith


“He was very angry and joined as a teenager, maybe he was only 12 or 13, and rose up the ranks. He was a commander in the Beit Lahia area. He was in a friend’s house on the frontlines when it was bombed and was martyred with two other fighters,” al-Hom said.


So far the conflict has killed 1,900 people in Gaza, mostly civilians. The UN has said that around 200 fighters from Hamas and other groups have been killed. Israeli officials say the total is much higher. Sixty-four Israeli soldiers have died. Three civilians in Israel have been killed by rocket fire.


On Wednesday, as al-Hom set out to defuse the 500kg bomb which killed him, Israeli and Palestinian negotiators were continuing indirect talks in Cairo aimed at a putting a durable ceasefire in place.


The explosion was so loud it was heard five miles away, said Maher Halewi, the chief of al’Hom’s police station. Doctors at the al-Shifa hospital in Gaza City were working to save the lives of four men wounded in the blast who remained in a critical condition on Wednesday afternoon. The al-Shifa, like hospitals across Gaza, is chronically short of medical supplies after treating thousands of wounded during the conflict.



The funeral of Rahed Taysir al’Hom.

The funeral of Rahed Taysir al’Hom. Photograph: Sean Smith


Within two hours of his death, al-Hom’s remains were taken to the Beit Lahia hospital and then to the al-Auda mosque in Jabaliya. After noon prayers and a blessing, a procession jogged through the crowded streets, past the donkey carts, the fruit stalls and the battered Mercedes taxis to the cemetery. A crackling voice from a loudspeaker a block away called people to a Hamas rally this afternoon to show support for the Palestinian delegation in Cairo.


An Israeli drone buzzed overhead. Relatives shovelled sand over al-Hom’s remains, wetted the mound with water from a plastic jerry can and stood back, forming a line to shake hands with the mourners. The cleric called for “revenge on the Jews” and for the blessing of God on the deceased and on the community. Shots rang out as the skinny teenager raised his Kalashnikov once more. Then, within minutes, it was over and the mourners were gone.


2 Mother Jones  Tuesday, August 12, 2014


How the US Willingly Blew a Chance to Prevent More Wars in Gaza


Alongside the toll of death and broken lives, perhaps the saddest reality of the Gaza war is how easy it would have been to avoid.


By Sandy Tolan


Alongside the toll of death and broken lives, perhaps the saddest reality of the Gaza war is how easy it would have been to avoid.


This story [1] first appeared on the TomDispatch [2] website.


Alongside the toll of death and broken lives, perhaps the saddest reality of the latest Gaza war, like the Gaza wars before it, is how easy it would have been to avoid. For the last eight years, Israel and the US had repeated opportunities to opt for a diplomatic solution in Gaza. Each time, they have chosen war, with devastating consequences for the families of Gaza.


Let’s begin in June 2006, when the University of Maryland’s Jerome Segal, founder of the Jewish Peace Lobby [3], carried a high-level private message [4] from Gaza to Washington. Segal had just returned from a meeting with Ismail Haniyeh, whose Hamas faction had recently won free and fair elections and taken power in Gaza. Hamas was seeking a unity government with the rival Fatah faction overseen by Mahmoud Abbas.






The previous year, Israel had withdrawn its soldiers and 8,000 settlers from Gaza, though its armed forces maintained a lockdown of the territory by air, land, and sea, controlling the flow of goods and people. Gazans believed they were trapped in the world’s largest open-air prison [6]. For generations they had lived in overcrowded refugee camps, after their villages [7] were depopulated [8] by Israel and new Israeli cities built on their ruins [9] in the years that followed Israel’s birth in 1948. By voting for Hamas in 2006, Palestinians signaled [10] their weariness with Fatah’s corruption and its failure to deliver an independent state, or even a long-promised safe passage corridor [11] between the West Bank and Gaza. In the wake of its surprise election victory, Hamas was in turn showing signs of edging toward the political center, despite its militant history.


Nevertheless, Israel and “the Quartet”—the US, the European Union, Russia, and the UN—refused to recognize the outcome of the democratic elections, labeling Hamas a “terrorist organization,” which sought Israel’s destruction [12]. The administration of George W. Bush strongly pressured Abbas not to join a unity government. The Quartet suspended economic aid and Israel severely curtailed the flow of goods in and out of Gaza.


“It’s like meeting with a dietician,” remarked [13] Dov Weisglass, a top aide to Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon. “We have to make [Gazans] much thinner, but not enough to die [14].” Only years later did researchers prove that Weisglass was speaking literally: Israeli officials had restricted food imports to levels below those necessary to maintain a minimum caloric intake. Child welfare groups [15] began to report a sharp rise in poverty and chronic child malnutrition, anemia, typhoid fever, and potentially fatal infant diarrhea. Human rights organizations denounced the measures as collective punishment [16]. Avi Shlaim [17], a veteran of the Israeli army, author of numerous books on Middle East history, and professor of international relations at the University of Oxford, wrote [18]:


“America and the EU [European Union] shamelessly joined Israel in ostracizing and demonizing the Hamas government and in trying to bring it down by withholding tax revenues and foreign aid. A surreal situation thus developed with a significant part of the international community imposing economic sanctions not against the occupier but against the occupied, not against the oppressor but against the oppressed. As so often in the tragic history of Palestine, the victims were blamed for their own misfortunes.”


These punitive measures were to remain in place until Hamas renounced violence (including stopping its cross-border rocket attacks), recognized Israel, and accepted all previous agreements based on the Oslo peace accords.


Which brings us back to that Washington-bound letter from Gaza. In the wake of the elections, Hamas was no longer the militant opposition to a ruling Fatah party, but a legally elected government operating under siege. Hamas leader Ismail Haniyeh, suddenly responsible for governing [19] and facing a mounting economic, humanitarian, and political catastrophe, sought to defuse the situation. In his June 2006 hand-written note to President Bush that Jerome Segal delivered to the State Department and the National Security Council, he requested a direct dialogue with the administration.


Despite Hamas’s charter [20] calling for the elimination of Israel, Haniyeh’s conciliatory note to the American president conveyed a different message. “We are so concerned about stability and security in the area that we don’t mind having a Palestinian state in the 1967 borders and offering a truce for many years,” Haniyeh wrote to Bush. This essentially added up to an offer of de facto recognition of Israel with a cessation of hostilities—two of the key US and Israeli demands of Hamas.


“The continuation of this situation,” Haniyeh wrote to Bush, “will encourage violence and chaos in the whole region.”


A few lonely voices in the US and Israel urged that the moment be seized and Hamas coaxed toward moderation. After all, Israel itself had been birthed in part by the Irgun and Stern Gang (or Lehi), groups considered terrorist by the British and the UN. In the years before Israel’s birth, they had been responsible for a horrific massacre in the Palestinian village of Deir Yassin [21] and the Irgun bombing [22] of the King David Hotel, killing 91 people. Leaders of the two organizations, Menachem Begin and Yitzhak Shamir [23], later became prime ministers of Israel. Similarly, Yasser Arafat, whose Palestine Liberation Organization was considered a terrorist group by Israel and the West, recognized Israel’s right to exist in a pivotal 1988 speech, paving the way for the Oslo peace process.


“I believe there is a chance that Hamas, the devils of yesterday, could be reasonable people today,” declared [24] Efraim Halevy, former director of the Mossad, Israel’s CIA. “Rather than being a problem, we should strive to make them part of the solution.”


The Bush team, however, chose to ignore Hamas’s overture, opting, with Israel, for violence and chaos. The Obama administration would follow the same path years later. In this way, a pattern of US acquiescence in ongoing, ever worsening humanitarian disasters in Hamas-run Gaza was established. Direct American political and material support for the indiscriminate killing of thousands of Gaza’s civilians, including hundreds of children, became Washington’s de facto policy.



A US-Israeli Military-Industrial Alliance


Three weeks after Haniyeh’s unanswered letter was delivered, Hamas abducted an Israeli soldier, Gilad Shalit, and fired rockets into Israel. Israel launched a massive retaliation, Operation Summer Rains, returning to a fearsome and bloody history in Gaza that would repeat itself with greater intensity in the years ahead. Israeli missiles and fighter jets destroyed the offices of the prime minister and interior minister, the American International School, more than 100 other buildings, and heavily damaged Gaza’s only power station, the sole source of electricity for hundreds of thousands of Gazans.


During that operation, many Palestinians were limited to one meal a day, eaten by candlelight. More than 200 [25] Palestinians were killed in the first two months of the conflict, at least 44 them children. Eleven Israelis died during that period. And yet, bad as it was, the death and destruction then would prove small compared to what was still to come.


Since Summer Rains, more than 4,200 Gazans, including nearly 1,400 non-combatants, including more than 600 children, have been killed by missiles, bombs, and other munitions—some launched from offshore by Israel’s navy, some from land by Israeli tanks and ground forces, and some from the air by American-made F-16 fighter jets [26] and Apache attack helicopters [27], part of the $3 billion [28] in annual US military aid to Israel. This includes the $276 million [29] in bombs, grenades, torpedoes, rocket launchers, guided missiles, howitzers, mortars, machine guns, shotguns, pistols, cartridges, bayonets, and other battlefield weaponry that the US has exported to Israel since January 2012.


[30]This US-Israeli military-industrial alliance has provided little incentive to explore peaceful or diplomatic alternatives. In 2007, Hamas and Fatah again discussed forming a unity government. The US responded with heavy pressure on Mahmoud Abbas. American officials, through Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice, had already been facilitating [31] military training and arms shipments to his Fatah faction in Gaza. They wanted to bolster its capabilities against Hamas, allowing the US’s favored Fatah leader in Gaza, strongman Mahmoud Dahlan, to take control.


This scenario, laid out in “The Gaza Bombshell,” a 2008 Vanity Fair piece by David Rose, and elsewhere [32], was confirmed to me by an American official stationed at the US Embassy in Tel Aviv at the time. Eventually, said Norman Olsen, a former State Department official and 26-year foreign service officer, the unity talks collapsed, “but not before Dahlan’s undisciplined fighters engaged in months of open protection rackets, extortion, kneecappings, car-jackings, and abductions.” Olsen knows the territory: he spent four years at the US Embassy in Tel Aviv covering the Gaza Strip, making hundreds of daily trips there, and later served as chief of the Embassy’s political section, and as special advisor on the peace process to the US ambassador.


Word of the American plan was leaked to an Arabic-language newspaper. Street battles between Fatah and Hamas erupted in Gaza. The “Battle of Gaza” took more than 100 lives. In the end, Hamas police and militants, according to Olsen, “drove Dahlan’s fighters from the Strip, established order, and restored the ability of Gaza residents to move about safely.”


Taken in by Dahlan’s bravado, American officials were initially encouraged by the fighting. “I like this violence,” a senior American Middle East envoy told his UN counterpart, Alvaro de Soto, according to a confidential “End of Mission Report [33]” leaked to the Guardian. Israeli officials also saw opportunities in the de facto Palestinian civil war. Israel’s director of military intelligence, according to a State Department cable [34] later published by WikiLeaks, told the American ambassador in Tel Aviv that a Hamas victory would allow Israel “to treat Gaza” as a separate “hostile country,” and that he would be “pleased” if Abbas “set up a separate regime in the West Bank.”


Indeed, as Hamas routed Dahlan’s Fatah forces, taking full control of Gaza, the two Palestinian sides—and their populations in the West Bank and Gaza—were physically separated and politically weakened. Despite the language of peace negotiations, ostensibly meant to create a “viable, contiguous” Palestinian state, the fractured reality appeared to be part of a deliberate Israeli strategy. Statehood for Palestinians seemed ever more a mirage.


In the coming years, the prospects of Palestinian unity—both physical and political—remained bleak. US-brokered peace negotiations focused only on the fragmented West Bank, while Israel did indeed treat Hamas-controlled Gaza as a separate, “hostile country.” It countered Hamas rocket attacks with repeated air strikes and assassinations of Hamas leaders and lower-level operatives.


The two sides agreed to a ceasefire in 2008. Again, a lonely voice in Israel’s security establishment urged engagement with Hamas. Retired Brigadier General Shmuel Zakai [35], former commander of the Israeli Defense Force’s Gaza division, urged [36] his country “to take advantage of the calm to improve, rather than markedly worsen, the economic plight of the Palestinians in the [Gaza] Strip… You cannot just land blows, leave the Palestinians in Gaza in the economic distress they are in, and expect Hamas just to sit around and do nothing.”


Ignoring such advice, Israel broke the truce on November 4, 2008, Election Day in America, by bombing tunnels on the Gaza-Egypt border, the only means for Gazans to secure goods during the years-long Israeli blockade, and killing [37] six Hamas operatives. The back and forth of rockets and retaliation led to Operation Cast Lead, in which Israel killed more than 1,300 Palestinians [38], including 14 children [39] taking refuge in a UN school and several dozen police cadets [40] marching in their graduation ceremony [41], and destroyed or damaged 22,000 buildings in Gaza. Thirteen Israelis died [38], three of them civilians. Tzipi Livni, Israel’s foreign minister and a candidate for prime minister, declared [42], “Hamas now understands that when you fire on its citizens [Israel] responds by going wild—and this is a good thing.”


The American-Israeli alliance, meanwhile, continued to strongly oppose any attempts to move in the direction of Palestinian unity. This, despite sporadic efforts at reconciliation between Fatah and Hamas, and the desire of ordinary Gazans and West Bankers alike to end their isolation through a long-promised corridor between the two disconnected territories.



By early 2014, Hamas’s motivation for forging a unity pact had grown stronger. War and political change in the region meant it could no longer rely on financial or military support from Iran, Syria, or especially Egypt, whose new military rulers had realigned policy [43] in a way that put them closer to Israel than Hamas. As a result, in April, Hamas and Fatah signed a unity agreement. Hamas was again sending a clear message of its willingness to engage in political compromise, this time agreeing to turn over unprecedented power in the reconciliation government.


It was an opportunity for Israel. As analyst Nathan Thrall of the International Crisis Group pointed out in a July 17th op-ed [44] in the New York Times,


“[T]he government could have served Israel’s interests. It offered Hamas’s political adversaries a foothold in Gaza; it was formed without a single Hamas member; it retained the same Ramallah-based prime minister, deputy prime ministers, finance minister, and foreign minister; and, most important, it pledged to comply with the three conditions for Western aid long demanded by America and its European allies: nonviolence, adherence to past agreements, and recognition of Israel.”


This was far more than Hamas leader Haniyeh had offered in his 2006 overture to Bush. It met the core Western and Israeli demands of Hamas almost to the letter. Implementing it could have led to a new kind of “quiet” between Hamas and Israel, a stronger Palestinian government, and a stronger, if still fleeting, chance for a viable Palestinian state including both Gaza and the West Bank, with East Jerusalem as its capital.


Israel was not interested. The day after the unity accord was announced, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu suspended already moribund peace negotiations, declaring [45] that Hamas was “a terrorist organization bent on the destruction of Israel.”


A few weeks later, after three Israeli teenagers were abducted and murdered on the West Bank, Israel blamed Hamas and launched Operation Brother’s Keeper. The Israeli military searched [46] 2,200 West Bank Palestinian homes and arrested more than 400 Palestinians, mostly Hamas members, holding at least 150 people [47] without charges. Yet reports indicated that less than 10% [47] of those taken in were even questioned about the kidnapping.


Given accounts [48] indicating that the Israeli authorities knew [49] within a day that the teens had been murdered (though they didn’t announce it for two weeks), it appears that Netanyahu’s government was simply using the pretext of the kidnappings [50] as yet another attempt to crush Hamas. Meanwhile, that organization uncharacteristically denied any involvement in the act and Israel has yet to offer evidence Hamas leaders ordered it or knew about it in advance. On the contrary, an Israeli police spokesman appeared to confirm [51] reports that Hamas leaders had no prior knowledge of the plan.


By the time this was revealed, however, Hamas had already responded to the Israeli incursions on the West Bank with rockets from Gaza, and Israel, in its typically disproportionate way, had unleashed an unprecedented assault on Hamas—and on the people of Gaza. Again, Israel had chosen war over any other possible path, with full American backing and military hardware.


On July 30th, amid growing calls [52] in the international community for war crimes investigations [53], and four hours after the Obama administration itself condemned [54] the Israeli shelling of a UN shelter and the deaths of 20 civilians [55], the Pentagon approved [56] a restocking of American-made ammunition for Israel’s arsenal. “It is deeply cynical for the White House to condemn the deaths and injuries of Palestinians, including children, and humanitarian workers, when it knows full well that the Israeli military responsible for such attacks are armed to the teeth with weapons and equipment bankrolled by US taxpayers,” said [57] Brian Wood, head of Arms Control and Human Rights at Amnesty International.


In all of this, of course, Hamas is far from blameless. Its launching of thousands of rockets is a clear violation of international law. However, in 2014, as in 2006, 2008-2009, and 2012, the sheer volume of destruction and death on each side is incomparable. In 2014, Israeli’s sophisticated lethal power, in the form of tens of thousands of tons of bombs, missiles, and artillery shells rained down on Gaza, killing nearly 1,400 civilians by UN estimates. Sixty-four Israeli soldiers and more than 530 Gaza militants have also died. Hamas’s mostly primitive rockets, some homemade in Gaza metal workshops and others relying on Soviet-era technology, have managed to terrorize Israelis, but that country’s civilian death toll in the Gaza war of 2014 has been three.



Trauma and Cold-Eyed Calculation


It is hard to imagine how Israel’s behavior could possibly make the country safer in the long run, given the eternal enmity it has been sowing, no matter how many Hamas tunnels it destroys in the short term. Given this, why do such indiscriminate attacks continue? The answers, I believe after years spent in the region, lie in the psychology of the Israeli state, as well as in the cold calculations of its leaders.


Israel remains a deeply traumatized society [58] whose profound anxieties are based in part on genuine acts of horror perpetrated by countless terrorist attacks over decades, and partly on an unspeakable past history in Europe. The Holocaust and its teaching in Israel [59] have forged an existential fear of annihilation [60] in Israeli Jewish society. (Twenty percent of Israel’s population, it’s important to remember, is Palestinian Arab.) This is true even among the large percentage of Sephardic Jews, whose families came from the Middle East and the Balkans. In recent images [61] of terrorized Israelis crouching in shelters and by roadsides, we can see that the post-traumatic impact of the past lives on.


Israel’s leaders have not been shy to exploit these fears [62]. Yet as the late Palestinian intellectual and Columbia University professor Edward Said asked 20 years ago in The Politics of Dispossession:


“How long can the history of anti-Semitism and the Holocaust be used as a fence to exempt Israel from arguments and sanctions against it for its behavior towards the Palestinians? How long are we going to deny that the cries of the people of Gaza… are directly connected to the policies of the Israeli government and not to the cries of the victims of Nazism?”


Tragically, Israeli fears have created a national justification for a kind of “never again” mentality gone mad, in which leaders find it remarkably easy to justify ever more brutal acts against ever more dehumanized enemies. At the funeral for the three slain teens, Benjamin Netanyahu declared, “May God avenge their blood.” An Israeli Facebook page [63], “The People of Israel Demand Revenge,” quickly garnered 35,000 likes. A member of the Knesset from a party in the nation’s ruling coalition posted an article [64] by Netanyahu’s late former chief of staff that called for the killing of “the mothers of [Palestinian] martyrs” and the demolition of their homes: “Otherwise, more little snakes will be raised there.”


On NPR, Ron Dermer, Israel’s ambassador to the US, decried the “culture of terrorism [65]” in Palestinian society, adding: “You’re talking about savage actions… In the case of Israel, we take legitimate actions of self-defense, and sometimes, unintentionally, Palestinian civilians are harmed.” That day, the Palestinian teenager Mohammed Khdeir was abducted and burned alive, and soon afterward, Israel began bombing Gaza.


Within Israel, the act of dehumanization has become institutionalized. These days, Israeli newspapers generally don’t even bother to print the names, when known, or the stories of the children being killed in Gaza. When B’tselem, the respected Israeli human rights organization, attempted to take out an advertisement [66] on Israeli radio naming names, the request was denied. The content of the ad, censors declared, was “politically controversial.”


Yet all of this is still not sufficient to explain Israel’s violent abandon in Gaza and previously (to a lesser extent) in the West Bank during the Second Intifada. Netanyahu, and before him Ariel Sharon, have been bent on destroying any possibility of a future Palestinian state. In 2002, Sharon used the pretext of an especially horrific suicide bombing to launch Operation Defensive Shield in the West Bank, which, in the words of New York Times reporter Serge Schmemann, “devastated… the infrastructure of life itself and of any future Palestinian state—roads, schools, electricity pylons, water pipes, telephone lines.”


As Edward Said wrote [67] at the time:


“What antiterrorist purpose is served by destroying the building and then removing the records of the Ministry of Education, the Ramallah Municipality, the Central Bureau of Statistics, various institutes specializing in civil rights, health, and economic development, hospitals, and radio and television stations? Isn’t it clear that Sharon is bent not only on ‘breaking’ the Palestinians but on trying to eliminate them as a people with national institutions?”


In a similar fashion, Israel’s recent attacks on Gaza hospitals, schools, the area’s only power plant, UN schools and other facilities housing refugees with nowhere else to go, and tens of thousands of civilian buildings have set back any future statehood efforts by years, if not decades.


In other words, Israel’s decisions in Gaza can be seen partly as the response of a traumatized country, but also as its leaders’ cold-eyed pursuit of a larger strategic objective—what the Israeli writer Meron Benvenisti calls a “splintering strategy [68].” Destroying Hamas, or at least the basis for the unity agreement with Fatah, would assumedly help guarantee that the West Bank and Gaza will remain isolated, unconnected by the corridor promised during the Oslo process.


With Gaza in ruins, the West Bank is ever more “splintered” itself. There, Israeli state policies encouraging settlement expansion—including a series of financial incentives that make it cheaper to be a settler than a city dweller—have served to isolate Palestinians in ever more cutoff cantons, controlled by hundreds of roadblocks, checkpoints, and roads reserved for settlers and VIPs. Meanwhile, Israel’s hardening position in negotiations with Abbas, the weak and unpopular leader of a rump Palestinian Authority in the West Bank, has placed huge swaths of settlement blocs and miles of the Jordan Valley off limits for a future Palestinian state—unless the US or another party intervenes to change the status quo.


In other words, the destruction of Gazan neighborhoods and significant aspects of the area’s infrastructure should be seen as part of Israel’s larger objective: dividing Palestinians from one another and so deep-sixing the possibility of genuine self-determination. As early as 1973, Ariel Sharon, one of the founders [69] of the Likud party and a champion of the settler movement, described his aim [70] as putting so many settlements on the West Bank that they would become impossible to remove.


Three decades later, Sharon and his advisors had essentially realized that strategy. In a 2004 letter [71] to Sharon, President Bush wrote that, “in light of new realities on the ground, including already existing major Israeli population centers [i.e. settlements], it is unrealistic” to forge a two-state solution based on the 1967 borders between Israel, the West Bank, and Gaza.


Three years later, Sharon disengaged from Gaza and turned his full attention to protecting the West Bank settlers by making sure the peace process went nowhere. “By freezing the peace process,” explained [72] top Sharon aide Dov Weisglass, “you prevent the establishment of a Palestinian state, and you prevent a discussion on the refugees, the borders, and Jerusalem. Effectively, this whole package called the Palestinian state, with all that it entails, has been removed indefinitely from our agenda.”


On July 11th, Prime Minister Netanyahu more formally clarified Israel’s intentions. “There cannot be a situation, under any agreement, in which we relinquish security control of the territory west of the River Jordan,” Netanyahu stated. For anyone weak on his or her Middle Eastern geography, that is an area that includes all of the West Bank. In other words, Israel, finally, officially has no interest in a two-state solution.



Did Hamas Win the Gaza War of 2014?


Throughout much of its history, Israel has made a practice of engaging in overwhelmingly disproportionate response—”going wild,” to quote Tzipi Livni—in response to threats real or perceived. In recent years, this strategy has also had a way of backfiring, notably in 2006, when Hezbollah emerged stronger after Israel’s invasion of Lebanon.


With its latest onslaught in Gaza, Israel may again be emboldening an enemy while creating worldwide sympathy for the Palestinian people, momentum for global boycotts, and an embittered generation of young Palestinians with, undoubtedly, revenge in their hearts.


At this writing, the outcome of indirect negotiations between Hamas and Israel is impossible to predict. Hamas’s hand was strengthened, however, by calls within Israel for direct talks with the Islamic organization and by increasing international calls for an end to Israel’s blockade. Fatah leaders, meanwhile, have spoken out recently in support of the unity agreement, thus strengthening prospects for long-time reconciliation between Hamas and Fatah—the very condition Israel went to such lengths to destroy.


In other words, Hamas could end up “winning” the Gaza war of 2014, though the losers, as always, are the people of Gaza.


Sandy Tolan, a TomDispatch regular [73], is author of The Lemon Tree: An Arab, a Jew, and the Heart of the Middle East [74], and the forthcoming Children of the Stone [75], about the building of a music school under occupation in the West Bank. He is an associate professor at the Annenberg School for Communication and Journalism at USC. To stay on top of important articles like these, sign up to receive the latest updates from here [76].



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3  Haaretz Tuesday, August 12, 2013


`And I’m a leftist’


No, you’re not, because leftists don’t prefer force over diplomacy and don’t suppress speech.


By Ravit Hecht


For those who claim that they aren’t racists, “But what can you do, you can’t talk to those animals”; for those who consider themselves moderate but accept the deaths of 2,000 Palestinians and 64 soldiers with equanimity; for those who are furious with Gideon Levy specifically because they are the “old left”; for those champions of democracy who believe that there is a time to demonstrate and a time to sit quietly and accept another ugly round of violence because “a democracy must protect itself”; — now, as this war draws to a close, it’s time to step up to a mirror and examine your reflection.


Are you really leftist? Are you really moderate? And are you sure you aren’t racist?


Because at the end of this so-called operation, like those that preceded it, Hamas continues to shoot from the Gaza wasteland at our brethren in the south despite “the fatal blow” it sustained. Because this war, like those that preceded it, proved that what can’t be achieved by force won’t be achieved by more force but only by diplomacy. So at the end of this round of barbaric violence, as the dust settles on Gaza’s ruins and the soldiers’ graves, look honestly at your reflection and discover who you were during this awful summer.


You, who weren’t able to accept the expression of a different opinion, outrageous and abominable as it may have been; you, who put millions of people in little ethnic and religious boxes based on the comments of politicians who only yesterday figured out that ISIS is not a frozen treat; you were willing to accept families and children being wiped out and the losses suffered by dozens of Israeli families, even though, after all that, we just reached the same tired and exhausted conclusion that there’s nothing to do but talk to the other side.


You, who in the name of facing reality were convinced that the disengagement dug tunnels under our bottoms, chose to ignore that the reality in Gaza — 50 percent unemployment, a gross domestic product among the lowest in the world (30 times lower than Israel’s), no manufacturing, no exports, and no hope — is a result of the Israeli blockade. The blockade that in the end strengthened Hamas and its tunnel economy and turned it into a partner for arrangements and agreements instead of the moderate Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas.


You, who were horrified by the murder of Muhammad Abu Khdeir and were sickened by the thugs who sought out Arabs to beat them, aren’t able to accept an Arab artist who accepted funding from Israeli agencies to produce her film and registered it for the Venice Film Festival as a Palestinian film. You accused her patronizingly of “biting the hand that fed her.” You, who maintain a polite silence when senior government ministers incite and make racist remarks, insist that Haneen Zoabi be punished.


You are not leftists because leftists do not prefer force over a diplomatic solution. You are not leftists because leftists oppose any limits on freedom of expression. You aren’t leftists because leftists never stop seeking the moderate elements with whom to talk, even — or especially — when the national spokesmen continue to prattle that “there’s no one to talk to.” You are not moderate because you facilitate violence.


By slowly internalizing the extremist doctrine, disseminated by Hamas and the Israel right alike, that the Middle East conflict has no diplomatic solution; by submitting to the pessimistic visions and a violent reality in which life is cheap, you are paving the way for fascism in Israel.


And although in the current climate declaring oneself a leftist is a bold act that borders on irresponsible, you continue to whitewash the stains of apartheid in the territories and the racism and violence in Israel. “And I’m a leftist,” you write, as you sign off your posts and letters that include racist generalizations, dehumanizing expressions, and intolerance.


“And I’m a leftist” will adorn the signature on the death certificate of the Israeli left.


4 SPIEGEL ONLINE  Tuesday, August 5, 2014


Gaza Crisis


‘The Real Danger to Israel Comes from Within’


Interview Conducted by Julia Amalia Heyer


Israel pulled out of the Gaza Strip on Tuesday, but left behind death and destruction. Israeli sociologist Eva Illouz tells SPIEGEL that her country is gripped by fear and is becoming increasingly suspicious of democracy.


SPIEGEL: There was widespread support in Israel for the operation in the Gaza Strip, despite the huge numbers of civilian casualties and the deaths of hundreds of children. Why is that?


Illouz: Where you see human beings, Israelis see enemies. In front of enemies, you close ranks, you unite in fear for your life, and you do not ponder about the fragility of the other. Israel has a split, schizophrenic self-awareness: It cultivates its strength and yet cannot stop seeing itself as weak and threatened. Moreover, both the fact that Hamas holds a radical Islamist and anti-Semitic ideology and the fact that there is rabid anti-Arab racism in Israel explain why Israelis see Gaza as a bastion of potential or real terrorists. It is difficult to have compassion for a population seen as as threatening the heart of your society.


SPIEGEL: Is that also a function of the fact that Israeli society has become increasingly militaristic?


Illouz: Israel is a colonial military power, a militarized society and a democracy all folded into one. The army, for example, controls the Palestinians through a wide network of colonial tools, such as checkpoints, military courts (governed by a legal system different from the Israeli system), the arbitrary granting of work permits, house demolitions and economic sanctions. It is a militarized civil society because almost every family has a father, son or brother in the army and because the military plays an enormous role in the ordinary mentality of ordinary Israelis and is crucial in both political decisions and in the public sphere. In fact, I would say that “security” is the paramount concept guiding Israeli society and politics. But it is also a democracy, which grants rights to gays and makes it possible for a citizen to sue the state.


SPIEGEL: Still, many would say that Israel has gone too far in this war with Hamas.


Illouz: I think Israelis have lost what we can call a “humanitarian sensibility,” the capacity to identify with the suffering of a distant other. In Israel, there has been a change in perception of the “Palestinian other.” The Palestinian has become a true enemy in the perception of Israelis, in the sense that “they are there” and “we are here.” They ceased having a face and even a name.


SPIEGEL: Do you have an explanation for the shift?


Illouz: Israelis and Palestinians used to be mixed. They worked as construction workers and as cheap, underpaid labor. Then the wall was built. Then the road blocks came, which hampered the Palestinians’ freedom of movement. The massive reduction in work permits followed. And in a few years Palestinians disappeared from Israeli society. The Second Intifada put the nail in that coffin, so to speak. The nature of Israeli leadership has also changed. The messianic right has progressively gained power in Israel. It used to be marginal and illegitimate; it is now increasingly mainstream. This radical right sits in Parliament, controls budgets and has changed the nature of discourse. Many Israelis do not understand the radical nature of the right in Israel. It successfully disguises itself as “patriotic” or “Jewish.”


SPIEGEL: Why is the right so strong at the moment even though there are far fewer terror attacks in Israel than there used to be?


Illouz: Entire generations have been raised with the territories, with Israel being a colonial power. They do not know anything else. You have the settlements which are highly ideological. They expanded and entered Israeli mainstream political life. Settlements were strengthened by systematic government policies: They got tax breaks; they had soldiers to protect them; they built roads and infrastructure which are much better than those inside the country. There are entire segments of the population that have never met a secular person and have been educated religiously. Some of these religious segments are also very nationalist. The reality we are faced with in Israel is that we must choose between liberalism and Jewishness, and if we choose Jewishness, we are condemned to become a religious Sparta which will not be sustainable. Whereas in the 1960s, you could be both socialist and Zionist, today it is not possible because of the policies and identity of Israel. Then you have the role which Jews who live outside Israel play in Israel. Many of these Jews have very right-wing views and contribute money to newspapers, think tanks and religious institutions inside Israel. Let’s face it: the right has been more systematic and more mobilized, both inside and outside Israel.


SPIEGEL: Do Jews in the Diaspora see Israel differently than do Jews in Israel?


Illouz: Diaspora Jews have been shaped by the memory of the Shoah. They often live in societies in which their own democratic rights are guaranteed. Sometimes they are under the assault of anti-Semitism and thus feel an urge to reinforce Jewish identity. They do not understand the distress of Israelis who see democracy progressively eaten away by dark forces. Today, Diaspora Jews and Jews in Israel do not have the same interests anymore.


SPIEGEL: What will happen if democratic principles continue to erode?


Illouz: One or two years ago, the newspaper Haaretz conducted a poll which found that 40 percent of the people said they were considering leaving Israel. I don’t know the actual numbers, but I have never heard as much alienation from Israel as during this period. The people who live in secular Tel Aviv have much less in common with their religious counterparts in Jerusalem than they do with people living in Berlin.


SPIEGEL: You describe a fearful, anxious country.


Illouz: Fear is deeply engrained in Israeli society. Fear of the Shoah, fear of anti-Semitism, fear of Islam, fear of Europeans, fear of terror, fear of extermination. You name it. And fear generates a very particular type of thinking, which I would call “catastrophalist.” You always think about the worst case scenario, not about a normal course of events. In catastrophalist scenarios, you become allowed to breach many more moral norms than if you imagined a normal course of events.


SPIEGEL: Still, there is a very real threat to Israel. Whereas Israel sees itself as the victim, the rest of the world is increasingly seeing the country as a violent occupying power.


Illouz: Yes, you are right. But Israelis see only the tunnels, which were about to hurt the heart of their own society. A tunnel vision sustained by the discovery of the real tunnels. It is very difficult to stop being afraid in the midst of people who do not wish you well. Israelis live with constant fear, and the world does not understand this fear.*


SPIEGEL: Do you have an explanation for this lack of understanding?


Illouz: Imagine that you were a girl raised by a very brutal father. You would develop a “healthy” suspicion of men and would become very cautious. If you were to live for a time in an environment of good and nurturing men, your suspicions would relax. But if you lived in an environment in which some men were very brutal and some were not, your healthy suspicion would turn into an obsessive incapacity to differentiate between different types of men, the brutal and the caring. That is the historical trauma of the consciousness that Jews live with. The Israeli psyche has become incapable of making these distinctions.


SPIEGEL: Does this fear justify the kind of brutal violence that has been visited upon the civilian population in the Gaza Strip?


Illouz: Of course it doesn’t. I’m only saying that fear is central to the Israeli psyche. These fears are cynically used by leaders like Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu. He makes Israelis believe that they all want to destroy us. Hamas wants to destroy us, the UN wants to destroy us, al-Qaida and Iran want to destroy us. ISIS wants to destroy us. The European anti-Semites want to destroy us. This is basically the filter through which a conflict with Hamas is interpreted by the ordinary Israeli. Another dimension of this prism is that “they” are not human beings. Palestinians are dehumanized because they put their soldiers amongst civilians, send their children to fight, spend and waste their money on building deadly tunnels rather than on building up their own society. Along with the dehumanization of the other, Israelis have a strong sense of their own moral superiority. “We ask people to get out of their houses; we call them on the phone to make sure civilians are evacuated. We behave humanly,” the Israeli thinks. An army with good manners.


SPIEGEL: And nevertheless, civilians have been the primary victims, with schools, housing complexes and hospitals being bombed.


Illouz: Yes, despite this, many Israelis still hold on the view they are morally superior. They judge by the intention, whereas the world judges by the consequences.


SPIEGEL: Still, an enormous wave of hatred has become visible in Israel in recent weeks. And it’s not only directed at the Palestinians, but also at segments of Israeli society.


Illouz: Some basic norms of speech have been breached by some rabbis and Knesset members, who feel no qualms expressing hatred for Arabs in ways that provide legitimation to hatred. This is very worrisome. It happened because entire generations have been raised believing in religious and ultra-nationalist views. I don’t think that there is more hatred in Israel than in some racist pockets of German or French society. But when some Palestinians recently sang in the streets of Paris “Death to the Jews,” the reaction of the government of Prime Minister Manuel Valls was swift and clear. The authorities sent a strong message that there are forms of speech and forms of belief that are inadmissible. What is lacking in Israeli society is that kind of very strong moral normative claim coming from its leaders.


SPIEGEL: How do you explain this paradox — the hate on the one hand and Israel’s emphasis on its liberal values on the other?


Illouz: Israel started as a modern nation. It derived its legitimacy from the fact that it had democratic institutions. But it was also building highly anti-modern institutions in wanting to create a Jewish democracy by giving power to rabbis, in creating deep ethnic inequalities between different ethnic groups such Jews of Arab countries vs. Jews of European descent; Arabs vs. Jews; Jews vs. non-Jews. It thus blocked universalist thinking.


SPIEGEL: Would you say that the Jewish character of the country has subsumed the democratic character?


Illouz: Yes, definitely. We are at the point where it has become clear that Jewishness has hijacked democracy and its contents. It happened increasingly when the school curriculum started getting changed and emphasizing more Jewish content and less universal content; when the Ministry of the Interior expelled foreign workers because Shas party members were afraid non-Jews would inter-marry with Jews; when human rights are thought of as being left-wing only because human rights presuppose that Jews and non-Jews are equal.


SPIEGEL: That doesn’t sound particularly encouraging.


Illouz: The only response is to create a vast camp of people who defend democracy. The right-left divide is no longer important. There is something more urgent right now: the defense of democracy. The voice of the extreme right is much louder and clearer than it was before. That’s what’s new: a racist right that is not ashamed of itself, that persecutes dissenters and even people who dare express compassion for the other side. The real danger to Israel and its sustainability comes from within. The fascist and racist elements are no less a security threat than the outside enemies.


SPIEGEL: Israeli enemies have also accused the country of no longer being democratic. Does that bother you?


Illouz: With all my critique and occasional disgust at Israeli arrogance, I am also puzzled that Israel is indeed singled out. Look at what happens in Syria or in Nigeria or Iraq. Why isn’t the world demonstrating in the streets in the same way it is doing for Israel? America has also a shocking record outside its own borders. Where are the intellectuals who are going to boycott America? Where are they?


SPIEGEL: Do you support the military operation in the Gaza Strip?


Illouz: No, I don’t. I’m not a pacifist in the sense that I do not think that military operations are always wrong. But I’m not in favor of this operation because there was no political process beforehand. Netanyahu gave such obvious sings that he was not interested in a political process. Instead, Netanyahu constantly undermined Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas. I refuse categorically the idea that our only relationship with the Palestinians is a military one. We are in a march of folly. There is an increasingly large group of people who really think that they can subdue the Palestinian population and sustain a regime where Israel keeps dominating them.


SPIEGEL: Is that not the consequence of 47 years of occupation, this feeling of not having to make any more concessions?


Illouz: Israelis pay a price, but we are not really aware of it. We don’t know how it feels to live in a peaceful society, devoted exclusively to culture, education and improving the living conditions of everyone. People don’t make a connection between the bad living conditions they have and the amount of resources invested in the settlements and in the army. In psychology, they call it dissociation. Israeli society has become very insensitive. Not only to the suffering of others, but also to its own suffering.


*Eds. Note: The online version of this interview has been expanded to add an additional question and answer — which was cut for space from the original interview — so as to improve clarity regarding Ms. Illouz’s position.


5 Haaretz Wednesday, August 13, 2014


Signs of fascism in Israel peaked during Gaza op, says renowned Israeli scholar


Israel Prize laureate and renowned scholar Zeev Sternhell fears the collapse of Israeli democracy, and compares the current atmosphere with that of 1940s’ France. The time we have left to reverse this frightening trend is running out, he warns


By Gidi Weitz       |   Aug. 13, 2014 | 5:54 PM



At 1 A.M. on a day in September 2008, Prof. Zeev Sternhell opened the door of his home on Agnon Street in Jerusalem, intending to enter an inner courtyard. As he turned the handle, a thunderous explosion rocked the building. Sternhell, who a few months earlier had received the Israel Prize in political science, was lightly wounded by a bomb hidden in a potted plant.


A year later, the police apprehended the perpetrator of the attack: Yaakov (Jack) Teitel, a resident of a West Bank settlement. At one time, Teitel was an informer for the Jewish Department of the Shin Bet security service. In his interrogation, it turned out that his crimes included the murder of two Palestinians.


“I chose Sternhell as a target because he is held in high regard, he’s a left-wing professor,” Teitel told the interrogators. “I didn’t want to kill him, because that would turn him into a martyr. I wanted to make a statement.” Teitel was sentenced to two life terms. After the assault, Sternhell said in the hospital that “the act in itself reveals the fragility of Israeli democracy.”


I asked Sternhell now whether he thinks that very soon, we will no longer be able to claim that we are the only democracy in the Middle East.


“Indeed, we will no longer be able to say that,” he replied, adding, “There is no doubt that the main state authorities do not act with the same determination against the right and against the left, or on the eastern side of the Green Line and on the western side. All in all, these bodies view themselves as much closer to the settlement project’s aims than to the goal of Israel having a Jewish majority and a democracy that grants equality to everyone. The danger is that in good periods, when everything is ostensibly normal, the situation is glossed over. But in a crisis, like we have now, anyone critical of the ‘normal’ order is absolutely afraid to go out in the street.”


Zeev Sternhell was born in Poland in 1935. His father died during World War II; his mother and sister were murdered by the Nazis. Sternhell hid in the home of relatives in the ghetto who, to protect themselves, adopted a new identity as Catholics thanks to false identity papers. He maintained his assumed identity in the postwar period, and was baptized. In 1946, he reached France on a Red Cross train from Poland. He learned French quickly and steeped himself in the republic’s culture and history, but still felt like an outsider. In 1951, at age 16, he decided to immigrate to the fledgling Jewish state completely on his own.


Sternhell did his army service in the Golani infantry brigade and fought as an officer in the 1956 Sinai War. As an Armored Corps officer in the reserves, he also saw action in the 1967 Six-Day War, the 1973 Yom Kippur War and the first Lebanon war, in 1982. In the meantime, his international academic career took off. Sternhell studied the collapse of the 20th century’s modern liberal democratic order, and also reconceptualized fascism, viewing the phenomenon not as a random accident that occurred after World War I, but as an ideological approach originating in the 19th century.


In 1983, his book “Neither Right Nor Left: Fascist Ideology in France” (published originally in French) stirred a furor in France. Sternhell’s thesis was that the Vichy regime, which helped hunt down Jews, was not forced upon the French, but sprang from an ideological stream that reflected the hidden wishes of the masses. Fascism, he argued, was actually born in France, not Italy. His book, since revised and expanded, continues to be controversial in France and elsewhere.


In 1977, with the ascent of Menachem Begin and the Likud to power in Israel, Sternhell joined a circle of intellectuals who sought to persuade the rival Labor Party to adopt a dovish stance. For years he has been outspokenly critical of the settlement project and an advocate of the urgent need for the establishment of a Palestinian state. Those views, uttered by a public figure of his prominence, led Teitel to single him out in an act that would “make a statement.”


Eroded democracy


Have you seen signs of a budding fascism in Israel in the past month or two?


“First, let me say that there are worse things than fascism, and that not everything that is bad is fascist. In Italy under Mussolini, which is the prototype of fascism, probably no more than a few dozen people were murdered by the regime. There were no concentration camps. Art and culture flourished. Before the war, life was highly tolerable, including the life of the Jews, until the promulgation of the race laws in 1938. The percentage of Jews in the Fascist Party was higher than their percentage in the population. And the Italians were not actually responsible for the downturn that occurred afterward in the life of the Jews – not like in France, where the fate of the Jews is totally the historic responsibility of the French, even if they decline to acknowledge it.


“As I say, there are worse things than fascism. You don’t need that exact definition. For example, people say that if there isn’t a one-party regime, it’s not fascism. That’s nonsense. A party is a means for achieving power, not a means of rule in itself. What needs to be examined in this context is the resilience of the democracy – and Israeli democracy has become increasingly eroded, until it reached a new nadir in the current war. The indicators [of fascism] you asked about definitely exist here.”


Of all the phenomena you’ve encountered here, which do you find ugliest?


“What we’ve seen here in the past few weeks is absolute conformism on the part of most of Israel’s intellectuals. They’ve just followed the herd. By intellectuals I mean professors and journalists. The intellectual bankruptcy of the mass media in this war is total. It’s not easy to go against the herd, you can easily be trampled. But the role of the intellectual and the journalist is not to applaud the government. Democracy crumbles when the intellectuals, the educated classes, toe the line of the thugs or look at them with a smile. People here say, ‘It’s not so terrible, it’s nothing like fascism – we have free elections and parties and a parliament.’ Yet, we reached a crisis in this war, in which, without anyone asking them to do so, all kinds of university bodies are suddenly demanding that the entire academic community roll back its criticism.”


Do you think it’s due to fear?


“Fear of the authorities, fear of possible budgetary sanctions and fear of pressure from the street. The personification of shame and disgrace occurred when the dean of the law faculty of Bar-Ilan University threatened sanctions against one of his colleagues because the latter added a couple of sentences to an announcement about exam dates in which he expressed sorrow at the killing and loss of life on both sides. To grieve for the loss of life on both sides is already a subversive act, treason. We are arriving at a situation of purely formal democracy, which keeps sinking to ever lower levels.”


When will we cross the line in which democracy implodes?


“Democracy rarely falls in a revolution. Not in Italy, not in Germany and not in France with the Vichy regime – which is a crucial thing, because France was a democratic country that fell into the hands of the right wing with the support of the vast majority of the population. It was not the fall of France that generated this ideology. It was the result of a gradual process in which an extreme nationalist ideology took shape, a radical approach that perceives the nation as an organic body. Like a tree on which human individuals are the leaves and the branches – in other words, people exist only thanks to the tree. The nation is a living body.


“In Israel, the religious factor strengthens the national singularity. It’s not a matter of belief, but of identity; religion bolsters your distinctive identity. It’s essential to understand that without this radical nationalism there is no fascism. I also distinguish between fascism and Nazism, because fascism does not necessarily carry a race doctrine. Let me put it in no uncertain terms: Fascism is a war against enlightenment and against universal values; Nazism was a war against the human race.”


Do you see a negation of universal values in Israel and a war against enlightenment in recent years?


“It cries out to heaven. Israel is an extraordinary laboratory in which one sees the gradual erosion of enlightenment values, namely the universal values I mentioned. You see the negation, which always existed on the fringes, slowly impinging, until one day it dominates the center.”


The case of France


“Consider the nationhood law submitted by [Likud MK] Zeev Elkin [which would define Israel as the state of the Jewish people only]; the campaign against the Supreme Court, a body based on the idea that there are norms that transcend governmental power; the [proposed] law against the left-wing NGOs, which is a brutal and violent erosion of freedom of speech; and the various manifestations of a witch hunt here, when a journalist like [Haaretz’s] Gideon Levy needs a bodyguard.


“Consider Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s demand that Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas recognize Israel as the Jewish state. That is to force the Palestinians to acknowledge that they are historically inferior, as though to say: ‘You lost the country in 1948-49, it’s not yours. You live here because we are not expelling you, but this is a Jewish state.’ The Arabs are citizens, but it’s not their country. In other words, a distinction is made between nationhood and citizenship. Anyone can be a citizen, but we are the masters.


“Why is the case of France so interesting? Because that’s what was done to the Jews there in 1940, even though some had lived there for hundreds of years. They were told: ‘You received an ID card and a passport; now I am revoking them. I cannot annul the Frenchness of a Frenchman, but you are not French, and the citizenship category is artificial.’ That was done to an uncle of mine who immigrated to France in 1929, together with my aunt, in order to study medicine. It was the same in Germany.


“This is exactly what we are saying to the Arabs today. The potential for the annulment of citizenship exists here, too. Why throw the Jewish state like mud in the face of these Israeli citizens? In fact, their behavior has been perfectly fine, considering the problems they face, with families in the West Bank and Gaza, and the pressures they are under. For my part, I don’t know of any Israeli-Arab spy ring. It’s true that they don’t sing the national anthem and don’t fly the flag and aren’t members of the World Zionist Organization, but as citizens they are fulfilling their obligations.”


What is your horror scenario for the end of Israeli democracy?


“Democracy is not defined by the right to vote every few years. It is tested every day in terms of human rights. All the rest is secondary, because you can easily, by casting a ballot, establish a dictatorial regime here, or vote to kick the Arabs out of the Knesset. You have to remember that democracy ceased to exist in the territories long ago. The Palestinians there have no human rights, you rule them by force, and after three [Jewish] boys are murdered you can make the life of the population hell, because you can do as you please. That has been the case for decades, and it corrupts.


“Those norms are already here, inside the Green Line, because our children and grandchildren spend most of their army service in the territories. There’s a colonial police force there, in the form of the Kfir Brigade and the Border Police, but that’s not enough. Kfir and the Border Police weren’t even sent into Gaza, because they no longer know how to engage in combat. They are no longer soldiers. The Paratroops were brought from training on the Golan Heights to search for the three kidnapped boys – not to search, actually, because it was already known that they weren’t alive, but to make the lives of the local population miserable and show them who’s boss. What goes on there constantly leaks into Israel. Democracies don’t collapse suddenly, they encounter a serious crisis. We could find ourselves in a serious crisis in which the whole shebang will go up in smoke.”


To be followed by the rise of a dictator?


“Not necessarily, not at all. The government will continue to rule, resting on the Knesset majority by force of edicts and creation of clear segregation between Jews and non-Jews, imposing censorship, intimidating dissidents, the media, the universities – all supposedly autonomous bodies.”


But you say it’s already happening now.


“Of course it’s happening now, but it could reach a boiling point. The water is already very hot. It hasn’t yet boiled, but it could do so tomorrow morning. It’s on the brink of boiling over.”


Do you agree that Operation Protective Edge was a war of no choice?


“It was a war of complete choice, chaotic and sloppy, and that too will be investigated. Something should have been done as soon as they [Hamas] started shooting. First of all, there was no need to humiliate the population and arrest the 500 people who were released in the Shalit deal … Hamas also took advantage of the opportunity to demonstrate that it is the only fighting force and that Abbas is a ‘collaborator.’ The rockets had to be responded to. Could that have been done without the massive use of the air force? I don’t know, I don’t have enough information. But this war, entry of ground forces, was a war of choice.”


What about the threat of the attack tunnels?


“No one mentioned that beforehand, that was not the aim of the war. The aim was to achieve quiet in return for quiet. The government didn’t want the ground entry. It was already a rolling operation. There was right-wing pressure on the government. Maybe if Bibi hadn’t gone in, his status as prime minister would have been weakened immensely. Any reasonable person would now exploit the gap in ability between us and them to launch a process toward a comprehensive solution of the conflict.”


‘Carrot and stick’


But how can you reach a situation of negotiating with a fundamentalist, religiously extremist organization?


“In principle, I think we should talk with everyone, if it can lead to results. I think Israel should have taken advantage of the formation of the joint Fatah-Hamas government and given it an incentive, something it could work with. We gave them nothing, only the demand to recognize Israel as the Jewish state.


“Hamas is Gaza; Hamas is no longer only a terrorist organization. It established a province, a region under its rule. It invested all its efforts in the war against Israel, but one has to be fair about this whole story. I try to be as objective as possible. It’s true that Hamas is an extreme fundamentalist organization, a murderous organization of shahids [martyrs] – but we are going to have to live with those people. We need the carrot-and-stick method. We used the stick plentifully, but I didn’t see the carrot. Abbas is dying for us to give him something. Maybe we can reach a settlement now, as part of Gaza’s rehabilitation. There’s no need to demand that Hamas raise the white flag. We need a long-range perspective that will include an element of generosity toward the Palestinians. Could it be the policy of blockade and creating intolerable conditions that nourishes Hamas? We need to do something concrete in our relations with the Palestinians and with the Arabs as a whole.”


Such as what?


“The first thing is to stop deepening the Jewish presence in the territories. Then to show them that we genuinely aspire to two states. And as a means of demonstrating our seriousness, to lift the blockade of Gaza, with supervision, with Abbas’ people at the transit points, and to let the population breathe. And also to forge relations in which the people there are treated as human beings on an equal footing with us.”


Will a government that’s not capable of removing three mobile homes in the West Bank be able to remove whole settlements?


“The settlements are a cancer. If our society is unable to muster sufficient strength, political power and mental fortitude to remove some of the settlements, that will signal that the Israeli story is finished, that the story of Zionism as we understand it, as I understand it, is over.”


How long do we have until the end of the story?


“A few years. Israel is now the last colonial country in the West. How long will that continue? If not for the memory of the Holocaust and the fear of being accused of anti-Semitism, Europe would have long since boycotted the settlements. I would begin by evacuating Ariel University, because it’s easy to do. It’s easier to remove a university than it is to remove three trailers. It’s a symbolic act. That wretched college was made a university in order to demonstrate something.


“Why do I so much want a border between the two countries? To prevent the emergence of one state here, because with one state there will be an apartheid regime. After all, no one here is playing with the idea that there will be civic equality between Nablus and Tel Aviv. There will be a civil war here, in the best case, and in the worst case there will be an apartheid state in which we will rule the Arabs without the dimension of transience that is still attached to the territories – even though it’s obvious to anyone with eyes in his head that the transience has long since vanished and that there is an apartheid situation in the West Bank.”


‘Their tragedy and ours’


You’ve elaborated on our blame for the deterioration. What blame attaches to the Palestinians?


“The editors of an Arab journal recently asked me about the right of return. I told them it’s dead, a destructive illusion. ‘Why not leave the refugees some hope?’ they asked me. I replied, ‘That hope will block any agreement.’ A few years ago, in a meeting with Arab intellectuals in Haifa, we agreed on pretty well everything until we came to the right of return. One of them said, ‘Are you in effect asking me to tell my relative, who once lived on this street and is now a refugee in Sidon, that he can never return here?’ That’s exactly your role, I replied, to tell them that they will never return to Haifa or Ramle or Jaffa. As long as they cling to the notion of the right of return, they are preventing the majority of the Jews in Israel, who want to put an end to all this, from fighting for an agreement. That millstone, which they cannot cast off, is their tragedy and ours.”


But the Palestinians’ attitude sometimes looks like obsessive rejection.


“It’s true that the Palestinians don’t have the strength, the leadership, the necessary elite, the mental fortitude to recognize the fact that 1949 was the end of the process. They don’t have to see it as just, but they need to understand that it’s the end. They don’t have the strength to grasp that, and we are rubbing salt into their wounds by making more and more demands and creating an intolerable situation in the territories. We are cultivating their hostility.”


After the brief episode involving the Labor Party intellectuals, Sternhell and others tried to form a social-democratic party along the lines of Meretz. When their efforts failed, he ended his brief flirtation with Israeli politics for good.


Is there anyone in Israeli politics who scares you?


“The group led by [Naftali] Bennett and [Uri] Ariel scares me – I think they are extremely dangerous. I think that [Avigdor] Lieberman is a little less dangerous, because he lacks religious fervor. But they and the right-wing branch of Likud are truly dangerous people, because they really don’t understand what democracy is, what human rights are, and they truly and deeply hate the Arabs in a way that doesn’t allow for coexistence here. You ask whether there are similarities between Marine Le Pen in France and Bennett – of course there are. In some ways she is a dangerous left-winger compared to him. If Netanyahu really wants to enter the history books, he needs to dismantle the partnership with the right, split Likud and establish a centrist government with the support of the left, and not be ashamed to rely on the Arabs’ votes.”

Is Netanyahu capable of replicating de Gaulle and returning the territories?

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Dorothy Online News Letter


Dear Friends,

These are sad times.  We have a cease fire now, scheduled to last another 2 days (from midnight to midnight).  The cease fire is to give time for the sides to talk.

My personal feeling is that Israel feels that it is doing excellently and will continue without giving the Palestinians the time of day.  May I be wrong.  They have the same right as do all human beings to be free!  Imagine the United States telling Mexico that it can have no ports either sea or air ones!  The Palestinians badly need their freedom.  Will Hamas raise its hands without gaining the end of the siege?  Israel is obviously not ready to give Gaza anything—well just small things, like extending the distance that fishermen will be allowed to fish.  One thing that is not spoken of much is the fact that Gaza apparently has potentially a large natural gas field off its coast.  BP was at one time interested in developing it, but due to Israel’s maneuverings pulled out.  For more on the gas field see

These gas fields are undoubtedly a reason that Israel wants no shipping port for Gaza or to allow Gaza control of the waters off its coast.

In any event, I anticipate that the missiles will begin coming our way again and  bombings of Gaza will resume in 2 more days,  if not sooner.  On tonight’s Israel TV news (3 stations) the commentators and newscasters couldn’t hide their delight at the way the talks were going—all in Israel’s favor.

But these commentators and news casters ignore at their own peril what is happening outside of Israel.  I have never seen so much anti-Israel articles, protests, and feeling in the 56 years that I have lived here.  May it grow! In leaps and bounds!  A country that denies the indigenous population freedom and the glow of a happy future deserves to be treated as the pariah it is!

As for the items below, there are 10 of them, several of which include videos worth seeing.  The final item is one of these, an interview of Norman Finkelstein, but also includes a transcript.  I did not listen to the entire video,  but from the 1/3 or so  that I heard, I presume that the whole is between 40-60 minutes.

Item 1 is a very strong speech by a Norwegian doctor who had just returned from Gaza.  He insists that just as the Norwegians fought the Nazis in WWII, so Gazans also have the right to fight for their freedom.

Item 2 is likewise a strong speech, but at a protest, where Ramia Massi teaches Barack Obama the meaning of “barbaric.”  Well worth hearing!

Item 3 likewise takes us to protests, of which there were many over the weekend.

Item 4 tells us that Israel’s military incursion into Gaza has breathed life into the boycott-Israel campaign, though this has not as yet brought the desired results.  Perhaps it will.

Item 5 takes us to the protest in Cape Town–apparently one of the largest (  reports that 40,000 participated).

Item 6 tells the true story of what happened to the Greenhouses that the settlers on the outskirts of Gaza left behind.

Item 7, Gaza Diary depicts how the cease fire gives Gazans a bit of time to breathe, to do normal things as shop, just go out of the house, and the like, but accompanying them is the fear that the quiet might not hold.

In item 8 Gideon Levy explains what Gaza is like if you don’t hate it.

In item 9 Amira Hass bitterly (and justly) derides the Europeans for giving Israel a green light to kill and destroy.

Item 10 is the interview with Norman Finkelstein.

That’s it for tonight.  Let’s continue to do whatever we can to help the people of Gaza rid themselves of the siege!



1 The Palestine Chronicle Monday, August 11, 2014

[use the link to listen to the entire speech, in Norwegian but with translation in subtitles]

Monday, August 11, 2014

Surgeon Mads Gilbert Gives a Powerful Speech about Gaza after Returning Home to Norway

Aug 8 2014

Mads Gilbert: "Nobody wants to be occupied!"

Mads Gilbert: “Nobody wants to be occupied!”

In a powerful 25 minute speech on his return home to Tromsø, Norway from 15 days treating the wounded in Gaza, the Norwegian emergency surgeon Dr Mads Gilbert said: “The heart of the Earth beats in Gaza now. It bleeds, but it beats.”

He went on to say: “The Palestinian people’s resistance in Gaza today is admirable, it is fair and it is a struggle for all of us. We do not want a world where raw power can be abused, to kill those who struggle for justice.”

Below is the first few minutes of the speech transcribed from the video which is subtitled in English. In an appeal to Norwegian citizens, he asks them to imagine what their country would be like today if they had not struggled for its liberation from German occupation.

I know you applaud for Gaza. I know you applaud for those who are there, the heroes of Gaza.

This will be no easy appeal to make, because I am now overcome by the mildness, the warmth, the safety, the absence of bombs, jets, blood and death. And then all that we’ve had to keep inside comes to the surface – so forgive me if sometimes I break.

I thought when I got home and met my daughters Siri and Torbjørn, my son-in-law and my grandkids Jenny and Torje, that it is such a mild country we live in.

It so good, with a kind of humanity in all relationships, because we actually built this country on respect for diversity, respect for the individual, respect for human dignity.

And imagine being back in 1945. And I beg to be understood when I say that I am not comparing the German Nazi regime with Israel. I do not.

But I compare occupation with occupation. Imagine that we in 1945 did not win the liberation struggle, did not throw out the occupier, could not see a bright future or believe our kids had a future. Imagine the occupier remaining in our country, taking it piece by piece, for decades upon decades. And banished us to the leanest areas. Took the fish in the sea, took the land, took the water, and we became more and more confined.

And here in Tromsø we were actually imprisoned, because here there was so much resistance to the occupation. So we are imprisoned for seven years, because in an election we had chosen the most resilient, those who would not accept the occupation.

Then after seven years of confinement in our city, Tromsø, the occupier began to bomb us. And they began to bomb us the day we made a political alliance with those in the other confined parts of occupied Norway, to say that we Norwegians would stand together against the occupier. Then they began to bomb us.

They bombed our university hospital, then the medical center, then killed our ambulance workers, they bombed schools where those who had lost their homes were trying to seek shelter. Then they cut the power and bombed our power plant. Then they shut off the water supply. What would we have done?

Would we have given up, waved the white flag? No. No, we would not. And this is the situation in Gaza.

This is not a battle between terrorism and democracy. Hamas is not the enemy Israel is fighting. Israel is waging a war against the Palestinian people’s will to resist. The unbending determination not to submit to the occupation!

It is the Palestinian people’s dignity and humanity that will not accept that they are treated as third, fourth, fifth-ranking people.

In 1938, the Nazis called the Jews “Untermenschen,” subhuman. Today, Palestinians in the West Bank, in Gaza, in the Diaspora are treated as Untermensch, as subhumans who can be bombed, killed, slaughtered by their thousands, without any of those in power reacting.

So I returned home to my free country – and this country is free because we had a resistance movement, because we said that occupied nations have the right to resist, even with weapons. It’s stated in international law.

You are permitted to fight the occupier even with weapons.

Nobody wants to be occupied!


2 Rania Masri gives Barack Obama a lesson on the meaning of ‘barbaric’

Annie Robbins on August 11, 2014 27

[use the link to hear Rania Masri’s very impressive speech]

Thousands of people from Austin and the surrounding region attended a rally and march protesting Israel’s assault on Gaza, joining the millions protesting around the world. Though for the most part, Austin’s protest on August 2 went unreported.

And video from that rally, of a thunderous speech by Dr. Rania Masri chastising President Obama over his usage of the term “barbaric,” has been garnering thousands of hits daily since it got picked up by social media.

Watch Rania Masri’s focused rage calling for us to make a stand and pledge to be organized in support of Boycott Divestment and Sanctions against Israel. And read each word of her amazing speech, which has already been translated into three languages:

‘Mr. Obama, what is barbaric?’

Yesterday [August 1], the Obama administration said that the capture of an invading Israeli soldier by the Palestinian Resistance was – and I quote – a “barbaric action.”

It seems President Obama and his administration consider the abduction of an invading soldier from an occupying army to be ‘barbaric’ but the massacre of more than 1600 Palestinians in their neighborhoods, in their homes, in their schools, in their hospitals, in their playgrounds, on their beaches is not barbaric.

We need to tell Mr. Obama what barbaric is.

Barbaric is the Israeli killing of more than 70 families in Gaza. More than 70 Palestinian families have been lost.

Barbaric is that 300,000 children in Gaza have lost either their home or a loved one.

Barbaric is that hospitals are targeted. Six out of nine hospitals in Gaza are closed and Israel is threatening to attack the rest.

Barbaric is that entire neighborhoods have been destroyed, labeled what one journalist called ‘apocalyptic.’

Barbaric is that we have 500,000 missiles dropped on an area smaller than 260 km2 (100 square miles).

Barbaric is that it has been the Zionist policy to destroy the economy in Gaza. That is why they bombed the electric power plant, that is why they are bombing the waste water infrastructure, that is why yesterday they destroyed an ice cream factory.

Barbaric is the siege imposed on Gaza since 2005 and the fencing off of Gaza since 1995.  Barbaric is that the objective of this siege is deliberately to destroy the economy of Palestinians in Gaza, to cripple them, to break them. That, Mr. Obama, is barbarism.

Barbaric, Mr. Obama, is what is coming out of Israel right now – which is open calls for the genocide of Palestinians in Gaza.  This is what is written in Israeli newspapers.  The current Deputy Prime Minister who calls for that against the Palestinians in Gaza. [Note, he says, “We must blow Gaza back to the Middle Ages —destroying all the infrastructure, including roads and water.”]

But none of this is new for us Palestinians. We have seen it before. We have seen it before. We are not surprised. I wish we were. But none of the things that have happened against us in Gaza or in Ramallah or in Quds [Jerusalem] are new.

Barbaric, Mr. Obama, is Zionism. Golda Meir, Israel’s 4th Prime Minister, said, there is ‘no such as a Palestinian people.’ Barbaric is to deny our identity and to deny our existence.

Barbaric is what Menachem Begin, another Israeli PM, said in 1949 when he called Palestinians “beasts walking on two legs.”

Barbaric is what historian Benny Morris says, a historian who recognizes that every single Israeli village and Israeli town is built on a Palestinian village and a Palestinian town and yet he justifies this genocide and this ethnic cleansing and he recently called for the ethnic cleansing of Palestinians in Gaza. That is barbaric.

Barbaric is what the Israeli Offensive Forces are calling for. They have said very specifically that officers have been given legal advice that allows them – and I quote – to target “large numbers of civilian casualties.” And this statement was not released in 2014; this statement was from 2009.

Barbaric is what Netanyahu says when he says we must hit them –  “Not just one blow, but blows that are so painful that the price will be too heavy to be borne.” And he said that in 2012. That is barbaric.

Barbaric is when they asked Netanyahu what will they say when we destroy their villages, Netanyahu said, “the world won’t say a thing. The world will say we’re defending [ourselves].”

President Obama has said, and I quote, “innocent civilians caught in the crossfire have to weigh on our conscience. We have to do more.”

Well I appeal to you, Mr. Obama, don’t do more. Because when he does more, he gives more weapons and he gives millions of our money to the Israeli war machine. No, Mr. Obama, if this is how the deaths of our families weighs on your conscience, then please don’t do more.

We need to recognize that the crimes against the Palestinians in Gaza over the past 27 days are not new. The crimes against the Palestinians in Gaza since the siege in 2005 are not new.  They began in 1948.

We need to recognize what barbaric is. Barbaric is racism. Barbaric is defining Palestinians as a ‘demographic threat.’ A demographic threat and therefore considering that Palestinian existence is a threat to Israeli survival.  Our existence is a threat to their survival, which means that the mere fact that we exist is justification for them to kill us. That is barbaric. That is racism. That is Zionism. And that is what we must end.

We are here, together to say, we demand an arms embargo on the state of Israel. We demand an arms embargo on the state of Israel.

We are here to say we demand the International Criminal Court and the International Court of Justice: take the Israeli war criminals to justice for the crime of genocide.

We demand an end to the occupation. And we demand an end to racism.

We stand with the Foreign Minister of Finland who said that sanctions against Israel must be on the table.

We stand with the governments of Latin American – from Ecuador, to El Salvador, to Bolivia, to Brazil, to Venezuela, to Chile, to Peru, to Cuba who expelled their ambassadors from Israel. We stand with the President of Bolivia, Evo Morales, who said Israel is a “terrorist state.”

And I have to say this. We not only stand with Palestinian families – with their women and their children – but we have to stand with the Palestinian Resistance. If we say that an occupied population has the right to defend itself – which is what an occupied population has the right to do – then we stand with the Palestinian Resistance. We stand with the Palestinian Resistance.

And if we are opposed to racism against Palestinians, then we need to be opposed to racism against anyone, anywhere.  Which means, Mr. Obama, we are opposed to your drone warfare. We are opposed to your drone warfare. Mr. Obama, we are opposed to your immigrant policies that separates families in Texas and elsewhere in the United States. We are opposed to discrimination against African-Americans and Latino-Americans and all of the people of color. We say this as Palestinians, we say this as human rights activists: an end to the privatization of prisons in this country, an end to the drone warfare, an end to everything that is barbaric. That is what we say.

And we make a pledge. We make a pledge, right here, today. In the name of the Palestinians, who are the most resilient people I have ever known, who are standing, and who have been standing since 1948, we pledge to them, that when the bombs stop – and they will stop — we will remember our anger today, we will remember our tears today, and we will not be broken. So long as Palestinians are surviving, and they are surviving, so long as they are resilient – and by God we are resilient, we will not be broken and we will organize. That means each of you here is to make a pledge, to stand and be organized in support of the Boycott Divestment and Sanctions Movement. Make it your personal pledge to be organized in Dallas, in Houston, in Austin, wherever you come from in Texas, to support the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions movement. [end of the video]

We will break down the walls of Apartheid. We will end the horrors of occupation and siege. We will dismantle segregation in all its forms.  We will connect our struggles. And we will teach resistance.  Make that your pledge!

Who’s Rania Masri? She’s a political commentator, a  regular on the Real News, a scholar, a human rights activist, a university professor of environmental science and a writer. Her activism has centered on environmental justice, civil rights, anti war, anti apartheid, of course Palestine and the list goes on. Prior to her current position as an assistant professor and chair of the Environmental Sciences Department at the University of Balamand in Lebanon, Masri directed the Southern Peace Research and Education Center at the Institute for Southern Studies in North Carolina. When she returns to Lebanon this fall she plans on accepting a position at the American University of Beirut.

She’s on fire.

Austin, TX – Aug. 2, 2014

About Annie Robbins

Annie Robbins is Editor at Large for Mondoweiss, a mother, a human rights activist and a ceramic artist. She lives in the SF bay area. Follow her on Twitter @anniefofani

View all posts by Annie Robbins →

Posted in Israel/Palestine


3 Hamodia Sunday, August 10, 2014

Anti-Israel Protesters Taking to Streets

(Reuters/Hamodia) – Some 5,000 people marched through the streets of Santiago over the weekend to call for the Chilean government to break all ties with Israel.

The protest consisted of members of various social organizations, human rights activists, university students, and members of Chile’s Palestinian community.

Regional neighbors such as Brazil, Peru and Ecuador have recalled their ambassadors in Israel in recent weeks.

Meanwhile in New York, about 500 Palestinians and their sympathizers marched to the United Nations, while shouting protests against Israel’s military retaliations against Hamas in the Gaza Strip.

Waving Palestinian flags and ‘Gaza’ signs, some called for an end to U.S. aid to the country.

In midtown Manhattan, police on motorcycles stood by, engines revved up to accompany the marchers before they peacefully headed toward the United Nations building.

London continued to be the scene of large pro-Palestinian demonstrations as thousands marched through central London over the weekend, demanding the British government take a tougher line against Israel.

Protesters converged on the main shopping area of Oxford Street, marching to the U.S. embassy and on to Hyde Park, many of them chanting “Free Palestine” and holding up banners saying “UK — Stop Arming Israel.”

Sayeeda Warsi, a Foreign Office minister and the first Muslim to sit in the British cabinet, resigned last week over the government’s policy on Gaza.

Cameron called for an immediate ceasefire and announced over the weekend that medical experts from the state-run National Health Service (NHS) would be deployed to the region within 48 hours to take part in humanitarian efforts.

Meanwhile, a public appeal for aid for Gaza by the Disasters Emergency Committee (DEC), on behalf of a number of British charities, had raised £4.5 million ($7.5 million, 5.6 million euros) since its launch on Friday.

The city council of Glasgow displayed a Palestinian flag outside its building, in solidarity with the population in Gaza, a move which sparked protest from the Jewish community.

There were also fresh protests in Paris, which has seen several demonstrations, including violent ones directed at the local Jewish community, in recent weeks.

In the Middle East, Jordan’s King Abdullah II lashed out at Israel in a one-sided speech which made no mention of the role of Hamas in the violence. Abdullah said he backed Egyptian efforts to end “the Israeli offensive” and that Jordan would speak out at international forums to bring the killing to a halt and implement a two-state solution.

In Israel itself, where anti-war demonstrations in the past, such those against the war in Lebanon, drew large numbers of people, only about 150 showed up in Tel Aviv, in defiance of a police ban on the assembly that cited military restrictions on public gatherings in cities within range of rocket fire.

Police spokesman Micky Rosenfeld said none of the participants in the illegal gathering were arrested.

The weak turnout merely underscored the broad public support for Operation Protective Edge. The private Israel Democracy Institute think-tank found in a survey in late July that as many as 95 percent of Israelis supported the war, and only 7 percent were opposed.. [*This is nonsense.  The ‘weak’ turnout merely showed that not everyone obeyed the police directive against holding the protest.  The former protest drew 6,000 Israelis, and this one would undoubtedly have produced the same number if not more. Dorothy]

This article appeared in print on page 7 of today’s edition of Hamodia.

Filed under: Europe, Israel, Palestinian, Protest, War


4 Haaretz Monday, August 11, 2014

Gaza war breathes life into drive to boycott Israel

Social media are abuzz, and companies rush to deny Israeli links, but there are few signs shoppers are actually shunning Israeli goods on the store shelves.

By Ronit Domke, Michal Ramati and TheMarker

The Gaza war has breathed new life into the global campaign to boycott Israel and the foreign companies that do business with it, although the impact of a tide of social media campaigns on actual spending decisions by consumers so far seems to be nil.

One barometer of the campaign is the Buycott mobile application, which is designed to help social activists of all stripes raise consumer awareness of their causes. The app allows shoppers to scan the barcode of a product to determine who made it and to cross-check against the boycott drives the shopper has chosen.

All three of Buycott’s top trending campaigns called for boycotts of products made in Israel and companies that do business with it. “Long live Palestine boycott Israel” was No. 1, at 262,321, followed by “Avoid Israel settlement products” at 142,021 and “Boycott des produits sioniste en France, at 4,285.

A campaign against genetically-modified farm products was fourth and a pro-Israel campaign, “Support Israel and boycott terrorist organizations” was No. 5, at 6,768.

The trending figure refers not to the number of followers but to how quickly the campaign is gaining them. “Long live Palestine” had just 461 members on July 7, the eve of Operation Protective Edge.

“I noticed three weeks ago that we were seeing an unusual spike in traffic, but there hadn’t been any articles written about the app or Israel campaigns,” Ivan Pardo, the California developer who launched the app a year ago, told Forbes magazine. “Next thing I knew Buycott was a top 10-app in the U.K. and the Netherlands, and No. 1 in a number of Middle Eastern countries. Word was spreading through social media.”

Meanwhile, a dedicated app, Boycott Israel, which says it aims to encourage awareness about companies that help Israel, has had tens of thousands of downloads. The Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions movement, which has been leading the drive against Israel, plans its own app.

Hugh Lanning, chair of the London-based Palestine Solidarity Campaign, told The International Business Times last week that he saw signs that the boycott campaign was becoming mainstream.

“We get the feeling that people are anxious. Individuals who have been outraged by what they’ve seen want ways in which they can individually protest. Boycott actions are being seen as a way the person in the street can say: out with that,” he said.

Starbucks, the Seattle-based coffee chain, felt the boycott pressure building enough that it felt compelled to respond over the weekend. Although the chain pulled out of Israel in 2003 after a brief foray, its founder and chairman, Howard Schultz, is Jewish and was being accused of donating money to the Israel Defense Forces.

“Is it true that Starbucks or Howard Schultz provides financial support to Israel?” the company asked in a question-and-answer section. “No. This is absolutely untrue. … Rumors that Starbucks or Howard provides financial support to the Israeli government and/or the Israeli Army are unequivocally false.”

Despite the social media outrage, there haven’t been any confirmed reports of consumers mass boycotting Israeli products. Tesco, Britain’s biggest supermarket chain, denied it had pulled from its shelves dates grown in Israeli settlements in the West Bank.

A Tesco spokesman told the Jewish Chronicle the move was not “politically motivated” or connected to the Gaza conflict, rather part of a “regular product review process.”

Intel, the U.S. semiconductor company with extensive research and development and manufacturing operations is Israel, was subject to a fraudulent press release and webpage in its name that asserted at the end of last week that the company was rescinding plans to invest $6 billion in upgrading its Israeli manufacturing.

“An unknown individual has sent what purports to be a news release to some members of the media concerning Intel’s operations in Israel,” Intel said. “This is a hoax. The purported news release does not come from Intel and is false.”

In Muslim countries, where Israeli products are scarce, boycott efforts have focused on global companies doing business with Israel.

The Turkish daily Zaman reported that Istanbul and a host of small towns have been urging residents not to buy products made in Israel or that have links to Israel, such as Coca-Cola, in a campaign that began on social media. Malaysians have mounted a campaign against McDonald’s, accusing it of supporting Israel’s war effort.

Activists not only called for shunning Big Macs, but reportedly harassed McDonald’s employees, prompting the local franchisee to issue a statement. “The reality is that our employees and franchisees have done nothing wrong and it is grossly unfair that they should be targeted in such a way,” it said.

In Mumbai, The Indian newspaper The Hindu reported in late July that over 1,000 hotels in the city had joined a boycott of Coca-Cola, Pepsi and other products sold in Israel. Kamlesh Sharma, public relations director of Coca-Cola in India, said it was too early to assess the impact. “They have chosen the wrong symbol of protest. Coca-Cola is still selling in Palestine,” he said.


5 CPT [i.e., Cape Town] protests against Gaza/Israel conflict 

August 10, 2014

Several high profile dignitaries including Archbishop Desmond Tutu are participating in the march.

Pro-Palestinian march in Cape Town. Picture: Siyabonga Sesant/EWN.

Pro-Palestinian march in Cape Town. Picture: Siyabonga Sesant/EWN.

Lauren Isaacs & Govan Whittles

CAPE TOWN –Tens of thousands of people are making their way through the streets of the Cape Town CBD in protest against the ongoing violent conflict in Gaza.

Several high profile dignitaries including Archbishop Desmond Tutu are participating in the march.

Thousands of people gathered in Keizergracht Street before embarking on a march to Parliament.

The people are brandishing placards that read “save Gaza, free Palestine, stop the bombing and killing of our children”.

 As the crowd descending on the CBD grows larger, several roads are being closed causing major traffic delays in and around the city.

This is the second major march to be held in the city in support of Palestine.

Last week thousands gathered in support of Israel at Huddle Park in Linksfield in Johannesburg.

The South African Zionist Federation organised the event to show solidarity with Israel as it continues its offensive in Gaza.

There was a large police contingent and private security guards.

Meanwhile, Israel launched air strikes across the Gaza Strip on Friday in response to Palestinian rockets fired after Egyptian-mediated talks failed to extend a 72-hour truce in the month-long war.

Map illustrating the conflict in Gaza. Graphic: AFP.

As rocket-warning sirens sounded in southern Israel, the military said Hamas had fired at least 18 rockets from Gaza and Israel’s “Iron Dome” interceptor system brought down two. Gaza militants said they had fired 10 rockets on Friday.

In the first casualties since hostilities resumed on Friday, Palestinian medical officials said a 10-year-old boy was killed in an Israeli strike near a mosque in Gaza City. In Israel, police said two people were injured by mortar fire from Gaza.

After a huge explosion in Gaza City, apparently from an air raid, a military spokesperson said Israel had responded to Hamas rocket fire by launching air strikes at “terror sites” across the Gaza Strip.

(Edited by Refilwe Pitjeng)

Smoke billows following an Israeli air strike in Rafah, in the southern Gaza Strip, on 8 August 2014. Picture: AFP.

Gaza: New ceasefire effective as talks continue

Former president Nelson Mandela’s eldest grandson says his family fully supports Palestine. Picture: Lauren Isaacs/EWN.

Killings of Palestinians ‘inhumane’

Smoke billows following an Israeli air strike in Rafah, in the southern Gaza Strip, on 8 August 2014. Picture: AFP.


6 Mondoweiss Sunday, August 10, 2014

The Greenhouse propaganda—How Gazan history is being rewritten to dehumanize Palestinians

Justin Schwegel on August 10, 2014 31

Gazan workers harvest carnations in one of the enclave’s huge greenhouses. (Photo via

Erase memory and you wash away the blood from the perpetrator’s hands, you undo the done deed, make it disappear from history. Erase memories of atrocities and you tempt future perpetrators with immunity—Miraslov Volf

In recent weeks, as Israeli bombs and artillery have slammed into the tiny strip of land that is home to nearly 2 million Palestinians in Gaza, the propaganda war has been raging with equal vigor. Israeli spokespersons have consistently denied any blame for civilian victims and even claimed that civilians are acting as human shields for Hamas operations, blaming the victims of this humanitarian catastrophe for their own suffering.

While it will take time and independent investigation to determine if the Israeli Defense Forces’ claims that Hamas is using civilians as human shields turn out to be as baseless as past IDF human shielding allegations against Hamas and Hezbollah, other claims made by Israel supporters can be easily dispelled now.

Pro-Israel politicians and pundits have rewritten the history of the demise of an agricultural project in the Gaza Strip to blame the victims of an economic tragedy for their own hopeless situation. During the past few weeks, several pro-Israel political pundits including Ezra Levant, Charles Krauthammer, Richard Chesnoff, Jeffrey Goldberg and Alan Dershowitz have taken this line of victim-blaming. Notably, Hillary Clinton also advanced the Israeli effort to rewrite history.

According to the history being written by Clinton and Krauthammer, Ariel Sharon made the decision to pull out of Gaza as a goodwill gesture toward peace and left the greenhouses behind so that Palestinians in Gaza could prosper. Palestinians decided to destroy the greenhouses because, according to Clinton “the leadership said, We don’t want anything left from Israel, [and they] destroyed it all.” Her version, which is by no means the most extreme, implies Palestinians destroyed the greenhouses in a self-destructive, anti-Semitic rage. This version of events is far removed from historical reality.

Why did Israel withdraw from Gaza?

Israel apologists view the 2005 withdrawal from Gaza as an altruistic act. In reality there is not much land nor many natural resources in Gaza, aside from a couple of offshore natural gas reservoirs. Prime Minister Ariel Sharon knew that allowing settlers to remain in the Gaza strip posed a massive “demographic threat,” an Israeli term for the threat that Palestinians might become the majority in Israel thereby making it impossible for Israel to be both Jewish and democratic. There were about 1.5 million Palestinians at the time who would have become Israeli if Israel had tried to swallow Gaza whole. The demographic threat was the reason for the withdrawal, and the reason for Gaza’s being quarantined from the outside world, not the hope that Gaza would become peaceful and prosperous.

What really happened to the greenhouses?

According to the New York Times, two months prior to the withdrawal, in July of 2005, Israeli settlers demolished about half of the greenhouses, “creating significant doubts that the greenhouses could be handed over to the Palestinians as ‘a living business.’” There are other reports that rather than leave their greenhouses behind for the Palestinians some settlers decided to burn them to the ground.

Notwithstanding the destruction that had already been wrought, wealthy American philanthropists led by the Gates foundation and James Wolfensohn, the US Special Envoy for Gaza Disengagement, bought the remaining greenhouses from the Israeli settlers on behalf of the Palestinians in Gaza for $14 million. Wolfensohn contributed $500,000 of his own money.

Admittedly, Palestinian looters took to the greenhouses when they were transferred to Palestinian control in mid-September 2005, hauling away some of the irrigation pipes, water pumps, plastic sheeting and glass, but leaving the greenhouses themselves structurally intact.

Bassil Jabir was the CEO of the Palestine Economic Development Company (PED), the organization founded by the Palestinian Authority to take charge of the greenhouse project after it was turned over to the Palestinians. The PED invested more than $20 million into the project. Jabir said that as a result of the destruction by Israeli settlers and Palestinian looters the PED had to invest an additional $5 million into the greenhouse project to revive it.

Despite the initial setbacks, the greenhouses were up and running by mid-October. By late November, the New York Times reported that the Palestinians were preparing to harvest a crop of peppers, strawberries, tomatoes and herbs worth $20 million. Presciently, in the same article, Palestinians expressed concern that if Israel did not keep the Karni border crossing open, it could result in the demise of the greenhouse project.

In mid-December, the greenhouses made their first export of 8 tons of peppers. Speaking to the Associated Press about the success of the project, Jabir said, “It makes us proud. This land was a symbol of occupation and many people were doubting our ability to rehabilitate [it], but now we have proven that we, as Palestinians, are able to manage our lives, to farm our land and to do our own business.”

That hope and pride soon turned to despair. According to Jabir, in order for the project to be successful, it would require moving at least 25 truckloads of produce a day through the Karni crossing. On rare days when the Karni crossing was functioning smoothly he was only able to move 3 truckloads. A crossing that was supposed to be open 24/7, per an international agreement to which Israel was party, was only open sporadically and unpredictably. Israel cited security concerns. The Palestine Economic Development Corporation and its Israeli distribution partner Adafresh were losing hundreds of thousands of dollars every week.

By February 2006, the BBC reported that because the farmers could not get their produce through the crossing, trucks were dumping perfect, ripe produce onto a wasteland to be eaten by goats. Bassil Jabir joked that because cows were eating their strawberries after they had rotted in the harsh sun next to the checkpoint, they had developed perfectly natural strawberry-flavored milk. According to Special Envoy Wolfensohn, “Instead of hope, the Palestinians saw that they were put back in prison.”

The BBC reported in February 2006, “Palestinians were convinced that Gaza was being deliberately strangled.” In March, Israeli daily Haaretz quoted the Commander of the IDF’s Gaza Division and the head of the Southern Command as stating there was no security-related reason for the closure of the Karni crossing. The Israeli Defense Minister ordered the closures to continue. Speaking to the BBC about Israeli border closures, Mr. Jabir stated, “This is a message to every investor: ‘Don’t come – there’s no hope of any investment flourishing.’” According to a PED report in early March made to Special Envoy Wolfensohn, the closures had cost the greenhouse project $5.4 million in the first two and a half months of 2006.

By April 2006, after months of border closures, there was no money left to pay the agricultural workers, and the project was shut down. Bassil Jabir quit as CEO of the Palestine Economic Development Company in 2006 and left the Gaza Strip in frustration.

During Israel’s June 2006 “Operation Summer Rains,” the United Nations Development Programme estimated that Israel inflicted $23.5 million in damage on Gaza’s agriculture, including damage to the greenhouses. Due to lack of project funds, no crop was planted that fall. During the next harvest season Israel kept the crossings open despite no noticeable change in security threat. Tentative plans were made to lease the greenhouses to independent farmers the next season, but when Israel and Egypt officially began the Gaza siege in 2007, the export-driven project was dead with no hope for revival.

At the beginning of 2008, Hamas militiamen blew a hole in the wall separating Gaza from Egypt. Many Gazans crossed into the Sinai to purchase goods and sell what they could. Farmers who had been prohibited from exporting their agricultural produce for years sold these same greenhouses to Sinai farmers who were not faced with similar export constraints and were happy to have them. Some greenhouses remained. Many were deliberately destroyed by the IDF during operation Cast Lead, which caused nearly $16 million in damage to Gaza greenhouses. Others have been destroyed by the most recent bombardment.

What does the lie accomplish?

The answer to this question depends on context. Hillary Clinton used the lie in a non sequitur to rebut Jon Stewart’s question of why Gazans cannot look to Hamas as their “freedom fighters.” Ezra Levant used it to argue that Palestinians are anti-Semites.

One of the Palestinians’ demands as a condition for a ceasefire during the present conflict is an end to the economically devastating siege and access to a UN-monitored seaport. If pro-Israel pundits admit that Israel killed the Gaza greenhouse project (and the rest of the Gaza economy) through border closures they might also have to admit that this request is reasonable.

The foundation of the lie inevitably denies Israel’s responsibility for destroying a lucrative business while simultaneously implying that Palestinians would rather engage in self-destructive sabotage than build a functioning economy. Indeed, the logic goes, if Palestinians cannot be trusted to keep a profitable greenhouse project running, how could we ever expect them to run a State?

The greenhouses are just one example of an industry choked to death by the Israeli siege. There are hundreds of others.

I caught up with Bassil Jabir this week, and he was not hesitant about what killed the greenhouse project. “All the problems I told you about were problems that we could handle or had handled. If we could have exported our produce we would have made $25 million after recovering our investment. [It was] not what the Israeli settlers did, not what the Palestinian looters did. Yes, it was bad, yes, it was costly, but if we got to export our produce we would have recovered in our first year. The closure [of the Karni crossing] was the evil from which we could not recover…It was my dream project and it was destroyed in front of me.”

The Greenhouse project is dead and with it died the dreams of many Palestinian farmers. Eight years ago the BBC reported on a murder by strangulation. Thanks to American revisionists like Hillary Clinton and Charles Krauthammer, it is now being portrayed as a suicide.


7 Haaretz Sunday, August 10, 2014

Gaza diary: The worst of times for Gaza and it may not be over

Despite the large number of people killed, the spirit of strength and steadfastness is palpable in the streets of the Strip.

By Abeer Ayyoub          |  Aug. 10, 2014

It wasn’t the first time a humanitarian cease-fire had been announced, but this one meant the end of the war for the 1.8 million Palestinian living in Gaza, or at least this is what they hoped. People rushed into the main streets in Gaza, either checking the damage left by the 30-day Operation Protective Edge or getting the basic necessities they had been deprived of while stuck indoors.

At the fancy toy store, Jihan Qannu’,25, was choosing new toys for her two daughters, who seemed delighted to be walking in the street again. Qannu’ said she wanted to take the children to an entertainment zone, but none of them were open. She bought them new toys instead.

“They have suffered enough; I’ll do my best to make them feel better,” Qannu’ said, while her three-year-old daughter pulled her dress asking for a new toy.

Shopping areas were full of people and the war was the talk of the town. Everyone was saying, “thank God you are still fine,” whether you know them or not.

Abu Ali, 45, was walking with his children near a huge government compound that had been reduced to rubble. He and his children gazed at the building for a while; they seemed choked with emotion.

“I went out into the street because I’m missing it and I’m missing the air, but Gaza is no longer the way it was; it’s totally devastated,” he said, displaying the mixed emotions of happiness at being alive, along with his children, and sadness for the hundreds killed and injured.

The number of people at one of the UNRWA schools, where thousands of residents from Al-Shejaiya and the northern neighborhoods have been sheltering, was lower than than it had been in recent weeks. People had gone to check up on their houses. Most of those who remained in the school were convinced that they no longer had houses.

Ghalya Kafarna, 45, said that she had gone to her damaged family home to fetch food and clothes. “People here ran to their houses when they heard about the cease-fire,” she said, with her two-year-old child in her arms. “I don’t know how long I’ll be here; I’m homeless now.”

People spoke constantly about resistance and their satisfaction with it. Despite the large number of people killed, the spirit of strength and steadfastness was dominant.

Muhammad Musa, 54, who works as a security guard at a public association, said he was totally supportive of the resistance and angry with the attitude of the international community toward the “massive crimes being committed against the innocent Palestinians in Gaza.”

“I have always opposed Hamas as a government, but when it comes to resistance, I support them with all of my might,” Musa said.

“I know that even if I have a fighter in my house, that doesn’t give the IDF the right to kill dozens of people and demolish houses to kill only one fighter; that can’t be fair.”

Thirty days of war has been the worst of times for the Gaza Strip. More than 1,800 people were killed, thousands were injured and complete neighborhoods were reduced to rubble. The brief cease-fire gave people a window to breathe, but they are still cautious that the nightmare is not over yet.


8 Haaretz Sunday, August 10, 2014

Go to Gaza, see for yourself

In the absence of hatred, one can understand the Palestinians. Without it, even some of Hamas’ demands might sound reasonable and justified.

By Gideon Levy

Can we possibly conduct a discussion, however brief, that is not saturated with venomous hatred? Can we let go for a moment of the dehumanization and demonization of the Palestinians and speak dispassionately of justice, leaving racism aside? It’s crucial that we give it a try.

In the absence of hatred, one can understand the Palestinians. Without it, even some of Hamas’ demands might sound reasonable and justified. Such a rational discourse would lead any decent person to clear-cut conclusions. Such a revolutionary dialogue might even advance the cause of peace, if one may still dare say such things. What are we facing? A people without rights that in 1948 was dispossessed of its land and its territory, in part by its own fault. In 1967 it was again stripped of its rights and lands. Ever since it has lived under conditions experienced by few nations. The West Bank is occupied and the Gaza Strip is besieged. This nation tries to resist, with its meager powers and with methods that are sometimes murderous, as every conquered nation throughout history, including Israel, has done. It has a right to resist, it must be said.

Let’s talk about Gaza. The Gaza strip is not a nest of murderers; it’s not even a nest of wasps. It is not home to incessant rampage and murder. Most of its children were not born to kill, nor do most of its mothers raise martyrs — what they want for their children is exactly what most Israeli mothers want for their own children. Its leaders are not so different from Israel’s, not in the extent of their corruption, their penchant for “luxury hotels” nor even in their allocating most of the budget to defense.

Gaza is a stricken enclave, a permanent disaster zone, from 1948 to 2014, and most of its inhabitants are third- and fourth-time refugees. Most of the people who revile and who destroy the Gaza Strip have never been there, certainly not as civilians. For eight years I have been prevented from going there; during the preceding 20 years I visited often. I liked the Gaza Strip, as much as one can like an afflicted region. I liked its people, if I may be permitted to make a generalization. There was a spirit of almost unimaginable determination, along with an admirable resignation to its woes.

In recent years Gaza has become a cage, a roofless prison surrounded by fences. Before that it was also bisected. Whether or not they are responsible for their situation, these are ill-fated people, a great many people and a great deal of misery.

Despairing of the Palestinian Authority, Gazans chose Hamas in a democratic election. It’s their right to err. Afterward, when the Palestine Liberation Organization refused to hand over the reins of power, Hamas took control by force.

Hamas is a national-religious movement. Anyone who champions hatred-free dialogue will notice that Hamas has changed. Anyone who manages to ignore all the adjectives that have been applied will also discern its reasonable aspirations, such as having a seaport and an airport. We must also listen to scholars who are free of hatred, such as Bar-Ilan University Mideast expert Prof. Menachem Klein, whose reading of Hamas goes against the conventional wisdom in Israel. In an interview to the business daily Calcalist last week, Klein said Hamas was founded not as a terror organization but rather as a social movement, and should be viewed as such even now. It has long since “betrayed” its charter, and conducts a lively political debate, but in the dialogue of hatred there is no one to hear it.

From the perspective of the dialogue of hate, Gaza and Hamas, Palestinians and Arabs, are all the same. They all live on the shore of the same sea, and share the single goal of throwing the Jews into it. A less primitive, less brainwashed discussion would lead to different conclusions. For example, that an internationally supervised port is a legitimate and reasonable goal; that lifting the blockade on the Strip would also serve Israel; that there is no other way to stop the violent resistance; that bringing Hamas into the peace process could result in a surprising change; that the Gaza strip is populated by human beings, who want to live as human beings.

But in Hebrew, “Gaza,” pronounced ‘Aza, is short for Azazel, which is associated with hell. Of the multitude of curses hurled at me these days from every street corner, “Go to hell/Gaza” is among the gentler ones. Sometimes I want to say in response, “I wish I could go to Gaza, in order to fulfill my journalistic mission.” And sometimes I even want to say: “I wish you could all go to Gaza. If only you knew what Gaza is, and what is really there.”


9  Haaretz Monday, August 11, 2014

A European green light to kill, destroy and pulverize Gaza

If the security of Jews in the Mideast were of real interest to European countries like Germany and Austria, they wouldn’t continue subsidizing the Israeli occupation.

By Amira Hass

A Palestinian man standing in a crowd of onlookers reacts to watching a soap factory go up in flames moments after it was hit by an Israeli airstrike in Gaza City on August 10, 2014.  Photo by AFP

In its ongoing silence, official Germany is collaborating with Israel on its journey of destruction and death, waged against the Palestinian people in Gaza. Germany isn’t alone – Austria’s silence is also deafening.

Actually, why single out these two countries? On the second or third day of the war, Chancellor Angela Merkel wasn’t the only one to declare that she stood beside Israel. The entire European Union supported Israel and its right “to defend itself.”

Yes, France and Britain did some squirming last week, making a few feeble sounds of protest. But the EU’s original stance, stated on July 22, still resounds. It accused the side under prolonged Israeli siege of causing the escalation. This is the side that, despite all the European declarations on its right to self-determination and an independent state in the West Bank and Gaza, is still under Israeli occupation after 47 years.

EU member states and, obviously, the United States, gave Israel a green light to kill, destroy and pulverize. They placed the brunt of the blame on the people launching the rockets, the Palestinians. The rockets are disrupting the “order” and the “quiet,” endangering the security of Israel, which is so weak and vulnerable, always attacked for no reason whatsoever.

Basically, the United States and Europe are endorsing the status quo under which the Gaza Strip is severed from the West Bank. The Israeli siege of Gaza and the oppression of the Palestinian population in the West Bank are Israel’s quiet, order and security. Whoever dares to violate this must be punished. In their passionate declarations on Israel’s right to defend itself, EU officials fail to mention the Palestinians’ right to security or protection from the Israeli army.

Europe and the United States didn’t give Israel the green light to escalate — to destroy, kill and inflict suffering on an unprecedented scale — at the outbreak of the current hostilities. They already gave it back in 2006, when they spearheaded the boycott of the Hamas government, elected in a democratic vote.

Even then they chose to collectively punish the entire occupied Palestinian population while ignoring the main reason this organization had won a majority: the pet Palestinian regime that Europe had fostered — the Palestinian Authority. This regime remains tarnished by two evils – corruption and the failure of its diplomatic tactics to achieve independence.

The PA’s conduct has led to a situation in which negotiations, a willingness to reach a peace deal with Israel and even opposition to an armed struggle for moral and practical reasons have become synonymous with the enrichment of a small group — alongside its cynical disregard for the rights and conditions of most of the population.

Neither quiet nor order

One can understand that Israeli security experts repeatedly misread both open and subterranean currents coursing through Palestinian society, which again and again disrupt the “quiet.” Those experts’ brains aren’t programmed to understand that the quiet and order they’re supposed to preserve are neither quiet nor order.

Two weeks ago, Jacob Perry, the public’s darling and a key figure in the documentary “The Gatekeepers,” said he hoped the security establishment would be able to contain the latest wave of demonstrations in the West Bank.

“These demonstrations are bad for them and for us,” said the former head of the Shin Bet security service in a typically paternalistic manner. Indeed, the army, which did not wait for his advice, continues to kill demonstrators who do not endanger soldiers’ lives. They do this every week and wound dozens of others (two more were killed this weekend). Even after 47 years, security officials don’t get it that oppression does not lead to submission. At most it only postpones a much bloodier confrontation — as is now happening in Gaza.

But what of Europe’s experts, aid workers, diplomats and civilian and military advisers, and the lessons accumulated over the many years of colonialism? One would have thought that all these people and events would have prevented Europe from making such an egregious mistake in 2006, from which arose all the escalations soaked in Palestinian blood.

The boycott of Hamas, which in effect was a political boycott of the Palestinian people in the occupied territories, encouraged Fatah and PA President Mahmoud Abbas to overturn the election results by nondemocratic means. The boycott and Western contempt for the election result only goaded Hamas into extreme and desperate channels, turning it into a martyr and a respectable alternative in the public mind.

In fact, this wasn’t a “mistake” but rather a conscious decision. European countries and the United States are willing to invest billions of dollars in the Palestinian territories for the reconstruction of rubble created using American, and probably European, arms. These dollars address humanitarian disasters caused by the Israeli occupation.

Europe and the United States are willing to fund tents, food and water in order to domesticate a leadership held captive by these donations. These leaders therefore promise not to disrupt the quiet and order. It’s not justice and the Palestinians’ rights that the West holds dear, it’s the maintaining of “stability.”

Germany and Austria are particularly noteworthy. Because of them there’s the impression that the European Union is so supportive of Israel due to guilt feelings over the murder of Europe’s Jews under German occupation, and due to a moral commitment to the direct offshoot of that chapter in history, the State of Israel.

Shielded by the Holocaust, there is no need to discuss Western interests, whether American or European. These include the continued control, through trusted agents, of oil and gas resources, the protection of markets and the safeguarding of the “security” of Israel as a Western power, perceived as a stable entity that can contain and counter the changes in the region.

If the security of Jews in the Middle East were of real interest to European countries, especially Germany and Austria, they would not continue subsidizing the Israeli occupation. They would not give Israel a permanent green light to kill and destroy.


10 An interview of Norman Finkelstein on Gaza, etc

August 6, 2014

Norman Finkelstein on Gaza conflict, Hamas goals and Iron Dome myth

Posted in Nova Newsletter1 Comment

Dorothy Online NewsLetter


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.



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.

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.”


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.

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.


3 Al Jazeera Sunday, August 3, 2014

A question from Gaza: Am I not human enough?

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.


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.


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.

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.


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.

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.

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.

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

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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Dorothy Online NewsLetter


Dear Friends,

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

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

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

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

Item 4 is Today in Palestine

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

Item 6 is a France24 newscast which begins with Gaza

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

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

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


1 Haaretz Sunday, August 3, 2014

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

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

By Gideon Levy

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


2 Haaretz Monday, August 4, 2014

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

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

By Asher Schechter

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

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

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

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

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

And that was relatively moderate.

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

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

The way we were

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Inured through despair

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

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

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

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

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

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


3   3 The Guardian Sunday, August 3, 2014

Women in Gaza

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

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

Paul Mason

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


4 Today in Palestine for August 3, 2014


5 PCHR Statistics and update for August 4, 2014

6 France24 video

Posted in Nova NewsletterComments Off on Dorothy Online NewsLetter

Dorothy Online NewsLetter


Dear Friends,

The latest figures of casualties that I am aware of till now are over 1,300 Gazans killed and 53 IOF soldiers plus 3 civilians in Israel.  Bloody enough without continuing another minute, much less day or days!  And yet the fighting continues.

Below are 5 items.

In item 1 the writer fantasizes about how he would react and what he should do should he receive one of Israel’s famous phone calls telling him that he has so many minutes to leave before his home is bombarded.

Item 2 is about Israel’s bombardment of another UNRWA school, in which 19 lost their lives,

Immediately following is an article on the laws of engagement, from which we learn that schools are not a legitimate target, even if someone presumably shoots from the school.

Item 4 discusses the dilemma that Gaza poses for American Jews.  I am sure that many Jews all over the world will feel at the least embarrassed, at the most disgusted with Israel’s conduct against Palestinians.

Item 5 reveals 9 things that the American media is not telling its readers and hearers.

That’s it for this round.  Let’s hope the massacre ends soon, before another person is killed on either side!



1 Al Jazeera Tuesday, July 29, 2014

Hello? Is this Israel calling?

If Israel calls to tell me they will bomb my house, what should I take with me as I run for my life?

Ziad Bakri

Ziad Bakri is a Palestinian living in the Gaza Strip. He is a translator, blogger and teacher. He blogs at:

Over 200,000 Palestinians have been displaced in Gaza since the start of the Israeli assault [Reuters]

They say that a person’s life passes in front of his eyes when he is about to die. It was different for me. My whole life passed in front of my eyes while I was standing in front of a ringing phone. Is it the call? Is it our turn?

Since the start of the Israeli offensive, anyone in Gaza at any time can receive a call from the Israelis telling them that they must leave their house because it will be bombed in less than five minutes. That is, if they are lucky! Those who are not lucky do not receive a warning and get killed.

Seconds turned into years. I gathered every bit of strength I had in my body and picked up the phone. It was my aunt from outside Gaza checking on us after she heard that a location near our home was bombed. It is funny the amount of knowledge our beloved ones outside Gaza have. They’ve put their lives on hold to follow the war on TV and the internet. They know the names of streets, of buildings, of martyrs.

“Was it that close?” she asked me.

“No,” I answered.

“But you sound as if you have seen a ghost?”

“It is ok, aunt. It is just that a bad thought passed through my mind before I picked up the phone.”

I sat by myself and started thinking seriously: What if it really happens? How would I react? What should I do? Unconsciously, I started breathing heavily, with anxiety.

The first person who came to my mind was my mom. How could she, an old, overweight woman, suffering from heart and blood pressure problems, run down from the fourth floor and reach the street in time?

My thoughts wandered further. What should I take with me? Of course my certificates, passport and ID. While I was getting my certificates out of the drawer, I saw my university bachelor’s degree certificate. I still remember how proud I was when I got home that day holding my certificate. I studied for years in order to get it.

I looked around and  saw a portrait of me hanging on the wall. It was given to me by my students who gave me a wonderful surprise party for my birthday. I remember promising them that this portrait will hang in my room and it will never go down.

Should I take those letters and pictures or should I leave them to be buried under a house that history will forget?

Shujayea: Massacre at Dawn

Hours passed and I was moving from one memory to another. Which item should I take, or in other words, which memory in this house is more important than the other? Which part of ziad, of my soul, should I take?

A sentence that I heard the day before hit me. I was watching footage from the massacre in Al Shujayea. Some 60,000 people left their houses and ran for their lives. While people were running in the street, a man said: “It is the same as the Nakba in 1948.”

It has been the fate of Palestinians in the past 66 years to evacuate their homes constantly, leaving behind their property, their land, their history. Will Shujayea people ever be able to go back to their homes? Or will they be left with only memories of what they called home?

I talked once to a woman who still had the key to the house she left during the Nakba. I was thinking to myself, “Is she serious? Does she think that even if she were to return, she would be able to open the front door with the same key?” I did not know back then that the key was all she had to remember her house by; it was the soul of a home lost forever.

Now, it is my turn to decide which item would be my “key” to keep for years as a memento of what I called home.

They say that when you are running from Israeli bombs, you are in panic and you only think of your own safety. What if this happens to me, what if while running out, I see one of our neighbours’ children, who play all the time in the hall between our apartments, lying on the ground and in need of help? Will I be so afraid that I will leave these angels behind?

I was overwhelmed by all these thoughts. I got dizzy. It could have been the Ramadan fast. Muslims wait for Ramadan from one year to the next to do their best to be closer to God, to visit each other and to help the needy ones. Our Ramadan passed under shelling and bombing, and in constant prayer that we and our loved ones be safe.

I was so overwhelmed by everything that was going on in my head that I forgot the main reason behind these terrible thoughts, the main reason that made me think that the phone call might be “the one”. It was the sad story I had just heard about my friend.

She got married two years ago to a very nice guy, and as any newlywed couple, they did not have their own house, so they lived with his family. Both of them worked really hard to save up for a house. I remember how excited she was about her new home. She used to tell me about every little detail: the tiles, the furniture, the colours, the walls. I used to tell her that it is just a home, not a castle, but her answer would always be “But it is not any home, it is my home. In this home I will write the story of my life with my husband and children.”

After two years, the house was ready for them to move in. She was the happiest person in the whole world; her voice changed, her face did too. She was ready to start her life in the new home. This happened two weeks before the war.

INTERACTIVE: Gaza Under Attack

When the Israelis started bombing us, they left their home for a safer place. During the last ceasefire she went back only to find out that her house was levelled to the ground.

“The only thing that survived was my son’s toy,” she said in a broken voice.

What hurts me the most is that Gaza’s story is always told in terms of numbers: “50 people died, 100 buildings were destroyed”. These people had names, stories, dreams, families, ambitions, futures and most importantly – history. These buildings were people’s homes, they were places of safety and security, of hard work and relaxation, of memories and family histories.

Will we live to see the day when the sanctity of Palestinian homes and lives is respected?

ZiadBakri is a Palestinian living in the Gaza Strip. He is a translator, blogger and teacher. He blogs at:

Follow him on Twitter: @ZiadBGaza


2 The Guardian Wednesday, July 30, 2014

Gaza: at least 19 killed and 90 injured as another UN school is hit

UN official condemns ‘in the strongest possible terms this serious violation of international law by Israeli forces’

Harriet Sherwood in Jerusalem

Palestinians mourn loved ones killed in Israeli attack on UN school shelter in Gaza

At least 19 Palestinians were killed and about 90 injured early on Wednesday when a UN school sheltering displaced people was hit by shells during a second night of relentless bombardment that followed an Israeli warning of a protracted military campaign.

Pierre Krahenbuhl, commissioner-general of the UN agency for Palestinian refugees, UNRWA, condemned “in in the strongest possible terms this serious violation of international law by Israeli forces”.

He said in a statement: “Last night, children were killed as they slept next to their parents on the floor of a classroom in a UN-designated shelter in Gaza. Children killed in their sleep; this is an affront to all of us, a source of universal shame. Today the world stands disgraced.

“We have visited the site and gathered evidence. We have analysed fragments, examined craters and other damage. Our initial assessment is that it was Israeli artillery that hit our school, in which 3,300 people had sought refuge. We believe there were at least three impacts.

“It is too early to give a confirmed official death toll. But we know that there were multiple civilian deaths and injuries including of women and children and the UNRWA guard who was trying to protect the site. These are people who were instructed to leave their homes by the Israeli army.”

It was the sixth time that UNRWA schools had been struck, he added. “Our staff, the very people leading the humanitarian response are being killed. Our shelters are overflowing. Tens of thousands may soon be stranded in the streets of Gaza, without food, water and shelter if attacks on these areas continue.”

At the school, Assad Sabah said he and his five children were huddling under desks in one of the classrooms because of the constant sound of tank fire throughout the night.

“We were scared to death,” he told the Associated Press. “After 4.30am, tanks started firing more. Three explosions shook the school. One classroom collapsed over the head of the people who were inside.”

A spokeswoman from the Israel Defence Forces said that its initial inquiries showed that “Hamas militants fired mortar shells from the vicinity of the school, and [Israeli] soldiers responded by firing towards the origins of the fire”. An investigation was continuing, she added.


A UN source said there was no evidence of militant activity inside the school.

The shelling of the school came as diplomatic attention was focussed on Cairo, where a delegation including the Palestinian president, Mahmoud Abbas, and representatives of Hamas and Islamic Jihad, the main militant factions in Gaza, was due to take part in ceasefire talks. A key issue was whether the Gaza-based factions and their armed wings accepted the authority of the delegation.

The Israeli security cabinet was also due to meet on Wednesday afternoon and would consider any progress made in Cairo. Israel’s political and military leaders face crucial decisions on whether to press deeper into Gaza once the cross-border tunnels have been located and destroyed, or whether to accept a “quiet for quiet” deal. “The next 24-72 hours will be critical,” said a diplomatic source.

The last two nights have seen the most fierce bombardment in this Gaza offensive, with inense air strikes, tank shelling and bombardment from Israeli gunboats. In 23 days more than 1,240 Palestinians, most of them civilians, have been killed. On the Israeli side 53 soldiers and three civilians have been killed.

The shelling of the UN school followed an incident last week when another UN school in Beit Hanoun was hit as the playground was filled with families awaiting evacuation amid heavy fighting. Israel denied it was responsible for the deaths, saying a single “errant” shell fired by its forces hit the school playground, which was empty at the time.

Aftermath of the strike on a UN school in Gaza City.

Aftermath of the strike on a UN school in Gaza City. Photograph: Marco Longari/AFP/Getty Images

But according to testimonies gathered by UN staff, an initial shell was followed by “several others in the close vicinity of the school within a matter of minutes”, spokesman Chris Gunness said. Reporters who visited the scene minutes afterwards said damage and debris was consistent with mortar rounds.

UNRWA, said on Tuesday it had found a cache of rockets at one of its schools in Gaza and deplored those who had put them there for placing civilians in harm’s way.

“This is yet another flagrant violation of the neutrality of our premises. We call on all the warring parties to respect the inviolability of UN property,” Gunness said. Two similar discoveries were made last week.

Israel says militants from Hamas and other organisations launch rockets from the vicinity of UNRWA properties.

More than 200,000 people in Gaza have taken shelter in the UN’s schools and properties after Israel warned them to leave whole neighbourhoods that it was planning to bomb. UNRWA said it was at “breaking point”.

The Israeli military said it had targeted more than 4,000 sites in Gaza since the start of the conflict on 8 July. It had detonated three tunnels in Gaza in the past 24 hours, it added. Among the overnight targets were five mosques, which the IDF said housed tunnel shafts, weapons stores and lookout posts, and two “facilities” utilised by senior Hamas militants.

International pressure for an end to the bloodshed has continued to mount. On Tuesday the British prime minister, David Cameron, added his weight to calls for an unconditional, immediate humanitarian ceasefire.

“What we’re seeing is absolutely heartbreaking in terms of the loss of life … everyone wants to see this stopped,” he said. Blaming Hamas for triggering the conflict, he added: “Hamas must stop attacking Israel with rocket attacks. That is how this started. It’s completely unjustified and they need to stop as part of the ceasefire.”

Four Latin American countries – Chile, Peru, Brazil and El Salvador – recalled their ambassadors to Israel. “Chile observes with great concern and discouragement that the military operations – which at this point appear to be a collective punishment to the Palestinian civil population in Gaza – don’t respect fundamental norms of international humanitarian law,” its foreign ministry said.

But support for the military operation among the Israeli public remained solid. A poll published by Tel Aviv university on Tuesday found 95% of Israeli Jews felt the offensive was justified. Only 4% believed too much force had been used.

Hamas released a video showing fighters inside tunnels in Gaza and containing a voice message from Mohammed Deif, the leader of its armed wing, the Qassam Brigades. “The occupying entity will not enjoy security unless our people live in freedom and dignity,” Deif said. “There will be no ceasefire before the [Israeli] aggression is stopped and the blockade is lifted. We will not accept interim solutions.”

On Tuesday flames and clouds of black smoke billowed over Gaza’s only power plant after it was destroyed. “The power plant is finished,” said its director, Mohammed al-Sharif, signalling a new crisis for Gaza’s 1.8 million people, who were already enduring power cuts of more than 20 hours a day.

Amnesty International said the crippling of the power station amounted to “collective punishment of Palestinians”. The strike on the plant will worsen already severe problems with Gaza’s water supply, sewage treatment and power supplies to medical facilities.

“We need at least one year to repair the power plant, the turbines, the fuel tanks and the control room,” said Fathi Sheik Khalil of the Gaza energy authority. “Everything was burned.” He said crew members were trapped by the fire for several hours before they were able to be evacuated.

Gaza City officials said damage to the power station could paralyse pumps and urged residents to ration water.

The home of the Hamas leader in Gaza, Ismail Haniyeh, was destroyed on Tuesday and a building used by Hamas-controlled broadcast outlets was damaged. Haniyeh was not at home when a missile struck shortly before dawn; most of Hamas’s senior leaders are presumed to be residing in underground bunkers for the duration of the war.

The US secretary of state, John Kerry, said he was in discussions with Israel’s prime minister, Binyamin Netanyahu, to find an end to the fighting in Gaza. The pair had spoken “two, three, four times a day in recent days”, Kerry told reporters in Washington.

They were working “very carefully and thoughtfully” on ways to “prevent this spiralling downwards”, he said.

Kerry reiterated US support for Israel’s right to self-defence, “to live free from rockets and tunnels”. The secretary of state has come under sustained attack in Israel over what was perceived as undue sympathy for Hamas’s position in ceasefire negotiations in the Middle East and Paris last week.

The Israeli human rights organisation B’Tselem said 13 Palestinians in the West Bank had been killed by Israeli security forces since the start of the conflict in Gaza, raising concerns about excessive use of live fire.


3 Al Jazeera Wednesday, July 30, 2014

What’s not a target for Israel?

Israel’s claims that Hamas uses civilians as human shields do not absolve it of responsibility for civilian deaths.

Brad Parker

Brad Parker is a staff attorney and international advocacy officer with Defence for Children International Palestine, an independent child-rights organisation dedicated to defending and promoting the rights of children living in the occupied Palestinian Territory.


What’s not a target for Israel?

The Israeli offensive on Gaza has killed more than 200 Palestinian children [AFP]

Israeli forces have killed more than 200 Palestinian children in the Gaza Strip over the past 23 days. In order to obfuscate this harsh reality, Israeli officials claim “self-defence” and contend that civilian deaths are justified because Hamas allegedly uses Palestinians in Gaza as human shields. Israel is an occupying power that is attacking and destroying an occupied Palestinian civilian population. These civilian deaths are not collateral damage. They are war crimes.

On July 20, around 2:20 am, 16-year-old Anas Mahmoud Hussein Muammar from Rafah went out onto the second-floor balcony of his home to join his older brothers for a cup of coffee. Soon after, an Israeli drone-fired missile directly targeted him and his brothers, according to documentation collected by Defense for Children International Palestine. His brothers were killed instantly. Anas suffered fatal injuries and was pronounced dead at Abu Yousef An-Najjar Hospital about 10 minutes later.

A complete disregard of international humanitarian law and the direct targeting of civilian homes, schools, hospitals, and civilians such as Anas have so far characterised Israel’s military offensive on Gaza.

For Palestinians in Gaza, where 43 percent of the population is under 14 years of age, Israeli military offensives are not new. Over the past 14 years, not including the most recent killings, Israeli forces are responsible for the death of over 1,400 children in the occupied Palestinian Territory, including over 1,000 in Gaza alone. Most recently in November 2012, 33 children were killed in Israeli attacks on Gaza. Between December 2008 and January 2009, Israeli forces killed at least 353 children.

To justify the current onslaught on the Palestinian civilian population of the Gaza Strip, Israeli officials repeatedly assert that Hamas uses civilians as human shields. Speaking by phone recently to his Canadian counterpart, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said “Hamas uses innocent civilians as a human shield for terrorist activity.” Israeli military spokesperson, Lt Col Peter Lerner, alleged Palestinian armed groups were “intentionally abusing” hospitals and “other international protected symbols to indiscriminately attack Israel.”

To be clear, the use of civilians as human shields is prohibited under international law and involves forcing civilians to directly assist in military operations or using them to shield a military object or troops from attack. The rhetoric continually voiced by Israeli officials regarding “human shields” amounts to nothing more than generalisations that fall short of the precise calculation required by international humanitarian law when determining whether something is actually a military object.

Civilians, including children, must never be targeted, and civilian structures and infrastructure are presumed not to be legitimate targets, yet Israel continues to carry out direct attacks on civilian homes, schools, hospitals and mosques.


Shujayea: Massacre at Dawn

In order to qualify as a military objective, the object must be used for a military purpose and its total or partial destruction would result in a definite military advantage. Only military objectives can be lawful or legitimate objects of an attack. This standard is inflexible and does not change based on another party’s conduct.

In Khan Younis on July 20, 19 children from the Abu Jami’ family were killed when an Israeli fighter jet targeted and destroyed their home where they were sheltering. Israeli officials stated that the intended target was a Hamas member visiting the house at the time of the strike.

The mere alleged presence of a member of a Palestinian armed group is an insufficient justification for an attack on a family home. Based on a preliminary investigation, the Abu Jami’ home was not being used for any military purpose at the time of the attack and was unlawfully targeted by Israeli forces.

A civilian home, school, or hospital that is in some way deemed by Israeli forces to be “affiliated” with Hamas or another Palestinian armed group does not in itself provide legal justification under international humanitarian law to direct an attack at that object. The standard demands much more, and requires an exacting calculation. Precision is necessary because imprecision leads to war crimes.

Palestinian civilians must not be blamed for their own deaths. Even if Hamas or another Palestinian armed group may have violated the laws of war and used civilians as human shields, this does not relieve Israel from its obligations under international law nor does it justify an attack on civilians or civilian structures.

A generation of Palestinian children in Gaza have been shot, shelled and bombed since the outbreak of the second intifada in September 2000. Their homes and schools have been attacked and destroyed, sometimes repeatedly, and they have come of age witnessing death and suffocated by a life under siege. They have lost parents, siblings, grandparents, cousins, and entire families.

In addition to an immediate ceasefire, the international community, including the US, must demand an end to Israel’s illegal blockade of Gaza and challenge systemic impunity by investigating allegations of war crimes and holding perpetrators accountable.

Brad Parker is a staff attorney and international advocacy officer with Defence for Children International Palestine, an independent child-rights organisation dedicated to defending and promoting the rights of children living in the occupied Palestinian Territory. DCI-Palestine provides free legal assistance to children, collects evidence and conducts advocacy targeting various duty bearers.

Follow DCI-Palestine on Twitter and Facebook. Follow @baparkr


4 Haaretz Tuesday, July 29, 2014

Gaza is trigger for American Jews’ tension and dissonance on Israel

Despite the calls for solidarity, the Gaza conflict is alienating increasing numbers of American Jews from Israel and from the organized Jewish community, which equates being Jewish with a monolithic political position on Israel.

By Emily L. Hauser

It’s hard to sketch an absence or reproduce a silence. It’s easier to report whispers, but those who whisper often seek anonymity. And anecdotes, of course, are not data.

Yet anecdotally, in whispers and off-the-record comments, in sudden Facebook defriendings or empty chairs at services, Israel’s most recent wave of hostilities appears to be leading to increasing alienation for a number of American Jews, despite the call for solidarity. For many of these members of our community, the sensation comes as a deep, identity-shaking shock

The sense has been building for some time – as Ori Nir reported in May, “Lately, American friends are asking me whether Israeli leaders are thinking straight, whether they realize how unreasonable their statements sound here in Washington… These are people who support Israel… who follow the news from Israel with genuine concern, and who cannot comprehend what seems to them like self-destructive behavior.”

But whereas outright war usually muffles such doubts, for many the current violence has created a powerful cognitive dissonance.

From Birthright returnees who now take Israel’s word with a grain of salt, to stalwart community leaders who admit to occasionally removing regularly-worn identifiers of their Jewish identity – whether to avoid conversation, or out of a stunned sense of disgrace – many are experiencing an anxiety that is new, and distancing.

“I hear a lot of pain over the current tension between the terrible, terrible things that are happening to people in Gaza,” says Rabbi Amy Schwartzman of Virginia’s Temple Rodef Shalom, “and the feeling that Israel needs to defend itself.”

“Judaism has a moral standard…. When that morality is compromised, we need to talk about it publicly.”

The frequent unwillingness to do just that – not to mention the vitriol with which such questions are often greeted – has meant that for many the only option is silence, or anonymity.

A recent college graduate who asked not to be identified says: “There definitely is this huge discomfort and shame…. The past month has been really difficult. There’s really huge tension where I’ve felt like, ‘where the hell do I go?’”

Unlike some who say they aren’t going to synagogue right now “because I don’t want to deal with what I’ll hear” (as one person put it), this young woman attended services on a recent Friday night “because I was feeling really emotionally torn…. But also out of curiosity, I didn’t know what [my rabbi] would say.”

“Then the rabbi was saying all these things about peace, but never said the words ‘Palestinians’ or ‘Gaza’.” Ultimately the congregation was urged to attend a pro-Israel rally.

Rabbi Jill Jacobs, Executive Director of T’ruah: The Rabbinic Call for Human Rights, reports that soon after the upsurge in hostilities, a donor with strong Israel ties told her that his children “don’t want anything to do with Israel, and they don’t necessarily want anything to do with Judaism”; at about the same time, a woman who grew up in “a very strong Jewish community” told Jacobs that “her social values aren’t lining up with what she’s seeing coming out of Israel.”

“I think the Jewish community has just been so tone-deaf about this,” she goes on. “It’s completely tone deaf to what’s in people’s minds.”

Another anonymous speaker, who’s worked in the organized Jewish community for years, says that “with the younger generation… their set of values is one that’s based in universal justice, tolerance of the other, particularly of the disenfranchised.”

He adds: “Here they look at a situation where there is a dissonance… and the dissonance is deepening all the time.”

Even those who haven’t witnessed a pulling away from Israel or the community report what Rabbi Peter Knobel, rabbi emeritus of Beth Emet The Free Synagogue in Illinois called “frustration and a tremendous amount of pain… I think what people are looking for is something to give them hope and they’re beginning to despair that this is a permanent problem.”

For some the solution has been to find alternative expressions of identity. Recently a small group (IfNotNow) gathered outside the offices of the Conference of Presidents of Major American Jewish Organizations and read aloud an open letter:

We are here today to demand that the Conference of Presidents join our call to stop the war on Gaza, end the occupation, and forge a path forward for freedom and dignity for all people in Israel and Palestine… For all of us, our tradition obligates us to a particular commitment, born of shared texts and a shared history, to the notion that all people are created equal.

Jack Levinson, a recent Birthright returnee, feels the tension needn’t exist in the first place: “I have never conflated Judaism with Zionism…. I am very glad that I went to Israel, but what I saw has made me watch the ongoing conflict… with a deeper sense of sadness, not a deeper sense of fraternity.”

Anecdotes aren’t data, and it’s clear that most US Jews – even those for whom this is a painful time – aren’t going anywhere. Israel and the Jewish community can rest assured that, at least for now, most American Jews will back the Israeli government, come what may.

But just as anecdotes aren’t data, neither does “most” mean “all.” I worry about every Jew we lose to anger, pain, and confusion, and I genuinely believe that if we want to maintain a vital religious community, we need to learn to decouple our faith from what amounts to a monolithic political position.

Ahavat Yisrael, the love of Israel, can mean many things. Forcing a single definition on all Jews appears to be an good way to make many of them suffer deeply in our midst – or simply leave our midst all together.

Emily L. Hauser is an American-Israeli writer currently living in Chicago. She has studied and reported on the contemporary Middle East since the early 1990s for a variety of outlets, including The Chicago Tribune and The Daily Beast. Follow her on Twitter.


5 Mondoweiss Monday, July 28, 2014

9 things the American media isn’t telling you about Israel/Palestine

Alastair Sloan on July 28, 2014 42

Throughout Israel’s Operation Protective Edge in Gaza, which began on July 8, it has become increasingly clear that the U.S. media is biased against Palestinians, using selective coverage, skewed opinion, and false balance to offer implicit support to Israel’s stance. The Daily Show host Jon Stewart recently skewered the media for placing more weight on the lives of Israelis over Palestinians.

It isn’t a new problem: Fair, a watchdog group that monitors media bias, found in 2001 that NPR covered 89% of Israeli child deaths, and only 20% of Palestinian child deaths. Two years later, academic Matt Viser published a survey in the International Journal of Press and Politics, finding that The New York Times personalized Israeli deaths, largely ignored Palestinian deaths, and relied heavily on Israeli sources. During the eight-day attack on Gaza in November 2012, CNN interviewed more than twice as many Israeli officials as Palestinians.

Fast forward to today’s crisis; the bias remains.

Here’s Bloomberg News on recent events: “Israel Renews Gaza Bombing After Hamas Rejects Truce Plan.” And then there’s the Washington Post: “While Israel Held Its Fire, Hamas did not.” A story reporting on an Israeli missile that killed eight young men watching a World Cup match on July 10 initially had the headline, “Missile at Beachside Gaza Cafe Finds Patrons Poised for World Cup,” thanks to tactless editing from The New York Times.

All these headlines were eventually changed, but in some ways, are emblematic of how Palestinian suffering is automatically trivialized in the U.S. media.

“On and on, around the clock,” as Danny Schecer puts it in his recommended essay about todays crisis: “How Israeli PR Sells Gaza Slaughter.”

So what is the U.S. media hiding from American viewers? Here are nine facts about Israel that you won’t be hearing about on U.S. news .

1. Israel can prevent civilian deaths.

During the course of the past twelve days, Israeli air strikes have killed over 1000 Palestinians — mostly civilians.

Israel says the deaths are a result of Hamas using ordinary Palestinians as human shields, and the gruesome toll has been met with a shrug.

It’s an issue that has come up during past operations in Gaza.

Back in 2009, during Operation Cast Lead, the president of the United Nations General Assembly Miguel d’Escoto Brockmann, condemned Israel for violating international law in Gaza by targeting civilians.

Brockmann called the offensive “a war against a helpless defenceless and imprisoned people.”

“The violations of international law inherent in the Gaza assault have been well documented,” he added, listing collective punishment, disproportionate military force [and] attacks on civilian targets, including homes, mosques, universities, schools.”

Israel doesn’t have to fire at the civilian targets, it’s a choice that they make. Hamas rockets are broadly ineffective anyway — given Israel’s comprehensive network of bomb shelters. Just three civilians in Israel have been killed so far.

Noting the Israeli military’s “long record of unlawful airstrikes with high civilian casualties”, Human Rights Watch Middle East director Sarah Leah Whitson commented that Israel “would never accept an argument that any Israeli home of an Israel Defense Force member would be a valid military target.”

IDF spokesperson Peter Lerner also couldn’t provide any evidence of houses being used to command in control rocket attacks, when directly queried by reporters.

2. The three Israeli teens were killed immediately after being kidnapped.

Investigative journalist Max Blumenthal recently revealed that the Israeli government knew that the three missing Israeli teens, who were abducted in June from Hebron in the West Bank, were murdered almost as soon as they were kidnapped. However, this was not revealed to the public, and instead the search for the missing teenagers unleashed to a brutal crackdown on the West Bank.

Blumenthal says that Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu used outrage around the kidnapping to whip up enough support to justify the aggressive military campaign that has ensued.

3. Gaza is basically an open-air prison.

The economic blockade of Gaza is a form of collective punishment which residents say is like living in a prison. Though the military checkpoints, strong IDF presence and high walls lend the Strip a prison aesthetic, the cruelest element of the “prison” is the lack of economic freedom imposed by Israel’s blockade.

Israel continues to maintain complete control of its border crossings with the Gaza Strip, and the air and sea space of the Gaza Strip – limiting the transfer of goods and people. Though they claim to have withdrawn their troops and that this leaves Gaza “not occupied,” they still maintain control over the tax system.

As a result of these restrictions, 68% of residents live on less than a dollar per day. In contrast, your average Israeli live on eighty five times that.

Inside their prison, Palestinians can’t get access to adequate health care, to education or to employment because of the internal controls imposed by Israel. They need permits from the Israeli authorities to gain access to land and crops, to medical facilities, to schools and universities, and even to visit family and friends.

4. The Iron Dome isn’t protecting Israel from rockets.

It’s a defense system hailed as “a game changer”, and the Senate just approved $351 million to support the military programme, designed to intercept rockets fired by Hamas into Israel.

No matter how much U.S. Senator Dick Durbin gushes about the defense system, it looks like the country’s missile defense system just isn’t very good.

Theodore Postol, a physicist and missile-defense expert at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, estimates the interception rate at just 5%. Working with Dr. Mordechai Shefer, formerly of the defence company Rafael, and another researcher, his team analyzed dozens of videos filmed during the “interceptions.”

Their verdict? most of the explosions which appear successful are actually the self-destruction of the Iron Dome’s own missiles.

Might want to pass along a note to U.S. taxpayers.

5. Israeli forces has killed over 1,500 Palestinian children since 2000.

It is a number that continues to climb, as Operation Protective Edge rages on.

Since 2000, approximately 1,500 Palestinian children have been killed by Israeli security forces. That’s one child every three days for thirteen years. Within that same time period, Palestinians have killed 132 Israeli children.

6. Hamas accepts two states based on the 1967 borders.

No, really. The infamous 1982 Charter was effectively updated in 2006 following Hamas victory in legislative elections and acknowledged that Hamas would accept a Palestinian state on the 1967 border.

In 2006 Ismail Haniyeh wrote a letter to President Bush saying, “We are so concerned about stability and security in the area that we don’t mind having a Palestinian state in the 1967 borders and offering a truce for many years.”

Hamas is showing more than a little humility: Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanayhu himself said he would never accept a Palestinian state.

7. Hamas has been provoked by Israel

If we are to believe right-wing rhetoric and Fox News, Hamas is provoking Israel’s mighty military campaign in Gaza.

House Speaker John Boehner condemned Hamas recently for “aggressive, unprovoked acts of violence against Israel.”

Congressman Eric Cantor concurs: “Hamas’ outrageous and unprovoked war against Israel must end.”

Although Hamas tactics are abhorrent, their actions are predictable and have been provoked.

Israel does not allow Gaza to have a port or airport, nor is it allowed to export most of what it produces. Palestinians cannot work about a third of their own land, reserved by Israel as a security buffer.

A cruel economic blockade ensures that ten percent of Palestinian children in Gaza under five have had their growth stunted by malnutrition. In 2010, Save The Children found that two thirds of Palestinian infants and one third of mothers were affected by anemia.

As British Prime Minister David Cameron said in 2010, “Gaza cannot and must not be allowed to remain a prison camp. He added “People in Gaza are living under constant attacks and pressure in an open-air prison.”

It’s not a moral endorsement of prison riots, but prison guards will tell you: riots happen.


8. Unity between Hamas and Fatah is a good thing.

Back in June, a joint government between feuding Palestinian groups Hamas and Fatah was sworn in.

While the U.S. cited concerns over the involvement of militant group Hamas, it said that it would be prepared to work with the new government.

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu would not recognize the new government, because of the inclusion of Hamas. The leader called it a “step backwards.”

Republican Senator Lindsey Graham greeted the news with disgust:

“This is a provocative act by the Palestinian Authority which runs counter to serious peace negotiations with Israel. It clearly demonstrates the Palestinians have little fear or respect for the Obama Administration.”

Perhaps Bibi should have a chat with his friend Tony Blair. As Prime Minister, he architected the 1998 Good Friday Agreement in Northern Ireland.

“The Troubles” — as the violent thirty-year conflict in Northern Ireland is known — claimed the lives of 650 civilians, mainly at the hands of the terrorists in the The Irish Republican Army. But they eventually entered into politics, and that is a good thing. When terrorist groups choose to talk instead, it is a sign of moving forward. Netanyahu just hasn’t been prepared to admit it yet.


9. Israel isn’t a strategic asset.

Just under half of Americans regard Israel as an ally.

Republican Senator Trent Franks is one of her most eloquent supporters, pledging what he “our arsenal of freedom” to defend “our most precious ally on earth.” Knitting the friendship bracelet, he’s also said “Israel is here to stay forever.”

In Spring 1948, standing in the Oval Office, U.S, Secretary of State George Marshall gave his counsel to President Truman, regarding whether to recognize the recently created state of Israel. His view was that backing the Jewish state would harm relations with the wider Muslim world, thereby jeopardizing American access to oil in the region. He also warned of a wider destablising effect.

Truman rejected the advice, but Marshall showed remarkable prescience. According to Pew Research Center in 2013, ninety percent of Jewish Israelis have a favorable opinion of the U.S., but only forty two percent of Israel’s Palestinian citizens feel the same.

With Muslims elsewhere in the Middle East, America’s reputation is equally putrid.

Eventually, a despicable band of terrorists, led by Osama Bin Laden, took offence to America’s support for Israel (amongst other grievances). These terrorists have committed themselves (often literally) to killing Americans.

After successful attacks on U.S. Embassies, warships and civilian targets, nearly three thousand Americans died on one day, when Al Qaeda took down the World Trade Center. So is Israel a strategic asset to the American people, or more a liability?

Alastair Sloan is a British journalist and columnist focusing on injustice, oppression and human rights. He contributes regularly to The Guardian, Al Jazeera, Middle East Eye and more. Read more at or follow on Twitter @AlastairSloan.

Posted in Nova NewsletterComments Off on Dorothy Online NewsLetter

Dorothy Online NewsLetter


Dear Friends,

Another 5 items below.  They begin with positive news (for a change)!

Item 1 contains 2 reports on demands to label products that come from the Opt—one from England, the other from Belgium.

And item 2 reports on criticism of Israel by Spanish artists.  Finally, we are beginning to see reactions additional to the protests in many countries.  Let us hope that there will be many more open letters as these!

Item 3 is less pleasant.  A recent poll shows that the large majority of Israelis are with the government in this horrid attack on Gaza. Well, most Israelis don’t know the whole story—why it began at all, so of course they stand up for their government, just as Gazans stand up for Hamas.

Item 4 is from an Israeli who speaks of “Israel’s tarnished moral calculus.  Good points.  But he misses when he doesn’t ask why Hamas has been successful in keeping Palestinian public opinion on its side.  The population suffers terribly from the blockade, which Hamas justifiably opposes.

Item 5 reports that the IOF hit Gaza’s main power plant, leaving even those in Gaza who still have homes without electricity.

That’s it for this round.

Wish this would end before more people get killed or injured and before more destruction takes place.  Enough!



1 Ynetnews

July 29, 2014

Off the Shelves

Photo: Ilan Arad, Settlement of Karnei Shomron Photo: Ilan Arad,,2506,L-4551661,00.html

UK retailer Tesco to stop sales of settlement produce

Jewish Chronicle reports British supermarket giant Tesco to suspend sales of products originating from West Bank starting this September. Chain says ‘decision was not political, has nothing to do with Gaza’

Tesco, the UK’s largest supermarket chain, has decided to cease all sales of products originating from the West Bank, the Jewish Chronicle reported on Monday. The decision will go into effect starting this September.

According to the report, a Tesco spokesman stressed that the decision was not politically motivated” and not related to the current Gaza-Israel conflict during Operation Protective Edge, but rather was made as part of a “regular product review process”. The news website said that the only product sourcing in the West Bank that the chain currently stocks was dates, and that it will cease its importation.

However, the Jewish Chronicle also reported that two healthcare and beauty product companies told its reporters that Tesco had requested that they provide them with lists of all products and ingredients they import from Israel and the Palestinian territories, and that the chain had asked for the said information in light of inquiries from customers.

The chain spokesman said: “We have received some questions from customers about products we sell that are sourced from Israel or the West Bank.”

“To make sure we answered their questions with the most accurate and up to date information, we contacted suppliers to double check our own information, particularly for branded products.

“We have no plans to change our position on sourcing from Israel.”



July 29, 2014

Belgium advises retailers to label products from Israeli settlements

The non-binding recommendation has nothing to do with escalating conflict between Israel and Palestinian militants in the Gaza Strip, the Belgian Economics Ministry says.

By Robert-Jan Bartunek

REUTERS – Belgium advised retailers on Tuesday to clearly label the origin of products made in Israeli settlements that are in occupied territories where Palestinians seek statehood.

The non-binding recommendation has nothing to do with escalating conflict between Israel and Palestinian militants in the Gaza Strip, the Belgian Economics Ministry said, noting that Britain and Denmark already had similar labelling in place.

“It’s a non-binding advice to state on labels that products originating from occupied territories come from there,” a ministry spokeswoman said. “We don’t see this as a sanction against Israel, but EU rules stipulate that consumers have to be informed of the origins of products.”

The ministry planned to send a letter to retail federations on Tuesday recommending the use of such labels. Belgian retail federation Comeos and the Israeli Embassy in Brussels said they would not comment before the letter was issued.

Israel has been critical of any move to label produce from Jewish settlements clearly or distinguish them from goods produced by Palestinians, arguing that the distinction is part of a larger effort to impose a Palestinian state on Israel.

The labels Belgium has in mind would mainly apply to fruit and vegetables grown in Jewish settlements in the Jordan Valley of the West Bank. But they could include products such as sparkling water made by SodaStream and cosmetics by Ahava which both have production facilities in the West Bank.

Palestinians have limited self-rule in areas of the West Bank not taken up by Israeli settlements.

Palestinians want to establish a state in the West Bank and Gaza with East Jerusalem as their capital, but the latest round of U.S.-brokered peace talks collapsed in April. Palestinians fear the settlements, which the European Union views as illegal and an obstacle to peace, will deny them a viable country.

Israel took the West Bank, Gaza and East Jerusalem in a 1967 war. It later annexed East Jerusalem in a move not recognized internationally. More than 500,000 Jews now live in settlements in the West Bank and East Jerusalem alongside some 3 million Palestinians. Israel withdrew from the tiny Gaza Strip in 2005.


2 Haaretz

July 29, 2014

Penelope Cruz, Javier Bardem, Pedro Almodovar denounce Israel’s ‘genocide’ in Gaza

Open letter signed by dozens of Spanish stars blasts Israel’s actions in Gaza and urge EU condemnation.

By Haaretz

Dozens of stars from Spain’s cultural scene have added their names to an open letter blasting Israel’s Gaza operation, and denouncing Israel’s actions as “genocide.”

In the letter, which was published on Monday, Oscar-winners Javier Bardem and Penelope Cruz, and the feted Spanish director Pedro Almodovar, were joined by a long list of names, in calling for the European Union to condemn “the bombing by land, sea and air against the Palestinian civilian population in the Gaza Strip.”

They urged a truce by the Israel Defense Forces, which the letter refers to as the “Israel Occupation Forces,” and for Israel to “lift the blockade, which the Gaza Strip has suggered for more than a decade.”

“Gaza is living through horror these days, besieged and attacked by land, sea and air. Palestinians’ homes are being destroyed, they are being denied water, electricity [and] free movement to their hospitals, schools and fields while the international community does nothing,” the letter said.

Other signatories included directors Montxo Armendariz and Benito Zambrano and actors Lola Herrera, Eduardo Noriega and Rosa Maria Sarda.

Israel’s Operation Protective Edge entered its 22nd day on Tuesday, the 12th day of Israel’s ground incursion in the Strip. Some 1,100 Palestinians have been killed since the operation began, along with 53 IDF soldiers and three civilians in Israel.

The open letter blamed the current round of hostilities on Israel, saying that “Israel keeps advancing and invading Palestinian territories instead of withdrawing to the 67 borders.” The letter said that Israel “humiliates, detains, and tramples on the rights of the Palestinian population in all of the West Bank ever day, also causing many deaths.”

Bardem is well-known for his political activism, according to the Hollywood Reporter. On Friday, the star of “No Country for Old Men” published a letter in, in which he said, “In the horror happening right now in Gaza there is NO place for distance or neutrality.”

Earlier this month, sixty-four public figures, including seven Nobel Peace Prize winners, called for an international arms embargo on Israel for its “war crimes and possible crimes against humanity” in Gaza in a letter published in the U.K.’s Guardian newspaper.


3 Ynet

July 29, 2014

Operation Opinions

Photo: AP IDF tank on Gaza border Photo: AP

Poll: 90% of Israeli Jews believe Gaza operation is justified

A new survey by the IDI shows that most Israeli Jews predict further fighting with Hamas, do not expect long-term quiet.,7340,L-4551824,00.html


An overwhelming number of Israeli Jews believe that the ongoing military operation in Gaza is justified and that the IDF has not used excessive firepower, according to a new series of polls by the Israel Democracy Institute.

Over the course of three surveys conducted in the past two weeks, an average of 95 percent of respondents said that Operation Protective Edge was justified, while only 3-4 percent said the IDF has used excessive firepower in Gaza. According to the poll, an average of 48 percent of Israeli Jews think the IDF is using an appropriate level of firepower and an average of 45 percent think the IDF is using insufficient firepower.

IDF tank and spent ammunition on the Gaza border (Photo: Getty Images)

The respondents also looked relatively favorably on the government throughout the conflict, grading its performance, on average, 7.3 out of 10. The Home Front Command also scored highly, receiving an average grade of 8.9 out of 10. Local governments also performed well in public opinion, receiving an average mark of 8.3 out of 10.

The survey, however, did hint at a schism within Israeli society, with the Israeli Jewish respondents ranking the behavior of the Israeli Jewish public at 8.6 out of 10, but the Israeli Arab public at 3.6 out of 10.

The respondents also indicated a reluctance to halt the operation even temporarily as long as the rocket fire on Israel from Gaza continues. An average of 80 percent were opposed to a unilateral ceasefire lasting up to 48 hours if the rockets did not stop, and an average of 65 percent disagreed with an immediate ceasefire so as to negotiate a long-term calm. Furthermore, an average of 60 percent of respondents said there should be a ceasefire only after “an agreement on the conditions for sustaining quiet is reached.”

A majority of respondents also believed that the operation would not put an end to the fighting with Hamas, with an average of 64 percent predicting a further clash. Only an average of 18 percent of respondents said they believed there would be long-term quiet similar to that which came into effect after the 2006 Second Lebanon War.

The three-poll survey was conducted among Israeli Jewish adults on July 14 (246 people), July 16-17 (185 people) and July 23 (216 people).


4 Israel’s tarnished moral calculus

We used to shoot and cry, as the old Si Heyman song says. Now we kill and justify. Hamas is out to kill Israelis, but when did we lose our interest in minimizing brutal tactics?

By Don Futterman

I watched the first 18 days of our latest nightmarish war from Down Under, on the other side of the world.

Free of the albatross of moral one-upmanship and PR positioning, Australians responded like decent, thinking and feeling people: No one should have their children kidnapped or killed; no civilians should have to endure rocket attacks, and no government would be expected to stand idly by; and no army should massacre whole families or scores of bystanders in efforts to kill individual operatives.

Aussie television had reporters stationed both in Gaza and Jerusalem, and with the nightly images of dead and maimed children and their dismembered families, public sentiment began to shift. The pendulum swung from overwhelming Australian support for Israel to revulsion over the carnage in Gaza.

My first concern while I was away naturally was for my children, my family and friends back in Israel under attack. I am humbled by the courage of those on the front lines, by the tributes to every fallen soldier, by the tens of thousands who showed up for funerals of strangers. And I took l pride in how calmly and responsibly my own kids behaved, assuring us that we need not rush home.

Just as the Gaza death toll reached 300, a Malaysian airliner on its way to Australia was shot out of the sky. For a weird and disconcerting moment, there were competing stories, each featuring 300 dead people.

As Australian rage brewed at the baffling and meaningless murder of its own civilians, Gaza was bumped off the front page, becoming the transition segment on the TV news between the Russian-Ukrainian cover-up and the latest Aussie football and rugby results.

Meanwhile, in Gaza, the number 300 receded into the distance of our rear-view mirror. We arrived home to the strange mix of anxiety, calm and sadness, sirens and funerals.

We used to shoot and cry, as the old Si Heyman song says. Now we kill and justify. We have a case. Hamas is the governing agency in Gaza but diverts massive resources to building tunnels and rockets to try to kill Israelis, so Israel has no choice but to try to destroy them. They continue to attack us and Israelis are not willing to be terrorized, and since this is war, not a soccer game, we have no interest in a fair fight or proportionate response.

But it does not take a military expert to know that we are not doing our best to prevent civilian casualties on the other side. We are operating under a new moral calculus, which gives carte blanche to “collateral damage,” to killing any and all Palestinians who might be in the line of fire of targeted Hamas operatives.

We have made a choice to inflict pain on the people of Gaza and to blame the other side for the brutality of our tactics. And since a high proportion of Gazans are kids, this means that the Jewish state is murdering many children.

It is a horrible calculus, an evil and deadly calculus, and we will not come out of this war untarnished.

For many Israelis, the masses of Palestinian dead present no problem beyond image management; Hamas is forcing us to kill civilians, including children, by using them as human shields, and raising the stakes for Israel’s image by daring us to attack their arsenals stashed in schools and hospitals.

As much as we would like to avoid killing civilians, our soldiers are us – our family and friends – so our primal concern is that the Israel Defense Forces does everything possible to minimize the casualties on our side.

But most Jewish Israelis I know are much more conflicted, and our empathy for the faceless and nameless dead on the other side still flickers, if not enough to demand an end to the war on purely moral grounds.

We don’t know if there is another way to prosecute a war against Hamas, but we know these killings are awful.

I don’t expect we will own up to our changed calculus. It certainly won’t happen now, while we are running for cover several times a day, while we are losing our own boys, while anyone who expresses empathy for Palestinians is attacked in the social media or by politicians. In war, jingoism rules the day.

Once this is all over, we will remember the moment before, the impotence of Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas, how our government exploited the kidnapping-murder of three innocent teens as a pretext to attack Hamas in the West Bank, and how our prime minister stood by while Jews hunted Arabs down in the streets in Jerusalem, in response to the revenge kidnapping and murder of an innocent Palestinian teen.

Even Netanyahu’s belated condemnation of that atrocity as a terrorist act was undermined by his claim that Jews worship life while Arabs worship death, the message of a man incapable of seeing beyond Jewish pain.

Hamas has nothing to offer the Palestinian people other than its failed strategy of violent resistance. The pride they instill through standing up to Israel is a legacy of the doomed, creating hopeless tales of a last stand.

If the Palestinians want to restore hope to Gaza, they will have to depose Hamas. But if we want anything better than the status quo ante, we will need leaders with a different vision as well.

Don Futterman is the Program Director for Israel for the Moriah Fund, a private American Foundation, which works to strengthen democracy and civil society in Israel. He can be heard weekly on TLV-1’s The Promised Podcast.


5  Ynetnews

July 29, 2014

IDF hit Gaza power plant, cutting electricity to parts of Strip

Palestinian death toll rises to 1,110; Gaza reports claim IAF hit Hamas’ Gaza leader’s home, as well as Hamas’ radio and television stations; Gaza’s main power plant also hit in morning attack.,7340,L-4551526,00.html

[To view photos below, click on the above link. D]

Yoav Zitun

The IDF renewed airstrikes and artillery fire at the Gaza Strip Tuesday, hitting the Strip’s main power plant and cutting electricity to many parts of Gaza, indicating hopes of a swift end to 22 days of fighting were unlikely to actualize.


IAF aircraft hit Tuesday the house of Hamas Gaza leader Ismail Haniyeh before dawn on Tuesday, causing damage but no casualties, Gaza’s interior ministry said, as well as government offices and the headquarters of the Hamas satellite TV station.

In the past hour, with the help of leaflets and phone calls, the IDF has called on the residents of Gaza neighborhoods located east of Khan Younis to cuate immediately to the city’s center, ahead of a possible attack.

Haniyeh: My house is not more valuable than the houses of other people

Hamas leaders remained defiant in the aftermath of the Israeli onslaught.

“My house is not more valuable than the houses of other people, destroying stones will not break our determination,” Haniyeh said in a statement.

Speaking to a Hamas website, he added that “The destruction of stones will not break our will and we will continue our resistance until we gain freedom.”

According to the IDF, 70 targets were struck in Gaza through the night. At least 30 people were killed in the assaults from air, land and sea, residents said, after a night of the most widespread attacks so far in the coastal enclave.

IDF attacks Gaza overnight (Video: Ido Becker)

IDF tank shells hit a fuel tank of the Gaza Strip’s only power plant on Tuesday, forcing the plant to shut down, a spokesman for Gaza’s electricity distribution company said.

There was no immediate word of casualties and the IDF had no comment. According to Jamal Dardasawi, the spokesman of the electricity distribution company, the shells hit one of three tanks in the plant compound that currently store fuel.

Deputy chairman of the Gaza Energy Authority said the power plant was the only one in Gaza and would be disabled for the entire whole year following damage caused to the gasoline tanks as a result of IDF attacks.

Even before the strike, Gaza residents had electricity for only about three hours a day. The strike is bound to reduce supplies even further.

Smoke rises over Gaza (Photo: EPA)

Eleven people were killed in a strike on a house in the Bureij refugee camp in Gaza City as IDF forces hit targets across the territory in the most widespread night of attacks so far in the coastal enclave.

IDF forces fired hundreds of flares that turned the night sky bright orange. By daybreak Tuesday, a cloud of thick dust from the explosions hung over Gaza City. A Palestinian health official put the overall Gaza death toll at 1,110.

The IDF said five soldiers had died in a gun battle with militants who crossed into Israel via a tunnel near the community of Nahal Oz, close to the border with the Gaza Strip. The incident on Monday raised to 10 the number of military fatalities for the day. Fifty-three Israeli soldiers have been killed since Israel launched its offensive on Gaza.

Hamas said that its broadcast outlets, Al-Aqsa TV and Al-Aqsa Radio were also targeted. The television station continued to broadcast, but the radio station went silent.

Hamas-run Al Aqsa television (Photo: AP)

At dawn Tuesday, plumes of smoke rose above the Al Shorouq media building in central Gaza City which houses the offices of the Hamas-run Al Aqsa television and radio.

Overnight attacks on Gaza (Photo: Ido Erez)

Hours earlier, at least two major explosions hit the media building, one of the tallest in Gaza, starting a fire on the roof and shaking surrounding buildings.

Gaza media building (Photo: AP)

AP video showed a massive flash as the first strike hit the top of the building, sending debris raining down. The building also houses offices of a number of Arab satellite television news channels.

The Abu Khadra government complex in Gaza City was also badly damaged by the Israeli attacks.

Photo: AP

Israel launched its offensive on July 8 with the aim of halting rocket attacks by Hamas and its allies. It later ordered a land invasion to find and destroy the warren of Hamas tunnels that cross-crosses the border area.

In a televised address on Monday night, a grim-faced Netanyahu said any solution to the crisis would require the demilitarization of the Palestinian territory, controlled by Hamas Islamists and their militant allies.

“We will not finish the mission, we will not finish the operation without neutralizing the tunnels, which have the sole purpose of destroying our citizens, killing our children,” Netanyahu said, adding that it had been a “painful day”.

The overnight strikes came after a day of heavy Hamas-Israeli fighting in which nine children were killed by a strike on a Gaza park where they were playing, according to Palestinian health officials – a tragedy that each side blamed on the other.

Israeli tanks also resumed heavy shelling in border areas of Gaza, killing five people, including three children and a 70-year-old woman, and wounding 50 in the town of Jebaliya, which was among the areas warned to evacuate, the Red Crescent said.

Many Jebaliya residents said they did not dare attempt an escape. Sufian Abed Rabbo said his extended family of 17 had taken refuge under the stairway in their home.

Reuters and the Associated Press contributed to this report

Posted in Nova NewsletterComments Off on Dorothy Online NewsLetter

Dorothy Online NewsLetter


Dear dear Friends,

I don’t know what happened to me yesterday—maybe mental and emotional exhaustion.  I can’t bear to read and hear about what is happening in Gaza.  But I have to to keep you informed.

Nevertheless I will not do again what I did yesterday—send you a ton of articles with no comments or means of knowing what each is about.  There is too much on the internet.  Hard to keep up with. This will end sometime after the conflict ends—which has not happened yet.

From now on, so long as the conflict lasts, I will send not more than 4 or 5 items at a time, but probably will send more than one collection.  This should make it easier for you to find what interests you most.  I very likely will also forward to you some of the materials that I receive in emails.

As for today, below are 4 items, the first and last are by Amira Hass.

In item 1 she depicts the means the IAF uses to supposedly ‘save’ innocents when pilots intend to demolish homes.

Item 2 furnishes updates from this morning, so that you can get an idea of what Israelis (or more correctly, some Israelis) face daily, including deaths of soldiers.

Item 3 is Nahum Barnea’s commentary on events—primarily on the 10 soldiers killed yesterday, within 24 hours, bringing the number to over 50.  5 or 6 of them were kids, 18 and 19 years old.  The other 5 were 20 and 21 year olds.

All 50 of the soldiers and all the 1000 + Palestinian dead could have been alive today had Israel’s PM accepted Hamas’s 3 very legitimate demands: end the blockade, open the border crossings, and release the prisoners whom you released in the Shalit deal and then used the killing of the 3 Jewish boys as excuse to throw them in jail again—not because they had done anything wrong, but because you wanted to, just because!!!!  Actually, because you wanted Hamas to start shooting!  So you kill your own as well as massacring Palestinians!

It’s time for Jewish Israeli mothers to rise, as they did against the Lebanese war, and to shout that their uteruses are not mechanisms for producing soldiers!  It is time for mothers to shout that they are not willing to raise kids to kill others and to be killed.  IT IS TIME!

In the final item Amira Hass warns that Israel’s moral defeat will haunt us for years.  I think it will do more.  I think that it will bring many more Jews the world over to see what kind of place this Israel really is.

That’s it for now.



1 Haaretz Tuesday, July 29, 2014

Gazan tries to answer his son’s question: Who broke the house?

The 4-year-old son of a Gazan artist who happens to be related to a Hamas commander wants to know why he doesn’t have a home anymore.

By Amira Hass

At 1:30 A.M. on Wednesday, July 16, the Azara family’s cell phone rang. The mother answered, and quickly hung up in fright. Then Samer Azara’s phone rang, and the 26-year-old police officer answered.

The caller, Azara related, introduced himself as David from the Israel Defense Forces and told him in good Arabic: “You have three minutes to leave your house. I intend to launch a missile at the Issa house, your neighbors. What’s most important is that you remove the children; I don’t care about the adults.”

“I told him there are many children, about 50. How will we manage to get them all out in three minutes?” Azara recalled. “And he told me, ‘You have a lot of children; what do you do with them all?’ and slammed down the phone.”

The Azaras quickly informed the Issas and all their other neighbors in Gaza’s Bureij refugee camp. An announcement was also made over the mosque loudspeaker. About 20 families went out into the dark with their children, their elderly and a few documents they’d prepared in advance.

David from the IDF called Azara four more times to ensure that everyone had left, and a warning missile was fired. Then warplanes dropped seven missiles and two bombs on the Issas’ five-story house. The explosions destroyed two other houses as well, those of the Azara and Sarraj families.

The Issa house was undoubtedly an IDF target: Marwan Issa is a senior commander in Hamas’ military wing, apparently the heir of Ahmed Jabari, whom Israel assassinated in 2012. But Marwan didn’t live there with his parents and brothers — eight families in all, totaling 55 people. He was hiding out somewhere in Gaza, as the Israeli security services knew very well.

One of his brothers, a Fatah member, is an officer in the Palestinian security service who is paid by the Palestinian Authority in Ramallah. Another, Raid, is an artist who has exhibited abroad and won artist-in-residence fellowships in France and Switzerland.

About six weeks ago, he had an exhibit in Ramallah, but Israel wouldn’t let him travel from Gaza to the West Bank for it.

Raid Issa, 38, told Haaretz he does nothing but draw. “I earn a living from my drawings, and now they’re all buried beneath the ruins,” he said.

“Now my oldest son, aged 4, asks me, ‘When are we going home?’” Raid said. “I took him to the ruined house, and he asked me, ‘Who broke the house?’ I told him the planes of the Israelis. He asked me why, and I told him they ‘broke’ ours like they broke others. He’s always asking how this could be. And then he told me, ‘I’ll break the Israelis’ house like they broke my house.’”

Since the bombing, the 11 families who lived in the three ruined houses have been wandering among relatives, friends and schools. Some left Bureij altogether, since many families have received recorded messages (but not personal phone calls) telling them to leave.

The Issas’ house is one of about 560 throughout Gaza that Israeli air strikes have intentionally destroyed, according to the Palestinian Center for Human Rights. In some cases, as with the Issas, it’s clear the house was targeted because a single family member was a senior Hamas or Islamic Jihad operative.

But in other cases, the reason isn’t clear. Why was the house of someone who just joined Hamas’ military wing a month ago treated like the houses of its senior leaders? Was another house bombed because one brother works for a Turkish company? The family says it can’t think of any other “incriminating” factor.

Some houses have been bombed with no prior warning, with all their inhabitants still inside, for reasons incomprehensible to those relatives who survived. According to the Palestinian Health Ministry, 53 entire families have been killed in this way.

But the 560 houses that were deliberately bombed constitute a tiny fraction of the total number of buildings damaged or destroyed over the past three weeks.

Hundreds of thousands of people from eastern and northern Gaza have fled their homes in that time. During Saturday’s humanitarian cease-fire, many discovered that their homes no longer existed.

The Palestine Liberation Organization’s negotiations affairs department has tried to estimate the damage to date. According to preliminary data gathered by the Gazan health and housing ministries, 2,330 buildings have been totally destroyed. Another 2,080 have been partially destroyed to such a degree that it’s uncertain they can be repaired; 18 of the buildings that were completely or partially destroyed are mosques. And 23,160 buildings have been damaged, including 65 mosques, 20 schools, two churches and a Christian cemetery.

But these are merely preliminary estimates. As these lines were being written Monday night, those people still remaining in Gaza City’s Zeitoun and Shujaiyeh neighborhoods were being asked to leave as well. Many will find their houses gone if and when they return.


2 Haaretz Tuesday, July 29, 2014

LIVE UPDATES: Gaza power plant in flames after reported IDF shelling

Rockets fired at Israel’s south; 23 Palestinians killed in Gaza, 150 targets attacked in Gaza overnight; 10 IDF soldiers killed over past 24 hours – including 5 in militant infiltration.

By Haaretz  |  Jul. 29, 2014

Operation Protective Edge entered its 22nd day on Tuesday, as Israeli ground forces continued their incursion into Gaza after the government rejected a cease-fire draft proposed by U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry over the weekend.

Ten Israeli soldiers have died in the past 24 hours: five of the soldiers were killed in a militant border infiltration, four in mortar shell fire near the border and one during clashes in Gaza’s south. The Israel Air Force struck Hamas chief Ismail Haniyeh’s home in Gaza, according to reports. No injuries were reported.

Rocket sirens sounded throughout Israel, including the Tel Aviv metropolitan area, in the middle of the night.

According to statements by the Palestinian Health Ministry, since the operation began 1,100 Palestinians have been killed and more than 6,500 have been wounded. Since the start of the operation, three Israeli civilians and 53 IDF soldiers have been killed.

11:40 A.M. Gaza’s power plant is on fire after reportedly being hit in an Israeli strike. A spokesman for Gaza’s electric company says Israeli tank shells hit a fuel container, shutting down the station. (Jack Khoury)

11:23 A.M. Two rockets intercepted over Ashkelon.

11: 16 A.M. Rocket alerts sound in Ashkelon and towns near the Gaza border.

10:45 A.M. Israel’s security cabinet is set to convene at 7 P.M. to discuss the Gaza war. (Barak Ravid)

10:00 A.M. Gunmen opened fire on a Paratroopers Brigade unit in the center of the Gaza Strip early on Tuesday. The soldiers returned fire; a direct hit was identified. No Israeli soldiers were wounded. A few hours later, Israeli forces destroyed a tunnel, also located in the Strip’s center.

The IDF has struck four mosques that were used for weapons storage. One of the mosques also contained a tunnel opening. Another served as a Hamas command center. An underground rocket launcher located near a mosque was bombed as well. (Gili Cohen)

9:47 A.M. Some 106 IDF soldiers are currently hospitalized across the country; one is in very serious condition and eight are in serious condition. (Ido Efrati)

9:42 A.M. Rocket fired toward Israel explodes within Gaza; earlier, rocket alerts sounded in the Hof Ashkelon and Eshkol regional councils. (Shirley Seidler)

9:18 A.M. Rocket alerts sound in Israeli towns on Gaza border.

8:40 A.M. IDF resumes wide attacks on the Gaza Strip, using mainly artillery and shells. (Gili Cohen)

8:00 A.M. According to reports in Gaza, 23 people were killed in Israel strikes overnight, including seven members of the Abu Zied family, whose home in the al-Jnina neighborhood in Rafah was bombed. According to the reports, no advance warning of the attack was given.

An explosion was reported at the home Islamic Jihad commander Ahmed Najm in Rafah, apparently killing him. A separate strike killed three in city’s north.

In the al-Bureij refugee camp, in the Gaza Strip’s center, 12 people were killed in a massive shelling. (Jack Khoury)

7:47 A.M. Mortar shell explodes in open area near a town in the Eshkol Regional Council; no damage reported. (Shirley Seidler)

7:46 A.M. The IDF releases the name of the fifth soldier killed in the tunnel attack on Monday: Sgt. Nadav Raimond, 19, from Shadmot Dvora. Raimond was an infantry soldier training to be an IDF squad commander.

7:14 A.M. The gunmen who crossed into Israel through a tunnel on Monday and killed five soldiers left behind four Kalashnikov rifles and two rocket-propelled grenades before returning to Gaza. (Gili Cohen)

6:54 A.M. The IDF attacked 150 targets in Gaza during the night, including Hamas political chief Ismail Haniyeh’s home, the Shujaiyeh batallion commander’s home, Gaza’s Ministry of Finance, Al-Aqsa Radio and Al-Aqsa Television.

The night passed quietly for IDF forces; no casualties were reported. (Gili Cohen)

5:59 A.M. Cleared for publication: Five IDF soldiers were killed in action on Monday near the border community of Nahal Oz, after militants used a tunnel to enter Israeli territory. One of the militants was killed.

The military released the names of four of the soldiers: Sgt. Daniel Kedmi, 18, of Tsofim; Sgt. Barkey Ishai Shor, 21, of Jerusalem; Sgt. Sagi Erez, 19, of Kiryat Ata; Sgt. Dor Dery, 18, of Jerusalem.

The name of the fifth IDF soldier is yet to be released. (Gili Cohen)

5:07 A.M. Rocket alarms sound in Sha’ar Hanegev Regional Council.

5:03 A.M. Hamas said that its broadcast outlets, Al-Aqsa TV and Al-Aqsa Radio, were targeted by Israeli air strikes. The television station continued to broadcast, but the radio station went silent. (Reuters)

4:50 A.M. Air strikes on central and southern areas of the Gaza Strip killed 16 Palestinians and wounded more than 50 others early on Tuesday, medics and witnesses said.

Nine Palestinians were killed in a predawn air strike on a house in the refugee camp of al-Bureij, Gaza Health Ministry spokesman Ashraf al-Qedra said.

Another seven Palestinians belonging to one family were killed when their house was hit in the southern town of Rafah, he said. (DPA)

4:34 A.M. Rocket alert sirens sound in Sha’ar Hanegev Regional Council.

4:10 A.M. Rocket alarm sirens sound in Hof Ashkelon Regional Council.

3:31 A.M. Two rockets fall in open areas near Ashkelon. Two rockets additionally intercepted in the area. (Shirly Seidler)

3:05 A.M. Rocket alarm sirens in Ashkelon and Hof Ashkelon Regional Council.

2:52 A.M. One rocket falls in open area near Rishon Letzion, one rocket intercepted over Ashdod. (Gili Cohen and Shirly Seidler)

2:47 A.M. Israeli Air Force strikes Hamas chief Ismail Haniyeh’s house, according to the Gaza Interior Ministry. No casualties reported. (Reuters)

2:30 A.M. Rocket alarm sirens sound throughout Tel Aviv metropolitan area and central Israel.

2:15 A.M. Rocket alert sirens sound in Kerem Shalom, near the Gaza border.

1:27 A.M. Brazil’s president is calling Israel’s conflict with Hamas “a massacre.”

Brazilian President Dilma Rousseff made the comment while speaking with local media outlets Monday from the presidential residence in Brasilia.

In an article posted on the website of the newspaper Folha de S. Paulo, Rousseff says that “I think what’s happening in the Gaza Strip is dangerous. I don’t think it’s genocide, but I think it’s a massacre.” (AP)

1:02 A.M. Route 232 closed to traffic due to a suspected security incident. Residents in several communities told to remain in their homes. (Shirly Seidler and Gili Cohen)

11:52 P.M. The IDF releases the names of the four soldiers killed by mortar fire on the Gaza border earlier Monday: Staff Sgt. Eliav Eliyahu Haim Kahlon, 22, of Safed; Corporal Meidan Maymon Biton, 20, of Netivot; Corporal Niran Cohen, 20, of Tiberias; and Sgt. First Class Adi Briga, 23, of Beit Shikma.


3 Ynetnews Tuesday, July 29, 2014

Fallen Soldiers

Photo: Ido Erez Wounded soldiers evacuated after morat attack. ‘Luck and bad luck are an integral part of every war’ Photo: Ido Erez

Paying the price of a justified war  [refers to over 50 IOF soldiers killed, 10 of them within 24 hours. D]

Analysis: Israel’s decision makers never imagined that after 10 days of a ground operation in Gaza, the military death toll would cross the 50 mark.,7340,L-4551558,00.html

Nahum Barnea

There are no unjustified wars, and the two serious incidents which took place Monday at the Gaza vicinity sadly illustrate just how correct this sentence is.

The price of the ground operation in soldiers’ lives, within the Strip and near the border, is extremely heavy. The decision makers never imagined that after 10 days of fighting on the ground, the military death toll would cross the 50 mark. The Israeli public, which enjoyed a protected home front in the first days of the operation, never imagined that this would be the state of things after 21 days.

A lot of it is bad luck. Like in Kibbutz Kfar Giladi in 2006, it was also in the forming-up place in the northern Eshkol region that soldiers unfortunately stood in the wrong place at the wrong time; and the tunnel near Kibbutz Nahal Oz was unearthed on time. It just wasn’t unearthed in its entirety. Luck and bad luck are an integral part of every war.

The initial reaction said: We must hit them hard, from the air, from the sea, from the ground; the IDF should pull their leaders out of the bunkers they have dug under the al-Shifa Hospital, send a tank brigade to Palestine Square, raze the Jabalya refugee camp. The belly and heart are an authentic response team. I’m not certain that they’re a wise response team.

The bad news dictated the atmosphere in the press-statement conference convened by Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, Defense Minister Moshe Ya’alon and IDF Chief of Staff Benny Gantz. Netanyahu’s face conveyed sadness, grief. Ya’alon and Gantz had a scowling expression.

But when one looks into the content of their statements, it’s hard to find evidence of a change. It’s possible that in private they speak differently, but outside they are sticking to the outline they have been following until now.

They are pursuing an organized ceasefire, preferably with international backing and with Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas’ seal of approval. Ideas in this direction bounced back and forth Monday in all the relevant bureaus.

The flow of ideas was halted when they realized the number of fallen soldiers in the south, but the outline pursuing a ceasefire didn’t disappear. It didn’t disappear because it has no alternative for now.

Good or bad, this is reality. The talk about expanding the operation beyond the tunnels and shafts is mere talk. There is not a single minister in the cabinet who is offering a consolidated alternative right now. The ministers and Knesset members calling for the operation’s expansion are outside the cabinet, and are both unfamiliar with the material and enjoying an opportunity to make headlines for no reason. They are engaging in primary elections on the fighters’ blood.

From the first day of the operation, we have been dragged and we are still being dragged. Hamas is dictating the extent and length of the conflict, and our forces have not found a move, an initiative or a patent to break this dictation.

We interpreted the humanitarian ceasefire as a permit to keep blowing up tunnels. Hamas interpreted it differently. While the IDF continued working in the tunnels, Hamas expanded and intensified the fire, and managed to surprises us with two difficult blows. As far as Hamas is concerned, with another successful day like this one it will pull us in, into the bunkers in Gaza City.

Netanyahu, naturally, is thinking about his image on the day after. Today he enjoys an 87% support rate, but these are fragile percentage points, which could pass. What will jeopardize him more on the day after, pursuing the fighting or stopping it?

If he goes on, he will have to deal with the death toll. He probably remembers what happened to former Prime Minister Menachem Begin in similar circumstances; if he stops, he will have to deal with disappointment and internal criticism. According to the blatant, degrading tone used by his colleagues when they refer to him, his life won’t be easy.

The Obama administration has no intention of making things easier for him either. The errors which led to the explosion can be divided between the two sides. The administration, which gave Israel its full support from the beginning of the crisis, felt it couldn’t stand idly by as horrific pictures of dead children in Gaza were being published in America. Obama has been accused of letting the children of Syria die; the children of Gaza will receive a better treatment.

Kerry took the mission upon himself. He likes taking missions. If he had learned something from the lesson of Philip Habib, the diplomat who ran around from Ariel Sharon to Yasser Arafat in 1982, he would have been careful. Netanyahu should have said to him: John, my friend, it’s not a good thing when the American foreign minister mediates between an ally and a terror organization; no good will come out of it.

Kerry flew to Paris from here, to embrace the foreign ministers of Qatar and Turkey, Hamas’ two patrons. With one hug, he bought the resentment of Egyptian President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi, Abbas and the Israeli government.

He then came up with points for a ceasefire agreement. A more cautious person would have discussed the points verbally. Kerry handed the points over to Netanyahu in writing, turning them into an American document. Netanyahu presented the document to the cabinet members. He prevented them from making a decision to reject the offer, but the leaks from the meeting were enough: The document got out, the general objection was recorded, and Kerry was portrayed as a traitor.

Obama took the betrayal issue to heart, and there was a reason for that: The new Egyptian regime has accused him of having a secret alliance with the Muslim Brotherhood. The radical right in America adopted the accusation and intensified it: Why it is a known fact that Barack Hussein Obama tends to betray America’s friends and conspire against it with his friends, the radical Islamists. It’s an imaginary accusation, but the sensitivity is real. From phone calls from Washington, I hear that both Obama and Kerry are furious.

The reprimanding phone call to Netanyahu did not make much of a difference. The cabinet sat down till dawn, and concluded the meeting, as usual, without making a decision. The ministers expected Netanyahu to reach a ceasefire without them, and absolve them of responsibility.

And then came the news from the Gaza vicinity.


4 Haaretz Monday, July 28, 2014

Israel’s moral defeat will haunt us for years

We have passed 1,000 dead Palestinians. How many more?

By Amira Hass     |  Jul. 28, 2014

Palestinian rescue officers removing a body on Saturday from the rubble of a building

Palestinian rescue officers removing a body on Saturday from the rubble of a building where at least 20 members of the Al-Najjar extended family were killed in Khan Yunis. Photo by AP

If victory is measured in the number of dead, then Israel and its army are big winners. From the time I wrote these words on Saturday, and by the time you read them on Sunday, the number will no longer be 1,000 (70-80 percent civilians) but even more.

How many more? Ten bodies, 18? Three more pregnant women? Five dead children, their eyes half-open, their mouths gaping, their baby teeth poking out, their shirts covered with blood and they are being carried on a single stretcher? If victory means causing the enemy to pile up a number of slaughtered children on one stretcher, since there are not enough stretchers, then you have won, Chief of Staff Benny Gantz and Defense Minister Moshe Ya’alon – you and the nation that admires you.

And the trophy also goes to the Startup Nation, this time to the startup renowned for knowing and reporting as little as possible with as many international media and available websites as possible. “Good morning, it was a quiet night,” the Army Radio host announced cheerfully on Thursday morning. In the day preceding the happy announcement, the Israel Defense Forces killed 80 Palestinians, 64 of whom were civilians, including 15 children and 5 women. At least 30 of them were killed during the same quiet night, from overwhelming shelling, bombing and firing from Israeli artillery, and this is without counting the number of injured or the number of houses blown up.)

If victory is measured in the number of families wiped out within two weeks – parents and children, one parent and a few children, a grandmother and daughters in law and grandchildren and son, brothers and their children, in all the variations you might choose – then we also have the upper hand. Here, names from memory: Al-Najjar, Karaw’a, Abu-Jam’e, Ghannem, Qannan, Hamad, A-Salim, Al Astal, Al Hallaq, Sheikh Khalil, Al Kilani. In these families, the few members who survived the Israeli bombings in the past two weeks are now jealous of their dead.

And let’s not forget the laurel wreaths for our legal experts, those without whom the IDF does not make a move. Due to them, blowing up an entire house – whether empty or filled with residents – is easily justified if Israel characterizes one of the family members as an appropriate target (be he senior or junior Hamas member, military or political, brother or family guest).

“If it is legal according to international law,” a Western diplomat told me, shocked by his own state’s position in support of Israel, “it is a sign that something stinks in international law.”

And another bouquet of flowers for our advisers, the graduates of the exclusive law schools in Israel and the United States, and maybe also in England: They are certainly the ones advising the IDF why it is permissible to fire at Palestinian rescue teams and prevent them from getting to the wounded. Seven members of medical teams on their way to rescue the injured were shot to death by the IDF during two weeks, the last two only last Friday. Another 16 have been wounded. This doesn’t include the cases is which IDF firing prevented crews from driving to the disaster scene.

You will surely recite what the army says: “Terrorists are hiding in the ambulances” – since Palestinians do not really want to save their wounded, they don’t really want to prevent them from bleeding to death under the ruins, isn’t this what you are thinking? Does our acclaimed intelligence, which did not discover during all these years the network of tunnels, know in real time that in every ambulance that was hit directly with IDF fire, or whose trip to save an injured person was blocked, there are really armed Palestinians inside? And why is it permissible to save a wounded soldier at the cost of shelling an entire neighborhood, but it is not allowed to save an elderly Palestinian buried under the rubble? Why is it forbidden to save an armed man, or more correctly a Palestinian fighter, who was wounded while repulsing a foreign army that invaded his neighborhood?

If victory is measured by the success at causing lifelong trauma to 1.8 million people (and not for the first time) waiting to be executed any moment – then the victory is yours.

These victories add up to our moral implosion, the ethical defeat of a society that now engages in no self-inspection, that wallows in self pity over postponed airline flights and burnishes itself with the pride of the enlightened.This is a society that mourns, naturally, its more than 40 soldiers who were killed, but at the same time hardens its heart and mind in the face of all the suffering and moral courage and heroism of the people we are attacking. A society that does not understand the extent to which the balance of forces is against it.

“In all the suffering and death,” wrote a friend from Gaza, “there are so many expressions of tenderness and kindness. People are taking care of one another, comforting one another. Especially children who are searching for the best way to support their parents. I saw many children no older than 10 years old who are hugging, comforting their younger siblings, trying to distract them from the horror. So young and already the caretakers of someone else. I did not meet a single child who did not lose someone – a parent, grandmother, friend, aunt or neighbor. And I thought: If Hamas grew out of the generation of the first intifada, when the young people who threw stones were met with bullets, who will grow out of the generation that experienced the repeated massacres of the last seven years?”

Our moral defeat will haunt us for many years to come.

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Dorothy Online NewsLeter


Dear friends and family,

Instead of having some good news today, I have to say that things are getting worse in Gaza.  Resistance in the West Bank is growing–resistance to what is happening in Gaza and resistance to the Israeli military occupation.  I read a very interesting article today that says the leadership at a crossroads similar to when they had to decide whether or not to leave Beirut just before the Israeli invasion of Lebanon in 1982.  Today the decision is whether to stay with negotiations and the status quo that has not brought them any closer to a just peace or whether to listen to the street–those resisting in Gaza and West Bank.  Things can hardly get worse.  All Palestinians, especially those in Gaza are paying a very high price.  The death toll in Gaza passed 1,000 today as teams fanned out in the Strip during the 12-hour cease-fire to uncover bodies under the rubble resulting from the Israeli shelling this past week.

First thing this morning while having breakfast, I saw a one-day old baby in a half-functioning incubator hanging on for dear life in a hospital in Gaza. The TV network called her “the baby without a name and without a mother”.  She was born C-Section after her mother had been killed and apparently the father was no where and presumed dead too.

After breakfast I went to Salahidin St (the main street of East Jerusalem) to change some money.  There was a terrible smell wherever I went–a smell like that of rotting animals.  I went to a friend’s store and he told me that on Thursday night after Iftar (breaking of the fast at sundown during Ramadan) people come to walk on the streets just to be outside and do some shopping. The stores are opened again after Iftar.  While people were out, the Israeli army sprayed “skunk water” on the sidewalks and on the streets of East Jerusalem, including on and into the shops.  The smell was so bad people could not stand it.  On Friday (yesterday) the shopkeepers got together and tried as best they could to wash the streets and sidewalks with water and disinfectant, but could not remove the smell. It was horrible, even today.

I will leave you with a short paragraph I received from an Israeli peace activist:

For all of us who do not remember, on September 29, 1967, about 3 months after the Six Day War, Haaretz daily published the following op-ed: “Our right to defend ourselves from annihilation does not give us the right to oppress others. Foreign occupation results in foreign rule, foreign rule results in resistance, resistance results in suppression, suppression results in terrorism and counter-terrorism. Victims of terrorism are usually innocents. Holding on to the Territories will turn us into a nation of murderers and murder victims. Let us get out of the Occupied Territories now!”

Below are many articles from the Israeli magazine called “Occupation Magazine”.  You can choose to read all of them, some of them, or none of them.  [The articles from the OM that Kathy refers to and which are not below were sent yesterday. D]

Please distribute this e-mail widely.



8 The Guardian  Monday, July 28, 2014

As the Gaza crisis deepens, boycotts can raise the price of Israel’s impunity

If governments refuse to act on Gaza, we must emulate the methods that isolated South Africa during apartheid

Rafeef Ziadah

A woman walks on debris in Gaza. ‘The attack on Gaza is not a war between two equal sides. It is an onslaught by a powerful military state, armed and supported by the west, against an impoverished, besieged and displaced people.’ Photograph: Anadolu Agency/Getty Images

I started my life under Israeli siege and bombardment. Even as a child I remember wondering, while the smell of artillery shells filled the Beirut air in 1982 and we ran for our lives: “why is the world allowing this to happen?” On the face of Gaza’s children today I see another generation born to the same trauma, and to the same question. How can this be allowed to happen?

Gaza has been under Israeli siege for seven years. Fishermen are shot when they go out to sea. Trade is blocked. Travel is nearly impossible. Water is contaminated. Hospital supplies are lacking. The economy is kept in controlled collapse, just short of catastrophe. Israel is rationing everything that enters Gaza, from calories to world literature.

After 21 days of bombing, Israel still refuses a comprehensive ceasefire that meets the minimal, unified demand of all Palestinians – to let people lead normal lives. This is not a war, let alone one of self-defence, but a punitive expedition aimed at maintaining the siege and illegal military occupation. Civilians, hospitals and residential blocks bear the brunt of the attack because the only “military” aim of onslaught is to cower Palestinians into complete submission.

In July 2004, the international court of justice ruled that Israel’s wall and the associated regime in the occupied West Bank of settlements, land confiscation, segregated roads and movement restrictions is illegal under international law, and that governments have a legal duty to act. However, 10 years on, the international community still averts its gaze, failing to lift a finger to hold Israel to account. EU foreign ministers, even after they heard news of the massacre of Shuja’iya, demanded the disarmament only of Gaza. Yet it is Israel’s hi-tech arsenal, funded by US aid, generous EU research grants and the flourishing multibillion arms trade, that rains down horror on civilians.

Lip-service aside, western governments support the siege of Gaza, the building of settlements and therefore Israel’s periodic massacres. The impunity granted to Israel is completely at odds with the democratic will of the people, as the current international outpouring of solidarity with Gaza shows.

If governments refuse to act, then the vast international support that Israel enjoys must be tackled by international grassroots civil society, using the methods that isolated South Africa during apartheid.

Since its launch by Palestinian civil society in 2005, the boycott, divestment and sanctions (BDS) movement has won support from trade unions, political parties and grassroots movements, and from vast numbers of people all over the world expressing their ethical commitment by boycotting all Israeli products, not just those from the occupied territories. As a result, BDS pressure is now starting to have significant impacts.

Artists including Pink Floyd’s Roger Waters, Massive Attack and Faithless have refused to perform in Israel in response to calls for a cultural boycott. Public intellectuals such as Stephen Hawking, Alice Walker and Judith Butler have taken a similar stance. A major step was taken recently by a group of Nobel laureates and other public figures who published a letter in the Guardian calling on governments to immediately “implement a comprehensive and legally binding military embargo on Israel”.

Now the UK security firm G4S looks set to scale back its involvement in the Israeli prison system that holds Palestinian children without trial, following an international campaign that saw US churches and the Bill Gates Foundation divest from the company. John Lewis recently became the latest European retailer to stop trading with the Israeli firm SodaStream, whose share price has halved in a year. Leaders of Israel’s settler movement have bemoaned the fact that consumer boycotts mean they can no longer export to Europe. Israeli ministers describe BDS as a “strategic threat” to the status quo, and even the US now warns that Israel faces international isolation.

The attack on Gaza is not a war between two equal sides. It is an onslaught by a powerful military state, armed and supported by the west, against an impoverished, besieged and displaced people. The talk of governments is cheap. As long as talk is all there is, the life of our children remains even cheaper. We must step up our boycott, divestment and sanctions, campaigning internationally to end Israel’s impunity.

• Comments on this article are set to remain open for 24 hours from the time of publication but may be closed overnight


9  France24  Friday, July 25, 2014

French lawyer files complaint against Israel at ICC

Jack Guez, AFP

A French lawyer said on Friday that he had filed a complaint on behalf of the Palestinian justice minister at the International Criminal Court (ICC), accusing Israel’s military of having carried out “war crimes” in the Gaza Strip.

More than 800 Palestinians have been killed in Israel’s offensive in Gaza, launched on July 8 in response to Hamas militants firing rockets into the Jewish state.

The complaint targets “war crimes committed by the Israeli army in June and July 2014 in Palestine” in the context of the operation known as Protective Edge, Gilles Devers told reporters.

“Israel, the occupying power, is carrying out a military operation which in principle and form violates the basis of international law,” he said. “Every day new crimes are committed and over 80 percent of the victims are civilians. Children, women, hospitals, UN schools… the Israeli soldiers respect nothing.

“This is a military attack against the Palestinian population.”

The Israeli offensive has left more than 5,200 Palestinians injured, according to emergency services in Gaza, and 33 Israeli soldiers and two civilians have died, too.

The Palestinian Authority, which has non-member observer state status at the United Nations, has not yet signed up to the Hague-based ICC, due to what Devers said were “political” quarrels over the Palestinians’ status.

But according to Devers, the complaint is still valid.

The UN Human Rights Council is launching a probe into Israel’s offensive in Gaza, with rights chief Navi Pillay saying the Jewish state’s military actions could amount to war crimes.


Date created : 2014-07-25


10 New York Times Sunday, July 27, 2014

An Israel Without Illusions

David Grossman: Stop the Grindstone of Israeli-Palestinian Violence


This story is included with an NYT Opinion subscription.

JERUSALEM —  Israelis and Palestinians are imprisoned in what seems increasingly like a hermetically sealed bubble. Over the years, inside this bubble, each side has evolved sophisticated justifications for every act it commits.

Israel can rightly claim that no country in the world would abstain from responding to incessant attacks like those of Hamas, or to the threat posed by the tunnels dug from the Gaza Strip into Israel. Hamas, conversely, justifies its attacks on Israel by arguing that the Palestinians are still under occupation and that residents of Gaza are withering away under the blockade enforced by Israel.

Inside the bubble, who can fault Israelis for expecting their government to do everything it can to save children on the Nahal Oz kibbutz, or any of the other communities adjacent to the Gaza Strip, from a Hamas unit that might emerge from a hole in the ground? And what is the response to Gazans who say that the tunnels and rockets are their only remaining weapons against a powerful Israel? In this cruel and desperate bubble, both sides are right. They both obey the law of the bubble — the law of violence and war, revenge and hatred.

But the big question, as war rages on, is not about the horrors occurring every day inside the bubble, but rather it is this: How on earth can it be that we have been suffocating together inside this bubble for over a century? This question, for me, is the crux of the latest bloody cycle.

Since I cannot ask Hamas, nor do I purport to understand its way of thinking, I ask the leaders of my own country, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and his predecessors: How could you have wasted the years since the last conflict without initiating dialogue, without even making the slightest gesture toward dialogue with Hamas, without attempting to change our explosive reality? Why, for these past few years, has Israel avoided judicious negotiations with the moderate and more conversable sectors of the Palestinian people — an act that could also have served to pressure Hamas? Why have you ignored, for 12 years, the Arab League initiative that could have enlisted moderate Arab states with the power to impose, perhaps, a compromise on Hamas? In other words: Why is it that Israeli governments have been incapable, for decades, of thinking outside the bubble?

And yet the current round between Israel and Gaza is somehow different. Beyond the pugnacity of a few politicians fanning the flames of war, behind the great show of “unity” — in part authentic, mostly manipulative — something about this war is managing, I think, to direct many Israelis’ attention toward the mechanism that lies at the foundation of the vain and deadly repetitive “situation.” Many Israelis who have refused to acknowledge the state of affairs are now looking into the futile cycle of violence, revenge and counter-revenge, and they are seeing our reflection: a clear, unadorned image of Israel as a brilliantly creative, inventive, audacious state that for over a century has been circling the grindstone of a conflict that could have been resolved years ago.

If we put aside for a moment the rationales we use to buttress ourselves against simple human compassion toward the multitude of Palestinians whose lives have been shattered in this war, perhaps we will be able to see them, too, as they trudge around the grindstone right beside us, in tandem, in endless blind circles, in numbing despair.

I do not know what the Palestinians, including Gazans, really think at this moment. But I do have a sense that Israel is growing up. Sadly, painfully, gnashing its teeth, but nonetheless maturing — or, rather, being forced to. Despite the belligerent declarations of hotheaded politicians and pundits, beyond the violent onslaught of right-wing thugs against anyone whose opinion differs from theirs, the main artery of the Israeli public is gaining sobriety.

The left is increasingly aware of the potent hatred against Israel — a hatred that arises not just from the occupation — and of the Islamic fundamentalist volcano that threatens the country. It also recognizes the fragility of any agreement that might be reached here. More people on the left understand now that the right wing’s fears are not mere paranoia, that they address a real and crucial threat.

I would hope that on the right, too, there is now greater recognition — even if it is accompanied by anger and frustration — of the limits of force; of the fact that even a powerful country like ours cannot simply act as it wishes; and that in the age we live in there are no unequivocal victories, only an illusory “image of victory” through which we can easily see the truth: that in war there are only losers. There is no military solution to the real anguish of the Palestinian people, and as long as the suffocation felt in Gaza is not alleviated, we in Israel will not be able to breathe freely either.

Israelis have known this for decades, and for decades we have refused to truly comprehend it. But perhaps this time we understand a little better; perhaps we have caught a glimpse of the reality of our lives from a slightly different angle. It is a painful understanding, and a threatening one, certainly, but it is an understanding that could be the start of a shift. It might bring home for Israelis how critical and urgent peace with the Palestinians is, and how it can also be a basis for peace with the other Arab states. It may portray peace — such a disparaged concept here these days — as the best option, and the most secure one, available to Israel.

Will a similar comprehension emerge on the other side, in Hamas? I have no way of knowing. But the Palestinian majority, represented by Mahmoud Abbas, has already decided in favor of negotiation and against terrorism. Will the government of Israel, after this bloody war, after losing so many young and beloved people, continue to avoid at least trying this option? Will it continue to ignore Mr. Abbas as an essential component to any resolution? Will it keep dismissing the possibility that an agreement with West Bank Palestinians might gradually lead to an improved relationship with the 1.8 million residents of Gaza?

Here in Israel, as soon as the war is over, we must begin the process of creating a new partnership, an internal alliance that will alter the array of narrow interest groups that controls us. An alliance of those who comprehend the fatal risk of continuing to circle the grindstone; those who understand that our borderlines no longer separate Jews from Arabs, but people who long to live in peace from those who feed, ideologically and emotionally, on continued violence.

Continue reading the main story

I believe that Israel still contains a critical mass of people, both left-wing and right-wing, religious and secular, Jews and Arabs, who are capable of uniting — with sobriety, with no illusions — around a few points of agreement to resolve the conflict with our neighbors.

There are many who still “remember the future” (an odd phrase, but an accurate one in this context) — the future they want for Israel, and for Palestine. There are still — but who knows for how much longer — people in Israel who understand that if we sink into apathy again we will be leaving the arena to those who would drag us fervently into the next war, igniting every possible locus of conflict in Israeli society as they go.

If we do not do this, we will all — Israelis and Palestinians, blindfolded, our heads bowed in stupor, collaborating with hopelessness — continue to turn the grindstone of this conflict, which crushes and erodes our lives, our hopes and our humanity.

David Grossman is the author, most recently, of “Falling Out of Time.” His other books include “To the End of the Land,” “Death as a Way of Life” and “The Yellow Wind.” This essay was translated by Jessica Cohen from the Hebrew.


11 Palestine Chronicle Friday, July 25, 2014

Israel’s Genocide in Gaza will Achieve No Goal

What Israel is sowing today, it will surely harvest tomorrow. (Safa.os/Flicker)

What Israel is sowing today, it will surely harvest tomorrow. (Safa.os/Flicker)

By Ahmed Meiloud

For over two weeks, the Gaza strip (already besieged for the past 7 years) has been subjected to continuous bombardment from air and sea. This is the third war to be waged on the strip in the span of 5 years and it is more than likely going to be the deadliest. Approximately 800 Gazans, mostly children and women, have already been murdered.

In the past 10 days, the Israelis have added their ground force to the fire power, using heavy caliber artillery and tanks to shell the densely populated strip, compounding the suffering of the population and increasing the scope and space of its ongoing massacre.

For those living in Gaza, language cannot depict the scale of the tragedy. Many families have lost all or most of their members. As one health official in Gaza said, “Entire families have been wiped out of the civil record.” This doesn’t seem to be the result of simple failure to observe the principle of “disproportionality,” but rather an evident disregard for life. Nowhere seems to be sacred or safe in the face of an onslaught, where residential areas are considered legitimate targets. Mosques, hospitals, ambulances, medical teams, UN run schools and children playing soccer on the beach have all been targeted.

The images look barbaric enough for anyone viewing, not experiencing them. But for the Palestinians, this is not the first time they find themselves before this ordeal. For the past 60 years, Israel has been slaughtering Palestinians wholesale with impunity. Ordering or participating in killing, displacing and dispossessing Palestinians are amongst the few things that any successful Israeli politician would have done at one point of his/her public career. As a nation, Israel was created by that very process of decimation, dispossessing, and displacement of Palestinians.

Gaza is a living testimony of that process. Most of its residents, who have been starved for the past 7 years and now bombed, are families who were originally forced in 1948 and 1967 to flee their hometowns and villages, which were subsequently annexed by Israel.

Contrary to the image of an Israeli victim of Arab terrorism, which many Western politicians allege, what is indeed taking place is the reverse. The suffering of the Palestinians as a result of the terror of the Israeli state is immeasurable. Beyond death and dispossession, generations of Palestinian children have been forced to endure unbearable psychological scars, as they were made refugees time and again.

Despite this, it is the Palestinians who are seen to be responsible for the war by much of Western media and the official rhetoric emerging from most Western  capitals. In the face of the enormity of the Palestinian suffering, Western leaders (such as US Secretary of State John Kerry, UK  Foreign Minister,  Philip  Hammond) have  chosen to blame the victim and side with the oppressor.

In siding with the oppressor, these leaders invoke Israel’s right to self-defense. However, the facts on the ground don’t support this claim. A close look at the figures of the dead and the injured suggests the exact opposite. Israel is committing genocide, not engaging in self-defense.

In the past 17 days of the one-sided onslaught, there are over 780 Palestinians who were killed in targeting residential areas in Gaza. Over 4,000 have also been injured. The figure of internally displaced Palestinians has surpassed 120,000. The figures on the Israeli side are lower. Only dozens were killed and injured. The difference in both cases is not just in the asymmetry of the death toll. The nature of those killed is also indicative of the kind of conflict we are witnessing and the level of deception in the comments and communiqué issued in Western capitals about it.

Of the Israeli fatalities, 94% are military personnel (30 out of the 32 are soldiers). Most of those injured are soldiers as well. The ratio of combatant to civilian death on the Palestinian side is starkly different. According to the UN and the health services in Gaza, over 80% of those killed in Israeli raids and continuous shelling are civilians and one third are children. The UK Telegraph has recently published the names of 132 of these children. Today this number has risen to 181 according to UNICEF.

The genocidal nature of this onslaught is also clear from the circumstances of death as well. All the Palestinians killed, so far, were killed inside Palestinian borders, within residential areas and often as they stayed in their homes. In contrast, all Israeli fatalities (except two, the total number of those died as a result of rockets fired from Gaza) were engaged in combat.

Given the asymmetry of death, of the ratio of civilians to militants, and given the Israeli unchallenged dominance of air and sea space, it is genocide or ethnic cleansing that is more befitting descriptor of what Israel is doing in Gaza. Western leaders’ argument that Israel is defending itself is simply not supported by facts. It is morally reprehensible and inexcusable.

The Israelis claim that they are trying to neutralize the rocketry of the Palestinian resistance, which target Israeli towns. This claim is further strengthened by a corollary claim that Hamas, which runs the strip, is a terrorist organization. Western and Israeli leaders allege that it targets civilians. Today, the UK Foreign Secretary, Philip Hammond, speaking in Cairo, repeated the same claim and blamed Hamas for starting this round of conflict. But these claims are neither true, nor do they justify the savagery of the current onslaught on Gaza, where civilians, women and children, not rocket launchers are bearing the brunt of the assault.

The insinuation that Hamas has started this round of conflict is a lie. The current round started after three Israeli teenage settlers (one at least of whom was a soldier) were kidnapped and later found murdered. Although the event took place in the West Bank, and although no Palestinian group claimed responsibility, Israeli government immediately pointed fingers at Hamas. Hamas has denied involvement, knowledge of the teenagers’ kidnaping or who did it until it became news. Some press reports have pointed out that Israel deliberately misled its public and knew of the of the victims’ deaths and whereabouts days before it made that information public. A recent report in one German channel suggests that the Israeli government simply used the event as a pretext to attack Gaza. Despite its knowledge of the teenagers’ death, the Israeli government continued to raid and arrest Palestinian activists under the pretext that it was conducting a search for the abducted.

In the process, Israel arrested hundreds of Palestinians and killed a dozen. Many of the arrested were prisoners who were originally freed as a part of a prisoners’ swap with Hamas in 2011. This was not only a breach of the terms of the prisoners’ exchange but a clear provocation to involve Hamas. To add more fuel to the fire, Israeli settlers kidnapped and burned a Palestinian boy alive. It is within these circumstances that the resistance groups in Gaza began firing missiles toward Israeli cities in retaliation to the collective punishment, mass arrests and killing of Palestinian activists.

Beyond the immediate context, Israel deliberately breached the 2012 ceasefire brokered by Egypt, which mandated Israel to lift the siege on Gaza. Israel did the opposite. It tightened the siege. Since the fall of Morsi, Egypt joined Israelis in the effort to isolate Gaza, closing its borders, making the already unbearable situation catastrophic.

It is now the position of the Palestinian groups that Israel must first cease its onslaught on Gaza and honor its earlier agreements. Quieting the missiles in Gaza, without lifting the siege, will only mean more suffering to the crowded strip. Israel’s choice to violate its agreements and to focus its military campaign on residential areas is what defines the current conflict and manufactures the tragedy. The solution therefore lies in integrating Gaza through trade with the rest of the world.

The notion advanced in an article published today on the Foreign Policy’s website that Israel is compelled to pursue “an eye for a tooth” policy to establish deterrence is not only a disingenuous attempt to make palatable the cowardly mass killing of civilians. It is misguided in essence as well. Israel has exhausted all violent means to force Palestinians to submission and has so far earned neither rest nor reverence. Deterrence has always been an Israeli policy objective and has always failed. Despite its disproportionality, and Western praise of its efficient military establishment, Israel is not safer today than the time when it pursued deterrence against Palestinians armed mostly with stones. Rather than being a constructive course that would contribute to a peaceful future, Israeli attempts to bomb Palestinians to submission is only going to create further risks for its future generations and diminish the prospect for any peace. It is relatively cheaper for the Israelis to withdraw from the Occupied Territories in 1967 and to stop besieging Gaza from sea, air and ground.

Despite the factual errors about the 2006 war on Lebanon in FP’s article, the allusion to a parallel with Gaza is a stretch. Unlike Hezbollah in Lebanon, who kidnapped soldiers to trade for its prisoners in Israel, an objective it successfully achieved, the Palestinian Resistance is driven by a much bigger and, for that matter, a more just cause. Resistance against occupation is enshrined in all laws and highly regarded by all cultures (including the West whose moral superiority the FP’s article praises), and it is not going to stop regardless of what the outcome of the current killing spree in Gaza is. Israel’s deterrence has been eroding and whatever moral claims it had is also vanishing into thin air with every child blown to bits and pieces by its artillery or bombers. That trend will continue.

The Palestinians do not stand alone and the Israeli brutality will only rekindle the anti-Israeli sentiment in the region. The fact that many of the neighbors are either busy in their own civil wars or are shackled by despots is not a guarantee of a stable future. The region is going through a radical change, and within a decade, Israel will be fully surrounded by actors who are not fettered by fear of loss either of lives or infrastructure. Nor would these societies of warriors be shackled by the international conventions, which the Israelis and the Western governments backing them make mockery of at the moment, feeling that military superiority makes them beyond reproach.

What Israel is sowing today, it will surely harvest tomorrow, and no amount of pontification from Western missionary professors, driven by a contradictory mission to on the hand justify mass murder and on the other hand flaunt the supremacy of Western war ethics, will be of much use to them.

– Ahmed Meiloud is a PhD student at the School of Middle Eastern and North African Studies at the University of Arizona. His research interests include studying the various movements of political Islam across the Arab World, with special focus on the works of the thinkers, jurists and public intellectuals who shape the moderate strands of Islamism. He contributed this article to


12 Haaretz Monday, July 28, 2014

Israel should consider Hamas’ cease-fire offer more seriously

Could Hamas be offering Israel the best interim agreement ever offered by an Arab administration?

By Nicolas Pelham

Before dismissing Hamas’ offer for a cease-fire, Israel might pause for a moment to ask whether it is looking a gift-horse in the mouth and then slaughtering it. Unlike Hamas’s previous terms for a ten-year hudna, or truce, the movement is not demanding an Israeli withdrawal from East Jerusalem, or indeed any settlement, or one inch of territory. It is not pinning an armistice on the return of one refugee. It simply asks for normal relations: The opportunity to trade and move across cease-fire lines.

On the face of it, this looks the best offer Israel ever had: The prospect of an Arab administration offering Israel an interim normalization of ties without first concluding a final status agreement would be a breakthrough at any time. And it’s coming from the region’s seminal Islamist movement at a time when a regional Jihadi advance could offer Israel a protective bulwark more strategic than anything Iron Dome has to offer.

A sensible response might have been to test how serious Hamas really is. Would its commanders negotiate a limitation of forces agreement for the 10-year period and commit to remain, like other revolutionary movements achieving statehood, in their barracks? In return for Israel’s acceptance of Palestinian access and movement out of Gaza, would Hamas reciprocate by guaranteeing the safety of Israelis travelling to and trading with Gaza? Would its immigration authorities accept Israeli travel documents? If unfettered Israeli access is too much to stomach for all – could Israel experiment with those who are supposed to work in conflicts like journalists and physicians, and then in six-month increments including construction workers and engineers, and ultimately tourists curious to visit Gaza’s quirky hotels? If Israel provides passage for Muslim pilgrims to al-Aqsa, would they safeguard the passage of Jews to the shrine of Yisrael Najarah, Gaza’s 17th century chief rabbi and author of Sabbath zemirot?

The temptation would be to assume that the Qassam Brigades would simply use the interim to rebuild their fortifications. But at least some of Hamas’s leaders have long spoken of a hudna less as a timeout for rearmament than an opportunity to strive for a transformation of relations. De facto statehood has many advantages for Hamas as well as Israel’s leading coalition partner, Likud, whose charter upholds Jewish sovereignty over all the Land of Israel and precludes a Palestinian state. And while government-to-government agreements are essential for a cessation of conflict, they argue like many on Israel’s right, only people-to-people relations can end the conflict. Might kibbutzniks who have spent the past decade ducking mortar shells along Gaza’s border again dine in its fish restaurants? Might those religious Jews who claim such a longing for Gaza’s Jewish shrines find a way of returning to pray rather than prey in a tank?

The answers could ripple far beyond Gaza’s 350 square kilometers. By returning to the strategy of Gaza First, the international community first adopted after Israel’s 2005 engagement, Gaza could offer a model for normalizing relations which might halt the downward spiral to ever greater Arab and Israeli delegitimization and demonization of each other? Might normalization on the Gaza model serve as a step onwards towards, rather than a precondition of, a final settlement, in the West Bank and Israel, and even further afield in Lebanon and North Africa?

But while there is much to talk about, there are perilously few channels for doing so. If the current round of fighting is in part the result of a series of misunderstandings over their last cease-fire agreement, Israel is paying the price for refusing contacts with Gaza’s authorities and cajoling its allies into following suit. The recourse to war was hardly Hamas’s first choice for lifting Gaza’s blockade. It has tried repeated cease-fire agreements with Israel, the formalizing of border trade to replace the tunnel economy with Egypt, and the handover of the reins of government to the Palestinian Authority, in the hope that the outside world might deal with them instead. Nothing worked. Defense Minister Moshe Ya’alon and President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi instead began tightening the screws. Only when Israel and Gaza began fighting again did the world seem to listen.

A better way might have been for the belligerents to thrash out the issues themselves. If Benjamin Netanyahu and Ismail Haniya cannot bring themselves to sit at the same table at Erez, they should instruct their senior generals and, with the support of President Mahmoud Abbas, conclude an armistice agreement and open bridges arrangements. Israel has done it after previous wars with similarly intractably Arab foes.

But of course the death of 1000 Palestinians and 45 Israelis is too few to induce a sea-change. Buoyed by their regional allies, Israel’s leaders will soon recover from their shock. The Turkish-Qatar camp and the Egyptian-led anti-Islamist alliance will continue to treat Gaza as their political football, squabbling over whether the Brotherhood’s last experiment in government lives or dies. For a want of better leaders, Israel and Hamas will continue to serve as proxies for their great regional game and reject America’s offer of a middle path. At the end of the day, it takes more courage to make peace than war.

Nicolas Pelham is a correspondent for The Economist based in Jerusalem. He has been based in Cairo, Rabat and Baghdad and is the author of A New Muslim Order (2008) and co-author of A History of the Middle East (2010).


13 Interview w Gideon Levy followed by one of Nathan Thrall on Democracy Now: The interview with Levy begins at about 1/3 of the video.  Levy returns briefly after Thrall, whose remarks are definitely also important. 

13. Haaretz Monday, July 28, 2014

Israel’s other war, now on a street near you

Netanyahu must speak out against the increasing number of violent assaults on Arabs and leftist who express opposition to the war.

Haaretz Editorial

An internal war over the rule of democracy and law is underway now in Israel. That war is drowned out by the roar of the cannons and the pictures of soldiers’ funerals and of the destruction in Gaza. Its harshest and most frightening manifestations are violent assaults by extreme right-wing activists, mainly on Arabs but also on leftists and people who express opposition to the war.

On Friday, about a month after the abduction and murder of Mohammed Abu Khdeir from the Jerusalem neighborhood of Shoafat, two young Palestinians from Beit Hanina were beaten and seriously injured. According to their testimony and that of passersby, they were attacked by a group of Jews only because they were Arab.

“A man came from the direction of [the Jerusalem neighborhood] Neveh Ya’akov,” one of the victims, Samer Mahfouz, told Haaretz. “He said ‘give me a cigarette.’ I told him I don’t have any, and he heard I’m Arab and went away, coming back with his friends, maybe 12 people. They had sticks and iron bars and they hit us over the head,” he said.

The incident shows that the murder of Abu Khdeir was not a lone horrific incident, but part of a wave of violence that is becoming the norm.

Verbal violence has long taken over the social networks, with pages dedicated to preaching the murder of Arabs, marking and punishing “traitors” and organizations calling for action against them. That verbal violence is now pouring into the street with terrifying speed, translating into events like those in Shoafat and Beit Hanina, where gangs decide to “take the law into their own hands” and punish those “who are disloyal to the State of Israel.” The only crime of the victims is that they are Arab.

These criminals are not “taking the law into their own hands,” they are trampling it underfoot, turning Israel into a violent country where bloodshed is allowed.

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, the leader of the right wing for more than two decades now, must speak out. The prime minister must stop the moral and legal decline in Israeli society, which endangers it no less than external threats.

Netanyahu must state loud and clear that violence committed by extreme right-wing factions will not be permitted. He must denounce assaults on Arabs and leftists and call for calm in a charged public atmosphere that could cost more lives.

Netanyahu’s many tasks – the war, diplomatic talks, pledging security for Israelis – must not be an excuse for silence. If he does not speak out, he will not be able to wash his hands of the next tragedy that might happen.

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Dorothy Online NewsLetter


Dear Friends,

I apologize for saying yesterday that I was including Peter Beinart’s article and didn’t. It is item 1 below. Essentially he says what Amira Hass said several days ago and what I have said: the solution to the problem is make life better for the Palestinians in Gaza, that is, to give the people hope.  That, at least, is part of the solution.  Beinart correctly notes that “Unfortunately, as effective as Benjamin Netanyahu has been at destroying Palestinian rockets, he’s been even more effective at destroying hope and strengthening despair.”  True, but this is part and parcel of Netanyahu’s and his government’s policy. Netanyahu has no intention of giving the Palestinians anything except despair, and he does not care about how many Israeli lives this will cost, and even less about how many Palestinian ones will go.

Daniel Barenboim in today’s Haaretz

claims that the problem is not political, that it is a struggle of 2 peoples wanting the same piece of land.  And that only through compassion for each other can we make steps to a resolution.  Sorry.  With all due respect to Barenboim, this is childish. He does not recognize the fact that the Israeli government has no intention or desire for a resolution that includes the Palestinians.

It is being widely reported on Israeli news now that Israel forces (am not sure whether by tank or by air) hit an UNWRA school housing Palestinians who had left their homes and were seeking refuge.  At least 15 have been reported killed, 200 injured.  I presume this will be in most major international newspapers and news.  Israel is not commenting much yet except to remind us that Hamas keeps its weapons in schools, hospitals, and the like.  So now even the refugees have no refuge.  This is not new.  The like happened during the last Israeli military campaign in Gaza (Cast Lead 2008-9).

  Today’s message is shorter than usual, primarily because I decided to focus on a subject—the growing racism in Israel.   The 3 items following Beinart’s are on the subject of the growing racism in Israel.  I use the term in its widest sense for this racism includes Palestinians—both  citizens of Israel and Palestinians generally—as well as the left, that is to say, against any person who expresses sympathy for the Palestinians or opposes the military campaign in Gaza, that is to say, against any person who does not toe the nationalistic-militaristic line.  Remind you of something elsewhere in the 1930s????   Following these, item 5, is easy to miss even if you subscribe to Haaretz, but it no less that those on racism reveals the atmosphere in Israel today.  The Israeli Broadcasting Authority has denied B’tselem to name Palestinian children who have been killed in this brutal military campaign.

This gives some intimation of how sanitized much of what is fed Israelis over the air and TV waves.   The final item is the PCHR statistics for day 16.   I heard about ½ an hour ago (5:30 Israel time) that the present military campaign and killing is expected to continue for another week or two.  I hope that estimate is wrong.  Am sorry the airlines are resuming flights to Israel.  The stoppage was the best pressure that could for the present have been put on Israel to stop this killing, destruction, and madness.

All the best, Dorothy

1 Peter Beinart

It’s easy to criticize the Israeli government’s response to the rockets launched from Gaza in recent weeks. It’s harder to offer an alternative. But honest critics have an obligation to try. So here goes.   The short answer is that I’d treat the rockets as military symptoms of a political problem. That doesn’t mean Israel shouldn’t return fire. If Hamas and Islamic Jihad can attack Israel with impunity, they may never stop. But returning fire—or even invading Gaza—will never make Israel safe.   Israel can destroy Hamas’ rockets, but Hamas will eventually rebuild them bigger and better, as it did after the last war, and the one before that. And in the relatives and friends of the Palestinians killed in Operation Protective Edge, it will find plenty of new recruits willing to fire them. Israel can overthrow Hamas and then pull back, but it will leave in its wake Somalia-like chaos that gives groups even more radical than Hamas free reign. Israel can overthrow Hamas and try to install Fatah, but doing so will harm the latter as much as the former because any faction that rides into Gaza atop an Israeli tank will lose its public legitimacy forever. Israel can overthrow Hamas and try to govern Gaza itself, but that would require Israeli 18- year-olds to permanently patrol house-to-house in a territory where they’re constantly at risk of becoming the next Gilad Shalit.

So what would I do? First, I’d seek a cease-fire that eases those aspects of Israel’s blockade that have no legitimate security rationale. (That doesn’t mean acceding to Hamas’ cease-fire demands but it means recognizing that a cease-fire that does nothing to address the blockade – as Israel wants – won’t last).   Here are a couple of examples. Since 2010, Israel has made it easier for goods to enter Gaza. But it still makes it extremely difficult for goods to leave. According to the Israeli human rights group Gisha, only two percent as many truckloads leave the Strip as did in 2007. If Israel wants to check those trucks to ensure they’re not carrying weapons, fine. (Last December, the Netherlands tried to donate a high-tech scanner for exactly that purpose).   But essentially barring Gazan exports to Israel and the West Bank — historically Gaza’s biggest markets — is both inhumane and stupid. It’s helped destroy the independent business class that could have been a check on Hamas’ power, and left many in Gaza with the choice of working for Hamas or receiving food aid.

In addition to goods, Israel should make it easier for people to leave Gaza, too. A quarter of Gazans have family in the West Bank. Yet even before this war, Israel allowed Gazans to travel to the West Bank only in “exceptional humanitarian cases.” Yes, Israel can restrict the travel of terrorists. But preventing young Gazans from studying in the West Bank – like preventing Gazan businessmen from exporting there – is self-defeating and inhumane. It feeds the isolation and despair that Hamas exploits.   Second, I’d let Hamas take part in a Palestinian unity government that prepares the ground for Palestinian elections. That doesn’t mean tolerating Hamas attacks, to which Israel should always reserve the right to respond. But it means no longer trying to bar Hamas from political participation because of its noxious views.   It’s common to hear pro-Israel hawks ridicule Mahmoud Abbas for lacking authority over Gaza and for serving the 10th year of a four-year presidential term.

But by opposing Palestinian elections, Israel creates the very circumstance its supporters bemoan. Without free elections — which means elections in which all major Palestinian parties can run — Palestinian leaders will never enjoy authority in both Gaza and the West Bank nor the legitimacy to make painful compromises on behalf of their people.   Israel wants Hamas barred from any Palestinian unity government, and any Palestinian election, until it accepts the two-state solution and past peace agreements. But as I’ve suggested before, the current Israeli government probably couldn’t meet those conditions.   There’s a better way. What’s crucial is not that Hamas as a party endorse the two-state solution. After all, Likud as a party has not endorsed the two state-solution, either. What’s crucial is that Hamas promise to respect a two-state agreement if endorsed by the Palestinian people in a referendum. In the past, Hamas leaders have told the media they would. Israel, or its Western allies, should get that pledge in writing, and, in return, allow the free elections necessary to produce a Palestinian leadership with the legitimacy to make a deal.

Finally, Israel should do everything it can — short of rigging the elections — to ensure that Hamas doesn’t win. Already, polls show that Abbas would defeat Hamas leader Ismail Haniyeh easily. (If Israel really wanted to crush Hamas, it could release jailed Fatah leader Marwan Barghouti, who has strongly endorsed the two state solution, and who in polls defeats Haniyeh by an even larger margin). But Israel could also help ensure Hamas’ defeat by showing Palestinians that Abbas’ strategy of recognizing Israel, and helping it combat terrorism, actually works. It could do so by freezing settlement growth and publicly committing to a Palestinian state near the 1967 lines with a capital in East Jerusalem. That would give Abbas an instant boost.   Hamas’ great ally is despair. It grows stronger when Palestinians decide that settlement growth has made the two-state solution impossible. It gains strength when Palestinians decide that leaders like Abbas and Salam Fayyad are fools for helping Israel police the West Bank while getting only massive settlement subsidies in return.   Nothing would weaken Hamas more than growing Palestinian faith that through nonviolence and mutual recognition, they can win the basic rights they’ve been denied for almost half a century. Israel’s best long-term strategy against Palestinian violence is Palestinian hope. Unfortunately, as effective as Benjamin Netanyahu has been at destroying Palestinian rockets, he’s been even more effective at destroying that. ++++

2 Haaretz Thursday, July 24, 2014   Don’t let war tear Israel’s Jews, Arabs further apart   The recent outbreak of violence and racism against Arabs exposes the regrettable fact that the platform underlying shared life in Israel is not solid enough yet.  

Haaretz Editorial   One of the harsh consequences of Operation Protective Edge is the damage this war is causing to relations between Jews and Arabs in Israel.   Now more than at any other time, we are witnessing concrete attempts to hurt Arab citizens and give them a feeling they don’t belong here. A ranting, racist discourse, whose seeds are sown in the social networks and whose poisonous fruit stain the entire public space, turns every Arab into a suspect and every show of support for positions outside the Jewish-nationalist consensus – into betrayal.   The incitement and mud-slinging campaigns, culminating in Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman’s call to boycott business places that closed down in protest of the operation in Gaza, do not end with words. Extremist rightists want to physically hurt those who protest against the fighting, while Arab workers in the public sector are suspended because of Facebook statuses. The sympathy expressed by Israeli Arabs for their brethren in Gaza is seen by many Jews in Israel as assisting the enemy in war time.   In October 2000, 13 Israeli Arabs were killed in a wave of riots that erupted close to the beginning of the second intifada. These events exacted a heavy price from Israeli society. Arab citizens’ confidence in state institutions was seriously undermined, while many Jewish citizens treated them as traitors. But the 14 years that have passed since then have been marked by the establishment’s attempt to improve the situation of Arabs in Israel. Among other things it set an ambitious goal for integrating Arabs in the public sector (12 percent), funneled a lot of money to local Arab authorities, opened new schools, added study hours and improved the public transportation system. The gaps remained large, but the movement was in the right direction.   Precisely because of this welcome trend, it is troubling to see the current outbreak of violence and racism against Arabs. It exposes the regrettable fact that the platform underlying shared life in Israel is not solid enough yet. This outbreak can also weaken Arab citizens’ sense of security regarding their place in society.   When the fighting ends Jews and Arabs will have to live together again. We mustn’t let the dark forces deepen the rift and tear apart his important partnership, which is the basis of life in Israel.

3 Haaretz Thursday, July 24, 2014

Images from Gaza should trouble every Israeli   Israeli hearts are brimming with concern for Israeli soldiers in Gaza; but they have no compassion for victims on the other side, not even for children who are dying in gruesome numbers.

By Gideon Levy   |  Jul. 24, 2014 That’s the number, as of Wednesday: 155 children. On Wednesday morning, another three were killed. Ten children per day, on average. According to the UN, it’s more than the number of Hamas combatants that were killed. The Al Mezan Center For Human Rights has published the names of 132 of them. The Telegraph, a British newspaper, published a death chart, in which it included the names of children, the dates of their death and their ages. It included babies in diapers, children, and youths. Each child and the name given to them by their parents. Four-year-old Bitul, three-year-old Suhila, six-month-old Bissan, four-year-old Siraj, two-year-old Nur – these were toddlers from among the 25 members of the Abu Jama’e family, killed alongside 127 others.

The chart doesn’t lie: “Protective Edge” is “Cast Lead 2,” and it will overcome its predecessor in the amount of horrors. The chart wasn’t printed in Israel, nor will it be. There’s no place for it. We’re at war. Hamas is guilty of their deaths. Israel Air Force pilots did not mean to kill them.   But don’t fear: if the chart were to be published, it would be received with unfeeling, or even, it’s hard to believe, outright joy, by the brainwashed public in this country. “Even Hitler was a child,” reads graffiti currently sprayed near the entrance to Netivot.   The website “Walla!” published talkback comments on an article about the four children killed on the Gaza beach. Shani Moyal: “I couldn’t care less that Arab children were killed, too bad it wasn’t more. Well done to the IDF.” Stav Sabah: “Really, these are great pictures. They make me so happy, I want to look at them again and again.” Sharon Avishi: “Only four? Too bad. We hoped for more.” Daniela Turgeman: “Great. We need to kill all the children.” Chaya Hatnovich: “There isn’t a more beautiful picture than those of dead Arab children.” Orna Peretz: “Why only four?” Rachel Cohen: “I’m not for children dying in Gaza. I’m for everyone burning.”

Tami Mashan: “As many children as possible should die.”   From their names and accompanying pictures, all the commenters are women. They shop in the stores near your homes, they go to the same movies and vacation spots as you. They’re Israeli. No one would think of firing them from their jobs, like they are doing now to Arabs and left-wingers. No one will condemn them, no one will attack or threaten them. They’re normal, according to the Israeli norms at least, where compassion for the other side is considered treason, and beastly criticism is considered patriotism.   But why blame the talkback ladies? Listen to the remarks of generals, politicians and analysts, as they all speak the same words, ever so sweetly.   Such diabolical talk would not be heard in any other nation. Even the most extreme remarks are sufficient in expressing the current atmosphere. Not many Israelis will try to imagine the 155 dead children as just that, children.

They won’t try to see them, to think of their fate, to reflect on their sad lives and their deaths.   Israeli soldiers are fighting and dying in Gaza now, and the people’s heart is full of worry and fear for them. Nothing is more understood, human or natural. The rockets also continue to fall. But aside from those fears, there exists a complete lack of compassion for the victims on the other side, even for those children, dying in gruesome numbers, which will go down as a new record of shame, even in the Israeli record book.   The pictures coming out of Gaza – and not in the Israeli media, which begrudgingly posts them to fulfill its obligation – should upset every Israeli. It’s possible that Gazans would be happy to celebrate dead Israeli children, and despite that happiness, there haven’t been any. If we were to witness such a phenomenon, we would be shocked, and rightly so. But we can ignore the wholesale killing of dozens of Palestinian children, day after day, or perhaps even celebrate it. After all, “Even Hitler was a child.”

4 Haaretz Thursday, July 24, 2014   Punch a lefty, save the homeland: Israel rediscovers political violence   As the army fights Hamas in Gaza, ad-hoc right-wing militias organized through social media take to the streets to fight the ‘war at home.’

By Asher Schechter   Stop the Massacre In Gaza Demo. 2 TLV 12.7.2014     Left wing Israelis hold signs as they participate in a demonstration against the Israeli military action in the Gaza Strip, in Jerusalem, Thursday, July 17, 2014. Photo by AP   It’s a regular, scorching Saturday night in central Tel Aviv. The cafes are thronged, rocket threat or not. At Habima Square, a few dozen left-wing activists are protesting against Operation Protective Edge. Dozens of right-wing counter-demonstrators show up.   The sides are separated by a thin line of police but the situation goes south fast. Everybody’s yelling. Signs, some depicting IDF soldiers as terrorists, are torn down, eggs are hurled. Violence begins: people get beaten up.

Suddenly, a rocket siren wails. Everyone runs to the nearest shelter – the same shelter. Right-wingers and left-wingers crowd together, anger in their eyes, with only a single cop to prevent them from jumping each other.   The hiatus doesn’t last very long. Within a minute the boom of the rockets’ interception (by Iron Dome) is heard and everyone goes back outside and picks up where they left off.   Now a mob gathers, composed mostly of angry teenagers, some bare-chested in the hot night, some (unknowingly) wearing neo-Nazi T-shirts, yelling slogans like “Death to Arabs” and “Death to leftists”. They quickly overpower what’s left of the leftist protest, then go on a rampage. They storm coffee shops identified with the left, breaking things, beating people up. Only after a long night and some injuries do they finally stop.

Welcome home to the Middle East   This happened last week, and again a few days later, in the same place: Habima Square, the starting point for all of the city’s political rallies ever since the “social justice” protests of 2011. Then, the square was nicknamed “the Israeli Tahrir”, a symbol of the maturing political discourse in Israel that – they said then – had finally overcome the partisan lines of left and right. Now at that same spot, the discourse has regressed decades, a stark reminder that calling for social justice is well and good, but this is the Middle East.   Such clashes also happened in Haifa. And in Jaffa this Monday. In Jerusalem, gangs of extremists attacked dozens of Arabs and Arab-owned businesses. In Tel Aviv, a quiet rally almost deteriorated into a lynch mob.

The scenes are all about the same – protesters, left and right, Jews and Arabs, hurling hate and sometimes tangible objects at each other while waving flags.   As the casualties of Protective Shield mount, something sinister is happening on the streets of Israel’s biggest cities. Israelis seem to have rediscovered violent protest, a phenomenon last seen during the second Intifada. As soldiers fight in Gaza, right-wing extremists have organized ad-hoc militias to fight the “war at home”.   Rapping for nationalism and hate   A spearhead of this growing movement is, almost comically, a rapper named Yoav Eliasi, known by his stage name “The Shadow.” Eliasi rose to fame along with fellow Israeli rapper Subliminal during the second Intifada.

The two collaborators represented a new kind of Israeli hip-hop: angry, fiercely nationalistic and almost laughably dutiful.   The Intifada petered out and Eliasi’s career with it – until recently, using his Facebook page, he organized a group of outlandish rightwing activists under the name “The Shadow’s Lions” to disrupt and attack left-wing anti-war demonstrations. The group includes members of other extremist groups such as Lehava (which objects to miscegenation) and Kahane Chai.   “The radical left,” Shadow wrote on his Facebook page, are “the real enemy, walking among us.”   Coincidentally, Eliasi’s comeback to public life coincided with the release of his new single, called “One Blood”.   Prior to the anti-war demonstration at Habima on July 12, Eliasi called on his “lions” to join him in breaking it up.

They obeyed. Not long after he wrote to his followers: “Now, my lions, it is time to throw you another left-wing nobody in need of reeducation to chew on.” His post inspired dozens of enthusiastic replies calling for “death of Arabs” and “death of leftists”.   Ironically, some of his rampaging Lions wore t-shirts captioned “Good Night Left Side” with a drawing of a man throwing a bicycle on a left-wing activist. This T-shirt should be familiar to Europeans: it is often worn by neo-Nazis.   The graffiti had been on the wall   The rise of political vigilantism is sadly not limited to the Shadow or his minions. Nor did it come out of thin air.

It follows years and years of waning support and for the left that can be traced back to the beginning of the Second Intifada, perhaps even earlier. During the past decade, Israel has undergone a deep process of right-leaning radicalization: the left now has less than 30 of the 120 seats in Knesset.   De facto, it is no longer legitimate to be left-wing in Israel. “Leftists” have become such pariahs that during the last elections then-Labor leader Shelly Yachimovich vehemently insisted that neither she nor her party (Labor, the party of Rabin and Peres!) are or ever were left wing.   The term “leftist”, in fact, has become a derogatory term barely distanced from “Nazi” in its offensiveness. Comedian Orna Banai was fired from an advertising campaign this week, after lightheartedly describing herself as a “weird left-wing Arab-lover.”

Being a leftist is so taboo, that you can’t even joke about it.   What’s left of the Israeli left is these puny, slightly-pathetic, street demonstrations. Now, even that ineffectual means is threatened by extremist bullies, legitimized by the apathy of the silent majority and the blind eye of politicians who profit from hate.   This is what happens when people are told over and over and over again that the left is “the enemy from within”. It is only a matter of time before they want to “help” the army in its battle against Israel’s enemies. And it is that same pent-up energy, the energy of a frustrated and angry mob, that led to the kidnap and murder of Mohammed Abu Khdeir.   On Tuesday, BBC reporter Feras Khatib was attacked on air, apparently by an Israeli. In the “war at home”, every Israeli can become an army of one.   Left-wing activists report feeling genuine terror. Any celebrity daring to murmur anything vaguely dovish gets vilified in the media and social networks. “The next Emil Grunzweig”, said one tweet this week, referring to the peace activist killed by a grenade at a peace rally in Jerusalem in 1983, “is among us – he just doesn’t know it yet.”   In the so-called “war at home”, it seems, the shadows are winning.

5 Haaretz Thursday, July 24, 2014   Israeli agency bans radio clip naming children killed in Gaza   Calling material ‘politically controversial,’ Israel Broadcasting Authority refuses to run item by B’Tselem human rights group.

By Gili Izikovich

The Israel Broadcasting Authority banned a radio broadcast made by the human rights organization B’Tselem about children killed in Gaza, claiming its content was “politically controversial.”   On Wednesday the IBA again censored the clip, after considering B’Tselem’s appeal against the decision.   The clip, submitted a few days ago, says children have been killed in the fighting in Gaza and mentions a few of their names. The IBA said it was politically controversial and it does not allow clips of a political character.   B’Tselem wrote in its appeal that since the news programs don’t broadcast the names of the Palestinian fatalities – contrary to the IBA’s own rules — the organization offered to pay to air its clips.

B’Tselem asked what was controversial about the item. “Is it controversial that the children [aren’t] alive? That they’re children? That those are their names? These are facts that we wish to bring to the public’s knowledge.”

“So far more than 600 people have been killed in bombings in Gaza, more than 150 of them children. But apart from a brief report on the number of fatalities, the Israeli media refrains from covering them,” B’Tselem said yesterday.

“IBA says broadcasting the children’s names is politically controversial,” B’Tselem said. “But refusing to do so is in itself a far reaching statement – it says the huge price being paid by civilians in Gaza, many of them children, must be censored.”


6  PCHR statistics for from the first day till the 16th day, July 24, 2014 t

For additional PCHR updates see

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