Category Archives: Palestine

US Court: Palestinians Must Pay $10m to Americans Killed in Israel

Palestine Overwhelmed by Illegal American Immigrants

UN: Palestinian Children Tortured, Used as Human Shields by Israel

New UN human rights agency report claims Israeli forces arbitrarily arrest Palestinian children in Gaza and West Bank, subject them to degrading treatment, exploit them to scope out potentially dangerous buildings and use them as shields to deter stone throwers.
By Reuters
June 20, 2013 “Information Clearing House – “Reuters” — A United Nations human rights body accused Israeli forces on Thursday of mistreating Palestinian children, including by torturing those in custody and using others as human shields.
Palestinian children in Gaza and the West Bank, captured by Israel in the 1967 war, are routinely denied registration of their birth and access to health care, decent schools and clean water, the UN Committee on the Rights of the Child said.
“Palestinian children arrested by (Israeli) military and police are systematically subject to degrading treatment, and often to acts of torture, are interrogated in Hebrew, a language they did not understand, and sign confessions in Hebrew in order to be released,” it said in a report.
The Foreign Ministry said it had responded to a report by the UN children’s agency UNICEF in March on ill-treatment of Palestinian minors and questioned whether the UN committee’s investigation covered new ground.
“If someone simply wants to magnify their political bias and political bashing of Israel not based on a new report, on work on the ground, but simply recycling old stuff, there is no importance in that,” spokesman Yigal Palmor said.
The report by the UN Committee on the Rights of the Child acknowledged Israel’s national security concerns and noted that children on both sides of the conflict continue to be killed and wounded, but that more casualties are Palestinian.
Most Palestinian children arrested are accused of having thrown stones, an offense which can carry a penalty of up to 20 years in prison, the committee said. soldiers in the Israel Defense Forces had testified to the often arbitrary nature of the arrests, it said.
The watchdog’s 18 independent experts examined Israel’s record of compliance with a 1990 treaty as part of its regular review of a pact signed by all nations except Somalia and the United States. An Israeli delegation attended the session.
The UN committee regretted Israel’s “persistent refusal” to respond to requests for information on children in the Palestinian territories and occupied Syrian Golan Heights since the last review in 2002.
‘Disproportionate’
“Hundreds of Palestinian children have been killed and thousands injured over the reporting period as a result of the state party military operations, especially in Gaza where the state party proceeded to (conduct) air and naval strikes on densely populated areas with a significant presence of children, thus disregarding the principles of proportionality and distinction,” the report said.
Israel battled a Palestinian uprising during part of the 10-year period examined by the committee.
It withdrew its troops and settlers from the Gaza Strip in 2005, but still blockades the Hamas-run enclave, from where Palestinian militants have sometimes fired rockets into Israel.
During the 10-year period, an estimated 7,000 Palestinian children aged 12 to 17, but some as young as nine, had been arrested, interrogated and detained, the UN report said.
Many are brought in leg chains and shackles before military courts, while youths are held in solitary confinement, sometimes for months, the report said.
It voiced deep concern at the “continuous use of Palestinian children as human shields and informants”, saying 14 such cases had been reported between January 2010 and March 2013 alone.
Israeli soldiers had used Palestinian children to enter potentially dangerous buildings before them and to stand in front of military vehicles to deter stone-throwing, it said.
“Almost all those using children as human shields and informants have remained unpunished and the soldiers convicted for having forced at gunpoint a nine-year-old child to search bags suspected of containing explosives only received a suspended sentence of three months and were demoted,” it said.
Israel’s “illegal long-standing occupation” of Palestinian territory and the Golan Heights, continued expansion of “unlawful” Jewish settlements, construction of the separation fence into the West Bank, land confiscation and destruction of homes and livelihoods “constitute severe and continuous violations of the rights of Palestinian children and their families”, it said.
Israel disputes the international position that its settlements in the West Bank are illegal. It says the wall it built there during the uprising stopped Palestinian suicide bombers from reaching its cities.
In March, Palmor, the Foreign Ministry spokesman, had said that officials from the ministry and the military had cooperated with UNICEF in its work on the report, with the goal of improving the treatment of Palestinian minors in custody.
“Israel will study the conclusions and will work to implement them through ongoing cooperation with UNICEF, whose work we value and respect,” he said, in response to the UNICEF report.

function googleTranslateElementInit() { new google.translate.TranslateElement({ pageLanguage: ‘en’ }, ‘google_translate_element’); }

“The Palestinian Future is In Jordan”: Israeli deputy Defense Minister

By IMEMC & Agencies
June 14, 2013 “Information Clearing House – Israeli TV, Channel 1, aired an interview with Israeli deputy Defense Minister, Member of Knesset (MK) Danny Danon, who said that there will never be a Palestinian State, and that the Palestinians are “settlers”, should be part of Jordan.
During the interview, Danon said that “the Public should not be misled”, as Israel would never allow the establishment of a Palestinian state, whether the United States sends envoys or not, whether it presents initiatives or not.
When asked if Israel would “annex” the West Bank, Dannon said that Israel will not do so, but will continue its settlements activities “on vacant lands in the West Bank”, and will act onto turning the Palestinian areas into “settlements”. 
“Jews in the West Bank aren’t settlers anymore, they are citizens of the state of Israel”, the Israeli official said, “Israel will turn the Palestinians into settlers under Jordanian authority, and this is that…” 
He further stated that several Israeli members of Knesset agree with his opinions despite the fact they do not go public about them.
Talking to Channel 1, deputy Knesset spokesperson Dr. Ahmad Tibi, leader of Ta’al Party, stated that the statements of Dannon are very serious and dangerous. 
“Dannon is the most ‘truthful extremist’ in the Israeli government of Prime Minister, Benjamin Netanyahu”, Tibi said, “Unlike other officials, he does not hide the dangerous intentions and plans of the Israeli government; he does now hide his extremist ideology”.
Dr. Tibi added that many Israeli government ministers and officials, including Netanyahu himself, agree with the opinions of Dannon, and are deliberately placing obstacles in front of U.S Secretary of State, John Kerry, Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas, and any official or government that tries to restart peace talks. 
Furthermore, Knesset Member, Ofer Shelah, of Yesh Atid (There Is Future) party, stated that “Israel is becoming the new South Africa”, the Maan News Agency have reported.
“What Dannon is saying is similar to what white settlers used to say in South Africa” Shelah stated, “Jewish settlements in the West Bank are a major obstacle to any peace agreement, the Israeli occupation corrupts the Israeli society”.
This article was originally published at IMEMC

function googleTranslateElementInit() { new google.translate.TranslateElement({ pageLanguage: ‘en’ }, ‘google_translate_element’); }

When Israeli Denial of Palestinian Existence Becomes Genocidal

April 24, 2013 “Information Clearing House” -“EI” – In a regal interview he gave the Israeli press on the eve of the state’s ” Independence Day,” Shimon Peres, the current president of Israel, said the following:
“I remember how it all began. The whole state of Israel is a millimeter of the whole Middle East. A statistical error, barren and disappointing land, swamps in the north, desert in the south, two lakes, one dead and an overrated river. No natural resource apart from malaria. There was nothing here. And we now have the best agriculture in the world? This is a miracle: a land built by people” (Maariv, 14 April 2013).
This fabricated narrative, voiced by Israel’s number one citizen and spokesman, highlights how much the historical narrative is part of the present reality. This presidential impunity sums up the reality on the eve of the 65th commemoration of the Nakba, the ethnic cleansing of historic Palestine. The disturbing fact of life, 65 years on, is not that the figurative head of the so-called Jewish state, and for that matter almost everyone in the newly-elected government and parliament, subscribe to such views. The worrying and challenging reality is the global immunity given to such impunity.
Peres’ denial of the native Palestinians and his reselling in 2013 of the landless people mythology exposes the cognitive dissonance in which he lives: he denies the existence of approximately twelve million people living in and near to the country to which they belong. History shows that the human consequences are horrific and catastrophic when powerful people, heading powerful outfits such as a modern state, denied the existence of a people who are very much present.
This denial was there at the beginning of Zionism and led to the ethnic cleansing in 1948. And it is there today, which may lead to similar disasters in the future — unless stopped immediately.
Cognitive dissonance
The perpetrators of the 1948 ethnic cleansing were the Zionist settlers who came to Palestine, like Polish-born Shimon Peres, before the Second World War. They denied the existence of the native people they encountered, who lived there for hundreds of years, if not more. The Zionists did not possess the power at the time to settle the cognitive dissonance they experienced: their conviction that the land was people-less despite the presence of so many native people there.
They almost solved the dissonance when they expelled as many Palestinians as they could in 1948 — and were left with only a small minority of Palestinians within the Jewish state.
But the Zionist greed for territory and ideological conviction that much more of Palestine was needed in order to have a viable Jewish state led to constant contemplations and eventually operations to enlarge the state.
With the creation of “Greater Israel” following the conquest of the West Bank and Gaza in 1967, the dissonance returned. The solution however could not easily be resolved this time by the force of ethnic cleansing. The number of Palestinians was larger, their assertiveness and liberation movement were forcefully present on the ground, and even the most cynical and traditionally pro-Israel actors on the international scene recognized their existence.
The dissonance was resolved in a different way. The land without people was any part of the greater Israel the state wished to Judaize in the pre-1967 boundaries or annex from the territories occupied in 1967. The land with people was in the Gaza Strip and some enclaves in the West Bank as well as inside Israel. The land without people is destined to expand incrementally in the future, causing the number of people to shrink as a direct consequence of this encroachment.
Incremental ethnic cleansing
This incremental ethnic cleansing is hard to notice unless one contextualizes it as a historical process. The noble attempt by the more conscientious individuals and groups in the West and inside Israel to focus on the here and now — when it comes to Israeli policies — is doomed to be weakened by the contemporary contextualization, not the historical one.
Comparing Palestine to other places was always a problem. But with the murderous reality in Syria, Iraq and elsewhere, it becomes an even more serious challenge. The last closure, the last political arrest, the last assault, the last murder of a youth are horrific crimes, but pale in comparison to nearby or far-away killing fields and areas of colossal atrocities.
Criminal narrative
The comparison is very different when it is viewed historically and it is in this context that we should realize the criminality of Peres’ narrative which is as horrific as the occupation — and potentially far worse. For the president of Israel, a Nobel Peace Prize laureate, there were never Palestinians before he initiated in 1993 the Oslo process — and when he did, they were only the ones living a small part of the West Bank and the Gaza Strip.
In his discourse, he already eliminated most of the Palestinians. If you did not exist when Peres came to Palestine, you definitely do not exist when he is the president in 2013. This elimination is the point where ethnic cleansing becomes genocidal. When you are eliminated from the history book and the discourse of the top politicians, there is always a danger that the next attempt would be your physical elimination.
It happened before. The early Zionists, including the current president, talked about the transfer of the Palestinians long before they actually disposed them in 1948. These visions of a de-Arabized Palestine appeared in every Zionist diary, journal and inner conversation since the beginning of the 20th century. If one talks about nothingness in a place where there is plenty it can be willful ignorance. But if one talks about nothingness as a vision or undeniable reality, it is only a matter of power and opportunity before the vision becomes reality.
Denial continues
Peres’ interview on the eve of the 65th commemoration of the Nakba is chilling not because it condones any violent act against the Palestinians, but because the Palestinians have entirely disappeared from his self-congratulatory admiration for the Zionist achievement in Palestine. It is bewildering to learn that the early Zionists denied the existence of Palestinians in 1882 when they arrived; it is even more shocking to find out that they deny their existence — beyond sporadic ghettoized communities — in 2013.
In the past, the denial preceded the crime — a crime that only partially succeeded but for which the perpetrators were never brought to justice. This is probably why the denial continues. But this time, it is not the existence of hundreds of thousands of Palestinians which is at stake, but that of almost six million who live inside historic Palestine and another five and half million living outside Palestine.
One would think only a madman can ignore millions and millions of people, many of them under his military or apartheid rule while he actively and ruthlessly disallows the return of the rest to their homeland. But when the madman receives the best weapons from the US, Nobel Peace Prizes from Oslo and preferential treatment from the European Union, one wonders how seriously we should take the Western references to the leaders of Iran and North Korea as dangerous and lunatic?
Lunacy is associated these days, it seems, to possession of nuclear arms in non-Western hands. Well, even on that score, the local madman in the Middle East passes the test. Who knows, maybe in 2014 it would not be the Israeli cognitive dissonance that would be solved, but the Western one: how to reconcile a universal position of human and civil rights with the favored position Israel in general and Shimon Peres in particular receives in the West?
The author of numerous books, Ilan Pappe is professor of history and director of the European Centre for Palestine Studies at the University of Exeter.

function googleTranslateElementInit() { new google.translate.TranslateElement({ pageLanguage: ‘en’ }, ‘google_translate_element’); }

Obama’s Peace Antics in Israel – Four More Years of This?

By Ramzy Baroud
March 27, 2013 “Information Clearing House” – At the precise moment US President Barack Obama’s Air Force One touched down at Ben Gurion Airport on March 20, persisting illusions quickly began to shatter. And as he walked on the red carpet, showered with accolades and warm embraces of top Israeli government and military officials, a new/old reality began to sink in: Obama was no different than his predecessors. He never had been.
On the day of Obama’s arrival, Israeli rights group B’Tselem, released a disturbing video. It was of Israeli soldiers carrying out a ‘mass arrest’ of nearly 30 Palestinian children on their way to school in the Palestinian city of al-Khalil (Hebron). The children plead and cried to no avail. Their terrified shrieks echoed throughout the Palestinian neighborhood as they tried to summon the help of passersby. “‘Amo’ – Uncle,” one begged, “for God sake don’t let them take me.” Nonetheless, several military vehicles were filled with crying children and their school bags. But what made the release of the video truly apt is the fact that it was released on the day president Obama was meeting Israeli children at a welcoming ceremony at the home of Israeli President Shimon Peres.
“Their dreams are much the same as children everywhere,” he said, referring to Israeli children, of course. “In another sense though their lives reflect the difficult reality that Israelis face every single day. They want to be safe, they want to be free from rockets that hit their homes or their schools.”
Many Palestinians immediately pointed out the moral discrepancies in most of Obama’s statements throughout his stay in Israel. Still, his visit was ‘historic’ declared numerous headlines in the US and Israeli media.
However, aside from the fact that it was his first trip to Israel as a president, it was barely momentous. His unconditional support for Israel has been tedious and redundant, predictable even. Those who have followed his unswerving pro-Israel legacy – including his visit to Israel as a presidential candidate in 2008, his talks before the Israeli lobby group AIPAC and many other examples – could barely discern a shift, except perhaps, in the total disinterest in political sensibility and balance.
He truly delivered in Israel. This was to the total satisfaction of the Israeli Prime Minister and his pro-settler government which was assembled shortly before Obama’s arrival. Obama spoke as if he were entirely oblivious to the political shift to the extreme right underway in Israel. Indeed, the new Israeli government is more right-wing than ever before. The extremist Jewish Home party has three important ministries, including Jerusalem and Housing and the ultra-nationalists of Yisraeli Beiteinu have been awarded the tourism ministry. It means that the next few years will be a settlement construction bonanza, ‘ethnic cleaning’ and greater Apartheid.
“It’s good to be back in The Land (Israel),” Obama said in Hebrew, at the Tel Aviv airport. “The United States is proud to stand with you as your strongest ally and your greatest friend.”
It is believed that for four years, Obama has failed to live up to the nearly impossible expectations of Israel. Israel requires a president with good oratory skills – for example, to emphasize the ‘eternal’ bond between his country and Israel, as Obama did – who is able to sign big checks and ask few questions. Obama has of course done that and more. Aside from the 3.1 billion dollars in financial support, he has rerouted hundreds of millions of US funds to bankroll Israel’s air defense system, the Iron Dome, whose efficiency is questionable at best.
Obama’s past transgression, as far as Israel is concerned, is that he dared ask the right-wing government of Netanyahu to temporarily freeze settlement construction as a pre-condition to restart the stalled – if not dead – peace process. Of course, there is the widely reported matter of Obama’s lack of fondness of Netanyahu, his antics and renowned arrogance. But that matters little, since Israel’s illegal settlements continued to thrive during Obama’s first term in office.
Expectedly, Netanyahu was gloating. He has managed to assemble a government that will cater mostly to extremist Jewish settlers in the West Bank and also masterfully managed to humble the US president, or at least quash his ambitions that the US is capable of operating independently in the Middle East, without Israeli consent or interests in mind.
Now that Jewish colonies are flourishing – with occupied East Jerusalem area EI being another major exploit – Netanyahu is once more aspiring for a war against Iran, one that would not be possible without US funding, support and likely direct involvement. “Thank you for standing by Israel at this time of historic change in the Middle East,” Netanyahu said while standing near the mostly US-funded Iron Dome. “Thank you for unequivocally affirming Israel’s sovereign right to defend itself, by itself against any threat.”
Obama did in fact spare a few, although, spurious thoughts for Palestinians. “Put yourself in their shoes — look at the world through their eyes,” he said to an Israeli audience. “It is not fair that a Palestinian child cannot grow up in a state of her own, and lives with the presence of a foreign army that controls the movements of her parents every single day.”
One would even applaud the seeming moral fortitude if it were not for the pesky matter that the US had voted against a Palestinian state at the United Nations last November and tried to intimidate those who did. And of course, much of the horror that Palestinian ‘eyes’ have seen throughout the years was funded and defended by US money and action. If Obama is trying to resurrect the myth that the US is a well-intentioned bystander or an ‘honest broker’ in some distant conflict, then he has utterly failed. His country is fully embroiled in the conflict, and directly so. Many Palestinian children would still be alive today if the US government had conditioned its massive support of Israel on ending the occupation and ceasing the brutality against Palestinians.
In a joint press conference in Ramallah, alongside Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas, Obama even demanded Palestinians drop their condition (proposed by Obama himself) of a settlement freeze in order to return to the so-called peace talks. “That’s not to say settlements aren’t important, that’s to say if we resolve the (main) problems, then settlements will be resolved,” he said. “If to begin the conversation we have to get everything right from the outset … then we’re never going to get to the broader issue,” Obama added. The broader issue, according to the US president is “how do you structure a state of Palestine,” which again, Obama voted against last year, and passionately so.
Aside from resounding rhetoric about peace, Obama is finally towing the Israeli line exactly as Netanyahu and the lobby would expect of him, or of any other US president. He has little to offer Palestinians, or Arab nations, but much to expect from them. Arab states must seek normalized relations with Israel, and Palestinians must “recognize that Israel will be a Jewish state, and that Israelis have the right to insist upon their security,” he lectured in Jerusalem on the second day of his trip, reported CNN online. The obvious danger here lies in the fact that Israel oftentimes conflates ‘security’ and its ‘right to defend itself’ by mass arresting children on their way to school in Hebron, or by inflicting or supporting wars against other nations – Lebanon, Iraq and now Iran.
Obama will eventually get back to his Oval Office desk, ready to resume work as usual. This will include the signing of many papers concerning additional funds, loans, military technology transfers and much more for Israel. Palestinians meanwhile will carry on with their long fight for freedom, without his noted oratory skills.
Meanwhile, the families of the 30 children kidnapped by the Israeli army in Hebron will have many days ahead of them in Israeli military court. But that, of course, is a different matter, of no concern to Obama and his many quotable peace antics.
Ramzy Baroud ( www.ramzybaroud.net ) is an internationally-syndicated columnist and the editor of PalestineChronicle.com. His latest book is: My Father was A Freedom Fighter: Gaza’s Untold Story.

function googleTranslateElementInit() { new google.translate.TranslateElement({ pageLanguage: ‘en’ }, ‘google_translate_element’); }

Obama’s New Strategy in the Middle East

Friction Behind The Smiles
Analysis: Obama’s visit will likely be hailed as a success, but disagreements on Iran nuke program, stalled peace process remain
By Ron Ben-Yishai
March 21, 2013 “Information Clearing House” -“YNet” – Officials from Obama’s inner circle are trying to lower the expectations of the Israeli and American publics. The visit’s value lies in the fact that it is taking place, they say, to avoid any possibility that it will be perceived as a failure. 
But they also realize this is a good time to do business with the Israeli government. Netanyahu is no longer “King Bibi” after the defeat in the elections and the humiliating coalition talks, while Obama is relatively free of pressures in his second and final term as president. Therefore, it is clear that Netanyahu will go to great lengths to erase the disputes of the past and provide a new boost for strategic cooperation.
On Monday we specified America’s short-term goals in the Middle East: To ensure a constant supply of energy to the global market; stop the killing of civilians; prevent a regional nuclear arms race and the collapse of the Non-Proliferation Treaty; and to prevent the spread of radical Islam so it does not pose a real threat to Israel and the moderate, pro-Western Islamic regimes in the region. Another important goal is to preserve Washington’s influence in the region in the face of Russia’s attempts to diminish it. 
Washington is well-aware it cannot take on such a task alone during this bloody “medieval” period in the region. The solution: Creating an axis of stable Sunni countries to counter the Iran-led radical Shiite axis, which is seeking hegemony in the Middle East. The main candidates to join this pro-Western axis are the Gulf States, Turkey, Jordan, Egypt and perhaps Algeria and Morocco as well. These countries will assist each other in times of crisis, destroy the murderous Global Jihad groups, and coordinate their moves. This is already happening in Syria.
Washington wants Israel to be a quiet partner in this axis so that the Jewish state will be able to cooperate with its neighbors over the table, and mainly under it. This could be beneficial in the event that the US or Israel – or both countries – attack Iran. For the sake of this cooperation Obama will likely ask Netanyahu to show restraint and calm in the Palestinian arena and ask Abbas to refrain from attempting any empty diplomatic provocations that will anger Israel and foment unrest in the territories.
The US also wants Israel to initiate goodwill gestures to the Arabs and the Palestinian Authority to make it easier for the PA to join the pro-Western Muslim axis. One such gesture would be declaring that Israel accepts the Arab peace initiative. For this same reason Obama will also ask Israel’s leaders to swallow their pride and end the conflict with Turkey. This strategic American maneuver is already showing results on the ground. There is increased cooperation between the US and regional players to prevent the leakage of Syrian chemical weapons to hostile elements. Israel and the US are also in agreement regarding the need to prevent al-Qaeda from take control over Syria.
This is the essence of Obama’s “great strategy,” which he will try to promote during his visit. The practical aspect of the visit will focus on three main issues: The Iranian nuclear program, resuming the efforts to reach an Israeli-Palestinian agreement and dealing with the threats from the north (Syria and Lebanon). 
With regards to Iran, there are fewer disagreements between Israel and the Obama administration. There is no argument over the intelligence information indicating that Iran’s nuclear program is at an advanced stage. The sides also agree in principle on the need to exhaust the non-military means and that the West should have a credible military option that will be activated should Iran cross the red line.
The US and Israel are still at odds over the definition of this red line. The Americans speak of “preventing Iran from developing nuclear weapons,” while Israel stresses the need to make certain Iran does not obtain the “capabilities” that would allow it to produce a nuclear bomb. In other words, the US is talking about blocking Iran with a military operation just before it begins the actual production of a nuclear warhead – if there is no other choice. Israel is demanding that Iran be stopped much earlier, before it accumulates 240 kilograms of uranium enriched to a 20% purity level and turns into a country on the brink of nuclear weapons capability.
Israel claims that an Iran “on the brink” would have the same effect on the region as a nuclear Iran would have. The Americans do not accept this argument, although they have recently lowered their red line and brought it closer to the Israeli one. In an interview with Channel 2 Obama hinted he would not allow Iran to obtain nuclear capabilities and that if Khamenei orders his people to produce such a bomb the US would act. But there is still a major difference between the pace in which the Israeli clock is ticking and the pace in which the American clock is ticking. 
The Americans argue that more than a year will pass before Iran reaches the point where it is has the ability to produce a nuclear weapon within weeks of Khamenei’s order, meaning there is still time to apply pressure on the ayatollahs through sanctions, diplomatic negotiations and perhaps even covert operations meant to disrupt the nuclear program. In case these means are not able to stop the Iranian nuclear program by the summer of 2014, more or less, the US will have to prepare for a military operation. Israel claims a decision must be made this coming summer, or in the autumn at the latest – when Iran will have enough 20%-enriched uranium to produce one nuclear warhead.
Netanyahu and his associates will claim the Iranians will not suspend uranium enrichment unless they will be convinced that the US has a plan for an attack on its nuclear its nuclear facilities. Obama and his aides will justifiably say that the Pentagon has already prepared a detailed and efficient plan for an attack in Iran and that former Defense Minister Barak and IDF chief Gantz are more or less familiar with it. 
But, the Israelis will say, the Iranians do not believe you and believe the talk of a military option is a bluff, particularly in light of the appointments of John Kerry as secretary of state and Chuck Hagel as defense secretary. Both men are opposed to a military strike on Iran. The Iranians also noticed, the Israelis will say, that the US pulled one of its aircraft carriers out of the Persian Gulf and that it is cutting its defense budget. You must do something to show the Iranians that you are serious, otherwise there is no chance Iran will become more flexible after the June elections. The Americans may act in this direction after Obama’s visit here.
Regarding the Iranian issue, the Americans will tell Israel: Don’t surprise us with a go-it-alone strike, and show restraint when it comes to making statements for the press. Whenever an Israeli politician or military official threatens that Israel will attack, the Iranians are not deterred but global oil prices skyrocket. The Iranians profit from this and the European economies sustain another blow.
As for the stalled peace process, it is safe to assume that Obama is not overly enthusiastic about mediating between Abbas and Netanyahu. Obama will most likely try to find out if it is possible to jumpstart the negotiations and whether such talks can yield results. Netanyahu and Ya’alon will suggest that the US try to broker an interim agreement that will allow progress toward a permanent agreement in the future, when both sides will be prepared to make the necessary compromises. Chances are that Abbas will continue to insist on a settlement construction freeze as a precondition for resuming negotiations. Considering the composition of Israel’s new agreement, Netanyahu and his ministers will not accept this demand. However, Yair Lapid and Tzipi Livni may want to advanced Dan Meridor’s initiative, which calls for a construction freeze outside the settlement blocs, as a gesture to the American president.
In any case, if Obama sees that there is no way of resuming effective negotiations, he will ask Israel to make gestures and take measures (regarding the Palestinian prisoners for example) to calm the situation on the ground and avoid steps that will ignite the area. For now, the US will not try to force Israel into another round of talks with the PA, but in the future, say six months from now, Washington may introduce a proposal for an agreement and try to force both sides to accept it.
Regarding the threats from the north, the US recognizes Israel’s right to thwart terror activities along its borders with Syrian and Lebanon and respond harshly to any Hezbollah rocket attack on Israeli population centers.
Obama’s first visit to the Holy Land as president will most likely be hailed as a great success by the media, if only because Obama, Netanyahu and to some extent Abbas have an interest in using each other to cover up the failures and political humiliations they have recently suffered in the domestic arena. But this visit also has a very important practical aspect to it: The American president is no longer playing the role of Uncle Sam who offers presents to children; this time he will demand that Israel and the Palestinians help him implement his government’s new strategy in the Middle East.

function googleTranslateElementInit() { new google.translate.TranslateElement({ pageLanguage: ‘en’ }, ‘google_translate_element’); }

Going Against the Grain

Al-Jazeera Video Report

Journalist Gideon Levy is arguably the most hated man in Israel for his reports on the occupied Palestinian territories.

Posted March 13, 2013
 
Filmmaker: Bilal Yousef
Gideon Levy is someone who evokes strong emotions from fellow Israelis.

The writer and journalist has made weekly visits, over the past three decades, to the occupied Palestinian territories, describing what he sees – plainly and without propaganda.

For some Israelis, he is seen as a brave disseminator of the truth. But many others condemn him as a propagandist for Hamas. And his columns for the Tel Aviv-based Haaretz newspaper have made him, arguably, one of the most hated men in Israel.

“When I joined Haaretz newspaper, I started to visit the occupied territories,” Levy says. “I immediately realised this was what I wanted to do; to understand the brutality and inhumanity of the Israeli occupation.”

“I figured out three things. First, this was the biggest drama facing the state of Israel. Second, this story was not being covered by the Israeli media. And third, this was going to be my life mission – to report about the Israeli occupation to Israeli readers who did not want to know what was really happening there.”

Over the years, Levy’s stories have shed light on the realities Palestinians face on a daily basis.

One of his earlier reports, ‘Death of a baby’ in 1996, told of an incident involving the Abu Dahouk family. They were stopped at a checkpoint on their way to a hospital. Israeli soldiers delayed the family including a heavily pregnant Fayzeh Abu Dahouk, who ended up delivering her baby in the backseat of the car.

The baby, who she hoped to name Yousef, died a couple of days later.

Levy wrote at the time: “Who the hell are they? Who are those soldiers who saw Fayzeh Abu Dahouk in pain as she delivered her baby in her brother-in-law’s car. Who are those soldiers who didn’t let her pass to reach the hospital?”

“Who are those soldiers who made Fayzeh have to wrap her baby in her clothes and walk two kilometres to reach the hospital?”

Levy’s reports have told of young Palestinians gunned down by Israeli soldiers after being accused of throwing stones; the lack of retribution against soldiers who kill Palestinians in cold blood; and the plight of Palestinian farmers, who make their livelihoods from olive trees, but who have had them burned and destroyed by settlers time and time again.

Many in Israel have criticised Levy’s reporting, saying that he and his colleagues are responsible for reinforcing anti-Semitism around the world.

But others see Levy as an individual who is courageously going against the common views of the society in which he lives.

“History has witnessed worse and more brutal occupiers than the Israelis. But I’ve never heard about an occupation that believes it is the victim. And the only victim,” he says.

“I sometimes feel ashamed of what is being done on our behalf. I feel really guilty towards the Palestinians. I think we are doing terrible things to them.”

Going Against the Grain follows Gideon Levy on one of his assignments in Hebron, and meets some of the ordinary Palestinians whose lives he has described in his regular column for Haaretz.

function googleTranslateElementInit() { new google.translate.TranslateElement({ pageLanguage: ‘en’ }, ‘google_translate_element’); }

65 Years Ago The Green Light for Zionism’s Ethnic Cleansing of Palestine

By Alan Hart
March 10, 2013 “Information Clearing House – I find myself wondering how many of our present day leaders, President Obama in particular, are aware of what happened in Palestine on 10 March 65 years ago.
On that day in 1948, two months before Israel’s unilateral declaration of independence in defiance of the will of the organized international community as it then was at the UN,Zionism’s in-Palestine political and military leaders met in Tel Aviv to formally adopt PLAN DALET, the blueprint with operational military orders for the ethnic cleansing of Palestine.
They did not and never would refer to the crime they authorised as ethnic cleansing. Their euphemism for it was “transfer”.
As noted in an excellent anniversary briefing paper by IMEU (the American-founded Institute for Middle East Understanding), from the earliest days of modern political Zionism its advocates grappled with the problem of creating a Jewish majority state in a part of the world where Palestinian Arabs were the overwhelming majority of the population.
The earliest insider information we have on Zionism’s thinking is from the diary of Theodor Herzl, the founding father of Zionism’s colonial-like enterprise. He wrote:
“We shall try to spirit the penniless population across the border by procuring employment for it in the transit countries, while denying it any employment in our own country… expropriation and the removal of the poor must be carried out discreetly and circumspectly.”
Those words were committed to paper by Herzl in 1895 but they were not published (in other words they were suppressed) until 1962.
By August 1937 “transfer” was a discreet but hot topic for discussion at the 20th Zionist Congress in Zurich, Switzerland. All in attendance were aware that the process of dispossessing the Palestinian peasants (the fellahin) mainly by purchasing land from absentee owners had been underway for years. Referring to this David Ben-Gurion, who would become Israel’s first prime minister, said:

 

“You are no doubt aware of the (Jewish National Fund’s) activity in this respect. Now a transfer of a completely different scope will have to be carried outIn many parts of the country new settlement will not be possible without transferring the Arabfellahin…Jewish power (in Palestine), which grows steadily, will also increase our possibilities to carry out this transfer on a large scale.”
A year later Ben-Gurion told a meeting of the Jewish Agency that he supported compulsory transfer. He added:
I don’t see anything immoral in it.”
In my view that’s a most revealing statement. It tells us – does it not? – that Ben-Gurion, the Zionist state’s founding father, was a man with no sense of what was morally right and wrong.
Joseph Weitz was the director of the Jewish National Fund’s Lands Department which was responsible for acquiring the land for Zionism’s enterprise in Palestine. One of his diary entries for December 1940 reads as follows:
“There is no way besides transferring the Arabs from here to the neighbouring countries, and to transfer all of them, save perhaps for (the Arabs of) Bethlehem, Nazareth and Old Jerusalem. Not one village must be left, not one (Bedouin) tribe. And only after this transfer will the country be able to absorb millions of our brothers and the Jewish problem will cease to exist. There is no other solution.”
Plan Dalet called for:
“Mounting operations against enemy population centres located inside or near our defensive system in order to prevent them from being used as bases by an active armed force. These operations can be divided into the following categories:
“Destruction of villages – setting fire to, blowing up, and planting mines in the debris – especially those population centres which are difficult to control continuously.
“Mounting search and control operations according to the following guidelines: encirclement of the village and conducting a search inside it. In the event of resistance, the armed force must be destroyed and the population must be expelled outside the borders of the state.”
Before the Zionist state declared itself to be in existence on 14 May 1948, more than 200 Palestinian villages had already been emptied and about 175,000 Palestinians were already refugees. Some had fled in fear; others were expelled by Zionist forces.
The prime fear factor was the slaughter by Zionist terrorists of more than 100 Palestinian men, women and children at Deir Yassin near Jerusalem. As Arthur Koestler was to write, the “bloodbath” at Deir Yassin was “the psychologically decisive factor in the spectacular exodus of the Arabs from the Holy Land and the creation of the Palestinian refugee problem.”
It was, however, Menachem Begin, Zionism’s terror master and subsequently prime minister, who provided the most vivid description of how well the slaughter at Deir Yassin served Zionism’s cause. In his book The Revolt, he wrote:
“Panic overwhelmed the Arabs of Eretz Israel. Kolonia village, which had previously repulsed every attack of the Haganah (the underground Jewish military organization that became the Israeli Army), was evacuated overnight and fell without further fighting. Beit-Iksa was also evacuated. These two places overlooked the road and their fall, together with the capture of Kastel by the Haganah, made it possible to keep open the road to Jerusalem. In the rest of the country, too, the Arabs began to flee in terror, even before they clashed with Jewish forces… The legend of Deir Yassin helped us in particular in the saving of Tiberias and the conquest of Haifa… All the Jewish forces proceeded to advance through Haifa like a knife through butter. The Arabs began fleeing in panic, shouting ‘Deir Yassin!’”
Three decades later, in an article for The American Zionist, Mordechai Nisan of the Truman Research Centre of the Hebrew University in Jerusalem expressed his concern about the failure to understand the major significance of terrorism in the struggle for Jewish sovereignty. He wrote: “Without terror it is unlikely that Jewish independence would have been achieved when it was.”
After the Zionist state declared itself to be in existence, its government set up an unofficial body known as the “Transfer Committee”. Its job was to oversee the destruction of Palestinian towns and villages and/or their repopulation with Jews. The purpose of this Zionist strategy was to prevent dispossessed Palestinians returning to their homes.
By 1949 more than 400 Palestinian towns and villages had been systematically destroyed or taken over by Israeli Jews; and at least 750,000 Palestinians were refugees, dispossessed of their land, their homes and their rights.
In his book The Ethnic Cleansing of Palestine, Ilan Pappe, Israel’s leading “revisionist” (meaning honest) historian, documents in detail Zionism’s systematic reign of terror which, from December 1947 to January 1949, included 31 massacres. (Deir Yassin was only the first). In a videoed conversation with me in 2008, which can be viewed in the Hart of the Matter series on my site (http://www.alanhart.net), Ilan said this:
Probably more surprising than anything else was not the silence of the world as Zionist ethnic cleansing was taking place in Palestine, but the silence of the Jews in Palestine. They knew what had happened to Jews in Nazi Europe, and some might even have seen it for themselves, yet they had no scruples in doing almost the same thing to the Palestinians.”
On this 65th anniversary of the authorization of the ethnic cleaning of Palestine, the questions I would like to see put to our leaders today, President Obama in particular, are the following:
Are you aware of Plan Dalet?
If not, why not?
If you are aware of it, could it not said be said that your refusal to call and hold Zionism to account for its crimes makes you (and your predecessors) complicit in those crimes by default?
lan Hart has been engaged with events in the Middle East and their global consequences and terrifying implications – the possibility of a Clash of Civilisations, Judeo-Christian v Islamic, and, along the way, another great turning against the Jews – for nearly 40 years… Alan is author of “Zionism: The Real Enemy of the Jews” – http://www.alanhart.net

function googleTranslateElementInit() { new google.translate.TranslateElement({ pageLanguage: ‘en’ }, ‘google_translate_element’); }

Decolonizing the Mind: Omar Barghouti How to End Apartheid in Palestine

Video

On Friday 1 February 2013, Palestinian activist Omar Barghouti talked with Amy Goodman, about the Palestinian people’s resistance, and the Boycott Divestment and Sanctions campaign.

Omar Barghouti gave a talk, then joined in conversation with Amy Goodman
Posted March 02, 2013
Omar Barghouti in conversation with Amy Goodman.

function googleTranslateElementInit() { new google.translate.TranslateElement({ pageLanguage: ‘en’ }, ‘google_translate_element’); }

"Five Broken Cameras" What It Means To Live Under Occupation

Video

“Five Broken Cameras” is the engaging story of Palestinian cameraman, Emad Burnat, who documented 6 years of the Non-violent movement in his village, Bil’in. This impressive movement joined by international and Israeli peace activists and solidarity movements became a symbol and a model for a positive resistance to create political change in the region. This intimate and powerful film, shot by Emad himself and co-directed and written by Israeli filmmaker Guy Davidi had an outstanding international and Israeli reception. Nevertheless like many films that deals with the subject, it will not be included in the cultural program of the educational ministry.

Posted January 29, 2013
It seems that only an Oscar might be enough to push the film into the 2013 cultural program in schools. Despite the challenge, we are creating a campaign to put pressure on the Israeli ministry to accept “Five Broken Cameras” into the 2013 program; furthermore, we have created our own alternative plan to raise awareness among teachers and organize screenings in schools and youth-centers outside the formal program.

With your support we will be able to bring “Five Broken Cameras” to Israeli youths, because from this generation, which in just a few years will serve in the obligatory military service, meaningful political change can arise. Support our campaign here:http://www.indiegogo.com/5bcyouth

function googleTranslateElementInit() { new google.translate.TranslateElement({ pageLanguage: ‘en’ }, ‘google_translate_element’); }

Prisoners’ Intifada Shames Palestine’s Leaders

By Ramzy Baroud 
January 17, 2013 “Information Clearing House” – If Palestinian leaders only knew how extraneous their endless rounds of “unity” talks have become, they might cease enthusiastic declarations to world media about their meetings. At this point, few Palestinians are left with hope that their “leadership” has their best interests in mind. Factional interests reign supreme and personal agendas continue to define Palestine’s political landscape. 
Fatah and Hamas are the two major Palestinian political factions. Despite Hamas’ election victory in 2006, Fatah has the upper hand. Both parties continue to play the numbers game, flexing their muscles in frivolous rallies where Palestinian flags are overshadowed with green and yellow banners, the symbols of Hamas and Fatah respectively. 
Historically, there has been a leadership deficit in Palestine and it is not because Palestinians are incapable of producing upright men and women capable of guiding the decades-long resistance towards astounding victory against Israel’s military occupation and apartheid. This is because for a Palestinian leadership to be acknowledged by regional and international players, it has to excel in the art of “compromise”. These carefully molded leaders often cater to the interests of their Arab and Western benefactors, at the expense of their own people. Not a single popular faction has resolutely escaped this. 
This reality has permeated Palestinian politics for decades. However, in the last two decades the distance between the Palestinian leadership and the people has grown by a once unimaginable distance, to the point where some Palestinians have become a jailor, a peddling politician or even a security coordinator working hand in hand with Israel. Perks of the 1994 Oslo Accord have over the years created a Palestinian elite, whose interests and that of the Israeli occupation overlap beyond recognition of where the first starts and the other ends. 
While Hamas remained largely immune from the Oslo disease – Fatah leader Mahmoud Abbas and his men enjoy its numerous political and economic perks – it too is becoming enthralled by the prospects of regional acceptance and international validation. Its strictly factional agenda and closeness to some corrupt Arab countries raise more than question marks and there is the prospect of it heading in the same direction as Fatah leaders did over two decades ago. 
The unity charade continues. After a period of ambiguity, Hamas chief Khaled Meshaal and Palestinian Authority leader Abbas reportedly held meetings in Cairo to “expedite” a reconciliation. Considering that progress is judged as keeping the status quo between the two main factions, the word “expedite” is likely to mean and change very little on the ground. 
If one was to judge by rhetoric and rival claims, the chasm continues to grow, despite the supposedly sober fact that earlier this month, on January 4 Hamas allowed Fatah to celebrate the anniversary of its birth in Gaza, while the latter did the same in the West Bank. Supporters of both parties brazenly used their parades – which took place under the watchful eyes of Israeli drones – to exhibit their strengths. This was not in relations to the Israeli military occupation, but to their own pitiful factional propaganda. 
Oddly enough, if the calculations of Palestinian factions are accurate regarding the attendees of their rallies, the population of Gaza may have suddenly morphed to exceed 4 million, a remarkable jump from the 1.6 million of a few weeks ago. This is the actual number of the Gaza population per United Nations statistics. 
This miserable legacy of Palestinian factionalism can be seen against the backdrop of a slowly brewing movement in Israeli jails. Palestinian political prisoners continue to place their faith in their own ability to endure hunger, gaining international solidarity with their cause. Samer Issawi, a Palestinian prisoner who as of January 10 completed 168 days of a hunger strike in protest of his unlawful detention by Israel, is hardly a unique phenomenon. He is an expression of the very much present but snubbed Palestinian collective, whose fate doesn’t fall into the political agenda of any faction. 
Issawi is one of seven brothers, six of whom spent time in Israeli prisons for their political beliefs. One of the brothers, Fadi, was killed by Israeli soldiers in 1994, a few days after celebrating his 16th birthday. Even their sister, Shireen, was arrested by Israeli soldiers during a hearing concerning her brother Samer on December 18. On that day, “Samer was publicly beaten in the Jerusalem Magistrates Court after he tried to greet his family,” reported the Palestine Monitor. “He was dragged from his wheelchair and carried away, repeatedly crying out as he was hit on his chest by the guards around him.” 
The Issawi family and the entire neighborhood of Issawiya in East Jerusalem is now a target for the Israeli army and police. The aim is to break the will of a single man who at present is incapable of standing on his own feet. It may be legendary, but Samer Issawi’s will of steel is not an alien notion for Palestinians. According to the Adameer Prisoner Support and Human Rights Association, over 650,000 Palestinians have been detained by the Israeli military and police since its occupation of East Jerusalem, the West Bank and Gaza in 1967. 
“Considering the fact that the majority of those detained are male, the number of Palestinians detained forms approximately 40% of the total male Palestinian population in the OPT [Occupied Palestinian Territories],” the organization wrote in a June 2012 fact-sheet. But Palestinian resistance is yet to be quelled. 
“It is estimated that around 10,000 Palestinian women have been arrested by Israel since 1967. They include young girls and the elderly; some … were the mothers of male long-term prisoners,” wrote Nabil Sahli in January in the Middle East Monitor. The author has also called for an internationalization of the prisoners issue. 
In a special session held on January 6 to discuss the plight of Palestinian and Arab prisoners in Israeli jails, the Arab League echoed similar demands. In a statement it called for the treatment of detainees as “prisoners of war” and called for active international efforts to secure their release. 
However, serious efforts on the issue seem absent despite the repeated cries for attention by Palestinian prisoners. On April 17, 2012, at least 1,200 prisoners participated in a hunger strike to alert the world of their plight and maltreatment in Israeli jails. Despite the fact that the collective strike ended on May 14, Palestinian prisoners continue to stage hunger strikes of their own, breaking records of steadfastness unprecedented not just in Palestine, but the world over. 
While calls for a change of tactics are warranted, if not urgent, there is another pressing change that must also be realized. There ought to be a change of Palestinian political culture, away from the repellent factional manipulation and towards a return to the basic values of the Palestinian struggle. It is the likes of Issawi, not Abbas that must define the new era of Palestinian resistance. 
An Intifada has already been launched by thousands of Palestinian prisoners, some of whom are shackled to their hospital beds. It offers little in the way of perks aside from a chance at dignity and a leap of faith towards freedom. This is the dichotomy with which Palestinians must now wrangle. The path they will finally seek shall define this generation and demarcate the nature of the Palestinian struggle for generations to follow. 
Ramzy Baroud (www.ramzybaroud.net) is an internationally syndicated columnist and the editor of PalestineChronicle.com. His latest book is: My Father was A Freedom Fighter: Gaza’s Untold Story (Pluto Press). 
(Copyright 2013 Ramzy Baroud)

function googleTranslateElementInit() { new google.translate.TranslateElement({ pageLanguage: ‘en’ }, ‘google_translate_element’); }

A Short History Of Palestine

Video

The colonization of Palestine fitted well the interests and policies of the British Empire on the eve of the First World War.

Posted January 13, 2013

History of Palestine

Zionism arrived in Palestine in the late 19th as a colonialist movement motivated by national impulses.

The colonization of Palestine fitted well the interests and policies of the British Empire on the eve of the First World War.

With the backing of Britain, the colonization project expanded, and became a solid presence on the land after the war and with the establishment of the British mandate in Palestine (which lasted between 1918 and 1948).

While this consolidation took place, the indigenous society underwent, like other societies in the rest of the Arab world, a steady process of establishing a national identity.

But with one difference. While the rest of the Arab world was shaping its political identity through the struggle against European colonialism, in Palestine nationalism meant asserting your collective identity against both an exploitative British colonialism and expansionist Zionism.

Thus, the conflict with Zionism was an additional burden. The pro-Zionist policy of the British mandate there naturally strained the relationship between Britain and the local Palestinian society.

This climaxed in a revolt in 1936 against both London and the expanding Zionist colonisation project.

The revolt, which lasted for three years, failed to sway the British mandate from a policy it had already decided upon in 1917. The British foreign secretary, Lord Balfour, had promised the Zionist leaders that Britain would help the movement to build a homeland for the Jewish people in Palestine.

The number of Jews coming into the country increased by the day – although even at that point, during the 1930s, the Jews were just a quarter of the population, possessing 4 percent of the land.

As resistance to colonialism strengthened, the Zionist leadership became convinced that only through a total expulsion of the Palestinians would they be able to create a state of their own.

From its early inception and up to the 1930s, Zionist thinkers propagated the need to ethnically cleanse the indigenous population of Palestine if the dream of a Jewish state were to come true.

The preparation for implementing these two goals of statehood and ethnic supremacy accelerated after the Second World War.

The Zionist leadership defined 80 percent of Palestine (Israel today without the West Bank) as the space for the future state.

This was an area in which one million Palestinians lived next to 600,000 Jews.

The idea was to uproot as many Palestinians as possible. From March 1948 until the end of that year the plan was implemented despite the attempt by some Arab states to oppose it, which failed. Some 750,000 Palestinians were expelled, 531 villages were destroyed and 11 urban neighbourhoods demolished.

Half of Palestine’s population was uprooted and half of its villages destroyed. The state of Israel was established in over 80 percent of Palestine, turning Palestinian villages into Jewish settlements and recreation parks, but allowing a small number of Palestinian to remain citizens in it.

The June 1967 war allowed Israel to take the remaining 20 percent of Palestine.

This seizure defeated in a way the ethnic ideology of the Zionist movement. Israel encompassed 100 percent of Palestine, but the state incorporated a large number of Palestinians, the people who Zionists made such an effort to expel in 1948.

The fact that Israel was let off easily in 1948, and not condemned for the ethnic cleansing it committed, encouraged it to ethnically cleanse a further 300,000 Palestinians from the West Bank and the Gaza strip.


function googleTranslateElementInit() { new google.translate.TranslateElement({ pageLanguage: ‘en’ }, ‘google_translate_element’); }

War Against The People Of Palestine

Video

The US is complicit in these vicious crimes by our direct financial support and by our silence.

Posted January 05, 2013

See also – Must watch video – Propaganda : North Korean Documentary Exposes Western Propaganda

function googleTranslateElementInit() { new google.translate.TranslateElement({ pageLanguage: ‘en’ }, ‘google_translate_element’); }

Gaza is no Longer Occupied. Really?

Must Watch – Video and Transcript
Roger Waters address at The United Nations 29th November 2012 on behalf of the Russell Tribunal on Palestine (PDF file)
Posted December 17, 2012
Transcript
Mr. Chairman, your Excellencies, Ladies and Gentlemen
Thank you very much for receiving me at this moment of solidarity and crisis. I am a musician, not a diplomat, and so I shall not waste this precious opportunity on niceties of protocol. However I will say that you must all be suffering from listening fatigue, to a certain extent, so while I’ve been sitting there listening as well, I’ve been editing my rather long speech down to a rather shorter speech, but I believe the full text will be available to anybody who cares to read it, at the end of this meeting.
I appear before you as a representative of the fourth Russell Tribunal on Palestine and in that capacity I am representing global civil society.
By way of preamble I should say my remarks here today are not personal or driven by prejudice or malice, I am looking only to shed some light on the predicament of a beleaguered people.
The Russell Tribunal on Palestine was created to shed such light, to seek accountability for the violations of international law and the lack of United Nations resolve that prevent the Palestinian people from achieving their inalienable rights, especially the right of self-determination. One particular stimulus to our convening was the disturbing failure of the international community to implement and enforce the clear judgment of the International Court of Justice in 2004, contained in its advisory opinion on the Israeli Wall, as requested by the UN.
We met here in New York City, six weeks ago, on the 6th and 7th of October, having previously sent out invitations to all interested parties.  After listening to exhaustive testimony from many expert witnesses, and after careful deliberation, we arrived at the following judgements.
We found that the State of Israel is guilty of a number of international crimes.
  1. Apartheid.
The UN’s International Covenant on the Suppression and Punishment of the Crime of Apartheid, defines that crime as inhuman acts by any government that are “committed for the purpose of establishing and maintaining domination by one racial group of persons over any other racial group of persons and systematically oppressing them.”  As you all know, the prohibited acts include arbitrary arrest, legislative measures that discriminate in the political, social, economic and cultural fields; measures that divide the population along racial lines, and the persecution of those opposed to the system of apartheid.
As you are aware, this finding by the tribunal was endorsed earlier
In the year by the HRC Committee for the Elimination of Racial
Discrimination in Geneva after submissions by the Tribunal made
both orally and in writing.
  1. Ethnic cleansing.  In this case that crime includes the systematic eviction of much of the native Palestinian population by force since 1947-48.
  1. Collective punishment of a civilian population, explicitly prohibited by the Geneva Convention Article 33. Israel has violated its obligation as Occupying Power throughout the Occupied Palestinian Territory, including the West Bank, Gaza and East Jerusalem. Its most serious violations have occurred recently in Gaza with the blockade and virtual imprisonment of the entire population, the indiscriminate killing of Palestinians during the Israeli offensive, “Operation Cast Lead” in 2008 and 9, and now the devastation wrought by the recent attack, ironically named, “Operation Pillar of Defense.”
As I speak, I can hear the tut, tutting of governmental and media tongues trotting out the well worn mantra of the apologists, but “Hamas started it with their rocket attacks, Israel is only defending itself,”
Let us examine that argument. Did Hamas start “It”? When did “It” start?
How we understand history is shaped by when we start the clock. If we start the clock at a moment when rockets are fired from Gaza into Israel on a certain afternoon that, is one history. If we start the clock earlier that morning, when a 13-year-old Palestinian boy was shot dead by Israeli soldiers as he played soccer on a Gaza field, history starts to look a little different. If we go back further we see that since “Operation Cast Lead”, according to the Israeli human rights organization B’tselem, 271 Palestinians were killed by Israeli, bombs, rockets, drones and warplanes, and during the same period not a single Israeli was killed. A good case can be made that “It” started in 1967 with the occupation of Gaza and the West Bank. History tells us that the invasion and occupation of a land and the subjugation of its people almost always creates a resistance. Ask the French or the Dutch or the Poles or the Czechs, the list goes on. This crisis in Gaza is a crisis rooted in occupation.
Israel and its allies would contend that Gaza is no longer occupied. Really? The withdrawal of soldiers and settlers in 2005 changed the nature, not the existence, of occupation. Israel still controls Gaza’s airspace, coastal waters, borders, land, economy and lives. Gaza is still occupied. The people of Gaza, the 1.6 million Palestinians, half of them children under the age of 16, live in an open-air prison.  That is the reality that underlies the current crisis. And until we, not only understand that, but also until you, Excellencies, your governments, and your General Assembly take responsibility to end that occupation, we cannot even hope that the current crisis is over. In October, on the last occasion jurors from The Russell Tribunal addressed this committee, we were assured that our representations and reports would be advanced on the floor of the GA for general debate. If things go well today we may hope to hold you, Excellencies, to that assurance.
I have diverted briefly, let me return to the Israeli violations, which the Russell Tribunal identified.
4. Contravention of the Fourth Geneva convention’s prohibition on settlements – specifically Article 49. The settlements, ALL the settlements, are not simply an obstacle to peace, they are illegal. Period.  Full Stop.  All of them. You, in the General Assembly, and even the Security Council as well, have over the years identified them as illegal.  And yet they stand, a daily reality in which now more than 600,000 Israeli settlers in the West Bank and Occupied East Jerusalem violate the law every morning simply by waking up – because their houses sit on illegally expropriated land. It is not enough to call, as some governments do, for an end to further settlement expansion; if we are to live under the law the entire settlement undertaking must be ended.
5. Use of illegal weapons. During Israel’s Cast Lead operation four years ago, international human rights organizations documented Tel Aviv’s use of white phosphorous in attacks on Gaza. Human Rights Watch found that, and I quote, “Israel’s repeated firing of white phosphorous shells over densely populated areas of Gaza during its recent military campaign was indiscriminate and is evidence of war crimes.” White phosphorous burns at up to 1500 degrees Fahrenheit. Imagine what happens when it comes into contact with the skin of a child. Human Rights Watch called for Israel’s “senior commanders” to be held accountable. But so far, there has been no such accountability. No governments, nor even you, the United Nations General Assembly, have attempted to hold these Israeli commanders accountable. We hear a great deal about the UN’s commitment to the “responsibility to protect” vulnerable populations.  Surely the UN’s “responsibility to protect” must extend to this most vulnerable of populations, Palestinians, imprisoned in a crowded, besieged open-air prison?
There are more violations, your Excellencies, but you know that. Your resolutions trace the history of Israeli violations. You regret, you deplore, you even condemn the violations. But when have your resolutions been implemented?  It is not enough to deplore and condemn. What we need is for the United Nations – for you, excellencies, your governments and the General Assembly in which you serve – to take seriously your Responsibility to Protect Palestinians living under occupation and facing the daily violation of their inalienable rights of self-determination and equality.
The will of “we the people of these United Nations” is that all our brothers and sisters should be free to live in self determination, that the oppressed should be released from their burden, by being given recourse to the law, and that the oppressors should be called to account by that same law.
In 1981 I wrote a song, called ‘The Gunner’s Dream’ it appeared on a Pink Floyd album ‘The Final Cut’, the song purports to express the dying dream of an RAF gunner as he plunges to his death from a stricken aircraft towards the corner of some foreign field. He dreams of the future for which he is giving his life. I quote.
A place to stay
Enough to eat
Somewhere old heroes shuffle safely down the street
Where you can speak out loud about your doubts and fears
And what’s more
No one ever disappears you never hear their standard issue
Kicking in your door.
You can relax on both sides of the tracks
And maniacs, don’t blow holes, in bandsmen by remote control
And everyone has recourse to the law
And no one kills the children anymore
No one kills the children anymore.
In 1982 and again in 1983, the General Assembly passed resolutions holding Israel accountable for its violations. Those resolutions called for a complete arms embargo on Israel and an end to military aid and trade with Israel. Those resolutions were never implemented.  We never expected the United States, or my government, I’m from The UK, by the way, to implement those GA resolutions – the U.S. is giving Israel $4.1 billion this year to bolster its already bloated military. The IMF says Israel is the 26th wealthiest country in the world, and Israel is the only nuclear weapons state in the Middle East – why would any government be giving them money for more arms? Beats me. But the reality that they are does not excuse other governments from their obligations to implement those arms embargo resolutions.
No such embargo has been imposed. Instead, it has fallen to global civil society to take the lead. Following a 2005 call from Palestinian civil society, social movements, activists, and increasingly church bodies and even some local government authorities around the world have created the campaign for Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions. It aims, as many of you know, to bring non-violent economic pressure to bear on Israel to force an end to its violations, an end to occupation and apartheid, an end to the denial of Palestinians’ right of return, and an end to Palestinian citizens of Israel being required to live as second class citizens, discriminated against on racial grounds, and subject to different laws than their Jewish compatriots. The BDS movement is gaining ground hand over fist. Just last week I was happy to write a letter of support to the Student Government of the University of California, Irvine, congratulating them on demanding that their University divest from companies that profit from the Israeli occupation.
Also, last summer I was in Pittsburg to witness The Presbyterian Churches of the USA general assembly vote on a resolution to divest from Motorola, Caterpillar and Hewlett Packard, this would have been unthinkable ten years ago. To quote the great Bob Dylan, “The Times They Are a ‘Changing”


Back to today.
You, the members of the General Assembly are about to have the opportunity to vote on changing Palestine’s UN status to that of a non-member State.
Whilst not according full UN membership, it would provide UN recognition to Palestine as a state that would have the right to sign treaties – crucially including the Rome Treaty as a signatory to the International Criminal Court.
This is a momentous occasion, which was started here 13 months ago. It is one of those rare instances where you, Excellencies, can change the course and the face of history, and at the same time reinforce one of the founding principles of the UN – the right to self determination. The bid implicitly incorporates pre 1967 borders, includes the integrity of East Jerusalem, an autonomous Gaza and the refugee diaspora.
It is momentous because there are already over 132 members who have recognized Palestine as a state and more are appearing every day. And, now, just this week Hamas has lent its support.
I urge you to consider two points. Firstly, please resist pressure from any powerful government to coerce you into defeating or delaying this issue – sadly there is a history of coercion in this hallowed place. No Government, however rich or powerful should be allowed to use its financial or military muscle to set UN policy by bullying other states on this or any other issue.
Secondly, do not take the statehood vote as the end of fulfilling your obligations – General Assembly responsibility goes far beyond UN technicalities, it must include real protection for Palestinians under occupation and real accountability for violations of the law. You have powers you do not use. You do not have to defer to or wait for the Security Council.
In just a few months we will commemorate the tenth anniversary of the killing of Rachel Corrie, the young peace activist killed by an Israeli soldier driving an armored Caterpillar bulldozer as she tried to protect the house of a pharmacist and his family in Rafah, on Gaza’s border. International activists like Rachel Corrie, Tom Hurndall and James Miller took the risks they did, and they, and their families paid the ultimate price, because the international community – your governments and the United Nations itself – had failed to protect the vulnerable Palestinian population living under this prolonged occupation. We are proud, though tears burn our eyes, of the work of these young activists and deeply moved by their sacrifice. But we are angry, too, that our governments and our international institutions, including the General Assembly, have failed to provide the protection that would make Rachel Corrie’s sacrifice unnecessary. Also let us not forget the thousands of courageous and anonymous Palestinians and their equally courageous Israeli brothers and sisters in arms (boycott from within) who protest peacefully on a weekly basis for the simple basic right to an ordinary human life. The right to live in dignity and peace, to raise their families, to till the land, to build a just society, to travel abroad, to be free of occupation, to aspire to each and every human goal, just like the rest of us.
Speaking of the rest of us, I live here in New York City. We are a somewhat parochial group, we New Yorkers, to a large extent cut off by propaganda and privilege from the realities of the Palestinians plight. Few of us understand that the government of the United States of America, particularly through its power of veto in the Security Council, protects Israel from the condemnation of the global civil society that I have the honor to represent here today.
Even as bombs rained down on 1.6 million people in Gaza, the President of The United States of America reasserted his position that “Israel has the right to defend itself.”
We all know the reach and power of Israel’s military capability and the deadly effects of its actions. So what did President Obama mean?  Did he mean that Israel has the right to indefinitely occupy the whole of the region, that Israel has theright to forcibly evict the populations of the occupied territories, house-by-house, village-by-village?  Did he mean that in this special case Israel has the right to carry out campaigns of ethnic cleansing and apartheid, and that the U.S. will protect Israel’s right to do so? Did he mean that Israel has the right to build roads, in occupied territory, protected by razor wire and concrete walls and CCTV and machine guns to protect the residents of Jewish-only settlements?  Did he mean that in discriminate and deadly bombing attacks, including the use of white phosphorous, on the civilian population of Gaza, by an overwhelmingly superior military force, is justified on the grounds of defense?
The Palestinians are an ancient, intelligent, cultured, hospitable, and generous people. And of course they have pride and will resist the occupation of their land and defend their women and children and their property to the best of their ability. Who would not? Would you? Would I? Would President Obama? One would hope so. It would be his duty. Imagine Washington DC, walled in, a prison, mainly rubble from repeated attacks. No one allowed in or out. Constant power cuts, foreign gunboats on the Potomac killing the fishermen, warplanes launching surgical air strikes from their impunity on high, taking out, not only the resistance but women and children too.
More than a generation ago, the General Assembly passed resolution 2625, dealing with the principle of equal rights and self-determination. It recognized that when a people face “any forcible action” depriving them of those rights, that they have the right to “actions against, and resistance to” such use of force. When the international community does not shoulder its “responsibility to protect,” Palestinians will shoulder that responsibility themselves.
This is not to suggest that I support the launching of missiles into Israel. The internationally recognized legal right of resistance means attacking any military target engaged in illegal occupation. But let us be clear, as we believe in The Law as indispensable and even handed. The launching of unguided rockets into Israel, where the most likely targets will be civilians, is not a legal form of resistance.
Many civil society activists – including many Palestinians and Israelis – are committed to non-violent resistance. The BDS movement, which has spread from Palestinian civil society to activists around the world, is part of that non-violent resistance and I support it whole heartedly, but let us be clear that the disparity of power, and the reality of the occupation, and the response of the occupied is the reality we face unless we find recourse in international law and hold all parties to it. In the meantime
Let me try to dial back the rhetoric a little and address the “Israel has a right to defend itself” claim from a legal and historical perspective.
Ex injuria non oritur jus.
“A legal right or entitlement cannot arise from injustice”
If we truly oppose all violence, whether by the occupier or violent resistance by the occupied, we must aim to end the root causes of violence.  In this conflict, that means ending Israel’s occupation, colonization, ethnic cleansing, and the denial of the right to self determination and other inalienable rights that the Palestinian people is entitled to according to the UN charter and other tenets of international law.
So to the Future.
Hamas, having dropped its original demand for Israel to be dismantled in the run up to the elections was democratically elected in January2006, in elections deemed free and fair by every international observer present, including former U.S. President Jimmy Carter. The leaders of Hamas have made their position clear over and over again. It is this: Hamas is open to permanent peace with Israel if there is total withdrawal to the 1967 borders (22 per cent of historic Palestine), and the arrangement is supported by a referendum of all Palestinians living under occupation. I know you all know this, but where I live they don’t know this, they don’t know that that is the position of Hamas. So I’m telling them.
Mr. Chairman, Excellencies, friends. We are all here for the same reason. We are all committed to human rights, international law, the centrality of the United Nations and equality for all – including for Palestinians. We are all attending this meeting on 29th November that marks the UN’s International Day of Solidarity with The Palestinian People.
But it seems to me, our commemoration of this day is not enough.
So, what else to do? The battleground is here, at the headquarters of the United Nations, and simultaneously in the middle of New York City, with access to the media. The battle is two pronged:
  1. To continue the work of informing the people of the USA about the reality of the Palestinian-Israeli conflict, and most especially, about the role of their government, the host country of the United Nations, using their tax dollars to fund and enable Israel’s violations. To remind them of the billions of dollars in military aid every year, the absolute protection of Israel in the United Nations, in the International Criminal Court and elsewhere to assure its impunity for war crimes and potential crimes against humanity – to impress upon them, “the people of the United States of America” that these dubious attachments remain the center piece of their governments’ policy in the Middle East.
  2. Just as importantly, we must address, finally, serious reform of the U.N. The UN needs to embrace a new democracy. The veto must be rethought, or the UN will die. The use of the veto as a strategic political tool by one or other of the permanent members of the Security Council has become outmoded. The power of veto residing in the hands of just five nations makes something of a mockery of the pretence of democracy, of the idea that “The will of the Peoples” is represented here. The system is too open to abuse. The blanket protection afforded to Israel by the United States’ use of the veto, is but one example of such abuse. For instance in 1973 it blocked a resolution Re-affirming the rights of Palestinians and demanding withdrawal from the occupied territories, in 1976 another resolution calling for The right of self determination for the Palestinians, and two resolutions in1997 calling for Cessation of settlement building in E. Jerusalem and other occupied territories. There are many more.
  3. l urge you, the General Assembly, to collectively work towards wresting the power back to the people in order to facilitate progress towards a more democratic body, better able to pursue the high aspirations of this great institution, to represent the will of the peoples of these great United Nations.
You, the General Assembly, represent the largest, most democratic component of the United Nations. The United States, and China and France and Russia and the UK have no veto here. What is needed is political will. You can make decisions, and take actions, that the Security Council cannot, or will not. The United Nations Charter begins with the words “We, thepeoples, of these United Nations.”  Not “We the governments.”  I urge you, on behalf of the people of your countries, on behalf of the people of all countries, in fact on behalf of all the peoples, of this, our shared earth, to act.
Seize this historic moment.
Support the vote today for Palestinian enhanced observer statehood status as a step towards full membership.
And declare Israel’s continued membership of the UN to be dependent on reform of its illegal apartheid regime.
Thank you,
Roger Waters
29th November 2012
2.
The Full Un-Edited Text.
Mr. Secretary-General, Mr. Chairman, your Excellences, Ladies and Gentlemen.
Thank you for receiving me at this moment of solidarity and crisis. I am a musician, not a diplomat, and so I shall not waste this precious opportunity on niceties of protocol.
I appear before you as a representative of the fourth Russell Tribunal on Palestine and in that capacity I am representing global civil society.
By way of preamble I should say my remarks here today are not personal or driven by prejudice or malice, I am looking only to shed some light on the predicament of a beleaguered people.
The Russell Tribunal on Palestine was created to shed such light, to seek accountability for the violations of international law and the lack of United Nations resolve that prevent the Palestinian people from achieving their inalienable rights, especially the right of self-determination. One particular stimulus to our convening was the disturbing failure of the international community to implement and enforce the clear judgment of the International Court of Justice in 2004, contained in its advisory opinion on the Israeli Wall, as requested by the UN.
We met here in New York City, six weeks ago, on the 6th and 7th of October, having previously sent out invitations to all interested parties.  After listening to exhaustive testimony from many expert witnesses, and after careful deliberation, we arrived at the following judgments.
We found that the State of Israel is guilty of a number of international crimes.
1.Apartheid.
The UN’s International Covenant on the Suppression and Punishment of the Crime of Apartheid, defines that crime as inhuman acts by any government that are “committed for the purpose of establishing and maintaining domination by one racial group of persons over any other racial group of persons and systematically oppressing them.”  As you all know, the prohibited acts include arbitrary arrest, legislative measures that discriminate in the political, social, economic and cultural fields; measures that divide the population along racial lines, and the persecution of those opposed to the system of apartheid.
As you are aware this finding by the tribunal was endorsed earlier
In the year by the HRC Committee for the Elimination of Racial
Discrimination in Geneva after submissions by the Tribunal made
both orally and in writing.
2.Ethnic cleansing.  In this case that crime includes the systematic eviction of much of the native Palestinian population by force since 1947-48.
3.Collective punishment of a civilian population, explicitly prohibited by the Geneva Convention Article 33. Israel has violated its obligation as Occupying Power throughout the Occupied Palestinian Territory, including the West Bank, Gaza and East Jerusalem. Its most serious violations have occurred recently in Gaza with the blockade and virtual imprisonment of the entire population, the indiscriminate killing of Palestinians during the Israeli offensive, Operation Cast Lead in 2008 and 2009, and now the devastation wrought by the recent attack, ironically named, “Operation Pillar of Defense.”
As I speak, I can hear the tut, tutting of governmental and media tongues trotting out the well worn mantra of the apologists.
“Hamas started it with their rocket attacks, Israel is only defending itself,”
Let us examine that argument. Did Hamas start “It”? When did “It” start?
How we understand history is shaped by when we start the clock. If we start the clock at a moment when rockets are fired from Gaza into Israel on a certain afternoon that is one history. If we start the clock earlier that morning, when a 13-year-old Palestinian boy was shot dead by Israeli soldiers as he played soccer on a Gaza field, history starts to look a little different. If we go back further we see that since ‘Operation Cast Lead’, according to the Israeli human rights organization B’tselem, 271 Palestinians were killed by Israeli bombs, rockets, drones and warplanes, and during the same period not a single Israeli was killed. A good case can be made that ’It’ started in 1967 with the occupation of Gaza and the West Bank. History tells us that the invasion and occupation of a land and the subjugation of its people almost always creates a resistance. Ask the French or the Dutch or the Poles or the Czechs, the list goes on. This crisis in Gaza is a crisis rooted in occupation.
Israel and its allies would contend that Gaza is no longer occupied. Really? The withdrawal of soldiers and settlers in 2005 changed the nature, not the existence, of occupation. Israel still controls Gaza’s airspace, coastal waters, borders, land, economy and lives. Gaza is still occupied. The people of Gaza, the 1.6 million Palestinians, half of them children under the age of 16, live in an open-air prison.  That is the reality that underlies the current crisis. And until we, not only understand that, and until you, Excellencies, your governments, and your General Assembly take responsibility to end that occupation, we cannot even hope that the current crisis is over. In October, on the last occasion jurors from The Russell Tribunal addressed this committee, we were assured that our representations and reports would be advanced on the floor of the GA for general debate. If things go well today we may hope to hold you, Excellences, to that assurance.
I have diverted briefly, let me return to the Israeli violations, which the Russell Tribunal identified.
4. Contravention of the Fourth Geneva convention’s prohibition on settlements – specifically Article 49. The settlements, ALL the settlements, are not simply an obstacle to peace, they are illegal. Period.  Full Stop.  All of them. You, in the General Assembly, and even the Security Council as well, have over the years identified them as illegal.  And yet they stand, a daily reality in which now more than 600,000 Israeli settlers in the West Bank and Occupied East Jerusalem violate the law every morning simply by waking up – because their houses sit on illegally expropriated land. It is not enough to call, as some governments do, for an end to further settlement expansion; if we are to live under the law the entire settlement undertaking must be ended.
5. Use of illegal weapons. During Israel’s Cast Lead operation four years ago, international human rights organizations documented Tel Aviv’s use of white phosphorous in attacks on Gaza. Human Rights Watch found that, and I quote, “Israel’s repeated firing of white phosphorous shells over densely populated areas of Gaza during its recent military campaign was indiscriminate and is evidence of war crimes.” White phosphorous burns at up to 1500 degrees Fahrenheit. Imagine what happens when it comes into contact with the skin of a child. Human Rights Watch called for Israel’s “senior commanders” to be held accountable. But so far, there has been no such accountability. No governments, nor even you, the United Nations General Assembly, have attempted to hold these Israeli commanders accountable. We hear a great deal about the UN’s commitment to the “responsibility to protect” vulnerable populations.  Surely the UN’s “responsibility to protect” must extend to this most vulnerable of populations, Palestinians, imprisoned in a crowded, besieged open-air prison?
There are more violations, your Excellencies, but you know that. Your resolutions trace the history of Israeli violations. You regret, you deplore, you even condemn the violations. But when have your resolutions been implemented?  It is not enough to deplore and condemn. What we need is for the United Nations – for you, excellencies, your governments and the General Assembly in which you serve – to take seriously your Responsibility to Protect Palestinians living under occupation and facing the daily violation of their inalienable rights of self-determination and equality.
The will of “we the people of these United Nations” is that all our brothers and sisters should be free to live in self determination, that the oppressed should be released from their burden, by being given recourse to the law, and that the oppressors should be called to account by that same law.
In 1981 I wrote a song, called ‘The Gunner’s Dream’ it appeared on a Pink Floyd album ‘The Final Cut’, the song purports to express the dying dream of a RAF gunner as he plunges to his death from a stricken aircraft towards the corner of some foreign field. He dreams of the future for which he is giving his life. I quote.
A place to stay
Enough to eat
Somewhere old heroes shuffle safely down the street
Where you can speak out loud about your doubts and fears
And what’s more
No one ever disappears you never hear their standard issue
Kicking in your door.
You can relax on both sides of the tracks
And maniacs, don’t blow holes, in bandsmen by remote control
And everyone has recourse to the law
And no one kills the children anymore
No one kills the children anymore.
In 1982 and again in 1983, the General Assembly passed resolutions holding Israel accountable for its violations. Those resolutions called for a complete arms embargo and an end to military aid and trade with Israel. Those resolutions were never implemented.  We never expected the United States, or my government, I’m from The UK, by the way, to implement those GA resolutions – the U.S. is giving Israel $4.1 billion this year to bolster its already bloated military. The IMF says Israel is the 26th wealthiest country in the world, and Israel is the only nuclear weapons state in the Middle East – why would any government be giving them money for more arms? Beats me. But the reality that they are does not excuse other governments from their obligations to implement those arms embargo resolutions.
No such embargo has been imposed. Instead, it has fallen to global civil society to take the lead. Following a 2005 call from Palestinian civil society, social movements, activists, and increasingly church bodies and even some local government authorities around the world have created the campaign for Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions. It aims, as many of you know, to bring non-violent economic pressure to bear on Israel to force an end to its violations, an end to occupation and apartheid, an end to the denial of Palestinians’ right of return, and an end to Palestinian citizens of Israel being required to live as second class citizens, discriminated against on racial grounds, and subject to different laws than their Jewish compatriots. The BDS movement is gaining ground hand over fist. Just last week I was happy to write a letter of support to the Student Government of the University of California, Irvine, congratulating them on demanding that their University divest from companies that profit from the Israeli occupation.
Also last summer I was in Pittsburg to witness The Presbyterian Churches of the USA general assembly vote on a resolution to divest from Motorola, Caterpillar and Hewlett Packard, this would have been unthinkable ten years ago. To quote the great Bob Dylan, “The Times They Are a’Changing”
Back to today.
You, the members of the General Assembly are about to have the opportunity to vote on changing Palestine’s UN status to that of a non-member State.
Whilst not according full UN membership, it would provide UN recognition to Palestine as a state that would have the right to sign treaties – crucially including the Rome Treaty as a signatory to the International Criminal Court.
This is a momentous occasion, which was started here 13 months ago. It is one of those rare instances where you, excellencies, can change the course and the face of history, and at the same time reinforce one of the founding principles of the UN – the right to self determination. The bid implicitly incorporates pre 1967 borders, includes the integrity of East Jerusalem, an autonomous Gaza and the refugee diaspora.
It is momentous because there are already over 132 members who have recognized Palestine as a state and more are appearing every day. And, now, just this week Hamas has lent its support.
I urge you to consider two points. Firstly, please resist pressure from any powerful government to coerce you into defeating or delaying this issue – sadly there is a history of coercion in this hallowed place. No Government, however rich or powerful should be allowed to use its financial or military muscle to set UN policy by bullying other states on this or any other issue.
Secondly, do not take the statehood vote as the end of fulfilling your obligations – General Assembly responsibility goes far beyond UN technicalities, it must include real protection of Palestinians under occupation and real accountability for violations of the law. You have powers you do not use. You do not have to defer to or wait for the Security Council.
In just a few months we will commemorate the tenth anniversary of the killing of Rachel Corrie, the young peace activist killed by an Israeli soldier driving an armored Caterpillar bulldozer as she tried to protect the house of a pharmacist and his family in Rafah, on Gaza’s border. International activists like Rachel Corrie, Tom Hurndall and James Miller took the risks they did, and they, and their families paid the ultimate price, because the international community – your governments and the United Nations itself – had failed to protect the vulnerable Palestinian population living under this prolonged occupation. We are proud, though tears burn our eyes, of the work of these young activists and deeply moved by their sacrifice. But we are angry, too, that our governments and our international institutions, including the General Assembly, have failed to provide the protection that would make Rachel Corrie’s sacrifice unnecessary. Also let us not forget the thousands of courageous and anonymous Palestinians and their equally courageous Israeli brothers and sisters in arms (boycott from within) who protest peacefully on a weekly basis for the simple basic right to an ordinary human life. The right to live in dignity and peace, to raise their families, to till the land, to build a just society, to travel abroad, to be free of occupation, to aspire to each and every human goal, just like the rest of us.
Speaking of the rest of us, I live here in New York City. We are a somewhat parochial group, we New Yorkers, to a large extent cut off by propaganda and privilege from the realities of the Palestinians plight. Few of us understand that the government of the United States of America, particularly through its power of veto in the Security Council, protects Israel from the condemnation of the global civil society that I have the honor to represent here today.
Even as bombs rained down on 1.6 million people in Gaza, the President of The United States of America reasserted his position that “Israel has the right to defend itself.”
We all know the reach and power of Israel’s military capability and the deadly effects of its actions. So what did President Obama mean?  Did he mean that Israel has the right to indefinitely occupy the whole of the region, that Israel has the right to forcibly evict the populations of the occupied territories, house by house, village by village?  Did he mean that in this special case Israel has the right to carry out campaigns of ethnic cleansing and apartheid, and that the U.S. will protect Israel’s right to do so? Did he mean that Israel has the right to build roads, in occupied territory, protected by razor wire and concrete walls and CCTV and machine guns to protect the residents of Jewish-only settlements?  Did he mean that in discriminate and deadly bombing attacks, including the use of white phosphorous, on the civilian population of Gaza, by an overwhelmingly superior military force, is justified on the grounds of defense?
The Palestinians are an ancient, intelligent, cultured, hospitable, and generous people. And of course they have pride and will resist the occupation of their land and defend their women and children and their property to the best of their ability. Who would not? Would you? Would I? Would President Obama? One would hope so. It would be his duty. Imagine Washington DC, walled in, a prison, mainly rubble from repeated attacks. No one allowed in or out. Constant power cuts, foreign gunboats on the Potomac killing the fishermen, warplanes launching surgical air strikes from their impunity on high, taking out, not only the resistance but women and children too.
More than a generation ago, the General Assembly passed resolution 2625, dealing with the principle of equal rights and self-determination. It recognized that when a people face “any forcible action” depriving them of those rights, that they have the right to “actions against, and resistance to” such use of force. When the international community does not shoulder its “responsibility to protect,” Palestinians will shoulder that responsibility themselves.
This is not to suggest that I support the launching of missiles into Israel. The internationally recognized legal right of resistance means attacking any military target engaged in illegal occupation. But let us be clear, as we believe in The Law as indispensable and even handed. The launching of unguided rockets into Israel, where the most likely targets will be civilians, is not a legal form of resistance.
Many civil society activists – including many Palestinians and Israelis – are committed to non-violent resistance. The BDS movement, which has spread from Palestinian civil society to activists around the world, is part of that non-violent resistance and I support it whole heartedly, but let us be clear that the disparity of power, and the reality of the occupation, and the response of the occupied is the reality we face unless we find recourse in international law and hold all parties to it. In the meantime
Let me try to dial back the rhetoric a little and address the “Israel has a right to defend itself” claim from a legal and historical perspective.
Ex injuria non oritur jus.
“A legal right or entitlement cannot arise from injustice”
If we truly oppose all violence, whether by the occupier or violent resistance by the occupied, we must aim to end the root causes of violence.  In this conflict, that means ending Israel’s occupation, colonization, ethnic cleansing, and the denial of the right to self determination and other inalienable rights that the Palestinian people is entitled to according to the UN charter and other tenets of international law.
So to the Future.
Hamas, having dropped its original demand for Israel to be dismantled in the run up to the elections was democratically elected in January2006, in elections deemed free and fair by every international observer present, including former U.S. President Jimmy Carter. The leaders of Hamas have made their position clear over and over again. It is this: Hamas is open to permanent peace with Israel if there is total withdrawal to the 1967 borders (22 per cent of historic Palestine), and the arrangement is supported by a referendum of all Palestinians living under occupation.
Mr. Chairman, Excellencies, friends. We are all here for the same reason. We are all committed to human rights, international law, the centrality of the United Nations and equality for all – including for Palestinians. We are all attending this meeting on 29th November that marks the UN’s International Day of Solidarity with The Palestinian People.
But it seems to me, our commemoration of this day is not enough.
So, what else to do? The battleground is here, at the headquarters of the United Nations, and simultaneously in the middle of New York City, with access to the media. The battle is two pronged:
To continue the work of informing the people of the USA about the reality of the Palestinian-Israeli conflict, and most especially, about the role of their government, the host country of the United Nations, using their tax dollars to fund and enable Israel’s violations. To remind them of the billions of dollars in military aid every year, the absolute protection of Israel in the United Nations, in the International Criminal Court and elsewhere to assure its impunity for war crimes and potential crimes against humanity – to impress upon them, “the people of the United States of America” that these dubious attachments remain the center piece of their governments’ policy in the Middle East.
Just as importantly, we must address, finally, serious reform of the U.N. The UN needs to embrace a new democracy. The veto must be rethought, or the UN will die. The use of the veto as a strategic political tool by one or other of the permanent members of the Security Council has become outmoded. The power of veto residing in the hands of just five nations makes something of a mockery of the pretense of democracy, of the idea that “The will of the Peoples” is represented here. The system is too open to abuses. The blanket protection afforded to Israel by the United States’ use of the veto is but one example of such abuse. For instance in 1973 it blocked a resolution Re-affirming the rights of Palestinians and demanding withdrawal from the occupied territories, in 1976 another resolution calling for The right of self determination for the Palestinians, and two resolutions in1997 calling for Cessation of settlement building in E. Jerusalem and other occupied territories. There are many more.
l urge you, the General Assembly, to collectively work towards wresting the power back to the people in order to facilitate progress towards a more democratic body, better able to pursue the high aspirations of this great institution, to represent the will of the peoples of these great United Nations.
You, the General Assembly, represent the largest, most democratic component of the United Nations. The United States, and China and France and Russia and the UK have no veto here. What is needed is political will. You can make decisions, and take actions, that the Security Council cannot, or will not. The United Nations Charter begins with the words “We, the peoples, of these United Nations.”  Not “We the governments.”  I urge you, on behalf of the people of your countries, on behalf of the people of all countries, in fact on behalf of all the peoples, of this, our shared earth, to act.
Seize this historic moment.
Support the vote today for Palestinian enhanced observer statehood status as a step towards full membership.
And declare Israel’s continued membership of the UN to be dependent on reform of its illegal apartheid regime.
Thank you.
Roger Waters. 29th November 2012.

function googleTranslateElementInit() { new google.translate.TranslateElement({ pageLanguage: ‘en’ }, ‘google_translate_element’); }

Hamas Probes Killing of ‘Collaborators’

This Murder and Abuse Of Prisoners In Gaza Must Stop. It Defiles Humanity

Video By Al Jazeera

Palestinian fighters in Gaza during last month’s conflict killed seven men accused of collaborating with Israel.
The Hamas government says it is investigating how they were killed before they could be tried in court. Al Jazeera’s Nicole Johnston reports from Gaza

– Warning –
Viewers may find the pictures in this report disturbing.
Posted December 11, 2012
Executed Gaza ‘collaborators’ were in custody before war
December 11, 2012 – BETHLEHEM (Ma’an) — Seven Palestinians who were accused of spying for Israel and publicly executed during the latest assault on Gaza were already in jail when the war started, and several had been held for more than a year.

Masked gunmen shot the alleged collaborators in two public attacks at the height of Israel’s eight-day bombardment of Gaza, killing one person on Nov. 16 and another six people on Nov. 20.

At the time, security officials said one man had confessed to aiding Israel while the six others “were caught red-handed” and “possessed hi-tech equipment and filming equipment to take footage of positions.”

A Ma’an review of publicly available records as well as interviews with experts in Gaza show that all of these men had been in the custody of the Hamas government for months and in one case years before Israel launched its “Pillar of Cloud” operation.

Ashraf Aweida, the first victim, had been held on suspicion of spying but had not been formally convicted before his body was dumped in the street outside Shifa hospital along with a note claiming he had confessed to assisting in Israeli assassinations, according to human rights activists in Gaza. The six others who were killed Nov. 20 had all been formally sentenced to death no later than September.

Palestinian human rights activists and a senior Hamas official have condemned the killings as illegal, saying the men should have been brought to justice under the law.

According to public records maintained by the Palestinian Center for Human Rights and other groups, six of the seven men had already had their day in court by the time Israel launched its assault Nov. 14.

Three of them — Amer al-Aef, Zuheir Hamouda and Ghassan Asfur — were sentenced to death in 2012. Two others, Ribhi Bedawi and Fadel Abu Shalluf, received the same sentence in 2011. The sixth victim, Naim Ashur, was convicted of treason in March 2010, according to the Independent Commission for Human Rights, the Palestinian Authority’s official rights ombudsman.

“Prior to the attack on Gaza they were all in custody,” said Hamdi Shakura, the director of the Palestinian Center for Human Rights’ democracy development unit, in an interview.

“We have no information as to whether they were released or handed to militants. We are waiting for the results of the government committee. We are hopeful we will see a real investigation and action by the government,” Shakura told Ma’an.

Images of the victims — including one showing a man’s lifeless body chained to a motorcycle and being dragged throughout the streets of Gaza City — underscored the sentiment toward informants after Israel launched its brutal air assault, which killed over 170 people and injured hundreds.

Officials in Gaza also used the images to warn would-be spies against cooperating with Israel. After Aweida’s body was found outside Shifa hospital, a security official cited the killing as evidence the government was not lowering its guard against “those who mess with the security of our homeland.”

A week since the ceasefire, the circumstances of how these seven men were removed from their jail cells and ended up dead on Gaza City’s streets remain unclear.

Taher al-Nunu, a spokesman for the Hamas government, promised a full investigation into the killings, which he described as unlawful.

However senior Hamas leader Mahmoud al-Zahhar dismissed criticism from Palestinian human rights groups.

“We will not allow one collaborator to be in Gaza, and let human rights groups say whatever they want. A human has rights if they have honor and not if they are a traitor,” he said Saturday.

The remarks followed condemnation by the deputy chief of Hamas, Mousa Abu Marzouq, who said the killings were “not acceptable at all,” and demanded that those responsible be held accountable.

Such an incident “must never happen again,” he said.


function googleTranslateElementInit() { new google.translate.TranslateElement({ pageLanguage: ‘en’ }, ‘google_translate_element’); }

The Geopolitical Chess Game behind the Israeli Attack on Gaza

By Mahdi Darius Nazemroaya
December 04, 2012 “Information Clearing House” – The recent hostilities between the Gaza Strip and Israel have to be viewed in context of a broader geopolitical chessboard. The events in Gaza are tied to Syria and the US’s regional maneuvers against Iran and its regional alliance system.
Syria has been compromised as a conduit for weapons to Gaza, because of its domestic instability. Israel has capitalized on this politically and militarily. Benjamin Netanyahu has not only tried to secure his own election victory in the Knesset through an attack on Gaza, but has used the US-sponsored instability in Syria as an opportunity to try and target the arms stockpiles of the Palestinians.
Netanyahu calculated that Gaza will not be able to rearm itself while Syria and its allies are distracted. The bombing of the Yarmouk arms factory in Sudan, which Israel says was owned by the Iranian Revolutionary Guard, was probably part of this plan and a prelude to Israel’s attack on Gaza.
In this chess game, sit the so-called “Moderates”— a misleading label jointly utilized by Messrs George W. Bush Jr. and Tony Blair to whitewash their regional cabal of tyrants and backward regimes — alongside the Obama Administration and NATO. These so-called Moderates include the desert dictators of the feudal Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC), Jordan, Mahmoud Abbas, and Turkey. In 2011, the ranks of the Moderates were augmented by the NATO-installed government of Libya and the GCC/NATO-supported anti-government militias that were unleashed in Syria.
On the other side of the chessboard defiantly sits the Resistance Bloc composed of Iran, Syria, Hezbollah (and Hezbollah’s partners in Lebanon, like Amal and the Free Patriotic Movement), the so-called Palestinian Rejectionists, and increasingly Iraq. The Muslim Brotherhood, which has emerged as a new regional force, is being increasingly prodded into the Moderate camp by the US and the GCC in an attempt to ultimately play the sectarian card against the Resistance Bloc.
Stark contrasts between Gaza and Syria
Israel’s attack on Gaza was a litmus test. All those voices continuously pushing for America’s McJihad against the Syrian government in the name of freedom vanished from their podiums or suddenly went silent when Israel attacked Gaza. Al Jazeera’s tele-preacher Yusuf Al-Qaradawi and Saudi Arabia’s dictator-selected Grand Mufti Abdul Aziz went silent. Adnan Al-Arour — the Saudi-based exiled kooky Syrian cleric who, as one of the spiritual heads of the Syrian anti-government forces, has threatened to punish anyone that says that Al-Qaeda is among their ranks — even berated Hamas and the Palestinians for fighting Israel.
The fighting in Gaza really placed them in a fix. Here we see the contradictions in their “Arab Spring.” We now see who really pays lip service to Palestinian liberation and who does not. Moreover, the foreign supporters of the Syrian National Coalition, a rehash of the Syrian National Council, are ironically all supporters of Israel.
This is why mentioning the support that Iran, Syria, and Hezbollah have provided for Gaza has become a taboo among the supporters of the anti-government forces in Syria. All they can say is that any acknowledgment of the support that Tehran, Damascus, and Hezbollah have provided to Gaza is an attempt to sanitize “Bashar Al-Assad and his supporters.”
Iran, Syria, and Hezbollah helped the Palestinians in Gaza
The Iranian Fijr-5 symbolically embodies Tehran’s support for Palestine. Despite the fact that Israel and Gaza are by far not equal, it was predominately Iranian arms and technology that changed the balance of power. Tehran has been the main ally and supporter of the Palestinian resistance. The US, Israel, Hezbollah, Hamas, the Palestinian Islamic Jihad, and Iran itself have all acknowledged this in different ways.
The Palestinian Islamic Jihad, which is unapologetically pro-Iranian, has openly stated that everything Gaza used in the fight against Israel, from its bullets to missiles, has been generously provided by Tehran. It was even reported during the fighting that Hezbollah, using a special unit dedicated to arming the Palestinians, resupplied the Gaza Strip with some of its own long-range missiles.
This has all taken place while the cads in Saudi Arabia, Qatar, and Turkey have instead armed the Syrian anti-government militias. Egypt and Jordan continue to be major partners in preventing Iranian arms from reaching the Palestinians.
Palestinian fighters have also been trained in Lebanon, Syria, and Iran. Ironically, the anti-government forces in Syria are also targeting members of the Palestinian Liberation Army in Syria.
The support that the Resistance Bloc has given the Palestinians puts those actors, like Turkey and Qatar, opposed to the Syrian government in a real predicament. These so-called Sunni states were embarrassed; not only did they fail to help a predominately Sunni population, but their insincerity was exposed. This is why there is an active effort to deny the support that Iran and its allies have provided for Gaza.
De-linking Hamas from Resistance Bloc to start a Muslim Civil War
As a back story to all this, the Israeli attack on Gaza and the Moderate’s wooing of Hamas is more than just about neutralizing Gaza. Hamas leaders are being tempted to choose between the Moderate and Resistance camps and increasingly between governing or active resistance to the Israeli occupation. Through this, some form of accommodation to the US and Israel is being sought from Hamas. The aims are to de-link the Palestinians, particularly Hamas, from the Resistance Bloc in order to portray Iran and its allies as a Shiite alliance bent on dominating the Sunnis.
If you are foolish enough to fall prey to it, welcome to the unfolding “American fitna” (schism) that aims to ignite a regional Muslim civil war between the Shiites and Sunnis. The Obama administration is trying to construct and line up a Sunni axis against the region’s Shiite Muslims.
It is a classic strategy of divide and conquer that envisions America and Israel dominating the region as the Muslims are incapacitated by their bloodletting. The Shia are systematically being vilified courtesy of the new media war: Iran, Hezbollah, Bashar Al-Assad (an Alawi who is increasingly labeled a Shiite for the benefit of this project), and Nouri Maliki’s administration in Iraq are being portrayed as the new oppressors of the Sunnis. In their place Turkey, with its virtually stillborn neo-Ottomanism foreign policy, and Egypt under the Muslim Brotherhood are being presented as the champions of the Sunnis. Never mind that Egypt’s Mohamed Morsi has continued the blockade of Gaza for Israel or that Turkey’s Erdogan lost his voice for a while when Israel began bombing Gaza.
The US is trying to use Egypt’s Muslim Brotherhood to control Hamas, because it was Cairo that established a ceasefire between Israel and Gaza. While Iran offers military technology, logistical support, and finance the Egyptians are being presented as Gaza’s ticket to establishing some form of normality and the GCC as alternative funding. This is why Qatar’s Emir Al-Thani visited Gaza to tempt Hamas with his declining supply of petro-dollars.
Shiite and Sunni divisions are political constructs
Inside Hamas there are internal differences over this. While Damascus, Tehran, and Hezbollah desired some form of public acknowledgment about their vital assistance to Hamas and the Palestinians, Hamas officials were careful about their statements. When Khaled Meshaal thanked Egypt, Qatar, and Tunisia during an important press conference, he narrowly mentioned Iran.
Meshaal’s politicking was not lost on Hezbollah Secretary-General Hassan Nasrallah, who responded hours later by rhetorically asking who supplied and painstakingly transferred the Fajr-5 missiles into Gaza? Nasrallah asked people to look past Gaza’s fair-weather friends, like the Qataris and Saudis who think they can buy their ways into the grace of the Palestinians, but to look at Gaza’s tested friends who allowed Gaza to stand on its own two feet. Then the Lebanese leader reaffirmed the ongoing support of the Resistance Bloc for the Palestinian people.
Despite its politburo’s position on Syria, Hamas is still a part of the Resistance Bloc. There is a new format now. If Greece and Turkey were at odds with one another as two NATO allies, then Hamas can have its differences with Syria and still be allied with the Resistance Bloc against Israel.
The divide in the Middle East is not a sectarian one between Shiites and Sunnis, but fundamentally political. The alliance of the predominately Sunni Muslim Palestinian resistance movements and the Free Patriotic Movement, Lebanon’s largest Christian political party, with predominately Shiite Muslim Iran and Hezbollah should defuse such a perception that the US and its allies are trying to cultivate.
Mahdi Darius Nazemroaya for RT
Mahdi Darius Nazemroaya is a sociologist and research associate at the Centre for Research on Globalization (CRG) in Montréal  and the author of The Globalization of NATO (Clarity Press).

function googleTranslateElementInit() { new google.translate.TranslateElement({ pageLanguage: ‘en’ }, ‘google_translate_element’); }

Palestinian Status Upgraded At The UN, What Difference Will It Make?

Video

Now that the Palestinians have had their international legal status upgraded at the UN, what difference will it make? What will now happen with the so-called “peace process”? Will we see an end to the illegal occupation of Palestinian lands any time soon? And, how will this UN resolution make Israel more isolated? CrossTalking with Norman Finkelstein, Raanan Gissin and Rami Almenghari.

Posted November 30, 2012

function googleTranslateElementInit() { new google.translate.TranslateElement({ pageLanguage: ‘en’ }, ‘google_translate_element’); }

UN: Palestinian status bid LIVE

The UN General Assembly is discussing the Palestinian Authority’s bid for n

November 29, 2012
 Status upgraded by UN General Assembly votes: 138 in favor, 9 against and 41 abstentions

function googleTranslateElementInit() { new google.translate.TranslateElement({ pageLanguage: ‘en’ }, ‘google_translate_element’); }

What Really Happened in Gaza

2 Minutes Video

On BBC’s Question Time on 22.11.12, journalist Owen Jones described the reality– largely ignored by the mainstream media — of Israel’s brutal attack on Gaza, 14-22 November 2012, that left close to 160 killed, over 30 of them children.
Posted November 28, 2012

 

function googleTranslateElementInit() { new google.translate.TranslateElement({ pageLanguage: ‘en’ }, ‘google_translate_element’); }

Mashaal: I Accept a Palestinian State on ’67 Borders

By JPOST.COM STAFF

November 26, 2012 “Jerusalem Post” – November 22, 2012  – -Hamas leader says he’ll move to a peaceful path contingent on the “end of the occupation” and Palestinian statehood.

Hamas leader Khaled Mashaal declared a position on Palestinian statehood that is nearly identical to that of his Fatah rival, Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas, in an interview with CNN aired Wednesday.

“I accept a Palestinian state according [to] the 1967 borders, with Jerusalem as the capital, with the right to return,” the Hamas leader told Christine Amanpour in Cairo.

Pushed about his party’s refusal to recognize Israel, Mashaal said such a declaration could only be made once a Palestinian state has been created.

“After this state is established, it decides its standing toward Israel,” the Hamas leader said.

 
Mashaal, whose interview appeared to move his positions closer and closer toward the positions of the Fatah-dominated Palestinian Authority with whom Israel has conducted numerous round of negotiations, also spoke about Hamas’s use of violence and terrorism.
Asked if Hamas is willing to renounce violence, he said, “We are ready to resort to a peaceful way, purely peaceful way without blood or weapons.”
Such a move, however, would be conditional on the attainment of Palestinian national demands, namely, “the elimination of occupation and the (creation of a) Palestinian state and ending the occupation and the wall.”

function googleTranslateElementInit() { new google.translate.TranslateElement({ pageLanguage: ‘en’ }, ‘google_translate_element’); }

Bombardment of Gaza portends further criminal wars in Middle East

23 November 2012
For eight days, the Israel Defense Forces rained down devastation on Gaza. More than 150 Palestinian lives were lost, including 40 children, and much of the city lies in ruins.
Further suffering is inevitable, even if the current ceasefire holds. There are thousands of injured, and the death toll will likely mount. The infrastructure on which one and a half million people depend has been devastated, especially key civic buildings that were the main target of 1,500 bomb and missile attacks. Hundreds of millions of dollars in damage has been wrought through the destruction of residential and commercial buildings that have left 11,000 refugees sheltering in United Nations facilities and paralysed Gaza’s economy.
The bombing of 140 smuggling tunnels and Egypt’s pledge to more effectively police Gaza’s border will prevent vital goods from entering a strip that has long served as a glorified prison camp.
The offensive against the Palestinians will also continue. The night the ceasefire came into effect the IDF arrested what it described as 55 “terror operatives” in the West Bank.
Israel’s ability to lay siege to Gaza depended upon the backing of Washington. The belated insistence of the Obama administration on a ceasefire focused on preventing a threatened ground invasion. Its stance was motivated by the strategic goal of securing regime change in Syria and isolating Iran in order to establish undisputed hegemony over the oil-rich Middle East.
Gaza is only a foretaste of greater war crimes that are in active preparation—a fact openly discussed by analysts and political figures in the US, Europe and the Arab world. Jonathan Schanzer, vice president of research at the neoconservative Foundation for Defense of Democracies wrote, “The fact that the United States and many European countries appear to give to Israel a green light to operate inside Gaza has something to do with the fact that we are now in a worldwide battle against Iran… This is very much seen as a part of the strategic calculus from the West to say ‘Yes, get rid of the Iranian nodes inside Gaza and make it clear that Iran cannot operate there.’”
Al-Sharq al-Awsat, the most-read Arab newspaper, indirectly funded by the Saudi royal family, editorialised, “The solution to Gaza…return to Syria.”
French Foreign Minister Laurent Fabius on Wednesday said of Gaza, “Iranian responsibility is extremely heavy in all this,” before accusing Tehran of “extremely negative” involvement in Lebanon, Syria, Iraq and Gaza.
France was the first country to recognise the Syrian opposition, now nominally led by the National Coalition of Syrian Revolutionary and Opposition Forces formed in Doha, Qatar on November 11 under US tutelage. France has now been joined by Britain.
One day prior to the Gaza ceasefire, Foreign Secretary William Hague urged a ceasefire so that the western powers could turn more forcefully to “the conflict in Syria.” Recognition of the Syrian opposition as the legitimate government “imposes responsibilities,” he said, and the UK “will not rule out any option in accordance with international law that might save innocent lives in Syria and prevent the destabilisation of a region that remains critical to the security of the United Kingdom.”
Sir David Richards, chief of the defence staff, said on November 11 that Britain could intervene in Syria within months. “The humanitarian situation this winter I think will deteriorate and that may well provoke calls to intervene in a limited way,” he told the BBC. “There’s no ultimately military reason why one shouldn’t, and I know that all these options are, quite rightly, being examined.”
On the day of the Gaza ceasefire, Turkey made its long anticipated request for Patriot antiballistic missiles to be supplied to it by NATO. The 28-member nation’s ambassadors met in Brussels that day to discuss the request. Turkey is the regional power most capable of leading a proxy war against Syria on behalf of the US. NATO deployed surface-to-air missiles on Turkish soil in 1991 and 2003 during the US-led wars against Iraq. The missiles would be needed in the event of an air attack on Syria. German Foreign Minister Guido Westerwelle said Wednesday that Berlin has approved Turkey’s request, while Defence Minister Thomas de Maizière stressed the move would also involve German soldiers.
The imperialist plotting in the Middle East depends far more upon its alliance with Turkey and the coalition of Arab powers led by Egypt and the Gulf States than upon Israeli military might. Washington calculates that it is they who are best placed to mobilise a movement against Iran and Syria while preventing the popular outrage that would be precipitated by Israeli involvement as already demonstrated in Gaza.
That is why Egypt’s Muslim Brotherhood President Mohammed Mursi played the key role in imposing a ceasefire in collusion with US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton and Israel’s Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu, whom Mursi described in a letter as his “faithful friend”. At stake is not only the $1.3 billion annual US military and economic aid to Cairo, but the support of Washington in suppressing popular opposition at home and the chance that the Muslim Brotherhood will form a major coalition of a newly installed puppet regime in Syria.
Gaza is a warning to working people the world over. The slaughter inflicted by Israel will be dwarfed by a military offensive waged on Syria or Iran. The working class must mobilise in a new antiwar movement to oppose all such criminal wars of intervention through the fight to bring down the governments of war criminals and imperialist brigands in every country and replace them with workers’ governments.
Such a movement must be politically free from the influence of the pseudo-left groups, such as the International Socialist Organization in the US, the Socialist Workers Party in Britain and France’s New Anti-capitalist Party. Their hastily staged protests over Israel’s attack on Gaza were only a cynical effort to conceal the fact that it was their support for the war against Libya and the destabilisation of Syria that paved the way for Israel’s bloody offensive.
The revolutionary mass movement that was first expressed in the deposing of Ben Ali in Tunisia and Hosni Mubarak in Egypt in 2011 must be reanimated, but on new socialist and internationalist foundations. The goal must be the deposing of all the capitalist regimes of the region, in Cairo, Ankara, Riyadh and Doha as well as those in Tel Aviv and Damascus, and the formation of a unified socialist federation of the Middle East.
This necessitates the building of a new leadership based upon a strategy of world socialist revolution, the International Committee of the Fourth International.
Chris Marsden

function googleTranslateElementInit() { new google.translate.TranslateElement({ pageLanguage: ‘en’ }, ‘google_translate_element’); }

How Many Children will Israel Be Allowed To Slaughter?

Destroying International Law And Moral Norms

By Stuart Littlewood 

November 20, 2012 “Information Clearing House” –  Despite the piles of dead in Gaza and – for the second time in four years – the row upon row of charred and broken little bodies of children, Western leaders still shirk their duty and call on the two parties to restart the squalid, lopsided peace process that had led nowhere and only serves to give the Israelis more time to consolidate their territorial gains.

Instead of carrying out their responsibilities, they shamelessly shovel their foul mess onto the Palestinians to clean up. What are the Palestinians supposed to negotiate? Why should they have to bargain for their freedom and property with the thugs that stole it?

For decades the Israelis have played for time, whining that they have “no partner for peace” while continuing to seize and colonize all the Palestinian land and water resources needed to fulfill the Zionist dream of a Greater Israel from the Jordan to the Mediterranean – or, some say, the Euphrates to the Nile.

To that end the Zionist regime has continually violated UN resolutions, international law and the norms of human decency while rushing to establish irreversible facts on the ground, like the monstrous settlements and their supporting infrastructure, and to press ahead with further demolition of Arab homes and more ethnic cleansing.

Why should Palestinians even entertain the idea of talking to their criminal tormentors when the path to peace is clearly set out in countless rulings by the United Nations and by the International Court of Justice. These are waiting to be implemented and enforced. Here are some examples…..

· Resolution 181 (the Partition Plan of 1947 accepted by the Jews) declares Jerusalem, including Bethlehem and Beit Sahour, a corpus separatum – to be run under an international UN administration. This was reiterated in Resolution 303 a year later. We’re still waiting.

· Resolution 194: resolves that refugees wishing to return to their homes and live at peace with their neighbours should be permitted to do so at the earliest practicable date, and that compensation should be paid for the property of those choosingnot to return and for loss of or damage. That was 64 years ago.

· Resolution 237: Israel to allow return of the ‘new’ 1967 Palestinian refugees.

· Resolution 242: emphasizes the inadmissibility of acquiring territory by war and calls on Israel to withdraw its forces from land occupied in 1967.

· Resolution 252: declares invalid Israel’s attempts to unify Jerusalem as the Jewish capital.

· Resolution 271: condemns Israel’s failure to obey UN resolutions on Jerusalem (Al-Quds).

· Resolution 298: deplores Israel’s changing of the status of Jerusalem.

· Resolution 446: determines that Israeli settlements are a ‘serious obstruction’ to peace and calls on Israel to abide by the Fourth Geneva Convention.

· Resolution 452: calls on Israel to cease building settlements in occupied territories.

· Resolution 465: deplores Israel’s settlements and asks all member states not to assist Israel’s settlements program.

· Resolution 469: strongly deplores Israel’s failure to observe the Council’s order not to deport Palestinians.

· Resolution 471: expresses deep concern’ at Israel’s failure to abide by the Fourth Geneva Convention.

· Resolution 476: reiterates that Israel’s claims to Jerusalem are null and void.

· Resolution 478: censures Israel in the strongest terms for its claim to Jerusalem in its Basic Law.

· Resolution 605: strongly deplores Israel’s policies and practices denying the human rights of Palestinians.

· Resolution 608: deeply regrets that Israel has defied the United Nations and deported Palestinian civilians.

· Resolution 641: deplores Israel’s continuing deportation of Palestinians.

· Resolution 673: deplores Israel’s refusal to cooperate with the United Nations.

· Resolution 681: deplores Israel’s resumption of the deportation of Palestinians.

· Resolution 694: deplores Israel’s deportation of Palestinians and calls on it to ensure their safe and immediate return.

· Resolution 726: strongly condemns Israel’s deportation of Palestinians.

· Resolution 799: ditto

The Fourth Geneva Convention is supposed to protect civilians under military occupation. No violence to life or person ispermitted; no cruelty or torture; no taking of hostages; no outrages upon personal dignity; no collective punishment, no sentencing or executions unless ordered by a properly constituted court affording all the judicial guarantees demanded by civilised peoples.

In 2004 the International Court of Justice – the “principal judicial organ of the United Nations” – ruled that the Separation Wall is illegal and must be dismantled, and the Palestinians compensated for damage. Furthermore, said the ICJ, all States are under an obligation not to recognize the illegal situation resulting from the construction of the wall and to ensure Israel complies with international humanitarian law.

The Israelis are still building it. And America and Britain snigger and carry on handing out rewards to the psychopaths.

The quarrel is not between the Palestinians and Israel. It is between the international community and Israel. The time for Palestinians to sit down and talk is when the major powers have ensured the relevant UN resolutions are respected, international law is conformed with and Israel’s forces have been pulled back behind the pre-1967 border to leave a level playing field.

What if Israel won’t comply? No problem: suspend all trade and technical co-operation. The international community must finally confront the problem they have created. Their negligence and cowardice over the decades mean they now have a hill to climb. They’d better get started…


function googleTranslateElementInit() { new google.translate.TranslateElement({ pageLanguage: ‘en’ }, ‘google_translate_element’); }

The ‘Both-sides-are-awful’ Dismissal of Gaza Ignores the Key Role of the US Government

The temptation to wash one’s hands of the whole conflict is understandable, but US support of Israel is a central force driving it all
By Glenn Greenwald 
November 21, 2012 “The Guardian” – – Everything about the Israeli/Palestinian conflict follows the same pattern over and over, including the reaction of Americans. In the first couple of days after a new round of violence breaks out, there is intense interest and passion, which is quickly replaced by weariness, irritation, and even anger that one has to be bothered by this never-ending, always-ugly and seemingly irresolvable conflict. These sentiments then morph into an attempt to separate oneself from the entire matter by declaring both sides to be equally horrendous and thus washing one’s hands from any responsibility for thinking further about it (“I’m sick of both sides”), followed by recriminations against anyone who actually has an opinion that is more supportive of one side than the other.
Esquire’s Charles Pierce, one of the nation’s best political writers, provided a classic case of this mindset yesterday in his post entitled “There Is No Side Worth Taking In Gaza“. The crux: “I would like to have an opinion on this continual bloodletting that didn’t sound banal but, goddammit, I’m out of them. I am thoroughly sick of both sides here.” One encounters a version of this mentality with increasing frequency each day that the violence escalates.
This temptation is genuinely understandable. Few things are more depressing than paying attention to the Israeli/Palestinian conflict. The carnage and mutual hatred seem infinite. The arguments are so repetitive and fruitless. As is true in all wars, including those depicted in pleasing good-vs-evil terms, atrocities end up being committed by all sides, leading one to want to disassociate oneself from all parties involved. It is just as untenable to defend the indiscriminate launching by Hamas of projectiles into Israeli neighborhoods as it is to defend the massive air bombing by Israel of what they have turned into an open-air prison that is designed to collectively punish hundreds of thousands of human beings.
Virtually everyone wishes the entire conflict would just go away. With the exception of extremists on both sides who benefit in various ways, nobody relishes having to become involved in any of this. It is exhausting, draining, soul-crushing, and miserable. Embracing “screw-both-sides” nihilism and doing nothing else is so tempting because it appears to provide relief from the burden of paying any further attention to the horrific violence or bearing responsibility for any of it.
But for two independent reasons, this reasoning, understandable though it may be, depends upon patent fictions, and is thus invalid. The first reason, which I will mention only briefly, is that there is not equality between the two sides.
As my Guardian colleague Seumas Milne superbly detailed in his column Tuesday night, the overarching fact of this conflict is that the Palestinians, for decades now, have been brutally occupied, blockaded, humiliated, deprived of the most basic human rights of statehood and autonomy though the continuous application of brute, lawless force (for that reason, those who like to righteously condemn Hamas’ rockets (Pierce, defending Obama; “he happened to be correct the other day. No country can tolerate the bombing of its citizens”) have the obligation to state what form of legitimate resistance Palestinians have to all of this). Moreover, as these clear numbers from the Economist demonstrate, the violence and carnage so disproportionately harm the Palestinians that to suggest some form of equivalence between the two sides borders on the obscene.
But the second reason, to me, is even clearer. The government which Americans fund and elect, and for which they thus bear at least some responsibility, is anything but neutral in this conflict. That government – certainly including the Democratic Party – is categorically, uncritically, and unfailingly on the side of Israel in every respect when it comes to violence and oppression against the Palestinians.
For years now, US financial, military and diplomatic support of Israel has been the central enabling force driving this endless conflict. The bombs Israel drops on Gazans, and the planes they use to drop them, and the weapons they use to occupy the West Bank and protect settlements are paid for, in substantial part, by the US taxpayer, and those actions are shielded from recrimination by the UN veto power aggressively wielded in Israel’s favor by the US government. As the excellent Israeli writer Noam Sheizaf put it on Chris Hayes’ MSNBC program this weekend:
“Ultimately, the status quo is the solution from the perspective of [the Netanyahu] government. . . . . There’s no incentive for the current [Israeli] political leadership to move from it, especially with the free hand it gets from the world and from the United States.”
Just consider the actions of the US over the last week as violence in Gaza escalated. On Tuesday, the US vetoed a UN Security Council cease-fire resolution on the ground, in essence, that it was too balanced. The US State Departmentpublicly attacked its Nato ally, Turkey, for condemning Israeli aggression. As always, the US Congress and the US Executive Branch are virtually unanimous in their full-throated, completely one-sided support for Israeli actions.
Last night, a producer for Rachel Maddow’s MSNBC program, the long-time liberal blogger Steve Benen, gloated that the GOP’s election-year attacks on Obama over Israel have been proven false because, as Benen noted [emphasis added]: “An Israeli official close to Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said the Obama administration’s response to the conflict ‘has been everything we could ever hope for.'” Though it should produce serious dismay rather than gloating, Benen is absolutely right in his factual claim: Obama specifically and Democrats generally have long been, and still are, every bit as loyal to and supportive of all Israeli actions as the American Right believes the US should be.
So this “both-sides-are-hideous” mentality is not what drives the actions of the US government. Quite the contrary: the US government is as partisan and loyal a supporter of one side of this conflict as one can possibly be. So if people want to rail against anyone who has convictions about one side or the other – Pierce: “The only people who make me more ill than the two active sides in this endless slaughter are the people far from the killing grounds who are so very goddamn sure they know what to do . . . I hate the cheering squads over here today” – then the place to begin is with the US government, the Obama administration, whose unstinting, multi-faceted support for and enabling of Israel is central to all of this.
Pierce does say that “I wish American arms and American dollars weren’t being used to demolish entire impoverished neighborhoods,” but in the next breath asks: “People are waiting for the president to do something, but what is to be done?” But he answered his own question: the US need not be, and should not be, such an active, one-sided participant in this aggression. That one should vehemently condemn rocket attacks on civilians and bombs on Tel Aviv buses outside of an Israeli military facility does not mean sanctioning the years-long fueling of the Israeli side of this conflict by the US government.
If one wants to try to wash one’s hands of this entire matter by declaring both sides equally culpable, that’s fine. But doing so requires an acknowledgment that the US government is doing nothing of the sort. It is fueling, funding and feeding the Israeli war machine, and, with its own militaristic conduct, is legitimizing the premises of Israeli aggression.
This is exactly what I was referencing when I wrote on Saturday that one must stop pretending that the US is some sort of helpless, uninvolved party in this war between two distant, foreign entities. That is complete fiction. If an American citizen really wants to advocate for neutrality on the ground that both sides are equally horrible and they’re sick of the whole conflict and wish it would all just go away, then the place to begin with that advocacy is US government policy which, as unpleasant as it might be to face, has long been, and remains more than ever, a key force that drives the bloodshed.
Glenn Greenwald is a columnist on civil liberties and US national security issues for the Guardian. A former constitutional lawyer, he was until 2012 a contributing writer at Salon. He is the author of How Would a Patriot Act? (May 2006), a critique of the Bush administration’s use of executive power; A Tragic Legacy (June, 2007), which examines the Bush legacy; and With Liberty and Justice For Some: How the Law Is Used to Destroy Equality and Protect the Powerful.

function googleTranslateElementInit() { new google.translate.TranslateElement({ pageLanguage: ‘en’ }, ‘google_translate_element’); }

Israel Demands Our Support Because It Fights Its ‘War Against Terrorists’ in Our Name

We westerners set the precedent when it comes to “collateral damage”, now the Israelis are reeling out the same tired excuses
By Robert Fisk
November 20, 2012 “The Independent” – Enough is enough. Now we have even “National Infrastructure” Minister Uzi Landau – one of my favourite dogsbodies in the Israeli government – talking about “collateral damage” and the justification for bombing Hamas’s broadcasting station. It could be used for transmitting military instructions, he said.
But wasn’t that exactly what our own beloved Lord Blair of Kut al-Amara – now, I suppose, Lord Blair of the Holy Land – said after Nato bombed the Serb television station in Belgrade, when Nato, too, was blathering on about “collateral damage”?
We Westerners set the precedents in the former Yugoslavia, Afghanistan, Iraq – trains, bridges, TV stations, wedding parties, blocks of civilian apartments, you name it – and now the Israelis can trot along behind and produce, whenever necessary, the same tired list of excuses we invented for Nato.
It’s odd, the way they all get away with it. Lord Blair, whose 92 Business Class trips to the Holy Land have produced a peace beyond all peace, is now talking about how it’s in everybody’s interest to have a truce – is his face getting a bit skeletal, or is that my imagination? – and a truce, I suppose, we shall have, well over 100 Palestinian and three Israeli dead too late. But is it all worth it? Was the murder by Israel of Hamas’s military leader Ahmed al-Jabari in fact not staged to provide an excuse to bomb all those new missiles that Hamas has acquired?
That wise old Israeli owl Uri Avneri – he is 89 years old – thinks this is just the trap that Hamas fell into by launching its preposterous “Gates of Hell” rocket attacks in revenge for Jabari’s death. The whole Operation “Pillar of Defence” was about destroying Hamas’s weapons – not about the largely ineffective missiles themselves.
Isn’t this why Israel gave its operation the name it did? For, despite our constant repetition of “Operation Pillar of Defence”, Israeli friends tell me that the correct Hebrew translation of this sick war is Operation Pillar of Cloud. Which makes a lot more sense. For this comes from the Book of Exodus (13:21) – “And the Lord went before them by day in a pillar of cloud, to lead them the way.”
But this leads me to another little matter. One of the new Israeli lines on the war runs like this. Israel kills “terrorists” by the score along with a handful of “collateral damage” innocents – and the world rages against Israel. Yet isn’t the Syrian regime killing Syrian innocents by the thousand every month? Where are the mass protests, the venting of wrath at Bashar al-Assad? What hypocrisy! But of course, this is in itself a hypocrisy. We know the old “Hama rules” of Syria; no one asks us to support them. And comparing Israel’s brutality to that of the Assad regime is playing the old Lord Blair game: we weren’t perfect in Iraq – but we weren’t as bad as Saddam.
No. Israel claims to hold the same values as the supposedly moral West. It says that it is fighting “terrorism” in our name as well as its own. It says it is fighting like us. It is playing by our Western rules. We are all Israelis now; that is what we are meant to say. Hamas is our enemy, as well as Israel’s. And so – for this is the effect – we too must be contaminated by the war crimes of Israel’s pilots. That, I believe, is why we protest against Israel. Operation Pillar of Cloud must not be committed in our name.
© Independent.co.uk

function googleTranslateElementInit() { new google.translate.TranslateElement({ pageLanguage: ‘en’ }, ‘google_translate_element’); }

Stop the massacre in Gaza!

20 November 2012
The Israeli onslaught against Gaza, now entering its second week, has killed and maimed hundreds of Palestinian civilians—men, women and children. A largely defenseless and severely deprived population has been subjected to unrelenting bombardment from air, land and sea. Much of the territory’s already dilapidated infrastructure is being reduced to rubble.
Among the targets are schools, government offices, a building housing international press
in Gaza City and the home of a Gazan grocer, whose entire family—including four children ranging in age from one to seven, and four women, one of them 83—were murdered in a missile strike Sunday.
The Israeli government has authorized the mobilization of 75,000 reservists and massed tanks on the Gaza border in preparation for a repeat of the 2008-2009 ground invasion that claimed the lives of 1,400 Gazans, the bulk of them civilians.
As these war crimes unfold to the horror of people around the world, the Israeli leadership, the Obama administration in Washington and the corporate media all invoke the “right of self-defense” as justification for Israel’s aggression.
President Obama sounded this theme Sunday in remarks delivered at a press conference in Bangkok, Thailand. “Let’s understand what the precipitating event here was that’s causing the current crisis, and that was an ever-escalating number of missiles; they were landing not just in Israeli territory, but in areas that are populated. And there’s no country on Earth that would tolerate missiles raining down on its citizens from outside its borders. So we are fully supportive of Israel’s right to defend itself from missiles landing on people’s homes and workplaces and potentially killing civilians. And we will continue to support Israel’s right to defend itself.”
As with every crime carried out by US imperialism and its Israeli ally, the present one in Gaza comes wrapped in lies, cynicism and hypocrisy.
The claim that Israel launched its latest blitzkrieg in response to an “ever-escalating number of missiles” is a patent lie. In the entire year preceding the current carnage in Gaza, not a single Israeli was killed by a missile from the Palestinian enclave. The days preceding the Israeli attacks saw articles in the Israeli press noting that, after a brief spike, precipitated by repeated Israeli incursions into Gaza and the killing of several civilians, including children, rocket attacks had subsided.
The Israelis and the Hamas leadership were engaged in Egyptian-brokered discussions on a long-term ceasefire agreement. The principal Palestinian intermediary in these talks was Ahmed Jaabari, the leader of the Hamas military wing. On November 14, within hours of his receiving a draft of the agreement, he was struck with a Hellfire missile in a resumption of Israel’s infamous “targeted killings.”
This extra-judicial execution was carried out as a deliberate provocation, the opening act of Operation Defense Pillar. It is not a matter of “self-defense,” but naked aggression by one of the world’s most heavily armed nations against one of its most oppressed populations.
As in every circumstance, Obama rallies to the defense of the oppressor against the oppressed. He parrots the Israeli regime’s incessant refrain about “no country on Earth” tolerating rocket attacks, but does not bother to ask who on earth would tolerate the conditions endured by Gazans: 1.7 million people, in their great majority refugees violently expelled from their homes and land, confined to the world’s largest open-air prison, subjected to a blockade that causes untold suffering and hunger, and forced to endure continuous attacks by the Israel Defense Forces.
The indifference to the loss of Palestinian life, particularly on the part of the US government and the media, is stunning, though by now hardly surprising. Obama expressed his hope that Israel would not launch a ground invasion, warning that it would pose a greater risk of Israeli fatalities than just continuing to slaughter Gazans with bombs and missiles.
The present bloodbath in Gaza is unfolding barely 100 miles from the continuing US-backed civil war in Syria. Yet in Gaza there is virtually nothing of the media’s feigned sympathy for Syria’s civilian casualties, exhibited in the service of a colonial-style intervention for the purpose of regime-change. No one in the West is calling for the ouster of Netanyahu for killing civilians or advocating the imposition of no-fly zones or humanitarian corridors in Israel. On the contrary, Tel Aviv is given an explicit carte blanch to carry out the most horrific crimes.
The slaughter in Gaza is driven not by some existential threat from the ineffectual rockets fired from its territory. Rather, Israel’s motives are to be found both further afield and closer to home.
The attack on Gaza is aimed at preparing a far greater war, involving both Israel and US imperialism, against Iran. Tel Aviv sees its aggression as a means of derailing any potential for a negotiated settlement regarding Iran’s nuclear program, while neutralizing opposition from Gaza in the event of an attack on Iran.
At the same time, the turn to war is driven by the mounting internal contradictions plaguing Israel and the entire Zionist project. Many have noted that this war, like the last, has been launched on the eve of an Israeli election, with a vote scheduled in January.
It is true that militarism provides a means of dragooning popular support behind an incumbent government. In Israel’s case, however, it plays the more essential role of diverting attention from social conflicts at home.
Israel is today one of the most socially unequal countries on the planet. A recent report found that fully one-third of Israelis—and 40 percent of the country’s children—are at risk of falling into poverty, while a tiny elite of multi-millionaires and billionaires monopolizes an ever-greater share of the wealth.
Social deprivation and inequality have given rise to mass demonstrations across the country as the Netanyahu government imposes right-wing and regressive economic and social policies.
The attempt to contain social unrest by recourse to militarism and war assumes an increasingly fascistic and repulsive character. Thus, Gild Sharon, the son of Israel’s former prime minister Ariel Sharon, argues in a Jerusalem Post column, “We need to flatten entire neighborhoods in Gaza. Flatten all of Gaza. The Americans did not stop with Hiroshima… They hit Nagasaki too. There should be no electricity in Gaza, no gasoline or moving vehicles, nothing.”
This rant was hardly unique. “We must blow Gaza back to the Middle Ages, destroying all the infrastructure including roads and water,” Israeli Interior Minister Eli Yishai told the media.
The Zionists justified the creation of Israel—by means of the ethnic cleansing of nearly one million Palestinians—as a refuge for Jews against Nazi oppression. Today one hears in this country the echoes of Hitler and Goebbels.
These fascistic policies will be turned against not only the Palestinians in the occupied territories, but increasingly against the working class and the oppressed within Israel itself. This has already begun with the racist attacks against African immigrants.
The international revulsion over the latest massacre of Palestinians by the Israeli military, backed by Washington, is undoubtedly shared by a significant layer of class conscious workers and intellectuals within Israel itself.
In the final analysis, the only progressive way out of the bloody crisis in the Middle East lies in the unified mobilization of the working class, Arab and Jewish alike, in a common struggle against Zionism, imperialism and the regimes of the Arab bourgeoisie on the basis of the struggle for a socialist federation of the Middle East.

function googleTranslateElementInit() { new google.translate.TranslateElement({ pageLanguage: ‘en’ }, ‘google_translate_element’); }

Israeli Attack Kills 10 in Gaza Home

Video – CNN Report
The lifeless bodies of children pulled from a home destroyed by Israeli Bombs.
Posted November 19, 2012
 
Attack wipes out 11 members of a single family as onslaught continues
November 11, 2012 “The Guardian’ – -At least 11 members of one family, including five women and four children, were killed when Israel bombed a house in Gaza City on Sunday

The air strike flattened the home of the Dalou family in the Sheikh Radwan district of Gaza City, causing the biggest death toll in a single incident since the offensive began last Wednesday.

After the Dalou family home was destroyed, the bodies of the children were pulled from the rubble and taken to the morgue at Shifa hospital. The dead also included an 80-year-old woman.

Elsewhere in the city early Monday an air strike levelled two houses belonging to a single family, killing two children and two adults and injuring 42 people, including children, said Gaza heath official Ashraf al-Kidra.

Witnesses said there were chaotic scenes as the dead and injured were brought to the Shifa hospital, which has been on emergency footing since the start of Operation Pillar of Defence.

The bodies of four young children lay on two metal trays in the morgue, covered in dust and blood. A crowd of onlookers outside became increasingly distressed as the body of the children’s mother was wheeled in, covered in blankets.

GAZA, Shifa Hospital, 18 November 2012

function googleTranslateElementInit() { new google.translate.TranslateElement({ pageLanguage: ‘en’ }, ‘google_translate_element’); }

Netanyahu’s high-stakes game in Gaza

By Ramzy Baroud 
Many key phrases have been presented to explain Israel’s latest military onslaught against Gaza, which left scores dead and wounded. Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu is flexing his muscles in preparation for the Israeli general elections in January, suggested some. It is Israel’s way of testing the administration of Egyptian President Mahmoud Morsi, commented others. It was a stern message to Iran, instructed a few. Or that Israel is simply assessing its “deterrence” capabilities. And so on. 
But there is more than those ready-to-serve analyses. It has been four years since Israel mixed up the cards through an unhindered show of force. Last time it did so was in 2008-09, in a 22-day war it termed “Operation Cast Lead”. Then, it killed more than 1,400 Palestinians and wounded over 5,000 others. Excluding Israel’s diehard supporters, the general consensus was, including that of many UN and international rights organizations: Israel committed war crimes and crimes against humanity deserving of international tribunals and due retribution. 
Of course, none took place. The US government and media stood as an impenetrable shield between Israel’s accused war criminals and those daring to level accusations. Four years later little has changed. Then as it is now, Israel was embarking on national elections, and since “security” is Israel’s enduring strategy whether in national or international politics, it was suddenly realized that Gaza posed a “security threat”, thus had to be suppressed or at least taught a lesson. 
Never mind that a truce was in affect and was mostly holding up, that it was Israel that provoked Palestinian factions to retaliate – before the retaliation was itself considered the original act of aggression as willfully validated by mainstream Western media. 
In 2008, Barack Obama was elected president, and the outgoing George W Bush administration remained largely “uninvolved”, save for the reiteration of Israel’s right to defend itself against hordes of Palestinian terrorists and such. Some then, suggested that Cast Lead was an Israeli trial balloon to test Obama, whom Israel viewed with much suspicion despite all the groveling he has done at Israeli lobby meetings to assure Israel that a president with a middle name such as “Hussein” will not dare demand accountability from Israel. 
Obama eventually lived up to Israel’s expectations, and despite few hiccups in their relations, the new administration was hardly different from its predecessors. Under Obama, Israel remained a top priority for American diplomacy, politics, military and financial aid and more. However, Israel was still dissatisfied. 
Political analysts cite a few incidents that made Netanyahu look unfavorably at Obama from the onset. The latter ushered in his foreign policy with the appointment of a Middle East peace envoy and expected Israel to work towards the resumption of the so-called peace process. More dangerously however, Obama spoke bluntly for the need to freeze settlement construction, as a necessary first step before the return to the “negotiations table”. Even Secretary of State Hilary Clinton, who understands well the importance of Israeli support for any ambitious US politician, was clear regarding the settlements: President Obama, she said, “wants to see a stop to settlements – not some settlements, not outposts, not natural-growth exceptions”. 
Gradually that position weakened, if not entirely reversed. Over the following months and years, the Obama administration retreated to the US’ foreign policy comfort zone regarding Israel: give generously (even in times of economic recession), expect nothing in return, and in the meantime ask no questions. But it takes more to placate an ever-demanding government as that of Netanyahu. 
The Israeli prime minister is himself troubled by fears that his palpable support of the Republican candidate Mitt Romney, his trademark arrogance and lecturing of Obama regarding Iran could prove costly during Obama’s new term. Not that Obama is likely to be any less enthusiastic about supporting Israel, but the Israeli government is concerned that the US administration might not adopt Israeli foreign policy priorities as if it’s an American doctrine, which has been the case for years. 
Hours after the election results declared Obama a winner, the Israeli media began censuring the injudiciousness of their prime minister. Articles with such titles as “So Sorry, President Obama, Please Forgive Netanyahu” (Haaretz) and “Bibi Gambled, We’ll Pay” (Yedioth Ahronoth) became commonplace. Romney’s defeat was particularly sobering for Israel since it’s the first time that the power of the Zionist lobby and the endless millions of their patrons, such as multibillionaire gambling magnate Sheldon Adelson were rarely as useful in determining election results of this scale. 
Truth to be told, Obama is not only unpopular among Israeli political elites, but among the Israeli public as well. “In global polls, Israel is the only country in the world that would have elected Romney over Obama,” said ABC, and with a huge margin too. 
It was early morning on Wednesday November 7 in Israel and the occupied territories when the US election results were declared. The Israeli cabinet swung into action, and the Israel army was quickly deployed to seek provocations at the Gaza border. 
An earlier incident on November 5, where an apparently mentally unfit man, Ahmad al-Nabaheen was shot dead by Israeli troops, heightened tension, although a truce remained in effect. On November 8, however, Israel sought its casus belli as it moved in on Gaza with tanks and attack helicopters. An early victim was a 12-year-old boy gunned down while playing soccer. Palestinians retaliated, although projectiles inside Israel caused no damage. One Israeli soldier was injured near the border with Gaza and more firing was reported by Palestinian fighters aimed at an Israeli military jeep, injuring four. Two more children were killed in an open soccer field on November 10, prompting more, although still guarded, Palestinian retaliation. Another civilian in Gaza was killed the following day when Israel bombed the funeral tent set up to mourn the victims of past days. 
On November 12, Egypt was concluding yet another truce between Israel and resistance factions. But that turned out to be a diplomatic embarrassment for Egypt, as the man who agreed to the text of the truce on the Palestinian side, the leader of the Hamas armed resistance in Gaza, Ahmed Jabari, was himself assassinated by an Israeli missile on November 14. 
No other meaning can be extracted from Jabari’s murder but the fact that Israel had decided to pull the Palestinians into an all-out war. Scores of Palestinians, many of whom civilians, were killed in the subsequent days. Palestinians extended the range of their projectiles into areas near Tel Aviv and as far as Jerusalem. Three Israelis were reportedly killed. 
Israel’s obsession with security often, if not always, leads it to create the very conditions that compromise on its own security, so that its leaders may demonstrate the authenticity of their original claim. It is a strange logic that is as old as the state of Israel itself. But the timing of the latest war on Gaza, as in the previous one, partly meant to push the subject of Israel’s security on the top of the new administration’s agenda, rife with crises and challenges. No US administration risks initiating its term in office with an open confrontation with Israel. The conventional wisdom in Washington is that in times of war, Israel is right even if it’s wrong, as it often is. Not even Barack Hussein Obama is strong enough to change that reasoning. 
“We strongly condemn the barrage of rocket fire from Gaza into Israel,” said Jay Carney, the White House spokesman. “There is no justification for the violence that Hamas and other terrorist organizations are employing against the people of Israel.” 
Now that Israel is once more pushing its agenda as an American priority, the time is ripe for further escalation and for more saber-rattling against Iran, Hezbollah and whomever else Israel perceives as an enemy. Israeli causalities will be used to demonstrate Israel’s supposed vulnerability, and Palestinian deaths will buttress Netanyahu’s rightwing government as Israel’s unbending guardian against those who continue to pose “an existential threat” to the Jewish state. The truth, of course, remains the least relevant. 
Ramzy Baroud (ramzybaroud.net) is an internationally syndicated columnist and the editor of PalestineChronicle.com. His latest book is My Father Was a Freedom Fighter: Gaza’s Untold Story. 
(Copyright 2012 Asia Times Online (Holdings) Ltd. All rights reserved. Please contact us about sales, syndication and republishing.)

function googleTranslateElementInit() { new google.translate.TranslateElement({ pageLanguage: ‘en’ }, ‘google_translate_element’); }

Interview: Ali Abunimah on the situation in Gaza

function googleTranslateElementInit() { new google.translate.TranslateElement({ pageLanguage: ‘en’ }, ‘google_translate_element’);}

Why a new war on Gaza?

“OPERATION PILLAR OF CLOUD”

Once again Israël attacks Gaza, and the international media relays the images of desolation. But the outrage provoked by these daily horrors must not prevent us from analysing the situation and understanding its aims. Thierry Meyssan anwers the question.
 | DAMASCUS (SYRIA) | 19 NOVEMBER 2012 
JPEG - 16.6 kb
On the 14th November 2012, Israeli armed forces launched the operation “Pillar of Defense” against the administrative and military installations of Hamas in the Gaza Strip. On the first day of the attack, they assassinated Ahmed Jaabari, the number 2 of the armed branch of the Palestinian organisation. They also destroyed the underground launch-pads of their surface-to-surface Fajr 5missiles.
“Pillar of Defense” quickly expanded, as Israeli aviation multiplied its bombing raids. The Israeli military command proceeded with the call-up of 30,000 reserve troops, and rapidly increased that number to 75,000 men, at the risk of destabilizing the economy. In this way, Israel has given itself the capacity to invade the Gaza Strip with ground troops.
This situation calls for several explanations.
Why now?
Tel-Aviv is taking the initiative in the midst of the partial power vacuum reigning in Washington. We are awaiting the nomination of new Secretaries for State and Defense. The new nominations may be ambassador Susan Rice and Senator John Kerry. However, a bitter struggle is currently being played out in the Press in an attempt to disqualify Ms. Rice. In any event, the position of the exiting Secretaries of State and Defense are weakened, and their successors have not yet been named.
In identical fashion, Tel Aviv had taken a similar initiative with the operation “Cast Lead” during the period of transition between Presidents Bush Jr.and Obama. Certain commentators are also evoking the proximity of the Israeli legislative elections, and suggest that Benjamin Netanyahu and Avigdor Lieberman are attempting to polish their image as hard-line hawks.
This is improbable, since in fact, they are launching this attack without being sure of the result in advance. In 2008-2009, the failure of “Cast Lead” was fatal for Ehud Olmert’s government.
What’s the aim?
Traditionally, Israeli armed forces adapt their war objectives to the occasions as they arise.
At the least, the aim is to weaken the Palestinian Resistance by destroying infrastructures and administrations in the Gaza Strip, just as they do at more or less regular intervals. However, the weakening of Hamas will automatically profit Fatah in the West Bank – and Fatah will not miss the opportunity to push a little harder in its demand for the recognition of a Palestinian state by the United Nations.
At most, “Pillar of Cloud” might open the way for an old Zionist plan – the proclamation of Jordan as a Palestinian state, the transfer of the population of Gaza (perhaps also that of the West Bank) into Jordan, and the annexion of the territories thus evacuated. In this case, the military operation must not target all Hamas leaders indiscriminately, but only those who oppose the former poitical head of the organisation, Khaled Mechaal, since he is slated to become the first President of a Palestinian State in Jordan.
Is this attack linked to the disturbances in Jordan?
The war in Syria has strangled the Jordanian economy. The Kingdom has rapidly fallen into debt. On the 13th November (in other words, the day before the start of ” Pillar of Cloud”) the government announced energy price rises as high as 11 % for public transport, and 53 % for domestic gas. This announcement fed a movement of protest which has been smouldering since the beginning of the year. Immediately after the announcement, about half of Jordan’s 120,000 public school teachers went on strike.
On Friday 16th, more than 10,000 people demonstrated in the heart of Amman, shouting – “Liberty comes from God!”, “Abdallah, your time is over!”, “The people demand the fall of the regime!”. The procession started from the Husseini mosque, and was supervised by the Muslim Brotherhood.
The Muslim Brotherhood, who have concluded an agreement with the US State Department and the Cooperation Council for the Arab States of the Gulf, are already in power in Morocco, Tunisia, Libya, Egypt, and Gaza. Apart from this, they control the new Syrian National Coalition. Their ambition is to govern Jordan with or without King Abdallah II.
The best-known member of the Jordanian Muslim Brotherhood is Khaled Mechaal, the ex-chief of the political branch of Hamas. Mechaal lived in exile from 2001 to 2012 in Damascus, under the protection of the Syrian state. In February 2012, he sudddenly accused Bashar al-Assad’s government of repressing his own people, and chose to move to Qatar, where Emir Hamad al-Thani showed him great generosity.
Is there a link to the unrest in Syria?
Last June, a peace agreement was concluded in Geneva by the major powers. This was immediately sabotaged by a US faction, which organised leaks to the Press concerning Western implication in the events, thus forçing the resignation of mediator Kofi Annan. This same faction then twice attempted to end the situation militarily, by organising two massive attacks on Damascus, on the 18th July and the 26th September. When these attacks failed, the Obama administration returned to the initial agreement and resolved to implement it after the Presidential elections and the change of Cabinet.
The agreement calls for the deployment of a United Nations Peace Force, mainly composed of contingents from the Collective Security Treaty Organisation (SCTO). This force would be tasked with separating the belligerents and arresting the foreign jihadists present in Syria. By allowing Russia to re-enter the Middle East, Washington hopes to relieve itself of the burden of Israel’s security. Russia would protect the Zionist state from attack, and would also prevent it from attacking anyone else. The US military retreat from the Middle East would then be able to continue, and Washington would once again enjoy the freedom of action it has lost due to its permanent privileged relationship with Tel-Aviv.
From this perspective, the partisans of Israeli expansionism have to act in Gaza, and perhaps also in Jordan, before the Russian deployment.
What are the first conclusions that can be drawn from the current war?
The war has tested Israeli anti-air defences. The Zionist state has invested several hundred million dollars in the creation of the “Iron Dome”, a system capable of intercepting rockets and missiles fired from Gaza or Southern Lebanon.
This system did not seem to function correctly when Hezbollah sent a drone to fly over the Dimona nuclear reactor, or when it tested its surface-to-surface Fajr-5 missiles.
During the first three days of “Pillar of Cloud”, Hamas and the Islamic Jihad retaliated to Israeli bombardements with salvos of rockets and missiles. The “Iron Dome” managed to intercept 210 of the 800 shots fired. However, this statistic doesn’t mean very much – the system only seems capable of intercepting fairly primitive rockets, like the Qassam, and does not seem to be adapted to any more sophisticated form of armament.

function googleTranslateElementInit() { new google.translate.TranslateElement({ pageLanguage: ‘en’ }, ‘google_translate_element’); }

Gaza Battle Everyone’s Battle: Sayyed Hassan Nasrallah

Video
Hezbollah Secretary General Hassan Nasrallah Speech 17 November 2012
He called on Arabs, Muslims, and all the free people in the world to take a real stance with Gaza and the resistance, putting hope in the firmness and will of the people and resistance there, and indicating that “hitting Tel Aviv with Fajr-5 reveals the wisdom, courage, capability, and firmness of the Palestinian resistance”.
Posted November 17, 2012
 
Thanks to “Shia” for providing link to this video

function googleTranslateElementInit() { new google.translate.TranslateElement({ pageLanguage: ‘en’ }, ‘google_translate_element’); }

"Nowhere to Run": Israel Fires Over 500 Strikes On Gaza, Civilian Toll Grows in Humanitarian Crisis

“Air strikes are bombing everything that moves. Everything that moves in the streets is being bombed and attacked”
Report from Rafah by Palestinian journalist Mohammed Omer, who says, “One thing that we ought to talk about here is the humanitarian situation in the Gaza Strip. This is a situation of targeting a population of civilians, exactly like Israel is shooting in a fishbowl. And there is no shelter, and there is nowhere to run for the general population. Gaza is living in a very dire situation.”
Mohammed Omer, Palestinian journalist based in Gaza. In 2008, he won the Martha Gellhorn Prize for Journalism.

Gershon Baskin, founder of the Israel/Palestine Center for Research and Information. He was the initiator of the secret talks between Israel and Hamas for the release of Israeli soldier Gilad Shalit.


Democracy Now! November 16, 2012

function googleTranslateElementInit() { new google.translate.TranslateElement({ pageLanguage: ‘en’ }, ‘google_translate_element’); }

“I Think it Has Got to do With Iran, Actually.”

Chief Rabbi Caught Off Guard With Comment on Israel’s Attack On Gaza 

By Alan Hart

November 16, 2012 “Information Clearing House” – There was a fascinating moment on BBC Radio 4’s Thought For The Day this morning when Britain’s Chief Rabbi, Lord Sacks, answered a question honestly because he thought he was off the air. That was enough to cause a craven BBC (dictionary definition of craven – “cowardly”) to apologize for the fact that one its presenters had caught him off-guard. So what did he say?

 
He had just completed his on-air (live) contribution to the programme’s two-minute Thought for Today slot. He spoke in support of the BBC’s annual Children In Need appeal which, as he said, is focused on “the right of every child to be safe and secure and reach their own potential.” Given that Israel’s leaders have no qualms about impoverishing and killing Palestinian children, I would have been impressed if he had said “every child includes Palestinian children.” But he didn’t make any reference to them.

When the daily speaker comes to the end of his or her two-minutes, that’s it. The presenter says “Thank you” and you hear no more from the speaker. But not this morning. Evan Davis, one of this morning’s two presenters said, “Jonathan, before you go, any thoughts on what’s going on in Israel and Gaza at the moment?”

After an audible sigh, the Chief Rabbi replied, “I think it has got to do with Iran, actually.”

Co-presenter Sarah Montague was clearly alarmed that he didn’t know his remarks were still being broadcast and she whispered, “We’re live.”

The Chief Rabbi then put himself back into broadcasting mode and said the crisis demanded “a continued prayer for peace, not only in Gaza but for the whole region.”

The question his off-guard comment triggered in my mind was this: In what way could Israel’s latest war (in all but name) on the Gaza Strip be “to do with Iran”, at least in part? There are, it seems to me, three possible answers.

One can be deduced from an IDF statement yesterday that claimed Hamas had turned the Gaza Strip in a “front line base for Iran.” That could indicate an IDF perception that this base needed to be taken out.

Another possible answer is that Netanyahu authorized Israel’s air and naval bombardment to demonstrate that he is a man of action as well as words (verbal threats). The point here is that having talked up the need for an attack on Iran and then being seen to be backing off because many of his own military and intelligence chiefs (past and present) effectively joined with President Obama in saying “Don’t do it”, he needed to prove that he was prepared to continue the Zionist tradition of teaching the Arabs lessons by the application of brute force. “We Israelis are still the masters.”

A third possible answer is that it is still in his mind to attack Iran at some point but he knows that before doing so he must protect Israel’s rear by putting all who would strike at Israel from within the Gaza Strip out of action.

The bigger question waiting for an answer is whether or not Greater Israel will be more or less secure when the current war (in all but name) is over. If it ends up being less secure than it was before the assassination of Hamas’s military chief, there might be some reason to hope that enough Israelis will want to say goodbye to Netanyahu and deny him another term in office.


function googleTranslateElementInit() { new google.translate.TranslateElement({ pageLanguage: ‘en’ }, ‘google_translate_element’); }

Another Ceasefire, Another Assassination

By Mark Perry
November 17, 2012 “Daily Beast” —  Gerson Baskin’s entry in these pages—”Assassinating The Chance For Calm“—has given the readers a valuable insight into the workings of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. But as Baskin himself knows, this is not the first time that “calm” has been assassinated.
In July of 2002, I was an integral part of a small team working to end the second Intifada. I was the lone American on the team, the only one who was not an intelligence officer, and the only one with a direct line to Yasser Arafat and the senior leadership of Fatah. Our task was to gain the approval of Palestinian factions for a draft ceasefire that would end attacks on Israelis not living in the Occupied Territories. My job was to actually draft the ceasefire and serve as liaison with Arafat’s envoy in the process—Hani al-Hassan. 

 

Palestinian bulldozers clear rubble July 25, 2002 in Gaza City, Gaza Strip. Three houses were destroyed by an American-made Israeli warplane in an an attack aimed at the military leader of Hamas, Salah Shehadeh. (Abid Katib / Getty Images)
Palestinian bulldozers clear rubble July 25, 2002 in Gaza City, Gaza Strip. Three houses were destroyed by an American-made Israeli warplane in an an attack aimed at the military leader of Hamas, Salah Shehadeh. (Abid Katib / Getty Images)
The task proved more difficult than I supposed. Hassan, whom I had forged a strong bond with over many years, disagreed with my multiple drafts of the document. And the document itself had to be approved by the eleven member “Fatah Higher Committee” in the West Bank, the several layers of the Al Aqsa Martyrs Brigades (and particularly their most intransigent cells in Nablus), as well as the head of the Hamas military wing in Gaza.
In addition, I was intent that the ceasefire be put in place precisely at one minute after midnight on July 22 and that the press be notified of its start. My reasoning was that Israel had acted with impunity in breaking a previous ceasefire, in January, by assassinating Raed Karmi. The problem then was simple: no one in the international community even knew that a ceasefire had been agreed to. I vowed that this would not be the case now, which is why the team of which I was a part kept Israeli officials informed of our progress.
It took many days of talks with Hani al-Hassan to produce a final ceasefire document, and weeks of negotiation to gain approval for it among the Fatah Higher Committee and the West Bank’s myriad resistance brigades. But by July 20, all seemed in place. Only Salah Shehadeh, the head of Hamas’s military wing in Gaza, needed to give his approval—and he had informed our team, through a Fatah intermediary, that he was prepared to do so. His signature on the ceasefire document was to be obtained on the evening of July 22, during a meeting between him and a senior Fatah official in Gaza City. It had taken weeks of talks with Hamas to gain his approval.
I remember sitting on the 11th floor of the David Citadel Hotel as the clock ticked off the minutes leading to midnight on the night of July 21. I was in contact with our Fatah intermediary in Gaza by cell phone, urging him to complete his visit to Shehadeh—at times, shouting at him: “You need to move, you need to see this man.” He assured me that the meeting with Shehadeh had been set, and that he was on his way, just then, to meet with him.  
But then, with just ten minutes to go before the ceasefire took effect, his cell phone went dead. And then, thirty minutes later, an Israeli F-16 dropped a one ton bomb on Shehadeh’s home in Gaza City. The Israeli bomb killed Shahadeh and fourteen other people, including Shehadeh’s wife and daughter. Seven people who lived next door, all innocent, were also killed. The then Deputy Chief of Staff of the IDF, Major General Dan Halutz later said that had he known that innocent people would be killed in the bombing, it would not have been ordered. I know otherwise. Later, he added: “What do I feel when I drop a bomb? A slight bump in the airplane.”
The next morning, as I walked from my hotel near the Damascus Gate to a meeting of the ceasefire team, I was approached by an Israeli official who we’d been dealing with. He smiled at me. “Ah, the naïve American,” he said, in greeting. “You had rough night.” I said nothing, but he continued: “You know Mr. Perry, you don’t seem to understand. We don’t want a ceasefire.” And he walked away.
I have thought about Salah Shehadeh in the years since, and about my own role in his death, and the death of those he loved and knew. I know now that someone on my team was working against us, and someone in Fatah—most likely the intermediary who was to meet with him that night in Gaza City. These are very painful memories, to be sure. In the end, perhaps, the Israeli was right: I was naïve.
I’m not now.
© 2012 The Newsweek/Daily Beast Company LLC

function googleTranslateElementInit() { new google.translate.TranslateElement({ pageLanguage: ‘en’ }, ‘google_translate_element’); }

Obama’s Kill List Policy Compels US Support for Israeli Attacks on Gaza

We Are Complicit
The US was once part of the international consensus against extra-judicial assassinations. Now it is a leader in that tactic.
By Glenn Greenwald 
November 15, 2012 “The Guardian” — Israel’s escalating air attacks on Gaza follow the depressingly familiar pattern that shapes this conflict. Overwhelming Israeli force slaughters innocent Palestinians, including children, which is preceded (and followed) by far more limited rocket attacks into Israel which kill a much smaller number, rocket attacks which are triggered by various forms of Israeli provocations — all of which, most crucially, takes place in the context of Israel’s 45-year-old brutal occupation of the Palestinians (and, despite a “withdrawal” of troops, that includes Gaza, over which Israel continues to exercise extensive dominion). The debates over these episodes then follow an equally familiar pattern, strictly adhering to a decades-old script that, by design at this point, goes nowhere.
Meanwhile, most US media outlets are petrified of straying too far from pro-Israel orthodoxies. Time’s Middle East correspondent Rania Abouzeid noted this morning on Twitter the typical template: “Just read report in major US paper about Gaza/Israel that put Israeli dead in 1st sentence. Palestinian in 6th paragraph.” Or just consider the BBC’s headline. Worse, this morning’s New York Times editorial self-consciously drapes itself with pro-Israel caveats and completely ignores the extensive civilian deaths in Gaza before identifying this as one of the only flaws it could find with the lethal Israeli assault: “The action also threatens to divert attention from what Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has repeatedly described as Israel’s biggest security threat: Iran’s nuclear program.”
In what I know will be a fruitless attempt to avoid having this discussion subsumed by that tired script: I will recommend several outstanding, truly must-read pieces written by others over the last 24 hours in lieu of my own reciting of the various arguments. Begin with this article by Yousef Munayyer in the Daily Beast setting the crucial context for the rocket attacks from Gaza; then read this Daily Beast news-breaking account from Gershon Baskin, who details how the provocations from the Israelis were geared toward disrupting an imminent peace deal with Hamas (“The assassination of Jaabari was a pre-emptive strike against the possibility of a long term ceasefire”); also vital is this time-line of eventsleading up to the rocket attacks from Gaza, with ample documentation from Ali Abunimah; and finally, there is this very succinct but poignant summary of what Israel has done over the last three weeks.
I want to focus on the US response to all of this. US policy always lies at the heart of these episodes, because Israeli aggression is possible only due to the unstinting financial, military and diplomatic support of the US. Needless to say, the Obama administration wasted no time expressing its “full-throttled support” for the Israeli attacks. And one can’t help but notice the timing of this attack: launched just days after Obama’s re-election victory, demanding an answer to the question of whether Obama was told in advance of these attacks and gave his approval.
Ultimately, though, Obama had no choice but to support these attacks, which were designed, in part, to extra-judicially assassinate Hamas military leader Ahmed al-Jabari as he was driving in his car (the IDF then proudly posted the video of its hit on YouTube). How could Obama possibly have done anything else?
Extra-judicial assassination – accompanied by the wanton killing of whatever civilians happen to be near the target, often including children – is a staple of the Obama presidency. That lawless tactic is one of the US president’s favorite instruments for projecting force and killing whomever he decides should have their lives ended: all in total secrecy and with no due process or oversight. There is now a virtually complete convergence between US and Israeli aggression, making US criticism of Israel impossible not only for all the usual domestic political reasons, but also out of pure self-interest: for Obama to condemn Israel’s rouge behavior would be to condemn himself.
It is vital to recognize that this is a new development. The position of the US government on extra-judicial assassinations long had been consistent with the consensus view of the international community: that it is a savage and lawless weapon to be condemned regardless of claims that it is directed at “terrorists”. From a 15 February 2001 Guardian article by Brian Whitaker on the targeted killing by Israel of one of Yasser Arafat’s bodyguards [emphasis added]:
“International opprobrium was directed at Israel yesterday for its state-approved assassinations of suspected terrorists – a practice widely regarded as illegal.
“A Foreign Office spokesman said the British government was shocked by what it described as the ‘murder’ of one of Yasser Arafat’s bodyguards by Israeli forces on Tuesday and of nine Israeli soldiers by a Palestinian yesterday. . . .
“Britain has also backed one of the strongest statements yet from the European Union. In a declaration issued by current president Sweden, the EU said it ‘deplores the practice of so-called ‘eliminations’ or extra-judicial killings of Palestinians carried out by Israeli security forces’.
“The EU, which is Israel’s biggest trading partner, reiterated ‘its strongly held opinion that Israel’s policy in this regard is unacceptable and contrary to the rule of law’.
“It continued: ‘The European Union urges Israel to cease this practice and thus respect international law.’
“The United States, while also condemning Palestinian violence, made clear its disapproval of the assassinations.
“State Department spokesman Richard Boucher said: ‘The use of Israeli helicopter gunships, Palestinian attacks against settlements and motorists, the use of mortars by Palestinians and the targeted killings by the Israeli Defence Force … are producing a new cycle of action or reaction which can become impossible to control.’
“Mr Boucher added that the new Secretary of State, Colin Powell, who is due to visit the Middle East next week, had spoken several times “about the need to avoid these kind of actions”.
That US condemnation of Israel’s targeted killing came, by the way, from the George W. Bush administration. A month later, after another Israeli attack, Associated Press reported: “Secretary of State Colin Powell registered his opposition to ‘a policy of targeted killings’ in a 15-minute telephone conversation with Yasser Arafat, State Department spokesman Richard Boucher said” (illustrating the blatant fiction that Democrats are more peaceful than Republicans, then-Senator Joe Biden, in 2001, eventually attacked Bush officials for condemning Israeli assassinations).
Former UN Secretary-General Kofi Annan has repeatedly said that “extrajudicial killings are violations of international law.” EU foreign policy chief Javier Solana has said: “The European Union has consistently condemned extrajudicial killings. Israel has a right to protect its citizens from terrorist attacks, but actions of this type are not only unlawful, they are not conducive to lowering tension.” Former UK Foreign Secretary Jack Straw has similarly pointed out: “the British government has made it repeatedly clear that so-called ‘target assassinations’ of this kind are unlawful, unjustified and counter-productive.”
Thus, to condemn Israeli aggression here, President Obama would need do no more than simply affirm universally recognized precepts of international law, ones that the US government has long claimed to support (even as it often violated them). That, however, is no longer possible for Obama – at least not without triggering a global laughing fit. As the Council on Foreign Relations documented in April of this year:
“The United States adopted targeted killing as an essential tactic to pursue those responsible for the terrorist attacks of September 11, 2001. The Pentagon and the Central Intelligence Agency have employed the controversial practice with more frequency in recent years, both as part of combat operations in Afghanistan and Iraq, as well as in counterterrorism efforts in Pakistan, Yemen, and Somalia. Since assuming office in 2009, Barack Obama‘s administration has escalated targeted killings, primarily through an increase in unmanned drone strikes on al-Qaida and Taliban leadership, but also through an expansion of U.S. Special Operations kill/capture missions. . . .
“Despite the opposition, most experts expect the United States to expand targeted killings in the coming years as military technology improves and the public appetite for large-scale, conventional armed intervention erodes. . . .
“The Bush and Obama administrations have sought to justify targeted killings under both domestic and international law.”
In essence, what we find, yet again, is that the governments of the United States and Israel arrogate unto themselves the right to execute anyone they want, anywhere in the world, without any limitations, regardless of how many innocent civilians they kill in the process. “Rogue nation” is a term that is often casually tossed around in the discourse of foreign relations. Here, it is quite appropriate, and – when it comes to extra-judicial assassinations – clearly applies to the two countries who apply the term most frequently to others.
Obama – the killer of Anwar al-Awlaki, Awlaki’s 16-year-old American son Abdulrahman, and countless other innocent men, women, teenagers and children – could not possibly condemn Israeli actions in Gaza without indicting himself. Extra-judicial assassinations, once roundly condemned by US officials, are now a symbol of the Obama presidency, as the US and Israel converge more than ever before: if not in interests, than certainly in tactics.
Glenn Greenwald is a columnist on civil liberties and US national security issues for the Guardian. A former constitutional lawyer, he was until 2012 a contributing writer at Salon. He is the author of How Would a Patriot Act? (May 2006), a critique of the Bush administration’s use of executive power; A Tragic Legacy (June, 2007), which examines the Bush legacy; and With Liberty and Justice For Some: How the Law Is Used to Destroy Equality and Protect the Powerfull
© 2012 Guardian News and Media Limited.

function googleTranslateElementInit() { new google.translate.TranslateElement({ pageLanguage: ‘en’ }, ‘google_translate_element’); }

Norman Finkelstein Says Netanyahu Is "A Maniac"

Video By RT
Attack on Gaza is Israeli Attempt to Restore Arab Fear of Israel’s Military Might
Posted November 15, 2012
 

function googleTranslateElementInit() { new google.translate.TranslateElement({ pageLanguage: ‘en’ }, ‘google_translate_element’); }

Excuse Me While I Vomit

By Alan Hart
November 15, 2012 “Information Clearing House” – I imagine I am not the only one who feels the need to vomit (dictionary definition – “to throw up the contents of the stomach through the mouth”) when Israel’s Goebbels justifies the Zionist state’s ferocious and monstrously disproportionate attacks by air and sea on the Israeli-blockaded Gaza Strip, the prison camp which is home to 1.5 million besieged and mainly impoverished Palestinians. The Israeli to whom I am referring is, of course, Australian-born Mark Regev, the prime minister’s spokesman, for which read spin doctor. The more I see and hear him in action, the more it seems to me that he makes Nazi Germany’s propaganda chief look like an amateur.
In a piece for The Observer on 6 June 2010, Ruth Sutherland wrote the following. “If the men from Mars ever wanted to manufacture a PR man, they would model their robot on Regev. No matter how formidable the interviewer, or how aggressive the questioning, he never buckles under pressure. His disarming Aussie accent and unfailing politeness – he calls interviewers ‘Sir’ and uses phrases like ‘I beg to disagree’ – almost lulls listeners into overlooking his aggression. He is always regretful about death and horror – he regrets that the non-Israeli victims brought their fate on themselves. Viewers are reduced to a trance of slack-jawed amazement at what he is prepared to say with a straight face. He is unlikely to win sceptics to Israel’s cause, but as a PR performer he is horribly compelling.”
Compelling he certainly is but, as Sutherland indicated (I will be more explicit), only to Westerners and Americans in particular who have been conditioned for decades by Zionist propaganda and, as a consequence, know nothing or little worth knowing about the truth of history as it relates to the making and sustaining of the conflict in and over Palestine that became Israel.
In the immediate aftermath of Israel’s targeted assassination of Hamas’s military commander, Ahmed al-Jabari, Regev was at his best. Via the BBC and many other networks his main message to the Western nations was that Israel is just like them – democratic and civilized. “I would ask them all,” he said, “how would you act?” (respond to rocket fire from “terrorists”). By obvious implication he was saying something very like, “You would take all necessary action against the terrorists to defend and protect your people, and that’s why I am sure you will understand and support what we are doing.”
The flaw in that presentation is that Israel is NOT like the Western nations. It is a brutal occupying power, and the cause of the incoming rockets is its occupation and on-going colonization and ethnic cleansing of the West Bank including East Jerusalem, and its blockade of the Gaza Strip. That plus the fact that Israel’s leaders have no interest in peace on terms the Palestinians could accept.
Regev also appealed for Western understanding and support on the grounds that “they” (Hamas) say my country should be wiped off the map.”
That’s one of the many big, fat Zionist propaganda lies. The truth is that Hamas is firmly on the record with the statement that while it will never recognize Israel’s right to exist, it is prepared to live in peace with an Israel inside its 1967 borders.
Regev’s master, Netanyahu, was also up to his old tricks – diverting attention. He played the Iranian nuclear threat card to get Palestine off the international community’s agenda. With Israel’s next election less than 70 days away, one of his reasons for authorizing Operation Pillar of Defense was, as a report in The Times of Israel put it, “to divert public discourse from social justice to security issues and silence the government’s critics.”
The Mossad’s motto is “By way of deception, thou shall do war.” 
Netanyahu obviously believes that by way of deception he can not only retain power but emerge from Israel’s next election with more power than ever. (Enough to tell Obama to go to hell if that ever becomes necessary).
The support (by default if not design) of Western governments for Israel’s latest ferocious and monstrously disproportionate attacks also makes me want to vomit.
Alan Hart has been engaged with events in the Middle East and their global consequences and terrifying implications – the possibility of a Clash of Civilisations, Judeo-Christian v Islamic…. More

function googleTranslateElementInit() { new google.translate.TranslateElement({ pageLanguage: ‘en’ }, ‘google_translate_element’); }

Netanyahu Speaks On Israeli Morality

Video
“There is no moral symmetry; there is no moral equivalence, between Israel and the terrorist organizations in Gaza. The terrorists are committing a double war crime. They fire at Israeli civilians, and they hide behind Palestinian civilians. And by contrast, Israel takes every measure to avoid civilian casualties.”

– Warning –
Video contains images depicting the reality of Israel’s attack on Gaza
Scroll down for 2nd video
Posted November 15, 2012
 
Moral Equivalence? – You Decide
 

Israel Would Have Us Believe That These People Are Terrorists

In Pictures
Images Of Children Killed and Injured By Israeli Attack On Gaza November 14, 2012 Continue

function googleTranslateElementInit() { new google.translate.TranslateElement({ pageLanguage: ‘en’ }, ‘google_translate_element’); }

Video: Survivors of Israeli attack on Gaza says bombs continued to fall on the al-Shoja’iya neighborhood as civilians raised white flags

By Adam Horowitz
 
November 12, 2012 “Mondoweiss ” — The video above interviews two survivors of the Israeli attack on the al-Shoja’iya neighborhood east of Gaza City. Here is a summary published by the Palestinian Centre for Human Rights over the weekend on what took place in the neighborhood:
Over the past 72 hours, the Israeli Occupation Forces (IOF) have escalated their aerial and ground attacks against the Gaza Strip. Five Palestinian civilians, including 3 children, have been killed, and 52 others, including 6 women and 12 children, have been wounded. Four of these deaths and 38 of the injuries resulted from an Israeli attack on a football playground in al-Shoja’iya neighborhood east of Gaza City. Additionally, 2 members of the Palestinian resistance were killed, and some civilian facilities were destroyed or damaged.
According to investigations conducted by the Palestinian Centre for Human Rights (PCHR), at approximately 15:30 on Saturday, 10 November 2012, Israeli military vehicles stationed at the border between the Gaza Strip and Israel fired an artillery shell at a number of Palestinian children who were playing football at al-Mentar Hill east of al-Shoja’iya neighborhood, which is east of Gaza City and nearly 1,500 meters away from the border. As a result, 2 children were instantly killed:
1- Mohammed Ussama Hassan Harara (16); and
2- Ahmed Mustafa Khaled Harara (17).
Following this attack, a number of Palestinian civilians, who were in the consolation house of the Harara family, rushed to the area, where the IOF immediately fired another 3 shells. As a result, 2 Palestinian civilians were instantly killed:
1- Ahmed Kamel Al- Dirdissawi (18); and
2- Matar ‘Emad ‘Abdul Rahman Abu al-‘Ata (19).
Additionally, 38 civilians, including 8 children, were wounded; the wounding of 10 of these civilians was described by medical crews as being serious.
© 2012 Mondoweiss

 http://www.informationclearinghouse.info/article33005.htm

function googleTranslateElementInit() { new google.translate.TranslateElement({ pageLanguage: ‘en’ }, ‘google_translate_element’); }

Canada, Israel Call for UN Investigator’s Resignation

Allege bias against special investigator on human rights in occupied Palestinian territories

By The Associated Press 
October 27, 2012 “CBC” – The UN special investigator on human rights in the Palestinian territories called Wednesday for a boycott  of all companies that have dealings with Israeli settlements in the West Bank and East Jerusalem until they adhere to international rights standards and practices.

Israel, the U.S. and Canada all rejected Richard Falk‘s report, accusing the UN special rapporteur of bias against Israel and calling for his removal.

In a report presented to the UN General Assembly, Falk said a number of Israeli-owned and multinational corporations headquartered in the U.S., Europe and Mexico appear to be violating international human rights and humanitarian laws by exploiting Palestinian resources and helping Israel construct illegal settlements and provide security for them. However, he said further investigations will be made to determine whether the allegations are well-founded.

Falk said the call for a boycott is an effort to take infractions of international law seriously and “use what influence we have to change behaviour.” He said the pace of Israeli settlement building has accelerated and Israel has ignored UN resolutions condemning the practice, so “there is a sense that what the UN says doesn’t count.”

Falk, an American professor emeritus of international law at Princeton University, has previously angered Israel by comparing the Jewish state to Nazi Germany and accusing it of crimes against humanity because of its treatment of Palestinians. Israel has barred Falk from visiting the Palestinian territories.

In the report, Falk reiterated his request that the Israeli government co-operate with his efforts, as he said it is required to do under the UN Charter.

Israel’s UN Mission called the report “grossly biased” and called for Falk to be replaced.

“Israel is deeply committed to advancing human rights and firmly believes that this cause will be better served without Falk and his distasteful sideshow,” said Karaen Peretz, spokeswoman for the Israeli Mission. “While he spends pages and pages attacking Israel, Falk fails to mention even once the horrific human rights violations and ongoing terrorist attacks by Hamas.”

A spokesman for Canada’s Foreign Affairs Minister, John Baird, condemned Falk’s report as being both “offensive, and unhelpful.”

“Canada calls on Mr. Falk to either withdraw this biased and disgraceful report — or resign from his position at the United Nations,” said Rick Roth in an email.

U.S. Ambassador Susan Rice called Falk “highly biased” and his appeal for a boycott “irresponsible and unacceptable.”

“Mr. Falk’s recommendations do nothing to further a peaceful settlement to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict and indeed poison the environment for peace,” she said in a statement. “His continued service in the role of a UN Special Rapporteur is deeply regrettable and only damages the credibility of the UN”

The Anti-Defamation League called on UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon to rescind his preliminary endorsement of the report and to distance his office from Falk, who was appointed by the UN Human Rights Council.

But in the General Assembly, representatives from several countries including Egypt and Iran called Falk’s report fair and balanced.

Copyright © CBC 2012

function googleTranslateElementInit() { new google.translate.TranslateElement({ pageLanguage: ‘en’ }, ‘google_translate_element’); }


Palestinian Refugees: Time To Return NOW!

Must Watch Video

10 million Palestinians. Almost 5 million of them are refugees. And half of those are still living in camps. It is in Lebanon that the Palestinian refugees live under the worst conditions. We visited the camps of Chatila, Borj Al Barajneh, Marelias, Nahr Al Bared, Badawi, Ain El Hilweh et Rachidiya.

Everywhere we find great poverty, a dense population, narrow lanes, a maze of electric wires all connected to each other, workshops for small manual jobs… but everywhere also the same steadfast will to return to their country, Palestine.

‘Palestinian Refuges’ is now converted to TV format and is available for any Public Access TV station in America (and the World) to download and broadcast.

To get Public Access TV Stations to broadcast – ‘Palestinian Refuges’ people can phone their local Public Access TV station and request the film be broadcast to their local community. The TV station can download the show from PEGMedia.org and then broadcast it.

Posted October 27, 2012

 

function googleTranslateElementInit() { new google.translate.TranslateElement({ pageLanguage: ‘en’ }, ‘google_translate_element’); }

%d bloggers like this: