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2001 Private Eye Article on Israeli Assassinations and Atrocities Against Palestinians, Americans, and Lebanon

Keir Starmer has shown himself determined to purge the party of any and all critics of Israel on the utterly specious grounds that they are automatically anti-Semites. They must be, despite the fact that very many of them are self-respecting Jews and equally self-respecting non-Jewish anti-racists. This is because the Israel lobby and the British establishment and media have declared that anybody who supports Jeremy Corbyn and/ or shares his conviction that Palestinians should be allowed to live in peace in their traditional homeland has to be a horrible Jew-hater and a Nazi. Even if, like Corbyn, Tony Greenstein, Marc Wadsworth, Jackie Walker, Mike, Martin Odoni and any number of others, they are determined anti-racists. So let’s remind people just what the Palestinians are facing, and why criticising Israel is entirely legitimate and is based on what the Israeli state and its armed forces do, not because they’re Jewish.

I found this ‘Letter from Israel’ in Private Eye’s edition for 30th November – 13th December 2001. This was a time when the Eye didn’t flinch at criticising Israel, even when outraged Zionists complained that it was being anti-Semitic by doing so. The Eye has said that the ‘Letter From…’ pieces are written by journalists from countries described, so that this piece, although anonymous and possibly reworked by someone else in the Eye to cover up the author’s identity, comes from an Israeli journo. And it’s a long list of Israel’s attacks, not just on the Palestinians and their leaders, but also the Americans and Lebanon. It runs

Terrorism is the topic of the year, and whatever the current focus, history shows that we in Israel have a certain historical experience.

Take the bombing of American targets. Our chaps bombed the US cultural centres in Cairo and Alexandria as early as 1954, planning to let Abdul Nasser’s new Egyptian government take the blame. Unfortunately the scam went wrong and our defence minister Pinhas Lavon had to resign, though the director-general of his ministry, Shimon Peres, managed to hang on. Today he is Ariel Sharon’s foreign minister.

Or take political assassinations. If you ever wondered why Yasser Arafat’s lieutenants are hard to understand, the answer it simple: we shot most of his organisation’s top foreign language speakers. In fact in one glorious year, 1972, our Mossad secret service managed to kill both the PLO’s political representative in Rome, Wael Zouetar, and his counterpart in Paris, Mahmoud Hamdan.

Admittedly we make the odd mistake. There was the embarrassing 1974 incident in Lilienhammer, when a Mossad hit squad shot dead Moroccan waiter Ahmed Bouchiki in front of his heavily pregnant Norwegian wife, having mistaken him for a PLO man.

Still, we maintain a sense of proportion and have never believed in simply takinig an eye for an eye. In 1982 when an assassin from the Palestinian refugee camps in Lebanon wounded (but not killed) our London rep, Shlomo Argov, we invaded Lebanon and more than 20,000 people there died, mostly civilians.

Then there is the bombing of local public buildings, one of our specialities. In recent months we have shelled not just West Bank police stations, but hotels, an orphanage and the Bethlehem maternity hospital. (Not that many Palestinian women reach the hospital. Our boys at the checkpoints surrounding their townships are particularly mistrustful of women claiming to be in labour and so refuse to let them through).

None of this would have happened, of course, if the Palestinians would agree to live happily while surrounded by our soldiers and settlers. But they won’t and we must protect ourselves. Not for us any lily-livered effort to apprehend the actual perpetrators. We prefer hostage taking. This is certainly what we did when some Palestinians recently shot that nice man, ex-general Rehavam Zeevi, the founder of a party whose sole platform is the expulsion of all Arabs. Such a view had resulted in his being invited into Mr Sharon’s government as a tourism minister.

Anyway, whenever that sort of thing happens we just hold the entire population of the West Bank and Gaza Strip at gunpoint and station tanks in their streets. Then we smash the place up (just look at Manger Square after we finished with it!) and kill a few dozen locals of mixed age and sex.

And, oh yes, we also use helicopter gunships to blow to smithereens any Palestinian we suspect of planning any attacks on us, though not usually the actual perpetrators. Those we expect Yasser Arafat to hand over, in exchange for the goodwill we have shown in our peace talks with him, which have been dragging on for a mere eight years. Why are those Palestinians in such a rush?

That we have spent those years building thousands of new settler homes in the West Bank is a mere accident, not a lack of sincerity. True, this may have involved confiscating Palestinian land, arresting its owners and shooting demonstrators, which slows down agreement; but it makes sense: we just like holding peace talks so much we never want them to end.

Of course, we cannot negotiate with just anyone, and so we are currently helping improve Arafat’s administration by picking off any unsuitable figures. And we don’t just mean military men: one of those killed by us was Dr. Tahbed Thabed, the director-general of the Palestinian health authority.

In the 19 years since then, we’ve had the blockade of Gaza and now Netanyahu has declared his intention of seizing 1/3 of Palestinian land on the West Bank. But organisations like the Chief Rabbinate, Board of Deputies of British Jews, Jewish Leadership Council, the entirely wrongly named Jewish Labour Movement, whose members don’t have to be Jews or members of the Labour Party, and the Campaign Against Anti-Semitism, founded to bolster British support for Israel after the bombardment of Gaza, will denounce anything more than the mildest, token criticism of Israel’s actions.

The Israeli state has been engaged on a decades-long campaign of ethnic cleansing against the Palestinians, and many of its own citizens have protested against it. Israel is a country. It is not, and never have been, synonymous with the Jewish people, no matter what law Netanyahu passes to claim that it is. Criticising Israel and its leaders is not anti-Semitic, no matter how much the Board and the Chief Rabbis howl that it is.

And Starmer has no business kicking genuine anti-racists and opponents of anti-Semitism out of Labour, simply for supporting the Palestinians. And especially not when he is tolerating real, anti-Black racists and islamophobes.

Sargon of Gasbag Smears Black Lives Matter as Anti-Semitic

Despite their recent popularity and the wave of sympathetic protests and demonstrations that have erupted all over the world in the past few weeks, Black Lives Matter is a very controversial organisation. They’re Marxists, who wish not only to get rid of capitalism, but also the police, the patriarchy and other structures that oppress Black people. They support trans rights, and, so I’ve heard, wish to get rid of the family. I doubt many people outside the extreme right would defend racism, but I’m not sure how many are aware of, let alone support, their extreme radical views.

A number of Black American Conservatives have posted pieces on YouTube criticising them. One, Young Rippa, objects to them because he has never experienced racism personally and has White friends. He’s angry because they’re telling him he is less than equal in his own country. It’s an interesting point of view, and while he’s fortunate in not experiencing racism himself, many other Black Americans have. Others have objected to the organisation on meritocratic grounds. Mr H Reviews, for example, who posts on YouTube about SF and Fantasy film, television, games and comics, is a believer in meritocracy and so objects to their demands for affirmative action. For him, if you are an employer, you should always hire the best. And if the best writers and directors are all Black, or women, or gay, their colour, gender and sexuality should make no difference. You should employ them. What you shouldn’t do in his opinion is employ people purely because they’re BAME, female or gay. That’s another form of racism, sexism and discrimination. It’s why, in his view and that of other YouTubers, Marvel and DC comics, and now Star Wars and Star Trek have declined in quality in recent years. They’re more interested in forced diversity than creating good, entertaining stories.

Now Carl Benjamin aka Sargon of Akkad, the man who broke UKIP, has also decided to weigh in on Black Lives Matter. Sargon’s a man of the far right, though I don’t think he is personally racist. Yesterday he put up a piece on YouTube asking if the tide was turning against Black Lives Matter ‘at least in the UK’. He begins the video with a discussion of Keir Starmer calling BLM a moment, rather than a movement, although he later apologised for this and retracted the description. Starmer also rejected their demand to defund the police. Benjamin went on to criticise a Wolverhampton Labour group, who tweeted their opposition to Starmer’s comment about BLM and supported defunding. Sargon also criticised the football players, who had taken the knee to show their support, and also Gary Lineker, who had tweeted his support for BLM but then apologized and made a partial retraction when it was explained to him what the organisation fully stood for. But much of Sargon’s video is devoted to attacking them because they’re anti-Semitic. Who says so? Why, it’s our old friends, the Campaign Against Anti-Semitism. Who are once again lying as usual.

Tony Greenstein put up a piece about a week or so ago on his blog discussing how the Zionist organisations hate BLM and have tied themselves in knots trying to attack the organisation while not alienating the Black community. Black Lives Matter support the Palestinians, and according to all too many Zionist groups, including the British Jewish establishment – the Board of Deputies of British Jews, the Chief Rabbinate, Jewish Leadership Council and the Jewish Chronicle and other papers, anyone who makes anything except the mildest, most toothless criticism of Israel is an anti-Semitic monster straight out of the Third Reich. This also includes Jews. Especially Jews, as the Israel lobby is doing its damnedest to make Israel synonymous with Jewishness, despite the fact that’s also anti-Semitic under the I.H.R.A. definition of anti-Semitism they are so keen to foist on everybody. As a result, Jewish critics in particular suffer insults, smears, threats and personal assault.

Yesterday BLM issued a statement condemning the planned annexation of one third of Palestinian territory by Netanyahu’s Israeli government. This resulted in the usual accusation of anti-Semitism by the Campaign Against Anti-Semitism. The deliberately misnamed Campaign then hypocritically pontificated about how anti-Semitism, a form of racism, was incompatible with any genuine struggle against racism. Which is true, and a good reason why the Campaign Against Anti-Semitism should shut up and dissolve itself.

Israel is an apartheid state in which the Palestinians are foreigners, even though in law they are supposed to have equality. In the 72 years of its existence, Israel has been steadily forcing them out, beginning with the massacres of the Nakba at the very foundation of Israel as an independent state. The Israel lobby has been trying to silence criticism of its barbarous maltreatment of them by accusing those voicing it of anti-Semitism. The Campaign Against Anti-Semitism is a case in point. It was founded to counter the rising opposition to Israel amongst the British public following the blockade of Gaza. And Tony Greenstein has argued that Zionism is itself anti-Semitic. Theodor Herzl believed that Jews needed their own state because there would always be gentile hostility to Jews. He even at one point wrote that he had ‘forgiven’ it. It’s a surrender to anti-Semitism not an opponent, although obviously you would never hear that argument from the Israel lobby.

Sargon thus follows the Campaign Against Anti-Semitism in accusing BLM of being anti-Semitic. He puts up on his video a screen shot of the CAA’s twitter reply to BLM’s condemnation of the invasion of Palestine. But there’s a piece on BLM’s tweet that he either hasn’t seen or is deliberately ignoring.

Black Lives Matter issued their condemnation as a series of linked tweets. And the second begins by noting that over 40 Jewish organisations have objected to Netanyahu’s deliberate conflation of Israel with Jews.

That tweet can clearly be seen beneath the first and the CAA’s reply as Sargon waffles on about anti-Semitism.

It says

‘More than 40 Jewish groups around the world in 2018 opposed “cynical and false accusations that dangerously conflate anti-Jewish racism with opposition to Israel’s policies of occupation and apartheid.”‘

This section of their condemnation should demonstrate that BLM aren’t anti-Semites. They made the distinction, as demanded by the I.H.R.A.’s own definition of anti-Semitism, between Jews and the state of Israel. If Black Lives Matter was genuinely anti-Semitic, not only would they not make that distinction, I doubt that they would bother mentioning that Jewish organisations also condemned it.  It is also ironic that it’s up when the Campaign Against Anti-Semitism and Sargon are doing precisely what these 40 Jewish organisations condemned.

Black Lives Matter as an organisation is controversial, and I don’t believe it or any other movement or ideology should be immune or exempt from reasonable criticism. But I don’t believe they can fairly be accused of anti-Semitism.

As for Sargon, the fact that he drones on accusing them of it while just behind him is the statement clearly showing that they aren’t tells you all you need to know about the level of his knowledge and the value of his views in this matter. But you probably guessed that already from his illustrious career destroying every organisation he’s ever joined.

I’m not going to put up Sargon’s video here, nor link to it. But if you want to see for yourself, it’s on his channel on YouTube, Akkad Daily, with the title Is The Tide Turning Against Black Lives Matter. The tweet quoting the Jewish groups denouncing the deliberate conflation of Israel and Jews to accuse critics of Israel of anti-Semitism can be seen at the bottom of the twitter stream at 5.26.

 

 

Tony Greenstein’s Review of Exhibition and Talks by Pro-Palestinian Arab/Israeli Artist Gil Mualem-Doron

Yesterday Tony Greenstein put up a piece about an art exhibition on the plight of the Palestinians by an Arab/Israeli artist, Dr. Gil Mualem-Doron. Titled ‘Cry the Beloved Country’ after a 1953 article in the Israeli paper Maariv by its editor, Ezriel Karlebach. This compared the new legislation then passed against the Palestinians to the infamous Nuremberg laws the Nazis passed against the Jews. The article took its title in turn from the 1948 book by the South African artist Alan Paton on the rise of that country’s apartheid regime. The exhibition also features a conversation between the Palestinian historian Dr Salman Abu Sitta, Mualem-Doron, Eitan Bronstein Aparicio, the founder of the NGO Zochrot, somebody called Decolonizer and the exhibition’s curator, Ghazaleh Zogheib. It includes photographs of some of the ‘present refugees’ – Palestinians, who fled or were forced off their land during the Nakba of 1948, and who are officially regarded as foreigners in their own country among other photographic and artistic installations. There is also a screening of the film To Gaza and Back Home, by Aparicio and Decolonizer about the Arab village of Ma’in and its destruction. It was due to open on the 2nd April, but this was impossible due to the lockdown. It’s now showing online until sometime in September, probably the 27th, when it will open at the P21 Gallery in London.

Tony’s article quotes the exhibition, which says that

“Cry, the beloved country” is a nightmarish series of room installations and photography works dealing with the links between Great Britain, Israel and Palestine and depicting the catastrophic results of this unholy conundrum.  Built as a journey into “the heart of darkness” the exhibition is intended to negate many Israelis and Zionists supporters’ view of Israel as a “villa in the jungle”.

The photographs include several of an actor dressed in KKK robes, a Jewish prayer shawl and waving an Israeli flag, saluting Nelson’s Column in Trafalgar Square. It was taken in 2017 during the centennial celebrations of the promulgation of the Balfour Doctrine, in which Britain backed the creation of a Jewish state in Palestine. This was very much against the wishes of the British Jewish community, who did not want their Britishness questioned through the foundation of a state for which they had no loyalty and no desire to live in.

This is obviously an extremely provocative piece. I have no doubt that the very people and organizations, who scream ‘anti-Semitism’ at any criticism of Israel, no matter how reasonable and justified, would go berserk about this. It comes very close to one of the IHRA’s examples of anti-Semitism: the comparison of Jews to Nazis. But it is a reasonable comment on the Israeli state and its present government, composed of Likud and various parties from the Israeli religious right. Groups of settlers do launch attacks on Palestinian villages, like the Klan lynched Blacks in America. Those campaign for the ethnic cleansing of the Palestinians similarly claim a religious basis for their crimes, just like the Klan claimed to be defending White, Protestant Christians from Jews, Blacks, Roman Catholics and Communists. And Tony himself has shown all too often how the present Israeli government and British Zionist activists have very strong links to the real far right groups. Jonathan Hoffman, who has frequently protested and demonstrated against pro-Palestinian exhibitions and meetings over here, shouting anti-Semitism, has done so in the company of Paul Besser, the former intelligence officer of Britain First, and members of the EDL. The event’s supported by Arts Council England and the Hub Collective. I think they should be commended for supporting such an important exhibition, despite the abuse and demands for cancellation the organizers of similar events receive.

The Israelis were due to begin their annexation of 1/3 of the West Bank today, in blatant contravention of international law. The Likud regime is zealously pursuing its persecution and ethnic cleansing of the Palestinians with the active support of right-wing American Christian groups like Ted Hagee’s Christians United for Israel. It does so against the wishes and passionate efforts of very many Jews and Jewish organisations in America, Britain and Israel itself. The latter includes the veterans’ group, Breaking the Silence, which works to reveal the atrocities in which its members have personally participated, and the Zionist humanitarian group, B’Tsalem. The supporters of this ethnic cleansing, including the Board of Deputies of British Jews, the Chief Rabbinate, the Campaign Against Anti-Semitism and the various ‘Friends of Israel’ groups in the political parties, are doing their best to present Israel as synonymous with Judaism. This is in breach of the IHRA’s own guidelines, which state that it is anti-Semitic to claim that Jews are more loyal to another country, or hold them responsible as a whole for Israel’s actions. As these atrocities continue, more young Jewish people are becoming critical of Israel and the Zionist organisations themselves were frightened by the British public’s disgust at the Israeli bombardment of Gaza. Hence the foundation of the Campaign Against Anti-Semitism and the revival of Paole Zion, now renamed the Jewish Labour Movement, in the Labour Party. It was all to promote public support for Israel and quash reasoned, justified criticism.

It is why exhibitions like this continue to remain important and necessary, whatever the witch-hunters do to shout them down and silence them.

For more information on the exhibition and the individual pieces, go to:

https://azvsas.blogspot.com/2020/06/visit-cry-beloved-country-palestinian.html

Get Ready for Anti-Semitism Smear Campaign 2.0 as Labour Condemns Israeli Invasion of Palestine

This is going to be a real test of Starmer’s leadership. It was not lost on left-wing Labour supporters, bloggers and activists that RLB’s sacking from the Labour shadow cabinet for alleged ‘anti-Semitism’ came just before Israel’s planned annexation of a third of the West Bank this Wednesday. For many of these true Labour people, the message was clear: Starmer had signed up to the Board of Deputies wretched 10 Pledges on Anti-Semitism, which meant that he was committed to suppressing any criticism of Israel and its barbarous and malign treatment of the Palestinians. Because when the British Jewish establishment – the Board of Deputies, Chief Rabbinate, Jewish Leadership Council and their satellites in the Labour Party – Labour Friends of Israel, the Jewish Labour Movement -say anti-Semitism, they really mean anti-Zionism.

The falsely named Campaign Against Anti-Semitism had precious little to say about real anti-Semitism, the vicious anti-Jewish hatred of the right and far right, which accounts for most the real anti-Semitic abuse and attacks in the UK. It was set up after the bombardment of Gaza to combat popular hostility to Israel, and most of its rantings were directed against Corbyn and its socialist critics. Ditto the equally wrongly named Jewish Labour Movement, whose members don’t have to be Jews or members of the Labour Party. This was founded from the moribund ashes of Paole Zion, again to defend Israel following a conversation its founder had with his friends in a cafe in Golders Green in 2012. And all of these organisations could be equally accused of anti-Semitism. They reserve their most bilious spleen for Jewish critics of Israel, whom they vilify as ‘Kapos’, ‘traitors’, ‘self-hating’ and worse. They are quite happy to see Jewish demonstrators against Israeli imperialism punched and beaten by the thugs of the Community Security Trust. And their supporters have a streak of racism a mile wide. After they attacked Jackie Walker for her stance on Israel, among the threatening and abusive messages she received were claims that she couldn’t be Jewish, because she was Black. This should be a new one to the Black Jewish communities in Ethiopia, and the Afro-Jewish peeps in America. An anti-racist friend of mine told me when I was studying Religious Education in college that one of Moses’ wives was a Cushite. Cush was a country in what is now Ethiopia, and Cushitic is a branch of the Afro-Asiatic language family, which includes the Semitic languages as well as Ancient Egyptian and the Berber tongues.

Now apparently the Board and Jewish press are preparing to kick off again. Lisa Nandy, one of the plotters against Corbyn, has dared to condemn the coming Israeli invasion of Palestine. According to a post just put up this morning by Zelo Street, Nandy has said:

“The proposal to unilaterally annex nearly a third of the West Bank is an illegal act which will undermine the prospect of a peaceful two-state solution for Israel and Palestine, and has serious implications for the stability of the Middle East”.

“It is a shameful proposition to which the UK cannot be a silent witness. Across the world concern is growing … So far the UK government has been conspicuously absent from this global response … This is now urgent. The government must be clear with the Israeli coalition government that concrete action will follow, including a ban on goods entering Britain from the illegal settlements in the West Bank”.

“This is a major step, but such a blatant breach of international law must have consequences. It will take a level of courage that so far ministers have not been willing to show”.

Morally and legally, Nandy is quite correct. Zelo Street has made it plain that the Israeli occupation of Palestinian territory is against international law under a series of United Nations resolutions passed after the 1967 Six Day War. But morality and international law counts for nothing where Israel is concerned. The Jewish Chronicle has published a piece by smear merchant Lee Harpin reporting that Marie van der Zyl has demanded that Starmer reject this proposal. She ranted “The tactic of BDS is divisive and seeks to strike at the very legitimacy of the State of Israel, the Middle East’s only democracy and the world’s only Jewish State”. Apologists for Israeli imperialism recite these tropes that its the Middle East’s only democracy and the world’s only Jewish state like its a mantra. As an argument against criticism, they have no validity. Israel’s an apartheid state where the indigenous Arabs are second-class residents, slowly being squeezed out by official Israeli expansionism. Israel cannot be considered genuinely democratic when institutionalized racism is enshrined in its law. Nor is it the Middle East’s only democracy. Lebanon is also democratic, though in a peculiar form which allocates certain roles in government to specific religions and ethnic groups in a system termed ‘consociality’. As for Israel being the world’s only Jewish state, that’s irrelevant. Israel’s actions would still be wrong and illegal regardless of the religion and ethnicity of its perpetrators.

As Zelo Street has pointed out, van der Zyl is really concerned about ‘BDS’ – the campaign to boycott goods produced in the Occupied Territories. The American government, both federal and state, has passed a series of legislation trying to outlaw the BDS movement as anti-Semitic. But a cursory glance should show that it is no such thing. It includes and has the staunch support of many self-respecting Jews, both observant and secular. It does not campaign against goods and services by Jews or even by Israel, just against goods produced in the Occupied Territories. It is against Israeli imperialism, not against Israel or Jews.

Nevertheless, the odious van der Zyl’s statement is a warning. If Starmer doesn’t do as she commands, they’ll start a fresh set of anti-Semitism allegations and smears. But the Street believes that Starmer is strong enough to defy them.

‘The problem that Ms van der Zyl faces, though, is that Keir Starmer does not bend to anyone else’s will. He did not hesitate to act last week, whatever the rights and wrongs of Rebecca Long Bailey’s actions, and he has already made up his mind on Palestine.

This is one game of Call My Bluff where Keir Starmer is not going to yield. End of story.’

I really wish that this is the case. Starmer has signed up to the Board’s wretched 10 Pledges, as they demanded, and got their patronising approval in return. But his sacking of Rebecca Long Bailey was an example of his weakness and willingness to comply with their demands, as Long Bailey was quite correct in her statement that it was the IDF who had trained the American police in the use of the knee-on-neck hold that killed George Floyd. But the truth, if it doesn’t make Israel look good, is always anti-Semitic to these horrors, and so they denounced her.

I hope Starmer stands firm and does not reprimand Nandy nor retract her demands. The organization in the weak position here is van der Zyl and the Board. But I fear he will, as he is also a member of the British establishment, and the British establishment as a whole backs Israel because of its role as a major agent of western influence and foreign policy in the Middle East.

I hope I’m wrong, but I can see this becoming very nasty very quickly. Starmer may well get the same treatment that was meted out to Corbyn. It’ll be very interesting to see if he stands up to them. And how his supporters will react when the weapon they used against Corbyn is now turned on them.

See: https://zelo-street.blogspot.com/2020/06/palestine-labour-and-call-my-bluff.html

Faith, Humor and Dutch Candy: A Palestinian Guide to Surviving Quarantine

Published by Anonymous (not verified) on Sat, 11/04/2020 - 12:26am in

Call it a ‘quarantine’, a ‘shelter-in-place’, a ‘lockdown’ or a ‘curfew’, we Palestinians have experienced them all, though not at all voluntarily.

Personally, the first 23 years of my life were lived in virtual ‘lockdown’. My father’s ‘quarantine’ was experienced much earlier, as did his father’s ‘shelter-in-place’ before him. They both died and were buried in Gaza’s cemeteries without ever experiencing true freedom outside of their refugee camp in Gaza.

Currently in Gaza, the quarantine has a different name. We call it ‘siege’, also known as ‘blockade’.

In fact, all of Palestine has been in a state of ‘lockdown’ since the late 1940s when Israel became a state and the Palestinian homeland was erased by Zionist colonialists with the support of their Western benefactors.

That lockdown intensified in 1967 when Israel, now a powerful state with a large army and strong allies, occupied the remaining parts of Palestine – East Jerusalem, the West Bank and the Gaza Strip.

Under this lockdown, the Palestinian freedom of movement was curtailed to the extent that Palestinians required permits from the Israeli military to leave the Occupied Territories or to return home, to move about from one town to the other, and, at times, to cross a single Israeli military checkpoint or a fortified wall.

In Palestine, we don’t call our imprisonment a lockdown, but a ‘military occupation’ and ‘apartheid’.

As for ‘shelter-in-place’, in Palestine, we have a different name for it. We call it a ‘military curfew’.

Since I was a child, I learned to listen intently to orders barked out by Israeli military officers as they swept through our refugee camp in Gaza declaring or easing military curfews. This ritual often happened late at night.

“People of Nuseirat, per orders of the Israeli military you are now under curfew. Anyone who violates orders will be shot immediately,” the terrifying words, always communicated through a loudspeaker in broken Arabic, were a staple during the First Palestinian Uprising (Intifada) of 1987.

Coronavirus Palestinians

Palestinians play a board game in a deserted Old City in Jerusalem, March 26, 2020. Mahmoud Illean | AP

The period between 1987 to 1993 was a virtual ‘lockdown’. Thousands of people, mostly children, were killed for failing to respect the rules of their collective imprisonment.

In Gaza, even when a full military curfew was not in place, we rarely left our small and crowded neighborhoods, let alone our refugee camps. We were all haunted by the fear that we may not be able to make it home by 8p.m., the time designated by the Israeli military for all of us to return home.

Every day, ten or fifteen minutes after the nightly curfew set in, we would hear the crackling and hissing of bullets as they whistled through the air from various distances. Automatically, we would conclude that some poor soul – a worker, a teacher, or a rowdy teenager – missed his chance by a few minutes, and paid a price for it.

Now that nearly half of the population of planet Earth are experiencing some form of ‘curfew’ or another, I would like to share a few suggestions on how to survive the prolonged confinement, the Palestinian way.

 

Think Ahead

Since we knew that a complete lockdown, or a military curfew, was always pending, we tried to anticipate the intensity and duration of it and prepare accordingly.

For example, when the Israeli army killed one or more refugees, we knew in advance that mass protests would follow, thus more killings. In these situations, a curfew was imminent.

Number one priority was to ensure that all family members congregated at home or stayed within close proximity so that they could rush in as fast as possible when the caravan of Israeli military jeeps and tanks came thundering, opening fire at anyone or anything within sight.

Lesson number one: Always think ahead and prepare for a longer lockdown than the initial one declared by your city or state.

 

Stay Calm

My father had a bad temper, although a very kind heart. When curfews were about to start, he would enter into a near-panic state. A chain smoker with obsessive, although rational fear that one of his five boys would eventually be killed, he would walk around the house in a useless rush, not knowing what to do next.

Typically, my mother would come in, rational and calculating. She would storm the kitchen to assess what basic supplies were missing, starting with the flour, sugar and olive oil.

Knowing that the first crackdown by the Israelis would be on water supplies and electricity, she would fill several plastic containers of water, designating some for tea, coffee and cooking, and others for dishes and washing clothes.

Per her orders, we would rush to the nearby stores to make small but necessary purchases – batteries for the flashlight and the transistor radio, cigarettes for my dad, and a few VHS videotapes which we would watch over and again, whether the curfew lasted for a few days or a few weeks.

Lesson number two: Take control of the situation – do not panic – and assign specific responsibilities to every family member. This strengthens the family unit and sets the stage for collective solidarity desperately required under these circumstances.

 

Preserve Your Water

I cannot emphasize this enough. Even if you think that a water crisis is not impending, do not take chances.

It is easy to feel invincible and fully prepared on the first day of quarantine – or military curfew. Many times, we lived to regret that false sense of readiness, as we drank too much tea or squandered our dishwashing water supplies too quickly.

In this case, you have a serious problem, especially during the summer months when you cannot count on rainwater to make up for the deficit.

Years after the end of the Intifada, my father revealed to us that many a time, him and mom used the rainwater they collected in buckets throughout the house, including the leaked roofs for our drinking supplies, even when there was no electricity or gas to boil the water beforehand.

Palestinians displaced by Israeli strikes wait to get water from portable tanks near a makeshift encampment behind Gaza's al-Shifa hospital, Saturday, July 26, 2014. (Joe Catron)

Palestinians displaced by Israeli airstrikes wait to get water from portable tanks near a makeshift encampment in Gaza, July 26, 2014. Photo | Joe Catron

In retrospect, this explains the many bouts of diarrhea we experienced, despite his assurances that they had painstakingly removed all bird droppings from the salvaged water.

Lesson number three: Cautiously use your water supplies during a quarantine, and never, under any circumstance, drink rainwater or, at least, keep diarrhea pills handy.

 

Ration Your Food

The same logic that applies to water applies to food. It goes without saying that any acquired food would have to cover the basics first. For example, flour, which we used to make bread, comes before bananas, and sugar, which we consumed abundantly with tea, comes before Dutch candy.

I made that mistake more than once, not because of my love for the imported Dutch candy which we purchased from Abu Sa’dad’s store, located in the center of the camp. The truth is, my brothers and I played a strange form of candy poker which kept us entertained for many hours. I dreaded running out of my precious supplies before the curfew was over, thus subjugating myself to potential humiliation of having to auction everything else I owned – including my small radio – to stay in the game.

My poor mother was devastated numerous times by the horrible choices we made when we rushed to buy ‘essentials’.

Lesson number four: Agree in advance on what classifies as ‘essential food’, and consume your food in a rational way. Also, if you are lucky enough to locate Dutch candy in whatever version of the Abu Sa’dad’s store, in your town, do not gamble it all in one day.

 

Find Sources of Entertainment

If electricity is still available, then you still have the option of watching television. For us, Indian movies, especially those starring Amitabh Bachchan, were the number one option. Imagine my disappointment when our beloved movie star, who helped us through numerous military curfews in Gaza, was photographed grinning with right-wing Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu during the latter’s visit to India in 2018.

If electricity is cut off, be ready with alternative options: books, free wrestling, living-room soccer (with the ball preferably made from stuffed-up socks contributed by all family members), and, of course, candy poker.

Lesson number five: The key is to have more than one form of entertainment and to be prepared for every eventuality, including power outages as a form of collective punishment.

 

Find the Humor in Grim Situations

Don’t focus on the negatives; there is no point or wisdom in that. Emphasizing the grimness of a situation can only contribute to the feeling of defeat and powerlessness that are already generated by the lockdown. There will be plenty of time in which you can look back, reflect, and even bemoan your unfortunate circumstance.

But, during the curfew itself is when you actually need your sense of humor most. Take things lightly – laugh at your miserable situation, if you must. Forgive yourself for not being perfect, for panicking when you should have been composed, or for forcing your younger brother to gamble his underwear when he runs out of Dutch candy.

Palestinians Coronvirus

A Palestinian boy standing on the rubble of a building lights a firework in Gaza City, May 13, 2019. Hatem Moussa | AP

Difficult situations can offer the kind of scenarios that can be interpreted in two extreme ways: either extremely tragic or extremely funny; opt for the latter whenever you can, because as long as you laugh, as long as your spirit remains unbroken, your humanity remains intact.

Lesson number six: Be funny, don’t take life too seriously, share a laugh with others, and let humor inject hope in every hour and every day of your quarantine.

 

Hold Tighter to Your Faith

Whether you are Muslim, Christian, Jewish, or any other faith; whether you are an atheist, agnostic, or practice any form of spirituality, philosophy or belief system, find comfort in your faith and beliefs.

Since all mosques in our refugee camp were shut down, if not raided during a military curfew, the call for prayer, which we heard five times during each day, was permanently silenced.

To keep the call for prayer going, we would sneak to the roof of our houses, carefully scan the area for any Israeli soldiers, and collectively make the call for prayer whenever it was required. Volunteers included my English teacher, who was communist and claimed that he did not believe in God, myself, and Nabil, the neighbor boy with the massive head and the most unpleasant voice.

In curfews, we developed a different relationship with God: He became a personal and more intimate companion, as we often prayed in total darkness, whispered our verses so very cautiously as not to be heard by pesky soldiers. And, even those who hardly prayed before the curfew kept up with all five prayers during the lockdown.

Lesson number seven: Let your values guide you during your hours of loneliness. And if you volunteer to make a call for prayer (or recite your religious hymns) please be honest with yourself: if you have no sense of rhythm or if your voice has the pitch of an angry alley cat, for God’s sake, leave the job to someone else.

 

In Conclusion

I hope that under no circumstances you will ever hear these ominous words: “You are now under curfew. Anyone who violates orders will be shot immediately.” I also hope that this COVID-19 quarantine will make us kinder to each other and will make us emerge from our homes better people, ready to take on global challenges while united in our common faith, collective pain and a renewed sense of love for our environment.

And when it’s all over, think of Palestine, for her people have been ‘quarantined’ for 71 years and counting.

Feature photo | Palestinian artist Samah Saed, decorates a protective face mask to encourage people to wear them as a precaution against the coronavirus, at a workshop in the Shijaiyah neighborhood of Gaza, , April 2, 2020. Adel Hana | AP

Ramzy Baroud is a journalist and the Editor of The Palestine Chronicle. He is the author of five books. His latest is “These Chains Will Be Broken: Palestinian Stories of Struggle and Defiance in Israeli Prisons” (Clarity Press, Atlanta). Dr. Baroud is a Non-resident Senior Research Fellow at the Center for Islam and Global Affairs (CIGA), Istanbul Zaim University (IZU). His website is www.ramzybaroud.net 

The post Faith, Humor and Dutch Candy: A Palestinian Guide to Surviving Quarantine appeared first on MintPress News.

Literary Authors on the Occupation of Palestine

Michael Chabon, ed., Kingdom of Olives and Ash: Writers Confront the Occupation (Fourth Estate 2017).

This is another book I found in the Postscript catalogue for April, 2020. It seems to be a collection of pieces by prominent western literary types dealing criticising the occupation of Palestine. The blurb for it runs

Edited in cooperation with Breaking the Silence, an NGO of former Israeli soldiers who served in the Occupied Territories, this collection of essays reflects on the human cost of 50 years of occupation, conflict and destruction in the West Bank and Gaza. The contributors include such celebrated international writers as Mario Vargas Llosa, Colm Toibin, Eimear McBride, Hari Kunzru, Dave Eggers and Rachel Kushner.

It’s usual price is £12.99, but they’re offering it at £4.99.

Michael Chabon’s the author of The Amazing Adventures of Kavalier and Clay, which seems to be a fictional version of the creation of the superhero comic by two Jewish lads in ’30s America. Which is how Superman started, and immediately became a massive success and icon of modern American popular culture. More recently, he’s the showrunner for Star Trek: Picard, the latest installment in the Star Trek franchise. This has been massively pilloried by fans because it has moved away from the Utopian optimism of Gene Roddenberry’s vision, to become dark and dystopian. It is also very heavy-handed in its treatment of contemporary politics, such as immigration, Donald Trump and Brexit. And it’s terribly written. But it seems that Chabon has done excellent work here in compiling this volume, with its contributions from some very prominent writers. Mario Vargas Llosa is a giant of South American literature, Colm Toibin is a favourite of the British and Irish literary landscape, as is Hari Kunzru, and Dave Eggers is another famous literary name.

As for Breaking the Silence, they’re one of the many Israeli groups against the country’s brutal maltreatment of the Palestinians, like the human rights organisation B’Tsalem, that Netanyahu has raged against and tried to silence. Because the extreme right-wing Israeli establishment, as it stands, really cannot tolerate criticism from Jews, even when they are Zionists and/or domestic citizens. They have to be monstrous autocrats like Netanyahu. Who I’ve heard described by one Jewish academic as ‘that bastard Netanyahu’. None of these writers are anti-Semites and the book seems to be a successor to previous volumes by historians, writers and personalities attacking the occupation of Palestine and the ethnic cleansing of the Palestinians. One of the Jewish voices condemning the bombardment of Gaza nearly a decade ago was the respected British thesp, Miriam Margolyes. She said she spoke ‘as a proud Jew, and as an ashamed Jew’. This lost her the friendship of Maureen Lipman, who has spent the last five years ranting about how anti-Semitic the Labour party is. She began spouting this nonsense back in 2015 or thereabouts when the-then leader of the Party, Ed Miliband, who is Jewish, utter some mild criticism of Israel and dared to take a few steps away from Blairism.

Books like these are necessary, and they do seem to have an effect. The woefully misnamed Campaign Against Anti-Semitism was set up in 2012 because the Zionist faction in Britain were worried about the bombardment of Gaza had resulted in Israel losing the support of many severely normal Brits. It’s why the organisation seems to spend its time and energy not on pursuing and attacking real anti-Semites and Fascists, but mostly left-wing critics of Israel.  It’s why the Israel lobby is trying to close down criticism of Israel worldwide through contrived definitions of anti-Semitism like that of the IHRA, which include criticism of Israel.

It’s great that books like this are still being published despite the efforts of the Israel lobby to silence their authors and the principled Israeli organisations that work with them. And it’s a disgusting scandal that, in 2020, they should still be crying out against this glaring injustice.

A Nightmare Scenario: Coronavirus in ‘Quarantined’ Gaza

Published by Anonymous (not verified) on Fri, 06/03/2020 - 1:00am in

What if the Coronavirus reaches the besieged Gaza Strip?

While the question carries great urgency for all Palestinians living under Israel’s military occupation, the situation in Gaza is particularly complex and extremely worrying.

Nearly 50 countries have already reported cases of COVID-19, one of several epidemics that are caused by the Coronavirus. If developed countries, such as Italy and South Korea, are struggling to contain the deadly virus, one can only imagine what occupied Palestinians would have to face should the virus strike.

In fact, according to official Palestinian reports, the Coronavirus has already reached Palestine following a visit by a South Korean delegation in the period between February 8 and 15, which included a tour in the major Palestinian cities of Jerusalem, Nablus, Jericho, Hebron, and Bethlehem.

The Palestinian Authority scrambled to contain the fallout of the news, which caused palpable panic among a population that has little faith in its leadership, to begin with. PA Prime Minister, Mohammad Shtayyeh, “hoped” that the “owners of the unknown facilities” would exercise personal responsibility and shut down their business and other establishments that are open to the public.

The PA Ministry of Health followed this by declaring a “state of emergency” in all hospitals under PA jurisdiction in the West Bank, designating a quarantine center near Jericho for those arriving from China and other areas that are hard hit by the Coronavirus.

For Palestinians however, fighting an outbreak of the Coronavirus is not a straightforward matter, even if the dysfunctional PA facilities follow the instructions of the World Health Organization (WHO) to the letter.

Gaza Coronavirus

A Palestinian boy stands in the doorway of a home on the outskirts of Khan Younis refugee camp, Gaza, May 23, 2019. (Hatem Moussa | AP

Palestinians are separated by an Israeli matrix of control that has excluded many communities behind large cement walls, military checkpoints, and impossible to navigate army ordinances that are inherently designed to weaken the Palestinian community and to ease the Israeli government’s mission of controlling Palestinians and colonizing their land.

What can the PA do to come to the aid of tens of thousands of Palestinians in the so-called ‘Area C’ of the occupied West Bank? This region is entirely under the control of the Israeli army, which has little interest in the welfare of the Palestinian inhabitants there.

Such questions would have to be considered in the context of what WHO refers to as “health inequalities” among Palestinians, on the one hand, and between Palestinians and privileged illegal Jewish settlers, on the other.

In some way, many Palestinian communities are already ‘quarantined’ by Israel, but for political, not medical reasons. An outbreak of the Coronavirus in some of these communities, especially the ones that are cut off from proper healthcare and well-equipped medical facilities, would prove disastrous.

The worst of fates, however, awaits Gaza, should the deadly and fast-spreading virus find its way from all directions through the hermetic siege, which engulfs this minuscule, but densely populated region.

Gaza, which is enduring its twelfth year of Israeli siege and is still reeling under the massive destruction of several Israeli wars, has already been declared “uninhabitable” by the United Nations.

However, the misery of Gaza never ceases to unfold. Not a single UN report on Gaza’s ailing medical facilities or preparedness for at least the last ten years has used any positive or even hopeful language.

Last March, UN Humanitarian Coordinator for the occupied Palestinian territory Mr. Jamie McGoldrick bemoaned Gaza’s “chronic power outages, gaps in critical services, including mental health and psychosocial support, and shortages of essential medicines and supplies.”

In January, the Israeli rights group. B’Tselem, spoke of an unprecedented health crisis in besieged Gaza, one that is not fueled by the Coronavirus or any other such epidemics but by the fact that Gaza’s barely functioning hospitals are desperately trying to deal with the fall-out of the thousands of injuries resulting from the ‘Great March of Return’ which has taken place on the Gaza side of the dividing fence.

B’Tselem has already reported on “the unlawful open-fire policy Israel is using against these demonstrations, allowing soldiers to shoot live fire at unarmed protesters who endanger no one, has led to horrific results.”

Palestine Portraits of the Wounded

Palestinians shot in the legs by Israeli forces await treatment at a Gaza clinic MSF Clinic. Felipe Dana | AP

The Israeli group cited moderate estimations provided by WHO that, by the end of 2019, Gaza physicians had to perform limb amputations on 155 protesters, a number that includes 30 children. This, in addition to dozens of protesters who have become permanently paralyzed because of spinal injuries.

This is only a small part of a much more multifaceted crisis. Not only measles and other highly contagious infectious diseases are finding their way back to Gaza, water-borne diseases are also spreading at an alarming rate.

97% of all of Gaza’s water is not fit for human consumption, according to the WHO, which begs the question: How could Gaza hospitals possibly confront the Coronavirus epidemic when, in some cases, clean water is not even available in Gaza’s largest hospital, Al-Shifa?

“Even when it is available, doctors and nurses are unable to sterilize their hands because of the water quality,” according to the RAND Corporation.

WHO director in Palestine, Gerald Rockenschaub, spoke assuredly about his meeting with PA Minister of Health, Mai Al-Kaila, in Ramallah on February 25, where they discussed the need for more  “preparedness measures” and “additional priority preparedness actions” in the West Bank and Gaza.

WHO also announced that it is “coordinating with local authorities in Gaza” to ensure the Strip’s preparedness to cope with the Coronavirus.

Such soothing language, however, masks an ugly reality, one that WHO and the entire United Nations have failed to confront over the course of a decade.

All previous reports on Gaza by WHO, while accurately detailing the problem, did little to diagnose its roots or to fashion a permanent solution to it. Indeed, Gaza’s hospitals are as dysfunctional as ever, Gaza’s water is as dirty as ever and, despite repeated warnings, the Strip is still unfit for human habitation, thanks to the brutal Israeli siege and to the silence of the international community.

The truth is, no amount of ‘preparedness’ in Gaza – or, frankly, anywhere in occupied Palestine – can stop the spread of the Coronavirus. What is needed is a fundamental and structural change that would emancipate the Palestinian healthcare system from the horrific impact of the Israeli occupation and the Israeli government’s policies of perpetual siege and politically-imposed ‘quarantines’ – also known as apartheid.

Feature photo | Palestinian children look out from their window in a section of a damaged apartment block, which was partially destroyed by Israel in 2014 in Beit Lahiya, Gaza. Hatem Moussa | AP

Ramzy Baroud is a journalist and the Editor of The Palestine Chronicle. He is the author of five books. His latest is “These Chains Will Be Broken: Palestinian Stories of Struggle and Defiance in Israeli Prisons” (Clarity Press, Atlanta). Dr. Baroud is a Non-resident Senior Research Fellow at the Center for Islam and Global Affairs (CIGA), Istanbul Zaim University (IZU). His website is www.ramzybaroud.net

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Imagining Return: Palestinians in Jordan’s Sprawling Refugee Camps Still Yearn for Home

Published by Anonymous (not verified) on Tue, 03/03/2020 - 3:00am in

Amman, Jordan — Abna’a Gaza (the Children of Gaza) is a status given to Palestinian refugees who fled from the Gaza Strip to Jordan in 1967. They fled during the 1967 war and consequent Israeli occupation of Gaza. Today, over five decades later, these Palestinians who originally fled to Gaza from their homes in greater Palestine in 1948 number 150,000. They remain mostly in camps, unable to leave, unable to work except for menial labor, with no access to healthcare and with no formal national identity.

 

The Larger Refugee Issue

Israel and the various other Zionist institutions have always claimed that the refugee problem has nothing to do with them. They offer all sorts of stories to explain the flight of close to one million Palestinians from their homes and land. Still, all the obfuscation in the world cannot change the fact that Zionist militias forced Palestinians out of Palestine in an attempt to establish a state with a clear – if not an absolute – Jewish majority.

In cities like Tabariya and Safad, in the north, in large stretches of land in the Naqab in the south, and in West Jerusalem, which became the capital city of Israel, the ethnic cleansing was so complete that not even one Palestinian family remained.

Now, over seven decades later, the Palestinian refugee population is estimated at around five million people. Banned from returning to their lands and homes, they live in squalor in refugee camps that quite often are only a few short miles from their original homes.

 

The Gaza Camp

Lying in Jordan’s rolling northern hills, Jerash is said to be one of the best kept ancient Roman cities outside of Italy. Much of the ancient ruins are still intact and they are an incredible sight to see. A few short miles from Jerash, however, lies the Palestinian refugee camp, Gaza Camp. It is an equally incredible sight to behold but for completely different reasons.

I visited the Gaza Camp for the first time in 2013 and then again in February 2020 and though some small changes were visible. By and large, the living conditions and the abject poverty remain the same. Forty thousand people live in this particular camp, which sits on about a quarter of a square mile.

Jerash Gaza refugee camp

Children stand in a doorway in the Jerash Gaza refugee camp, Feb. 2020. Photo | Miko Peled

The camp residents are all Abna’a Ghaza, an Arabic phrase meaning the sons of Gaza. All were turned into refugees in 1948 and sent to resettle in Gaza. Then, in 1967, they fled as Israeli forces occupied Gaza and were settled in this camp, where to this day they are forced to live this impossible reality.

During my visit to Gaza Camp, I visited the home of Umm Mohammed. She lives in a small house with several rooms with her children and grandchildren. The house is made of cinder block and tin and is freezing cold. The children run around barefoot and resources are scarce. The local camp school has six thousand students who attend in two shifts. The boys and girls take turns, each month switching shifts.

Umm Mohammad hails from a village near the city of Bir-a-Saba in the Naqab Desert. Today, the city is called Be’er Sheva and the desert has been renamed the Negev. Some say that in Jordan alone there are close to one million refugees from the city of Bir-a-Saba. Umm Mohamad was 13 in 1948 when Zionist forces expelled her family. “I was 13,” she recounted, “we left on a caravan of camels.” She went on to tell us that “the Jews committed a massacre, killing people in their sleep.”

Jerash Gaza refugee camp

A street in Jerash’s Gaza refugee camp, Feb. 8, 2017, Raad Adayleh | AP

 

Imagining Return

Zochrot means “remembering” in Hebrew. It is also the name of an NGO “working since 2002 to promote acknowledgment and accountability for the ongoing injustices of the Nakba, the Palestinian catastrophe of 1948 and the reconceptualization of the Return as the imperative redress of the Nakba and a chance for a better life for all the country’s inhabitants.”

Zochrot is dedicated to keeping the memories of destroyed Palestinian towns and villages alive by providing information, action on the ground and tours throughout historic Palestine. Zochrot also operates a website chock full of articles, studies, testimony and a wealth of other valuable information on all issues regarding historic Palestine.

The organization recently launched a campaign called “Choosing to remember – voting for return,” to encourage Israeli citizens to remember Palestinian refugee issues during the March 2 Israeli elections. A post made on Zochrot’s Facebook page to promote the campaign (accessible by clicking “see more” on the post’s caption) reads in part:

Tomorrow, Israel’s citizens will vote for the third time within a year. Once again, the most important and critical issues in our lives here are not part of the agenda or platforms of the Zionist parties. Recognizing the Nakba, including the crimes of 1948 and the ongoing Nakba, is not proposed by any party. Recognizing the right of return and a practical plan for the return of refugees are not even discussed.
The political system and society in Israel continue to deny and erase these issues.”

We choose to remember the crimes of the Nakba, remind Israeli society of them and make them visibly present everywhere, at every opportunity, and oppose their erasure. We vote for the return of Palestinian refugees and view this return as an opportunity to liberate ourselves of the colonialist mindset and practices that define Israeli politics.”

عربى⏬ English מחר, אזרחיות ואזרחי ישראל ילכו למערכת בחירות שלישית תוך שנה ושוב, הנושאים החשובים והמהותיים ביותר לחיינו…

Posted by ‎Zochrot / זוכרות / ذاكرات‎ on Sunday, March 1, 2020

As Israel and the United States presented the latest version of a plan to bring Palestinians surrender, known colloquially as the Deal of the Century, the approach of Zochrot presents a real alternative. In the current political climate, discussing the Palestinian right of return in practical terms while demanding it on all political platforms will create the polarization needed to distance those who seek justice and peace from those who wish to continue to spill innocent blood.

 

Funding Crimes

Jordan’s Gaza camp is no more than an hour’s drive from the country’s border with Palestine. Most, if not all the inhabitants, came from the Naqab. In other words, these refugees could all be home, in their country and on their land in less than a three-hour drive. Israel, of course, would never allow that to happen.

Palestinian refugee camp

A group of boys pose at the Gaza camp just three hours from their ancestral home in Palestine. Photo | Miko Peled

Walking through the camp, poverty is rampant. Small projects lie in various states of completion, donated by various NGOs here and there, one to pave a road, another to refurbish the school. One cannot help but think of the four billion dollars the United States gives Israel each year. Israel is a wealthy country and has no need for foreign aid, yet Palestinians in refugee camps are living in abject poverty. Yet the U.S., Germany and other countries constantly contribute to its wealth while ignoring and even perpetuating the poverty inflicted upon Palestinians.

A strong Israeli state has guaranteed that Palestinians remain poor and hopeless. Imagine reversing the roles. Imagine what three or four billion dollars per year could do to repatriate and compensate Palestinian refugees and ensure a better future for all who live in historic Palestine. As the Zochrot slogan says, “Imagine Return.”

Feature photo | A Palestinian man poses in the Gaza Palestinian refugee camp of Jerash in northern Jordan. Raad Adayleh | AP

Miko Peled is an author and human rights activist born in Jerusalem. He is the author of “The General’s Son. Journey of an Israeli in Palestine,” and “Injustice, the Story of the Holy Land Foundation Five.”

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Viral Video Exposes Israeli Practice of Holding and Desecrating Palestinian Bodies

Published by Anonymous (not verified) on Wed, 26/02/2020 - 3:09am in

Jerusalem, Palestine — The Israeli public relations machine is once again making attempts to obfuscate and justify the actions of its army along the Gaza fence. The Gaza Strip, which holds two million Palestinians captive without access to clean water, food or medical supplies, is also subjected to ongoing military attacks by the Israeli army. Though it is impossible to judge which of the countless crimes the state of Israel has committed is the cruelest, some stand out more than others. One particularly horrific crime committed on the morning of Sunday, February 23, 2020, was caught on camera. It is an expression of unspeakable cruelty by the Israeli military, which shows total disdain towards the lives and dignity of the Palestinian people.

After clashes near Khan Yunis in the Gaza Strip that left one young Palestinian dead, the Israeli army, likely under orders from the Minister of Defense, a sadistic war criminal by the name of Naftali Bennett, was determined to pick up the body and prevent the slain young man’s friends from taking it with them. The military sent in an Israeli army bulldozer accompanied by a Merkava tank to pick up the body.

The young man’s friends made several attempts to save the body from the bulldozer but were not successful and had to run for fear that they too would be shot and killed. The bulldozer had a difficult time picking up the body and made several attempts, all the while crushing and pushing it back and forth on the sand. When at last the driver was able to pick it up, it had one of the teeth of the bulldozer lift the body by its shirt, the feet dangling in the air, and this was how the body was taken away. Along the way, parts of the lower body were torn off by the bulldozer’s chains.

Though I would not suggest that anyone view this horror show, the video is available and was posted on Twitter and other social media platforms.

In a tweet replying to criticism, the Israeli Defense Minister said he was tired of criticism from the left, that Hamas was holding on to the bodies of Israeli soldiers and he added, “I give my full backing to the army which eliminated the terrorists and took the body.”

 

Holding Bodies

It was around 2006 or 2007 during a visit to a friend in Ramallah that I first learned of Israel’s practice of keeping the bodies of slain Palestinians. We were driving together through the city when we saw a parade of cars honking and waving Palestinian and Fateh flags. I asked my friend what this was and he said it looked like a celebration for the release of a prisoner. However, he was puzzled because he hadn’t heard of any prisoner releases that were taking place that day.

My friend went to ask what the celebration was about and when he returned to the car he told me. Israel had just released the body of a slain Palestinian to his family. The body was held for twenty years. It took me a while to digest that information and get over the shock, though one can never quite recover from knowing things like this take place.

Israel holding bodies

Mourners carry the bodies of Palestinians teens held by Israeli troops before being released in Hebron, Oct. 30, 2015. Nasser Shiyoukhi | AP

Kibbutz Zikkim sits just a few short miles north of the Gaza Strip on the Mediterranean coast. In fact, much of the land on which the kibbutz sits used to belong to people who are now living as refugees in the Gaza Strip. Last time I was there I went to the kibbutz cemetery, a peaceful plot of land with a beautiful view of the Mediterranean. Along the way, I saw another plot, not far from the cemetery but outside its boundaries. There were little signs with numbers stuck in the ground a few meters apart. When I asked about it, my host pointed out that this area was leased to the army. The army uses it to bury the bodies of Palestinians that it decides to keep, some were taken already dead, others died while in the hand of the Israeli authorities. The cemetery in Zikkim, I later learned, was only one of several such makeshift cemeteries across the country.

 

The Family

Viewing the footage and reading the accounts of what took place, one cannot help but think of the family and friends of 27-year-old Mohammed Al-Naem, hanging from an Israel bulldozer after he was shot dead by Israeli soldiers. Clearly, Israeli authorities see no need for compassion, dignity or respect when it comes to the lives of Palestinians. Brutality is a sign of strength, or so they believe, and the Minister of Defense and his supporters claim with pride that this was a victory.

Mohamad’s mother, Mirvat who saw the images of Mohammed’s lifeless body being carried away by the bulldozer, images that have caused widespread outrage, has demanded its swift return for burial. She spoke about what it was like to see her son killed and then treated in such a horrible manner. His wife, Hiba talked about their son, only one year old, who will grow up without a father. She said she will not watch the video, and one cannot blame her for that decision.

Several images were drawn of the event, and comparisons are being made between the killing and mistreatment of Mohammad and that of Rachel Corry, who was run over and killed by an Israeli bulldozer also in the Gaza Strip.

Feature photo | In this frame grab from video, an Israeli military vehicle removes the body of a Palestinian after he was shot and killed by soldiers, along the Gaza-Israel border, Feb. 23, 2020. Photo | AP

Miko Peled is an author and human rights activist born in Jerusalem. He is the author of “The General’s Son. Journey of an Israeli in Palestine,” and “Injustice, the Story of the Holy Land Foundation Five.”

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Netanyahu “Optimistic” Israel Can Use Political Pressure To Shut Down ICC War Crimes Probe

Published by Anonymous (not verified) on Thu, 20/02/2020 - 3:14am in

TEL AVIV — Since the International Criminal Court (ICC) announced it would investigate war crimes committed by Israel in the Gaza Strip and occupied West Bank last December, Israel’s Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has been attempting to rally Israel’s allies in a multilateral effort to stop the ICC’s probe.

Those efforts have now left Netanyahu “optimistic,” with the embattled Prime Minister reportedly telling members of his cabinet that Israel’s efforts to lobby other countries against the ICC case is paying off, according to a recent report published by Reuters. “We are struggling against this [proceeding] and, at our side, I must say, are many friends around the world [which] joined the U.S. in a steadfast stand alongside Israel,” Reuters quoted Netanyahu as saying.

Those other friendly countries aside from the United States include Brazil, Hungary, Austria, Germany, the Czech Republic, and Australia, all of which have applied to file legal opinions with the ICC over its decision to investigate Israeli war crimes in occupied Palestine as part of an effort to prevent the ICC probe from proceeding as planned.

These legal opinions are likely to echo claims already made by both the U.S. and Israel that the court has no jurisdiction over Gaza or the West Bank due to the absence of a sovereign Palestinian state, as Palestine is currently subjected to Israeli military law in the West Bank and a crippling blockade in the case of the Gaza Strip. Neither Israel nor the U.S. are ICC member states while Palestine became a member state in 2015.

This legal argument has been directly disputed by the Organization for Islamic Cooperation (OIC), which is comprised of 57 Muslim-majority countries and has argued that Palestinians do have sovereignty over the West Bank and Gaza Strip. 

Another likely ally of Israel in opposing and sabotaging the ICC probe is the United Kingdom, as the recently-elected Conservative government has moved to strengthen the country’s ties to Israel even more by promoting anti-boycott laws targeting Palestinian rights activists, among other measures. One U.K. pro-Israel lobby group, the Conservative Friends of Israel (CFI), has close ties to the current U.K. government and has openly called for U.K. leadership to oppose the ICC investigation into Israel’s war crimes.

 

Weaponizing Antisemitism 

Netanyahu’s frenzied yet behind-the-scenes lobbying efforts to halt the ICC probe suggests that the probe greatly worries Israel at a time when Netanyahu has linked his reelection bid to the annexation of the vast majority of Palestine’s West Bank, an act that would be flagrantly illegal under international law. In fact, the move would be so illegal under international law that Israel’s Attorney General’s office warned Netanyahu that doing so would be “indefensible” in front of the ICC and would open up top Israeli officials to prosecution.

Since the probe was announced in December, Netanyahu has not only heavily lobbied allied countries to oppose the ICC’s efforts, but he has also used a stream of attacks against both the ICC and its chief prosecutor, Fatou Bensouda, in an effort to discredit the probe by means of character assassination. 

For instance, Netanyahu claimed in late December that “new edicts are being cast against the Jewish people – anti-Semitic edicts by the International Criminal Court telling us that we, the Jews standing here next to this wall … in this city [Jerusalem], in this country, have no right to live here and that by doing so, we are committing a war crime (emphasis added).” 

However, what Netanyahu failed to note is that the ICC investigation is not related to Zionism or Israel’s “right to exist,” but instead its use of military force in Palestine in ways that violate international law as well as the growing presence of Israeli settlements in the West Bank, themselves illegal under international law. Fatou Bensouda responded to Netanyahu’s charges of anti-Semitism as “particularly regrettable” and “without merit” in a subsequent interview with The Times of Israel.

Netanyahu’s concern over the probe could also be found within the recent “Deal of the Century” that was created by the Trump administration in conjunction with Israel’s Netanyahu-led government, as that deal would require Palestinians to “dismiss all pending actions” before the ICC that are related to Israel. Surprisingly, that aspect of the so-called “peace deal” went largely unreported after the deal was revealed late last month.

The creation of the plan was largely overseen by President Trump’s son-in-law, Jared Kushner, who also boasts close personal ties to Netanyahu. Kushner told Palestinians to “take a cold shower” and accept the plan so they don’t “screw up,” he said, like with “every other opportunity that they’ve ever had in their existence.”

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