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Life Under Seige: The Blockade on Gaza Turns Fourteen and Is Still as Illegal as Ever

Published by Anonymous (not verified) on Thu, 17/09/2020 - 5:22am in

As the coronavirus pandemic has dominated the headlines for the past few months, it could be easy to miss the news that the Gaza Strip has quietly entered its fourteenth year under an Israeli blockade. The humanitarian ramifications of that blockade cannot be understated, with Israel controlling Gazans from the high seas, the air, and the ground. Even underground and underwater.

With no foreseeable end in sight, the blockade has been on the radar of the United Nations and human rights groups for over a decade. Commissioner-General of the United Nations Relief and Works Agency (UNRWA) for Palestine, Pierre Krahenbuhl, stated that the blockade of Gaza is the “longest in history.” He made those comments seven years ago, and the length of the siege has since doubled with no end in sight.

The International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) declared the blockade a clear violation of international humanitarian law ten years ago, and the UN Human Rights Council (UNHRC) called on Israel to lift the embargo in 2008.

Other globally respected groups have described it as a “violation of the rules of war (2009)”; “collective punishment (2008),” “unacceptable suffering (2010),” and “possible crime against humanity (2009).”

Yet, despite worldwide pressure – and despite the coronavirus – Israel’s brutal blockade continues – made possible in part with collaboration from the United States.

In the years before the Trump administration, UNRWA, which cares for the 1.4 million Palestinian refugees residing in Gaza, was heavily funded by the U.S. Trump ended that funding in 2018. The U.S. also provides over $3.8 billion in military aid to Israel and consistently vetoes any UN Security Council resolutions that would condemn Israel and potentially curb human rights abuses and violations on international law in Gaza.

Fourteen years of deprivation from the most basic necessities for human survival is a long time. That reality is especially acute for the children of Gaza, who, born under siege, know no other life.

 

A young Gazan rapper tells it like it is

Abdel Rahman al Shanti, 11-year-old Gazan rapping sensation, wants the outside world to know, “we are children, supposed to be like the other children.” The lyrics of his songs, “Peace” and “Gaza Messenger,” recount his young life under blockade and war:

I was born in Gaza City and the first thing I heard was a gunshot. In my first breath, I tasted gunpowder…”

I am here to tell you our lives are hard. We got broken streets and bombs in the yard.”

Other children add their stories to Abdel Rahman’s.

 

In sickness

Israel granted 7,000 medical travel permits for minors in 2018 – but less than 2,000 for parents. The math is not hard to do: more children travel without parents than with them.

Physicians for Human Rights reports that, in some cases, Israel blackmails parents, demanding they become informants in exchange for permission to cross the border.

Miral, age ten, for example, got permission to travel to Nablus in the West Bank for chemotherapy – but her parents were denied. Miral died without them.

Gaza Blockade

A man and his 18-month-old daughter, who suffers from cancer, await permission to cross Israel’s Erez checkpoint from Jebaliya, Gaza. Tsafrir Abayov | AP

Five-year-old Aisha had a brain tumor. Due to Israel’s restrictions, her parents could not even apply to accompany her to Jerusalem for treatment; it would take three weeks for Israel to do a background check on Aisha’s grandmother. She went with a stranger. She died alone.

Louay is three. His mother was permitted to accompany him to Nablus for cancer treatment only after dozens of newspapers carried his story and pressured Israel.

Ill children who stay in Gaza have parents by their side, but often second-rate medical care: due to Israel’s protracted blockade, medical facilities in the enclave are severely lacking in medicine and supplies; equipment is in disrepair, and electricity is intermittent.

Israel itself may be responsible for some cases of childhood cancer, as it used experimental weapons against Gaza’s civilian population in 2008-2009. Cancer among Gazan children has increased by 41 percent since that time.

 

Snipers

Wisal was fourteen when she went to the Gaza border with Israel on May 14, 2018. She participated in the nonviolent protest against the United States embassy move to Jerusalem – a move that angered and disappointed every Palestinian. Opposite the demonstrators were Israeli sharpshooters.

She was among the sixty Gazans killed that day, ten of which were children. A total of forty-six children (and several hundred adults) were killed by Israeli sniper fire during twenty months of nonviolent protests in Gaza, 2018-2019. The weekly demonstrations called attention to Israel’s blockade and refusal to allow Palestinian refugees to return to their homes.

Many of the over 8,800 children and more than 27,000 adults injured during the protests were shot with expanding bullets that “pulverize the bone,” a war crime.

 

Childhood canceled

Gazan children living under the Israeli blockade lack much that others take for granted. Israel has banned the import of many basic items to the enclave. The list of prohibited items changes occasionally, but not by much.

Rights groups report that Gazan children have had to do without toys, crayons, blankets, candy, and cookies. Also blocked have been meat, pasta, spices, and heaters, as well as wood, cement, and plaster to repair thousands of homes damaged or destroyed during the three military incursions by Israel.

Gazan children have battled malnutrition for years; suicide among the young is becoming an epidemic.

 

Why the blockade?

Israel’s official reason for enforcing the crushing blockade on Gaza: Hamas rockets. Israel repeats this mantra year after year but adds neither context nor detail.

In fact, Hamas is Gaza’s duly elected political party – a self-declared party of resistance to occupation, in contrast with Fatah, which Gazans consider complicit with Israel.

Gazan resistance groups began firing rockets in 2001 in response to Israeli invasions that killed scores of Palestinian civilians. Thousands more Palestinians have been killed since.

Gazan rockets, in contrast, have killed a total of approximately 40 Israelis in almost twenty years.

The people of the Palestinian territories have a recognized right under international law to resist their occupier – including armed resistance.

Many Gazan adults feel an obligation to resist Israel for the sake of their children. They are hoping against hope.

Feature photo | A young boy waits for customers at a grocery store in the Shati refugee camp, in Gaza City, Aug. 27, 2020. Adel Hana | AP

Kathryn Shihadah writes for MintPress News and If Americans Knew. She speaks regularly about the injustice and demonization Palestinians face at the hands of Israel with complicity from the United States, especially to Christian audiences. Kathryn has lived in the Middle East for ten years and has traveled extensively. She blogs at PalestineHome.org.

The post Life Under Seige: The Blockade on Gaza Turns Fourteen and Is Still as Illegal as Ever appeared first on MintPress News.

Israeli Human Rights Group Highlights How Israel Makes Fishing in Gaza Deadly

Published by Anonymous (not verified) on Tue, 15/09/2020 - 4:51am in

The Gaza Strip, just six miles wide, boasts a twenty-five-mile coastline on the Mediterranean Sea. Fishing is a natural industry in such a location and as recently as 2000, was a lucrative business for ten thousand Gazans. Today, only about 3,700 remain in the fishing trade – and about ninety-five percent of these live below the poverty line, with little hope of improvement.

On September 9, Israeli human rights watchdog B’Tselem released a report on the fishing industry in Gaza. It describes the plight-within-a-plight of Palestinians trying to eke out a living during a pandemic and under a hostile Israeli blockade. The report includes testimony given to B’Tselem field researcher Olfat al-Kurd by the wives and mothers of Gazan fishermen, including the story of Ahmad, whose twelve-hour workdays bring in under $150 a month.

As is the reality with most elements of Palestinian life under Israeli occupation, the greatest challenge in Gaza’s fishing industry is not the whether, or fluctuations in the market – it’s simply living to fish another day.

 

How far is too far?

At this moment, Gazan fishermen are permitted by Israel to venture fifteen nautical miles off of Gaza’s coast to ply their trade. But the situation is “fluid,” and can change without warning – as it did on August 12 when Israeli military officials issued a directive that “immediately” reduced the fishing zone from fifteen miles to eight, the official reason given were the so-called incendiary balloons launched from Gaza into Israel. Four days later, the sea was completely off-limits to Gazans and remained that way for over two weeks.

Palestinian police officers sit in a small boat as they pass near an Israeli naval vessel

Palestinian police pass an Israeli naval vessel as they search for the body of a fisherman killed by the Israeli Navy near Rafah.

One organization cataloged twenty changes in the fishing boundaries in 2019 alone – four of those were complete closures. At times, fishermen don’t know where the boundaries are until Israeli soldiers start shooting at them.

The Oslo Accords, an agreement signed by both Israel and the Palestinian leadership in 1993, places Gaza’s fishing perimeter at twenty miles offshore, only 10 percent of what some experts believe Palestine could claim as its Exclusive Economic Zone.

In the twenty-seven years since Oslo was signed, Israel has rarely allowed fishing beyond twelve nautical miles.

 

Tyranny at sea

As the Israeli Navy patrols the sea surrounding Gaza, it is in daily breach of multiple international laws.

B’Tselem recounts an interview with Nura, whose family has had three fishing boats confiscated; ‘Ula’s family has lost two boats and four motors. The women disclosed that Israel frequently holds the boats for years; motors are often never seen again – a practice that violates international law. Over the years, hundreds of boats have been impounded.

The Israeli military also detains and imprisons fishermen for allegedly sailing outside of the boundaries they impose, as was the case in 2017 with Intesar’s son, Khader disappeared after embarking on a fishing trip. Ten days later, his family discovered that he’d been arrested and sentenced to sixteen months in an Israeli prison for fishing outside of the acceptable range “several times.” Last year, Khader would disappear again – this time he’d been shot in the head, and was located in an Israeli hospital.

Gaza Fisherman

Mourners carry the body of fisherman Tawfiq Abu Riala, 32, shot and killed by Israeli naval forces off the coast of Gaza. Khalil Hamra | AP

Live fire in the absence of an immediate threat to human life is standard operating procedure for the Israeli military and is a breach of international law. Israeli human rights organization Gisha reported nearly one thousand such live-fire incidents at sea between 2010 and 2017, resulting in five deaths.

Zakaria Bakr, head of the Fishermen’s Union in Gaza, explains another Israeli policy that adds insult to injury: Israel’s blockade, now in its thirteenth year, “bans almost everything we need to maintain our boats,” including engines, spare parts, fiberglass, and rope. Fishing boats that escape confiscation and gunfire are still vulnerable, and half of Gaza’s registered fishermen are unable to go out because their boats are in disrepair.

The very presence of the Israeli military, controlling Palestinians, amounts to de facto occupation. While the Israeli government insists that it “disengaged” when Israel left Gaza, in reality, it is fully “engaged” – only now from outside the borders. Israel controls Gaza’s land boundaries and all exits, its airspace, and the sea, and administers all importing and exporting of goods.

Perhaps the most flagrant offense of all lies in Israel’s motive for harassing and disrupting fishermen. As Israeli leaders have made clear time and time again, the expanding and contracting fishing boundaries are an attempt to punish all of Gaza for the “transgression” of the few who dare to stand in defiance of Israeli oppression. In reality, international law recognizes the right of an occupied population to resist its occupier, including via armed resistance.

When, for example, militants release incendiary balloons or rockets, or when Palestinians in the West Bank “act out,” fishermen in Gaza (and their families and clients) pay for it. This is a form of collective punishment, a violation of the Fourth Geneva Convention.

 

Compounding hardships

The life of a fishing family, like most lives in Gaza, if often fixated on making ends meet. Nura Nu’man, a mother of two from a-Shati’ Refugee Camp whose husband Muamen is a fisherman, lamented to B’Tselem, “My life revolves around loans and debts.” The vast majority of fishermen live on less than $4.60 a day, forcing them to make tough choices, like whether to risk going out to sea during a sea closure or asking their children to drop out of school.

Even when there is a good catch, Gazans can’t afford to buy fish like they used to – especially during the coronavirus. If fish are left at the end of the day, constant power outages due to Israel’s blockade on the fuel needed to power generators make it impossible to keep them refrigerated for sale the next morning.

Gaza Fisherman

Fishermen display fish for sale after a night long fishing trip, in Gaza, Jan. 17, 2020. Hatem Moussa | AP

Then there is the emotional toll. Intesar, a mother of six from a-Shati’ Refugee Camp, described her young grandchildren’s make-believe fishing trip in which they warned each other to “watch out for gunfire”; ‘Ula’s children suffer from anxiety. No one wants the next generation to take up their fathers’ trade, but options are limited in the closed economy.

 

Collusion

Israel has been censured by countless human rights groups and hundreds of United Nations reprimands over its human rights abuses of  Palestinians in Gaza. One troubling UN report warned that unless Israel changes its policies, Gaza would become “unlivable” by 2020. B’Tselem pointed out that “rather than change its policies…Israel has made them stricter and the situation has deteriorated,” adding that “Israel could change this stifling reality right now. Instead, it chooses to force Gaza residents to live in a state of poverty, stagnation, and hopelessness.”

The United States for its part continues to fund the Israeli government to the tune of $10 million a day in military aid and both houses of Congress remain obsessed with supporting and bankrolling Israel at every opportunity – although Americans as a whole are strongly in favor of conditioning such aid. The House has even managed to ignore a bill to protect Palestinian children from being tortured on the dime of American taxpayers.

There is, however, evidence of a changing tide in support for Israel, especially among Democrats. But Israel-firsters are pushing back hard and until the voices for justice are louder than voices for unconditional support for Israel, the United States will be complicit in the slow death of Palestinians.

When Gaza’s allies cry, “They have no fish,” Americans are responding, “let them eat cake.”

Feature photo | A Palestinian fisherman fixes a fishing net after a night fishing trip, in the Gaza Seaport, Sept. 3, 2020. Khalil Hamra | AP

Kathryn Shihadah writes for MintPress News and If Americans Knew. She speaks regularly about the injustice and demonization Palestinians face at the hands of Israel with complicity from the United States, especially to Christian audiences. Kathryn has lived in the Middle East for ten years and has traveled extensively. She blogs at PalestineHome.org.

The post Israeli Human Rights Group Highlights How Israel Makes Fishing in Gaza Deadly appeared first on MintPress News.

Decades of Land Grabs Betray Israel’s “Terror Balloon” Justification for Latest War on Gaza

Published by Anonymous (not verified) on Fri, 28/08/2020 - 2:15am in

Incendiary balloons, or as Israel calls them, “terror balloons,” have been part of the Gazan resistance toolkit since 2018, and a frequent sight in the skies in the last few weeks.

Palestinians fashion these “weapons of grass destruction” from everyday materials, tie them to gasoline-soaked rags or perhaps a homemade explosive, then ignite and release them when the wind is blowing to the east. Sometimes the contraptions land on Israeli farmland or forests and cause fires. Occasionally a balloon lands in a populated area.

The incendiary balloons have never killed or injured anyone; in the 19 years that rockets have been launched out of Gaza, about 30 Israelis have been killed – the last one was 15 months ago.


A so-called terror balloon carrying an incendiary device drifts across the Gaza border border, Aug. 24, 2020. Ariel Schalit | AP

Gaza’s resistance groups have also fired a handful of rockets in recent days. Yet these balloons and rockets have brought massive attacks by Israeli warplanes and tanks every night for the last two weeks and Israel’s propaganda industry is now setting up “terror balloons” as a rationale for another major incursion into Gaza.

But just like the last three major conflicts between Israel and Gaza’s Hamas leadership, Israel’s stated motive – to stop the projectiles – conceals its long-term ambition: more land with fewer Palestinians.

The Palestinians behind the balloons have a goal too. In the words of Ahmed Abu Artema, a writer who lives in Gaza and organizer of the Great March of Return,

These youths, crushed by the Israeli occupation and deprived of their fundamental rights, still feel the urge to scream at their jailers. They want to make noise so that they do not die in silence.”

 

Gaza’s grievances

Gaza has suffered under a punishing blockade since 2013 – a form of collective punishment, forbidden under international law. Peaceful protesters and resistance groups have been pressuring Israel to lift, or at least loosen the blockade, but with little success.

Israel has a long list of “prohibited” items that changes slightly from time to time, but not by much. It has included food items like flour, yeast, rice, salt, and sugar; sanitary items like soap, toothpaste, toilet paper, and diapers; school supplies like textbooks, writing paper, and pens; and other staples, including blankets, light bulbs, clothing, seeds, and fishing rods.

Hamas, the elected government of Gaza, is demanding that Israel relax the restrictions on imports, reinstate the twenty-nautical-mile fishing zone required by the Oslo Accords (Israel currently forbids any fishing off of Gaza’s coast), opening of the commercial crossing to let certain necessary, but banned goods in; and opening the pedestrian crossing to allow Gazan laborers to enter Israel.

Ultimately, Gazans are demanding the lifting of the entire blockade.

 

The Israeli response

Israel sees the balloons as another form of Palestinian terrorism and has responded with its usual harsh rhetoric and disproportionate military action.

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu frames the situation as an Iran problem – fueling his ongoing push to war with that country. “95% of these threats [to Israel] come from Iran,” he said, “I want to make clear to all of Iran’s proxies, including Gaza – there will be a heavy price to the balloon terror.”

In addition to nightly bombings, Israel has closed the single commercial border crossing where food and fuel enter the Gaza Strip; the enclave’s only power plant has consequently shut down, leaving the enclave’s two million residents with less than four hours of electricity a day. Israel has also halted all fishing in the Mediterranean Sea.


An explosion from an Israeli airstrike is seen in a heavily-populated residential neighborhood in Gaza City, Aug. 18, 2020. Adel Hana | AP

And Israeli leaders indicate a willingness to go to war if necessary, vowing violence “in multiples” of the last incursion – which, in 2014, killed 2,200 Palestinians and 83 Israelis.

Israel’s recent threats and attacks predate the use of so-called “terror balloons,” by Palestinian activists, suggesting the most recent bout of violence is not about rockets and balloons, but about land, preferably without people.

 

Gaza: total destruction

Israel may not have its sights set on annexing Gaza, but as Palestinian American attorney and activist Noura Erakat explained in a 2016 editorial for The Nation,

Israel does not have a Hamas problem; it does not have a Gaza problem; it has a Palestine problem.”

The airstrikes of the last two weeks are a familiar sight to Gazans. Israel has initiated three major wars on the Strip in the last twelve years, killing a total of about 4,000 Palestinians; less than 100 Israelis were killed during the same period.

During the 2014 conflict, the Obama administration authorized Israel to replenish its weapon supply from a stockpile the U.S. keeps in Israel – this in addition to the $3.8 billion in yearly military aid that the U.S. gives to the country.

The Electronic Intifada reported that, at a bare minimum, Israel used 39,000 tank shells, 34,000 artillery shells, and 4.8 million bullets against a virtually unarmed Gazan population of 1.8 million, packed into an area the size of Detroit.

By the end of the fifty-day war, almost half a million Gazans had been displaced, 20,000 homes and 250 schools destroyed or severely damaged, as well as infrastructure decimated.

That scale of destruction is what Netanyahu is now threatening to repeat.

 

Gaza: daily hardships

In between wars, Gazans face constant adversity at the hands of Israel. Children die alone when parents are not allowed to accompany them for cancer treatments; thousands live with permanent disabilities and amputations after being hit with sniper fire; hundreds of more families deal with death, and one million are on the edge of starvation and illness.

Over one-third of the agricultural land in Gaza has been appropriated by Israel as a “buffer zone.” Israel regularly sprays the area with herbicides to keep it clear – and the wind frequently carries the chemicals well beyond, poisoning Palestinian crops and bodies – and fundamental human rights.

Gaza is tiny and crowded – but much of the Palestinian West Bank is fertile, and Palestinian East Jerusalem real estate is priceless. Dispossession in these areas has taken many insidious, if slightly less aggressive, forms.

 

Historic land theft

The first and largest land theft occurred in 1948 when 78 percent of historic Palestine became the State of Israel. Israel’s military had an aggressive policy of depopulating Palestinian villages, evacuating and bulldozing over 500 of them, and rebuilding many as Jewish neighborhoods for the new state.

Neighborhoods in larger cities were also cleared of their Palestinian residents so that Jews could be moved in. 750,000 Palestinians became refugees and Israel coveted the property of those who remained. In the ensuing years, the new Israeli government crafted (illegal) “Land Laws” to gain control over much of it.

Most cunning perhaps was the Absentees Property Law, which permitted Israel to bar Palestinian refugees from returning to their homes, and then take over their property because it was vacant.

Gaza Israel

Palestinians stranded on the Egyptian side of the border shout across Israel’s buffer zone to family members in Gaza, April 25, 1982. Paola Crociani | AP

 

West Bank: land theft by settlement

In 1967, Israel occupied all of the Palestinian lands it had not won in 1948. One of its first orders of business was to begin constructing Jewish-only settlements in the West Bank and East Jerusalem. The illegal practice has continued unabated ever since, and Israel plans to annex the land it has appropriated over the years, adding another layer of illegality.

Settlement-building often begins when Israel earmarks a piece of land – often a large swath of farming or grazing land – as needed for “security purposes.” Palestinian inhabitants are evicted and an Israeli military outpost is established. Later, the area is repurposed as a civilian settlement (documents prove that at least in some cases, this was the plan all along).

Additional land is then appropriated for Jewish-only roads to the settlements (for example, Shufa) and checkpoints.

Elsewhere (as in Yatta or these twelve villages), land is poached by the Israeli military for “live-fire training.” In June, the Israeli military took over a large area of Palestinian farmland for this purpose and burned down 2,000 acres of crops.

Settlements now cover almost 10 percent of the land of the West Bank, about 125,000 acres. In between and around the settlements themselves, another 400,000 acres are classified as belonging to Israeli regional councils. All total, the Israeli settlement enterprise has confiscated approximately about 42 percent of the Palestinian West Bank and destroyed one million olive trees.

Extremist Israeli settlers are also well known for their share of this travesty, burning or chopping down entire olive groves – often in full view of and complicity with Israeli Defence Force soldiers. Just last weekend, several Palestinian communities were attacked by settlers, their olive trees destroyed and a mobile home erected on their land.

 

West Bank: land theft by Separation Wall

In 2000, again under the guise of “security,” Israel began another chapter of massive expropriation.

Palestinians, frustrated by the failure of the Oslo Accords to deliver on five years of promises for self-determination made in 1995 among other provocations, began an uprising that included suicide attacks.

Rather than addressing the issues, Israel began building a wall around the West Bank and East Jerusalem, purportedly to end the attacks. Suicide attacks indeed decreased, but not due to the wall. Thousands of Palestinians still enter Israel every month without permission because the wall is still not finished and has a number of gaps.

The route of the wall, which reaches deep inside Palestinian territory, has enabled a land grab of 191,000 acres – 13.5 percent of the West Bank, and some of its most fertile land.

In 2004, the International Court of Justice declared the wall illegal and demanded its removal, but Israel has continued to build.

ISRAEL separation barrier

Palestinian children play next to a section of the separation barrier in the West Bank town of Bethlehem. July 7, 2004. Muhammed Muheisen | AP

Thousands of Palestinian farmers have been separated from their farmland by the wall. For these, Israel has created a system designed to ultimately wrest their land too. Israeli bureaucracy regularly blocks them from tending their crops through an agricultural permit system choked with red tape. Family members, vehicles, and animals must all receive permission to accompany the landowner. Israel allows each farmer a certain number of entries based on the size of his plot and the type of crop – for example, forty trips per year for onions, fifty for figs. The number of workers allowed is based on the plot size and crop as well, an impediment to employment for desperate Palestinian laborers.

As a further complication, out of eighty-four gates in the wall, only a handful are open every day.

In a recent twist, Israel began forcing families to divide their land among the heirs when the father dies (a procedure that has a fee attached to it), instead of allowing them to care for the land collectively. But another law declares that plots under 400 square yards are too small to farm, and their owners may not get permits. Eventually, when Israel deems a piece of land “abandoned,” it is reverted to the state.

Scholars and human rights activists have compared Israel’s permit regime to South Africa’s pass laws – only “even more complex and ruthlessly enforced than the pass system of the apartheid regime.”

 

West Bank: “sacrifice zones” for sewage

In May, Israel announced plans for new waste management sites, at least one of which is slated for the West Bank to service the large Jewish-only settlement of Ma’ale Adumim. The waste plant would be located just a few hundred yards from several Palestinian herding communities.

Israel’s Environment Protection Minister has been busy this summer studying ways to begin incorporating the EU Commission’s new Circular Economy Action Plan, an effort that may highlight the little-known story of environmental injustice in the West Bank. It is a story of land and people at risk with no recourse under an occupying power.

Israeli regulations intentionally make it more cost effective to operate waste treatment facilities in the West Bank than inside Israel. Consequently, waste (including hazardous waste) from Israel and its settlements, is brought to about fifteen West Bank locations, called “sacrifice zones” because they are “irrevocably impaired by environmental damage or neglect.” One researcher summed up the situation thusly: “Israel has turned the West Bank into a garbage dump.”

Several waste treatment facilities operated inside the settlements but were closed due to complaints about the stench.

Israel’s actions contravene multiple international laws and are responsible for yet another land loss for Palestinians. Ast the Israeli human right group B’Tselem declared in a 2017 report:

The international principles on hazardous waste management are based on values of environmental justice, public consultation and transparency. An expression of basic human decency, they strive to codify the simple notion that military, political, or economic power disparities should not be abused by the powerful in order to dump their pollution and waste in their disempowered neighbors’ backyards.


Israeli army bulldozers demolish greenhouses and farming land belonging to Palestinian farmer Issa Zorob, May 21, 2004. Lefteris Pitarakis | AP

Israel’s dispossession machine is devious. Like the Separation Wall, it twists and winds, gobbling up whatever it wants and leaving a trail of adversity.

Palestinians can barely keep up with the financial and emotional burdens that the occupation heaps on them, as well as the dangers involved in the simple act of trying to make ends meet.

This intricately designed system of injustice – arguably worse than that of apartheid South Africa and condemned by nearly every other country in the world – is funded by American tax dollars.

Feature photo | A volunteer attempts to extinguish a fire started by a so-called “terror balloon” launched from the Gaza Strip, on the Israeli side of the border between Israel and Gaza, Aug. 24, 2020. Ariel Schalit | AP

Kathryn Shihadah writes for MintPress News and If Americans Knew. She speaks regularly about the injustice and demonization Palestinians face at the hands of Israel with complicity from the United States, especially to Christian audiences. Kathryn has lived in the Middle East for ten years and has traveled extensively. She blogs at PalestineHome.org.

The post Decades of Land Grabs Betray Israel’s “Terror Balloon” Justification for Latest War on Gaza appeared first on MintPress News.

‘I’ Feature on New Iranian Film about 1953 British-CIA against Mossadeq

Yesterday’s I, for 20th August 2020, published a very interesting piece by the Independent’s Kim Sengupta about a new Iranian film coming out today. It’s on the 1953 coup against Mohammed Mossadeq, the last democratically elected Prime Minister of Iran. Mossadeq was overthrown because he nationalised the Iranian oil industry, then the company Anglo-Persian Oil, now BP, which was majority owned by us. The result was the gradual establishment of the Shah’s personal dictatorship during his ‘White Revolution’, a brutal dismantlement of human rights and rule by torture and secret police, which finally ended with the Islamic Revolution of 1979 and the equally brutal and repressive rule of the ayatollahs. The coup is yet one episode in the long list of countries, in whose politics we’ve interfered and whose governments we’ve helped to destabilise or overthrow in our long campaign to retain some vestiges of our imperial power. And as Sengupta’s article points out, it has left a legacy of distrust for Britain among the Iranian people. According to John Simpson, they’ve got a saying: ‘If you find a stone in your path, it was put there by an Englishman.’ In fairness, Simpson also says in his book on Iran that when he was there reporting, he found absolutely no personal animosity towards him or Brits because of our nationality. The hatred was directed against the British state and its leaders, like Thatcher, rather than the British people.

The I article was titled ‘How MI6 and the CIA overthrew an elected leader’. It ran

Iran has a deep mistrust about Britain, dating back to an event that is unlikely to be forgotten or forgiven in the near future, and is the subject of a new documentary. Coup 53, released tomorrow, examines the overthrow of the democratically elected prime minister of Iran, Mohammed Mossaddegh, and his replacement by the Shah of Iran, all instigated by London and Washington.

The film, a fine production by Iranian director Taghi Amirani, features interviews with many of those involved – Iranian nationalists who supported the prime minister, royalists loyal to the Shah, and British and US officials.

Mossaddegh, a progressive and secular leader, earned the antipathy of the British government chiefly by nationalising the Anglo-Persian Oil Company – now BP – in which the UK held 51 per cent of the shares. The company had exclusive rights to pump Iranian oil. As relations worsened, the Iranian government broke off diplomatic ties with the UK and expelled embassy staff.

The documentary recalls how the Americans were initially disinclined to support the UK’s plans to overthrow a democratically elected government that, they thought, would be a check against totalitarian communism.

Such was the British sense of entitlement that the US secretary of state, Dean Acheson, under President Harry Truman, condemned it witheringly as “destructive and determined on a rule-or-ruin policy on Iran”.

This changed, however, with the election of Dwight Eisenhower. Winston Churchill claimed to the new president that Mossaddegh – who had been openly critical of communism – wou8ld veer towards the pro-Russian Tudeh Party. And with the Cold War, and fear of Soviet expansion, at its height, the US changed its position.

Operation Ajax was launched in 1953 to depose Mossaddegh, initially through a propaganda campaign and proposed election interference, with the CIA chief, Allen Dulles, authorising $1m to be used “in any way that would bring about the fall” of the prime minister.

The coup succeeded. Many of Mosaddegh’s supporters were arrested, imprisoned and tortured; some, including the foreign minister Hossein Fatemi, were executed.

The prosecutors demanded a life sentence for Mosaddegh, but a tribunal jailed him for three years in a military prison. After that, he was kept under house arrest until his death in 1967. He was denied a public funeral because of apprehension that his grave may become a political shrine, and was buried under his living room.

Coup 53 features Ralph Fiennes reading the words of Norman Derbyshire, an MI6 officer based in Cyprus whom the British claim was the real mastermind of the coup.

Only one photograph of Darbyshire, in dark glasses, is seen in the documentary. He died in 1993 and his account comes from an interview he gave to Granada TV’s End of Empire film in 1985, which was not shown because he refused to appear on screen.

Fiennes’ delivery is melodramatic. Through him, Darbyshire is a sort of Roger Moore-ish version of James Bond, licensed to coup.

Darbyshire claims he organised the kidnapping of the chief of police in Tehran, Mohammed Afshartous. The general was tortured and strangled, and news of his death was met with shock and anger.

Darbyshire claimed that was not his fault. “Something went wrong; he was kidnapped and held in a cave. Feelings ran very high and Afshartous was unwise enough to make derogatory comments about the Shah. He was under guard by a young army officer and the young officer pulled out a gun and shot him. That was never part of our programme.”

One wonders what would have happened if the Americans had stuck to their initial sceptical instincts about the coup in Iran – and reports of weapons of mass destruction held by Saddam Hussein in Iraq. They did not, and we see the legacy of that in the strife and suffering that unfolded in the Middle East.

I think I first came across the 1953 coup in a long article about it in the conspiracies/ parapolitics magazine Lobster back in the ’90s. But it is established history, and very definitely not a ‘conspiracy theory’ in the derogatory sense. It’s mentioned, for example, in a very mainstream History of the World published by W.H. Smith/ Hamlyn in the early 1980s, and is one of the long list of similar coups, electoral meddling and destabilisation in Rory Cormac’s Disrupt and Deny: Spies, Special Forces, and the Secret Pursuit of British Foreign Policy, published by the Oxford University Press in 2018.

And some of the same dirty tricks have been used in this country by the secret state to smear left-wing politicos, like Tony Benn, with accusations of pro-IRA and communist sympathies. It was done by the IRD before that was wound up, and carried on against Jeremy Corbyn by the Institute for Statecraft, ostensibly a private company but with extensive links to the British intelligence establishment.

And I would not be at all surprised if British and American intelligence aren’t involved in the apparent news blackout of the latest Israeli aggression against Gaza and the Palestinians. All to defend our ally in the Middle East, which seems to be done solely through libellous and malicious accusations of anti-Semitism. Because Israel’s actions are absolutely indefensible in themselves.

The late Labour MP Robin Cook wanted an ethical foreign policy. Unfortunately, he served under Tony Blair. It’ll never happen, not under New Labour, and not under the Tories. Which is why the establishment did everything they could to smear and vilify Corbyn and his supporters, because he did take such noble goals seriously.

The Tories would like hide shameful episodes like the 1953 coup under the imperial carpet, in order to retain an approved historical view of British imperial benevolence. Which is why films like Amirani’s are so vitally important.

 

Israel Launches Week-Long Bombing Campaign in Gaza Amid Ongoing War Crimes Investigation

Published by Anonymous (not verified) on Wed, 19/08/2020 - 4:05am in

Last Monday night Israeli fighter jets executed airstrikes on the besieged Gaza Strip for the ninth night in a row in an act that may be another on Israel’s long list of possible war crimes.

Israeli leaders characterized the actions as retaliatory, naming Gazan “incendiary balloons” and “riots” as justification.

This is just the latest in what mainstream media generally depicts as a “protracted conflict” between “the militant group Hamas and Israel,” after “months of calm” (5 Gazans have been killed in 2020; Israel has shot at farmers and fishermen hundreds of times; no Israelis have been killed).

The plight of Palestinians in Gaza, a population of almost two million crammed into a region the size of Detroit, has been hidden from the view of most, even as the US funds its occupier with over $10 million a day in military aid.

Not only does Israel limit the amount of food and medicine entering the Strip, but it has also attacked the population in three massive incursions and countless smaller forays, killing thousands while only suffering relatively minor casualties itself.

The current escalation is one example of the constant oppression and violence Gazans have experienced for thirteen years.

 

Palestinian resistance

Hamas is the democratically elected political party in Gaza, with a wing that engages in resistance against Israel’s 53-year de facto occupation and 13-year blockade – both of which are illegal. International law condones such resistance.

Most recent cases of incendiary balloons were not the work of Hamas, but of independent activist groups in the Strip, which have also been responsible for launching several rockets.

The incendiary balloons have caused some fires on Israeli farmland and forests, but have never killed or injured anyone; in the 19 years that militants have fired rockets out of Gaza, about 30 Israelis have been killed – the most recent in May 2019.

Actions that Israel describes as “riots” that are described in Associated Press as “dozens” of Palestinian protesters who have gathered nightly at the border fence with Israel.

 

Israel’s punishing response

Israeli reprisals have been harsh, as its leaders acknowledge. The IDF “responds with all its might against incendiary balloons,” according to a Jerusalem Post report.

Actions include nightly strikes by IDF fighter jets, attack helicopters, and tanks against what Israel calls “Hamas targets.” Arab news outlets describe hits to “many homes” (injuring women and children) and “farmlands,” as well as structures belonging to resistance groups. IDF also targeted a cement factory.

Last Thursday morning, residents discovered an unexploded missile inside a UN school in a Gazan refugee camp.

Israel has also closed all crossings into and out of Gaza, blocking the delivery of needed food and fuel to run Gaza’s only power plant. The plant has shut down as of Tuesday.

In addition, Israel has completely shut down Gaza’s fishing zone “until further notice,” directly impacting nearly 5,000 Palestinians employed by the fishing sector.

 

Gaza’s demands

While mainstream media rarely addresses the reasons for Gazan resistance – or relegates it to the last paragraphs of articles – the people’s appeals are accessible.

Hamas officials have charged that Israel is reneging on its promises to ease the 13-year-old blockade, causing starvation in Gaza.

Elsewhere, activists have expressed anger at “Israeli violations against Al-Aqsa Mosque” and Netanyahu’s annexation plans, as well as policies that “paralyze daily life and disrupt efforts of combating coronavirus.”

 

Israeli leaders’ confessions

In the words of Israel’s own leaders, they are perpetrating collective punishment and disproportionate actions on Gaza’s Palestinians – war crimes under international law.

In addition to unjustifiably holding Hamas responsible for every militant action in Gaza, Israeli Defense Minister Benny Gantz has vowed to continue punishing all Gazans until the resistance ends:

By launching rockets and explosive balloons, the heads of Hamas are undermining the interests of the residents of Gaza and are impairing their ability to live in dignity and security…The IDF will respond forcefully to any violation of sovereignty…If [Israeli border town] Sderot isn’t quiet, Gaza won’t be either.”

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu indicated his intentions to mount a disproportionate attack after incendiary balloons arrived in Israel:

There will be a very heavy price for the balloon terror. We will not suffer this, we will act and exact a heavy price.”

 

Ongoing war crime investigations

Israel is already under investigation for actions in 2014 and possibly 2018. Chief prosecutor of the International Criminal Court (ICC) Fatou Bensouda stated,

There is a reasonable basis to believe that war crimes have been or are being committed in the West Bank, including East Jerusalem, and the Gaza Strip.”

The ICC cited Israel’s “disproportionate use of force” in the 2014 military action that left 2,200 Palestinians and 73 Israelis dead – as well as other possible war crimes, including collective punishment and transfer of population into occupied territory.

Israel insists, not that it is innocent, but that the ICC has no jurisdiction over the Palestinian territories.

Article 33 of the Fourth Geneva Convention designates collective punishment as a war crime. The International Committee of the Red Cross elaborates,

[S]uch practices, by reason of their excessive severity and cruelty, [keep] alive and [strengthen] the spirit of resistance…They are opposed to all principles based on humanity and justice.

Feature photo | A Palestinian boy inspects the damage in his family home following Israeli airstrikes in Buriej refugee camp, central Gaza Strip, Aug. 15, 2020. Khalil Hamra | AP

Kathryn Shihadah writes for MintPress News and If Americans Knew. She speaks regularly about the injustice and demonization Palestinians face at the hands of Israel with complicity from the United States, especially to Christian audiences. Kathryn has lived in the Middle East for ten years and has traveled extensively. She blogs at PalestineHome.org.

The post Israel Launches Week-Long Bombing Campaign in Gaza Amid Ongoing War Crimes Investigation appeared first on MintPress News.

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

Cartoon: The Gaza grip

Published by Anonymous (not verified) on Fri, 25/07/2014 - 7:50am in

Tags 

Gaza, Israel

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