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Social Media Giants Ban Trump, but the Real Censorship is of Palestinians

Published by Anonymous (not verified) on Sat, 16/01/2021 - 4:09am in

In the wake of the Capitol Hill insurrection, Facebook and Twitter finally took a principled stand against President Donald Trump by suspending his accounts. While Trump lashed out at the tech giants, media analysts condoned the move—noting stronger moderation of his and other inflammatory posts are long overdue.

Facebook, Twitter, and other social media behemoths have faced criticism over the years for allowing misinformation and dangerous incitement to run rampant on their platforms. Yet while these companies seem to fail at controlling right-wing propaganda, they’ve had no problem suppressing content on Palestine.

 

Palestinian Facebook pages see 50% drop in reach

According to Palestinian non-governmental organization Sada Social Center, Palestinian Facebook pages saw their content’s reach dip by more than 50%, and in some cases, by more than 80%. Sada Social attributes the steep decline to coverage of Arab countries’ normalization agreements with Israel.

“Most of the pages that brought complaints to us are followed by millions of users through Facebook,” Sada Social wrote in their report. “These pages actively participated in covering the issue of Arab normalization with the Israeli occupation recently.”

 

The Global Campaign to Return to Palestine and Muslim Scholars were just two of the numerous Facebook pages to have their content blocked or restricted in the last month.

When pressed for an explanation about the recent removals, a Facebook company spokesperson told MintPress News:

We do our utmost to ensure that only content in violation of our Community Standards is removed. Where mistakes are made, due to human or technical error, the content is restored. The Global Campaign for Return to Palestine page was unfortunately removed due to an error – it has now been restored. We were not trying to limit anyone’s ability to post or express themselves.”

In response to the increasing censorship, The Palestinian Content Protection Initiative—a group of media outlets, activists, and journalists working to defend Palestinian content online—called for a two-hour boycott of Facebook on Jan. 9.

“The administrations of social media websites have been pursuing, targeting, and restricting the publishing and access of Palestinian pages and accounts, and in full coordination with the Israeli occupation government,” the Initiative said in a statement. “As a result, Palestinian media have been restricted, and were unable to convey their national message.”

 

Facebook working with Israel to suppress content

Facebook’s targeting of Palestinian content isn’t new. The social media titan has a long history of working with Israeli authorities to remove Palestinian information.

Under the guise of hate speech, Facebook cracks down on content often related to certain keywords such as “Hamas” or “Zionism,” Alison Ramer, International Relations Manager at 7amleh – The Arab Center for the Advancement of Social Media, explained.

“A lot of times this is done through artificial intelligence, which the companies are really being pushed to use under increasing pressure from governments and the public to respond to hate speech,” Ramer said.

But it’s not just automatic processes that are determining what’s permitted on social media. According to a 2020 7amleh report, the Israeli government has orchestrated a systematic campaign through Facebook to ensure content related to the Palestinian cause is removed.

“The Israeli Minister of Justice, Ayelet Shaked stated that ‘Facebook, Google, and YouTube are complying with up to 95% of Israel’s requests to delete content that the Israeli government says incites Palestinian violence.’ This shows a significant focus on Palestinian content and efforts to label Palestinian political speech as incitement to violence,” 7amleh wrote.   

These requests are done through the Ministry of Justice’s Cyber Unit, which was established in 2015. Even Facebook’s own personnel appear to be in bed with Israel. Currently, Emi Palmor, Israel’s former Justice Ministry director-general, sits on Facebook and Instagram’s Oversight Board — a committee responsible for content moderation.

 

Additionally, governmental and non-governmental organizations are urging citizens to report Palestinian content. “Several of these organizations — dubbed “GONGOs” (government-operated NGOs) — are working to conflate criticism of Israel and anti-Zionism with anti-Semitism and hate speech and have designed strategies to manipulate social media algorithms with the support of online trolls,” 7amleh wrote.

These efforts not only remove Palestinian content but elevate smear campaigns against Palestinians. As Facebook works diligently to remove white supremacist content, Ramer acknowledged that it leaves hate speech directed toward Palestinians on its site.

“7amleh has documented hate speech directed toward Palestinians in Hebrew, which we have seen left online for many years, while legitimate political speech critical of Israel is being flagged as hate speech and censored,” Ramer said. “We know that the Israeli government and government-supporting NGOs are pushing for tech companies to adopt the International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance definition of anti-Semitism, which is leading to increasing censorship of Palestinians and human rights defenders.”

According to Ramer, pressure from the Israeli Lobby is the motivating factor in restricting Palestinian content.  

“There’s pressure on Facebook to expand the definition of anti-Semitism, and we know that the intention of this is to censor those critical of Israel, Palestinians and human rights supporters. And this, obviously, can have a large impact on the development of many other tech companies’ policies,” Ramer said.

 

Not just Facebook

Facebook is the most popular social media platform for Palestinians, but it’s not the only one restricting their content.

TikTok recently removed the account belonging to Palestinian news organization, Quds News Network (QNN). The account manager, Hamzah al-Shobaki, said it was deleted after sharing 1,200 posts about Arab countries’ normalization with Israel. TikTok has since reinstated the account, claiming a violation error led to the account’s removal.

This isn’t QNN’s first experience with social media censorship, however. In 2019, the news outlet had four of its Twitter accounts deactivated without warning. QNN editors also had their personal Facebook accounts suspended in 2016, reportedly by mistake. Other Palestinian media sources have also had their Twitter and Facebook accounts removed over the years.

YouTube has been accused of violating Palestinian digital rights as well. Research from 7amleh details that the video-sharing platform uses hyper-surveillance tactics referred to as “locative discrimination” to monitor content coming from Palestine.

According to their findings, Palestinian YouTube user Ahmad conducted an online experiment to see if the removal of his content was due to his location:

“I sent the same video which has been deleted from my YouTube account to my friend’s YouTube account in Europe…and YouTube was fine with the video being published from a European country.”

“This simple test showed that content that’s being uploaded in the Palestinian Territories is being treated differently than the content uploaded by Western countries,” 7amleh’s Ramer said. “These policies are discriminatory and overly surveying and censoring Palestinians.”

Ramer emphasized that tech companies should not be the decision-makers regarding freedom of expression. Yet because they control these communication channels, they are ultimately tasked with monitoring what is shared—and Israel is taking full advantage of that.

“Israel is using this for its political aim to silence Palestinians. They’re using hate speech as a political tool,” Ramer said, clarifying that what’s happening not only blacks out Palestinian issues but the global conversation on human rights as a whole.

“This won’t just silence Palestinians, but it’ll silence human rights defenders, and it will show other governments how to use hate speech to silence and censor people.”

Feature photo | In this undated photo, a young Mark Zuckerberg meets with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu. Photo | Magnum

Jessica Buxbaum is a Jerusalem-based journalist covering Palestine, Israel and Syria. Her work has been featured in Middle East Eye, The New Arab and Gulf New

The post Social Media Giants Ban Trump, but the Real Censorship is of Palestinians appeared first on MintPress News.

Court Rules Palestinian Filmmaker Must Pay Damages To Israeli Soldier Who Took Part in Massacre

Published by Anonymous (not verified) on Sat, 16/01/2021 - 2:59am in

In a particularly draconian decision, an Israeli court has ruled that the documentary film “Jenin, Jenin” will be banned from screening in Israel. Additionally, all copies of the film must be collected and destroyed. The court went even further and ordered producer, director, and actor Mohammad Bakri, the man behind the film which documents the Israeli assault on the Jenin refugee camp, must pay damages to an Israeli officer who participated in the massacre and appears in the film for about five seconds. 

Israel’s military invasion of the Palestinian refugee camp in Jenin and the slaughter which followed took place in March of 2002. The army entered the camp with tanks, special forces, commando units, and several reservist brigades. The camp was bombarded from the air and from the ground. Several hundred Palestinian fighters fought heroically, armed with nothing but semiautomatic rifles and rudimentary guerrilla warfare skills. Twenty-five Israeli soldiers lost their lives in the camp and countless Palestinians, mostly civilians, were killed.

 

Silencing the survivors’ point of view

Jenin, Jenin” includes testimony from people of all ages who lived through the Israeli assault on the camp. There is no question that hearing the descriptions and experiences of the survivors of that awful trauma is heart-wrenching. But Bakri himself never makes any direct accusations in the film. He shows footage of Israeli soldiers, tanks, and armored personnel carriers, and of Palestinians being arrested, but at no point in the movie is an actual accusation made and it is clear that the only perspectives offered in the film are from those who live in the camp.

Protests erupted in Israel as soon as the movie was shown. Bakri was called a Nazi and slandered by the press and the public for daring to show what Palestinians had experienced at the hands of the Israeli soldiers who entered the camp. Soldiers who had participated in what is known as “The Battle of Jenin” demanded that Israeli authorities censor the movie and not allow theaters to show it, and they eventually got their way.

The film was banned by the Israeli Film Ratings Board on the premise that it was libelous and might offend the public. Bakri appealed the decision and the case went all the way to the Israeli Supreme Court, which ultimately overturned the board’s decision. Since then, those who have participated in the assault have been looking for ways to challenge the film. 

In November 2016, Nissim Meghnagi, a reserve officer who took part in Operation Defensive Shield, also known as the massacre at the Jenin refugee camp, sued Bakri for 2.6 million shekels, the equivalent of around 745,000 U.S. dollars. In his suit, Meghnagi claimed that he appears in, and was named in the film and that it libeled Israeli soldiers by presenting them as war criminals. 

Bakri argued, correctly, that the purpose of the lawsuit was persecution and political silencing, and that the movie makes no accusation against Meghnagi specifically. It only shows, Bakri continuously yet fruitlessly claimed, the point of view of the Palestinians who experienced the onslaught on the camp. Still, the District Court in the Israeli-occupied city of Lyd ruled in Meghnagi’s favor and ordered Bakri to pay Meghnagi the equivalent of $55,000. Now the case is expected to go back to the Supreme Court.

 

A History of War Crimes

Israeli forces did not allow the Red Cross or any other international observers to enter the camp for many days after the assault was over. This allowed them to clean up the camp before anyone from the outside was able to witness what had been done.

Israeli authorities, courts, media, and public opinion tend to view Palestinian claims regarding human rights abuses, violence, and massacres committed by military units as lies. Internal investigations by the military and other Israeli government agencies rarely find Israeli forces guilty of any crimes.

The reason that “Jenin, Jenin” created such a strong reaction in Israel is that the people involved, and even those who were not directly involved, know that Israel has a history of atrocities and war crimes. Israel claims that the IDF is the “most moral army in the world,” yet almost every single Israeli has either been witness to or knows someone who has witnessed – or even committed – atrocities. 

 

Committing war crimes of all kinds is a deeply rooted tradition in the Israeli military. It goes back to the earliest days of the pre-state era when Zionist militias operated before an actual Israeli Army was formed. These militias were turned into an organized army in the middle of the 1948 ethnic cleansing campaign of Palestine. They were in the midst of committing a horrendous crime for which no one has yet been brought to justice when they became an official army and when Jewish Zionist settlers in Palestine became citizens of a newly established Apartheid State, a state whose very establishment was a war crime.

This is why there is such opposition to the movie and to Mohammad Bakri himself amongst Israelis. Bakri touched an open nerve and because as a Palestinian with Israeli citizenship, he also happens to be a household name among Israelis, Israelis are furious at him. Bakri dared to enter the camp and to talk to its residents without showing what is commonly known as “the other side.”  Furthermore, as is made very clear throughout the movie, the spirit of the people in the camp remains undefeated. 

Over and over again throughout the movie, we hear survivors of the assault, even as they sit on the rubble of their own homes, repeat that they will rebuild the camp house by house and that they will never surrender. This is hardly the message that Israelis – who only a short time before had voted for the notorious Ariel Sharon to be their prime minister – want to hear.

 

The Driver of a D9

On May 31, 2002, Israeli journalist Tsadok Yehazkeli, working for the Israeli daily Yediot Aharonot, published an article in Hebrew about the driver of a D9 bulldozer who went by the moniker, “Bear the Kurd.” “Bear” made a name for himself during the assault on the Jenin refugee camp, when for 72 hours straight he drove his bulldozer into countess houses and destroyed everything in his path, ramming into homes regardless of whether or not they were inhabited. 

He was quoted as saying “I made them a football stadium,” and “I have no regrets. I’m proud of my work,” and, “I never gave the people a chance to run out of the houses before I ran over them and ruined the houses with my bulldozer.” None of this is shown or mentioned in Bakri’s film yet it provides a picture of the atmosphere among the Israeli troops that entered the camp.

The army unit in which the D9 driver operated went on to receive a medal for its actions during the assault, and the man known as “Bear the Kurd” became a hero to the troops. Because so many were buried under the rubble, to this day no one knows how many Palestinians were killed in 2002 at the Jenin refugee camp.

It is hard to anticipate what the Israeli Supreme Court will rule when it hears the Bakri case. However, in a state that was built on war crimes and atrocities, one may expect that all branches of government will work together to keep the truth from coming out. Either way, few Israeli war crimes are as documented as this one, and so “Jenin, Jenin” must be viewed and shared widely.

Feature photo | A unidentified Palestinian boy holds up a sign blaming the Israelis for the damage in the Jenin refugee camp in 2002. Real World Photographs | Shutterstock

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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Beeb Documentary Next Week on American Evangelical Christian Support for Israel

Also on TV next Wednesday, 19th January 2021, at 9.00 pm in the evening, is a programme on BBC 4 on the support for Israel amongst American Evangelical Christians and their influence on Donald Trump’s administration, ‘Til Kingdom Come: Trump, Faith and Money. The blurb for this on page 89 of the Radio Times runs

Documentary exploring the relationship between American evangelicals and Israel’s foremost philanthropic institution, the International Fellowship of Christians and Jews, and its influence on both nations’ foreign policies.

There’s an additional few paragraphs about the programme by Jack Searle on page 87, which states

This seems at first to be telling a small, local story: we’re in woodland in Kentucky, where a man loading an assault rifle in preparation for some target practice explains how Donald Trump, he feels, spoke up for ordinary folk like him. But he isn’t just a regular Republican voter. He’s an evangelical pastor whose calling in life is to raise money for Israel.

Maya Zinshtein’s film explores the global significance of US Christians, who believe Israel is the key to the Second Coming, and ow that partly explains Trump’s highly controversial relocation of the US embassy to Jerusalem. It forms a spiky fable about what happens when politics and rigid religious dogma interact.

Apocalypticism and the desire to hasten Christ’s return has been a very important strand in Christian Zionism since the 19th century. Historians and activists critical of Israel and its barbarous treatment of the Palestinians, like Ilan Pappe and Tony Greenstein, have pointed out that Zionism first emerged amongst Christians in the 19th century. They wished to see the Jews return to Israel in order to fulfil, as they saw it, the prophecies in the Book of Revelation. Support for Israel in America is now strongest amongst Christian evangelicals. The largest Zionist organisation in America by sheer numbers of members is Ted Hagee’s Christians United for Israel. Jewish support for Israel is waning, especially among the young. American Jews were like their European coreligionists before the rise of the Nazis. They wished to stay in the countries in which they were born, and this attitude continued at least up to 1969. One of the Jewish magazines ran an article that year lamenting the lack of interest in Israel among Jewish Americans. The Neo-Conservative movement, founded by William Krystol, had its origins as an attempt to raise support for Israel amongst Americans. Young Jewish Americans are increasingly losing interest in Israel or actually becoming opposed to it, because of its treatment of its indigenous Arab population. The numbers of school leavers taking up the heritage tours of the country, sponsored by the Israel state as a way of gaining their support, is falling. Many Jewish young people have joined the BDS movement against goods produced in the occupied territories. As a result, Israel is shifting its efforts to muster support to American Christians.

I do wonder how many of those evangelical Christians would still be vocal in their support for Israel, if they knew that Israel pulls down monasteries and churches as well as mosques and that some of the extreme right-wing rabbis in Netanyahu’s coalition have said that they’d like to see every church in Israel pulled down as a place of idolatry. Or that the European founders of Israel really didn’t want Arabic Jews, the Mizrahim, settling in the country, and only accepted them because they needed their labour while also heavily discriminating against them. Possibly some might find this troublesome, but I’ve no doubt others would find some way to justify it and their continued support for the country.

Rumors Spread of a 2024 Presidential Run as Pompeo Paves Way for Future Wars

Published by Anonymous (not verified) on Thu, 14/01/2021 - 5:21am in

Yesterday, at an event at the National Press Club in Washington, D.C., Secretary of State and former CIA director Mike Pompeo claimed that “al-Qaida has a new home base: it is the Islamic Republic of Iran.” Offering little evidence, he warned the journalists and other figures present that, “We ignore this Iran-al-Qaida nexus at our own peril…We must confront it. Indeed, we must defeat it.” “Iran is the new Afghanistan” he added, referencing the illegal U.S. invasion and 20-year occupation that began under the Bush administration. Far from pushing back on his assertions, those present applauded Pompeo as he finished his remarks, which came amid a flurry of increasingly outlandish and aggressive policy steps he has taken in the last days of the Trump administration.

There are a number of problems with his assertions, not least that Iran is a Shia theocracy led by Ayatollah Khamenei, while al-Qaeda is a Sunni supremacist organization that regards Shi’ism as entirely heretical. Furthermore, Iran has been battling al-Qaeda and ISIS in Iraq and Syria. Meanwhile, the U.S. government has openly supported what it calls “moderate rebels” in the region, despite the fact, as the Washington Post admitted, those “moderates” are difficult to distinguish from and intermingled with Jihadist forces like al-Qaeda’s Syrian wing al-Nusra. That Tehran was secretly sheltering and promoting its sworn enemy would be surprising, to say the least. 

Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif immediately rejected the claims, stating that Pompeo was “pathetically ending his disastrous career with more warmongering lies. No one is fooled.”

Pompeo made the announcement just hours after meeting with Mossad chief Yossi Cohen. Early this morning, Israeli jets using U.S. intelligence bombed targets in eastern Syria, killing 57 people. According to American officials, Pompeo gave his blessing to the attack, claiming that the warplanes were striking warehouses filled with Iranian weapons. 

Earlier in the week, the Secretary of State also designated Yemen’s Houthi rebels and the government of Cuba as terrorists, moves that were immediately condemned by human rights groups. Refugees International wrote that, “it is difficult to imagine a more irresponsible decision,” as the announcement will stymie any moves toward peace. Oxfam America’s Humanitarian Policy Lead Scott Paul made a similar statement, predicting that Pompeo’s actions “will only compound the crisis for millions of Yemenis fighting for their survival.” 

 

On Monday, without a shred of irony, Pompeo condemned Cuba for its supposed, “malign interference in Venezuela and the rest of the Western Hemisphere.” The United States has supported multiple coup attempts in the past two years against the Venezuelan government, as well as backing a (since defeated) far-right military putsch in Bolivia. Last week, Pompeo reaffirmed the U.S.’ commitment to the leader of those Venezuelan coups, Juan Guaidó, recognizing him as the legitimate “Interim President” of the country, despite minimal domestic support. Post-Brexit, the European Union took the opposite decision, dropping their support for him after President Maduro’s United Socialist coalition won 253 of the 277 seats in the country’s National Assembly last month. Thus, both Guaidó and the Trump administration are increasingly isolated. 

Last Tuesday, Pompeo also made a point of receiving representatives of The Epoch Times, a far-right fake news outlet associated with the Chinese Falun Gong cult. During their visit to the State Department, the 57-year-old Kansan encouraged and spread wild theories of his own. “The Chinese Communist Party is here in America,” he claimed, insisting that the U.S. must also “protect itself from this Communist threat in China.”

 

While Pompeo will (presumably) be leaving office very soon, there are more than a few rumors that he already has his eyes set on a presidential run in 2024. Vanity Fair suggests that his actions, such as travelling to Georgia to support Republican candidates up for election, “look like a 2024 dry run.” Unlike many in his party, he has stayed decidedly loyal to Trump until the end, which will likely earn him credit with the president’s massive base of supporters and allow him to position himself as the continuity Trump candidate if he is barred from standing himself. 

If Pompeo does decide to throw his hat into the ring, he would likely have support from Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, who he visited in November. Pompeo dined at an illegal West Bank settlement, and asserted that Israel has every right to the territory, a move that delighted many inside the country. 

As former head of the CIA, Pompeo is no stranger to exaggeration or spreading misinformation. “We lied, we cheated, we stole… we had entire training courses [on] it,” he infamously said at a talk at Texas Tech University in 2019. In his last days in office, he seems to have been putting his training to good use.

Feature photo | Secretary of State Mike Pompeo waits nearby before speaking at the National Press Club in Washington, Jan. 12, 2021. Andrew Harnik | AP

Alan MacLeod is a Staff Writer for MintPress News. After completing his PhD in 2017 he published two books: Bad News From Venezuela: Twenty Years of Fake News and Misreporting and Propaganda in the Information Age: Still Manufacturing Consent. He has also contributed to Fairness and Accuracy in ReportingThe GuardianSalonThe GrayzoneJacobin MagazineCommon Dreams the American Herald Tribune and The Canary.

The post Rumors Spread of a 2024 Presidential Run as Pompeo Paves Way for Future Wars appeared first on MintPress News.

Covid-19 under Apartheid: How Israel Manipulates Suffering of Palestinians

Published by Anonymous (not verified) on Thu, 14/01/2021 - 3:30am in

Israel’s decision to exclude Palestinians from its COVID-19 vaccination campaign may have surprised many. Even by Israel’s poor humanitarian standards, denying Palestinians access to life-saving medication seems extremely callous.

Amnesty International, among many organizations, condemned the Israeli government’s decision to bar Palestinians from receiving the vaccine. The rights group described the Israeli action as evidence of the “institutionalized discrimination that defines the Israeli government’s policy towards Palestinians.”

The Palestinian Authority was not expecting Israel to supply Palestinian hospitals with millions of vaccines as it hopes to receive two million doses of the Oxford-AstraZeneca vaccine in February. Instead, the request made by PA official, Hussein al-Sheikh, Coordinator of Palestinian affairs with Israel, was a meager 10,000 doses to help protect Palestinian frontline workers. Still, the Israeli Health Ministry rejected the request.

According to the Palestinian news agency WAFA, 1,629 Palestinians died and a total of 160,043 were infected with the deadly COVID-19 disease as of January 4. While such dismal numbers can also be found in many parts of the world, the Palestinian coronavirus crisis is compounded by the fact that Palestinians live under an Israeli military occupation, a state of apartheid and, as in the case of Gaza, an unrelenting siege.

Worse still, starting early last year, the Israeli military conducted several operations in various parts of the occupied territories to crack down on Palestinian initiatives to provide free COVID-19 testing. According to the Palestinian rights group, Al Haq, as early as March 2020, several field clinics were shut down and medical equipment confiscated in the Palestinian town of Khirbet Ibziq in the Jordan Valley, in the occupied West Bank. This pattern was repeated in East Jerusalem, Hebron and elsewhere in the following months.

There is no legal or moral justification for Israel’s action. The Fourth Geneva Convention of 1949 asserts that an Occupying Power has the “duty of ensuring and maintaining … the medical and hospital establishments and services” with “particular reference” on taking the “preventive measures necessary to combat the spread of contagious diseases and epidemics.”

Even the Oslo Accords, despite their failure to address many crucial topics pertaining to the freedom of the Palestinian people, oblige both sides “to cooperate in combating epidemics and to assist each other in times of emergency,” the New York Times reported.

Not all Israeli officials deny that Israel is legally compelled to provide Palestinians with the help required to contain the rapid spread of the pandemic. This admission, however, comes with conditions. Former Israeli Ambassador, Alan Baker, told NYT that, while international law does “place an obligation on Israel” to help in the provision of vaccines to Palestinians, Palestinians must first release several Israeli soldiers who were captured in Gaza during and after the 2014 war.

The irony in Baker’s logic is that Israel holds over 5,000 Palestinian prisoners, including women and children, hundreds of whom are imprisoned without trial or due process.

 

The captured Israelis are held in Gaza as a bargaining chip, to be exchanged for the easing of Israel’s hermetic blockade on the densely populated Strip. One of the Palestinians’ main demands for the release of the soldiers is that Israel allows for the transfer of medical equipment and life-saving medication to the two million people of the Gaza Strip. International and Palestinian human rights groups have long reported on many unnecessary deaths among Palestinians in Gaza because Israel deliberately prevents Gazan hospitals from acquiring cancer medications.

Long before the onset of the coronavirus, Israel has weaponized medicine, and Gaza’s dilapidated health sector is a standing testimony to this injustice.

Perhaps, the overcrowded Israeli prisons remain the glaring testimony of Israel’s mishandling of the COVID-19 outbreak. Despite repeated calls by the United Nations and, particularly, the World Health Organization, that states should take immediate measures to help ease the crisis in their prison systems, Israel has done little for Palestinian prisoners. Al Haq reported that Israel “has taken no adequate measures to improve provision of healthcare and hygiene for Palestinian prisoners” in line with the WHO “guidance for preventing COVID-19 outbreak in prisons.” The consequences were dire, as the spread of COVID among Palestinian prisoners continues to claim new victims at a much higher ratio compared with Israeli prisoners.

Israel’s intentional hampering of Palestinian efforts to fight COVID is consistent with a trajectory of racism, where colonized Palestinians are exploited for their land, water and cheap labor, while never factoring as a priority on Israel’s checklist, even during the time of a deadly pandemic.  Israel is an Occupying Power that refuses to acknowledge or respect any of its basic obligations as an Occupying Power under international law.

The Israeli attempt at manipulating Palestinian suffering as a result of the pandemic should also challenge our view of the fundamental relationship between Israel and the Palestinians. Frequently we speak of Israel’s apartheid in Palestine, often illustrating that assertion referring to giant walls, fences and military checkpoints that cage in Palestinian communities and segregate them from one another.

This, however, is merely the physical manifestation of Israeli colonialism and apartheid. In Israel, apartheid runs much deeper as it reaches almost every facet of society where Israeli Jews, including settlers, are treated as superior, while Palestinian Arabs, whether Christian or Muslims, are denied their most basic rights, including those guaranteed under international law.

While Israel’s behavior is not entirely surprising, it being consistent with the sordid reality of military occupation and institutional racism, it is also self-defeating. Despite the obvious imbalance in the relationship between Israel and the Palestinians, they are in constant contact, not as equals but as occupier and occupied. Since the coronavirus does not respect Israel’s matrix of control in Palestine, it will travel across all of the physical divides that Israel has created to ensure permanent oppression of Palestinians. Hence, there can be no containing of COVID-19 in Israel if it continues to spread among Palestinians.

Long after the deadly pandemic is contained, the tragedy of occupied Palestine will, sadly, continue unhindered, until the day that Israel is forced to end its military occupation of Palestine and the Palestinians.

Feature photo | Israeli forces crack down on Palestinians during a protest against the expansion of Jewish-only settlements near the West Bank town of Salfit. Majdi Mohammed | 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). Dr. Baroud is a Non-resident Senior Research Fellow at the Center for Islam and Global Affairs (CIGA) and also at the Afro-Middle East Center (AMEC). His website is www.ramzybaroud.net

The post Covid-19 under Apartheid: How Israel Manipulates Suffering of Palestinians appeared first on MintPress News.

Media Praise of Israel’s COVID Vaccination Drive a Form of “Medical Apartheid”

Published by Anonymous (not verified) on Tue, 05/01/2021 - 5:57am in

As vaccinations for the deadly COVID-19 virus begin to be delivered in large numbers, Israel has been receiving a great deal of praise in global media for its handling of the fight against the pandemic — one that has cost the lives of over 1.8 million people worldwide in the last 12 months.

Israel has gone into vaccine “overdrive,” announced the Financial Times, noting that the country of 9 million people has become the “world leader” and an example to follow. Detailing its achievements, it told readers that, “At one vaccination site, people waited no longer than 10 minutes each to be assigned to receive a jab, with one of 10 booths being kept empty to handle overflows,” also noting that the high tech system texts citizens an exact time of arrival, to further help with crowd control. The Wall Street Journal celebrated that Israel had vaccinated more than 10% of its population in just two weeks. Other outlets like the BBC noted that the government was prioritizing the elderly, with over 40% of over 60s having already received the first dose of a two injection procedure. “Israel could become [the] 1st nation to vaccinate all its citizens,” ran an Economic Times’ headline.

Israel Media COVID

Corotate media outlets resoundingly heaped praise on Israel while almost completely ignoring its glaring human rights abuses

Completely missing from all these accounts, however, was any discussion, or even mention, of the millions of Palestinians under Israeli control, none of whom have received the vaccine, leading to a form of medical Apartheid. The move means that settlers illegally occupying Palestinian land are being given preferential treatment over those they have kicked out. The action has been denounced by human rights groups, who see it as Israel’s responsibility to provide medical treatment to those under their de facto jurisdiction.

Other outlets, such as Axios and the Independent also praised the Israeli government, but at least mentioned that there were no jabs for Palestinians. “Israel is vaccinating so fast it’s running out of vaccine,” reported the Washington Post excitedly before noting that the Netanyahu government has dismissed foreign criticism of its decision.

Israel is facing another national election in March, and Prime Minister Netanyahu hopes to vaccinate the entire population and lift lockdown measures before citizens go to the polls. Indeed, there is speculation that his government overpaid drug company Pfizer in order to secure so many early shipments of the medicine. The government began immunizing citizens on December 19.

In contrast to Israel, Palestinians have had to endure a deadly pandemic without proper equipment or hospitals. Last month, Gaza announced it had run out of COVID-19 testing kits, the blockaded strip also asking the World Health Organization for badly needed medical supplies.

Israeli authorities have also been guilty of more proactive measures that have spread the deadly coronavirus among the Palestinian population. In July, IDF forces demolished a recently constructed hospital and COVID-19 test facility in Hebron, in the West Bank, a move that was roundly condemned. “Because demolishing a COVID-19 testing center is totally the best way for Israel to be spending funds right now,” wrote female-led antiwar group CODEPINK, “Seriously, this obsession with destroying Palestine, even at the expense of Israeli coronavirus funding, is sick.” Small donors had raised around $250,000 to build the new center, which was being built in the memory of an elderly Palestinian man who had died of COVID-19 himself. There has also reportedly been a wave of Israeli settlers spitting on Palestinians in efforts to deliberately infect them with the virus.

Israel has reported more than 440,000 confirmed cases of COVID-19, while Palestine has registered over 142,000 itself. However, due to the paucity of testing kits and facilities, it is possible this is a serious underestimate.

4.2 million Americans — around 1% of the population — have received the first shot of a coronavirus vaccination, according to the Center for Disease Control. However, the rollout has been fraught with mistakes, with many vaccines being wasted. Even worse, last week, a Wisconsin pharmacist was arrested and accused of deliberately spoiling more than 500 doses of the Moderna vaccine. But while the Trump administration has been held under the spotlight, Israel has been treated more positively in corporate media.

Feature photo | A man wearing a face mask waits to receive a coronavirus vaccine at a COVID-19 vaccination center in Jerusalem, Jan. 4, 2021. Oded Balilty | AP

Alan MacLeod is a Staff Writer for MintPress News. After completing his PhD in 2017 he published two books: Bad News From Venezuela: Twenty Years of Fake News and Misreporting and Propaganda in the Information Age: Still Manufacturing Consent. He has also contributed to Fairness and Accuracy in ReportingThe GuardianSalonThe GrayzoneJacobin MagazineCommon Dreams the American Herald Tribune and The Canary.

The post Media Praise of Israel’s COVID Vaccination Drive a Form of “Medical Apartheid” appeared first on MintPress News.

“An Israeli Blitzkrieg” Signs Point to Imminent Israeli Military Action in Yemen

Published by Anonymous (not verified) on Tue, 05/01/2021 - 4:43am in

ADEN, YEMEN —  Saudi Arabia has rung in the new year in a familiar way, with an airstrike targeting a large gathering of civilians at a wedding ceremony in Yemen. On new year’s night, at least five civilians were killed when Saudi-backed militants launched artillery rounds at a wedding ceremony in the populated al-Hawk area in the strategic port city of Hodeida.

Developments taking place across the Middle East are driving the reality home in Yemen that 2021 is unlikely to bring about an end to Saudi Arabia’s nearly six-year-long war on their country. Signs of escalation are beginning to surface gradually in the Yemeni interior and along the Red Sea in the wake of the wave of normalization between the Gulf states and Tel Aviv.

After nearly six years of war, Yemen remains home to the world’s largest humanitarian crisis. Millions are hungry and destitute and at least 80% of the population requires humanitarian assistance or protection. Some 13.5 million people face severe food shortages and that number could rise to 16.2 million in 2021, according to International Relief Bodies. The Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO) raised the alarm about millions of Yemenis risking falling into worsening levels of hunger by mid-2021. The United Nations World Food Programme (WFP) also described the crisis in Yemen as “the world’s worst.”

The Saudi blockade on what was already one of the poorest countries on earth has entailed tight control over all aspects of life in Yemen since 2015, however, there are no indications that the Saudi blockade of Sana’a International Airport and Hodeida port will be lifted, the most important air and land ports in the country, and the cause of more Yemeni deaths than Saudi airstrikes, especially in light of the Covid-19 pandemic.

 

An Israeli blitzkrieg

On the ground, signs of escalation are expected to intensify during 2021 as an open military confrontation between Yemen and Israel seems closer than ever in the wake of recent Israel statements, including the statement of the spokesman for the Israeli military, Brigadier General Hidai Zilberman, who revealed to a Saudi website on Saturday the intention of his forces to launch a blitzkrieg in Yemen, confirming that Israel has been monitoring the situation in Yemen and Iraq. The Yemeni people fear that they will pay the price for tensions between Iran and the United States, according to many Yemenis who spoke to MintPress.

Zilberman said in an interview with Saudi news website Elaph that the regime in Tel Aviv expects that an Iranian attack could come from Yemen and Iraq. He referred to Yemen as “Iran`s second circle after Lebanon and Syria.” The recent remarks came after a similar statement made in October by Benjamin Netanyahu. The Israeli Prime Minister claimed that Iran sought to strike Israel from Yemen using surgical missile strikes.

According to information obtained by MIntPress and confirmed by Yemeni government officials in Sana’a, arrangements, and coordination have been underway between Israel and the Gulf states to escalate the situation in Yemen and justify it as a reaction to an expected Iranian retaliation for the assassination of Iranian scientist Mohsen Fakhrizadeh and the commander of Iran’s Quds Force, Qassem Soleimani, who is revered as a heroic warrior across Yemen. Soleimani was assassinated on January 2020 in a U.S. airstrike at Baghdad’s international airport.

This information has been confirmed by Jalal Al-Ruwaishan, Deputy Prime Minister for Security and Defense Affairs in the Sana’a government when he told local media that Israel began moving military equipment into the region after the recent normalization with Gulf states, including countries participating in the coalition,” referring to the UAE and Bahrain. He added, “what they failed to accomplish within six years, they will not be able to accomplish in a month, even in Biden era.”

Major General Abdullah Al-Hakim, the head of Military Intelligence in Sana’a, said in a statement that the Yemeni Army based in Sana’a is “monitoring the actions and provocations [of Israel] and its planned hostile actions.” Our eyes are not oblivious to the actions of the Zionist enemy in the region,” he said, “and they must understand the seriousness of our warning that any temerity or reckless actions will have dire consequences on Tel Aviv.”

 

The threat of all-out war

A high-ranking official in the Sana’a-based Yemeni Foreign Ministry told MintPress that any Israel attacks or war against Yemen would spark an all-out war in the Middle East and that Israel would be the first to suffer, adding that Israel interests and those of its allies in the Red Sea region would become a legitimate target within the framework of the right of self-defense guaranteed by all international conventions and agreements.

Any Israeli military action in Yemen would undoubtedly lead to an escalation in the region. In the wake of the announcement of Israeli intentions, statements issued by Yemen’s leaders warned of retaliatory attacks on Israel, in the Red Sea, and anywhere else in the region. Given the tone of officials in Sana’a when speaking to MintPress and the fact that the Houthis have not shied away from following through with retaliatory missile and drone attacks on targets in Saudi Arabia and the UAE, in addition to the volume of field preparations being made for an open and painful confrontation with Israel, the prospect of Houthi missiles raining down on Israel is very real.

Even to those living in areas under the total control of the Saudi-led Coalition, 2021is not likely to ferry in an end to their suffering, as wealthy Gulf monarchies live up to their storied reputations, wreaking havoc and instability, according to residents of those areas who spoke to MintPress in the wake of the violent explosions that struck recently Aden International airport and Al-Maasheeq Presidential Palace.

Yemen Aden airport

A damaged portion of the airport in the southern city of Aden after an explosion on Dec. 30, 2020, Majid Saleh | AP

Last Wednesday, a large explosion struck the airport in the southern Yemeni city of Aden, run by forces affiliated with the UAE-backed militant group, the Southern Transitional Council (STC), shortly after a plane carrying “the Yemeni government,” which had been newly formed in Ryadh, landed there. At least 25 people, including officials, were killed and 110 were wounded in the blast. Moments after the attack on the Aden International Airport, blasts struck Aden’s Al-Ma’asheeq district, where just moments earlier the newly-formed government was transferred.

Although Saudi Arabia’s allies accused the Houthis of the attacks, and the Houthis categorically rejected the accusation. The attacks came after factions affiliated with the Southern Movement loyal to the UAE pledged to thwart the self-proclaimed cabinet after they returned to Aden from Ryadh where they were mostly working under enforced detention.

 

Under Biden, the bombs will keep coming

Most in Yemen are condemned to a gloomy future, not only due to the developments on the ground but also because of the flurry of approvals given by the United States to both the Saudi-led Coalitions and Israel. Approvals for arms sales have been given to Saudi Arabia and the UAE. countries with an appalling record of human rights abuses who are still launching a war against the poorest country in the Middle East.

These approvals, which will likely go ignored by Congress despite a growing revolt to the sales from the U.S. public, include $290 million worth of bombs, a final gift by President Donald Trump’s administration. On Tuesday, the State Department’s defense security cooperation agency approved the sale of GBU-39 small-diameter bombs to Saudi Arabia. The approvals also include the proposed $65.6 million sale of advanced drones and F-35 fighter jets to the UAE, a reward for that country’s normalization of ties with Israel.

Incoming president Joe Biden has expressed some opposition to Saudi Arabia’s malign actions in Yemen, but most Yemenis see little chance that 2021 will bring positive changes by Biden given the current geopolitical reality in the Middle East. That reality includes the sanctity of the U.S. relationship with Israel, Saudi funds, and fever of normalization between Arab countries and Israel sweeping across the Middle East and perhaps most importantly, the ongoing obsession from concurrent U.S. administrations and from Riyadh and Abu Dhabi with trying to contain so-called “Iranian influence” in the Middle East and linking the war in Yemen with that effort.

Regardless of who was behind actually the recent explosions in Aden, there are obvious signs of escalation, meaning that war in Yemen will likely continue to escalate in 2021 and that more Yemenis will lose their lives, more people will become internally displaced, the spread of epidemics will continue unabated, more cities, hospitals, and schools will be destroyed, and millions of helpless families will be left with no means of sustenance.

Though there are international calls to end the war on Yemen as well as indirect talks between the Houthis and Saudi Arabia, few are holding out hope that they can bring an end to the bitter Yemeni war in 2021. Indeed, Saudi warplanes still regularly launch airstrikes across the northern regions of Yemen. On Thursday, at least 15 airstrikes hit populated areas in Sana’a, including the Sana`a International Airport, the Rima Hamid of Sanhan District, and Wadi Rajam in the Bani Hushaish District, east Sana’a. In retaliation for the ongoing war and blockade, the Houthi-allied Yemen Army, which possesses in its arsenal advanced military watercraft, threatened Saudi oil tankers on the Red Sea in the context of a military campaign that it launched two months ago in a bid to pressure the Kingdom to end its devastating war.

Feature photo | A worker stands on the wreckage of a tire store hit by Saudi air strikes in Sanaa, Yemen, December 02, 2020. Photo | Reuters

Ahmed AbdulKareem is a Yemeni journalist. He covers the war in Yemen for MintPress News as well as local Yemeni media.

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History Debunked Refutes the Myth that James I was Black

More from the whackier end of racial politics. History Debunked has put up a number of videos refuting various assertions and myths promoted as Black history. One of his videos attacked the claim, seen in the Netflix interracial historical romance, Bridgerton, that Queen Caroline was Black. This has arisen from the fact that one of her ancestors was a 13th Spanish Moorish prince. But that was five hundred years before her birth, and so any biological trace of her non-White ancestry would have disappeared way back in her lineage. Apart from which, the Spanish Moors were Berbers and Arabs from North Africa. They were darker than Europeans – the term ‘blue-blooded’ for the aristocracy comes from the Christian Spanish nobility. Under their idea of limpieza de sangre, ‘blood purity’, the racial ideology that distinguished them from the Moors, their skin was supposed to be so pale that you could see the veins in the wrist. But the Moors were nevertheless lighter-skinned than the darker peoples south of the Sahara, in what the Arabs called Bilad as-Sudan and the Berbers Akal Nguiwen, ‘The Land of the Blacks’. Which I think shows that the Arabs and Berbers, dark as they were compared to Europeans, very clearly didn’t think of themselves as Black.

In this video Simon Webb debunks a similar myth, that James I of England/ VI of Scotland, was Black. This ahistorical idea apparently began with the Black Hebrew Israelites, a Black Jewish sect who believe that one of the lost tribes of Israel went to sub-Saharan Africa. Webb mentions that a group of them settled in Israel in the Negev. He uses this to try to refute the demand that Israel should open its borders by stating that Israel had taken in people of a number of different racial groups. They are now, for example, taking in people from India. It’s true that Israel has taken in refugees from Africa, but many of the groups they’ve accepted were Jews. In the 1970s they mounted a rescue operation to transport the Falashas, the Black Jews of Ethiopia, away from their oppression in that country to safety in Israel. My guess is that the Indians they’re accepting are also Jewish. There’s an indigenous Jewish community in India, the Bene Israel, and it sounds like some of them may be migrating. There is, however, considerable racism amongst White Israelis. Abby Martin covered this in some of her reports for The Empire Files on TeleSur, in which she interviewed Black Israelis about the abuse, including physical assault, they’d experience. Gentile African refugees, although present, are resented by many Israelis as ‘infiltrators’, the term they also use for Palestinians trying to return to the ancestral lands from which they were evicted during the Nakba, the term they use for foundation of Israel and their massacre and ethnic cleansing in 1947.

But back to the Black Hebrew Israelites and James I. The Black Hebrew Israelites believe that the Spanish Moors were Black, and that they went from Spain to colonise Ireland and Scotland. Which must be news to most Scots and Irish. Mary, Queen of Scots was mixed race, but Lord Darnley, James’ father, was fully Black and so was James. The English, however, were determined to erase any trace of this Black ancestry, and so embarked on a deliberately policy of intermarrying with the Black Scots and Irish in order to make them White, at the same time destroying all the contrary evidence that they were Black. Although this myth began with the Black Hebrew Israelites it has spread out from them into the wider Black community. To support his description of this bizarre myth, Webb on the YouTube page for the video has link to an article in the Zimbabwean newspaper, The Patriot, which proudly promotes this claim.

Was King James I of England black? – YouTube

The belief that the Spanish Moors were Black has formed the basis for an anti-White racist view of history. A few years ago the American left-wing magazine, Counterpunch, carried on its online edition a piece by a Black historian, Garikai Chengu. This claimed that the Moors were ‘obviously Black’, and their colonisation of Spain brought science and reason to a Europe then gripped by ignorance and superstition. There’s some basis for this in that the revival of science in the West began when Christian scholars acquired Arab and Islamic scientific texts from places such as Islamic Spain and Sicily after that was conquered by the Normans. However, it’s grotesquely exaggerated and is really just a piece of racial supremacist propaganda, albeit one by Blacks rather than Whites. I think it’s fair to see such Afrocentric views of history as a form of Fascism, including this myth that the Irish and Scots were also really Black. Some historians have no trouble describing certain Black political movements as forms of Fascism. One recent book by an academic historian not only includes the classic Fascist movements of German Nazism, Italian Fascism and various other White, European far right movements, but also Marcus Garvey’s Negro Improvement Association and the Nation of Islam, as well as Narendra Modi’s BJP in India. The inclusion of Marcus Garvey and his organisation may well offend many Black activists. Garvey is one of the pioneers of Black liberation. A month or so ago there was a Black celebrity writing in the pages of the Radio Times recommending that children should be taught about him in school. I really know very little about Garvey, but the claim that he was Fascistic rings true. When I was working as a volunteer in the Empire and Commonwealth Museum in Bristol one of the jobs I was given was unpacking some of boxes of material given to the Museum by private individuals and institutions. One of these included a document by Garvey’s organisation. I didn’t do more than glance at it, but it appeared to be describing some kind of military parade or armed wing. This included women’s units and mechanised and mounted forces of various kinds. I don’t know if Garvey and his followers were ever able to set up such a paramilitary force or whether it was all a fantasy. But one of the features of Fascism is its militarism. The Nazis and Italian Fascists, not to mention the various other Fascist movements, all started out as paramilitary organisations complete with uniforms and arms.

Alongside the entirely reasonable demands for social and economic improvement and renewed action to combat White racism, the Black Lives Matter movement has also brought out and articulated strains of overt anti-White racism. One example of this was the attempt by Sasha Johnson, of the Oxford branch of the organisation, to set up her own paramilitary Black army in Brixton to protect Blacks from the cops, and her tweet that the White man wouldn’t be Blacks’ equal, but their slave. Which got her banned from the social media platform. I think there is a real need to start studying and publishing material specifically on Black racism and Fascism. At the moment, there appears to be very little, if any, books specifically published on it. If you search for ‘Black racism’ on Google, what comes up is articles and books on the attacks on affirmative action programmes by right-wing Whites. Way back in the ’90s and early parts of this century there was a book published on Black anti-White violence in America. This might be White Girl Bleed A Lot, which is a similar book. However, I’m not sure how academically respectable the latter is, as I think its author may have joined the extreme right. I can see many people on the left resisting any attempt to categorise and study various Black Fascist movements from the belief that, as Blacks have been oppressed in the West, and are still disadvantaged, it is unfair to characterise such movement as they arose in response to White racism and persecution.

But this does not change the nature of these movements and the racism and racist history they promote. Whatever their connections to the broader Black liberation movement, they’re still racist and Fascist themselves, and should be viewed as such. Fascism everywhere needs to be fought, regarded of race.

The American Money Tree: The Untold Story of US Aid to Israel

Published by Anonymous (not verified) on Thu, 31/12/2020 - 7:37am in

On December 21, the United States Congress passed the COVID-19 Relief Package, as part of a larger $2.3 trillion bill meant to cover spending for the rest of the fiscal year. As usual, US representatives allocated a massive sum of money for Israel.

While unemployment, thus poverty, in the US is skyrocketing as a result of repeated lockdowns, the US found it essential to provide Israel with $3.3 billion in ‘security assistance’ and $500 million for US-Israel missile defense cooperation.

Although a meager $600 dollar payment to help struggling American families was the subject of several months of intense debate, there was little discussion among American politicians over the large funds handed out to Israel, for which there are no returns.

Support for Israel is considered a bipartisan priority and has, for decades, been perceived as the most stable item in the US foreign policy agenda.  The mere questioning of how Israel uses the funds – whether the military aid is being actively used to sustain Israel’s illegal occupation of Palestine, finance Jewish settlements, fund annexation of Palestinian land or violate Palestinian human rights – is a major taboo.

One of the few members of Congress to demand that aid to Israel be conditioned on the latter’s respect for human rights is Democratic Senator, Bernie Sanders, of Vermont, who was also a leading presidential nominee for the Democratic Party. “We cannot give it carte blanche to the Israeli government … We have the right to demand respect for human rights and democracy”, Sanders had said in October 2019.

His Democratic rival, now President-elect, Joe Biden, soon countered: “The idea that I’d withdraw military aid, as others have suggested, from Israel, is bizarre,” he said.

It is no secret that Israel is the world’s leading recipient of US aid since World War II.  According to data provided by the US Congressional Research Service, Israel has received  $146 billion of US taxpayers’ money as of November 2020.

From 1971 up to 2007, a bulk of these funds proved fundamental in helping Israel establish a strong economic base. Since then, most of the money has been allotted for military purposes, including the security of Israel’s illegal Jewish settlement enterprise.

Despite the US financial crisis of 2008, American money continued to be channeled to Israel, whose economy survived the global recession, largely unscathed.

In 2016, the US promised even more money. The Democratic Barack Obama Administration, which is often – although mistakenly – seen as hostile to Israel, increased US funding to Israel by a significant margin. In a 10-year Memorandum of Understanding, Washington and Tel Aviv reached a deal whereby the US agreed to give Israel $38 billion in military aid covering the financial years 2019-2028. This is a whopping increase of $8 billion compared with the previous 10-year agreement, which concluded at the end of 2018.

The new American funds are divided into two categories: $33 billion in foreign military grants and an additional $5 billion in missile defense.

American generosity has long been attributed to the unmatched influence of pro-Israeli groups, lead among them American Israel Public Affairs Committee (AIPAC). The last four years, however, required little lobbying by these groups, as powerful agents within the administration itself became Israel’s top advocates.

Aside from the seemingly endless ‘political freebies’ that the Donald Trump Administration has given Israel in recent years, it is now considering ways to accelerate the timetable of delivering the remainder of US funds as determined by the last MOU, an amount that currently stands at $26.4 billion. According to official congressional documents, the US “also may approve additional sales of the F-35 to Israel and accelerate the delivery of KC-46A refueling and transport aircraft to Israel.”

These are not all the funds and perks that Israel receives. Much more goes unreported, as it is channeled either indirectly or simply promoted under the flexible title of ‘cooperation’.

For example, between 1973 and 1991, a massive sum of $460 million of US funds was allocated to resettling Jews in Israel. Many of these new immigrants are now the very Israeli militants that occupy the West Bank illegal settlements. In this particular case, the money is paid to a private charity known as the United Israel Appeal which, in turn, gives the money to the Jewish Agency. The latter has played a central role in the founding of Israel on top of the ruins of Palestinian towns and villages in 1948.

Under the guise of charitable donations, tens of millions of dollars are regularly sent to Israel in the form of “tax-deductible gifts for Jewish settlement in the West Bank and East Jerusalem,” the New York Times reported. Much of the money, falsely promoted as donations for educational and religious purposes, often finds its way to funding and purchasing housing for illegal settlers, “as well as guard dogs, bulletproof vests, rifle scopes and vehicles to secure (illegal Jewish) outposts deep in occupied (Palestinian) areas.”

Quite often, US money ends up in the Israeli government’s coffers under deceptive pretenses. For example, the latest Stimulus Package includes $50 million to fund the Nita M. Lowey Middle East Partnership for Peace Funds, supposedly to provide investments in “people-to-people exchanges and economic cooperation … between Israelis and Palestinians with the goal of supporting a negotiated and sustainable two-state solution.”

Actually, such money serves no particular purpose, since Washington and Tel Aviv endeavor to ensure the demise of a negotiated peace agreement and work hand-in-hand to kill the now defunct two-state solution.

The list is endless, though most of this money is not included in the official US aid packages to Israel, therefore receives little scrutiny, let alone media coverage.

As of February 2019, the US has withheld all funds to the Palestinian Authority in the West Bank, in addition to cutting aid to the UN Palestinian Refugees agency (UNRWA), the last lifeline of support needed to provide basic education and health services to millions of Palestinian refugees.

Judging by its legacy of continued support of the Israeli military machine and the ongoing colonial expansion in the West Bank, Washington insists on serving as Israel’s main benefactor – if not direct partner – while shunning Palestinians altogether. Expecting the US to play a constructive role in achieving a just peace in Palestine does not only reflect indefensible naivety but willful ignorance as well.

Feature photo | Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu delivers a statement at the Israeli Knesset, Dec. 22, 2020. Yonatan Sindel | Pool via 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). Dr. Baroud is a Non-resident Senior Research Fellow at the Center for Islam and Global Affairs (CIGA) and also at the Afro-Middle East Center (AMEC). His website is www.ramzybaroud.net 

The post The American Money Tree: The Untold Story of US Aid to Israel appeared first on MintPress News.

Israel’s Genocide in Gaza Goes Uninterrupted, But Is Europe Finally Taking Notice?

Published by Anonymous (not verified) on Wed, 23/12/2020 - 2:16am in

A report published by the United Nations in 2018 stated that by the year 2020 the Gaza Strip would be uninhabitable. It said specifically that, “the United Nations has stated that Gaza may well be unlivable by 2020.” The report emphasized also that “Michael Lynk, Special Rapporteur on the Situation of Human Rights in the Palestinian Territories Occupied Since 1967, drew attention to Israel’s persistent non-cooperation with the Special Rapporteur’s mandate. As with his two predecessors, Israel has not granted him entry to visit the country, nor the Occupied Palestinian territory.” Anyone who thinks that the Gaza Strip was liveable prior to 2020 is out of their mind.

The Gaza Strip has been a humanitarian disaster since it was artificially created in the aftermath of the 1948 Zionist campaign of ethnic cleansing. It was created primarily as a holding place for the hundreds of thousands of Palestinians driven off of their lands by Zionist terrorists in southern Palestine. Impoverished and homeless, these refugees were forced to survive on handouts, and today they make up more than half of the Gaza Strip’s 2.2 million inhabitants. Considering the high standard of living Jewish citizens of Israel in that part of the country enjoy, living as they do on the very lands from which the Palestinians were exiled, the “Strip” was never “liveable.”

Now 2020 has come and gone, the United Nations report is shelved, and not a thing has changed. Over two million people remain imprisoned by Israel in the Gaza Strip. They suffer from a lack of the most basic needs like drinkable water, electricity, medicine, and nutrition. Israel also denies them basic human rights while Israeli Jews living minutes away enjoy a standard of living that is, by any measure, enviable with full access to the finest health care, nutrition, and clean water.

 

A European delegation comes to visit

A delegation of European representatives recently visited Gaza, yet Europeans have not used their influence, political or otherwise, to end Israeli violations of human rights and international law.

It would not have taken much for EU representatives to see the devastation, poverty, and severe shortages experienced by the people of Gaza. All one needs to do is drive through the Gaza Strip to see the evidence, and yet no change seems to be forthcoming from the Europeans.

Gaza Europe

A family prepares tea in a slum on the outskirts of Khan Younis Refugee Camp, in the southern Gaza Strip, Nov. 25, 2020. Khalil Hamra | AP

In fact, according to the Israeli press, Germany just announced that in order to provide Israel with a European made vaccine for Covid-19, “Germany used its influence in the EU to bend the rule that a European-produced vaccination would be given to European countries first. Germany justified the decision in part through its “historical commitment to supporting Israel.” Knowing full well that millions of Palestinians are denied health care and that the spread of Covid-19 among Palestinians is alarming, no such commitment was made to assist the Palestinians in their fight against the deadly disease..

 

Complicity

The comfort that Europeans display as they cooperate with the State of Israel, even as they claim to be champions of human rights, amounts to complicity. According to the Geneva Convention, particularly the Rome Statute, European cooperation with Israel constitutes complicity in genocide. When one looks at the definition of genocide and compares it with the actions of Israel in Gaza, it is quite clear that the Zionist State is engaged in genocide.

Convention on the Prevention and Punishment of the Crime of Genocide

Article II

In the present Convention, genocide means any of the following acts committed with intent to destroy, in whole or in part, a national, ethnical, racial or religious group, as such:

    1. Killing members of the group;
    2. Causing serious bodily or mental harm to members of the group;
    3. Deliberately inflicting on the group conditions of life calculated to bring about its physical destruction in whole or in part;
    4. Imposing measures intended to prevent births within the group;
    5. Forcibly transferring children of the group to another group;

Three of the five examples given here are constantly committed by Israel in Gaza. Furthermore, Article II of the Genocide Convention “contains a narrow definition of the crime of genocide, which includes two main elements,” one of which is the “intent to destroy, in whole or in part, a national, ethnical, racial or religious group, as such.” Israeli attacks on Gaza for over seven decades  clearly demonstrate that they are part of a larger strategy and that there is clear intent to bring about the destruction of a people.

According to a report published by Human Rights Watch (HRW), the issue of complicity with genocide is quite clear. “Prior jurisprudence has defined the term complicity as aiding and abetting, instigating, and procuring […] Complicity to commit genocide in Article 2(3)(e) refers to all acts of assistance or encouragement that have substantially contributed to, or have had a substantial effect on, the completion of the crime of genocide.”

The report defined the following as elements of complicity in genocide:

  • “complicity by procuring means, such as weapons, instruments or any other means, used to commit genocide, with the accomplice knowing that such means would be used for such a purpose;
  • complicity by knowingly aiding or abetting a perpetrator of a genocide in the planning or enabling acts thereof;

According to that definition, both the EU states and the United States are complicit in the crime of genocide.

Human Rights Watch maintains that Israel has, “entrenched discriminatory systems that treat Palestinians unequally.”  It “involves systematic rights abuses, including collective punishment, routine use of excessive lethal force against protesters, and prolonged administrative detention without charge or trial for hundreds.”

It continues to state that Israel, “builds and supports illegal settlements […]expropriating Palestinian land and imposing burdens on Palestinians but not on settlers, restricting their access to basic services and making it nearly impossible for them to build.”

Regarding the Gaza Strip, HRW writes that “Israel’s more than decade-long closure of Gaza severely restricts the movement of people and goods, with devastating humanitarian impact.”

 

What constitutes aid?

The first order of business needs to be the immediate and unconditional lifting of the siege imposed on the Gaza Strip since 2007. A no-fly zone monitored by UN or European naval forces must be imposed on all Israeli aircraft. In addition to these measures, humanitarian relief must be made available to the people of Gaza without delay.

Israel must be sanctioned and all military and economic cooperation with Israel must be stopped until such time that it complies with international law and ends all its violations of human rights. This should be followed by setting a date for free and fair one person, one vote elections in all of historic Palestine. Then processes must be put in place for the repatriation of Palestinian refugees, and funding must be set aside for payment of reparations and restitution.


A girl walks next to a donkey carte loaded with rocks on the outskirts of Khan Younis Refugee Camp, in the southern Gaza, Nov. 25, 2020. Khalil Hamra |AP

Israel must also be held accountable for its violations of international law since 1948 and Israeli politicians, as well as military commanders, must be investigated and charged with war crimes.

European countries are fully aware of the reality that exists in Gaza. A long and cruel siege, constant Israeli attacks resulting in the killing of countless civilians, destruction of homes and infrastructure, extreme poverty, and trauma are the daily bread of Palestinians in Gaza.

The reality in Gaza is no secret and Israeli violations of international law are well known. However, European governments are in the habit of seeing colonized and formerly colonized people as needing aid and doing little to provide the aid. The aid they provide is sometimes monetary and sometimes humanitarian in the form of food items, but rarely is it sufficient. In the case of the Gaza Strip, real political action is called for, but it is not clear if and when the EU will be willing to act.

Feature photo | Palestinians look on from their house in a slum on the outskirts of Khan Younis Refugee Camp, in the southern Gaza Strip, Nov. 25, 2020. Khalil Hamra | 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.”

The post Israel’s Genocide in Gaza Goes Uninterrupted, But Is Europe Finally Taking Notice? appeared first on MintPress News.

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