Israel

“Deadly Exchange”: America’s Racist Policing Has Roots in Israel

Published by Anonymous (not verified) on Sat, 30/05/2020 - 2:25am in

Racism and violence against people of color in the U.S. is nothing new. In fact, the United States, with its claims to be “the land of the free,” has always been a racist, genocidal and violent state. It was founded on genocide of the native people and on the backs African slaves. The United States committed the most egregious war crimes in the history of mankind, including genocide, the use of nuclear weapons, destruction of democracies and support for murderous dictators around the world, and the list goes on and on from the earliest days of the Union to this very day.

The state of Israel, which historically speaking is a new creation, was also founded on genocide and racism. For close to one hundred years the Zionist movement which created Israel has been engaged in a brutal campaign to rid Palestine of its indegenous population and give the land to Jewish colonizers. It should, therefore, come as no surprise that good relations exist between the United States and Israel.

There are countless areas of life in the U.S. in which Israel and various Zionist organizations influence and interfere. The Jewish Federation, the Anti-Defamation League, and AIPAC are the most commonly recognized but are only three out of countless organizations that operate throughout the fifty states and relentlessly pursue Israeli interests in all facets of American life.

These organizations interfere in U.S. elections by pouring money into the campaigns of  pro-Israeli candidates; they are engaged in heavily influencing the outcome of trials where the defendants are Arabs or Muslims, and they finance campaigns to edit and rewrite curricula in public schools so that the Middle East is always taught in a way that supports the Zionist narrative.

 

A deadly exchange

As the video clip of a Minnesota police officer slowly and callously choking George Floyd to death went viral, many people, including myself, remembered Palestine. Officer Derek Chauvin, who casually placed his knee on George Floyd’s neck, could have easily been an Israeli soldier or police officer holding down a Palestinian. The way he just sat there, took a knee on Floyd’s neck, ignoring Floyd who repeatedly said he cannot breathe, ignoring Floyd as he begged him to allow him to breathe and ignoring the fact that the man under his knee was slowly suffocating to death made it clear that this cop was a predator and George Floyd was merely his prey.

American Israeli police

Since 9/11, many American police forces have been trained by Israeli security experts. Photos | AP

This happens in America just as it happens in Palestine. The similarities are no coincidence and they may well be the result of what has become known as the “Deadly Exchange,” a collaboration between the two racist states who see no problem in executing and watching the slow agonizing death of black and brown people.

Deadly Exchange is the name of a campaign to stop the collaboration between police departments across the United States and the state of Israel. The campaign put out an extensive report that outlines the cooperation between law enforcement in the U.S. and Israel. The report also lists the dangers and threats that this exchange poses to people of color in the United States.

 

Israeli democracy and security

Israel is wrongly heralded as a democracy facing perpetual threat. In reality, it is an apartheid state and its security apparatus is dedicated neither to safety nor security as it claims, but rather to the subjugation of Palestinians. During training sessions in Israel, U.S. law enforcement delegations meet with Israeli military, police, and intelligence agencies. They are given “opportunities” to learn about what Israel calls counterterrorism, but is in fact no more than “refining methods of racial profiling.”

Cynically taking advantage of the 9/11 attacks, within months of the attacks, American law enforcement representatives set out to Israel for their first official training expeditions. The purpose was to learn from Isreal’s so-called “expertise” in what has become known as counter-terrorism. Counter-Terrorism, it is worth noting here, is a euphemism for the violent means used to subjugate oppressed people.

The very first delegation to Israel, according to Deadly Exchange, included police chiefs and deputies from California, Texas, Maryland, Florida, and New York. The delegation also included FBI and CIA agents, future ICE officers, and directors of New York City MTA security.

Among the sponsors of this exchange program are the Anti-Defamation League (ADL), which claims to fight the defamation of Jewish people, but in fact is dedicated to defamation of Arabs and Muslims, and the Jewish Institute for National Security Affairs (JINSA). JISNA claims it is dedicated to “educating Congressional, military and civilian national security decision-makers on American defense and strategic interests,”  the cornerstone of which, according to JINSA, “is a robust U.S.-Israeli security cooperation.” Both groups are well funded Zionist organizations that are dedicated to promoting and defending Israeli violence and racism no matter what.

 

Systemic racism

One of the many similarities between Israel and the United States is their propensity for systemic racism. From the very beginning, Israel has imposed an apartheid regime in occupied Palestine and Palestinian citizens of Israel are subjected to systematic profiling. This means that interactions with the Israeli police regularly lead to “excessive and often lethal use of force deployed with impunity.”

Not unlike the United States where black and brown Americans make up the majority of the prison population, in Israeli prisons, Palestinian citizens of Israel represent a disproportionate number of those incarcerated. A report in the Israeli publication Mekomit states that Palestinian citizens of Israel, who make up about 20 percent of the overall population, comprise over 40 percent of the prison population, in fact, according to Mekomit, only about a quarter of prisoners held in Israeli prisons are Jewish, and amongst minors being held in Israeli prisons, only about 13 percent are Jews.

palestinian children

Israeli police place a Palestinian boy in a chokehold in Jerusalem’s Old City, July 17, 2017. Mahmoud Illean | AP

If we include “security prisoners,” who come from the occupied Palestinian West Bank, Jerusalem, and Gaza Strip, the numbers are even more grotesque, raising the percentage of Palestinians within the Israeli prison population to a staggering 73 percent.

Israeli policing utilizes an official policy where an entire population is guilty until proven innocent and naturally, this is part of the so-called counterterrorism training offered by Israel. It reinforces institutionalized racial profiling and even the targeting of social movements that demand racial justice.  

The Israeli government uses false claims of “terrorism” to treat all Palestinians as potential enemy combatants. The excuse of terrorism is also used in order to subjugate Palestinians to a different system of laws, which inevitably leads to more policing and higher rates of incarceration.

 

Media

The training Israel offers also includes methods to control the media. Members of law enforcement who have received the training reported that they “learned about how to intervene and shape media access and coverage of violence committed by the military and police.” The Israeli methods taught include how to use the media as an arm of the government and “reframe coverage of state violence.”

The Israeli government utilizes the office of the military censor to control all reporting on Israel’s use of force. It also reviews all books and other material before it can be made available to the public. The IDF Spokesperson’s office which also yields power over Israeli journalists, acts as Israel’s de facto public relations office, restricting and shaping local coverage of what it considers to be “security affairs.”

It should be noted that in Israel there is very little criticism when it comes to the work of the army and other security agencies and reporters work very closely with the military to present its violence against Palestinians as justified. Palestinian dissent, even when it is expressed in the most peaceful methods, is regularly reported as violence and borderline terrorism.

Israel has “normalized” the use of military force to stamp out popular protests, thus contributing to the undermining of basic civil rights of Palestinians. These violent, forceful methods of controlling dissent are shown to the American police delegations through briefings and even live demonstrations.

 

Parallels to Palestine

The violent encounters black communities in the U.S. experience with the police have led many people to draw parallels between Palestinians and people of color in the United States. This created a real sense of solidarity between U.S. social movements and the Palestinian struggle for liberation, a solidarity that is increasingly becoming stronger and can potentially turn the tide of public opinion on this issue in the U.S.

In its report, the Deadly Exchange Campaign demands that “the American government end its violence in the name of security.” The report also states that “We hope that local governments nationwide heed the calls from communities across Palestine and the United States to help build a world with real safety that we all can inhabit with dignity.”

Feature photo | Israeli police frisk a Palestinian man in Jerusalem, Jan 29, 2020. Mahmoud Illean | 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 “Deadly Exchange”: America’s Racist Policing Has Roots in Israel appeared first on MintPress News.

Book Review: Blindness Through the Looking Glass: The Performance of Blindness, Gender and the Sensory Body by Gili Hammer

Published by Anonymous (not verified) on Fri, 29/05/2020 - 11:00pm in

In Blindness Through the Looking Glass: The Performance of Blindness, Gender and the Sensory Body, Gili Hammer draws on the first-person narratives of 40 blind women in Israel and ethnographic fieldwork to challenge visuality as the dominant mode of understanding and experiencing gender identity, visual culture and the sensory body. Devon Healey recommends this book as an essential resource for Women’s and Gender Studies, Disability Studies and, it is her hope, Blind Studies.

Blindness Through the Looking Glass: The Performance of Blindness, Gender and the Sensory Body. Gili Hammer. University of Michigan Press. 2020.

It is not usually the case that someone reviewing a book reveals that they are sighted; indeed, that would be an odd thing to do. However, it seems somehow necessary for someone reviewing a book on blindness such as this one, Blindness Through the Looking Glass: The Performance of Blindness, Gender and the Sensory Body, to reveal that they are blind. How this is necessary, I am not exactly sure. But, I am blind and I am reviewing this book.

I have often thought that I experience my blindness through a looking glass and this looking glass is sight. I have felt the watchful presence of sight, its eyes fixed on my body, as I move in and through the world; a fixation that at times seems as though it is judgmental. I watch myself in its mirror as it looks at me and judges my performance of blindness. How close I may be to sight or how far from it I am is the subject of its gaze. Am I looking as though sight is the dominant reality? Am I too blind or not blind enough? These are the types of questions that haunt blind people as we move in the visual world. This book does not shatter or even change the looking glass through which I experience my blindness but rather tilts it. This tilt shifts the perception of the looking glass to reveal not judgment, but something different — a difference that is not merely steeped in the rhetoric of blindness as a different way of seeing the world. Instead, the revelation of this tilt of difference opens the possibility of the beauty of blindness.

Gili Hammer’s tilted approach to the looking glass offers the most watched subjects of sight’s gaze, blind women, the opportunity to not only look back at, but also speak back to sight. ‘This book’, writes Hammer, ‘challenges seeing as the dominant mode though which we understand gender, social performance, and visual culture’ (1) and indeed, I believe it does.

First-person narratives from 40 blind women between 19 and 66 years of age within the Israeli context regarding gender identity, dating and relationships, gender roles, performances of student, employee, friend, partner, wife and mother, as well as the navigation of religious traditions and customs, all reveal the richness of the sensory body and the unseen world through blindness. Hammer organises these interviews into three sections — a discussion of gender identity; visual culture; and the sensory body. The introduction offers a detailed description of her ethnographic methodology and the ethics surrounding researcher and researched relations. Hammer comments throughout the book that she and many of her research subjects became good friends, noting that many offered their input on the writing, organisation and subject matter of the final copy.

Making use of anthropology and disability studies, Chapter Three, ‘Socialization Toward Visual Norms’, highlights how blind women feel the Western gaze on their bodies, a feeling that influences how they understand beauty and visual expression through fashion. What is of particular interest in this chapter is the hint of a language of blindness. Interviewees reflect on how fashion magazines were translated into braille and recorded as audio files for accessibility purposes, communicating ideals around femininity and body image, but no attempt was made to translate visual language. The notion that blindness is not merely a ‘technical problem requiring technical solutions’ (52) (e.g. accessibility to print material), but rather is a cultural identity replete with our own language is a provocative one. Indeed, there are many ‘hints’ within this book as to how blindness may be understood as a cultural identity, one that has been overlooked and dismissed as merely lack of sight. Hammer makes many suggestions throughout this work as to the cultural identity of blindness, leaving room for her readers to continue theorising what I call the visual politics of being.

It is crucial to note that Hammer is not blind. She is a sighted women doing research on blind women, and as such, there is a tension that runs between and among the pages of this book, a tension that is not lost on Hammer. From the beginning stages of her work Hammer writes that she was asked, ‘Are you blind?’ before many subjects agreed to participate in her study. I must admit that I too found myself asking similar questions. Do we, blind people, need another book written about us by a sighted person? Should only blind people write about blind people? Should there be something called Blind Studies where blind people are the authority figures?

In her Epilogue, Hammer provides an autoethnographic sensory reflection on her relationship to and with the visual construction of gender and identity that tilted how I approached and related to her and to her book. Through a rich sensory description of her childhood home in Nahalal, a cooperative farming village in the Jezreel Valley of North Israel, Hammer’s connection to the simultaneous hypervisibility of blindness and the invisibility of gender that many of the blind women in her book expressed feeling is revealed. After recovering from a long illness that required her to be on bedrest, Hammer writes: ‘I had lost so much weight that year (and was skinny to begin with) that, at times, people gasped at the sight of me. My body reminded them of the Muselmann, the skeleton-like Holocaust survivors, spurring comments that made me horrifically ashamed of the way I looked’ (165). I am not suggesting that the visual representation or experience of Holocaust survivors and blind women are in any way the same. What I am suggesting is that Hammer’s layered experience of feeling the watchful eyes of sight on her body and of how that feeling shaped her understanding of self in relation to others is what connects both the researcher and researched, author and reader, sight and blindness, Hammer and me.

This book seeks to explore the world of the senses through the beauty that is blindness. Hammer tilts the looking glass reflection of sight and blindness as a binary ‘offering a more complex interpretation of the many ways blindness and sight, and sight and the other senses, are interdependent’ (90). This book is an essential resource for Women’s and Gender Studies, Disability Studies and, it is my hope, Blind Studies. Read this book.

Note: This review gives the views of the author, and not the position of the LSE Review of Books blog, or of the London School of Economics.

Image Credit: With a pink-grey background, the photograph depicts part of a hand holding up a looking glass in the middle of the frame, with the left-hand edge of the looking glass facing the camera. On the right-hand side of the frame, part of a hand is held up to the height of the looking glass mirror (Photo by Septian simon on Unsplash).

 


Extortion, Entitlement and Mafia-Style Tactics Mark Israel’s Current State of Affairs

Published by Anonymous (not verified) on Wed, 27/05/2020 - 11:15pm in

Anyone who is not yet alarmed may not be aware of the underhanded mafia-style tactics, political extortion, and patronizing sense of entitlement currently on display in Israel. The following developments demonstrate how the county operates both internally and in the international arena.

 

Czech Foreign Minister slammed!

As Israel prepares to formally annex large tracts of the West Bank, Tomas Petricek, the Czech Republic’s Foreign Minister, was quoted as saying that “annexation is forbidden by international law and also raises serious questions about Israel’s future as a democracy.” By any normal diplomatic standard this statement does not represent a view that is outrageous or radical in any way, nor is it out of the ordinary or untruthful in any way. In fact, it is such a reasonable statement that it is hardly deserving of a headline. The annexation of occupied lands is a breach of international law and the democratic nature of the state of Israel is already questionable.

However, the government in Prague reacted to this statement in a way that is puzzling at best, and at worst, should be of great concern to our friends in the Czech Republic. According to Israeli newspaper Haaretz, “the Czech prime minister and the president are reportedly weighing firing Petricek after he co-authored an editorial saying that West Bank annexation raises serious questions about Israel’s future as a democracy.”

According to a report from Radio Prague International, the article was co-written by Petricek and two of his predecessors, Lubomír Zaoralek and Karel Schwarzenberg. The report says that “In a piece in the newspaper Právo on Saturday the three said that Israel’s proposal would contravene international law.”

However, Czech President Milos Zeman is a staunch supporter of Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and even promised to move his country’s embassy to Jerusalem. Zeman said that the article undermined relations between the Czech Republic and Israel.

For his part, Czech Prime Minister Andrej Babis criticized Petricek and Zaoralek, who is now serving as the Czech Minister of Arts, saying, “it was unacceptable for individual cabinet members to make statements on such an important foreign policy issue.”

The editorial co-written by the three ministers also stated that “Neither the Israelis nor the Americans have as yet clarified what is to happen, in the long run, to the Palestinians,” and it further posed the question, “what about Israeli democracy if the state comprises of first and second-class citizens?”

The affair has prompted the Czech parliament to hold a debate on a motion “Reaffirming our [Czech] friendship with Israel.” This friendship, which has a long history, includes selling arms to Zionist militias and then the Israeli army in the early years of the Israeli state. Those arms would later be used in a brutal campaign of ethnic cleansing against Palestinians.

 

The great looting

It has been widely publicized that Israel’s international spy agency has been tasked by the prime minister to find much-needed medical equipment to combat COVID-19. There are even quotes from national security observers saying that “the Mossad’s speed, spycraft, and international networks would make it good at identifying and securing medical supplies.”

Now, a story in the Israeli paper Ynet reveals the full extent of the Mossad’s massive coronavirus protective gear haul.

“The intelligence agency’s internal report obtained by Ynet counts over 80 million face masks, nearly 30 tons of disinfectants and over 10,000 ventilators” obtained in the effort. The report further says that Mossad Chief Yossi Cohen utilized his “personal connections with various nations around the world, including countries that have no diplomatic ties with Israel.”

Mossad is known for its murderous tactics and underhanded methods used in spying operations and assassinations. Seeing this report, one dreads to imagine what methods were used to secure such enormous amounts of medical equipment.

“According to the report, the amount of medical gear and equipment obtained since the start of the outbreak includes 2.5 million protective goggles, with a further 5.5 million still to arrive; some 80 million surgical face masks, with a further 142 million still to arrive; 1.3 million of N-95 type face masks, with a further 14 million still to arrive; 180 million elastic gloves; over 30 tons of disinfectants and at least 1,300 ventilators, with another 4,700 expected to arrive between June and October.”

Israel has always prided itself in its agencies’ capacity to lie, cheat, bribe, and even kill if need be to achieve its objectives. No agency personifies these traits better than Mossad and one may safely assume that it utilized its full capacity in accomplishing this mission as well.

 

Security cooperation

As Israel announced it would move ahead with plans to annex parts of the West Bank on July 1, 2020, the Palestinian Authority (PA) announced that it will end all security cooperation with Israel in response to the annexation.

The establishment of the Palestinian Authority and its security cooperation with Israel were never meant to help Palestinians. They were created for the sole purpose of allowing Israel to strengthen its grip on Palestinian land, resources, and even the population. The Hebrew daily Maariv featured an interview with Israeli military correspondent Tal Lev-Ram who predicted that Israel’s implementation of the annexation combined with the economic difficulties posed by the coronavirus pandemic is a sure recipe for an escalation of hostilities. Lev-Ram goes on to say that security cooperation between Israel and the PA does not currently exist on any level.

Be that as it may, the truth of the matter is that the so-called security cooperation was more of a collaboration and only benefited Israel. Israeli forces operated freely in areas controlled by the Palestinian Authority and the agreement offered no security or protection for Palestinians who were targeted by Israel.

Not only were Palestinians not protected by the agreement, Israel, in fact, never stopped the killing, detentions, and home demolitions which have become a part of the daily life of Palestinians. Furthermore, Palestinian officials are required to request permits from the Israeli military even for travel of short distances while Israelis roam around the West Bank freely.

The entire Zionist enterprise is based on deceit and violence and anyone paying attention will notice the duplicity and violence that are on display every day.

Feature photo | Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, wearing a face mask due to the coronavirus pandemic, looks at his lawyer inside the courtroom as his corruption trial opens at the Jerusalem District Court, May 24, 2020. Ronen Zvulun Pool Photo via 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 Extortion, Entitlement and Mafia-Style Tactics Mark Israel’s Current State of Affairs appeared first on MintPress News.

The Ben Uliel Case: Has Israel Won the Battle Against Jewish Terror?

Published by Anonymous (not verified) on Tue, 26/05/2020 - 10:08pm in

Israeli media and Zionist apologists everywhere are busy whitewashing Israel’s globally-tattered image using the rare indictment of an Israeli terrorist, Amiram Ben Uliel, who was recently convicted for murdering the Palestinian Dawabsheh family, including an 18-month-old toddler in the town of Duma, south of Nablus.

The conviction of Ben Uliel by an Israeli three-judge court on May 18, is expectedly celebrated by some as proof that the Israeli judicial system is fair and transparent, and that Israel does not need to be investigated by outside parties.

The timing of the Israeli court’s decision to convict Ben Uliel of three counts of murder and two counts of attempted murder was particularly important, as it followed a decision by the International Criminal Court (ICC) Prosecutor, Fatou Bensouda, to move forward with its investigation of war crimes committed in Occupied Palestine.

Considering how Israel’s extremists, especially those living illegally in the Occupied West Bank, are governed through a separate, and far more lenient system than the military regime that governs Palestinians, the seemingly-clear indictment of the Israeli terrorist deserves further scrutiny.

Israel’s apologists were quick to celebrate the verdict by the court, to the extent that Israel’s own internal intelligence agency, the Shin Bet, known for its notorious torture methods of Palestinian prisoners, described the decision as “an important milestone in the battle against Jewish terror”.

Others labored to separate Ben Uliel’s grizzly attack from the rest of Israeli society, implying that the man was a lone wolf and not the direct outcome of Israel’s unhinged racism and violent discourse directed at innocent Palestinians.

Despite the clear indictment of Ben Uliel, the Israeli court was keen on accentuating the point that the Israeli terrorist acted alone and that he was not a member of a terrorist organization. Based on that logic, the court argued that the judges “could not rule out that the attack was motivated by a desire for revenge or racism without Ben-Uliel actually being a member of an organized group.”

The verdict was a best-case scenario for Israel’s image under the circumstances, as it deliberately absolved the massive terrorist network that spawned the likes of Ben Uliel and the Israeli army that protects those very extremists on a daily basis, while whitewashing Israel’s deservingly bad reputation as a violent society with an unjust judicial system.

But Ben Uliel is, by no measure, a lone wolf.

When the Israeli terrorist, along with other masked assailants, broke into the house of Sa’ad and Reham Dawabsheh at 4 am on July 31, 2015, he was clearly on a mission to elevate his name within the ardently racist, extremist society which has made the murder and ethnic cleansing of Palestinians a sort of a divine mission.

Ben Uliel achieved his objectives completely. Not only did he kill Sa’ad and Reham, but their 18-month-old son, Ali, as well. The only surviving member of the family was 4-year-old Ahmed, who was severely burnt.

The murder of the Palestinian family, little Ali in particular, quickly became the source of joy and celebration among Jewish extremists. In December 2015, six months after the murder of the Dawabsheh family, a 25-second video clip that went viral on social media showed a crowd of Israelis celebrating the death of Ali.

Dawabsheh Murders

Photos of one-and-a-half year old Ali Dawabsheh lie in his burned-down home in Duma. Majdi Mohammed | AP

The video showed a “room of jumping, dancing men wearing white skullcaps, many with the long sidelocks of Orthodox Jews. Some of them are brandishing guns and knives,” The New York Times reported.

“Two (of the celebrating Israelis) appear to be stabbing pieces of paper they hold in their hands, which the television station identified as pictures of an 18-month-old child, Ali Dawabsheh.”

Despite Israeli police claims that they were ‘investigating’ the hate fest, there is little evidence to suggest that anyone was held accountable for the unmitigated celebration of violence against an innocent family and a toddler. In fact, Israeli State prosecutors later claimed that they had lost the original video of the dancing extremists.

The celebration of Israeli terrorism carried on unabated for years, to the extent that on June 19, 2018, Israeli extremists chanted openly, taunting Ali’s grandfather as he was leaving an Israeli court, with such obscene slogans, as “Where is Ali? Ali’s dead,” “Ali’s on the grill”.

The heinous murder of Ali and his family, and the subsequent trial were added to an array of other events that starkly challenged Israel’s carefully concocted image of being a liberal democracy.

On March 24, 2016, Elor Azaria killed a Palestinian man, Fattah al-Sharif, in cold blood. Al-Sharif was left bleeding on the ground while unconscious after, per Israeli army claim, trying to stab an Israeli soldier.

Azaria received a light sentence of eighteen months, soon to be freed in a massive celebration, like a conquering hero. Israel’s top government officials, including Israeli Prime Minister, Benjamin Netanyahu, supported the cold-blooded murderer throughout the trial. It will not come as a complete surprise if Azaria claims a top position in the Israeli government at some point in the future.

The celebration of murderers and terrorists like Ben Uliel and Azaria, is not a new phenomenon in Israeli society. Baruch Goldstein, the Israeli terrorist who killed scores of Palestinian worshippers while kneeling for prayer at Al-Ibrahimi Mosque in Al-Khalil (Hebron) in 1994, is now perceived as a modern martyr, a saint of biblical proportions.

In such cases, when the nature of the crime is so overwhelmingly violent, the extent of which forces itself on global news media, Israel is left with only one option – to use the indictment of ‘Jewish terrorism’ as an opportunity to reinvent itself, its ‘democratic’ system, its ‘transparent’ judicial proceedings, and so on. Meanwhile, Israeli media and its affiliates worldwide labor to describe the collective ‘shock’ and ‘outrage’ felt by ‘law-abiding’, ‘peace-loving’ Israelis.

The murder of the Dawabsheh family, although one of numerous acts of violence perpetrated by Jewish extremists and the Israeli military against innocent Palestinians, is the perfect case in point.

Indeed, a quick look at the numbers and reports produced by the United Nations indicates that the Jewish settlers’ murder of the Palestinian family was not the exception but the norm.

In a report by the UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) in June 2018, UN investigators spoke of an exponential rise of Israeli settler violence against Palestinians.

“Between January and April 2018, OCHA documented 84 incidents attributed to Israeli settlers resulting in Palestinian casualties (27 incidents) or in damage to Palestinian property (57 incidents),” the report read. That trend continued, at times markedly increasing, with very little accountability.

The Israeli rights group, Yesh Din, has been following up on the small percentage of settler violence cases that were opened by the Israeli military and police. The group concluded that, “of 185 investigations opened between 2014 and 2017 that reached a final stage, only 21, or 11.4%, led to the prosecution of offenders, while the other 164 files were closed without indictment.”

The reason for this is simple: the hundreds of thousands of Jewish extremists who have been transferred to permanently settle in the occupied territories, an act that starkly violates international law, do not operate outside the colonial paradigm designed by the Israeli government. In some way, they too, are ‘soldiers’, not only because they are armed and coordinate their movement with the Israeli army, but because their ever-expanding settlements lie at the heart of the Israeli occupation and its continued project of ethnic cleansing.

Therefore, Jewish settler violence, like that committed by Ben Uliel, should not be analyzed separately from the violence meted out by the Israeli army but seen within the larger context of the violent Zionist ideology that governs Israeli society as a whole. It follows that settler violence can only end with the end of the military occupation in the West Bank, East Jerusalem, and Gaza, and with the demise of the racist Zionist ideology that spews hatred, embraces racism and rationalizes murder.

Feature photo | Israeli right-wing terrorist Amiram Ben-Uliel arrives at a district court for a verdict, May 18, 2020. Ben-Uliel was convicted of murder in a 2015 arson attack that killed a Palestinian toddler and his parents. Avshalom Sassoni | AP

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

The post The Ben Uliel Case: Has Israel Won the Battle Against Jewish Terror? appeared first on MintPress News.

US Senate Quietly Approves $38 Billion for Israel Amid Historic Economic Downturn

Published by Anonymous (not verified) on Sat, 23/05/2020 - 10:43am in

Menifee, CA (IAK) — The Senate Foreign Relations Committee quietly passed a bill yesterday to give Israel a minimum of $38 billion over the next ten years despite the ongoing devastation to the U.S. economy caused by the coronavirus.

The bill – S.3176 –  will now go before the full Senate. Since the legislation has already been passed by the House of Representatives, if the Senate passes the bill, it will then go to the president to be signed into law.

The bill was passed by the committee under two unusual circumstances and with almost no public awareness.

First, Senate Committee Chairman Jim Risch (R-Idaho) refused to allow a live stream of the meeting, despite the fact that the Senate Rules panel had recommended that extra efforts be taken to ensure public transparency while the Capitol is closed to the public and the presence of reporters is severely limited. The Senate’s Press Gallery Standing Committee of Correspondents had objected strongly to Risch’s decision.

Second, the bill was passed without being named, debated, or even discussed, even though it would set into law the largest such aid package in U.S. history. There has been no mention of the bill by most media in the United States.

The massive package is particularly noteworthy in light of the current devastation to the American taxpayers who will be footing the bill – over $10 million per day. In recent months approximately 30 million Americans have lost jobs, 100,000 small businesses have already closed forever, and over seven million are at risk of doing so.

The bill was voted on as part of a package of 15 bills that were voted on “en bloc” (all together).

After Senator Kaine said he didn’t know what the list contained, Risch responded: “I’m not trying to pull anything here… this was circulated among the staff.”

Risch then rapidly listed the numbers but did not give the titles. There was then a voice vote and the motion passed unanimously.

Democratic members of the committee had voiced strong objections to blocking a live stream of the meeting because of a different agenda item. After the meeting, Committee Ranking Member Robert Menendez (D-NJ) released a video of the meeting.

None, however, voiced any concern for giving a massive aid package to a country widely documented as a major violator of human rights.

Neither did any Democrats on the committee object to requiring American taxpayers to give Israel what amounts to over $7,000 per minute when many Americans are suffering catastrophic financial difficulties.

Democratic committee members MenendezBen CardinCory Booker, and Chris Coons, like many of the Republican members, are particularly known for being under the influence of AIPAC and the Israel lobby and receiving pro-Israel campaign donations. Many of the members are co-sponsors of the bill.

The bill, entitled “United States-Israel Security Assistance Authorization Act of 2020,” expands and sets into law a memorandum of understanding agreement signed by the Obama administration with Israel in 2016. This agreement is nonbinding and not required by law. It also set the $38 billion as a ceiling.

The legislation just passed by the committee would make this disbursal legally required, and, in addition, it would make the $38 billion a floor rather than a ceiling. In other words, the amount of money could legally go even higher.

Given the power of the pro-Israel lobby, combined with the fact that U.S. media are not informing Americans of this use of their tax money, the likelihood is that U.S. money to Israel will go up in the future – possibly even this year.)

Most Americans say they feel the U.S. is giving Israel too much money. Israel has received more U.S. tax money than any other country – on average, about 7,000 times more per capita than others around the world.

The Council for the National Interest has posted a petition against this year’s installment, $3.8 billion. So far, it has been signed by close to 2,000 people.

Feature photo | Sen. James Risch, R-Idaho, right, listens to an aide before the start of a hearing with Attorney General Jeff Sessions on Capitol Hill in Washington, June 13, 2017. Jacquelyn Martin | AP

Alison Weir is an author and activist.  Her book, Against Our Better Judgment: The Hidden History of How the U.S. Was Used to Create Israel is an Amazon best-seller and has been called a “must-read for all Americans.” Learn more about it here.

The post US Senate Quietly Approves $38 Billion for Israel Amid Historic Economic Downturn appeared first on MintPress News.

The Palestinian Legacy of East Jerusalem’s Sheikh Jarrah Neighborhood Cannot Be Erased

Published by Anonymous (not verified) on Fri, 22/05/2020 - 11:04pm in

As part of a comprehensive campaign of ethnic cleansing in the Jerusalem neighborhood of Sheikh Jarrah, the Israeli government has been evicting Palestinians from their homes and handing them over to Jews. These evictions sparked protests which are documented in a film produced by Just Vision, titled “Home Front: Portraits From Sheik Jarrah.”

The film, like the many news reports covering Sheikh Jarrah, focuses on the battle between the residents of the neighborhood, the violent settlers who are moving into their homes, and the Israeli legal system which by and large favors Jews over Arabs. Yet little is said about the historical significance that Sheikh Jarrah holds as a neighborhood of Jerusalem.

 

Sheikh Jarrah Mosque

The old Sheikh Jarrah Mosque sits on the right side of Nablus Road, just past the American Colony Hotel. The mosque is attributed to Hussam al-Din al-Jarrahi who came to Palestine with Salahaddin in the thirteenth century and served as his personal physician.

Sheikh Jarrah Mosque

Nablus Road – Sheikh Jarrah Mosque on the right and the flour mill, Qasr el-Amawi on the left, 1900. Photo | New York Public Library

Al-Jarrah remained in Jerusalem when he died and was buried on the south side of Nablus Road. A zawiya, or prayer room, was built over his tomb and in 1895 a mosque was built on top of the zawiya. It was during the late nineteenth and early twentieth century that Sheikh Jarrah evolved from a small village to one of Jerusalem’s most prestigious neighborhoods.

 

The Orient House

Over the years many affluent Palestinian Jerusalemite families built beautiful homes in the neighborhood. These spacious homes were distinctly Palestinian, distinctly Jerusalemite. Some remained residences to this day while others became hotels or museums. Some of the houses are rented to diplomatic missions to Jerusalem, independent of the missions to the state of Israel that are in Tel-Aviv.

The Orient House is perhaps the most impressive home built in the neighborhood and one of the finest in the city. It was built in 1897 by Ismail Musa Al-Husseini. Al-Husseini held many important positions throughout the Ottoman Empire and after the British conquest of Palestine, he served as mayor of Jerusalem. For many years he led the Arab national movement and fervently opposed the British policy of creating a Jewish homeland in Palestine. One of his sons, Abdel Qader Al-Husseini, led the Palestinian resistance against the Zionists and was killed just outside Jerusalem in April of 1948.

Due to the stature of the Husseini family and the incredible architecture and size of the house, the Orient House long served as a center for Palestinian political and cultural activity in Jerusalem.

Faisel Husseini, the son of Abdel Qader, operated in Jerusalem throughout the 1980s and 90s and turned the Orient House into a powerhouse of political activity. During this time the house was subjected to closures by the Israeli authorities, and in the summer of 2001, it was raided by the Israeli security forces, closed down and all its operations were brought to a halt.

the Orient House

Israeli police stand at the entrance to the Orient House as an Israeli flag flies from the roof, Aug. 10, 2001. Jacqueline Larma | AP

At the end of 2019, Israel’s Minister of Internal Security Gilad Erdan extended the closure of the Orient House. Erdan justified the move by saying, “The Palestinian Authority has recently been trying to strengthen its presence in East Jerusalem in sophisticated ways. I will continue to strengthen Israeli sovereignty throughout Jerusalem, and prevent any Palestinian attempt to create a foothold in the eastern part of the city.”

 

Dar Al-Tifl Al-Arabi

On April 9, 1948 Zionist militias raided the Palestinian village of Dir Yassin on the outskirts of Jerusalem and for two days they massacred its residents and chased away anyone who survived the assault. They placed the children who survived on trucks and paraded them through the Jewish neighborhoods of the city before leaving them alone and without care in East Jerusalem. The name Deir Yassin will forever be associated with Zionist brutality.

Hind Al-Husseini was a Palestinian educator involved in social issues, particularly regarding women and children in Palestine. She witnessed the Zionist military trucks dumping the children of Deir Yassin in East Jerusalem and immediately took in the traumatized orphans and cared for them. This act of generosity and kindness was just the beginning. She wanted to make sure the orphans had food, shelter, and the best education possible. To that end she established what became one of the landmarks of the city of Jerusalem and of the neighborhood of Sheikh Jarrah, Dar Al-Tifl Al-Arabi, a school and boarding house for orphans.

Hind later established the Dar Al-Tifl Al-Arabi foundation and raised money to fund and expand the school. This was crucial because in 1949 and throughout the early 1950s, orphans from other cities and villages who suffered the Zionist onslaught were in need of the school’s services. They came from places like Yaffa, Ramle, Lifta, and all parts of Jerusalem. They came from Arrabe in the north, from Qalqilya, Betunya, and even from Hebron and as far south as Gaza. After 1967, the school began accepting only girls, with the exception of pre-school and kindergarten children, as well as boarding students under the age of six.

Hind Al-Husseini

This undated photo shows Hind Al-Husseini in the early days of Dar Al-Tifl Al-Arabi. Photo | Dar Al-Tifel Al-Arabi organization

By 1995, Dar Al-Tifl had 300 orphans. However, following Israel’s closure in the Gaza Strip and the travel restrictions placed on residents of the West Bank, the numbers dropped significantly. Today, the school has about 2000 students from preschool to twelfth grade, including boarding students. Dar Al-Tifl has also expanded and includes a museum and a cultural center.

 

Hind Al-Husseini College for Women

A social worker, educator, coordinator of the Arab Women’s Union in the 1940s and Palestinian National Council member, Hind dedicated her life to orphans and to education of women until her dying day. She fiercely promoted women’s right to higher education and in 1982 she founded the Hind Al-Husseini College for Women, also located in Sheikh Jarrah. The college, which is a branch of Al Quds University, sits on a hill overlooking Sheikh Jarrah. The homes of several of the professors and students who live in the neighborhood are now under threat of eviction.

Israel plans to evict Palestinians and destroy the neighborhood in order to build Jewish-only residential units. If it succeeds, one can expect that as the people disappear so to will the historical monuments and heritage, and as history has shown, Israel will not stop with Sheikh Jarrah.

Feature photo | Israeli bulldozers demolish the Arab-owned Sheperd Hotel in the east Jerusalem neighborhood of Sheik Jarrah to make way for new Jewish settlements. Bernat Armangue | AP

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

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Why Israel Fears the Nakba: How Memory Became Palestine’s Greatest Weapon

Published by Anonymous (not verified) on Thu, 21/05/2020 - 1:57pm in

On May 15, thousands of Palestinians in Occupied Palestine and throughout the ‘shatat’, or diaspora, participated in the commemoration of Nakba Day, the one event that unites all Palestinians, regardless of their political differences or backgrounds.

For years, social media has added a whole new stratum to this process of commemoration. #Nakba72, along with #NakbaDay and #Nakba, have all trended on Twitter for days. Facebook was inundated with countless stories, videos, images, and statements, written by Palestinians, or in global support of the Palestinian people.

The dominant Nakba narrative remains – 72 years following the destruction of historic Palestine at the hands of Zionist militias – an opportunity to reassert the centrality of the Right of Return for Palestinian refugees. Over 750,000 Palestinians were ethnically cleansed from their homes in Palestine in 1947-48. The surviving refugees and their descendants are now estimated at over five million.

As thousands of Palestinians rallied on the streets and as the Nakba hashtag was generating massive interest on social media, US Secretary of State, Mike Pompeo, paid an eight-hour visit to Israel to discuss the seemingly imminent Israeli government annexation, or theft, of nearly 30% of the occupied Palestinian West Bank.

“The Israeli government will decide on the matter, on exactly when and how to do it,” Pompeo said in an interview with Israeli radio, Kan Bet, the Jerusalem Post reported.

Clearly, the Israeli government of Benjamin Netanyahu has American blessing to further its colonization of occupied Palestine, to entrench its existing Apartheid regime, and to act as if the Palestinians simply do not exist.

The Nakba commemoration and Pompeo’s visit to Israel are a stark representation of Palestine’s political reality today.

Considering the massive US political sway, why do Palestinians then insist on making demands which, according to the pervading realpolitik of the so-called Palestinian-Israeli conflict, seem unattainable?

Since the start of the peace process in Oslo in the early 1990s, the Palestinian leadership has engaged with Israel and its western benefactors in a useless political exercise that has, ultimately, worsened an already terrible situation. After over 25 years of haggling over bits and pieces of what remained of historic Palestine, Israel and the US are now plotting the endgame, while demonizing the very Palestinian leaders that participated in their joint and futile political charade.

Strangely, the rise and demise of the so-called ‘peace process’ did not seem to affect the collective narrative of the Palestinian people, who still see the Nakba, not the Israeli occupation of 1967, and certainly not the Oslo accords, as the core point in their struggle against Israeli colonialism.

This is because the collective Palestinian memory remains completely independent from Oslo and its many misgivings. For Palestinians, memory is an active process. It is not a docile, passive mechanism of grief and self-pity that can easily be manipulated, but a generator of new meanings.

In their seminal book “Nakba: Palestine, 1948, and the Claims of Memory”, Ahmad Sa’di and Lila Abu-Lughod wrote that “Palestinian memory is, at its heart, political.”

This means that the powerful and emotive commemoration of the 72nd anniversary of the Nakba is essentially a collective political act, and, even if partly unconscious, a people’s retort and rejection of Donald Trump’s ‘Deal of the Century’, of Pompeo’s politicking, and of Netanyahu’s annexation drive.

Despite the numerous unilateral measures taken by Israel to determine the fate of the Palestinian people, the blind and unconditional US support of Israel, and the unmitigated failure of the Palestinian Authority to mount any meaningful resistance, Palestinians continue to remember their history and understand their reality based on their own priorities.

For many years, Palestinians have been accused of being unrealistic, of “never missing an opportunity to miss an opportunity,” and even of extremism, for simply insisting on their historical rights in Palestine, as enshrined in international law.

These critical voices are either supporters of Israel, or simply unable to understand how Palestinian memory factors in shaping the politics of ordinary people, independent of the quisling Palestinian leadership or the seemingly impossible-to-overturn status quo. True, both trajectories, that of the stifling political reality and people’s priorities seem to be in constant divergence, with little or no overlapping.


A Palestinian confronts Israeli police during a protest marking the 72nd anniversary nakba near Nablus, May 15, 2020. Majdi Mohammed | AP

However, a closer look is revealing: the more belligerent Israel becomes, the more stubbornly Palestinians hold on to their past. There is a reason for this.

Occupied, oppressed and refugee camps-confined Palestinians have little control over many of the realities that directly impact their lives. There is little that a refugee from Gaza can do to dissuade Pompeo from assigning the West Bank to Israel, or a Palestinian refugee from Ein El-Helweh in Lebanon to compel the international community to enforce the long-delayed Right of Return.

But there is a single element that Palestinians, regardless of where they are, can indeed control: their collective memory, which remains the main motivator of their legendary steadfastness.

Hannah Arendt wrote in 1951 that totalitarianism is a system that, among other things, forbids grief and remembrance, in an attempt to sever the individual’s or group’s relation to the continuous past.

For decades, Israel has done just that, in a desperate attempt to stifle the memory of the Palestinians, so that they are only left with a single option, the self-defeating peace process.

In March 2011, the Israeli parliament introduced the ‘Nakba Law’, which authorized the Israeli Finance Ministry to carry out financial measures against any institution that commemorates Nakba Day.

Israel is afraid of Palestinian memory, since it is the only facet of its war against the Palestinian people that it cannot fully control; the more Israel labors to erase the collective memory of the Palestinian people, the more Palestinians hold tighter to the keys of their homes and to the title deed of their land back in their lost homeland.

There can never be a just peace in Palestine until the priorities of the Palestinian people – their memories, and their aspirations – become the foundation of any political process between the Israelis and the Palestinians. Everything that operates outside this paradigm is null and void, for it will never herald peace or instill true justice. This is why Palestinians remember; for, over the years, their memory has proven to be their greatest weapon.

Feature photo | A man holds a Palestinian flag in front of Israeli police during a protest marking the 72nd anniversary “nakba,” or catastrophe — the uprooting and murder of hundreds of thousands of Palestinians during Israel’s 1948 creation, near the Jewish-only colony of Rahalim, Nablus, May 15, 2020. 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, Atlanta). Dr. Baroud is a Non-resident Senior Research Fellow at the Center for Islam and Global Affairs (CIGA), Istanbul Zaim University (IZU). His website is www.ramzybaroud.net

The post Why Israel Fears the Nakba: How Memory Became Palestine’s Greatest Weapon appeared first on MintPress News.

Biden: Criticism of Israel Is Not Anti-Semitism, Unless It Comes From the Left

Published by Anonymous (not verified) on Thu, 21/05/2020 - 1:24am in

Democratic presidential candidate Joe Biden held an online fundraiser yesterday with around 550 people organized by former U.S. ambassador to Israel Dan Shapiro and Emory University professor Deborah Lipstadt. Much of the discussion revolved around the role of Israel and around the growing tide of anti-Israeli sentiment on American college campuses. “Criticism of Israel’s policy is not anti-Semitism,” Biden said, “But too often that criticism from the left morphs into anti-semitism,” pointing the finger in one direction specifically. “We have to condemn it, and I’ve gotten in trouble for doing so,” he added. Asked about Trump’s decision to relocate the U.S. embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem the former vice-president reconfirmed that, if elected, he would not move it back. “My commitment to Israel is absolutely unshakeable,” he assured his prospective donors.

On this point, there is little disagreement. Described as “Israel’s man in Washington” by his biographer Branko Marcetic and “the best friend of Israel in the administration” by Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer, the 77-year-old has spent most of his adult life campaigning on Israel’s behalf in the halls of power. This included lobbying for trade deals and debt forgiveness, defending the country internationally, participating in AIPAC membership drives, often undermining President Obama’s statements on the country.

 

Real anti-Semitism on the rise

In recent years, Israel is increasingly losing the support of young people, including young Jewish Americans, with campaigns like the Boycott Divestments and Sanctions (BDS) movement having gained momentum. As a result, 28 states have already mandated loyalty pledges to Israel as a means of outlawing criticism of the country. And in December, President Trump passed legislation criminalizing BDS or any criticism of the Israeli government on college campuses and in other public institutions. Any organization that does not take sufficient action against those campaigning against Israel’s policies is subject to losing all government funding. In February, journalist Abby Martin sued the state of Georgia over what she saw as blatantly unconstitutional laws.

Ironically, anti-semitic attacks are on the rise in the United States, with a number of high-profile terrorist attacks against Jewish organizations in recent years. However, the perpetrators of such crimes tend to come from the political right, where support for the Israeli government is strongest. Trump himself has a very long history of anti-semitic outbursts; in December he gave a speech at the Israeli American Council National Summit where he told the crowd “A lot of you are in the real estate business because I know you very well. You’re brutal killers, not nice people at all. But you have to vote for me, you have no choice,” insinuating his Jewish audience cared about nothing but their own wealth. CNN noted his comments drew applause and cheers from the audience, something that suggests many Israeli lobbyists care more about promoting their government’s agenda than keeping Jews safe.

Israeli politics have moved further to the right in recent times, to the point where even former Prime Minister Ehud Barak has described the country’s orientation as overtly fascist. A 2016 poll found that half of all Israelis favor an immediate ethnic cleansing of all Arabs from Israel. On Sunday the country’s political forces came to a unique power sharing compromise, where Benjamin Netanyahu and Benny Gantz would share the office of Prime Minister, breaking a year of political deadlock.

Aggregate polling shows Biden still maintains a lead over Trump for the November election. However, that lead continues to shrink, to the point where some have Trump holding on to power. Amidst the world’s most severe coronavirus outbreak by total numbers, it is unclear under what circumstances the election will take place and if the terms will suit the challenger or the incumbent. Biden has been dogged by new sexual assault allegations from a former staffer, Tara Reade. Surveys show a majority of Americans, including a majority of independent voters, believe Reade. Although outwardly presenting a progressive veneer on his policies, the former vice-president has taken pains to reassure wealthy donors that “nothing would fundamentally change” under his leadership, and largely shunned the left of his party, refusing to even consider Bernie Sanders as a running mate. His latest pronouncements on anti-semitism and the left is unlikely to improve this relationship.

Feature photo | Joe Biden addresses the American-Israeli Public Affairs Committee (AIPAC), the largest Israel lobby in the United States, 2013 Policy Conference at the Walter E. Washington Convention Center in Washington. Susan Walsh | 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 Biden: Criticism of Israel Is Not Anti-Semitism, Unless It Comes From the Left appeared first on MintPress News.

The ‘Clean Break’ Doctrine

Published by Anonymous (not verified) on Wed, 20/05/2020 - 1:00pm in

Cynthia Chung In 1996 a task force, led by Richard Perle, produced a policy document titled A Clean Break: A New Strategy for Securing the Realm for Benjamin Netanyahu, who was then in his first term as Prime Minister of Israel, as a how-to manual on approaching regime change in the Middle East and for …

What You Need to Know about the ICC Investigation of War Crimes in Occupied Palestine

Published by Anonymous (not verified) on Tue, 19/05/2020 - 12:50am in

Fatou Bensouda, Chief Prosecutor of the International Criminal Court (ICC), has, once and for all, settled the doubts on the Court’s jurisdiction to investigate war crimes committed in occupied Palestine.

On April 30, Bensouda released a 60-page document diligently laying down the legal bases for that decision, concluding that “the Prosecution has carefully considered the observations of the participants, and remains of the view that the Court has jurisdiction over the Occupied Palestinian Territory.”

Bensouda’s legal explanation was itself a preemptive decision, dating back to December 2019, as the ICC Prosecutor must have anticipated an Israeli-orchestrated pushback against the investigation of war crimes committed in the Occupied Territories.

After years of haggling, the ICC had resolved in December 2019 that, “there is a reasonable basis to proceed with an investigation into the situation in Palestine, pursuant to article 53(1) of the Statute.”

Article 53(1) merely describes the procedural steps that often lead, or do not lead, to an investigation by the Court.

That Article is satisfied when the amount of evidence provided to the Court is so convincing that it leaves the ICC with no other option but to move forward with an investigation.

Indeed, Bensouda had already declared late last year that she was,

“satisfied that (i) war crimes have been or are being committed in the West Bank, including East Jerusalem, and the Gaza Strip… (ii) potential cases arising from the situation would be admissible; and (iii) there are no substantial reasons to believe that an investigation would not serve the interests of justice.”

Naturally, Israel and its main Western ally, the United States, fumed. Israel has never been held accountable by the international community for war crimes and other human rights violations in Palestine. The ICC’s decision, especially if the investigation moves forward, would be a historic precedent.

But, what are Israel and the US to do when neither are state parties in the ICC, thus having no actual influence on the internal proceedings of the court? A solution had to be devised.

In a historic irony, Germany, which had to answer to numerous war crimes committed by the Nazi regime during World War II, stepped in to serve as the main defender of Israel at the ICC and to shield accused Israeli war criminals from legal and moral accountability.

On February 14, Germany filed a petition with the ICC requesting an “amicus curiae”, meaning “friend of the court”, status. By achieving that special status, Germany was able to submit objections, arguing against the ICC’s earlier decision on behalf of Israel.

Germany, among others, then argued that the ICC had no legal authority to discuss Israeli war crimes in the occupied territories. These efforts, however, eventually amounted to nil.

The ball is now in the court of the ICC pre-trial chamber.

The pre-trial chamber consists of judges that authorize the opening of investigations. Customarily once the Prosecutor decides to consider an investigation, she has to inform the Pre-Trial Chamber of her decision.

According to the Rome Statute, Article 56(b), “… the Pre-Trial Chamber may, upon request of the Prosecutor, take such measures as may be necessary to ensure the efficiency and integrity of the proceedings and, in particular, to protect the rights of the defence.”

The fact that the Palestinian case has been advanced to such a point can and should be considered a victory for the Palestinian victims of the Israeli occupation. However, if the ICC investigation moves forward according to the original mandate requested by Bensouda, there will remain major legal and moral lapses that frustrate those who are advocating justice on behalf of Palestine.

For example, the legal representatives of the ‘Palestinian Victims Residents of the Gaza Strip’ expressed their concern on behalf of the victims regarding “the ostensibly narrow scope of the investigation into the crimes suffered by the Palestinian victims of this situation.”

The ‘narrow scope of the investigation’ has thus far excluded such serious crimes as crimes against humanity. According to the Gaza legal team, the killing of hundreds and wounding of thousands of unarmed protesters participating in the ‘Great March of Return’ is a crime against humanity that must also be investigated.

The ICC’s jurisdiction, of course, goes beyond Bensouda’s decision to investigate ‘war crimes’ only.

Article 5 of the Rome Statute – the founding document of the ICC – extends the Court’s jurisdiction to investigate the following “serious crimes”:

(a) The crime of genocide

(b) Crimes against humanity

(c) War crimes

(d) The crime of aggression

It should come as no surprise that Israel is qualified to be investigated on all four points and that the nature of Israeli crimes against Palestinians often tends to, constitute a mixture of two or more of these points simultaneously.

Former United Nations Special Rapporteur on Palestinian Human Rights (2008-2014), Prof. Richard Falk, wrote in 2009, soon after a deadly Israeli war on the besieged Gaza Strip, that,

“Israel initiated the Gaza campaign without adequate legal foundation or just cause, and was responsible for causing the overwhelming proportion of devastation and the entirety of civilian suffering. Israeli reliance on a military approach to defeat or punish Gaza was intrinsically ‘criminal’, and as such demonstrative of both violations of the law of war and the commission of crimes against humanity.”

Falk extended his legal argument beyond war crimes and crimes against humanity into a third category. “There is another element that strengthens the allegation of aggression. The population of Gaza had been subjected to a punitive blockade for 18 months when Israel launched its attacks.”

What about the crime of apartheid? Does it fit anywhere within the ICC’s previous definitions and jurisdiction?

The International Convention on the Suppression and Punishment of the Crime of Apartheid of November 1973 defines apartheid as,

“a crime against humanity and that inhuman acts resulting from the policies and practices of apartheid and similar policies and practices of racial segregation and discrimination, as defined in article II of the Convention, are crimes violating the principles of international law, in particular the  purposes and principles of the Charter of the United Nations, and constituting a serious threat to international peace and security.”

The Convention came into force in July 1976, when twenty countries ratified it. Mostly western powers, including the United States and Israel, opposed it.

Particularly important about the definition of apartheid, as stated by the Convention, is that the crime of apartheid was liberated from the limited South African context and made applicable to racially discriminatory policies in any state.

In June 1977, Addition Protocol 1 to the Geneva Conventions designated apartheid as, “a grave breach of the Protocol and a war crime.”

It follows that there are legal bases to argue that the crime of apartheid can be considered both a crime against humanity and a war crime.

Former UN Special Rapporteur on Palestinian Human Rights (2000-2006), Prof. John Dugard, said this soon after Palestine joined the ICC in 2015,

“For seven years, I visited the Palestinian territory twice a year. I also conducted a fact-finding mission after the Operation Cast Lead in Gaza in 2008, 2009. So, I am familiar with the situation, and I am familiar with the apartheid situation. I was a human rights lawyer in apartheid South Africa. And I, like virtually every South African who visits the occupied territory, has a terrible sense of déjà vu. We’ve seen it all before, except that it is infinitely worse. And what has happened in the West Bank is that the creation of a settlement enterprise has resulted in a situation that closely resembles that of apartheid, in which the settlers are the equivalent of white South Africans. They enjoy superior rights over Palestinians, and they do oppress Palestinians. So, one does have a system of apartheid in the occupied Palestinian territory. And I might mention that apartheid is also a crime within the competence of the International Criminal Court.”

Considering the number of UN resolutions that Israel has violated throughout the years – the perpetual occupation of Palestine, the siege on Gaza, and the elaborate system of apartheid imposed on Palestinians through a large conglomerate of racist laws (culminating in the so-called Nation-State Law of July 2018) – finding Israel guilty of war crimes, among others “serious crimes”, should be a straightforward matter.

But the ICC is not entirely a legal platform. It is also a political institution that is subject to the interests and whims of its members. Germany’s intervention, on behalf of Israel, to dissuade the ICC from investigating Tel Aviv’s war crimes is a case in point.

Time will tell how far the ICC is willing to go with its unprecedented and historic attempt aimed at, finally, investigating the numerous crimes that have been committed in Palestine unhindered, with no recourse and no accountability.

For the Palestinian people, the long-denied justice cannot arrive soon enough.

Feature photo | Mourners carry the body of a Palestinian, 14-month-old, Seba Abu Arar, during her funeral in Gaza City, May. 5, 2019. Gaza’s Health Ministry said a Palestinian infant was killed when Israeli aircraft hit near their house. Abu Arar, 14-month-old, died immediately and her pregnant relative died later, the ministry added. Khalil Hamra | AP

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

Romana Rubeo is an Italian writer and the managing editor of The Palestine Chronicle. Her articles appeared in many online newspapers and academic journals. She holds a Master’s Degree in Foreign Languages and Literature, and specializes in audio-visual and journalism translation.

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