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Is the European Union Qualified to Broker Peace Between Israel and Palestine?

Published by Anonymous (not verified) on Thu, 22/10/2020 - 7:31am in

In theory, Europe and the United States stand on completely opposite sides when it comes to the Israeli occupation of Palestine. While the US government has fully embraced the tragic status quo created by 53 years of Israeli military occupation, the EU continues to advocate a negotiated settlement that is predicated on respect for international law.

In practice, however, despite the seeming rift between Washington and Brussels, the outcome is, essentially, the same. The US and Europe are Israel’s largest trade partners, weapon suppliers and political advocates.

One of the reasons that the illusion of an even-handed Europe has been maintained for so long lies partly in the Palestinian leadership itself. Politically and financially abandoned by Washington, the Palestinian Authority of Mahmoud Abbas has turned to the European Union as its only possible saviour.

“Europe believes in the two-state solution,” PA Prime Minister, Mohammad Shtayyeh, said during a video discussion with the European Parliament’s Committee on Foreign Affairs on October 12. Unlike the US, Europe’s continued advocacy of the defunct two-state solution qualifies it to fill the massive gap created by Washington’s absence.

Shtayyeh called on EU leaders to “recognize the State of Palestine in order for us, and you, to break the status quo.”

However, there are already 139 countries that recognize the State of Palestine. While that recognition is a clear indication that the world remains firmly pro-Palestinian, recognizing Palestine as a State changes little on the ground. What is needed are concerted efforts to hold Israel accountable for its violent occupation as well as real action to support the struggle of Palestinians.

Not only has the EU failed at this, it is, in fact, doing the exact opposite: funding Israel, arming its military and silencing its critics.

Listening to Shtayyeh’s words, one gets the impression that the top Palestinian official is addressing a conference of Arab, Muslim or socialist countries. “I call upon your Parliament and your distinguished Members of this Parliament, that Europe not wait for the American President to come up with ideas … We need a third party who can really remedy the imbalance in the relationship between an occupied people and an occupier country, that is Israel,” he said.

But is the EU qualified to be that ‘third party’?  No. For decades, European governments have been an integral part of the US-Israel party. Just because the Donald Trump administration has, recently, taken a sharp turn in favour of Israel should not automatically transform Europe’s historical pro-Israel bias to be mistaken for pro-Palestinian solidarity.

Last June, more than 1,000 European parliamentarians representing various political parties issued a statement expressing “serious concerns” about Trump’s so-called Deal of the Century and opposing Israeli annexation of nearly a third of the West Bank. However, the pro-Israel US Democratic Party, including some traditionally staunch supporters of Israel, were equally critical of Israel’s plan because, in their minds, annexation means that a two-state solution would be made impossible.

While US Democrats made it clear that a Joe Biden administration would not reverse any of Trump’s actions should Biden be elected, European governments have also made it clear that they will not take a single action to dissuade – let alone punish – Israel for its repeated violations of international law.

Lip service is all that Palestinians have obtained from Europe, as well as much money, which was largely pocketed by loyalists of Abbas in the name of ‘State-building’ and other fantasies. Tellingly, much of the imaginary Palestinian State infrastructure that was subsidized by Europe in recent years has been blown up, demolished or construction ceased by the Israeli military during its various wars and raids. Yet, neither did the EU punish Israel, nor did the PA cease from asking for more money to continue funding a non-existent State.

Not only did the EU fail to hold Israel accountable for its ongoing occupation and human rights violations, it is practically financing Israel, as well. According to Defence News, a quarter of all of Israel’s military export contracts (totaling $7.2 billion in 2019 alone) is allocated to European countries.

Moreover, Europe is Israel’s largest trading partner, absorbing one-third of Israel’s total exports and shipping to Israel nearly 40% of its total import. These numbers also include products made in illegal Jewish settlements.

Additionally, the EU labours to incorporate Israel into the European way of life through cultural and music contests, sports competitions and in a myriad other ways. While the EU possesses powerful tools that can be used to exact political concessions and enforce respect for international law, it opts to simply do very little.

Compare this with the recent ultimatum the EU has given the Palestinian leadership, linking EU aid to the PA’s financial ties with Israel. Last May, Abbas took the extraordinary step of considering all agreements with Israel and the US to be null and void. Effectively, this means that the PA would no longer be accountable for the stifling status quo that was created by the Oslo Accords, which was repeatedly violated by Tel Aviv and Washington. Severing ties with Israel also meant that the PA would refuse to accept nearly $150 million in tax revenues that Israel collects on behalf of the PA. This Palestinian step, while long overdue, was necessary.

Instead of supporting Abbas’ move, the EU criticized it, refusing to provide additional aid for Palestinians until Abbas restores ties with Israel and accepts the tax money. According to Axios news portal, Germany, France, the UK and even Norway are leading the charge.

Germany, in particular, has been relentless in its support for Israel. For months, it has advocated on behalf of Israel to spare Tel Aviv a war crimes investigation by the International Criminal Court (ICC). It has placed activists, who advocate the boycott of Israel, on trial. Recently, it has confirmed the shipment of missile boats and other military hardware to ensure the superiority of the Israeli navy in a potential war against Arab enemies. Germany is not alone. Israel and most European countries are closing ranks in terms of their unprecedented military cooperation and trade ties, including natural gas deals.

Continuing to make references to the unachievable two-state solution, while arming, funding and doing more business with Israel is the very definition of hypocrisy. The truth is that Europe should be held as accountable as the US in emboldening and sustaining the Israeli occupation of Palestine.

Yet, while Washington is openly pro-Israel, the EU has played a more clever game: selling Palestinians empty words while selling Israel lethal weapons.

Feature photo | A boy rides a bicycle by a graffiti in Belgrade, Serbia,, Sept. 7, 2020. The European Union warned Serbia and Kosovo that they could undermine their EU membership hopes by moving their Israeli embassies to Jerusalem. Darko Vojinovic | 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 Is the European Union Qualified to Broker Peace Between Israel and Palestine? appeared first on MintPress News.

With an Eye on Nearby Iran, Israeli Weapons Fuel the Violence in Azerbaijan

Published by Anonymous (not verified) on Tue, 20/10/2020 - 7:25am in

The latest iteration of the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict, which has already claimed the lives of dozens of people, had been largely forgotten by the world before hostilities reignited in September. Only the collapse of the Soviet Union was able to bring about the end of the last war between these entrenched enemies in the 1980s and 1990s. Now, almost a quarter of a century later, the still contested region claimed under international law by Azerbaijan and de facto controlled by its ethnic Armenian majority has fallen under a new spell of violence thanks in large part to external actors vying for a larger war with another neighboring country: Iran.

Three weeks ago, a dispute over a piece of territory in the Caucasus Mountains erupted into a hot war between the two former Soviet republics of Azerbaijan and Armenia, sending civilians in Nagorno-Karabakh to seek cover in their basements from the aerial drone strikes raining death and destruction from above.

In a video analyzed by Franceinfo, a 1K Orbiter “kamikaze” drone was found intact on the streets of the ethnically-Armenian enclave near the Azeri-Armenian border. As its moniker implies, this class of unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs) is so named because once its operators lock onto a target on the ground the UAV dives into them with an explosive charge.

The drone was developed by leading Israeli unmanned aerial systems (UAS) company Aeronautics Defense Systems, which has a manufacturing plant in Azerbaijan since 2011. The discovery of the drone’s use by Azeri forces in the disputed border region has highlighted the pivotal, yet largely underreported, role that Israel is playing in this conflict, giving the Azeri army a decided advantage against the overmatched Armenians.

In addition, Turkey’s clear support of the Azerbaijani state leaves the majority Christian nation of Armenia up against the two biggest regional powers aside from Russia, which five days ago called on both parties in the conflict to respect a second cease-fire agreement brokered on October 10, 2020, in Moscow. The truce was supposed to come into force on Saturday, but heavy artillery fire, missiles, and drones continued to fall in the conflict zone on Sunday, with both sides blaming the other for violating the tentative armistice. The religious nature of the conflict’s origins helps to disguise the active participation of outside interests that are intent on stoking it for their own geopolitical purposes.

 

Black gold in Baku

Control over natural resources underpins virtually every single military conflagration in the twentieth century and many of raging across the world at the start of the twenty-first. The escalating conflict in the Caucasus is no exception, despite the ostensibly religious motives some would like to ascribe to the parties involved.

While Muslim-majority Azerbaijan might seem like a natural enemy of majority Christian Armenia, at its core, the conflict unfolding in northern Eurasia is one that harkens to the very first oil well that was discovered in the Azerbaijani capital of Baku. Baku was the center of the black gold universe on the eve of World War I before Israel even existed as a state and just as Lord Balfour was on the verge of penning the infamous Balfour Declaration, which would eventually lead to its creation.

Today, the apartheid state obtains 40 percent of its oil from Baku, leaving little to the imagination about its interest in the regional conflict. In order to protect those interests, Israel has become one of Azerbaijan’s largest arms suppliers in recent years, providing up to 61 percent of all Azeri arms imports this past year, according to the Stockholm International Peace Research Institute.

Claims made last week by an aide to the Azerbaijani president belittled Armenian condemnations of Israel’s role as “exaggerated” after the Armenian foreign ministry recalled its ambassador to Israel over the weapons sales. As if to underscore the Azeri official’s disingenuous statement, an Israeli high court dismissed a call by human rights activist Elie Joseph to halt arms sales to Azerbaijan two days later, citing a lack of evidence.

 

A powder keg

The situation in Nagorno-Karabakh could easily devolve into a wider war between far more powerful actors, like Turkey and Russia. The latter has a defense treaty with Armenia, while the former’s relationship to the oldest Christian country in the world is beset by its historic refusal to acknowledge the Armenian Genocide – the systematic mass murder and expulsion of Armenians from what was still the capital of Ottoman Empire during and after World War I.

Signs that the conflict is heading in the wrong direction are becoming more noticeable. On Friday, October 16, Russia announced that its navy was beginning military exercises in the Caspian Sea to the north of Baku. Meanwhile, Armenian President Armen Sarkissian said on Saturday that he is ready to travel to European headquarters in Brussels to confront NATO over Ankara’s actions, which include funneling mercenaries from Syria to Azerbaijan.

More importantly, Iran could also be dragged into a larger war and could hold the key to unraveling Israel’s geopolitical motivation for their significant involvement in the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict. Iran shares a common cultural heritage with Armenia, despite religious differences, and counts the Christian nation as a strategic partner.

One day before the second cease-fire was supposed to take effect, the Azerbaijani Foreign Ministry accused Armenian forces of launching rocket attacks into Iranian territory as a provocation, which led the Iranian Foreign Ministry to issue a statement clarifying that “aggression against our country’s territories by any party” in the conflict would not be tolerated.

Feature photo | A man fences off a tail of a multiple rocket after shelling by Azerbaijan’s artillery during a military conflict in Shushi, outside Stepanakert, the separatist region of Nagorno-Karabakh, Oct. 18, 2020. Photo | AP

Raul Diego is a MintPress News Staff Writer, independent photojournalist, researcher, writer and documentary filmmaker.

The post With an Eye on Nearby Iran, Israeli Weapons Fuel the Violence in Azerbaijan appeared first on MintPress News.

A Historical Reckoning: Oxford Study Challenges Israel’s Claims Concerning Palestinian Refugees

Published by Anonymous (not verified) on Sat, 17/10/2020 - 10:10am in

There needs to be a fundamental change in the way Palestinian refugees are seen, no longer as victims but as people with rights who are entitled to shape their own destiny. This assertion is made in a new study whose importance cannot be overstated.

According to international law, Palestinian refugees have a right to return to their homes and land and receive restitution and compensation for their suffering and personal and communal losses. Furthermore, the State of Israel, which is responsible for Palestine’s ethnic cleansing, must pay for the repatriation, the rehabilitation, and the rebuilding that the return will necessitate. A thorough understanding of why millions of Palestinians live as refugees and what international law says about their situation is critical, and a recently published study sheds unprecedented light on the Palestinian refugee issue.

Palestinian Refugees in International Law” (2nd Edition), by Francesca P. Albanese and Lex Takkenberg, was published in May 2020 by Oxford University Press. It is a comprehensive body of work on the Palestinian refugee issue, and its importance cannot be overstated. This study sets the record straight on what caused the refugee crisis, provides vital statistics and fills in crucial pieces of information regarding what international law says regarding Palestinian refugees.

The study states at the outset that, “At the time of publication, the unresolved exile of Palestinian refugees has entered its eighth decade.” Some refugees are third or even fourth generation, and they account for “the largest group of refugees globally.” Furthermore, it says, “theirs is the most protracted refugee situation in modern history.”

 

Background

The original mass ethnic cleansing campaign of Palestinians by Zionist forces took place from 1947 to 1949. Although ethnic cleansing and internal displacement of Palestinians by Israel continued well into the 1950s, and in fact, continues to the present day, the ethnic cleansing campaign of 1947-1949 is what brought about the destruction of Palestine as it had been known for centuries. That campaign was responsible for the emergence of what the study calls “one of the largest and most protracted refugee crises of all times.” The majority of these refugees and their descendants, third and even fourth generation, are registered as ‘Palestine refugees’ with UNRWA and are commonly referred to as 1948 refugees.

The Palestinians who were exiled from the West Bank, East Jerusalem, and the Gaza Strip in 1967 are commonly referred to as “displaced persons” or “1967 refugees.” Their fate and status under international law are similar to that of the 1948 refugees. Still, different terminology is used regarding them because of the status of the land from which they were displaced – the Kingdom of Jordan, which at that point was an independent state. Each year, the United Nations General Assembly passes a separate annual resolution focusing specifically on them.

 

Refugee rights

Suffering a violent assault on their lives and property and suddenly deprived of protection by the government of Mandate Palestine of which they were citizens, Palestinians became stateless refugees. They were admitted into neighboring countries on what many expected would be a temporary basis. However, one could argue, as I do, that this expectation stemmed from a serious misunderstanding of the objectives and influence of the Zionist movement.

“For historical and political reasons Palestinian refugees enjoy a distinctive regime made up of specific norms and institutional arrangements different from those for other refugees.” This reality has affected the protection Palestinians  deserve as refugees and often leaves them “excluded from the rights and standards of treatment afforded to other refugees.” In other words, Palestinian refugees are internationally recognized yet subject to a distinctive institutional regime compared to other refugees around the world. The distinction stems from special arrangements the UN had to make for them in 1948, seeing that the newly established Zionist state would not allow them to return.

One of the common mistakes people make regarding Palestinian refugees’ rights is the belief that securing rights in their host countries, including citizenship, will somehow undermine their claims towards Israel. This belief, according to this study, “must be put to rest.” In fact, the study goes on to state that for the rights of Palestinian refugees to be realized, the Palestinian community needs to make a paradigm shift, and international and regional diplomacy needs to provide a level of support “that has hitherto been largely lacking.”

Furthermore, the physical and political fragmentation that has befallen the Palestinian people and the diversity of legal frameworks and actors responsible for them have become features of their experience and misfortune. There needs to be a fundamental change in the way Palestinian refugees are seen, “not the victims of a failed political process, but as people with rights, entitled to shape their own destiny.”

 

Identity and numbers

“Today, out of over thirteen million Palestinians globally, about eight million are refugees.” 5.5 million are registered as ‘Palestine refugees’ with the United Nations Relief and Works Agency or (UNRWA) in Jordan, Lebanon, Syria, the Gaza Strip, and the West Bank.

The study estimates that some 1.5 million Palestinians are currently dispersed outside Arab countries, and their status and documentation make them statistically invisible and, therefore, difficult to track. As a result of their dispersal, Palestinian refugees’ identity is often hyphenated: Palestinian-Jordanian, Palestinian-Syrian, Palestinian-American, Palestinian-Iraqi, etc. It should be noted that for most Palestinians, long-term residence in host countries has not resulted in the protection afforded through citizenship.

Palestinian refugees

Palestinian refugees gather in the Bekaa refugee camp outside of Amman, Jordan, Oct. 28, 1970. Photo | AP

Another little known fact revealed repealed in this study is that since the late 1960s, more than 700,000 Palestinian refugees have been ejected from Arab countries, creating enormous challenges, including the need to seek asylum again in another country. What is worse is that the UN General Assembly did not confer a mandate to care for them. They are not included as a registered refugee population by UNRWA and do not receive comprehensive assistance from the agency.

 

A demographic issue

What has become known as the “demographic issue” is code for a Zionist obsession to establish a Jewish majority in Palestine – a territory that until then 1948 had a large Arab majority. This has been a pressing issue for Zionist leadership since the early years of the British Mandate. Still, despite British support for the Jewish national project and the waves of Jewish migration to Palestine since the late nineteenth century, at the end of 1947, Palestine’s Jewish population was only one-third of the total population of Palestine.

Britain facilitated Jewish migration to Palestine and turned hundreds of thousands of Jewish migrants from Europe into Palestine Mandate citizens. “The Citizenship Order of August 1, 1925, extended full citizenship rights to all Turkish (Ottoman) subjects habitually resident in Palestine.” This included the original 729,873 Ottoman citizens of Palestine, of whom the vast majority were Palestinian Arabs.

By 1946, the population of Palestine was estimated at 1,846,000. This included 1,203,000 Palestinian Arabs and 608,000 Jews. In the 30 years of British control over Palestine, the Jewish population grew over 30 percent compared to an average of 10 percent growth during the final 20 years of the Ottoman Empire, a time period already marked by increased Jewish immigration.

The idea of forcing the Arab Palestinians out of Palestine through expulsion and transfer had become ingrained in the Zionist leadership mindset very early on. As early as the 1930s, the Jewish Agency had established a Population Transfer Committee which devised schemes to remove the Palestinian population “by securing land for them in neighboring states, or by having Britain remove them.” During 1948, several Transfer Committees were set up by the Jewish Agency, and later the Israeli government to “facilitate the exodus.”

By the time the armistice agreements were signed in 1949 between the new State of Israel and its Arab neighbors, only 15 percent of Palestine’s pre-1948 Arab population remained in the area that would become Israel.

 

Criminalizing return and confiscating property

The State of Israel declared independence on May 14, 1948. By June of that year, the Israeli government had decided to bar refugees from returning. In 1952, Israel passed the Nationality Law, which effectively excluded over two-thirds of Palestinian Arab citizens from retaining citizenship in British Mandate Palestine, a land that was still their own country.

In 1954, Israel passed the ‘The Prevention of Infiltration Law,’ which effectively criminalized the return of Palestinian refugees. Soldiers who saw “infiltrators,” a term used to describe any Palestinian attempting to return to their home or lands, were authorized to shoot them on sight. Those who were caught and not killed on the spot were imprisoned and expelled again.

This was not merely motivated by Zionist cruelty but also by greed.

The wealth that Palestinians left behind “was strategic to the emerging State of Israel.” Palestinians left behind huge tracts of farmland, tools, livestock, shops, factories, houses of worship, private homes, financial assets, and personal belongings. Produce from fields and orchards was also left behind, with large citrus fruit stores waiting to be exported for hard currency.

Moveable property was sold by Israeli authorities. The government even leased abandoned stone quarries and sold cactus fruit from abandoned fields. “Beyond this monetary gain, control of the refugees’ property allowed Israel and the Jewish Agency to cheaply settle hundreds of thousands of Jewish immigrants who began pouring into Israel after 1948.”

“The gap between such properties and their original owners/holders was further widened by the transfer, through ‘purchase agreements,’ to the Israeli Development Authority, and subsequently to the Jewish National Fund, for administration.” These Zionist institutions made it impossible for properties – both movable and immovable – of Palestinian refugees and internally displaced Palestinians to be restored to their rightful, legal owners.

In addition to severing the links between the land and its original owners, Israel transformed the territory to benefit its own economic growth. “By 1950, the Custodian had become the largest landlord in Israel.” It had acquired the legal authority to allocate Palestinian property to incoming Jewish immigrants.

In the 1950s, Absentee Property Laws consolidated the seizure of absentee properties and their transfer to the State of Israel for  exclusive benefit of the Jewish population. Absentee property played a huge role in turning Israel into a viable state. It allowed Israel to take over farms and urban homes of Palestinians and populate them with Jewish newcomers from Europe and Arab countries. Jewish kibbutzim and agricultural settlements began the process of expropriating the land of both refugees and that of the Palestinians who remained in what became Israel. Palestinians who remained had no choice but to work for the same Israeli owners who had stolen their land.

Palestinian refugees

A bulldozer clears land in Palestine to be used by Jewish Yemeni farmers, Sept. 4, 1950. Photo | AP

These enormous tracts of good, arable land were now held by the state and were used by Jewish settlements and individual farmers to grow crops and vegetables. Vacant Arab homes were used to accommodate immigrants. With time, emptied Palestinian villages were either transformed or destroyed. Some were turned into parks and forests; others were used for cultivation and development. “All these measures steadily rendered the possibility of a return of the refugees ever more remote.”

Israel and Zionist spokespeople worldwide like to claim that the Jews came to an empty, barren land and made it bloom. This study makes it clear that they came to an already prosperous country and stole its riches.

 

The report of the UN Mediator for Palestine

One would be remiss to discuss Palestinian refugees without mentioning the contributions and indeed sacrifice of the UN Mediator to Palestine, Count Folke Bernadotte. Bernadotte was a Swedish diplomat, who after successfully negotiating the rescue of some twenty thousand prisoners from Nazi concentration camps (more than half of whom were Jewish), was asked to take on the role of Mediator for Palestine. He visited the country several times and presented several reports.

Count Bernadotte presented his first report regarding the refugees to the United Nations on September 16, 1948. The report describes his efforts to obtain an agreement from the Provisional Government of Israel for a phased return of refugees. This study clearly states that “attempts at finding a diplomatic solution were unsuccessful because of the firm stance of the Provisional Government of Israel against the return of the refugees.” Bernadotte’s report underscored that:

The right of innocent people, uprooted from their homes by the present terror and ravages of war, to return to their homes, should be affirmed and made effective, with assurance of adequate compensation for the property of those who may choose not to return.”

The Palestinian refugees ‘right’ to return and to be adequately compensated is recurrent in his report, notwithstanding the views expressed by the Provisional Government of Israel. The right of return was considered by Bernadotte to be among the most basic premises for the settlement of the conflict. The following passage of his report still resonates today:

No settlement can be just and complete if recognition is not accorded to the right of the Arab refugee to return to the home from which he has been dislodged … It would be an offence against the principles of elemental justice if these innocent victims of the conflict were denied the right to return to their homes while Jewish immigrants flow into Palestine, and, indeed, at least offer the threat of permanent replacement of the Arab refugees.”

The Mediator not only stressed the right of the refugees to return but also made clear that those rights be affirmed rather than established. This reflected the prevailing consensus regarding the norms of international law when dealing with refugees.

Bernadotte also made it clear that,

The right of the Arab refugees to return to their homes in Jewish-controlled territory at the earliest possible date should be affirmed by the United Nations, and their repatriation, resettlement and economic and social rehabilitation, and payment of adequate compensation for the property of those choosing not to return, should be supervised and assisted by the United Nations.”

Count Bernadotte

Count Bernadotte, left, speaks with the Syrian leaders at a UN Security Council meeting on July 13, 1948. Photo | UN Archive

Bernadotte’s advocacy for the Palestinian refugees and his claim that Jerusalem – by then occupied and subjected to a thorough ethnic cleansing campaign – should come under international control and not Zionist control could not be tolerated by the Zionist government in Palestine. On September 17, 1948, one day after he submitted his progress report, Folke Bernadotte was assassinated in a terrorist attack by members of a Zionist militia.

The terrorists acted on an order to get rid of Bernadotte, and although it was later claimed that the assassins were part of a fringe extremist group and that the central provisional Zionist government formally condemned the assassination, there is little doubt that the entire Zionist established was complicit in Bernadotte’s murder.

Although the assassins were well known and had even given interviews, none were ever brought to justice. One of the people known to have been directly involved in the assassination was Yitzhak Shamir, though he was not a part of the terrorist squad that committed the murder. Shamir went on to serve in many important Israeli government posts, including Prime Minister.

 

Resolution 194

The UN General Assembly accepted Bernadotte’s recommendations when it adopted Resolution 194, and as a result of his death, established the United Nations Conciliation Commission for Palestine (UNCCP), which took over the main functions of the Mediator. Concerning refugees, the resolution states that the General Assembly:

Resolves that the refugees wishing to return to their homes and live at peace with their neighbors should be permitted to do so at the earliest practicable date, and that compensation should be paid for the property of those choosing not to return and for loss of or damage to property which, under principles of international law or in equity, should be made good by the Governments or authorities responsible;

Following Israel’s refusal to comply with the Mediator’s request to allow refugees to return to their homes, in paragraph 11, the General Assembly stressed that it,

Instructs the Conciliation Commission to facilitate the repatriation, resettlement and economic and social rehabilitation of the refugees and the payment of compensation, and to maintain close relations with the Director of the United Nations Relief for Palestine Refugees and, through him, with the appropriate organs and agencies of the United Nations.

The work of the United Nations Conciliation Commission for Palestine (UNCCP) was completed in 1964. According to this study, records in the Commission’s archives reveal that it determined the worth of the Palestinian refugees’ privately owned land was 204,660,250 British Palestine pounds, equivalent to $9.6 billion U.S. dollars in 2019.

The study also states that the Commission’s estimates are considered to be “incomplete and conservative,” yet are the most methodologically accurate ones made to date. “Beyond land losses, a compensation regime should also consider movable property losses, disturbance allowance (representing the loss of income until a refugee could re-establish himself/herself), ex-gratia payment representing a general compensation for hardship, and reintegration costs.”

In August of 1961, at the U.S. government’s suggestion, the Commission appointed Dr. Joseph E. Johnson as a special representative. Johnson’s overall estimate of the amount owed to Palestinian refugees for compensation was $1.377 billion U.S. dollars in 1962. This is equivalent to $22.975 billion in 2019. All of this is for the refugees of 1948 only.

Resolution 194 is one of the most widely reaffirmed resolutions in UN history. This study states that “resolutions that have been reaffirmed hundreds of times not only confirm long-established international consensus but they acquire a legal character.” Resolution 194 has been repeatedly reaffirmed over the years, and it has even served as a precedent in international responses to other refugee crises.

 

Military Order 58

In the aftermath of the 1967 Israeli assault and conquest of Arab lands, and immediately after it seized the West Bank, the Israeli army issued Military Order 58. It authorizes the seizure of any property held by West Bank residents who were outside the area on June 7, 1967, and that of those who subsequently left. “Military Order 58 replicates the Absentees’ Property Law of 1950 for the 1967 territories, applying it to territory that Israel supposedly “merely occupies and over which it has no sovereignty.”

According to this study, Military Order 58 “has a broader scope than the Absentees’ Property Law,” in that it allowed Israel to take control over property that had been held by Jordan since 1948 and placed it under the control of the Custodian’s authority of Israel. Furthermore, it has no time restrictions, covers any Palestinian who leaves the West Bank, and remains in force to this day.

 

International law

The British government initially made two conflicting promises regarding Palestine, one to the indigenous Palestinian Arabs and the other to the immigrant-colonizer Jewish community. However, the British government’s actions made it clear that Britain favored the creation of what became known as a Jewish state – or more accurately, a Zionist state – in Palestine. As a side note, it is worth mentioning that the local Orthodox Jewish community residing in Palestine at the time vehemently opposed the Zionists and the creation of a Zionist state. They made their opposition known to the British, the United Nations, and the local Palestinian Arab leadership, with whom they had excellent relations.

British support for Zionist claims to Palestine allowed the all-out military assault by Zionist militias against the indigenous Palestinian community. This ultimately led to the creation of an independent Zionist state and the subjugation, dispossession, exile, and statelessness of indigenous Palestinian Arabs. It also brought about measures preventing the return of the Palestinians forcibly displaced while actively promoting Jewish immigration under the guise of return. As a result of this, there is currently an unresolved refugee crisis “that has evolved into the largest and most protracted in modern history.”

Palestine 1936

Palestinian homes destroyed with dynamite by British troops following clashes between Jewish militias and Palestinians in Jaffa on July 3, 1936. Photo | AP

A crucial point that must be recognized is that the rights of Palestinian refugees to return, restitution, and compensation, were already enshrined in international law in 1948. The UN General Assembly reaffirmed these rights in resolution 194.

In 1948, the refugees already had the right to return to their homes. Instead, 750,000 refugees were denationalized en masse, prevented from returning to their houses, and forced into a seemingly endless exile. In other words, Israel had already violated its obligations under international humanitarian law and the law of state responsibility in 1948.

Since then, the policies and practices of successive Israeli governments continue to prevent the return and self-determination of Palestinian people. Israel denies Palestinian refugees the right to return, restitution, and compensation, and Israeli leaders even continue to deny the very existence of a Palestinian people. Israel justifies its actions by challenging the foundation of its obligations and that of the rights of Palestinians, and the international community has been weak and unwilling to intervene.

The practice that has evolved since the Second World War affirms that individual and collective claims of refugees are not mutually exclusive but rather reinforce each other. In fact, these are challenges found in other cases of mass displacement, serious human rights violations, and where the passage of time has increased the number of claimants. The high number of possible claimants among Palestinian refugees is often seen as justifying Israel in its refusal to recognize Palestinian refugees’ rights in general. However, given the clarity of the individual rights and the nature of violations involved in the Palestinian case, “individual claims and claims en masse for groups of individuals must be addressed.”

These are issues that can be overcome, as was demonstrated by the reparations to victims of Nazi persecution. They included multiple claims in different jurisdictions within different countries and on different continents, with settlements being achieved many decades after the violations took place.

The Israeli government aggressively encourages Jews from around the world to settle in Israel while pressing for restitution laws to be adopted regarding losses suffered by the Jewish people. Simultaneously, it adamantly denies Palestinians the right to return and resettle in their homeland and receive restitution. Being that Israel is a settler-colonial state these policies are not unusual, one wonders, however, at what point the international community will intervene on behalf of the millions of Palestinian refugees waiting to retun.

 

Right to return

Israel objects to the return of the Palestinian refugees claiming it is an existential threat. However, what Zionist institutions fear equally as much are demands under international law that they pay restitution and compensation for the properties both private and public, and for the natural resources stolen from the Palestinian people.

In 1949, the Geneva Convention elaborated regarding the prohibition of deportation and expressly referred to the repatriation of protected persons. Article 49 of GCIV prohibits “individual or mass forcible transfers, as well as deportation of protected persons from occupied territory.” It goes on to say that “All protected persons who may desire to leave the territory at the outset of, or during a conflict, shall be entitled to do so.”

Zionist institutions and spokespeople claim that the refugee issue has somehow reached some imaginary statute of limitations. However, the legal foundation of the rights of the Palestinian refugees to repatriation, restitution, and compensation  – as affirmed in resolution 194 – not only has not expired but, according to this study, “has since become even stronger.” Furthermore, according to the Articles on State Responsibility, “the state responsibility does not diminish with the passing of time.”

It is only for political reasons that the rights of the Palestinian refugees continue to be side-lined. Zionist institutions around the world, with the support of the United States government, are doing all they can to undermine the severity of the Palestinian refugee issue and to absolve Israel of any responsibility. The fall of the Zionist- apartheid regime in Palestine and the emergence of a free and democratic Palestine in its place is arguably the only development that can realistically bring about the return of the refugees.

Feature photo | Palestinian refugees carry their belongings as they flee across the wrecked Allenby Bridge over the Jordan River from the Israeli-occupied section of Jordan, June 22, 1967. Bernard Frye | 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 A Historical Reckoning: Oxford Study Challenges Israel’s Claims Concerning Palestinian Refugees appeared first on MintPress News.

How a Black Evangelical Denomination was Duped into “Blessing” Israel

Published by Anonymous (not verified) on Wed, 14/10/2020 - 12:39am in

The Church of God in Christ, or COGIC, is certainly not the first evangelical group to embrace the state of Israel. But unlike most evangelical denominations, this one is mostly African American. Its leadership includes the newly-minted and first-ever “Bishop of Israel,” Dr. Glenn R. Plummer, who now resides in Jerusalem – and he cherishes his new post.

The Plummers’ move from their Detroit home is the culmination of a years-long targeted outreach by pro-Israel organizations to the African American Christian community, including a carefully curated public relations campaign that oscillates between portraying Israel as a victim of Palestinian violence and ignoring Palestinian existence completely.

 

The mission: American dollars for Israel

Plummer defines his mission in terms of creating mostly commercial ties between African Americans and Jewish Israelis. The two million Muslim and Christian Palestinians who live in Israel do not figure into his plans. As he explains it:

It’s a perfect time to show our support for the Jewish people, and for Israel in particular, and we intend to do that in very tangible ways. There are more than 40 million Black Americans, they spend more than $1.3 trillion a year, so we’re a measurable market, a measurable group of people, easily identified, and we think we can also contribute to the advancement of Israel.”

COGIC Israel

Plummer, pictured in a matching tracksuit and Nike fanny pack, with a member of his congregation during a 2019 tour in Jerusalem. Photo | COGIC

Plummer’s wife, who now claims the title “the first lady of Israel,” adds that the couple hopes to correct what she calls “misunderstandings” about Israel among Black Americans. “God blesses those who bless Israel, she said, “We want to make sure that Black Americans understand that the way to bless Israel is to speak well of Israel.”

Last month, the foundation Israel Allies named Plummer one of Israel’s “Top 50 Christian Allies.”

 

African American views on Israel

Black Americans as a group are primarily Protestant – a characteristic usually associated with robust support for Israel – but also predominantly Democrats, the less pro-Israel party. 

Most African American Christians lean left when it comes to the Jewish State. Less than half — 48 percent — endorse Israel, and 27 percent sympathize with the Palestinians.

Although traditional religious teaching in many denominations calls on believers to support Israel, the majority of Black Christians sympathize equally with both Israeli and Palestinian struggles (seventy percent); over forty percent also believe that Israel denies Palestinians their basic human rights and that Israeli laws discriminate against Palestinians (about the same percentage say they don’t know).

 

The link: pro-Israel charity

The modern African American connection to Israel can be traced back to the late American Rabbi Yechiel Eckstein, who in 1983 created a collaborative charity called the International Fellowship of Christians and Jews (IFCJ). Eckstein has since grown it into a $100 million-a-year organization. IFCJ claims to support the Israeli military, provide aid to needy Jewish families, and promote Jewish emigration to Israel.

Eckstein Black churches

Eckstein addresses a Baptist Church in Detroit during the Martin Luther King Day weekend. Photo | Phil Lewis | The Fellowship

In 2014, after over thirty years of cultivating support for the Jewish state among White American Christians, Eckstein began pursuing the African American Christian community. He found the work tricky. Black Christians, after all, tend to be Democrats and not supportive of the more hawkish pro-Israel policies for which he sought backing. But Eckstein had a secret weapon.

He targeted COGIC because of one particular doctrine: a belief that the creation of the State of Israel was ordained by God.

 

Selective pilgrimage

By 2015 a group of COGIC ministers, including the Plummers, visited Israel with Eckstein, taking in a hand-picked list of Jewish and Christian holy sites, a bomb shelter in Tel Aviv, and the Holocaust memorial.

In 2017, with financial assistance from Hobby Lobby, another COGIC group visited Israel. Notably, the week-long trip did not include Bethlehem, which is in Palestinian territory, or any meetings with Palestinians. A senior COGIC delegate explained that the purpose of the visit was to focus on the strength of Israel, adding, “that’s not to say the Palestinian issue is not deserving of consideration as well. Anything that helps humanity.”

The itinerary for African American church leaders included a stop in southern Tel Aviv, where most of Israel’s 45,000 African asylum-seekers live. The group discussed the challenges these immigrants faced, including racism and economic inequity. But again, the narrative was incomplete.

Israel has been openly trying for over ten years to stop the flow of refugees from Africa and to deport those already present. Human Rights Watch reported that it “recognized fewer than one percent of asylum applicants,” choosing instead to “bully” them or ignore their applications. The government even funded a wall on its border with Egypt and then initiated a policy of detention and expulsion, housing African refugees in large camps in the middle of the southern desert.

Despite the carefully curated itinerary, one church leader summed up his takeaway from the trip thusly, “[D]espite the achievement of some [Africans in Israel], educational and economic inequity remain.”

 

“From Ferguson to Palestine”

Just before the COGIC trip to Israel, the U.S. saw a surge of Black support for the Palestinian cause – something Plummer has yet to acknowledge.

The summer of 2014 highlighted the parallel issues faced by African Americans and their Palestinian brethren. As Blacks in America protested the killing of Michael Brown in Ferguson, Israel waged a brutal war against the people of Gaza. Over 2,200 Palestinians were killed, 65 percent of them civilians. More than 500 Palestinian children lost their lives in the Israeli campaign along with 73 Israelis, just eight percent of whom were civilians.

The 2015 Black Solidarity Statement with Palestine, signed by over 1,000 activists and 39 organizations, was born of this shared adversity and read, in part:

The past year has been one of high-profile growth for Black-Palestinian solidarity. Out of the terror directed against us—from numerous attacks on Black life to Israel’s brutal war on Gaza and chokehold on the West Bank—strengthened resilience and joint-struggle have emerged between our movements.

 

Neighborhood watch

Bishop Plummer and his wife made their new home in an upscale Israeli suburb of Jerusalem called Mevaseret Zion, a neighborhood whose backstory is noteworthy if one is willing to search it out.

Before 1948, Mevaseret Zion was the site of the mostly-Arab Palestinian village of Qalunya, population: 1,056. The violent Jewish paramilitary force, the Haganah, destroyed the village as recounted by historian Walid Khalidi, author of “All That Remains: The Palestinian Villages Occupied and Depopulated by Israel in 1948.” The village was one of over five hundred depopulated and demolished in the wake of Israel’s creation.

Plummers IDF

Plummer poses with African members of the IDF in Jerusalem in 2016. Photo | COGIC

Ottoman records indicate that it had been in existence since at least 1596. Its Palestinian farmers grew (and paid taxes on) wheat, barley, and vegetables, and tended citrus and olive trees.

Kerem Navot, a non-profit Israeli group that monitors land policy, recently pointed out that Mevaseret Zion lies partly inside Palestine. But instead of resolving the trespassing issue, Israel recently approved plans for further construction in the town, requiring the appropriation of yet more Palestinian land.

 

Zooming toward racism

On June 4, Bishop Plummer participated in a video conference vigil hosted by Yehudah Glick on the Temple Mount in Jerusalem. Its objective: to pray for racial reconciliation in the United States following the death of George Floyd.

Plummer and his colleagues may not have been aware that following a 1967 agreement, only Muslims are supposed to be allowed to perform religious rituals on the Temple Mount, the site of the Al-Aqsa Mosque and one of Islam’s most revered sites.

In recent years, Israeli radicals have stormed the mosque compound more and more frequently, often under the protection of Israeli police. Despite having exclusive access to the Wailing Wall, a nearby Jewish holy site, they storm the compound under the auspices of a desire to pray in the mosque compound, a move seen by many Muslims as intentionally provocative. Yehudah Glick’s prayer vigil was both illegal and provocative.

Glick also ignored the fact that both the religious establishment and the Israeli government openly discriminate against the Palestinians in their midst to the point that many experts have described the government’s actions as apartheid. And even as Glick urged his listeners to chant “no more violence,” his country observed the 53rd anniversary of its brutal occupation of Palestine.

Israel’s widely publicized narrative of innocence overshadows the reality of its intolerance, though both Israeli and Palestinian historians have chronicled it thoroughly.

The state of Israel displaced 750,000 Palestinians in 1948 simply because they were not Jewish. It defied international law by refusing to allow them to return; appropriated 78 percent of their land in 1948, and occupied the rest in 1967, with no end in sight.

Numerous human rights organizations have been tallying and reporting on Israel’s decades of ongoing human rights abuses.

In Gaza alone 7,400 Palestinians have been killed through direct Israeli violence (thousands more due to lack of food and medicine caused by the now fourteen-year-old blockade); during the same time period, about 250 Israelis were been killed by Palestinians in Gaza.

Glick mourned the May 25 death of George Floyd and the nationwide unrest in its aftermath. He left unspoken the name of Eyad al Hallak, a disabled Palestinian man executed by Israeli police on May 30 in Jerusalem – not far from where Glick’s own vigil was held.

Feature photo | Antonio Cabrera

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

The post How a Black Evangelical Denomination was Duped into “Blessing” Israel appeared first on MintPress News.

Abraham Accord: Experts Warn Trump Peace Deal a Precursor to War with Iran

Published by Anonymous (not verified) on Wed, 07/10/2020 - 5:26am in

On paper at least, last month’s U.S.-sponsored agreements between Israel, the United Arab Emirates and Bahrain were all about peace. But behind the headlines, a darker, much more worrying picture of regional alliances, weapons deals, destabilization campaigns, and messianic prophecies emerge.

The Abraham Accord, as it is known, is likely to expand the power of Gulf dictatorships and increase the number of devastating high-tech weapons in the Middle East, fueling further instability and bloodshed, a welcome prospect for neoconservative hawks and religious zealots who see the deal as fulfilling ancient prophecies about the end of the world. Above all, the deal can be seen as an attempt to present a united front against Iran for any potential future war — a conflict that would likely make Iraq and Afghanistan look mild by comparison.

But across corporate media, the accord was almost universally hailed as a “peace deal” — and a potentially massive breakthrough. The Wall Street Journal’s editorial board presented Trump as a master dealmaker, breaking the mold of “failed conventional wisdom” on the Middle East, and claiming that he deserved far more praise from the media for his breakthrough, suggesting he was not getting it because of their anti-Trump bias. Yet even MSNBC, not a network known for praising the president, found it difficult to find an angle that did not paint him as a great peacemaker. Trump has subsequently been nominated for the Nobel Peace Prize and is among the favorites to win it, according to bookmakers.

 

Israel’s man

While it is Trump gaining the plaudits, in reality, the man organizing operations is his son-in-law Jared Kushner. Kushner has spent his entire adult life organizing for zionist groups and making contacts with the Israeli right, his family’s charitable organization has donated thousands to the IDF and to illegal Jewish-only settlements. Kushner has been leaning heavily on Saudi Arabia to join the new alliance, promising them state of the art new weaponry and a host of economic benefits. A cult-like hero in much of Israel, he has time and again shown his disgust for Palestinian life, claiming they have “done nothing right in their sad, pathetic lives” and own a “perfect track record of missing opportunities,” presenting his so-called “Deal of the Century” was an opportunity for them to finally stop playing the victim. Many on the religious right in Israel talk of Kushner in almost reverential tones, seeing him as completing a divine mission.

Trump campaigned on a platform of “draining the swamp” — i.e. removing the corrupt warhawks from the White House. Yet he has surrounded himself with many of the Bush-era “crazies” and “even craziers,” including the likes of Michael Flynn and John Bolton, who was considered too much of a loose cannon for Bush to handle. Kushner has been “the neocons’ backdoor” back into the White House, where, not with their actions in Iraq and Afghanistan, Iran has become the number one target.

The Abraham Accord appears to have been deeply unpopular with the people of the UAE and Bahrain, who risked serious consequences by protesting the decision on social media. Nevertheless, their governments justified it by claiming they had guaranteed that Israel would not annex the Jordan Valley as it announced it would in the summer. But Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu later made clear that the plans were merely now “delayed” and that they remain on the table.

 

A strange “peace” deal

Yet a number of experts who spoke to MintPress questioned the entire framing of the Abraham Accord as a peace deal, claiming instead that this was far less about peace than about war, particularly with Iran.

Phyllis Bennis, Director of the New Internationalism Project at the Institute for Policy Studies and author of “Understanding the Palestinian-Israeli Conflict: a Primer,” which is now in its seventh edition, said of the deal:

The notion that this was somehow a peace deal implies that somehow until this ‘fabulous deal’ Israel the UAE and Bahrain were somehow not at peace, but at war. And that is simply not true; they had very good ties, they had commercial, trade and security ties that go back decades in the case of the UAE. But they were always very quiet because the official position of the Arab League and the actual position of Arab populations across the region were strongly opposed to normalization with Israel as long as the oppression of the Palestinians continued.”

For such a “peace deal,” negotiations certainly seemed to revolve quite heavily around weapons transfers. Much of the accord focussed on American plans to sell the UAE and Bahrain high tech armaments, including the costly Lockheed Martin F-35 fighters, Boeing’s EA-18G Growler jets, and General Atomics’ MQ-9 Reaper drones, previously off-limits to anyone in the region except the Israelis. Thus, it is difficult to see how flooding the world’s most war-torn region with even more advanced weaponry, especially to nations currently involved in the bombing campaigns against Yemen, will secure peace.

“The UAE and Bahrain are key customers for the U.S. arms trade,” Bennis explained,

They are very eager to buy more. So they get brownie points from the Trump administration. They get promises of being able to buy more and better military gear, and Israel will get even more weapons to maintain its congressionally-guaranteed ‘qualitative military edge.’ They give up nothing because they already have these relations with Israel, who had already suspended its threatened annexation. It is now just a matter of making it public. So everybody gains except the Palestinians.”

Almost immediately after the accord was announced, the head of Mossad, Yossi Cohen, traveled to the UAE to meet with Emirati security officials to discuss “cooperation in the fields of security,” as well as regional issues, Al-Jazeera reported. Thus, as Greg Shupak of the University of Guelph, Ontario, and author of “The Wrong Story: Palestine, Israel and the Media,” argued, “peace deal” is a misleading framing of what looks more like the beginnings of a military alliance. “In the language of countries with egregious human rights records like Israel and the UAE, ‘security’ is a euphemism for violent repression,” he added.

 

Iran in the crosshairs

From being a key ally of the United States under the Shah, since the 1979 revolution, Iran has become an obsession for planners in Washington. The U.S. is currently waging an all-out economic war against Tehran, hoping to foment an anti-government movement. U.S. sanctions have decimated the value of the Iranian rial and sent the prices of consumer goods soaring. Personal savings have been wiped out and lives have been stunted. Many have lost out on opportunities to study abroad or even get married due to economic pressure. More seriously, the U.S. has also made it extremely difficult to import life-saving medicines, leading to countless deaths.

“The sanctions deliberately target ordinary Iranians, women and children,” Seyed Mohammad Marandi, Professor of English Literature at the University of Tehran told MintPress. “They are designed to kill hospital patients and to create poverty. They have had partial success.”

Iran was one of the first countries to be hit by the COVID-19 pandemic earlier this year, and the U.S. government worked hard to dissuade all nations from selling or even giving the Islamic Republic face masks, medicine, or other equipment. In the end, the World Health Organization stepped in and directly gave the Iranians what it could, a major reason the Trump administration has decided to leave the organization. In 2018, Bolton promised the Iranian exile group the Mujahedeen Khalq (MEK) that they would soon rule over Iran, essentially guaranteeing regime change for the country of 82 million people. In January of this year, Trump decided to assassinate public figure and statesman Qassem Soleimani in Baghdad while he was attending regional peace talks. Trump donors like Sheldon Adelson want the president to go further and drop a nuclear bomb on the country. Despite pulling out the nuclear deal itself, the Trump administration has recently used Iran’s non-compliance with the same treaty as a reason to trigger even harsher “snapback” sanctions against Tehran.

For Bennis, the Israel-UAE-Bahrain deal was less about peace, and more about setting up a united front in a possible coming war with the Iranians, noting that Trump’s central foreign policy goal for the Middle East is “to build up Israel as the centerpiece of an anti-Iran coalition. That has been underway for years now… what we have here is a consolidation of the U.S.-backed anti-Iran coalition across the region.”

While media aimed at a more mass market hid this fact, elite, insider journals were more frank. Foreign Policy, for example, wrote that the Abraham Accord has made Trump’s, “Maximum pressure’ policy of economic asphyxiation against Tehran more effective and painful than his predecessor’s sanctions campaign.”

Increased Arab collaboration with Israel and the United States has helped the latter obstruct clandestine financial channels and escape valves traditionally used by Iranian authorities and institutions to evade US sanctions.”

What are the consequences for Iran under this new partnership? Shupak warned that those wishing for peace in the region should treat the deal with suspicion, telling MintPress,

The UAE and Bahrain can now openly and comprehensively partner with Israel in the U.S.-led effort to destroy it. Because there is no longer a need to even pretend that Israel is not partners with the UAE and Bahrain, this alliance can work together in full support of one another. That means it’s now possible to have more effective enforcement of the already crushing economic blockade of Iran, collaborative efforts to carry out subversion inside Iran, more intimate sharing of intelligence and perhaps of weapons, as well as greater logistical support and possibly military coordination and integration if a full scale attack on Iran comes to pass.

 

Yemeni Onslaught

A tiny island of only 1.5 million people, Bahrain is nonetheless an important strategic state in the Middle East. The nation is home to the United States Fifth Fleet, its primary base for the entire West Asian-Middle East region. The base has proven vital over the decades as a launchpad for American invasions of neighboring states and continues to serve a role as a base of operations for the U.S.

Both Bahrain and the UAE are also partners in the Saudi-led coalition’s aggression in Yemen, not only attacking military targets but striking against medical and water facilities over 200 times since the war began in 2015. The United Nations has called the country “the world’s worst humanitarian crisis,” estimating that 14 million people — over half its population — are at risk of famine, and 20.5 million need help accessing drinkable water. The Abraham Accord is sure to increase the amount of high-tech weaponry available to both Bahrain and the UAE, which will immediately be used in their Yemen campaign.

The destabilization of the country has led the World Food Program to warn of a “famine of biblical proportions” if nothing is done about it. The UAE and Bahrain have continued to justify their involvement in the conflict on the basis of the Houthi militias’ alleged ties to Iran, claiming they need to support the legitimate government as a bulwark against Iranian domination of the region.

“The UAE is one of the central protagonists in the cataclysmic war of aggression against Yemen—alongside key partners such as Saudi Arabia, the U.S., U.K., and Canada—so there is a strong possibility that the UAE will unleash these killing machines on the impoverished Yemeni population that it has already done so much to devastate,” said Shupak. “Likewise, increased intelligence sharing between Israel and the UAE could entail Israel helping the UAE having more, and possibly more advanced, information that it can use to maim and kill Yemenis.”

 

Palestine: no justice. No peace

Notable by their absence at the negotiations was any Palestinian representation, and according to Shupak, the deal actually lifts international pressure on Israel with regards to Palestine, exactly the opposite of what the UAE and Bahrain have claimed.

What’s most significant for Palestinians about normalization is that it means Israel no longer has to face the political and economic costs of being boycotted by the UAE and Bahrain or any state that chooses to follow them: thus, a mechanism that could have helped play some part in ending Israeli colonialism is no longer available,” he told MintPress.

In fact, Israel did not formally relinquish its claim to the fertile Jordan Valley area of the West Bank, nor did any of its promises to moderate its behavior towards Palestine result in the cessation of bombing Gaza, which it continued to do throughout the talks, let alone lifting blockades against Palestinians or guaranteeing them the right of return to their homes.

Therefore, while some in the media try to spin the deal as a good thing for Palestinians, there will likely be no reduction, let alone an end to their suffering in the near future. This, for Bennis, was the fact that undermined the whole concept of a peace accord:

The definition of peace has to come back to what we learned from Dr. Martin Luther King, which is that peace is not just the absence of war but the presence of justice. If you are not going to at least talk about justice for the Palestinians then you’re not serious about peace.”

And so while New York Times columnists might describe the news as “a rare triumph in the Middle East,” the question remains, a triumph for whom? Perhaps for Washington war hawks, defense contractors, and undemocratic Middle Eastern rulers, but not for the people of the region. “[The accord] is very bleak if you care about human rights and anything remotely resembling justice,” Bennis added.

Feature photo | Members of the Iranian army take part in the annual Zolphaghar 99 military drill in the Gulf of Oman, September 10, 2020. Photo | WANA

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 Abraham Accord: Experts Warn Trump Peace Deal a Precursor to War with Iran appeared first on MintPress News.

From British Israelism to the Miami Model: What’s Behind QAnon’s 2020 Resurgence?

Published by Anonymous (not verified) on Wed, 07/10/2020 - 3:00am in

Tags 

News, Israel, Police

A simple wave of Trump’s hand from his motorcade at Walter Reed National Military Medical Center was enough for QAnon believers to race to their internet-connected devices and begin decoding the latest Q drops. These “encoded” social media posts spread through obscure internet forums like 8-Chan that are considered by adherents to be veiled communications from “patriots” with special access to the hidden truth behind the American deep state and what they perceive as its subversive campaign to destroy the foundational values of the country.

According to NBC News, “QAnon influencers” immediately set out “to decode the president’s tweet announcing he had the disease and [tried] to deduce clues from the statement’s use of capital letters.” QAnon devotees had apparently reached a consensus about the meaning behind the president’s illness after exchanging interpretations of Trump’s COVID-19 diagnosis across their preferred internet forums. Unsurprisingly, their conclusion reaffirmed their unfaltering belief in “the plan” they assert Trump is carrying out in order to weed out what they believe is a satanic pedophile network run by the opposing party.

The “plan” has been unfolding for this quasireligious revivalist movement of the digital age since the phenomenon got its start during the 2016 presidential election as a result of a purportedly false claim made by a known White supremacist account “David Goldberg” on Twitter. The NYPD, he tweeted, had initiated an investigation into Democratic Party official John Podesta’s emails leaked by Wikileaks, where evidence of a pedophile ring operating out of a pizza parlor in New York City had been ostensibly uncovered.

The hashtag #pizzagate erupted all over social media soon thereafter and the narrative of reality TV star and Manhattan real estate developer Donald Trump as a white knight come to save America from “the swamp” in Washington D.C. was rapidly adopted by a freshly-galvanized nationalist-minded segment of the U.S. population, who jumped at the opportunity to subsume the biggest “conspiracy theories” in the United States (including the Kennedy assassination) under one grand and redemptive story for an America which Trump promised to “make great again.”

 

Q’s 2020 resurgence

With the 2020 election only weeks away, the QAnon movement seems to have gathered new momentum after the end of the Mueller investigation, which provided adherents with so much fodder that it relegated some of its popularity to yesterday’s news. The coronavirus crisis and the eruption of anti-police brutality protests have both converged to remotivate QAnon’ers and bring in new blood from as far away as Australia.

QAnon article photo

Romanian QAnon supporters rally against COVID-19 measures in Bucharest, Aug. 10, 2020. Vadim Ghirda | AP

In the United States, QAnon’s newest enthusiasts are coming from police departments across the country, according to a recent Mother Jones investigation. “It’s called ‘Q Research’ for a reason,” says an Illinois police officer who has bought into the Q narrative. “I’m merely someone who sits on my couch late at night with my dog on my lap, iPhone in hand, while seeking the truth,” he told the New York Times Last time I checked, there was nothing wrong with that!”.

The ubiquitous presence of elements from law enforcement throughout the gestation of the phenomenon, as well as the grand narrative concocted with virtually every significant “conspiracy theory” in recent American history – from the Kennedy assassination to 9/11 – recast as a backdrop for an absurd tale about the redemption of the country, all point to QAnon being an elaborate psyop to justify internet de-platforming of dissident voices, on the one hand, and the potential real-world confrontation between nationalist, pro-cop groups and left-leaning contingents of the BLM, anti-police brutality crowd to justify a more severe crackdown on civil liberties, that began almost twenty years ago with the passage of the Patriot Act.

 

The Miami Model

Suspicions that the individual who started the chaos in Minnesota following the George Floyd killing was actually a police officer may have been spurred by popular imagination at first. But such assumptions are rooted in a well-documented, modern-day history of sabotage and infiltration by police officers in any consequential show of resistance against the establishment.

In 1999, underhanded police tactics were used against demonstrators at the anti-WTO protests in Seattle, Washington. Just four years later, undercover police agitators were crossing protest lines in Miami, Florida to incite violence among the thousands who had gathered in downtown to disrupt Bush’s Free Trade Area of the Americas (FTAA) talks in 2003.

Police departments in South Florida benefited from the first post-9/11 mass protest by receiving billions from the federal government to implement what has since been referred to as the “Miami Model”; a policing tactic “designed to intimidate political demonstrators, silence dissent, and criminalize protest against […] government policies”, according to then-president of the ACLU’s Greater Miami Chapter, Terry Coble.

It was here, at the start of the new millennium, with the passage of the highly controversial Patriot Act and the creation of the Department of Homeland Security, that the American establishment began to build the parameters wherein the legal contours of the ‘domestic terrorist’ would be framed. Two decades later, the legal framework is firmly in place as the USA Freedom Act.

In the wake of the Minneapolis riots where a police precinct was burned to the ground, Attorney General Barr released a statement declaring that it was “time to stop watching the violence and to confront and stop it”, directing the country’s 56 regional FBI Joint Terrorism Task Forces (JTTF) to “identify criminal organizers and instigators” with “extremist” agendas.

 

Stormtroopers

Examination of the broader narrative espoused by QAnon followers reveals a more-than-passing similarity to the White supremacist canon developed mainly in the South in the late 1970s. That ideology held that the White race was the “last line of defense” against a “secret, powerful cabal of Jewish families and white race traitors,” that make up the “ZOG” (Zionist Occupied Government), according to Evelyn A. Schlatter in her book about the birth of White Supremacist ideologies in the United States, titled “Aryan Cowboys.”

According to the original ideology, the ZOG’s goal is to “bring the United States to its knees economically” and implement the New World Order; a carbon copy of the “deep state” QAnon devotees are convinced they are exposing through their diligent deciphering of so-called Q drops and unwavering support for Donald Trump, who is perceived to be carrying out the secret plan to finally conquer the ZOG and implement a golden age of White American exceptionalism.

The Nazi overtones of the entire Q creed are unmistakable and perhaps no sharper than in Q’s characterization of the Trump administration as “The Storm” in what is almost certainly a direct reference to both the Sturmabteilung (Nazi Stormtroopers) and to a White Supremacist online bulletin board called Stormfront, which was established in 1990 and run out of West Palm Beach, Florida, by a former grand wizard of the Ku Klux Klan and member of the National Socialist White People’s Party to support white nationalist David Duke’s campaign for United States senator for Louisiana.

This ZOG narrative has long been the ideological backbone of White prison gangs, courtesy of John Greschner, one of the leaders of the largest and most powerful White Supremacist prison gang in the country, who came up with the idea to infuse its members with “some northern European religion or whatever, and some racial thing” that he correctly calculated would more successfully enforce membership and loyalty in their growing and varied criminal enterprise, that includes drug trafficking, murder-for-hire, extortion, and many other illegal activities within and outside prison walls.

 

Modern-day British Israelism

QAnon simply overlays a direct political layer to this ideology using Trump as a savior figure. Any tolerance their followers show towards Israel and the president’s Jewish son-in-law is only part of the “plan” they must trust, and not a departure from the staunchly xenophobic movement, which is ultimately a modern form of what has been termed “British Israelism” – the belief that the Anglo Saxon race is the true chosen people – which runs deep in American Settler psychology and is expressed not only via QAnon messaging, but through far more mainstream media sources like Ann Coulter and Fox News; both of whom target the rust and bible belts where versions of the QAnon narrative have been amalgamating for years as people try to cope with their increased disenfranchisement.

A recent retweet by former U.S. director of National Intelligence, Richard Grenell, who amplified the message of one of the largest QAnon accounts, reveals one of the subtle ways in which the group is promoted by the very members of the deep state they claim to abhor, by some miracle of cognitive dissonance. The secret “plan” allows people like Grenell and NYPD sergeants’ union chief, Ed Mullins, to speak for them.

https://twitter.com/partynxs/status/1312585373365739520?s=20

Mullins has repeatedly endorsed QAnon in television appearances on Fox News and other outlets and as Americans get ready to vote for a president in the coming weeks, QAnon is enjoying a strong resurgence through among Trump supporters and the from Trump, himself, who stated in a press conference last August that despite not knowing much about the movement, he was aware that “they like [him] very much”.

A survey by Civiqs from early September reported that 1 in 3 Republicans believe QAnon theories to be mostly true, while another 23 percent admit that parts of the narrative is real. Since July of 2019, awareness about QAnon among the American public has jumped from 65% to nearly 80%. Police officers all over the country are among the growing numbers and, if we read between the lines of a 2019 interview in Vice with prominent expert on police law, Samuel Walker, we can see how QAnon’s inroads into America’s police departments could serve the interests of those who wish to re-make policing in the United States.

“We have 18,000 separate local police departments—15,000 city police departments and 3,000 county sheriffs,” Walker answered when asked about discipline standards for police officers who engage in QAnon-type conspiracies. “The only applicable national standard,” he continued, “would be Supreme Court decisions… But one of the real problems in this country is that we have these 18,000 separate, independent, local law enforcement agencies. And they do most of the work in policing.”

Feature photo | A person caring a sign supporting QAnon wears a t-shirt that shows the QAnon name in the format of a rope noose during a protest rally in Olympia, Wash, May 14, 2020. Ted S. Warren | AP

Raul Diego is a MintPress News Staff Writer, independent photojournalist, researcher, writer and documentary filmmaker.

The post From British Israelism to the Miami Model: What’s Behind QAnon’s 2020 Resurgence? appeared first on MintPress News.

Amid Torrent of Anti-BDS Legislation, Columbia University Students Win Referendum Against Apartheid

Published by Anonymous (not verified) on Thu, 01/10/2020 - 5:38am in

In a political climate that broadly supports Israel both financially and ideologically, a student group at Columbia University has beaten the odds, passing a referendum that calls for circumspection of its school’s investment in the state.

What makes this accomplishment particularly striking is the fact that Congress and U.S. states are currently considering – or in many cases, have already passed – legislation to do the exact opposite.

 

Israel protected, free speech threatened

So-called anti-BDS laws, referring to the Boycott, Divest, and Sanctions movement for Palestinian rights, are already in place in 30 states and have been introduced or are pending in 12 more. These laws make demands of individuals and companies contracted by the state requiring public employees to sign a document stating that they will not participate in a boycott of Israel in spite of that country’s many well-documented breaches of international law, human rights violations, and possible crimes against humanity. The laws are currently being challenged in several states.

In addition to states, Congress also has a slew of anti-BDS laws on the books or under consideration – this in spite of declarations by the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) that such legislation is unconstitutional on the grounds that it threatens free speech by “[sending] a message to Americans that they will be penalized if they dare to disagree with their government.”

Journalist Glenn Greenwald points out that states with anti-BDS laws require their citizens to be “literally more loyal to Israel than they are to the U.S., insofar as they may say and do things to their own country that they may not engage in vis-à-vis Israel.”

For its part, BDS asserts that it is a nonviolent, grassroots initiative, describing itself as:

A Palestinian-led movement for freedom, justice and equality. BDS upholds the simple principle that Palestinians are entitled to the same rights as the rest of humanity.

Israel is occupying and colonising Palestinian land, discriminating against Palestinian citizens of Israel and denying Palestinian refugees the right to return to their homes. Inspired by the South African anti-apartheid movement, the BDS call urges action to pressure Israel to comply with international law.

Politicians who oppose the effort frame it as anti-Semitic. Its organizers, however, point out its roots in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and its opposition to “all forms of racism, including Islamophobia and anti-Semitism.”

 

Justice at Columbia

Columbia University Students for Justice in Palestine SJP reported on the passage of their referendum on Tuesday morning. The referendum called on the school to consider divestment from, “companies that profit from or engage in the State of Israel’s acts towards Palestinians that… fall under the United Nations International Convention on the Suppression and Punishment of the Crime of Apartheid acts against Palestinians.”

The student group indicated that 61 percent of students who participated in the vote were in favor of the referendum; 27 percent were against it, and 11 percent abstained.

Columbia’s president, Lee Bollinger, also released a statement Tuesday morning warning that the referendum would not automatically result in investment policy changes, declaring, “Questions about possible divestment of endowment funds are not decided by referendum,” but through an advisory committee.

Bollinger has recently expressed his view that BDS is tied to anti-Semitism, and that it ignores “similar issues in other countries.” Both arguments are familiar to the BDS movement and are refuted on its FAQ page.

Romy Ronen, vice-president of Students Support Israel (SSI) at Columbia, commented that the vote “is making the majority of pro-Israel students on campus feel unsafe, victimized, and disappointed.”

SJP’s victory follows failed attempts 2017 and 2019 to pass the referendum. The group proclaimed yesterday that “the success of this vote reflects years of organizing and is a testament to the strength and power of the student movement for Palestinian liberation.”

It went on to say:

The student body at Columbia College has made it very clear they want nothing to do with Israel’s practices of settler-colonialism, military occupation, and apartheid.”

 

Executive protection

In 2019, after President Donald Trump issued an executive order declaring protection for Jewish students against discrimination based on the International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance (IHRA) definition of anti-Semitism – a definition that is highly controversial in that it considers criticism of Israel to be a form of anti-Semitism.

The ACLU wrote of Trump’s order that “Anti-Semitism is a real and present problem… People of all faiths must be protected against harassment and discrimination. But the government cannot equate speech criticizing Israel with unlawful discrimination.”

The first case to be filed under Trump’s order was at Columbia, where the Lawfare Project – which provides free legal services for pro-Israel disputes – requested an investigation on behalf of a Jewish Israeli-American student who complained of anti-Semitic discrimination because the university had allowed its SJP group to hold events advocating for Palestinian rights.

The Lawfare Project has brought a number of what Palestine Legal calls “meritless complaints” to various universities.

Palestine Legal also reports that in the last four years, the Israeli government has earmarked over $100 million to fight advocates of Palestinian rights.

Feature photo | Columbia University SJP

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

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Trump Admin Poised To Gift Israel $11 Billion In Bid to Secure Another Arab-Israeli “Peace” Treaty

Published by Anonymous (not verified) on Tue, 29/09/2020 - 5:56am in

The United States continues to use the American taxpayers’ expense account to prioritize Israel’s aspirations. Close on the heels of the so-called Abraham Accords earlier this month, which normalized relations between Israel and the Arab states of Bahrain and the United Arab Emirates (UAE), the Trump administration is formulating plans to essentially purchase another Arab-Israeli “peace” treaty.

In addition, the U.S. is likely to hand Israel billions of dollars in free military equipment.

 

Regional domination

Trump’s post-Abraham Accords arrangement to sell F-35 warplanes to the United Arab Emirates (UAE) has prompted Israel to issue a list of demands – must-have advanced aircraft and other accouterments that would enable Israel to maintain its Qualitative Military Edge (QME) in the region.

Israel’s QME, the commitment by the U.S. to assure Israel’s ability to overcome any and all military threats with minimal casualties, has been enshrined in U.S. law since 2008 and is expressed today as $3.8 billion in military aid, about a quarter of the $15 billion distributed worldwide.

Israel’s wish list, as reported by AntiWar, includes a squadron of F-35s, reportedly worth some $850 million apiece, and other cutting-edge products.

These “gifts” would be in addition to the $3.8 billion a year Israel already receives in military aid from the U.S. – money that ought to be withheld according to the Leahy Laws, legislation that seeks to put a paywall between American aid and military groups that perpetrate gross human rights violations.

Trump’s plan to sell warplanes, and Israel’s demands, reportedly came up just hours before the Foreign Ministers of Bahrain and the UAE were to sign the Abraham Accords, although some sources report that Israel’s Netanyahu knew about the U.S. plan to sell to the UAE much earlier.

 

Treaty in the works

The Trump administration is also scurrying to assemble a treaty between Israel and Sudan ahead of U.S. elections, again at great benefit to Israel and expense to the American taxpayer.

According to Sudanese political analyst Khalil Abdul Jabbar, the Sudanese people typically would stand with the Palestinians rather than accepting normalization with Israel – but they need the help that Washington could offer to improve their economic situation.

Abdul Jabbar indicated that Trump hoped to capitalize on Sudan’s dire economic situation ahead of the 2020 election.

Sudan is struggling under $62 billion in foreign debt, brought about in large part because of its designation as a state sponsor of terrorism (SST) – a label that goes back to 1993 and has resulted in punishing global sanctions.

Sudan hopes to receive an initial infusion of $3 billion in U.S. aid, plus removal from the SST list, in exchange for normalized relations with Israel. Additional aid would likely follow.

 

Terror attack compensation

There is concern that Capitol Hill would block the removal of Sudan from the SST list: some members of Congress want first to see the country pay more than $300 million to American victims of terror attacks in Kenya and Tanzania in 1998, as well as the attack on the USS Cole in 2000. The now-ousted Omar al-Bashir allowed al-Qaeda terrorists to reside in Sudan and carry out attacks in the region.

It is noteworthy that Israel is also responsible for an attack on a Navy ship, the USS Liberty, aggression that killed thirty-four Americans and has been systematically covered up ever since.

 

What about the Palestinians?

UAE leaders were apparently under the impression that their treaty with Israel would benefit the Palestinians: its foreign minister, Abdullah bin Zayed declared at the September 15th signing ceremony:

Your Excellency Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, Prime Minister of the State of Israel, thank you for choosing peace and for halting the annexation of Palestinian territories, a decision that reinforces our shared will to achieve a better future for generations to come…

And as for us in the United Arab Emirates, this accord will enable us to continue to stand by the Palestinian people and realize their hopes for an independent state within a stable and prosperous region.”

But Israeli Prime Minister Netanyahu had already made clear a month or earlier that “There is no change in my plan to apply sovereignty, our sovereignty, in Judea and Samaria [the Palestinian West Bank], in full coordination with the US. I’m committed to it, this hasn’t changed…This issue remains on the table.”

Some analysts conclude that the Palestinians’ aspiration for freedom from occupation and oppression has been out of the picture all along because their interests are irrelevant – that the Arab world has begun to exchange solidarity with Palestine for economic advantage. One commentator opined, “The UAE-Israel accord said nothing about the Palestinians because the issue was never the Palestinians. Indeed, they are the down payment.”

Rumors abound and have been confirmed by American Ambassador to the United Nations Kelly Craft, that another Arab country – Oman – may follow the growing crowd of states exchanging Palestine for economic advantage.

Feature photo | Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu speaks as President Donald Trump looks on, during the Abraham Accords signing ceremony on the South Lawn of the White House, Sept. 15, 2020, in Washington. Alex Brandon | AP

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

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How AOC Challenged the Myth of Yitzhak Rabin the Peacemaker

Published by Anonymous (not verified) on Tue, 29/09/2020 - 1:29am in

If it wasn’t for Representative Alexandra Ocasio-Cortez (AOC), not many people would have heard about the memorial event being held to commemorate 25 years since the assassination of Israeli Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin. AOC was invited by Americans for Peace Now, or APN, to participate in this event. Although she initially accepted the invitation, she later announced that she would not be attending after learning who Rabin really was.

Peace Now is an organization that perpetuates the lie of a liberal, peace-loving Israel more than any other, and, at the center of that lie, is the legacy of Yitzhak Rabin. This lie is propagated so effectively, and with such conviction, one can hardly blame AOC for being misled and initially accepting the invitation. Needless to say, it is a good thing then that she listened to those voices that demanded she decline the invitation.

 

A history of violence

My father was an Israeli military officer that served alongside Rabin for three decades. Together, they were in the pre-State Zionist militia that terrorized Palestinians and executed the ethnic cleansing campaign of 1948. Together, they remained as officers in the newly formed Israeli Defense Forces, building the military that then maintained and strengthened the settler-colonial apartheid regime in Palestine. Those around him admired Rabin, and his ascension in the military was meteoric, reaching the rank of General at the young age of 32.

He was Israel’s army Chief during the 1967 Israeli assault on Egypt, Syria, and Jordan. My father served as a general alongside Rabin during this assault, heralded as heroic and even miraculous. However, the 1967 war was neither heroic nor miraculous. It was a well planned, well-executed assault. Israel had used its military force against countries whose armies were weak and unprepared to conquer the Syrian Golan Heights, the Egyptian Sinai peninsula, and complete its conquest of Palestine. As a result of that assault, the West Bank, East Jerusalem, and the Gaza Strip, as well as the Golan Heights, are now part of the state of Israel.

An estimated 18,000 Arab soldiers and 700 Israeli soldiers were killed in battle during that war. Although there are no exact numbers, Israeli soldiers returning from the war admitted that between 2,000 to 3,000 Egyptian prisoners of war were executed by Israel and buried under the dunes of the Sinai desert. Hundreds of thousands of civilians were made refugees as a result of the Israeli assault.

Yitzhak Rabin Six Day War

Rabin, center, speaks with military brass of the southern front near Sinai during the Six Day War. Photo | IDF Archive

We will not cover Rabin’s entire career, but suffice it to say that he was a Zionist through and through, and a war criminal. However, in the eyes of the Israeli Ashkenazi elite, he was an icon. He was a symbol of the military might of the State of Israel, and even though he did everything in his considerable power to kill, dispossess and deny Palestinians their most basic rights, he became a symbol of the so-called peace-loving Israel, also known as the Zionist left.

His image as a man of peace was formed by the Oslo Accords, a brilliant public relations stunt that presented Israel as pursuing peace through an agreement that served to tighten its control over Palestine, its resources, and its people.

 

Rabin’s assassin

The myth of Rabin as a peacemaker is bolstered by the idea that he was assassinated for peace. Rabin was assassinated by a man who represented the two groups within Israeli society whom he despised, and who felt slighted and disenfranchised by the Ashkenazi elite: The West Bank settlers and non-Ashkenazi Israelis who came from Arab countries.

Rabin was not killed because he attempted to bring peace; he was killed because he was an icon of the privileged, liberal Zionist elite.

He made it absolutely clear that achieving a just peace and allowing the Palestinian people to establish an independent state was the farthest thing from his mind. Although he was not the first or last unworthy recipient of the Nobel Prize for peace, awarding it to him made a mockery of the prize.

 

A comparison

When it was publicized that Representative Ocasio-Cortez was pulling out of the Rabin memorial, Peace Now’s Israel public relations man Brian Reeves tweeted that Rabin was “a warrior with skeletons turned peacemaker who paid with his life.” The term warrior denotes courage and acts of heroism, like someone fighting for freedom and justice. Rabin was far from that. He was a war criminal who made a career of killing, dispossessing, and brutalizing a nation that never had so much as a tank, let alone a military force of any kind.

In a rare interview given in Beurit in 1970, the great Palestinian writer and resistance leader Ghassan Kanafani said, “We are a small brave nation.” He went on to say, “for us, to liberate our country, to have dignity, to have respect, to have our own mere human rights, is as essential as life itself.” Tragically, in 1972, in an act of cowardice typical of Israeli forces, Kanfani was brutally murdered along with his 16-year old-niece Lamees. Kanafani was a warrior, slain for his dedication to the cause of freedom without which there can never be peace.

For over seven decades, Palestinians have been warriors in their fight for liberty. Palestinians fight for justice and liberation using whatever meager means at their disposal. The refusal of Representative Ocasio-Cortez to commemorate the Zionist war criminal Yitzhak Rabin is one more victory in this heroic fight.

Feature photo | Israeli Defense Minister Yitzhak Rabin is surrounded by armed soldiers as he tours empty streets of Nablus, Israel-occupied West bank, Feb. 3, 1988, in Nablus. Ari Saris | AP

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New Middle East Peace Plan Would Use Jobs to “Turn Palestinians Away from Violence”

Published by Anonymous (not verified) on Fri, 25/09/2020 - 1:59am in

A dauntless supporter of Israel, House Appropriations Committee Chairwoman Nita Lowey (D-NY) will retire in January after over thirty years in the House. Lowey hopes to leave behind a legacy of progress toward peace in the Middle East. That legacy, she hopes, will be achieved with the passage of her bill, the Middle East Partnership for Peace Act (H.R.3104).

The bill, which was rolled into appropriations bill H.R.7608, passed the House in July 2019; Lowey hopes that fellow Israel-backer Senator Lindsey Graham (R-SC) can push it through the Senate before the end of the session in January.

The Middle East Partnership for Peace Act pledges to “promote joint economic development and finance ventures between Palestinian entrepreneurs and companies and those in the United States and Israel.”

With a budget of $50 million a year for five years, it hopes to purchase an end to “the incitement and dehumanization that have plagued both sides of the [Israeli/Palestinian] conflict.”

As Lowey states:

I cannot retire from the Congress without ensuring that there is funding for the people on the ground who want to come together and make progress in their communities [with] peaceful coexistence, reconciliation and economic cooperation.

At face value, the bill – and Lowey’s sentiment – sound commendable, a balanced approach to an issue on which Congress tends to take sides. Israel’s side, most often.

 

Economic incentive

H.R.3104 relies heavily on economics as a road to peace. “[E]conomic development is an important tool for stabilizing conflict-prone settings… [and] has been shown to support stabilization by empowering entrepreneurs, growing the middle class, and mitigating unemployment,” it proclaims, pointing to Gaza’s record high unemployment rate.

It promises that “Increased economic activity and projects” can “improve the quality and conditions of life for the Palestinians” and “help create a viable Palestinian economy.”

Senator Chris Coons (D-DE), sponsor of Senate bill (S.1727) which is identical to Lowey’s House bill, agrees. Coons explains that “job creation is the best way to turn people away from violence,” a sentiment echoed by Senator Graham, who declared that the plan would “promote economic opportunity to people who have been systematically abused by their leadership for decades.”

 

Congress-splaining

If the sixty-seven Congress members who co-sponsored the twin bills are correct, the Palestinian-Israeli divide simply boils down to economics, and while it is true that the Palestinian economy is in shambles and unemployment is high, the solution Palestinians seek is not an infusion of Western cash, but of freedom.

Lowey’s bill fails to address the need for the Israeli government to make major policy shifts in the interest of pursuing peace. That fact goes unacknowledged not only in H.R.3104 but in the at least 66 additional bills focused on Israel in this session of Congress.

Real support for Palestinians has been rare on Capitol Hill and this session has seen just one bill wholeheartedly dedicated to improving Palestinian lives. That bill, H.R.2407, seeks to shield Palestinian children from being tortured on America’s dime. With just twenty-four cosponsors, it lacks the popularity usually needed for a bill to become law.

 

No strings attached for Israel

Lowey’s bill stipulates that any Palestinian recipient of funding must first be vetted for any connection to “terrorist organizations,” and must always operate in conjunction with Israeli or American supervision. Israel, however, is not subject to any conditions for its share of the $50 million each year.

The same is true for the $3.8 billion in military aid that the United States gives to Israel every year, although U.S. law does stipulate that due to Israel’s gross violations of human rights, some of that aid ought to be withheld.

In fact, Americans, especially Democrats, favor a reduction in aid to Israel because of its human rights abuses (45% of voters and 64% of Democrats according to Data for Progress) or make aid conditional upon Israel’s behavior (56% of voters and 71% of Democrats according to Center for American Progress).

Nevertheless, the Democratic candidates for both President and Vice President have stated unequivocally that aid to Israel will never be conditional.

Like H.R.3104, the Trump-Kushner “Peace To Prosperity” plan (aka Deal of the Century) focuses on economics, overlooking the Palestinians’ now decades-old call for an end to the occupation, land appropriation, and human rights abuses.

Other Trump policies include moving the U.S. embassy to Jerusalem, green-lighting Israel’s annexation of the Syrian Golan Heights and parts of the Palestinian West Bank, endorsing Israeli settlements built illegally on Palestinian land, discontinuing aid to they only UN organization that cares for Palestinian refugees, and terminating its assistance to East Jerusalem hospitals.

Not surprisingly, the Palestinian leadership has now cut ties with the U.S. government, stating that it is not an “honest broker” in the quest for peace in the Middle East.

Feature photo | Israeli soldiers prevent Palestinian laborers from the West Bank from crossing a fence, south of the West Bank town of Hebron, Sept. 6, 2020. Oded Balilty | AP

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

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