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Human Rights Problem Countries Receive Two-Thirds of UK Military Export Licenses Since 2010

Published by Anonymous (not verified) on Fri, 18/03/2022 - 9:49pm in

Sam Bright digs into the data to reveal the billions of pounds of lethal equipment sold by the UK to questionable regimes


Some £33 billion in export licenses for military goods have been approved to countries on the Government’s human rights watchlist since 2010, Byline Times can reveal.

This constitutes two-thirds of the £50 billion in military export licenses granted to countries around the world during this period.

Notably, a staggering £11 billion in export licenses for military goods has been approved to Saudi Arabia since 2010 – comfortably the largest total of any country in the world, with the second-placed USA standing at £6.3 billion, ahead of France at £4.6 billion.

In other words, Saudi Arabia represents more than a-fifth of the military export licenses granted by the UK since 2010, in terms of overall value, and a-third of the military export licenses granted to countries on the UK’s human rights watchlist.

All the cited data is provided by Campaign Against the Arms Trade (CAAT). The figures demonstrate the value of goods that licence holders – typically private companies – are allowed to export; the UK Government does not publish the value of actual exports.

There are 31 countries included on the Government’s list of ‘human rights priority’ states – “where we are particularly concerned about human rights issues, and where we consider that the UK can make a real difference”.

In relation to Saudi Arabia, the Government’s report says that, “Reports of enforced disappearances, arbitrary detention, torture and mistreatment in detention and lack of access to adequate legal representation [remain]. Freedom of expression and media freedom were very restricted.”

The Government also cites state executions carried out by Saudi Arabia – a country governed by an absolute monarchy. This practice has been in the news in recent days, presenting a backdrop for Prime Minister Boris Johnson’s visit to the country, in an effort to increase energy exports to the West. The country carried out its biggest mass execution in decades last weekend, executing 81 men for “terrorism” and other offences including holding “deviant beliefs”. A further three people were executed on Wednesday – the day of Johnson’s visit.

Amid Russia’s war with Ukraine, Foreign Secretary Liz Truss said last week that the UK and the Western world must reduce its “strategic economic reliance on authoritarian regimes”. When asked why Saudi Arabia is an ally whereas Russia is a foe, she said that: “the reality is we are facing an aggressor in Vladimir Putin, who is wantonly destroying a neighbouring sovereign nation and we do need to work with countries across the world to find alternative sources of oil and gas”.

War and Profit

The CAAT data shows that, of the licenses granted for military exports to Saudi Arabia, £6.2 billion was for ‘aircraft, helicopters, drones’ and £4.3 billion was for ‘grenades, bombs, missiles, countermeasures’.

£7.1 billion of the £11 billion total has been approved since 2015, when the Saudi-backed coalition began its war in neighbouring Yemen – a conflict which continues to this day. The UN has estimated that the war in Yemen had killed 377,000 people by the end of 2021. More than 150,000 of these deaths were the direct result of the armed conflict, while a greater proportion have died due to hunger and disease as a result of the humanitarian crisis caused by the war. 

Other estimates suggest that the brutal conflict has pushed 5 million people to the brink of famine and 16 million towards starvation.

As reported by the Byline Intelligence Team, new data from Action on Armed Violence (AOAV) shows that almost 11,000 civilian casualties have been caused by the Saudi-led coalition’s use of explosive weapons in Yemen since 2015, with 9,881 civilian deaths and injuries caused by airstrikes. This compares to the more than 1,200 civilians reported to have been harmed by Russian-backed operations in Ukraine over the same period.

In June 2019, the Court of Appeal concluded that the Government’s decision-making process for granting export licences to Saudi Arabia was “irrational” and therefore “unlawful”. However, the UK announced a year later that it was resuming sales to the country.



Help to expose the big scandals of our era.

The CAAT data shows that, second to Saudi Arabia, the country on the UK’s human rights watchlist that has been approved the next highest value of military exports since 2010 has been Israel, at £473 million. As noted by the Government, Israel has been in military conflict with Palestinian groups for a number of years – with Israel carrying out “a campaign of airstrikes, naval and land bombardment in Gaza”. Between 10 and 21 May 2021, 4,360 rockets were launched into Israel, resulting in the death of 12 civilians, injuring 330 others. Israel’s military response killed 256 civilian Palestinians, including 66 children.

As Byline Times has previously reported, the UK has approved the export of £56 million worth of military goods to Russia since 2010 – £54.9 million in the immediate run-up to its annexation of Crimea in 2014 – considerably more than the value of licenses approved to Ukraine.

“The UK takes its export control responsibilities very seriously and operates one of the most robust and transparent export control regimes in the world,” a Department for International Trade spokesperson told Byline Times.

“We rigorously assess each export licence application on a case-by-case basis against the Strategic Export Licensing Criteria, and will not license the export of equipment where to do so would be inconsistent with these criteria, including where there is a risk that the items will be diverted to an undesirable end-user or for an undesirable end-use”.




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Israel Apologists Hurl Familiar Antisemitism Charges in Post-Speech Ambush of Amnesty Director

Published by Anonymous (not verified) on Thu, 17/03/2022 - 7:47am in

WASHINGTON – A typical DC storm has been brewing since Paul O’Brien, executive director of Amnesty International USA, spoke last Wednesday at the Women’s National Democratic Club (WNDC) in Washington. O’Brien gave an excellent talk about Amnesty International’s report on apartheid in Palestine and no sooner did he finish than a hand was raised to be called on for the first question.

The woman asking the question represented a Zionist organization and repeatedly claimed that calling Israel an apartheid state was “ridiculous.” She went on to quote Obama administration officials who made the same claim as though that boosted her argument. She said she had, “even visited Ramallah” and that clearly the arguments made in the report were, once again, “ridiculous.”

It was eventually revealed that there was an entire team of Zionists who attended with the sole purpose of discrediting the report and the organization that released it. They asked O’Brien for his personal view and feelings on the issue of Israel’s right to exist, Israel’s right to exist as a Jewish state, and other issues that were intended to corner him. O’Brien answered dutifully and validated their right to oppose him, Amnesty International, and its report on apartheid in Palestine.

As soon as the meeting was over, the Zionists surrounded O’Brien demanding his thoughts and feelings about the right of the Jewish State to exist and recording every word. Two days later the Zionist publication Jewish Insider, put out a story titled “Israel ‘shouldn’t exist as a Jewish state,’ Amnesty USA director tells Democratic group.” If O’Brien made that statement at all, it certainly was not to the entire group.


Does Israel have a right to exist?

The Zionists pushed O’Brien on this issue in an attempt to put a wedge between Amnesty International’s report on apartheid and what are considered the legitimate boundaries of conversations on Palestine. Questioning the legitimacy of Israel as a Jewish State is far beyond the boundaries prescribed by Zionists.

One may slice and splice the question into sub-issues, such as What is the meaning of “right”? What is the meaning of “exist”? And certainly, What is the meaning of “Jewish”? However, the main issue that this question reveals is: Is it acceptable for a racist, violent apartheid regime to control Palestine and treat Palestinians like subhumans and get away with it? Zionists want to be reassured constantly that the world will allow them this privilege. When someone suggests, as O’Brien did very skilfully, that this is not acceptable and in fact is counter-productive, that person must be destroyed.

What one can certainly surmise from the report is that there isn’t today, nor was there ever and indeed can never be, a Zionist state in Palestine that is not a regime of apartheid and terror. A Zionist state – or, as they refer to it, a “Jewish” state – in Palestine cannot exist unless it is the one that we see today: the State of Israel, murderous, racist and destructive. An Amnesty International official would never use these words, but the report they provided us makes the point very clear.


Secret recording

The Jewish Insider reporter who confronted O’Brien recorded the event without anyone’s knowledge or, as far as I know, permission. When the outlet published its report, O’Brien engaged in a civil and clear way with the piece via Twitter, stating clearly what he said in his talk. Yet Jewish Insider was still determined that their version of the truth was the right one, and they published a second article that includes, according to them, a transcript of their recording.

The “terrible” statement made by O’Brien is encapsulated in the following response he gave to one of the Zionists’ questions about “preserving Israel as a Jewish State”:

The one thing I wanted to disagree with in what you said: It is not Amnesty’s position, in fact we are opposed to the idea — and this, I think, is an existential part of the debate — that Israel should be preserved as a state for the Jewish people. I don’t know if you exactly said it that way, but you said something about should there be a state for the Jewish people. That is, in essence, the 2018 law, that the State of Israel is preserved for Jews alone, and it should be theirs alone. And that, from a human rights perspective, is not equal treatment between the Jewish people and the Palestinian people.

But it is really important, I think, particularly for those who understand the threats that the Jewish people experienced over the last several generations, I think it is incumbent on people who engage this conversation to say, “No, I don’t believe that Israel should be preserved as a state in which one race is legally entitled to oppress another.” But yes, I understand that the Jewish people have a legitimate concern about their very existence being threatened. And that needs to be part of the conversation.”

His accepting the legitimacy of Zionist “concern” over the lives of Jewish people, and the “preservation” of Israel was a dangerous rabbit hole. One must accept that when Zionists attend a meeting, they are not there to engage in a productive discussion. They are there to read from a well-rehearsed and endlessly repeated script. The script is designed to label as antisemitic anyone critical of the violent, racist apartheid regime known as Israel.


Soldiers of apartheid

The Zionist team, seated together at the same table, were on the offensive as soon as O’Brien finished his remarks. They were agents of the very same apartheid regime that Amnesty International had just officially recognized as such. They were not innocent listeners interested in clarification or, as O’Brien called it, “a conversation.” They were soldiers, so to speak, of a regime there to trap him and hang him in the public square. The only statement that O’Brien could have made to satisfy them is a total rejection of the report. But instead he told the truth, and they would not accept that.

O’Brien’s transgressions were that he told the truth, spoke about the report in great detail, and spoke from his heart. However, instead of lending credibility to him as a person and to Amnesty International as an organization, Zionists are using his remarks to discredit the report and the organization. This is not any fault of his, but a well-thought-out strategy that places all who stand for justice in Palestine as the “enemy.”

Jewish Insider has made a name for itself with this latest “catch” and they are being quoted by other Zionists rags, including the Jerusalem Post. However, it is vital that O’Brien and Amnesty International revive the full support of everyone who believes in justice and freedom.

Feature photo | Paul O’Brien | Twitter

Miko Peled is MintPress News contributing writer, published author and human rights activist born in Jerusalem. His latest books are”The General’s Son. Journey of an Israeli in Palestine,” and “Injustice, the Story of the Holy Land Foundation Five.”

The post Israel Apologists Hurl Familiar Antisemitism Charges in Post-Speech Ambush of Amnesty Director appeared first on MintPress News.

Israel’s Links to Ukraine’s Thriving Neo-Nazi Movement

Published by Anonymous (not verified) on Wed, 16/03/2022 - 7:35am in

KIEV, UKRAINE – Western media have attempted to all but deny the existence of neo-Nazis in Ukraine, alleging that Russia’s goal to de-Nazify Kiev is not possible because Ukraine’s president is Jewish. But what is to be made of an Israeli Jew openly calling himself the co-founder of the neo-Nazi Azov Battalion?

Kiev’s infamous Azov Battalion, officially part of the National Guard of Ukraine, has been widely acknowledged as a neo-Nazi volunteer paramilitary force. It has also been connected with foreign white supremacist organizations. In addition to this, the far-right, neo-Nazi and white-nationalist members in its ranks have even been criticized by the likes of Human Rights Watch and the United Nations for human rights abuses.

Despite the well-documented history of racially motivated crimes and attacks on Ukraine’s LGBTQ+ community, the battalion has been indirectly and continually armed by Western powers. In June 2015 the United States and Canada banned the support and/or training of Azov by their forces, specifically citing its neo-Nazi connections. However, the following year the U.S. lifted its ban owing to pressure from the Pentagon. In 2019, The Nation magazine published an article in which it was stated that “[p]ost-Maidan Ukraine is the world’s only nation to have a neo-Nazi formation in its armed forces.” All of which is to say that Azov can conclusively be labeled neo-Nazi. This may be why reports are now emerging of White Supremacists and far-Right militia members flocking to Ukraine, to fight alongside extremist forces in the country.


Israeli support of and involvement in the Azov Battalion

Prior to Azov becoming an integrated part of the Ukrainian military, the group was funded primarily by Ukrainian oligarchs, the most well known of whom was Igor Kolomoisky. Kolomoisky is of Jewish heritage and is an Israeli citizen and well-known billionaire businessman. Despite his being a Jewish Israeli, he had no problem pouring money into neo-Nazi volunteer militias such as the Azov and Aidar, among other far-right groups that feature elements hostile to Jewish people.

Although the Jewish president of Ukraine, Volodymyr Zelenskyy, is often held up by mainstream Western media as proof that there is no problem with neo-Nazis in Ukraine, he himself received financial backing from the same oligarch – Igor Kolomoisky – who was financing neo-Nazis. Zelenskyy’s presidential bid in 2019, which saw him win 73% of the vote, was successful on the basis that he was running in order to combat corruption and create peace in the country but, as the leaked documents known as the Pandora Papers revealed, he himself was storing funds in offshore bank accounts. Zelenskyy’s campaign was at the time boosted and bankrolled by the Israeli-Ukrainian-Cypriot billionaire Kolomoisky – who was himself accused of stealing $5.5 billion from his own bank.

It may come as a shock, but there are actually many Israeli Jews who fight with ultra-nationalist Ukrainian groups and who coordinate closely with, or even belong to, neo-Nazi groups such as Azov. Konstantyn Batozsky, for example, who stated that he worked as a political consultant in Donetsk for the Azov Battalion between 2014-15, even defended Azov members who had tattoos of Nazi symbols.

“They were soccer hooligans and wanted attention, so yeah, I was shocked when I saw guys with swastika tattoos,” Batozsky said of Azov Battalion members he personally got to know. He then followed that statement by saying. “But I talked with them all the time about being Jewish and they had nothing negative to say. They had no anti-Jewish ideology.” Another Jewish Israeli, Daniel Kovzhun, claims that “there were Orthodox Jews in Azov,” which he claims came down to all members being Ukrainian nationalists and therefore Jewishness was not an issue.

Muslims however, seem to be a major issue for the Azov Battalion. The Islamophobia present not only in Azov, but also in the National Guard of Ukraine, came through strongly on social media as the official National Guard site glorified the Azov Battalion as they dipped their bullets in pig fat. The video was directed at Muslim soldiers from Chechnya who are fighting on the side of Russia and were described as “orcs” by the National Guard on Twitter. In the video, one of the Azov fighters can be heard saying: “Dear Muslim brothers, in our country, you will not go to heaven.” It is a belief shared by some white supremacists that if they kill a Muslim with a bullet coated in pig fat, the Muslim will not enter heaven.

Although little is published about this fact in English, according to the BBC, an Israeli-Ukrainian named Natan Khazin claims to have co-founded the Azov Battalion. In an interview conducted by BBC Ukraine in 2018, which attempted to downplay the claims of rising antisemitism in Ukraine, Khazin is quoted as saying: “I can say that, despite the difficult situation in Ukraine and the war, the level of antisemitism is not growing. Someone in the West simply does not understand the real state of things in Ukraine in this area.”

In The Forward, a Jewish news outlet, Khazin is described as a “yarmulke-wearing … veteran of the Israel Defense Forces and an ordained rabbi.” The description continues:

[He is] representative of many young Ukrainian Jews who are Zionist, religiously observant and at the same time strong Ukrainian patriots. Some of them refer to themselves humorously as Zhido-Banderists — a fusion of the pejorative term for “Jew” with the name Stepan Bandera, leader of the Organization of Ukrainian Nationalists, which fought for Ukrainian independence during World War II. The organization’s forces also participated in the massacre of Jews, so the term Zhido-Banderist is self-consciously ironic.”

During an interview, published in a condensed form by The Forward, Khazin is asked, “If it isn’t confidential, where did you serve [while  in the Israeli military]?” He answers:  “In the Gaza Strip. I know what it’s like to move down a street with people shooting, throwing stones or burning objects.”

All the above examples of Israelis actively collaborating with known neo-Nazi groups in Ukraine are of private Israeli citizens and there is no direct connection to the Israeli government. However, the Israeli government itself seems to have participated, much like the United States and other NATO nations, in supplying weapons to the Ukrainian military, which is considered by some as a form of indirectly arming the Azov Battalion and other ultra-right elements. In 2018, more than 40 human rights activists filed a petition with the Israeli High Court, in which they argued that the Israeli weapons were being sent to serve those who espouse neo-Nazi beliefs. They cited “evidence that the right-wing Azov militia, whose members are part of Ukraine’s armed forces, and are supported by the country’s ministry of internal affairs,” were using the weapons, according to a report published in Haaretz.

Although there is no concrete evidence of a direct Israeli government link with the Azov Battalion or other neo-Nazi groups in Ukraine, there are clearly Israeli citizens who are directly aiding them. There are, however, reports that claim that Israeli forces have directly trained the Azov Battalion and Azov has been shown to possess Israeli-made weapons. When such a connection between neo-Nazi groups and Israeli Jews in Ukraine clearly exists, this in of itself should call into question the sincerity of Western media’s attempt to use President Zelenskyy’s Jewish identity in order to push to the side claims that there are hardline neo-Nazi elements inside Ukraine. Furthermore, these groups are clearly able to coexist beside Israeli citizens, so long as those Jewish Israelis are themselves Ukrainian nationalists. This is not to say that anti-Semitism does not exist in these groups, however.


Israeli far-right alignment in Europe

The propensity for right-wing Israelis to align themselves with right-wing Europeans has long been clear, and this propensity has even meant allying themselves with groups accused of antisemitism. The Alternative für Deutschland (AfD) – a right wing German party condemned by World Jewish Congress President Ronald Lauder as being “a disgrace for Germany,” and frequently accused of antisemitism – has strong links to Israel. Interestly, figures regarded as being from the far-right – such as Geert Wilders in the Netherlands, France’s Marine Le Pen, Britain’s Nigel Farage, and Hungary’s Viktor Orbán – are all on record as being pro-Israeli and have made efforts to align themselves with the Jewish State. Former Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu also made it clear that he would meet and align himself with figures accused of antisemitism, such as Orbán.

Netanyahu tried hard to cement Israel’s alliance with the Visegrad bloc — Poland, Hungary, Slovakia, and the Czech Republic — which Foreign Policy magazine described as forming “a common entity imbued with hostility to the values of the Enlightenment, to human rights, to the concept of a nation as a community of citizens, to the principle of equality, and, generally speaking, to foreigners.” Of course, when it comes to Israeli government endeavors, there is a pragmatic incentive for Israel, and such alliances with the far-right should not be taken as a purely love-bond relationship. But the fact that these relationships have existed, and continue to exist, should indicate that right-wing Israelis can readily coexist with the European far-right.

As for white supremacists in the United States, there are many who openly align themselves with Israel. One such example is White Nationalist leader Richard Spencer, who is an open supporter of Israel and came out in 2018 to back Israel’s Nation State Bill, which affirmed that  “the realization of the right to national self-determination in Israel is unique to the Jewish people.” The bill was widely pegged as racist and Spencer said of it that he has “great admiration for Israel’s Nation-State Law. Jews are, once again, at the vanguard, rethinking politics and sovereignty for the future, showing a path forward for Europeans.” Israel’s system of racial supremacy is viewed with great admiration by many white supremacists, who seek to model their own system along similar lines, according to people like Richard Spencer.

This sort of mentality, which aligns Israel and the Western far-right, cannot simply be ignored and demonstrates why it is not necessarily a valid point to say that the presence of Jewish individuals in Ukraine’s fight against Russia debunks the claims of neo-Nazi elements existing. As is demonstrated above, these groups not only exist in spite of Jewish individuals being present, but in some cases even feature Israeli Jews in their ranks.

Feature photo | Members of Azov Civil Corps prepare to set fire to an effigy of Vladimir Lenin in downtown Kiev, Nov. 7, 2017. Efrem Lukatsky | AP

Robert Inlakesh is a political analyst, journalist and documentary filmmaker currently based in London, UK. He has reported from and lived in the occupied Palestinian territories and hosts the show ‘Palestine Files’. Director of ‘Steal of the Century: Trump’s Palestine-Israel Catastrophe’. Follow him on Twitter @falasteen47

The post Israel’s Links to Ukraine’s Thriving Neo-Nazi Movement appeared first on MintPress News.

On the Origins of “Genocide”: What We Learn from Amnesty’s Report on Israeli Apartheid

Published by Anonymous (not verified) on Tue, 15/03/2022 - 4:21am in

JERUSALEM – With the war in Ukraine providing cover, Israel continues its unchecked violence towards the Palestinian people who live within its control. And as the world stands mesmerized and distracted by Vladimir Putin, Israel continues to perpetuate what Amnesty International called Crimes Against Humanity targeting the Palestinian people.


Crimes against humanity

In his outstanding book “East West Street,” Philippe Sands, a professor of law at University College London, relates the stories of the two jurists who wrote the crimes of Genocide and Crimes Against Humanity into international law. These were two Polish-Jewish jurists who had lived on opposite sides of the same street in the town of Lemberg, or Lviv, which is now in western Ukraine. Their names were Hersch Lauterpacht and Rafael Lemkin.

In the prologue, Sands writes, “A little after three o’clock in the afternoon the wooden door behind the defendants’ dock slid open and Hans Frank entered courtroom 600.” Hans Frank was Adolf Hitler’s personal lawyer and then the governor-general of German-occupied Poland during World War II. He was responsible for the forced labor and murder of millions of Jews and Poles. Sands continues:

Seated no more than a few feet from Frank in a black suit, Lauterpacht was the one who came up with the idea of putting the term ‘crimes against humanity’ into the Nuremberg statute, three words to describe the murder of four million Jews and Poles on the territory of Poland.

Of Hersch Lauterpacht, Sanz writes in the British daily The Guardian: “Most crucially, he crafted the language of Article 6 of the Nuremberg Charter, enshrining crimes against humanity, war crimes and the crime of aggression into modern international law.” Hans Frank was tried, convicted, and hanged for his crimes.


Post-World War II

The Nuremberg trials were a series of military tribunals that were held following World War II by the Allied forces. The defendants were among the leadership of Nazi Germany that were caught and taken into custody. The trials went on from the fall of 1945 until the end of 1946.

Undoubtedly one of the most significant results of, and one might even say reactions to, World War II was the creation in May 1948 of the State of Israel, the so-called “Jewish State.” The State of Israel was supposed to be a refuge for Jews who suffered persecution and an answer to the Holocaust. In fact, Israel was neither. The vast majority of survivors of the Holocaust opted either to return to their countries of origin or to emigrate to places other than the State of Israel.

Later on, Jewish people who felt they had to leave their country of origin ended up in Israel only as a last resort and many of those who did go there regretted their decision. Even as late as the 1990s, when the collapse of the Soviet Union drove Jewish people to emigrate, those who ended up in Israel did so mostly because they either had no other option or the visas to other countries demanded longer wait times and they wanted to leave immediately instead of wait.


Amnesty report

The title of the Amnesty report on the Israeli apartheid regime is, “Israel’s Apartheid Against Palestinians: Cruel System of Domination and Crime Against Humanity.” The report states the following regarding the state of Israel:

Since its establishment in 1948, Israel has pursued an explicit policy of establishing and maintaining a Jewish demographic hegemony and maximizing its control over land to benefit Jewish Israelis while minimizing the number of Palestinians and restricting their rights and obstructing their ability to challenge this dispossession. In 1967, Israel extended this policy beyond the Green Line to the West Bank and Gaza Strip, which it has occupied ever since. Today, all territories controlled by Israel continue to be administered with the purpose of benefiting Jewish Israelis to the detriment of Palestinians, while Palestinian refugees continue to be excluded.

Apartheid is a violation of public international law, a grave violation of internationally protected human rights and a crime against humanity under international criminal law. Three main international treaties prohibit and/or explicitly criminalize apartheid: the International Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Racial Discrimination (ICERD), the International Convention on the Suppression and Punishment of the Crime of Apartheid (Apartheid Convention) and the Rome Statute of the International Criminal Court (Rome Statute).

The crime against humanity of apartheid under the Apartheid Convention, the Rome Statute and customary international law is committed when any inhuman or inhumane act (essentially a serious human rights violation) is perpetrated in the context of an institutionalized regime of systematic oppression and domination by one racial group over another, with the intention to maintain that system.

What we learn from the report, and what Palestinians have been saying all along, is that not only is the State of Israel not a refuge for persecuted Jews or a response to the Holocaust, but it was in fact, from its very establishment, a crime against humanity perpetrated against the Palestinian people. To assume that there was, is, or ever could be an Israel that is not an apartheid regime is a complete misunderstanding of Zionism and of the state of Israel.

The consequences of this report are – or rather, have the potential to be – far-reaching. The fact that this crime against humanity was allowed to be perpetrated in Palestine only three years after the crime was officially entered into the realm of international law must not be ignored. Furthermore, the biggest lie perpetrated by Zionists is that the State of Israel is somehow a response to the crime against humanity that was perpetrated against Jews by Nazi Germany. In fact, Israel is itself a crime that needs to be pointed out.

Moreover, Palestinians have not only suffered from the crime of apartheid, but they have also suffered from fighting against it. Palestinians who have stood and fought against this crime have paid a heavy price. Even Palestinians who have never held arms in their life have served time in Israeli prisons and are labeled terrorists. It must be pointed out that these men and women are courageous freedom fighters and they must be heralded as such.

It is not surprising that this Amnesty report is being condemned by Western governments or that it is rarely discussed by the corporate media. The potential it carries is enormous and it is up to people of conscience to act and demand that the recommendations be carried out without delay.

Feature photo | Israeli Prime Minister Naftali Bennett is seen reflected in glass as he speaks at a cabinet meeting at the Prime Minister’s office in Jerusalem, March 6, 2022. Photo at left shows Theodor Herzl “the spiritual father of the Jewish State.” Ronen Zvulun | Pool via AP

Miko Peled is MintPress News contributing writer, published author and human rights activist born in Jerusalem. His latest books are”The General’s Son. Journey of an Israeli in Palestine,” and “Injustice, the Story of the Holy Land Foundation Five.”

The post On the Origins of “Genocide”: What We Learn from Amnesty’s Report on Israeli Apartheid appeared first on MintPress News.

Churches Declare Christianity in The Holy Land is Under Threat from Jewish Extremists

Published by Anonymous (not verified) on Thu, 10/03/2022 - 4:55am in

OCCUPIED EAST JERUSALEM — Last month, Israel’s Nature and Parks Authority (INPA) announced plans to encompass Christian holy sites within a national park. Church leaders condemned the move as part of systematic efforts to drive Christians out of the Holy Land.

Following backlash, INPA withdrew the plan from the Jerusalem Municipality’s March agenda, saying it would instead have discussions with local churches on how to preserve the area. Yet the project is back on the municipality’s Local Planning and Construction Committee’s agenda, scheduled for Aug. 31. INPA did not respond to requests for comment on why this item was placed back on the municipality’s agenda.

The plan proposes expanding the Jerusalem Walls National Park, which surrounds the Old City, by about 25% and calls for taking over privately-owned Palestinain and Church-owned land, including some of the most sacred Christian sites. Originally, the proposal also included a Jewish cemetery, but it was left out when Jewish authorities managing the cemetery opposed the decision. 

Following the plan’s announcement, Israeli peace and human rights organizations Bimkom – Planners For Planning Rights, Emek Shaveh, Ir Amim, and Peace Now said in a joint statement:

There is a direct link between what is happening in Sheikh Jarrah and the expansion plan. These are various mechanisms used by Israel in East Jerusalem to entrench its sovereignty, to marginalize non-Jewish presence and to prevent much needed development of Palestinian neighborhoods, thereby increasing the pressure to push them out of the Old City basin.

Church leaders also slammed the outlined expansion in a letter to Israel’s Minister of Environmental Protection: 

This is a brutal measure that constitutes a direct and premeditated attack on the Christians in the Holy Land, on the churches and on their ancient, internationally guaranteed rights in the Holy City. Under the guise of protecting green spaces, the plan appears to serve an ideological agenda that denies the status and rights of Christians in Jerusalem.

The Jerusalem Walls National Park was established after Israel annexed East Jerusalem following the 1967 Six-Day War. Its declaration included the areas designated for expansion, but those efforts did not come to fruition — until now.

Israeli human rights organizations condemned expansion for restricting Palestinian building, while also stressing the park’s current state has significantly hindered Palestinian development.

Sari Kronish, the architect with Bimkom, said the Jerusalem Walls National Park contains several Palestinian neighborhoods, including Wadi-Hilweh and al-Hizbe. “It’s not just a ring around the Old City walls,” Kronish told MintPress News. “Both of these neighborhoods found themselves suddenly living inside a national park, which completely prevents their improvement and development and not to mention also brings heightened law enforcement.”

Palestinian neighborhoods are not the only community affected by the development of Israeli parks. Father Koryoun Baghdasaryan, chancellor of the Armenian Patriarchate of Jerusalem, told MintPress that since 1967, the Armenian Patriarchate has not received a permit to construct anything new in the Armenian Quarter of the Old City because the area is declared a green space.

“The idea of declaring [areas] national parks or green zones is to impose restrictions,” Baghdasaryan said, explaining how these restrictions have depleted the quarter’s commercial activity and economic growth. “Armenians bought these properties to secure the income for the patriarchate, the convent, to survive here,” Baghdasaryan continued. “Now there is no profit for us.” 


Settlers taking over 

In their letter to Israel’s environmental protection minister regarding the extension of the Jerusalem Walls National Park, church leaders wrote:

In recent years, we cannot help but feel that various entities are seeking to minimize, not to say eliminate, any non-Jewish characteristics of the Holy City by attempting to alter the status quo… [I]t seems that [the plan] was put forward and is being orchestrated, advanced and promoted by entities whose apparent sole purpose is to confiscate and nationalize one of the holiest sites to Christianity and alter its nature.

The churches are referring here to Israeli settler groups. More specifically, the settler associations Ir David Foundation (or El’ad) and Ateret Cohanim, which have been part of real estate and building operations in and around the Old City. 

El’ad is most recognized for managing the City of David archeological site located in the Palestinian neighborhood of Silwan and near Al-Aqsa Mosque. In addition to spurring eviction lawsuits against Silwan residents, El’ad also conducts archaeological excavations beneath Silwan’s streets, damaging the structural foundations of many Palestinian homes. The organization is also involved in the construction of a pedestrian bridge cutting through the Old City. 

“They’re trying to create a ring of settlement-related tourism attractions around the Old City,” said Talya Ezrahi, external relations coordinator at Emek Shaveh, an Israeli non-profit focused on archaeology. “Their objective is to transform the identity of the space around the Old City from one that is multicultural and multi-faith into one that has a Judeocentric narrative that justifies the settlements.”

Ateret Cohanim’s endeavors are slightly different. In the Christian Quarter of the Old City, the settler group purchased the Petra and New Imperial hotels from the Greek Orthodox Church in 2004 through a secret deal orchestrated by Nikolaos Papadimas, who was then responsible for the church’s properties. Papadimas disappeared following the $1.25 million sale. Now, the New Imperial Hotel’s Palestinian management is embroiled in a legal battle against their eviction after Israel’s Supreme Court ruled the deal was done in good faith in 2019. 

The hotel is situated between the Catholic and Greek Orthodox churches and next to the Old City’s main entrance, Jaffa Gate. “If this is in the hands of this radical group, this will threaten the Christian presence on Jaffa Gate and in Jerusalem,” Walid Dajani, the hotel’s manager, told MintPress. His family has been running the hotel since 1949 and are protected tenants. 

Archbishop Theodosios of Sebastia, from the Greek Orthodox Patriarchate of Jerusalem, explained lands owned by the Greek Orthodox church are part of a Christian waqf or trust, meaning they are not for sale. “These properties support the steadfastness of Christians,” Archbishop Theodosios said. “These deals are illegal and these properties shall remain in the ownership of the church.” The religious leader added the Christian waqf had been under threat prior to the establishment of the Israeli state. “It started even before 1948,” Archbishop Theodosios said. “There are so many lands that belonged to churches in western Jerusalem that have been confiscated and so many Israeli official institutions were then built on these lands.”

Ateret Cohanim declined to comment on the matter. 


Attacks against Christians increasing 

A Palestinian Christian, lights candles, in a morning Christmas mass at St. George Melkite Greek Catholic Church, in the West Bank village of Burqin near Jenin city, Wednesday, Dec. 25, 2013. (AP Photo/Mohammed Ballas)

As land rights belonging to the Christian community are under threat, so too is their own safety. 

Both Father Baghdasaryan and Archbishop Theodosios described how nearly anyone wearing a cross while walking through the Old City will experience verbal or physical assaults from Jewish extremists. “Once a person is identified as a Christian — doesn’t matter whether he is a clergyman, seminarian or a lay person — they [the settlers] just behave like they are not welcome here. They spit on them. They curse them,” Baghdasaryan said.

Armenian Christians are most susceptible to attacks, given the Armenian Quarter’s proximity to the Jewish Quarter. Last May, Armenian reverends Father Tiran Hakobyan and Father Arbak Sarukhanyan were beaten by a group of Israeli settlers while walking to the Church of the Holy Sepulchre from the Armenian Convent. Sarukhanyan was hospitalized for his injuries. “I have been in Jerusalem since 1995. [Attacks are] increasing yearly. In the past, there has never been any physical violence, but recently it’s becoming more and more common,” Baghdasaryan said.

Baghdasaryan has been spat on numerous times and Archbishop Theodosios has also been attacked when walking through the Old City. “Some of them are kids. They’re little children who spit, who verbally assault and who are treating religious people and elderly people in a very offensive way,” Archbishop Theodosios said. “These children are being raised on racism and hatred. They think that Jerusalem only belongs to them and not to any other people.”

But it’s not just physical violence that’s disturbing the Christian presence in Jerusalem. Archbishop Theodosios described how the municipality, together with settler groups, often organizes loud festivals during Jewish holidays in the Christian Quarter near the New Gate. “There will be music and dancing that is disrupting the area’s holiness and disrupting the daily lives of residents,” Archbishop Theodosios said.  “It’s an attempt to change the dominant Christian atmosphere of that area.”


Erasing a community
Israel Palestinians Easter

Palestinian Christians carry an effigy of Jesus Christ covered by flowers, during a symbolic funeral as part of their services marking Good Friday in the West Bank village of Al-Zababedah near Jenin, Friday, April 18, 2014. Followers of the Eastern Orthodox Churches are marking the solemn period of Easter. (AP/Mohammed Ballas)

Christianity was born in Palestine, but its population there is dwindling in numbers. In 2019, Jerusalem’s Palestinian Christian population was only 4% of the city’s demographic, with just under 5,000 residents in the Old City’s Christian Quarter.

Archbishop Theodosios believes strategic efforts are behind the city’s decreasing Christian numbers. Violence and land confiscation are part of a larger plan to empty Jerusalem of its Christian inhabitants.  

“We are facing a very dangerous situation,” Archbishop Theodosios said, “wherein a few years we might find the holiest city for Christians without any local Christians, without any indigenous Christians.”

The post Churches Declare Christianity in The Holy Land is Under Threat from Jewish Extremists appeared first on MintPress News.

The Latest Target in the Israel Lobby’s War on Academia: Shahd Abusalama

Published by Anonymous (not verified) on Tue, 08/03/2022 - 6:03am in

Pro-Israeli government campaigners were left bitterly disappointed when, earlier this month, their campaign to remove Palestinian activist and academic Shahd Abusalama from her position at Sheffield Hallam University failed.

“I have been wholly exonerated of the false charges of antisemitism, brought under the unfit-for-purpose IHRA definition,” Abusalama announced, adding that she has actually been offered a more secure contract with the university, giving her more protection from these smears.

The Jewish Chronicle, Britain’s self-proclaimed “oldest Jewish newspaper,” was furious with the decision to allow an “activist who praised terrorists” to continue in her position, labeling the Yorkshire institution a “hostile environment” for British Jews to study at.

Today, Abusalama joins Watchdog host Lowkey to talk about her upbringing in a Gazan refugee camp, her struggles with the powerful Israel lobby, and her future.

Shahd Abusalama is an artist, activist, teacher, and co-founder of the London-based Hawiyya Dance Company. Her writings can be found on her blog, Palestine From My Eyes. In her role as associate lecturer at Sheffield Hallam University, she will be teaching a course on postcolonial media culture.

Born into an activist family, Abusalama grew up in Jabalia Refugee Camp in northern Gaza. When he was at a young age, her father was imprisoned and tortured, and was sentenced to over 700 years in an Israeli prison (he was released in 1985 in a prisoner exchange deal). Charges had been brought against her because she displayed a poster with the words “Stop the Palestinian Holocaust” and referred to the Israeli bombing of Gaza in May of last year using the same language.

She considers claiming this as evidence of antisemitism is ludicrous. “Any Palestinian liberation organization is deemed terrorist by the occupying power. This is ridiculous, of course… As Palestinians living under occupation, we have a right to resist,” she told Lowkey today.

Nevertheless, the Israel lobby has achieved a number of victories in previous years, notably whipping up a media furor over antisemitism in the Labour Party, something that helped the right wing of the party purge prominent anti-war, anti-apartheid activists from its midst.

Of late, however, there has also been a series of serious setbacks for the state of Israel and its PR campaign. Dozens of performers pulled out of the Sydney Festival in January over its financial relationship with the Israeli embassy, while Israeli weapons company Elbit Systems recently shut down its plant in Oldham near Manchester after activists occupied it, stopping production of drones being used to harm civilians. In previous episodes, the Watchdog Podcast covered both these issues in depth. Join us for another in-depth conversation about Israel, Palestine and free speech.

MintPress News is a fiercely independent, reader-supported outlet, with no billionaire owners or backers. You can support us by becoming a member on Patreon, bookmarking and whitelisting us, and by subscribing to our social media channels, including Twitch, YouTube, Twitter and Instagram.

Also, be sure to check out the new Behind the Headlines channel on YouTube.

Lowkey is a British-Iraqi hip-hop artist, academic, political campaigner, and a MintPress video and podcast host. As a musician, he has collaborated with the Arctic Monkeys, Wretch 32, Immortal Technique, and Akala. He is a patron of Stop The War Coalition, Palestine Solidarity Campaign, the Racial Justice Network, and The Peace and Justice Project founded by Jeremy Corbyn.

The post The Latest Target in the Israel Lobby’s War on Academia: Shahd Abusalama appeared first on MintPress News.

To Maintain Jewish Demographic Control, Israel Cloaks Family Unification Law in Security Concerns

Published by Anonymous (not verified) on Sat, 26/02/2022 - 4:52am in

OCCUPIED EAST JERUSALEM — A controversial law banning family unification between Israelis and Palestinians in the occupied territories expired last summer, but right-wing politicians are seeking to resurrect it with a vengeance. This month, the Knesset (Israel’s parliament) approved, in the first of three votes, the Citizenship and Entry into Israel Law, preventing Palestinians married to Israeli citizens from receiving permits to enter into 1948-occupied Palestine (or modern-day Israel).

“It’s one of the most racist, apartheid laws that was ever passed in the world,” Adi Mansour, attorney with Adalah – The Legal Center for Arab Minority Rights in Israel, told MintPress News. “There is no other law that’s even remotely close to this law in the effects … that it has on family lives.”

Known as the family unification ban, the bill passed in 2003 and has been renewed annually since its inception — until last year. In July, the law was defeated after former Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s Likud Party voted against it to disrupt the new coalition government.

Now, right-wing Knesset members are hoping to breathe new life into the legislation by adding more restrictive amendments to a law human rights organizations already deem deeply discriminatory.


Making a harsh law even harsher

Knesset member Simcha Rothman of the far-right Religious Zionism Party negotiated with Interior Minister Ayelet Shaked to add tougher amendments to the law and get it back on the agenda.

Rothman’s applied amendments include setting a maximum yearly quota for those eligible to receive Israeli citizenship from the occupied West Bank, the Gaza Strip, Iran, Syria, Iraq and Lebanon, and requiring the Interior Ministry submit a monthly report on the number of permits granted. While this law is classified as a temporary order, the newest version also allows the government to extend its enforcement for longer than one year at a time, meaning it won’t need to be renewed annually.

“The amendment that was filed by the opposition brings to the surface the real intention of the law —  to prevent a supposed attack on the Jewish majority of the state,” Mansour said.  Rothman and the spokesperson for the Knesset did not respond to requests for comment.

Despite the law’s expiration, Shaked ordered the Population and Immigration Authority to apply the law to family unification requests. Israeli non-profit organizations HaMoked, Association for Civil Rights in Israel, and Physicians for Human Rights-Israel, filed a joint petition to the Israeli Court of Administrative Affairs. The case made its way to the Supreme Court, which prompted the Interior Ministry to establish two temporary procedures. One of the procedures — HaMoked argues — simply “perpetuates the relevant provisions of the expired law, under a different name.”


More than just preventing the Palestinian right of return

HaMoked opposes the law, but Dani Shenhar, who heads HaMoked’s legal department, said that if it does pass, there are several amendments they are advocating to have attached to the bill in order to make it constitutional. These include: not applying the law to women over the age of 50, men over the age of 55, and minors; providing full government benefits to those given an entry permit; and giving permanent residency or citizenship to those applying on humanitarian grounds.

“When the law didn’t pass in July, many politicians said that it’s very important for keeping the demographics of Israel under control — not having Palestinians receive Israeli IDs,” Shenhar told MintPress. “This is the real concern of the state.”

Proponents of the law argue it’s necessary for security purposes, specifically claiming unified families are more likely to commit acts of terrorism. Shenhar explained, however, that Israel’s internal security service, the Shin Bet, said that from 2001 to 2016 only 104 individuals from families who obtained residency or citizenship through family reunification were involved in terrorist activity. From his perspective, these low numbers suggest there isn’t a security concern. “Security is an explanation used by the state because it’s easier for the court to give its green light to this law when there’s a security basis for it,” Shenhar said. “It’s more difficult to justify this kind of law on the basis of demographics or racial profiling.”

Even Minister of Interior Shaked suggested this law isn’t just for security purposes. In an interview with Israeli newspaper Yedioth Ahronoth, Shaked admitted the law is meant to prevent the “creeping [Palestinian] right of return.” “The law wants to reduce the motivation for immigration to Israel. Primarily for security reasons, and then also for demographic reasons,” Shaked said.

Adalah’s Mansour argued that family reunification isn’t about the right of return. “We want the right of return, but still when we fall in love with a person, we do not think, ‘Let’s implement the right of return.’ This is not part of the rationality of love and relationships,” he said.

Instead, Mansour argues that the narrative that the law is about the right of return is merely strategic — to better persuade the Israeli media and public of the need for such a law. “The motive to prevent the right of return is not real,” he said, emphasizing the law’s agenda is Zionist and racist. “The real motive is preventing any demographic changes and preventing Palestinians from implementing their right to family life.”

“To basically build and sustain an apartheid regime,” Mansour added.


Denying the right to family life

Earlier this month Amensty International released a comprehensive report declaring Israel an apartheid state. The organization’s analysis highlighted the family reunification ban, calling it a “clear example of how Israel fragments and segregates Palestinians through a single system.”

Amnesty International described “discriminatory laws and policies that disrupt family life” as “primarily guided by demographic – rather than security – considerations and aim[ing] to minimize Palestinian presence inside the Green Line to maintain a Jewish majority.”

“By contrast, the 2003 law explicitly did not apply to residents of Jewish settlements in the West Bank wanting to marry and live with their spouse inside Israel, making it, and the ongoing policy underpinning it, blatantly discriminatory,” Amnesty wrote. The organization also noted that information from the Ministry of Interior indicated the rejection of about 43% of family unification applications from 2000-2013.

Families affected by the legislation were unable to speak on the record to MintPress, given that the bill is still being debated and voted on. However, Amnesty collected anonymous testimonies on how this law has disrupted families’ lives.

One spouse, who moved from the West Bank to 1948-occupied Palestine, applied for family reunification but while awaiting approval and without proper documentation, she lived in a perpetual state of anxiety. “There was a constant fear in my life. I was terrified of getting sick for example, because of this fear of having to go to the hospital without the necessary documents, getting caught [by Israeli authorities], and paying lots of money to cover for any kind of procedure or treatment,” she told Amnesty. She had married in 2003 when she was 18 but, according to the Citizenship Law, couldn’t apply for family reunification until she turned 25.

Another woman was rejected when trying to renew her permanent residency. She is now confined to Jerusalem in fear of arrest if she crosses Israeli checkpoints. She told Amnesty International how the law has impacted her life:

Since 2008, I have not been able to see my children as I please, because I cannot cross Israeli military checkpoints. I can only see my children and grandchildren through video calls. I have spent 12 years of my life trying to solve this, but the [Israeli] authorities keep stalling. I have spent half of my life either at the Ministry of Interior offices or gathering papers for them. This is exhausting.”

Adalah’s Mansour detailed the various cases he’s worked on regarding family reunification and called their experiences “devastating.” One example he offered:

During corona, a woman who was from Ramallah couldn’t leave Ramallah through the checkpoint because there was a lockdown. So she had to live for at least a month away from her kids and her family because they had citizenship and could go back to where her family lived, but she had to stay in Ramallah with her parents.”

In some situations, individuals could only get a driver’s license after 10 years. In other cases, individuals couldn’t find work in 1948-occupied Palestine because they didn’t have citizenship.

Often employers are unwilling to hire individuals with the family unification permit because, since it only lasts a year, their residency status is seen as unstable. Mansour summed it up:

People fall in love and they live together and they get married and they don’t think of the consequences. But eventually what happens is either you leave the country and live abroad, which is a decision that a lot of people don’t want to take because this is their homeland. On the other side, you have people who suffer every day from the consequences of not being able to unify their family.”

Adalah has been working with families on a potential upcoming petition against the legislation. In characterizing the bill, Mansour equated it to doctrines used by the German Nazi and Italian fascist regimes during World War II, in which governments would discriminate against people because of their nationalities. “It’s a law that attacks the very existence of Palestinians for being Palestinians,” he said.

Feature photo | A Palestinian family huddles a fire for warmth in Gaza, Jan. 27, 2022. Hatem Moussa | AP

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

The post To Maintain Jewish Demographic Control, Israel Cloaks Family Unification Law in Security Concerns appeared first on MintPress News.

Death of Elderly Wisconsin Man in Israeli Army Custody Could Trigger Leahy Law and US Sanctions

Published by Anonymous (not verified) on Fri, 25/02/2022 - 5:08am in

OCCUPIED WEST BANK — Around 3 a.m. on January 12, Omar As’ad was driving back to his home in the village of Jiljilya in the Occupied West Bank when he was stopped at a temporary Israeli military checkpoint. Israeli soldiers dragged the 78-year-old man out of his vehicle, bound his hands with zip ties, blindfolded him, gagged him, and left him in the courtyard of a construction site with one zip tie still wrapped around his left wrist.

According to an autopsy conducted by the Palestinian Authority, As’ad suffered a stress-induced heart attack and died during detention.

As’ad was both Palestinian and American, and this dual nationality has garnered his story significant media coverage and created an international rift as U.S. lawmakers call for greater accountability over his death.


Israeli army investigating itself

Eyewitness accounts, provided to Palestinian human rights organization Al-Haq, documented how As’ad passed out during detention and medical aid was not provided to him. As’ad suffered from several chronic health problems including ischemic heart disease, diabetes and obesity, and had undergone open-heart surgery.

Abdel Rahman, 52, who was detained with As’ad, gave this testimony to Al-Haq:

He was not sitting but was on his face on the right side, that is, his right cheek was on the tile. I could not call him because I was scared of the soldiers, but I did not hear a breath from him and did not feel any movement. Then a soldier approached him and sat down on one knee at his head… I saw the soldier after he touched his head, he stood and … cut the plastic zip-tie. After a few seconds, I saw the soldiers moving away, and I heard them whispering between each other, then a soldier pointed his weapon towards us and then they left.”

Islam Abu Zaher, a local doctor, examined As’ad after the soldiers left at around 4 a.m. He tried to resuscitate him, but estimated As’ad had died between 15 to 20 minutes before he arrived at the scene.

The Israeli military conducted an internal probe and dismissed two officers and censured a third over As’ad’s death. A Military Police investigation is ongoing and may result in criminal charges. The internal investigation found the group of soldiers left As’ad on the ground because they assumed he was sleeping and chose not to wake him. The head of the military’s Central Command, Maj. Gen. Yehuda Fuchs, condemned the soldiers’ actions, but said their actions weren’t motivated by hatred but rather were taken because “they cared more about completing their mission” than about As’ad’s wellbeing.

A photo obtained by Israeli media showed As’ad in his final moments, bound on the floor. The officers involved are hoping the image will exonerate them, claiming he was still alive because his head is lifted in the picture.

Omar As'ad Israel

A photo shows As’ad, circled in red, in his final moments, bound on the floor

As’ad’s family has dismissed the military probe as insufficient and is working with an attorney to file a case against the Israeli military. “We don’t think that the army made a simple mistake in killing a senior person, and we’re not happy by only dismissing two officers,” As’ad’s niece, Enas Sehweil, told MintPress News. The family hopes for fair trial proceedings, to have the officers involved imprisoned, and to receive financial compensation.

The family is also requesting the right of family reunification and for his American relatives to visit Palestine. “His sons and daughters have no Palestinian documentation with them because they live in the [United States] and due to the refusal of the Israeli government,” Sehweil said. “Israel declines their visas all the time.”

Issa Amro, co-founder of the nonviolent Palestinian resistance group Youth Against Settlements, also rejected the Israeli army’s investigation and labeled As’ad’s death “a kind of extra-judicial execution.” “The Israeli army can’t investigate itself,” Amro said. “Dismissing someone for a few months or a few weeks — that’s not accountability.”

Al-Haq’s analysis of As’ad’s death determined the Israeli army’s treatment of As’ad may amount to war crimes. The organization wrote:

The detention and treatment of Mr. Omar Abdul Majeed As’ad by the IOF, which may have caused his death, amounts to an arbitrary deprivation of liberty and inhuman treatment, in violation of Mr. As’ad’s rights to life and health, and an inhuman treatment amounting to a grave breach of the GCIV [Fourth Geneva Convention].

 Omar Assad

Mourners pray over the body of Palestanian American Omarac Assad during his funeral in Jiljiliya, Jan. 13, 2022. Nasser Nasser | AP


Demands for US probe grow

The case of As’ad, who lived in the U.S. for 40 years and was a Wisconsin resident, has caught the attention of American congressional representatives.

Wisconsin lawmakers Sen. Tammy Baldiwn (D) and Rep. Gwen Moore (D), sent a letter to Secretary of State Antony Blinken, on Jan. 31, demanding the State Department launch an investigation into As’ad’s death and into “whether any equipment procured by United States funds were used by Israeli forces involved in his detention” and “whether any U.S. laws protecting Mr. Assad (sic), an American citizen, were violated.”

Experts pointed out that if U.S. laws were violated in the death of As’ad then it may lead to sanctions under the Leahy Law — meaning U.S. military aid, Israel’s greatest source of foreign assistance, could be cut off.

Several members of Congress echoed calls for a State Department investigation, including the only Palestinian-American in Congress, Rep. Rashida Tlaib (D-MI).

In a tweet, Rep. Betty McCollum (D-MN) described As’ad as “another victim of this cruel occupation.” Her communications department told MintPress that the congresswoman “supports calls for a comprehensive investigation into this tragic death.”

Six other members of Congress, who also called for a thorough investigation — including Tlaib, García, Carson, and Moore — were contacted for comment but did not respond.

Several advocacy organizations are also demanding a U.S. investigation. Americans for Justice in Palestine (AJP) Action created an action alert so constituents can urge their representatives to demand a U.S. investigation into As’ad’s death. “The U.S. plays a very large role in the issue of enabling and embedding a lot of the ethnic cleansing and unlawful killings, and this stems from the money that comes and is approved from Congress,” Ayah Ziyadeh, AJP Action’s advocacy director, told MintPress. “The only investigation that was being urged by the U.S. was by the same forces that murdered Omar As’ad, which makes no sense.”

In response to a MintPress inquiry, the State Department reiterated its previous statement on As’ad’s death:

The United States expects a thorough criminal investigation and full accountability in this case, and we welcome receiving additional information on these efforts as soon as possible. We continue to discuss this troubling incident with the Israeli government.

The State Department did not address queries as to whether the agency will launch its own investigation.


Settlers turned soldiers

Netzah Yehuda Battalion, the ultra-orthodox military unit that detained As’ad, has a notorious history of violence against Palestinians, specifically of abusing detainees. The army division is driven by a settler ideology and made up of “formerly Haredi [ultra-orthodox] youth who have left school, Haredim who rebelled against their parents, hilltop youth, religious nationalist Haredi youth who have been assured a female-free environment during their service, youth from impoverished families, and others from across the country’s faithful.”

Religiously homogeneous, the battalion also shares a common political goal of believing policing Palestinians is a sacred duty. The group’s rebellious origins and shared colonialist thinking has created a culture where violence and aggression are magnified. A 2014 internal study conducted by the Israeli military found the Kfir Brigade, of which Netzah Yehuda Battalion is a part, places a strong emphasis on aggression leading to a greater use of excessive violence than other army units.

Soldiers from this battalion have not only engaged in abuse but also in flagrant displays of racism. One member was part of the “wedding of hate” held in 2015, in which a rifle was waved at a picture of infant Ali Dawabshe who had been burned to death in a Jewish terrorist attack.

Given its dealings with Palestinians, the military has decided to move the force out of the West Bank. When reached for comment about whether the unit would be disbanded following As’ad’s death, the Israeli army just referred MintPress to its statement on its internal probe.

Before As’ad’s family hired a lawyer, the Israeli government was in frequent contact with the family. His niece, Sehweil, believes this was because the U.S. embassy intensified pressure over As’ad’s death.

AJP Action’s Ziyadeh stressed, though, that the U.S. should not exert pressure only when the situation involves an American. “That shouldn’t be the only reason the U.S. ever cares, if somebody’s an American citizen,” Ziyadeh said. “Especially being a leader of the world, so to speak, you should care about human rights, period. Whether he was an American citizen or not, the killing was unlawful.”

Feature photo | Mourners carry the body of Palestanian American Omar Assad, 80, during his funeral in Jiljiliya, north of Ramallah, Jan. 13, 2022. Nasser Nasser | AP

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

The post Death of Elderly Wisconsin Man in Israeli Army Custody Could Trigger Leahy Law and US Sanctions appeared first on MintPress News.

My Day in Palestine: The Stunning Beauty and Cruel Reality of an Occupied Land

Published by Anonymous (not verified) on Tue, 22/02/2022 - 6:15am in

JERUSALEM — The ruins of the Palestinian village of Sataf sit on the slope of a beautiful hill on the outskirts of Jerusalem. Today the area is a Jewish National Foundation (JNF) park called “Har Eitan,” or Mount Eitan. It is covered in pine trees that were planted by the JNF to hide the Zionist crime of ethnic cleansing, a crime that has been designated as a crime against humanity.

In 2021, massive fires broke out on the hills surrounding Jerusalem and countless pines were burned, including the ones around Sataf. There is an 8 kilometer trail that goes around the mountain and people use it to hike and jog and sometimes ride mountain bikes. Parts of this trail are very steep and in some cases these steep parts go on for a good mile.

When I am in Jerusalem, Sataf is where I like to run, and the day after my arrival here in mid-February I went on a run. I don’t always run the full 8 kilometer circle because those steep hills are a killer, but this time I did. Running through the mountain I saw burnt towering pine trees, standing like a monument to the arrogance and stupidity of British and Zionist settlers and colonizers who think they know what’s good for the “colony.”

As I ran, I saw laborers, mostly Palestinians, cutting down these tall burnt matchsticks and I could see for the first time that the ground was visible. The plain earth under the trees was visible after all these years, and there was Palestinian landscape right there alive and well.

The terraces that were built and cultivated by Palestinian farmers throughout the centuries are still there, as are the olive trees, the occasional fig, and countless almonds that are now in full bloom. It is cold and rainy in Jerusalem now and so the ground is covered with small pink cyclamens and tall pancratium with white flowers that grow everywhere this time of year.

Sataf ruins

Trees planted by the Jewish National Fund engulf the ruins of Palestinian homes in Sataf. Photo | Zochrot


Reality confronts nature

The Northern Naqab is also green this time of year. Vast green spaces that have not yet been spoiled by Zionist encroachment allow for a truly wonderful getaway for an afternoon. Walking through the low hills of the Naqab as the sun sets and the moon comes up is an experience that allows us to imagine what Palestine was like before it was torn apart by Zionists and what can still be saved if we act fast. The reality of life in Palestine could hardly be more frightening and less inspiring than the natural phenomena I was describing.

Better still to do this with young Palestinian Bedouins from the Naqab who know the land and appreciate its value and beauty in ways that privileged settlers could never comprehend. I had an opportunity to have a chat with some young Palestinian Bedouins in Bi’r Al-Saba. It was a small gathering organized ad-hoc by activist friends who reject Zionism, stand up to defend their lands, and demand their right to maintain their way of life.

An Israeli woman who happened to be present when I spoke stormed out of the meeting. She said that I and the organizers were poisoning the young minds of these Palestinians. This arrogance, which is sadly characteristic among Zionists, leads many to believe that the problem is not the crimes against humanity perpetrated against the Palestinians in the Naqab but rather their peers and people like me talking to them about it.


Sheikh Jarrah

In a moment of caring in the midst of madness and violence, like a lotus flower rising from the mud, a clown was walking among the crowd at the Sheikh Jarrah protest. I had seen her before many times; she gives out little heart-shaped stickers and in the summer she has a little spray bottle and she sprays people with cold water. The police brutalize her as they do anyone who dares to challenge them, even a clown.

In the protest that took place on Friday, February 18 she was there. The police acted with hate and brutality that matched the Amnesty International definition of Israeli crimes as Crimes against Humanity. At one point the clown, whose name I don’t know, stood in a row with other protesters facing the Israeli terror squads. They wanted the protesters to back off and immediately began to push.

When these guys push, they do it with the brutality of a herd of mad buffalos. The clown was pushed so hard it looked as though her entire torso was going to snap off. When the pushing and shoving begins, everyone runs or gets trampled. The violence was unprovoked, inexcusable and certainly unnecessary. The only violence during these protests comes from the police.

Israel Palestinians

Israeli riot police officers scuffle with protesters in Sheikh Jarrah, east Jerusalem, Feb. 18, 2022. Mahmoud Illean | AP


Sometimes empathy is all we have

Later in the evening, before I left the scene, I walked over to the clown to say thank you and see if she was alright. She was standing next to one of the older gentlemen, who lives in Sheikh Jarrah. Just as many of the other veteran residents of this neighborhood, he cannot wrap his mind around the reality that is unfolding around him. One cannot blame him, since it is a madness that no healthy mind can understand.

This gentleman was venting; then he went from venting to lecturing, then to expressing his rage and frustration, and then again confusion. The whole time I stood there she was present, listening to the man go on and on. She reached her hand out to me for a moment to say, “I know you’re here,” and she kept listening with her heart open to this man whose life is being terrorized by maniacal, racist, violent gangs who have the full weight of the Israeli state behind them. He clearly needed to speak out, even if it was to a clown.

The enormity of the process that is unfolding in Sheikh Jarrah is hard for people to grasp. Those of us who show up to express solidarity and to stand with the Palestinians who are victims of this crime against humanity cannot possibly feel the pain and fear that the Palestinians, who live through it and whose lives are being ruined, experience. To see this Palestinian gentleman stand before a clown and vent his feelings, and to see the heartfelt way in which she was listening, was a great way to end a very difficult day.


A stun grenade

About 10 minutes after I had left, while I was walking to my car, I heard two loud explosions. It was strange because the protest had ended, the police were just casually standing around and all that remained were people from the neighborhood singing and dancing. But that too needed to stop so they threw two stun grenades into the crowd.

The battle for Sheikh Jarrah could not be more important. The only way we can prevent the total destruction of the lives of the Palestinians in Jerusalem – and the neighborhood of Sheikh Jarrah, in particular – is by demanding that governments and nongovernmental organizations around the world apply the recommendations of Amnesty International’s report on Israeli apartheid, including compelling Israel to grant Palestanians their human rights, guarantee their right of return, and provide them with reparation for the loss of land and property they have endured under Israeli occupation.

Feature photo | Israeli security forces walk through the streets of Shuafat refugee camp in Jerusalem after the demolition of the family home of Palestinian militant Fadi Abu Shkhaidem, Feb. 1, 2022. Mahmoud Illean | AP

Miko Peled is MintPress News contributing writer, published author and human rights activist born in Jerusalem. His latest books are”The General’s Son. Journey of an Israeli in Palestine,” and “Injustice, the Story of the Holy Land Foundation Five.”

The post My Day in Palestine: The Stunning Beauty and Cruel Reality of an Occupied Land appeared first on MintPress News.

Will Scathing Amnesty Apartheid Report Lead to Change in Israel’s Criminal Practices?

Published by Anonymous (not verified) on Fri, 11/02/2022 - 9:14am in

LONDON – The Amnesty International report about Israel’s apartheid system states that, since its founding in 1948, Israel has in fact constituted a “cruel system of domination and crime against humanity.” It further states:

Amnesty International has analyzed Israel’s intent to create and maintain a system of oppression and domination over Palestinians and examined its key components: territorial fragmentation; segregation and control; dispossession of land and property; and denial of economic and social rights. It has concluded that this system amounts to apartheid.


Crimes against humanity

The report correctly states that the designation of Israeli apartheid places it firmly in the category of “Crimes Against Humanity.” This is not an insignificant conclusion. The report says that the inhuman or inhumane acts committed by Israel “amount to the crime against humanity of apartheid under both the Apartheid Convention and the Rome Statute.”

According to the Cornell Law school Legal Information Institute (LII):

Crime against humanity refers to a category of crimes against international law which includes the most egregious violations of human dignity, especially those directed toward civilian populations. The modern understanding of crimes against humanity is codified in the founding statutes of the international criminal tribunals, including the International Criminal Tribunal for the Former Yugoslavia (ICTY) and the International Criminal Court (ICC). 

As codified in Article 7 of the ICC Statute, the following acts are punishable as crimes against humanity when perpetrated by a state actor as part of a systematic or widespread attack against a civilian population:

  • Other inhumane acts of a similar character intentionally causing great suffering, or serious injury to body or to mental or physical health. The intent requirement for liability is “knowledge of the attack.”

The Amnesty report states clearly that Israeli apartheid falls under this category and provides data to show that these crimes were perpetrated with intent.


Opportunities for campaigns

The reality that this report has brought forward opens doors to a much more aggressive anti-apartheid campaign than we have seen so far. When Zionist organizations hold events, they do so in support of Israel; they encourage others to support Israel financially and politically. These organizations need to reserve conventions centers and hotels, the corporate offices of which should have copies of the Amnesty report on their desks alongside a demand that they refuse to cater to Zionist organizations.

According to the International Convention on the Suppression and Punishment of the Crime of Apartheid, “[i]nternational criminal responsibility is to apply to individuals, members of organizations and representatives of the State who commit, incite or conspire to commit the crime of apartheid.”

Furthermore, according to Article III of the Convention:

International criminal responsibility shall apply, irrespective of the motive involved, to individuals, members of organizations and institutions and representatives of the State, whether residing in the territory of the State in which the acts are perpetrated or in some other State, whenever they:

(a) Commit, participate in, directly incite or conspire in the commission of the acts mentioned in Article II of the present Convention;

(b) Directly abet, encourage or co-operate in the commission of the crime of apartheid.

Article III (a) and (b) both apply both to the Zionist organizations that lobby and promote Israel in the United States. The corporations that provide services to these organizations need to know that they are providing services to criminal elements and that this will be used against them in campaigns that demand accountability.

Each year in cities across the United States, Zionist pro-Israel organizations like AIPAC, J-Street, the ADL – and the largest Zionist organization of them all, Christians United for Israel, or CUFI – hold their multi-million dollar events. These events require an enormous amount of planning and logistics, including a major convention center, hotel rooms, catering, transportation, and more products and services.

These conferences provide millions of dollars of revenue to the cities and to the establishments that host them. While the money these organizations provide is a strong incentive for businesses that cater to them to look the other way, the companies and corporations that provide the services to Zionist organizations need to understand that they are playing with fire.

Hosting racist, violent organizations that perpetuate hate may be protected by the right to make a profit, but now we are talking about serving organizations that are perpetrating crimes against humanity. CEOs and members of the boards of Hilton, Marriott, and other major hotel chains, as well as the cities that rent out the convention centers, must know that catering to pro-Israeli groups is no longer acceptable. The recommendations of the Amnesty report make it clear that supporting Israel in any way constitutes collaboration with a crime against humanity and that anyone who does this will be outed and held responsible.


No longer terrorists

In September of 2020, Palestinian leader and resistance commander Leila Khaled was scheduled to participate in a panel hosted by San Francisco State University. The event was to take place via Zoom but, bowing to pressure by Zionist groups, Zoom canceled the event. The event was then shared live via Facebook and YouTube, both of which later deleted video of the event.

The reason given for the cancellation by Zoom was that Khaled belongs to the PFLP, an organization listed by the United Stated as a terrorist organization. However, since Israel has been committing crimes against humanity by imposing an apartheid regime on the Palestinian people, Palestinians who resist cannot be considered terrorists, but freedom fighters. What people would not stand up and fight a racist, violent regime that is imposed upon them? Americans certainly hold dear the line “Live Free or Die,” and so do Palestinians.

The data and the detailed investigations that brought about the Amnesty report must also be used to free Palestinians that resist apartheid from the weight of the “terrorist” designation and open the doors to allow them to participate freely in the discussion on how to bring an end to the apartheid regime.

The endless possibilities created by the Amnesty report can bring about change in Palestine for the better. However, things will not change unless people who care for justice and freedom take this report and use it wisely.

Feature photo | A journalist holds a copy of Amnesty International’s report “Israel’s Apartheid Against Palestinians,” at a press conference on the release of the 278-page report compiled over a period of four years, in Jerusalem, Feb. 1, 2022. Maya Alleruzzo | AP

Miko Peled is MintPress News contributing writer, published author and human rights activist born in Jerusalem. His latest books are “The General’s Son. Journey of an Israeli in Palestine,” and “Injustice, the Story of the Holy Land Foundation Five.”

The post Will Scathing Amnesty Apartheid Report Lead to Change in Israel’s Criminal Practices? appeared first on MintPress News.