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Exposing the dynamics of UNSC draft resolutions on Palestine

MEMO | May 29, 2018

Last week, the UN Security Council discussed a draft resolution on providing international protection for Palestinians, upon request by Kuwait’s permanent representative to the UN, Mansour Al-Otaibi. By the end of this week, the UNSC will be voting on the resolution, with Wafa news agency reporting that if the US uses its veto, Palestinians will call upon the UN General Assembly for “an extraordinary meeting under the title ‘Uniting for Peace’”.

It is safe to say that Palestinians are ensnared politically, and every gesture that is ostensibly for their protection is but another manacle that consolidates their isolation. Lest anyone jump on the bandwagon of “protection”, it is best that one takes into account that the international community has repeatedly confirmed its loyalties lie with Israel. Its credibility as regards protection, therefore, should be immediately denounced. Asking two fundamental questions juxtaposed against each other would clarify international intentions once and for all.

What does Palestine mean for Palestinians? What does Palestine mean to the international community?

For the first question, it is imperative that one draws upon Palestinian narratives of their land and follow the trajectory of how the entire territory that is their right was colonised by Israel’s existence. From that departure point, it is also important to include two rights that the international community wilfully ignores: the right of return and the right of struggle, by all means, against colonialism.

The second question deals more with disregard rather than concern. Even before Israel’s inception, Palestine was treated as a commodity and its people fodder for collateral damage. The Partition Plan of 29 Novermber 1947 is now hypocritically marked as the International Day of Solidarity with the Palestinian People. Let us be clear upon what this alleged solidarity has entailed: supporting colonial Israel and its so-called “right to defend itself” against the population that it has colonised and ostracised. UN solidarity has condoned massacres of Palestinians and forced displacement. In return, it has dedicated one specific day for remembrance which has yet to cause revulsion internationally, rather than acquiescence to commemoration.

The juxtaposition between both questions occurs now, in terms of the Palestinian right of return and their right to struggle for liberation from colonialism. On paper, the UN has not denied these rights. However, it has forced Palestinians into a vacuum where knowledge of rights is not tantamount to accessibility. The UN has created slogans for Palestinians while aiding Israel diplomatically, to the point that is has become a duty to separate the authentic, internationalist, solidarity with Palestinians from the exploitative, symbolic, corrupted remembrance which the UN has bequeathed to Palestinians.

As the UN derives impunity from its own existence, with what conscience can we declare approval for protection emanating from the institution? We must remember that “international protection” is concocted from the exterior, with Palestinians having little to no say in how such protection would be provided, what form would it take and what parameters would be imposed by the UN. Is it too late to remember that during other massacres, UN rhetoric was primarily concerned with Israel’s “right to defend itself”? Does memory fade with the passing of years to the point that the Nakba and subsequent massacres are forgotten? I believe not. A memory that emanates from within has the power to transcend time.

Palestinians do not deserve repetitive attempts at manipulating their rights and having the UN establish its collaborative dominion at their expense. This is not to say that Palestinians do not need protection. However, they are not in need of protection from Israel’s accomplices to degrade their options further by increasing their risks of being politically targeted. Two rights and the means to achieve them are what Palestinians need – the right of return and the right to struggle by all means for liberation. A unifying, internationalist force that is ready to stand by Palestinians to help them achieve their rights. Anything less than that is calling Palestinians to play a part in their betrayal.

May 29, 2018 Posted by | Deception, Ethnic Cleansing, Racism, Zionism | , , , , | Leave a comment

Israel bill to limit Palestinians’ access to High Court passes first reading

MEMO | May 29, 2018

Israeli politicians waved through a bill that would limit Palestinians’ access to the High Court last night, according to the Jerusalem Post.

The bill would prevent many cases, including those of housing demolitions and Israeli land grabbing offences, from reaching the High Court, instead redirecting them to district courts in the occupied West Bank.

Right-wing politicians stated that the bill would reduce the number of complaints pertaining to land ownership that are often filed by Palestinians and left-wing organisations in the aftermath of settler occupation.

Justice Minister Ayelet Shaked, a supporter of the bill, rejoiced in its passing of the first reading.

“The move will also reduce the heavy burden imposed on the High Court of Justice,” she said adding that the High Court “handles more than 2,000 petitions each year, and should reject many of them outright.”

Critics however argued that the bill was a step towards annexation of the West Bank, by expanding the power of district courts outside of Israeli sovereignty.

Zionist Union MK Tzipi Livni expressed concern that the move would strengthen the argument that Palestinians should have the right to vote in Israel, as has been suggested as part of the one-state solution.

Shaked defended the bill, stating that in the case of land ownership claims, it would place the burden of proof on the Palestinians filing the case, not the Israeli settlers.

The bill will also refer other issues to the lower court, such as restraining orders and Israel entry permits.

Israel has long sought to annex the occupied West Bank to preserve the illegal settlements in the area, but has struggled with what the fate of Palestinians would be.

Earlier this month, Israel’s deputy defence minister, MK Rabbi Eli Ben-Dahan, claimed that Israel could annex the entirety of the occupied West Bank, without giving its Palestinian residents the right to vote.

“The clear and absolute thing is that we are here in the Land of Israel and we are not afraid of any attempts to frighten us,” he said. “They want to scare us that maybe soon we will not be a majority and therefore we have to abandon Judea and Samaria [the West Bank]. This is a grave mistake.”

Read also:

Palestinians call to save their homes from Israeli demolition orders

May 29, 2018 Posted by | Civil Liberties, Ethnic Cleansing, Racism, Zionism, Illegal Occupation | , , , , | 2 Comments

8 things I learned about Palestine while touring 8 Western nations

By Ramzy Baroud ‏| MEMO | May 29, 2018

On 20 February, I embarked on a global book tour that has, thus far, taken me to eight nations. The main theme of all my talks in various cultural, academic and media platforms was the pressing need to refocus the discussion on Palestine on the struggle, aspirations and history of the Palestinian people.

But, interacting with hundreds of people and being exposed to multiple media environments in both mainstream and alternative media, I also learned much about the changing political mood on Palestine in the western world.

While the nations I have visited – the US, Canada, the UK (England and Scotland), the Netherlands, Austria, Australia and New Zealand – do not in any way represent all western countries, the diverse platforms that were available to me allowed me to gain a reasonably good perspective on the ideas, perceptions and attitudes of people in government, media, academia and civil society:

First, the civil society support base for Palestine is growing exponentially, not only in the number of people who are concerned with – or interested in – learning about Palestine, but also in the nature of that engagement as well. The detachment or sense of despair of the past, has all but completely vanished, being replaced with a proactive approach – as in people wanted to be agents of change at local and national levels.

Second, the consensus regarding the support of the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) movement is constantly increasing among unions, churches, university campuses, etc. The old view that BDS was divisive and counter-productive hardly has much traction these days, and most of the remaining debates concerning BDS are not concerned with the ethics of the boycott strategy, but the nature and extent of the boycott.

Third, the degree of decisiveness in supporting Palestinians has also been heightened. The wishy-washy stances that wagered on the Israeli “peace movement’ or Labour Party “doves”, while condemning “extremists on both sides”, has diminishing appeal.

Indeed, the successive Israeli wars on Gaza and the continued siege on the Strip have all gradually, but irreversibly, pushed the narrative on Palestine towards a whole new direction, one that has little room to wait for an Israeli awakening. The recent lethal Israeli response to Gaza’s peaceful Great March of Return protests has further galvanised support for Palestinians, even among relatively apolitical audiences.

Fourth, unable to push back against growing pro-Palestine movements, Israeli and pro-Israel supporters are pushing, like never before, the accusation of anti-Semitism against those who question the Israeli occupation, use the term “Israeli Apartheid” or support BDS.

While the tactic is no longer silencing the discussion on Palestine, it is creating the necessary distraction to divert attention, energy and resources to less urgent issues. A case in point is the British media’s obsession with the, supposedly, rampant anti-Semitism within the Labour Party at a time when thousands of Gazans were injured and scores killed while peacefully protesting in Gaza.

Fifth, young people are less likely to be intimidated by long-standing Israeli tactics. While the older generation of civil society leaders and activists are unwittingly beholden to the many smearing tactics used by Israel and its supporters, the younger generation is not as easily intimidated. Part of the reason is that digital media – social media, in particular – has helped younger people achieve a degree of global connectivity that has heightened their sense of unity and resolve.

The new generation of Palestinian university students and young intellectuals are also reclaiming their role in this trajectory. Their ability to connect with western societies as insiders and outsiders has helped bridge cultural and political gaps.

Sixth, while “One Democratic State Solution” ideas are yet to achieve the critical mass that could, and will, eventually push for a change in policies amongst various governments, the so-called “Two-State Solution” no longer commands a dedicated following. It is almost a complete reversal from the views that permeated during my earlier world tours, nearly 20 years ago.

Seventh, some intellectual, and even civil society circles, are still obstructed by the erroneous thinking that the best way to convey the Palestinian viewpoint is through non-Palestinians. This belief is even championed by some Palestinians themselves (especially members of previous generations who suffered political and cultural marginalisation and discrimination).

Although many anti-Zionist Jewish and Western intellectuals have been placed at the centre stage to articulate a Palestinian message, the alienation of the Palestinians from their own discourse has proven costly. Despite strong and growing support for Palestine, there is still a serious deficiency in an authentic understanding of Palestine and the aspirations of the Palestinian people – their history, culture, everyday realities and viewpoints.

Needless to say, what is needed is an urgent and complete reclamation of the narrative over Palestine and the decolonisation of the Palestinian discourse.

Eighth, the connection between the Palestinian struggle for freedom and that of other indigenous groups is often highlighted, but much more can be done. Israeli supporters are actively pushing the misleading notion that Israelis are the “natives” of the land and are, thus, reaching out to indigenous communities around the world in search for common ground. While the reality is to the contrary, pro-Palestine groups can do much more to link the struggle of the indigenous native Palestinians with that of other indigenous and other oppressed and historically marginalised groups around the world.

A general, but equally important realisation I have experienced throughout my three-month journey has been the numerous personal and group initiatives carried out by thousands of people all over the world in solidarity with the Palestinian people: from 11-year-old Salma, who convinced all of her classmates in Perth, Australia, to write Palestine on the map in her geography class, despite knowing that they would all have been marked down for their action, to the elderly couple in Auckland, New Zealand, who, well into their 80s and walking with much difficulty, continue to hand Palestine flyers to passers-by at a busy street corner, every week, for the last 20 years.

It is these people, and millions like them, who represent the real constituency for Palestine. They are fighters in the trenches of human solidarity that neither Israel, nor anyone else, can possibly defeat.

May 29, 2018 Posted by | Ethnic Cleansing, Racism, Zionism, Solidarity and Activism | , , , , , | Leave a comment

Israel, NATO carry out naval drills in Haifa

MEMO | May 29, 2018

The British air defence destroyer HMS Duncan and Spanish naval frigate “Victoria” on Friday docked on a NATO mission in northern Israel’s Haifa Port to participate in a joint naval exercise with the Israeli military, Israel Defence reported yesterday.

According to the Israeli army spokesperson, this is the first time a Spanish warship has docked in an Israeli port.

The maneuvers, the army explained, will include meetings between senior officials from the Israeli navy and their NATO counterparts.

The joint exercise “underscores NATO’s commitment to the strategic relationship with the Israel Navy and to the maintenance of stability in the region,” the spokesperson added.

Israel’s relationship with NATO has been defined as a “partnership”, according to the Jerusalem Post. It has been a member of the NATO Mediterranean Dialogue since it was initiated in 1994, along with six other non-NATO Mediterranean countries, including Jordan, Algeria, Egypt, Mauritania, Morocco and Tunisia.

May 29, 2018 Posted by | Wars for Israel | , , | 2 Comments

MEK’s Money Sure Can’t Buy Love

But it can buy a lot of politicians

Maryan Rajavi
By Philip Giraldi • Unz Review • May 29, 2018

Iran’s radical Marxist cult Mohajedeen e Khalq, better known by its acronym MEK, is somewhat reminiscent of the Israel Lobby’s American Israel Public Affairs Committee (AIPAC) in that it operates somewhat in the shadows and is nevertheless able to punch well beyond its weight by manipulating politicians and understanding how American government functions on its dark side. MEK promotes itself by openly supporting a very popular hardline policy of “democratic opposition” advocating “regime change” for Iran while also successfully selling its reform credentials, i.e. that it is no longer a terrorist group. This latter effort apparently convinced then Secretary of State Hillary Clinton on 2013 as she and President Barack Obama responded to the group’s affability campaign by delisting MEK from the government list of terrorist organizations.

This shift in attitude towards MEK was a result of several factors. First, everyone in Washington and the Establishment hates Iran. And second, the Executive Order 13224, which designates Iran’s Revolutionary Guards as a terrorist organization, ipso facto defines any group fighting against it as one of the good guys, justifying the change

MEK is best described as a cult rather than as a political movement because of its internal discipline. Its members are, according to the testimony of those who have somehow escaped, subjected to considerable indoctrination best described as brainwashing. Though not exactly imprisoned, adherents are kept isolated and separated insofar as possible and cannot contact their families. Their possessions are collectivized so they have no money or other resources. If they are in contravention of the numerous rules that guide the organization they are punished, including physically, and there are reports of members being executed for trying to escape.

The current head of the group is Maryam Rajavi, the wife of the deceased co-founder of MEK, Massoud. She is reported to be politically savvy and speaks excellent English learned in part to enable her to communicate with adoring American politicians. The group itself was founded in 1965. Its name means “People’s Holy Warriors,” derived from its Marxist/populist roots and its religiosity. It was not unlike the Taliban which developed in adjacent Afghanistan. During the 1970’s it rebelled against the Shah and was involved in bombing and shooting American targets. It executed U.S. Army Lt. Col. Lewis Hawkins in 1973 as he was walking home from the U.S. Embassy and in 1975 it killed two American Air Force officers in their chauffer driven car, an incident that was studied and used in CIA training subsequently as an example of how not to get caught and killed by terrorists. Between 1976 and 1978 the group bombed American commercial targets and killed three Rockwell defense contractors and one Texaco executive.

MEK welcomed the Iranian revolution and also the occupation of the U.S. Embassy but soon fell afoul of the Ayatollah Khomeini regime. It eventually moved to join Iran’s enemy Saddam Hussein in Iraq and participated on the Iraqi side in the bloodletting that followed when the two countries went to war in 1980-8. For that reason alone, MEK is particularly hated by most Iranians and the repeated assertion that it is some kind of “Iranian democracy” alternative is ridiculous as the people in Iran would never accept it. In terms of the duplicity surrounding its marketing, it is reminiscent of Iraqi con artist Ahmed Chalabi, who also had little following inside Iraq but was able to convince Pentagon geniuses like Paul Wolfowitz that he represented some kind of democratic movement. At the time Chalabi was also secretly working for Iran.

MEK was protected by Saddam and later by the U.S. invaders who found a weapon to use against Iran useful. They were housed in Camp Ashraf near Baghdad, and later, after Ashraf was closed, at so-called Camp Liberty. In 2013, when the Iraqis insisted that they go elsewhere the President Barack Obama facilitated their removal to Albania under the auspices of the United Nations refugee program, with the $20 million dollar bill being footed by Washington. The organization’s political arm, the National Council of Resistance or Iran (NCRI), meanwhile established itself in Paris under the control of Maryam Rajavi, in part to place it closer to the American and European sources of its political legitimacy and financing. In 2001, to make itself more palatable, the group had renounced violence.

The MEK folks in Albania have become a bit of a problem. Through various additional migrations they have multiplied and now number around 3,000 and have largely adhered to their cultish ways even though one of the original objectives of the move into Europe was to somehow deprogram and “deradicalize” them in an environment far removed from Iran-Iraq. Part of the problem is that the Albanian government likes the U.N. subsidies used to support the MEK associates, but it will not let them work as they have no legal status and they cannot resettle or lead normal lives. So they resort to criminal activity that includes promotion of fraudulent charities, drug trafficking and even a form of slavery in which their own people are sold and traded as laborers. The temporary solution has been to move the MEK out of a rundown university property in the capital Tirana to a more remote site in northern Albania dubbed Ashraf-3, but local people believe that that is just kicking the can down the road and that MEK should be forced to go somewhere else, preferably in the United States, which seems to like them so much.

Also, Albania is majority Muslim and has been subjected to the same Saudi Arabian ultra-conservative wahhabi promotion backed by lots of money that has plagued many states in the Middle East. Albanians accustomed to the mild form of Turkish Islam suddenly found themselves confronting the Sunni-Shia divide and also the MEK as agents of both Saudi Arabia and Israel. Many outraged Albanians see the unreformed MEK in their midst as a terror time bomb waiting to go off, but the government, under pressure from the U.S. Embassy has not sought their removal.

Meanwhile back in the United States everything involving the non-deradicalized MEK is just hunky dory. MEK and the NCRI are enemies of Iran and also seem to have plenty of money to spend, so they buy high ranking American speakers to appear at their events. Rudy Giuliani and John Bolton have appeared regularly, as have Senators John McCain, Lindsey Graham and Jeanne Shaheen. At a 2015 appearance in Paris, Giuliani brought the crowd to its feet by calling for “Regime change!” after shouting out that the “Ayatollah must go!” In August 2017, Senators Roy Blunt, John Cornyn, Thom Tillis and Carl Levin met with Rajavi in Paris. Newt Gingrich also considers himself a friend of the Iranian resistance while Elaine Chao, Secretary of Labor and wife of Senate Majority leader Mitch McConnell spoke in Paris for five minutes in 2015 and was paid $50,000. The payments made to the other politicians have not been revealed.

And then there is the Saudi and Israeli angle. Saudi Arabia is now the major funder of MEK/NCRI. It’s intelligence chief Turki al-Faisal spoke before the group in 2017. Israel funded the group in its early days and its external spy service Mossad continues to use MEK stay-behinds in Iran to assassinate scientists and tamper with computer systems. The CIA, which recently expanded its anti-Iran task force, it also working closely with MEK. And Giuliani, Bolton, Chao are all in the White House inner circle, which, not coincidentally, is baying for Iranian blood.

Lost in all of the above is any conceivable American interest. It is difficult to even make the claim that Iran threatens the United States or any vital interest and the drive to decapitate the Mullahs, both literally and figuratively, really comes from Riyadh and Tel Aviv. And there is potential collateral damage where it really might matter as MEK cultists continue to sit and fester in a holding pattern maintained by Washington in the heart of Europe. What comes next? War of some kind with Iran is appearing to be increasingly likely given recent remarks by Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, threatening to crush the Iranians. Is Washington intending to send the MEK warriors on sabotage missions inside Iran, something like the resistance to the Germans in World War II? Maybe Giuliani and Bolton know the answer to that question.

May 29, 2018 Posted by | Corruption, Wars for Israel | , , , , | Leave a comment