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Israel bill seeks to criminalise documentation of soldiers’ actions

Israeli forces disrupt a Palestinian protest against Israeli occupation of Palestinian lands in Bethlehem, West Bank on March 30, 2017. (Issam Rimawi – Anadolu Agency )
MEMO | May 25, 2018

The Israeli Ministerial Committee for Legislation will discuss, Sunday, a bill that would prohibit the documentation of Israeli soldiers’ human rights violations against Palestinian citizens.

On Thursday, Israel Hayom explained that the chairman of Yisrael Beiteinu bloc in the Knesset, Robert Ilatov, proposed the bill with the support of his party’s leader, Israeli Defence Minister Avigdor Lieberman.

The bill states, “anyone who shoots a video or a photo, or records soldiers while they are doing their job, with the aim of disturbing the morale of soldiers and citizens, will be sentenced to five years imprisonment. In case this is done with the aim of destabilising the state’s security, the perpetrator will be sentenced to ten years imprisonment.”

In addition, the bill prohibits the sharing of photographs or recorded content on social media or in the media.

Israeli MP Ilatov asserted that his proposal comes as part of an attempt to respond to the movement of left-wing activists in exposing Israeli practices against Palestinian citizens in the West Bank and the Gaza Strip.

He justified his proposal by saying,

Israel has long been facing a disturbing phenomenon; that of the documentation of Israeli army soldiers, by video shooting or audio recordings by organisations that are hostile to Israel and supportive of the Palestinians, such as B’Tselem, Machsom Watch, Breaking the Silence, BDS and other organisations

He claimed that “the majority of these organisations receive support from associations and governments with anti-Israel agenda, and that they are using these contents to jeopardise Israel and its security.”

He added, “It is unreasonable for an activist or leftist organisation, supported by a foreign entity, to be granted the freedom to document soldiers while doing their duties. The best conditions must be provided for the soldiers to do their duty without worrying about any activist or organisation publishing their photos to intimidate them.”

Read also:

Student societies ask Britain to end arms sales to Israel

May 25, 2018 Posted by | Civil Liberties, Ethnic Cleansing, Racism, Zionism, Full Spectrum Dominance | , , , | 1 Comment

MESA: Israeli Government Involved in Cyberbullying US College Students

A letter from the Middle East Studies Association to Israeli Security Minister Gilad Erdan charges Israeli government harassment of American students.

By Judith Tucker | May 25, 2018

Dear Minister Erdan:

We write on behalf of the Committee on Academic Freedom of the Middle East Studies Association of North America (MESA) to express our dismay that the Israeli government has been involved in facilitating and directing abusive actions, including cyberbullying, against students at universities in the United States who have been active in campaigns for divestment from companies that profit from Israel’s occupation of the West Bank and the Gaza Strip. This constitutes unwarranted interference by a foreign power in these students’ free speech rights and threatens academic freedom at institutions of higher education in the United States.

MESA was founded in 1966 to promote scholarship and teaching on the Middle East and North Africa. The preeminent organization in the field, MESA publishes the International Journal of Middle East Studies and has nearly 2,500 members worldwide. MESA is committed to ensuring academic freedom of expression, both within the region and in connection with the study of the region in North America and elsewhere.

The most recent incident of which we are aware took place at George Washington University (GWU) in Washington, D.C. during April 2018. On 16 April 2018, a Student Senate vote on a resolution urging the university to divest from a number of companies (including Boeing, Lockheed Martin, Elbit Systems, Caterpillar, CEMEX, General Electric, Northrop Grumman, Raytheon and Motorola Solutions) was cancelled after students witnessed two unidentified individuals placing threatening posters around the university. The vote was rescheduled for 24 April 2018 and on that date the divestment resolution was approved by a vote of 18-6, with 6 abstentions.

Two men wearing bird costumes and masks, apparently evoking the Canary Mission website which features some two thousand derogatory and generally inaccurate and misleading profiles of students and faculty who have advocated for Palestinian rights, along with someone who appeared to be coordinating their activities, stood outside the room in which the Senate Senators were meeting to vote on the resolution. The clear intent was to intimidate the Senators as well as student supporters of the resolution. These individuals were later seen putting up posters around campus that read, “SJP [Students for Justice in Palestine], you saw two of us, we saw all of you.”

After the vote, administrators of the Act.il app, which media reports indicate your ministry was integrally involved in developing and promoting in order to combat the Boycott, Divestment, Sanctions (BDS) movement, began directing its users to “like” and share a Facebook page set up to threaten and bully the GWU Student Senators who voted in support of the resolution. The Facebook page was taken down soon after the Senate vote, but Act.il did not remove its listing of the cyberbullying campaign as a “mission” to be conducted by anti-BDS activists until it expired.

We note in this connection that you personally promoted the launch of Act.il at the February 2017 Celebrate Israel Parade and that your ministry placed paid articles advertising the app in the Jerusalem Post and The Times of Israel (see The Forward ).

Your status as an official of the Israeli government makes your involvement, and that of the ministry you head, in campaigns to try to intimidate American college and university students and to inhibit or suppress their freedom of expression especially egregious. These students have a right to be free of harassment, intimidation and cyberbullying by people who are in effect agents of the Israeli government. We therefore call on you and your ministry to cease promoting or supporting such campaigns of harassment, whether online or in person, and to refrain from interference of any kind when students and faculty in the United States exercise their constitutionally protected right of free speech and their academic freedom rights.

We look forward to your response.

Sincerely,

Judith E. Tucker
MESA President
Professor, Georgetown University

Amy W. Newhall
MESA Executive Director

Judith E. Tucker is the President of the Middle East Studies Association of North America and writes on behalf of the MESA Committee on Academic Freedom. She is Professor of History at Georgetown University, former Director of the Master of Arts in Arab Studies Program, former Editor of the International Journal of Middle East Studies. 

May 25, 2018 Posted by | Ethnic Cleansing, Racism, Zionism, Solidarity and Activism, Full Spectrum Dominance | , , , , , , | 1 Comment

Congressional bill would apply Israel-centric definition of antisemitism to campuses

By Alison Weir | If Americans Knew | May 25, 2018

A group of US lawmakers from both houses of Congress introduced legislation on Wednesday to apply an Israel-centric definition of anti-Semitism to the American educational system. If passed, this would likely be used to to censor information on Israel-Palestine on U.S. campuses.

The basic formulation on which the definition is based was originally created by an Israeli official in 2004. Versions have since been inserted into various entities both internationally and in the U.S., where a definition created in Europe in 2005 was adopted by an Israel partisan in the State Department in 2010. This definition is now called “the State Department definition” of antisemitism. It is this version that the current law would apply to U.S. campuses. (For more information see this.)

The current legislation (H.R.6421 & S.2940) is entitled “A bill to provide for the consideration of a definition of anti-Semitism for the enforcement of Federal antidiscrimination laws concerning education programs or activities.” (Text here) The short title is ‘‘Anti-Semitism Awareness Act of 2018.’’

A similar bill, “Anti-Semitism Act of 2016,” was supported by the American Israel Public Affairs Committee (AIPAC), the Anti-Defamation League (ADL), the Jewish Federations of North America, and the Simon Wiesenthal Center but was not enacted.

Legal experts have warned that such bills would violate the First Amendment. Palestine Legal points out:

The redefinition of antisemitism is so broadly drawn—and its examples so vague—that any speech critical of Israel or supportive of Palestinian rights could conceivably fall within it. For example, a human rights supporter who speaks out for Palestinian rights, citing reports by such bodies as the United Nations or Amnesty International regarding Israeli human rights abuses, could be labeled antisemitic for applying a double standard by requiring of Israel behavior not expected or demanded of others.

If U.S. government entities adopt and apply this overbroad re-definition of antisemitism to censor political viewpoints critical of Israel, they would likely violate the First Amendment.

The American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) stated that the 2016 bill posed “a serious threat to the First Amendment free speech rights of those on campus who may hold certain political views.”

The ACLU stated: “The First Amendment prevents the federal government from using its great weight to impose severe penalties on a person simply for sharing a political viewpoint critical of Israel.”

In some cases legislators may not be fully aware of what the bill contains and how it can be used. A press release from Eastern Washington Congresswoman Cathy McMorris Rodgers fails to inform the public that the definition is a nontraditional one that when applied to campuses will likely restrict certain factual statements about a foreign country.

The Times of Israel reports that other co-sponsors of the bill are Rep. Ted Deutch (D-Florida), Rep Jerrold Nadler, (D-New York), Rep. Peter Roskam, (R-Illinois), Rep. Doug Collins, (R-Georgia), Sen. Tim Scott, (R-South Carolina), and Sen. Bob Casey (D-Pennsylvania). The previous bill had 23 co-sponsors.

Similar legislation is also being introduced in state legislatures around the country, with South Carolina recently passing it. While most South Carolina state legislators considered the bill an insignificant gesture, their action made headlines in Israel, where it was seen as a major breakthrough for the country.


Alison Weir is executive director of If Americans Knew, president of the Council for the National Interest, and author of “Against Our Better Judgment: The Hidden History of How the U.S. Was Used to Create Israel.” 


Click image to see video. Hannah Rosenthal adopted the new definition while she served as Antisemitism Envoy in the State Department.

May 25, 2018 Posted by | Civil Liberties, Ethnic Cleansing, Racism, Zionism, Full Spectrum Dominance, Video | , , , , | 1 Comment

“Skirmishes” – Israel’s Syria Blitz

Media Lens | May 23, 2018

A key ‘mainstream’ media theme in covering the Israeli army’s repeated massacres of unarmed, non-violent Palestinian civilians protesting Israel’s military occupation in Gaza – killing journalists, a paramedic, the elderly and children – has been the description of these crimes as ‘clashes’.

This has been a clear attempt to obfuscate the fact that while two groups of people are involved, only one group is being killed and wounded.

To the casual reader – and many readers do not venture beyond the headlines – a ‘clash’ suggests that both sides are armed, with both suffering casualties. One would not, for example, describe a firing squad as a ‘clash’. There was no ‘clash’ in New York on September 11, 2001, and so on.

Following Israel’s massive blitz on more than 100 targets in Syria on May 10, ‘mainstream’ coverage offered similarly questionable frameworks of understanding.

A Guardian headline read:

Israel retaliates after Iran “fires 20 rockets” at army in occupied Golan Heights (Our emphasis)

For moral, legal and public relations reasons, the issue of which side started a conflict is obviously crucial. If the public recognises that the case for war is unjustified, immoral or illegal – that a country has chosen to launch a war of aggression – they will likely oppose it, sometimes in the millions, as happened in 2002 and 2003 in relation to the Iraq war. It is thus highly significant that the Guardian described Israel as retaliating.

The BBC reported of Israel’s attacks:

They came after 20 rockets were fired at Israeli military positions in the occupied Golan Heights. (Our emphasis)

Reuters took the same line as the Guardian and BBC:

Iran targets Israeli bases across Syrian frontier, Israel pounds Syria

Iranian forces in Syria launched a rocket attack on Israeli forces in the Golan Heights early on Thursday, Israel said, prompting one of the heaviest Israeli barrages in Syria since the conflict there began in 2011. (Our emphasis)

The New York Times also reported:

It was a furious response to what Israel called an Iranian rocket attack launched from Syrian territory just hours earlier. (Our emphasis)

And yet, the report buried a challenge to its own claim that Israel had retaliated in the second half of the piece:

Iran’s rocket attack against Israel came after what appeared to have been an Israeli missile strike against a village in the Syrian Golan Heights late on Wednesday. (Our emphasis)

According to the BBC (see below), the Israeli missile strike had targeted an Iranian drone facility killing several Iranians.

So, actually, it might be said that Iran was retaliating to Israeli attacks – a more reasonable interpretation, given recent history also described by the New York Times:

Israel has conducted scores of strikes on Iran and its allies inside Syria, rarely acknowledging them publicly.

Nevertheless, the corporate media theme has been that Israel retaliated, part of a long-term trend in media coverage. In a 2002 report, Bad News From Israel, The Glasgow University Media Group commented:

On the news, Israeli actions tended to be explained and contextualised – they were often shown as merely “responding” to what had been done to them by Palestinians (in the 2001 samples they were six times as likely to be presented as “retaliating” or in some way responding than were the Palestinians).

Was Iran Skirmishing?

But was Iran even involved at all? The opening, highlighted sentence in a front-page BBC piece by diplomatic editor Jonathan Marcus left the reader in no doubt:

These are the first skirmishes in a potential war between Israel and Iran that promises a fearful level of destruction – even by the standards of the modern Middle East.

So this was a ‘skirmish’, a clash involving Israel and Iran – they were both involved in the combat. And yet, in the second half of the article, Marcus wrote:

The alleged Iranian attack last night – I say alleged because at this stage there is no confirmation from Iranian sources as to the precise authors of the attack – involved a single and relatively short-range system, what appears to have been a multiple-barrelled rocket launcher.

How can the Iranian attack be merely ‘alleged’ half-way down the article but a bald fact in the highlighted opening sentence?

In fact, not only has there been ‘no confirmation’, there has been outright Iranian rejection of the claims. Abolfazl Hassan-Baygi, deputy head of the Iranian parliament’s national security committee, commented:

Iran has nothing to do with the missiles that struck the enemy entity yesterday.

Associated Press (AP ) reported Iranian Foreign Ministry spokesman Bahram Ghasemi commenting that Israel’s attacks were based on ‘fabricated and baseless excuses’, and were a breach of the national sovereignty and territorial integrity of Syria.

AP quoted a senior Lebanese politician and close ally of Syria and Iran, Parliament Speaker Nabih Berri, as saying: ‘this time the Syrian retaliation was in the Israeli-occupied Golan Heights but next time it will be in Israel proper. (Our emphasis)

Later in his BBC piece, Marcus wrote:

The immediate tensions stem from an Israeli air strike on what they claimed was an Iranian drone facility at the so-called T-4 air base, near Palmyra, on 9 April, which reportedly killed several Iranian military advisers.

This again challenged the idea that Israel had ‘retaliated’, but again it was not given the kind of prominence that could challenge Israel’s version of events.

So the ‘skirmishes’ may actually have consisted of Israel first attacking an Iranian drone facility killing Iranian personnel, and then launching a massive attack against Iranian positions across Syria, without Iran responding at all. And yet Marcus wrote:

It is a conflict that needs to be averted and the time to do it is now. However Israel and Iran remain on a collision course.

Despite the uncertainty on whether Iran had attacked, Marcus concluded:

Iran’s strategic intent is clear… it is unlikely to be dissuaded from its efforts.

He added:

Israel has drawn its red lines and it is clearly not going to back down either.

Obama also famously drew his ‘red line’ in Syria in 2012, threatening a massive attack in the event of Syrian government use of chemical weapons. But for Marcus, Israel’s actual launch of a massive attack merely constituted the drawing of ‘red lines’.

And again, ignoring his own doubts about what had happened, the required warmongering ‘balance’ was favoured:

For the immediate future, the pattern of strike, attempted riposte, and counter-strike is likely to continue.

If it had started at all! Marcus concluded his article with three ominous lines identifying another threat alongside the danger of Israel drawing more ‘red lines’ with more massive attacks:

One clear danger is that Iran may seek to exact its revenge outside the Middle East.

Pro-Iranian factions have in the past attacked Israeli tourists abroad or Jewish organisations, notably in Latin America.

A successful terrorist attack of this kind would inevitably alter the picture, pushing Israel and Iran to the brink of a full-scale war.

The word ‘terrorist’ thus made its first appearance in the last line of Marcus’s piece, in reference to a hypothetical Iranian atrocity.

The idea that Israel might already have committed terrorist atrocities in Syria by launching unprovoked attacks, by illegal bombings committed completely outside of international law, is unthinkable.

May 24, 2018 Posted by | Ethnic Cleansing, Racism, Zionism, Fake News, Mainstream Media, Warmongering, War Crimes | , , , , , | 1 Comment

Blaming the Victims of Israel’s Gaza Massacre

By Gregory Shupak | FAIR | May 17, 2018

Israel massacred 60 Palestinians on Monday, including seven children, bringing to 101 the total number of Palestinians Israel has killed since Palestinians began the Great March on March 30. In that period, Israel has killed 11 Palestinian children, two journalists, one person on crutches and three persons with disabilities.

Monday’s casualties included 1,861 wounded, bringing total injuries inflicted by Israel to 6,938 people, including 3,615 with live fire. Israel is using bullets designed to expand inside the body, causing maximum, often permanent damage: “The injuries sustained by patients will leave most with serious, long-term physical disabilities,” says Médecins Sans Frontières (Ha’aretz, 4/22/18).

On the 70th anniversary of Israel’s so-called “declaration of independence,” the United States opened its new embassy in Jerusalem—a city Israel claims as its own, despite what international law says on the matter—and Palestinians undertook unarmed protests in reaction to the move and as part of the Great Return March. Although to this point, the only Israeli casualty during the entire cycle of demonstrations has been one “lightly wounded” soldier, considerable space in coverage of the massacres is devoted to blaming Palestinians for their own slaughter.

NBC: Scores Dead in Gaza Fence Protest as US Moves Embassy to Jerusalem

NBC (5/14/18) mentions “what Palestinians refer to as their ‘right of return’”; actually, it’s what international law calls it, based on the Universal Declaration of Human Rights

Two of the first three paragraphs in an NBC report (5/14/18) provided Israel’s rationalizations for its killing spree. The second sentence in the article says that the Israeli military

accused Hamas of “leading a terrorist operation under the cover of masses of people,” adding that “firebombs and explosive devices” as well as rocks were being thrown towards the barrier.

A Washington Post article (5/14/18) devoted two of its first four sentences to telling readers that Palestinians are responsible for being murdered by Israel. Palestinian “organizers urged demonstrators to burst through the fence, telling them Israeli soldiers were fleeing their positions, even as they were reinforcing them,” read one sentence. “At the barrier, young men threw stones and tried to launch kites carrying flames in hopes of burning crops on the other side,” stated the next one, as though stones and burning kites released by a besieged people is violence remotely equivalent to subjecting people to a military siege and mowing them down.

The New York Times (5/14/18) said that “a mass attempt by Palestinians to cross the border fence separating Israel from Gaza turned violent, as Israeli soldiers responded with rifle fire,” painting Israel’s rampage as a reaction to a Palestinian provocation. Like FAIR (2/21/18) has previously said of the word “retaliation,” “response” functions as a justification of Israeli butchery: To characterize Israeli violence as a “response” is to wrongly imply that Palestinian actions warranted Israel unleashing its firing squads.

A Yahoo headline (5/14/18) described “Violent Protests in Gaza Ahead of US Embassy Inauguration in Jerusalem,” a flatly incorrect description in that it attributes the violence to Palestinian demonstrators rather than to Israel. The BBC (5/15/18) did the same with a segment called “Gaza Braced for Further Violent Protests.”

Bloomberg: Hamas Vows to Keep Targeting Fence After Gaza Bloodshed

In Bloomberg‘s account (5/14/18), the fence seemed to be the real victim.

One Bloomberg article (5/14/18) by Saud Abu Ramadan and Amy Teibel had the same problem, referring to “a protest marred by violence,” while another one (5/14/18) attributed only to Ramadan is headlined “Hamas Targets Fence as Gaza Bloodshed Clouds Embassy Move,” as though the fence were Monday’s most tragic casualty. Ascribing this phantom violence to Palestinians provides Israel an alibi: Many readers will likely conclude that Israel’s lethal violence is reasonable if it is cast as a way of coping with “violent protests.”

The second paragraph of the Bloomberg article solely written by Ramadan says that

Gaza protesters, egged on by loudspeakers and transported in buses, streamed to the border, where some threw rocks, burned tires, and flew kites and balloons outfitted with firebombs into Israeli territory.

This author—like the rest in the “Palestinians were asking for it” chorus—failed to note that Israel’s fence runs deep into Palestinian territory and creates a 300-meter “buffer zone” between Palestinians and Israeli forces, which makes it highly unlikely that the kites and balloons of the colonized will have an effect on their drone-operating, rifle-wielding colonizers, let alone on people further afield in Israeli-held territory.

The New York Times editorial board (5/14/18) wrote as though Palestinians are barbarians against whom Israel has no choice but to unleash terror:

Led too long by men who were corrupt or violent or both, the Palestinians have failed and failed again to make their own best efforts toward peace. Even now, Gazans are undermining their own cause by resorting to violence, rather than keeping their protests strictly peaceful.

The board claimed that “Israel has every right to defend its borders, including the boundary with Gaza,” incorrectly suggesting that Palestinians were aggressors rather than on the receiving end of 100 years of settler-colonialism.

Moreover, like the Times and Bloomberg articles discussed above, the editorial attempts to legitimize Israel’s deadly violence by saying that it is defending a border that Palestinians are attempting to breach, but there is no border between Gaza and Israel. There is, as Maureen Murphy of Electronic Intifada (4/6/18) pointed out, “an armistice line between an occupying power and the population living under its military rule” that Palestinians are trying to cross in order to exercise their right to return to their land.

WaPo: Hamas Has Launched Another War. Israel Needs a Better Response

The Washington Post (5/15/18) condemned the “cruel, cynical tactic” of trying to exercise the internationally guaranteed right of return.

A Washington Post editorial (5/15/18) called the Palestinians hunted by Israel “nominal civilians.” Apart from being a logical impossibility (one either is or isn’t a civilian), the phrase illuminates how too much of media think about Palestinians:  They are inherently threatening, intrinsically killable, always suspect, never innocent, permanently guilty of existing.

A Business Insider piece (5/14/18) by columnist Daniella Greenbaum described “Palestinian protesters who ramped up their activities along the Gaza strip and, as a result, were targeted by the Israeli army with increasing intensity.” Greenbaum’s use of the phrase “as a result” implies that it was inevitable and perhaps just that Palestinians’ “ramped up activities” led to Israel mowing down a population it occupies, 70 percent of whom are refugees Israel refuses to allow to return to their homes.

Greenbaum then climbs into the intellectual and moral gutter, claiming that

absent from the commentary that children have unfortunately been among the injured and dead are questions about how they ended up at the border. On that question, it is important to recognize and acknowledge the extent to which Palestinians have glorified violence and martyrdom — and the extent to which the terrorist organization Hamas has organized the “protests.”

In her view, dozens of Palestinians died because they are primitive savages who take pleasure in sacrificing their own children, not because Israel maintains the right to gun down refugees in the name of maintaining an ethnostate.

In a rare instance of a resident of Gaza allowed to participate directly in the media conversation, Fadi Abu Shammalah wrote an op-ed for the New York Times (4/27/18) that offered an explanation of why Palestinians are putting their lives on the line to march. Life for the people of Gaza, including for his three young sons, has been “one tragedy after another: waves of mass displacement, life in squalid refugee camps, a captured economy, restricted access to fishing waters, a strangling siege and three wars in the past nine years. ” Recalling the concern for his safety expressed by his seven-year-old child, Shammalah concludes:

If Ali asks me why I’m returning to the Great Return March despite the danger, I will tell him this: I love my life. But more than that, I love you, Karam and Adam. If risking my life means you and your brothers will have a chance to thrive, to have a future with dignity, to live in peace with all your neighbors, in your free country, then this is a risk I must take.

Palestinians have a right to liberate themselves that extends to the right to the use of armed struggle, yet as Shammalah wrote, the Great Return March signifies a “nearly unanimous acceptance of peaceful methods to call for our rights and insist on our humanity.” Nevertheless, based on media coverage, readers could be forgiven for concluding that it was Palestinians, not Israel, who carried out what Doctors Without Borders called “unacceptable and inhuman” violence.

May 23, 2018 Posted by | Ethnic Cleansing, Racism, Zionism, Fake News, Mainstream Media, Warmongering, War Crimes | , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

Israel’s Premature Celebration: Gazans Have Crossed the Fear Barrier

By Ramzy Baroud | Palestine Chronicle | May 23, 2018

60 Palestinians were killed in Gaza on May 15, simply for protesting and demanding their Right of Return as guaranteed by international law.

50 more were killed since March 30, the start of the ‘Great March of Return’, which marks Land Day.

Nearly 10,000 have been wounded and maimed in between these two dates.

‘Israel has the right to defend itself’, White House officials announced, paying no heed to the ludicrousness of the statement when understood within the current context of an unequal struggle.

Peaceful protesters were not threatening the existence of Israel; rock-throwing kids were not about to overwhelm hundreds of Israeli snipers, who shot, killed and wounded Gaza youngsters with no legal or moral boundary whatsoever.

8-months old, Laila al-Ghandour was one of the 60 who were killed on May 15. She suffocated to death from Israeli tear gas. Many, like her, were wounded or killed some distance away from the border. Some were killed for simply being nearby, or for being Palestinian.

Meanwhile, Ivanka Trump, daughter of US President, Donald Trump, ushered in a new era of international relations, when she and her companions unveiled the new US Embassy in Jerusalem.

She was ‘all smiles’ while, at the exact same moment, hundreds of Gazans were being felled at the border. The already dilapidated hospitals have no room for most of the wounded. They bled in hallways awaiting medical attention.

Ivanka has never been to Gaza – and will unlikely ever visit or be welcomed there. Gazans do not register in her moral conscience, if she has any beyond her immediate interests, as people deserving of rights, freedom, and dignity.

At the border, many Gaza kids have been coloring their bodies in blue paint, dressing up in homemade costumes to imitate characters from the Hollywood movie, ‘Avatar’. They hoped that, by hiding their brown skin, their plight and suffering could be more relatable to the world.

But when they were shot, their blood gave them away. They were still human, still from Gaza.

The international community has already condemned Trump’s decision to relocate his country’s embassy to Jerusalem, and declared his recognition of Jerusalem as Israel’s capital ‘null and void’, but will it go further than mere words?

Will the international community remain trapped between hollow statements and no action? Will they ever truly recognize the humanity of Laila al-Ghandour and all the other children, men, and women who died and continue to perish under Gaza’s besieged skies? Will they ever care enough to do something?

The plight of the Palestinians is compounded with the burden of having a useless ‘leadership’.  The President of the Palestinian Authority, Mahmoud Abbas, has been busy of late, demanding allegiance from the occupied Palestinians in the West Bank. Large signs and larger banners have been erected everywhere, where families, professional associations, unions, and companies have announced, in large font: the “Renewal of Loyalty and Support to President Mahmoud Abbas.”

‘Renewal’? Abbas’ mandate expired in 2009. Besides, is this what Abbas and his Fatah party perceive to be the most urgent matter that needs to be addressed, while his people are being massacred?

Abbas fears that Hamas is using the blood of the Gaza victims to bolster its popularity. Ironically, it is a shared concern with Israeli leaders, the likes of Israeli army spokesman, Lt. Col. Jonathan Conricus. The latter said that Hamas has won the PR war at the Gaza border by a ‘knockout.’

This propaganda is as false as it is utterly racist; yet, it has persisted for far too long. It proposes that Palestinians and Arabs lack human agency. They are incapable of mobilizing and organizing their collective efforts to demand their long-denied rights. They are only pawns, puppets in the hands of factions, to be sacrificed at the altar of public relations.

It did not dawn on Conricus to note that, perhaps, his army lost the ‘PR war’ because its brutes shot thousands of unarmed civilians who did nothing, aside from gathering at the border demanding an end to their perpetual siege; or that, just maybe, the PR war was lost because Israel’s top leaders announced proudly that Gazans are fair game, since, according to Defense Minister, Avigdor Lieberman, “there are no innocents in Gaza.’

Ivanka will go down in Israel’s history as a hero. But Palestinian Resistance is not fueled or subdued by Ivanka, but by the sacrifices of the Palestinians themselves, and by the blood of Laila al-Ghandour, who was denied even a celebration of her first birthday on God’s besieged earth.

The US government has decisively and blatantly moved to the wrong side of history. As their officials attended parties, galas and celebrations of the Embassy move, whether in Israel or in Washington and elsewhere, Palestinians dug 60 more graves and held 60 more funerals.

The world watched in horror, and even western media failed to hide the full ugly truth from its readers. The two acts – of lavish parties and heartbreaking burials – were beamed all over the world, and the already struggling American reputation sank deeper and deeper.

Israeli Prime Minister, Benjamin Netanyahu, may have thought he had won. Comforted by his right wing government and society on the one hand, Trump and his angry UN bully, Nikki Haley, on the other, he feels invulnerable.

But he should rethink his power-driven logic. When Gazan youth stood bare-chested at the border fence, falling one drove after the other, they crossed a fear barrier that no generation of Palestinians has ever crossed. And when people are unafraid, they can never be subdued or defeated.

– Ramzy Baroud is a journalist, author and editor of Palestine Chronicle. His forthcoming book is ‘The Last Earth: A Palestinian Story’ (Pluto Press, London).

May 23, 2018 Posted by | Ethnic Cleansing, Racism, Zionism, Solidarity and Activism, Timeless or most popular | , , , , | 2 Comments

Anti-semitism: Israel’s get-out-of-jail-free card

By Jonathan Cook | Dissident Voice | May 22, 2018

The silencing of critics of Israel using anti-semitism as the pretext is far from restricted to the current wave of attacks on Jeremy Corbyn and his Labour party. It is now used to intimidate anyone who steps out of line on Israel. Once we raged against the conflation of anti-semitism and anti-Zionism. We have so lost that battle that it is now standard operating procedure for Israel’s apologists to conflate anti-semitism with simple criticisms of the current ultra-nationalist Israeli government.

Here is an illustration of our defeat, reported in the Israeli daily Haaretz. It concerns what would in other circumstances be a fairly standard satirical cartoon: this one published by the German newspaper Süddeutsche Zeitung about Israel winning the Eurovision song contest last week. Israeli prime minister Benjamin Netanyahu is shown on stage dressed as Israel’s winning singer, Netta, and proclaiming “Next year in Jerusalem!”.


After the usual outcry, the cartoonist, Dieter Hanitzsch, was sacked. No Charlie Hebdo-style concerns about free speech on this occasion, it seems.

As has become familiar in these cases, Wolfgang Krach, editor-in-chief of the Süddeutsche Zeitung, seemed unsure himself whether the cartoon was actually anti-semitic. But presumably he thought it better to fire the cartoonist just to be on the safe side. Let’s hope Hanitzsch can take Krach and his newspaper to the cleaners at a labour tribunal.

One critic, Jonas Mueller-Töwe, who sounds like Germany’s version of Jonathan Freedland, has claimed that “a Jewish star” – that would be Israel’s emblem of the Star of David – on a rocket held by Netanyahu suggests that “behind every war, Jewish interests are hiding”. Instead we could simply trust our eyes, which provide a different meaning: that Israel, a highly militarised state, won the Eurovision song contest at the same time as it was devastating Gaza – again – and will now be able to use its hosting of a popular cultural event in Jerusalem next year to whitewash its war crimes.

Before we get too exercised about the significance of every detail, we should remember that political cartoons, by their very nature, need to use symbols as shorthand for more complex ideas. We demand the impossible from a cartoonist if we expect them to offer us political satire while denying them the possibility of using symbols.

So what is anti-semitic about the cartoon? It’s not about Jews, it’s about the Israeli prime minister and his war agenda. And Netanyahu’s purportedly “oversized nose, ears and lips” are surely well within the normal bounds of a caricature. Do we really want to impose a unique demand on cartoonists when dealing with Israel’s leaders of drawing anatomically precise images?

The problem here, as with the anti-semitism “crisis” debate about the Labour party, is that it is totally divorced from any sense of proportion or reality. The question we ought to be asking in a case like this is: what kind of satirical cartoon lambasting Israel could ever satisfy the criteria being demanded by the current anti-semitism watchdogs?

And in consequence, what cartoonist is going to dare to deploy their satirical skills against Israel when the response is invariably going to lead to their being accused of anti-semitism and possibly losing their career and their reputation?

That is precisely what weaponising anti-semitism means. It hands Israel a get-out-of-jail-free card. It intimidates opinion formers – journalists, cartoonists, comedians, politicians, civil society leaders, human rights activists – by making the issue of Israel so toxic that none dare touch it. One need only look to the BBC to see the result: a mix of anaemic fence-sitting and outright censorship when covering Israel.

As Archbishop Desmond Tutu famously reminded us: “If you are neutral in situations of injustice, you have chosen the side of the oppressor.” A submission to those who abuse anti-semitism to make Israel unassailable entails terrifying consequences for the Palestinians. It requires that, after decades of betraying them, we in the west once again turn a blind to their suffering. And, as was highlighted last week in Israel’s slaughter of Gaza’s unarmed protesters, it clears the path to a future in which Israel can and will commit ever graver outrages against the Palestinians.

May 22, 2018 Posted by | Ethnic Cleansing, Racism, Zionism, Full Spectrum Dominance, War Crimes | , , | 3 Comments

Israeli Parliament Reportedly Considers Promoting Kurdish State

Sputnik – May 22, 2018

Israeli MPs have reportedly discussed a bill that outlines the means by which Israel may help Kurds build their state in Syria, Iraq and Turkey, which would support Tel Aviv. According to one of Israel’s radio stations, the bill had been submitted to the Knesset by two Israeli right-wing parties, namely Likud and Yisrael Beiteinu. The radio quoted Yoav Kish as saying that given the Kurdish minority living in the aforementioned countries, which are generally hostile to Israel, the proposed move would play into the hands of the Israeli state.

“There is a reason that Israel was the first to publicly congratulate moves toward Kurdish independence in northern Iraq,” Kish added.

Back in 2017, Israel became the only country to support the Kurdish plebiscite which endorsed the Kurds’ secession from Iraq – a development that was vigorously criticized around the world.

Back then, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu claimed that Tel Aviv backed what he called “legitimate efforts of the Kurdish people to attain a state of its own.” Alongside political backing, Israel was reportedly a major buyer of Kurdistan’s oil and the top investor in the region in 2017.

The Iraqi Kurdistan independence referendum that took place on September 25 triggered changes in the region. More than 90 percent of the voters who took part in the plebiscite backed the independence from Baghdad. Iraqi authorities declared the referendum illegal, while Turkey and Iran vehemently criticized the plebiscite and threatened to impose tough sanctions on Iraqi Kurdistan’s capital Erbil.

Read more:

Tensions Rising Between Syrian Army, Kurds Amid Creation of US Bases – Reports

May 22, 2018 Posted by | Ethnic Cleansing, Racism, Zionism | , , , , , , | 1 Comment

Journey of an Israeli in Iran

By Miko Peled | American Herald Tribune | May 22, 2018

Trump’s declaration regarding the US backing out of the Iran agreement came just days before my trip to Iran was confirmed and my visa was approved. I was asked by several people if I was still going, thinking that Trump’s declaration that sanctions were going to be reinstated was a de facto declaration of war on Iran. I wasn’t going to let Donald Trump dictate where I was or was not going and certainly I was not going to cancel a trip into which so much effort had been placed by my hosts. My only concern was that I might get stopped and questioned by the authorities upon my return to the US.

I was interested to see Iran and to hear what people in Iran thought of Trump’s declaration and also how they felt regarding Israel’s constant accusations and threats of attack. I had a clue of what Iranian attitudes might be thanks to a piece written by Orly Noy in the progressive Hebrew online magazine Mekomit. Orly Noy is an Israeli journalist who was born and raised in Iran and is fluent in Farsi. In this piece, she quoted responses from people in Iran as they were expressed on social media. One response came after Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu made the display of documents he alleged were smuggled out of Iran by Mossad agents. There were hundreds of thousands of documents weighing a total of half a ton in which, so Netanyahu claims, it was made clear that Iran was lying and was not abiding by the agreement. In response to this one Iranian wrote, “Netanyahu finally discovered our secret intent: to attack Israel with fifty thousand paper airplanes.” Other responses were equally dismissive.

My first impression of Iran and its people was the calm and cleanliness one feels even in a large city like Mashhad, which has a population of five million and was my first point of entry. And, unlike the Middle-East and Europe, in Iran, it is rare to see people smoke. Mashhad, is considered a holy city and it is the home of the Imam Reza shrine, which I was told can accommodate all five million people within its compound during prayer. I visited the shrine along with a few friends between midnight and 2 AM and still there were many people there worshipping, some sitting in silent contemplation and there were even families enjoying a late-night picnic. Returning to the hotel I could not help mentioning to my friends that there are not many cities of that size in the world where one feels completely comfortable and safe to walk at 2 o’clock in the morning.

The most common response I received when asking people about their thoughts and concerns on the issue of the sanctions and Israeli threats was a smile, “We have been living under sanctions for many years and the lifting of the sanctions in 2013 brought very little change. So now we are going to live with sanctions again.” As for the Israeli threats, “we are not afraid, we are strong and will defend our land as we have always done.” It is worth noting that Iran has not attacked a single country in recent history though it has been the target of attacks and political assassinations by foreign powers. At the same time, Iran has been a staunch supporter of both the Palestinian resistance and the Lebanese resistance against Israeli oppression violence.

Still, with large corporations like the French oil and gas giant Total and Danish shipping giant Maersk announcing they will back out of deals they had made with Iran there is definitely cause for concern. It is still unclear what French automakers like Peugeot will do since they’re part of large conglomerates and use parts made in the US. Furthermore, even though European countries declared that they remain committed to the Iran deal, it is unclear whether or not they will bow to American pressure because of fear of American retaliation. Another concern for the European corporations is the fact that so much of international banking is controlled by the US and transfer of funds will be all but impossible if they continue to do business with Iran. So will the Europeans show back bone and stand with Iran or will they cower, that remains to be seen.

Two particularly interesting experiences I had took place while visited Yazd in central Iran. The first was speaking in front of cadets of the notable Revolutionary Guards. Some two hundred young cadets along with their officers sat on the floor of the mosque on base and listened intently. Their young, bright faces so attentive one could hear a pin drop. I told them that even though I was introduced as an American, I was not actually American – though I reside in the US I was Israeli and the son of an Israeli army general. I told them of my niece who was killed when three young Palestinians blew themselves up during a suicide mission. I also told them that I reject Israel as a political entity and look forward to the day when Palestine is free and democratic. I ended my talk by saying that “When Palestine is freed from the racist, apartheid regime under which it is currently suffering, you must come to Al-Quds to pray in Al-Aqsa mosque and then visit me in Jerusalem.” There was no fear or sense of insecurity in their faces but rather a confident calmness. Their attention, their questions later and their warm applause were reassuring. I also told them what I believe to be true, and that is that neither Israel nor the United States will dare to actually attack Iran.

The other remarkable experience I had took place later the same day at a local high school. What does one say to a room full of young Iranian high school boys? What do they know of Palestine? I looked at the three hundred or so boys who sat on the floor waiting to hear me speak and decided to ask them what they knew about Falasteen. After a short pause, one young boy raised his hand. “Falasteen,” he began, “was a place of peace and tranquility. It was a land where Muslims, Jews and Christians all lived and worshiped in peace, until it was invaded and occupied.” I could not have wished for a better answer. I am one of the occupiers, I admitted. My family had participated in the invasion, occupation and oppression that we see today in Palestine.

“Our Supreme Leader” one student asked, “says that in twenty-five years there will be no Israel.” What did I say to that? Well, we know that by “no Israel” he means that Palestine will be free and the Zionist regime will be gone. That he wishes for a day when Muslims, Jews and Christians will be once again able to live and worship in peace. I would ask, I told them, that they do me a favor and help me and millions of Palestinians and millions of supporters of Palestine, and prove the Supreme Leader wrong by making this happen sooner than twenty-five years.

Throughout the visit, both during lectures and other occasions I had received a few questions and comments that were critical of the Iranian official line towards Israel. I was asked if I felt that Iran’s policy towards Israel was harming Iran and if I thought it was the right policy. “Is it true,” I was asked, “that the Jews bought land in Palestine and that it was taken from them by the Palestinians.”

I returned to the US with some trepidation. I landed at Dulles International Airport and was quite ready to call an attorney in case I was stopped. However, all was well, and I exited the airport as though I had landed from any other destination. Looking from the outside, particularly from Iran, one has the advantage of distance and some perspective, and still with his declaration on Jerusalem and his decision on Iran Donald Trump seems like a petulant adolescent with far too much power.

May 22, 2018 Posted by | Economics, Ethnic Cleansing, Racism, Zionism | , , , | 2 Comments

Head of Portugal’s national theatre endorses BDS, cancels Israel cultural event

Portuguese director and playwright Tiago Rodrigues [PACBI/Twitter]
MEMO | May 21, 2018

A Portuguese director and playwright who was scheduled to take part in next month’s Israel Festival, has announced that he is officially joining the Boycott, Sanctions and Divestment movement (BDS).

According to the Israeli Haaretz, Tiago Rodrigues was supposed to perform in Israel twice in the beginning of June but decided to reverse his decision after learning that the festival was part of Israel’s 70th Independence Day celebrations.

In a Facebook post explaining his decision, the artist said he had initially agreed to take part because he believed that the festival was being organised by “non-profit organisation that presents itself as an artistic project”. Once he realised that the event was tied to the government and to the celebration of Israel’s founding he declined the offer saying he does “not accept the use of [my] artistic work for political purposes without my agreement.”

Rodrigues added that he decided not to perform in the Israel Festival because he believed “that it is the only guarantee that my artistic work will not be used to condone and promote a government that deliberately violates human rights and is currently violently attacking the Palestinian people.”

Rodrigues admitted that given the fact the he also serves as the director of Portugal’s national theatre his “decision might originate diplomatic discomfort.” But he insisted he needed to “remain true, above all, to [my] conscience”.

He concluded by saying that having seen the terrible violence perpetrated by the Israeli government he had “decided to join the cultural boycott of Israel, convinced that global and collective pressure might produce similar results to the boycott of South Africa during apartheid”.

May 21, 2018 Posted by | Ethnic Cleansing, Racism, Zionism, Solidarity and Activism, War Crimes | , , | 1 Comment

Hamas: Israel’s rejection of UN probe “evidence against it”

Palestine Information Center – May 21, 2018

GAZA – The Hamas Movement on Sunday said that Israel’s rejection of an investigation ordered by the UN Human Rights Council into the recent mass murders of unarmed protesters in the Gaza Strip was evidence that its forces committed war crimes against innocent civilians.

“The Israeli occupation’s rejection of the UN inquiry commission emphasizes its brutality, and insistence on terrorizing and killing our people, disrespecting UN and international institutions and flouting their resolutions,” Hamas spokesman Abdul-Latif al-Qanoua said in a brief press release.

Israel’s foreign ministry railed against the UN Human Rights Council last Friday after it voted to set up a probe into recent killings in Gaza and accused Israel of excessive use of force.

The ministry said it would not allow or cooperate with such inquiry, calling the UN body as “made up of a built-in anti-Israel majority, and guided by hypocrisy and absurdity.”

May 21, 2018 Posted by | Ethnic Cleansing, Racism, Zionism, War Crimes | , , , , , | Leave a comment

Ireland’s book of condolence for Palestinians killed in Gaza blocked by pro-Israel groups

MEMO | May 21, 2018

A request by the Irish Republican Party, Sinn Fein, to open a book of condolence in Belfast city council for Palestinians killed in Gaza last week was blocked by Unionists allied with the Northern Ireland Friends of Israel group.

Denouncing the book of condolence as “deeply shameful”, the Israeli lobby group accused Sinn Fein of supporting terrorists for wanting to mark the killing of Palestinians by Israeli occupation forces in Gaza.

The two main Unionist parties, who have strong ties with the pro-Israel lobby group, blocked the request, which forced Sinn Fein to open an internal book of condolence. According to the rules, a book of condolence can only be opened with the agreement of all parties at City Hall.

The Belfast Telegraph reported that the Social Democratic and Labour Party (SDLP) council group leader Tim Attwood said he was “disappointed” that Unionists blocked the book of condolence “to mark the killings and injuries inflicted on the people of Gaza”.

“People of Belfast are horrified and wish to express their sympathy at the tragic loss of life,” he added.

Meanwhile,  Sinn Fein group leader on the Belfast City Council, Deirdre Hargey, was reported as saying that her party would be opening its own book of condolence in the party’s room at City Hall, open to all members of the public.

The request for the book of condolence came after a number of Palestinian solidarity protests were held across Northern Ireland last week. Sinn Fein reacted to the killing and the pro-Palestinian demonstration by also demanding the expulsion of the Israeli ambassador.

This is the second time in two months that the plight of Palestinians became a cause of tension in Belfast. In March the Northern Ireland Friends of Israel group invited the Israeli ambassador to the UK, Mark Regev, to speak at an event in the local public library. Activists denounced the decision saying that Regev “has a long history of excusing, apologising and justifying [Israel’s] murder, torture and genocide as well as land theft from the indigenous population of Palestine.”

Members of the community in Belfast who supported the decision to open a book of condolence were disappointed by the Unionist parties. They told MEMO that many Unionist politicians and councillors were members of the Friends of Israel and revealed that Unionist parties have all hosted friends of Israel events.

May 21, 2018 Posted by | Ethnic Cleansing, Racism, Zionism, Solidarity and Activism, War Crimes | , , , , , , , | 1 Comment