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Israeli Supreme Court green lights Israel’s ‘Cyber Unit’ that works with social media giants to censor user content

Adalah Press Release | April 12, 2021

Court authorizes Cyber Unit to continue operating in the shadows, conducting quasi-judicial censorship without allowing social media users to defend their rights or even to know that the state has been involved in removing their online content.

The Israeli Supreme Court on Monday, 12 April 2021, rejected a petition filed by Adalah – The Legal Center for Arab Minority Rights in Israel and the Association for Civil Rights in Israel (ACRI) giving a green light to the continued operations of the Israeli state attorney’s office Cyber Unit and its “alternative enforcement” model of censoring social media content.

Israel’s Cyber Unit uses an “alternative enforcement” mechanism to essentially censor social media platforms and muzzle users: it flags and submits social media posts – without legal proceedings and often without even the knowledge of the individual user – to social media giants and requests their removal.

This Israeli state practice is aimed at clamping down on social media dissent, and frequently even results in the suspension or removal of users. This censorship is conducted in collaboration and coordination with social media outlets, including U.S.-based giants Facebook and Twitter.

Similar units operating in countries around the world are known as Internet Referral Units (IRUs).

Adalah attorneys Fady Khoury and Rabea Eghbariah had filed the petition against the Cyber Unit to the Israeli Supreme Court on 26 November 2019. They stressed that the Cyber Unit’s “alternative enforcement” mechanism violates the constitutional rights of freedom of expression and due process, and that the unit is operating without any legal authority.

Israeli Supreme Court Justice Hanan Melcer announced the decision on Monday morning in Jerusalem, in his final ruling before retirement.

In its decision, the court granted unchecked and unauthorized power to the Israeli state, allowing it to govern online speech by using informal channels with social media corporations. The court essentially privatized the judicial process, allowing private corporations to decide upon censorship of social media content based on ostensibly unbinding requests from Israeli state authorities.

Adalah Attorney Rabea Eghbariah commented immediately following the Israeli Supreme Court ruling:

“The Israeli Supreme Court has just authorized the state to continue to use its Cyber Unit to conduct quasi-judicial censorship proceedings in cooperation with private corporations, without allowing social media users to defend their rights or even to know that the state has been involved in removing their online content. Israel’s Cyber Unit has operated in the shadows of the law to censor tens of thousands of social media posts every year. The Supreme Court has now, to our regret, given Israel a blank check to continue with this practice.”

April 13, 2021 Posted by | Civil Liberties, Ethnic Cleansing, Racism, Zionism, Full Spectrum Dominance | , , | Leave a comment

US, Israel set to punish Palestinians for holding a democratic election, again

By Robert Inlakesh | Press TV | April 11, 2021

Robert Inlakesh is a journalist, writer and political analyst, who has lived in and reported from the occupied West Bank. He has written for publications such as Mint Press, Mondoweiss, MEMO, and various other outlets. He specializes in analysis of the Middle East, in particular Palestine-Israel. He also works for Press TV as a European correspondent.

Israeli and US officials are citing concerns over the potential outcome of the upcoming May 22 Palestinian legislative elections, and if their reactions mirror the past example, the conflict in the Palestinian Occupied Territories could severely escalate.

The people of the West Bank, East Jerusalem al-Quds and Gaza are set to vote in their first set of elections in 15 years. Much to the dismay of Israel and the United States, who claim they will not interfere in Palestinian democratic processes, it looks like their most despised group Hamas is on the way to a potential landslide victory.

In 2006, Hamas historically won the legislative elections, seizing control of the Gaza Strip. Their Fatah Party rivals, the United States and Israel, however, did not accept the election results and decided to take action to punish the people of Palestine for having their own say at the ballot box.

What ensued was dubbed as the ‘Palestinian civil war,’ which officially ended in 2007, with Hamas having successfully stopped an attempted Fatah-led coup – backed by the United States and Israel. Israel, as a result of the removal of Fatah power from the Gaza Strip, saw the perfect opportunity to impose a full and tightened blockade over the territory – thus collectively punishing its civilian population for their choice in the elections. Upon the Hamas victory, the US and EU also imposed overwhelming sanctions on Gaza meant to undermine the elected Hamas government.

As a result of the rivalry between the Fatah Party, currently heading the Palestinian Authority (PA) – which maintains limited control over small portions of the West Bank – and Hamas, there have been no elections since. Time and time again Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas, whose term in office expired in 2009, has postponed the elections, until early this year, when Abbas announced that legislative and presidential elections were finally to take place.

For Palestinians, their elections are set up to fail from the get-go. Pretty much the only political party they have to choose from, without being punished by the West and Israel, is the Fatah Party. All other major political Parties are registered terrorist organizations by most Western countries and Israel itself. Due to Western political immaturity, no organization that refuses to sell out the Palestinian cause for national liberation is to be considered as a legitimate political force and so instead it must be punished, attacked, sanctioned and humiliated. Thus, any Palestinian voting for a change to the status quo, meaning voting outside of lists belonging to Fatah, are to be punished for their choice to change to political scene.

We know from statements published by Fatah and Hamas that both intend to set up a unity government, meaning that Hamas will be in on decisions to lead the Palestinians of the occupied Palestinian territories. Yet, if this occurs, Israel is very open about their rejection of any collaboration with a government formed of Hamas members. This means that all of the cooperation between the Palestinian Authority and Israel, such as “security cooperation,” would cease and the two would be at conflict.

Early this year, Israeli Shin Bet chief Nadav Argaman had repeatedly warned President Mahmoud Abbas about the consequences of holding elections and made it clear that Hamas would not be tolerated. The Shin Bet chief also stressed that Abbas not go ahead with the elections.

Now it has been reported that, in a meeting between the two, both Israeli Foreign Minister Gabi Ashkenazi and US Secretary of State Antony Blinken are “concerned” about a Hamas win and urge a postponement of the elections. The hilarious part of the meeting, reported by Israel’s Walla news outlet, was that both figures also stressed that they didn’t intend to interfere in Palestinian democratic processes. But if you are urging a postponement of elections, after 15 years of no elections and are set to reject the party most likely to win at this point, then what else other than interference is that?

Israel has already gone on a tirade of arresting Palestinian political activists and prominent members of Hamas, in the West Bank and threatens ending cooperation with the PA, which will result in an escalation of violence. The US also does not indicate it will accept a Hamas win and is already expressing concern. So, if Hamas were to win in the West Bank, then we can only assume that their sanctions against Gaza may be transferred somewhat onto the West Bank too. This is essentially the US and Israel offering the Palestinian people an ultimatum; choose the status quo and still have the limited money you have, or choose who you like and we will crush you.

Due to the internal divisions now seen in the Fatah Party – which seems most likely to pave the way for a Hamas win – there is no indication that this will be respected by the West and Israel.

So, what do Palestinians do, vote for the status quo and continue to suffer as usual, watching the settlements expand upon the rest of their lands in the West Bank and East Jerusalem (al-Quds), or vote for the alternative which will likely mean an all-out conflict with the West and Israel?

As much as the West and Israel attempt to publicly distance themselves from the Palestinian elections, they are as much a part of it as are all the Palestinian political parties themselves. This is just the reality of the ongoing illegal occupation, there is no official autonomous Palestinian State, only oppressed peoples fighting for that State. So, any attempt to act as if a fair election, without Israeli-US influence is possible, is a product of great imagination.

April 11, 2021 Posted by | Civil Liberties, Ethnic Cleansing, Racism, Zionism | , , , , | 3 Comments

Former minister blasts pro-Israel lobby over ‘disgusting interference’ in British politics

MEMO | April 9, 2021

Former Foreign Office Minister Sir Alan Duncan has accused pro-Israel lobbyists of “the most disgusting interference” in British politics, and of negatively influencing the country’s foreign policy in the Middle East. The veteran politician has also claimed that Conservative Friends of Israel (CFI) went “ballistic” and blocked him from taking on a new post covering the region’s affairs.

Duncan, a former Conservative MP and government minister, makes the sensational claims in his newly published memoir, In The Thick of It: The private diaries of a minister (published by William Collins, 2021). Speaking to journalist Michael Crick about his book for the MailPlus website, the 64 year-old blasted CFI and its undue influence in British politics.

Conservative Friends of Israel, he said, had injected a “Netanyahu-type view of Israeli politics into our foreign policy,” referring to Israel’s right-wing prime minister. He claimed that it had applied pressure on Theresa May’s government to prevent him becoming Middle East minister at the Foreign Office.

In his book, Duncan claims that his new role was agreed until the then Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson alerted him to the fact that CFI “are going ballistic”. He insists that he was blocked from taking the post because he believes in the rights of the Palestinians.

In one diary entry Duncan is scathing about Conservative MPs’ fawning over Benjamin Netanyahu during his visit to Britain. He was “ashamed” of the British government, accusing officials of allowing Netanyahu to “peddle pro-settlement propaganda”.

Duncan described to Crick the culture of fear created by CFI. “A lot of things do not happen in foreign policy or in government for fear of offending them because that’s the way it’s put to them by the CFI.”

He warned: “It’s a sort of buried scandal that has to stop… they will interfere at a high level in British politics in the interests of Israel on the back of donor power in the UK.” Ultimately, he pointed out, the influence of the pro-Israel lobby group came at the expense of the Palestinians.

Duncan has been a major target for the pro-Israel lobby. In 2017, an Al Jazeera documentary sensationally exposed the operations of pro-Israel lobbyists working with the Israeli Embassy in London to “take down” a minister of the Crown. Duncan, fellow Conservative MP Crispin Blunt and former Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn were marked out as targets. Writing for Al Jazeera at the time, Robert Grenier, a retired, 27-year veteran of the CIA’s Clandestine Service, warned against what he called the “insidious threats” of the pro-Israel lobby.

Read also: Conservative Friends of Israel urge UK to oppose ICC’s war crimes investigation

April 10, 2021 Posted by | Book Review, Ethnic Cleansing, Racism, Zionism | , , , , | 1 Comment

Oxford Researcher Who Helped Push US to Depixelate Israel in Satellite Snaps Died From Cancer at 34

By Ilya Tsukanov – Sputnik – 05.04.2021

For over two decades, US legislation stopped American companies from creating and publishing high-resolution satellite images of Israel. In July 2020, lawmakers updated the obscure amendment regulating the “pixelated Israel,” paving the way for detailed snaps of everything from Tel Aviv’s nuclear reactor to the country’s activity in the West Bank.

Michael Fradley and Andrea Zerbini, a pair of Oxford University archeologists specialising in the Middle East, were responsible for spearheading the campaign to amend an obscure US law to unblur satellite imagery of Israel and the Palestinian territories.

Speaking to the Australian Broadcasting Company, Dr. Fradley said that he and Zerbini stumbled upon an obscure law, known as the Kyl-Bingaman Amendment, which was passed thanks to Israeli lobbying as part of the National Defence Authorisation Act of 1997, in the mid-2010s after being frustrated by the lack of high-quality satellite images of the region.

“We were archeologists. We didn’t really know anything about space law,” Fradley recalled, adding that beginning in 2017, he and his colleague got to work trying to find a legal way to get around the restrictions.

Eventually, the pair of academics discovered that Airbus, the Western European multinational aerospace giant, has been producing high-resolution sub-2 metre per pixel images of Israel and Palestinian lands since at least 2012, with the European company not subject to the US law.

The academics proceeded to press the United States to change its laws, pointing to a reform mechanism within the Kyl-Bingaman Amendment which allows for restrictions to be reduced if companies outside the US were selling their own satellite imagery at resolutions higher than those set by the law.

After obtaining the clearer images from Airbus, Fradley and Zerbini published a paper in 2018 in Space Policy, a peer-reviewed scientific journal, in which they urged US authorities to pay attention to advances in commercial satellite technology outside the US and update policy accordingly.

In their paper, Fradley and Zerbini stressed that the regulations required an “urgent review,” and recommended that “US imagery should meet what has become the international standard of 0.5m.” The archeologists argued that the restrictions “hampered scientific research” and that their removal would “open up access to modern satellite imagery, as well as historical images captured by spy satellite… [and] allow researchers to record longer-term landscape change.” Other prospective benefits presumably included surveying and monitoring, keeping tabs on heritage sites, climate assessments and more.

In July 2020, someone in the US government finally listened and the Kyl-Bigaman Amendment was updated – its exception for Israel and the Palestinian territories modified to a limit of 0.4 meters per pixel, and a further requirement to drop it to 0.3 meters after Airbus launched its new generation of imaging satellites.

The Israeli military criticised the US decision profusely, with Amnon Harari, head of space programmes at Israel’s Defence Ministry, complaining to local media at the time that the Israeli side was never consulted about the change, and stressing that the military “would always prefer to be photographed at the lowest resolution possible.”

Bittersweet Victory

Recalling the moment when he learned that the rules would be changing, Fradley told ABC that it was “really a happy moment,” but also one “tinged with real sadness.” Dr. Zerbini, his research partner, died of a rare form of liver cancer in 2019 at the age of just 34 after become ill in late 2018.

“He was the only other person who really kind of understood the nuances and how much we put into it,” Fradley said. “We were immensely proud of the work that we had done.”

Unexpected Consequences

In addition to finally opening Israel and the Palestinian territories to be studied by archeologists, Fradley and Zerbini’s footwork allowed for investigators to make major new discoveries related to Israel’s suspected nuclear weapons programme (Israel formally neither confirms nor denies that it possesses nukes).

In February, an independent group of arms-control and non-proliferation experts used commercially available high-resolution images of Israel’s Dimona nuclear power plant snapped by SpaceWill, a Chinese company, to show that “significant construction” activities were taking place at the site. Days later, additional, clearer images provided by Planet Labs, a California-based private Earth imaging company, confirmed the construction.

The Planet Labs’ satellite snaps would not have been made available had it not been for Fradley and Zerbini’s work.

Nor would satellite imagery-based studies of Israeli activities in the West Bank or the occupied Golan Heights, such as the bulldozing of structures, settlement growth, and military emplacements.

April 5, 2021 Posted by | Deception, Ethnic Cleansing, Racism, Zionism | , | 1 Comment

UK school textbooks slammed as “propaganda” for Israel

MEMO | April 2, 2021

Two UK school textbooks on the Middle East have been “significantly altered” following intervention from leading advocates of the Zionist state in favour of the Israeli narrative. The alterations, slammed as “propaganda under the guise of education” and “not fit for purpose” have raised serious concerns over the textbook, prompting a pause in further distribution.

Details of the extensive “biased” and “misleading” alterations were exposed by a report, by Professors John Chalcraft and James Dickins, Middle East specialists in History and in Arabic, respectively, and members of the British Committee for the Universities of Palestine (BRICUP).

Their eight-page report uncovered” dangerously misleading” changes to the books published by Pearson, titled Conflict in the Middle East and The Middle East: Conflict, Crisis and Change, both by author Hilary Brash and are read by hundreds of thousands of GCSE students annually. GCSEs are the academic qualifications studied for by UK high school students to the age of 16.

The alterations were made last year following intervention by the Board of Deputies of British Jews (BoD) working together with UK Lawyers for Israel (UKLFI). Both are amongst the most vocal pro-Israeli groups in the UK.

Describing the scale of the alterations the report noted that there are changes on almost every page, often multiple changes. “In CME (with 84 pages of history) we have counted 294 changes, in MECCC (with 104 pages of history) over 360,” said the report. “There are thus on average more than three changes per page, and the re-writing on some pages is particularly extensive. Alterations have been made to text, timelines, maps and photographs, as well as to sample student essays, and to the questions that students are asked to answer”.

Multiple examples of the changes are highlighted in the report. In one example the original version says that “international law states that a country cannot annex or indefinitely occupy territory gained by force”. This is the overwhelming international legal consensus. The revised version replaces this with: “Some argue that international law states that a country cannot annex or indefinitely occupy territory gained by force”. This change, according to the report’s authors “clearly replaces an accurate and unambiguous description of the internationally accepted legal position by a ‘fudge’ that implicitly throws doubt on that position”.

In the original version of the domestic GCSE textbook there are 10 references to Jewish terrorism and 32 to Palestinian terrorism (in each case including use of ‘terror’, ‘terrorist’ or ‘terrorism’). After revision there are 4 references to terrorism by Jewish groups, and 61 references to terrorism by Palestinian ones.

Concluding the report, the authors said that they had “found the process to have been biased and the outcome misleading. The outcome is two textbooks that distort the historical record, failing to offer students a balanced view of the conflict. These books, we conclude, are not fit for purpose. School children should not be supplied with propaganda under the guise of education”.

Leading experts on the Middle East have raised serious concerns over the alterations. Eugene Rogan FBA, Professor of Modern Middle Eastern History at the University of Oxford said: “Given Britain’s historical responsibility, it is particularly important that the subject be taught in a way that is impartial and objective. It is a betrayal of such objectivity to allow Israel advocates the opportunity to edit teaching materials without giving Palestine advocates an equal opportunity to provide input. The result can only undermine confidence in the impartiality of the teaching of an intensely complex and sensitive issue.”

Neve Gordon, Professor of International Law and Human Rights at Queen Mary University of London, said: “Through their rigorous analysis of two GCSE text books, Professors John Chalcraft and James Dickins uncover how hundreds of revisions have been inserted in order to modify and distort historical and political facts relating to Israel/Palestine. Their report suggests that when accredited publishing houses allow lobbying groups to help develop high-school curriculum, knowledge is replaced by indoctrination and our children are encouraged to adopt biased thinking.”

Khaled Fahmy FBA, Professor of Arabic Studies at the University of Cambridge, said: “While it is laudable that Middle Eastern history books are regularly revised and updated, the manner in which these two school textbooks have been revised is shocking and unacceptable. School textbooks should be revised based on the advice and expertise of academics and scholars, not by reviewers selected by an organisation of lawyers whose rationale is advocating for a foreign country.”

In a statement to Middle East Eye, Pearson said “We stand by our texts but had already taken the decision to pause further distribution while we discuss further with stakeholders.”

April 3, 2021 Posted by | Ethnic Cleansing, Racism, Zionism, Full Spectrum Dominance | , , , | 2 Comments

Hamas welcomes Turkish-Egyptian detente

Ismail Haneyya
Palestine Information Center – April 1, 2021

ISTANBUL – Head of Hamas’s political bureau Ismail Haneyya has welcomed the Turkish-Egyptian rapprochement, expressing confidence that any cooperation between Ankara and Cairo will be in the interest of the Palestinian people and their national cause.

Haneyya made the remarks in an interview conducted by Anadolu Agency after he visited its headquarters in Istanbul.

“We welcome the Turkish-Egyptian rapprochement, and we believe that more understandings between them and between Arab and Islamic countries will have a positive impact on us in Palestine as well as on the Arab countries,” the Hamas political chief said.

“There are historically known central states in the region that play strategic roles, such as Egypt, Turkey, Iran and Saudi Arabia, so any understanding and rapprochement between them will be in the interests of the peoples in the region and the Palestinian cause,” he added.

As for the upcoming Palestinian elections, Haneyya affirmed that his Movement is committed to forming a national consensus government even if it scored a victory in the legislative elections slated for next May.

“Hamas is participating in the elections on the basis of partnership and not with the aim of defeating others. It does not want to dominate the Palestinian political system,” he underlined.

He described the upcoming elections as an important opportunity to improve the current Palestinian conditions and end 15 years of national division.

April 1, 2021 Posted by | Solidarity and Activism | , , , , | Leave a comment

US aid is tied to Palestinian acquiescence to the two-state illusion

By Ramona Wadi | MEMO | March 30, 2021

The US has reversed one aspect of the Trump administration’s foreign policy in Palestine; humanitarian aid will be resumed with a $15 million grant for vulnerable Palestinian communities in the occupied West Bank and Gaza. “Our engagements all have the same aim: to build support for a peaceful solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict,” the US Representative to the UN, Linda Thomas-Greenfield, declared. Given that Washington used to give $350 million to the UN Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees (UNRWA) before Trump stopped the support in 2018, this is a very limited “engagement”.

And it’s very selective support. Moreover, it comes as US Secretary of State Antony Blinken is opposing the Palestinian Authority’s recourse to the International Criminal Court for justice over Israel’s war crimes. Such crimes, and the context of occupation in which they are carried out, contribute to humanitarian aid for the Palestinian being a necessity.

More importantly, humanitarian aid remains tied to the two-state compromise. Now that the US has returned to international consensus over the defunct paradigm, restoring humanitarian aid may be considered the next, logical step, only there is nothing logical about pursuing a strand of diplomacy that spells loss unless it results in a gain for Israel.

PA Prime Minister Mohammad Shtayyeh welcomed the resumption of humanitarian aid as “an important step in the right direction.” However, Palestinians still have no political direction and the PA is merely speaking about its standing in the diplomatic arena. Following restored humanitarian aid, the next step will most likely be renewed diplomatic relations. The PA will then feed upon the illusion that it is an important negotiating partner. Perhaps it is, in terms of “negotiating” the sell-out of what remains of Palestine to the Zionist colonial project.

For ordinary Palestinians, of course, it is a different story. The resumption of humanitarian aid within the context of the two-state compromise only sustains Israeli colonialism, while allowing the Palestinian people the necessary means for daily survival. Resuming the two-state cycle of humanitarian aid in return for acquiescence to the two-state illusion is not a better option than the so-called “deal of the century”. Both have generated loss, and the PA is merely favouring one form of loss over another.

To what extent can such a move be welcomed? Humanitarian aid to promote peace is a recipe for failure, given its reinforcement of the power dynamic bolstered by the billions of dollars that Israel gets each year from the US. It would be understandable if the PA spoke of humanitarian aid in terms of alleviation, but not as an “important step in the right direction” when Israel is not facing any punitive measures for advancing its illegal settlement expansion, for example.

It is to be expected that the US selectively lauds its meager support for Palestine, especially when, in contrast to the Trump administration, US President Joe Biden is yet to face significant scrutiny. For the PA to emulate the US rhetoric, however, is a different story. It seems as if the Ramallah authority is far more interested in asserting its earlier and premature, overtures to Biden even before the new foreign policy was revealed, despite the fact that the politics of humanitarian aid are a mere convenience for the international community in its process of aiding Israel to colonise what is left of Palestine.

March 30, 2021 Posted by | Corruption, Deception, Ethnic Cleansing, Racism, Zionism, Progressive Hypocrite | , , , , | Leave a comment

Israel detains 3 prominent Hamas leaders in West Bank

MEMO | March 26, 2021

The Israeli army detained three prominent Hamas leaders the occupied West Bank city of Hebron.

Eyewitnesses told Anadolu Agency that an Israeli soldier detained Hatem Qaffeisha, 58, a top Hamas leader in Hebron and a Palestinian lawmaker.

Former Local Governance Minister Isa Al-Jabari, 55, and top Hamas figure Mazen Al-Natsha, 49, were also detained.

The three figures have been jailed several times by the Israeli army.

Hamas has warned of Israeli plans to stage a mass arrest campaign against its members ahead of the Palestinian elections slated for May.

In February, key Hamas members were detained including Mustafa Al-Shannar, Adnan Asfour, Yaser Mansour, Khalid El-Haj, Abdel-Basit El-Haj, Omar Al-Hanbali and Faze’ Sawafteh.

Hamas says the Israeli authorities aim to disrupt the Palestinian elections and affect the results.

Hamas also accused the Israeli authorities of threatening its members with imprisonment if they run in the upcoming elections.

Palestinians are scheduled to vote in the legislative elections on 22 May, presidential polls are to be held on 31 July and the National Council elections on 31 August.

The last legislative elections were held in 2006, with Hamas coming out on top.

March 26, 2021 Posted by | Ethnic Cleansing, Racism, Zionism, Subjugation - Torture | , , , , , | 1 Comment

Palestinian Rockets: The Hidden Facts

If Americans Knew | March 15, 2021

U.S. media reports focus on Palestinian rockets fired into Israel from Gaza, but the reports leave out essential facts, making the aggressors seem like victims, and the victims like aggressors.

For facts and citations see https://iakn.us/rockets and https://ifamericansknew.org/history/

For ongoing news and analysis see https://israelpalestinenews.org/.

For information on the Israel lobby, see http://iakn.us/aList and https://youtu.be/AC8pJvY8Wdo and https://youtu.be/6PsGZz19cHk

For information on media distortions on Israel-Palestine see https://ifamericansknew.org/media/ and https://israelpalestinenews.org/media… .

A video showing Israel’s strategies for manipulating Americans is at https://youtu.be/RvH47pAm1MA

For a thoroughly sourced book on the early days of the pro-Israel lobby in the US, see http://iakn.us/AOBJ-book

Also see this video letter to Congress woman Manning: https://youtu.be/Glc0GjobM9M

March 23, 2021 Posted by | Ethnic Cleansing, Racism, Zionism, Timeless or most popular, Video | , , | Leave a comment

The Nakba of Sheikh Jarrah: How Israel uses ‘the law’ to ethnically cleanse East Jerusalem

By Ramzy Baroud | MEMO | March 23, 2021

A Palestinian man, Atef Yousef Hanaysha, was killed by Israeli occupation forces on 19 March during a weekly protest against illegal Israeli settlement expansion in Beit Dajan, near Nablus, in the northern West Bank. Although tragic, this news reads like a routine item from occupied Palestine, where the shooting and killing of unarmed protesters is part of the daily reality. That reality, though, is part of a wider, more sinister development.

Since right-wing Israeli Prime Minister, Benjamin Netanyahu, announced in September 2019 his intention to formally and illegally annex nearly a third of the occupied Palestinian West Bank, tensions have remained high. The killing of Hanaysha is only the tip of the iceberg. In occupied East Jerusalem and the West Bank, a massive battle is already underway. On one side, Israeli soldiers, army bulldozers, and illegal armed Jewish settlers are carrying out daily missions to evict Palestinian families, displace farmers, burn orchards, demolish homes and confiscate land. On the other side, Palestinian civilians, often unorganised, unprotected and leaderless, are fighting back.

The territorial boundaries of this battle are largely located in occupied East Jerusalem and in so-called “Area C” of the West Bank — which covers nearly 60 per cent of the total area of the occupied territory — which is under complete and direct Israeli military control. No other place represents the perfect microcosm of this uneven war than the neighbourhood of Sheikh Jarrah in occupied East Jerusalem.

On 10 March, fourteen Palestinian and Arab organisations issued a “joint urgent appeal to the United Nations Special Procedures on forced evictions in East Jerusalem” to stop the Israeli evictions in the area. Successive decisions by Israeli courts have paved the way for the Israeli army and police to evict fifteen Palestinian families — 37 households of around 195 people — in the Karm Al-Ja’ouni area in Sheikh Jarrah as well as Batn Al-Hawa neighbourhood in the town of Silwan.

These imminent evictions are not the first, nor will they be the last. Israel occupied Palestinian East Jerusalem in June 1967 and formally, though illegally, annexed it in 1980. Since then, the Israeli government has vehemently rejected international criticism of the occupation, declaring instead that Jerusalem is the “eternal and undivided capital of Israel”.

To ensure that its annexation of the city is irreversible, the Israeli government approved the Master Plan 2000, a massive scheme that was undertaken to rearrange the boundaries of the city in such a way that it would ensure the permanent demographic majority of Israeli Jews at the expense of the city’s indigenous inhabitants. The Master Plan was no more than a blueprint for state-sponsored ethnic cleansing, which saw the destruction of thousands of Palestinian homes and the subsequent eviction of numerous families.

While news headlines occasionally present the habitual evictions of Palestinian families in Sheikh Jarrah, Silwan, and other parts of East Jerusalem as if it is simply a matter of counterclaims between Palestinian residents and Jewish settlers, the story is, in fact, a wider representation of Palestine’s modern history. Indeed, the innocent families which are now facing “the imminent risk of forced eviction” are re-living their ancestral nightmare of the Nakba, the very deliberate ethnic cleansing of historic Palestine in 1948.

Two years after the native inhabitants of historic Palestine were dispossessed of their homes and lands and ethnically cleansed, Israel enacted the so-called Absentees’ Property Law of 1950. The law, which has no legal or moral validity, simply granted to the State the properties of Palestinians who were driven out or fled from the war, to do with it as it pleases. Since those “absentee” Palestinians have never been allowed to exercise their legitimate right of return, as enshrined in international law, the Israeli law was state-sanctioned theft on a grand scale. It aimed ultimately to achieve two objectives: to ensure that Palestinian refugees do not return or attempt to claim their stolen properties in Palestine; and to give Israel a legal fig leaf for permanently confiscating Palestinian land and homes.

The Israeli military occupation of the remainder of historic Palestine in 1967 necessitated, from an Israeli colonial perspective, the creation of fresh laws that would allow the State and the illegal settlement enterprise to claim yet more Palestinian properties. This took place in 1970 in the form of the Legal and Administrative Matters Law. According to the new legal framework, only Israeli Jews were allowed to claim lost land and property in Palestinian areas.

Many of the evictions in East Jerusalem take place within the context of these three interconnected and strange legal arguments: the Absentees’ Property Law, the Legal and Administrative Matters Law, and the Master Plan 2000. Understood together, we can easily decipher the nature of the Israeli colonial scheme in East Jerusalem, where Israeli Jewish individuals, in coordination with settler organisations, work together to fulfil the vision of the State.

In their joint appeal, Palestinian human rights organisations describe how the flow of eviction orders issued by Israeli courts culminate in the construction of illegal Jewish settlements. Confiscated Palestinian properties are usually transferred to a branch within the Israeli Ministry of Justice called the Israeli Custodian General. The latter holds on to these properties until they are claimed by Israeli Jews, in accordance with the 1970 Legal and Administrative Matters Law. Once Israeli courts honour Jewish individuals’ legal claims to the confiscated Palestinian lands, these individuals often transfer their ownership rights or management to settler organisations. In no time, the latter utilise the newly-acquired property to expand existing settlements or to start new ones. All settlements are, of course, illegal under international law.

While the Israeli State claims to play an impartial role in this scheme, it is actually the facilitator of the entire process. The final outcome manifests in the ever-predictable scene, where an Israeli flag is triumphantly hoisted over a Palestinian home and a Palestinian family is assigned a tent from the UN and a few blankets.

While the above picture can thus be dismissed by some as another routine, common occurrence, the situation in the occupied West Bank and East Jerusalem has become extremely volatile. Palestinians feel that they have nothing more to lose and Netanyahu’s government is more emboldened than ever. The killing of Atef Hanaysha, and others like him, is only the beginning of an imminent and widespread confrontation.

March 23, 2021 Posted by | Ethnic Cleansing, Racism, Zionism, Illegal Occupation, Timeless or most popular | , , , , | Leave a comment

Pro-Palestine activist stands trial after leading boycott against Israeli pharmaceutical company

Pro-Palestinian and anti-Israel Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) movement march in Marseille, southern France. (Photo via Twitter)
Press TV –  March 22, 2021

French activist Olivia Zemor has gone on trial in Lyon after making an online appeal in 2016 for a boycott of Israeli pharmaceutical giant Teva company.

She appeared in court on March 16 over publishing a call by Collectif Palestine 69 on EuroPalestine website, urging readers to boycott Teva, the largest Israeli pharmaceutical corporation by market value.

Zemor, an active advocate of the Boycott, Divestment, and Sanctions (BDS) movement against Israel, was sued for “defamation” by Teva after she accused the company of complicity in apartheid and occupation.

In comments to French newspaper Le Courrier de l’Atlas, she said, “Through its financial contribution to Israel, this pharmaceutical giant contributes to the financing of military operations in Gaza and to the development of colonization in the West Bank and East Jerusalem, in defiance of the rights of the Palestinian people and of international resolutions.”

Therefore, she added, it is necessary to call for the company’s boycott.

Pro-Palestine activist Olivia Zemor is going on trial in France after leading a boycott campaign against Israeli pharmaceutical giant Teva pic.twitter.com/ENtpjlLG2I

However, Frédéric Jeannin, lawyer for the pharmaceutical company, denied the accusation, claiming that “Teva is not involved in a geopolitical, ethnic or religious conflict, and these actions hamper its economic activity.”

On the day of Zemor’s trial, activists gathered outside the courtroom to condemn the French government’s attempts to silence criticism of Israel and those who speak out against the oppression of Palestinians.

They argue that the European Court of Human Rights last year affirmed the right to boycott Israel and that this ruling invalidates the French prosecution of Zemor, who is the president of the EuroPalestine solidarity group.

French Justice Minister Eric Dupond-Moretti is accused of “a blatant violation of the decision” by distributing a circular to prosecutors urging them to take action against activists supporting the BDS campaign.

Teva, one of the world’s largest manufacturers of generic drugs, provides millions of pounds in tax revenue to the Israeli regime and its military.

The company is accused of “joining hands with the French state to aggressively seek to shut down and silence international voices of conscience for exposing corporate complicity and profiteering from the Israeli occupation regime.”

People have been asked to show solidarity with Zemor by writing to French embassies and consulates and holding protests outside them.

Palestinians have for decades called on civil campaigns against Israel, organized under the BDS umbrella.

The BDS movement was initiated in 2005 by over 170 Palestinian civil society organizations, unions, as well as cultural and rights groups, including all major political parties, trade and academic unions that were pushing for “various forms of boycott against Israel until it meets its obligations under international law.”

Thousands of volunteers worldwide have since then joined the nonviolent campaign, which calls for people and groups across the world to cut economic, cultural and academic ties to Tel Aviv, to help promote the Palestinian cause.

Israel claims that the movement is a strategic threat and accuses it of anti-Semitism – a claim that activists firmly deny, calling it an attempt to discredit them.

The BDS, which adheres to peaceful resistance, intends to exert pressure on the Israeli regime to adhere to international law and human rights by lobbying various states, institutions and individuals to understand its oppression of Palestinians and take action as a result.

March 22, 2021 Posted by | Civil Liberties, Ethnic Cleansing, Racism, Zionism, Solidarity and Activism | , , , | 1 Comment

Israel seizes Palestinian foreign minister’s travel permit after visit to International Criminal Court over war crimes probe

RT | March 21, 2021

Palestinian Foreign Minister, Riyad al-Maliki, who was returning to the West Bank from a meeting at the International Criminal Court (ICC), was held up at a border crossing and got his VIP travel permit revoked by Israel.

Senior Palestinian official, Ahmed al-Deek, said that agents of Israel’s Shin Bet intelligence service have questioned al-Maliki for around 30 minutes at the Allenby crossing from Jordan into the West Bank on Sunday. Members of the FM’s entourage were questioned for around an hour, he added.

Al-Maliki’s special travel permit has been revoked and he left the border crossing without it. The VIP pass allows top Palestinian officials to move freely through the Israeli-operated checkpoints. It was unclear if the FM will be getting the papers back, al-Deek added.

An Israeli official has confirmed the development to the Times of Israel, but declined to name the reason for the cancellation of the minister’s pass. However, al-Deek insisted that the move by the Israeli authorities was retaliation for Maliki’s visit to the ICC in The Hague earlier this week.

“Israel is unable to solve cases through the law, but instead resorts to a policy of intimidation, sanctions and threats,” he told Palestinian WAFA news agency.

Al-Maliki, who was on European tour, met with ICC lead prosecutor, Fatou Bensouda, on Thursday. Earlier this month, Bensouda announced a probe into war crimes carried out in the Palestinian Territories since June 13, 2014.

According to al-Maliki’s office, he spoke to the prosecutor about “the importance of expediting investigations into the crimes committed in the territory of the State of Palestine, in a manner that ensures justice for the victims and their families among the Palestinian people.”

On Friday, Israeli and Palestinian administrations both received notifications from the ICC of the opening of a war crimes probe against them.

While welcomed by the Palestinians, the investigation has angered the Israeli authorities, with Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu labeling it “the epitome of anti-Semitism and hypocrisy.”

March 21, 2021 Posted by | Ethnic Cleansing, Racism, Zionism, War Crimes | , , , | 4 Comments