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Israeli firm spying on Palestinians says it only works with ‘democratic countries’

RT | July 15, 2019

An Israeli facial recognition firm secretly tracking Palestinians in the West Bank says it only works with ‘democratic countries’, ironically dismissing Israel’s own human rights abuses against the Palestinians.

Anyvision Interactive Technologies is a company with Microsoft funding, a former head of the Defense Ministry’s security department as its president, and a former Mossad head as his adviser. Its facial recognition software is used by the Israeli Army at checkpoints in the West Bank, allowing soldiers to check whether Palestinians have work permits for Israel. It also has a more secretive project with the army that installs its software in cameras inside the West Bank to surveil Palestinians.

Anyvision addressed concerns about facial recognition software by saying it “only works with democracies,” and doesn’t “operate in China” or “sell in Africa or Russia,” with CEO Eylon Etshtein explaining, “We only sell systems to democratic countries with proper governments,” Haaretz reports.

Anyvision’s dismissal of countries like China and Russia is at odds with the fact that its software is secretly being used by the Israeli military to spy on Palestinians in the West Bank, which is under Israeli occupation and subject to Israeli checkpoints and surveillance, despite being Palestinian territory.

Israel has been accused of a series of human rights violations against the Palestinians it is spying on, and its continued building of Israeli settlements within the West Bank violates UN resolutions and the Fourth Geneva Convention. The UN has said it may have committed war crimes for the killing of protesters, medics, and journalists at the Gaza March of Return demonstrations. Israel does not use Anyvision’s spying software in Israel or the Jewish settlements in the West Bank.

Israel holds democratic elections for its citizens, but not all of the over 13 million people under its control. No Palestinians in the West Bank, including East Jerusalem, can vote, even though Israel controls much of their movements, security, water, roads, and building permits. Israeli settlers living in the West Bank can vote, however.

When asked about arguments that the West Bank is not governed democratically, Etshtein said, “It’s really a huge dilemma, but I’m not the guy to ask this,” adding the company does “the maximum so that its technology isn’t misused.”

July 15, 2019 Posted by | Civil Liberties, Ethnic Cleansing, Racism, Zionism | , , | Leave a comment

Israel’s Latest ‘Security Problem’: Who’s to Blame for Gaza’s Environmental Crisis

By Ramzy Baroud | MEMO | July 15, 2019

Writing in The Jewish Journal under the title, “A Spillover Crisis: How Gaza’s Water Shortage Affects Israel”, Dominik Doehler explains the direct link between Gaza’s water problems and Israel.

Doehler offered a scientific explanation behind the besieged Strip’s water crisis, but when it was time to assign responsibility, something went wrong. Instead of recognising how Israel’s war and protracted siege destroyed Gaza’s infrastructure, the writer blamed the “ongoing conflict between Hamas and the Palestinian Authority” for Gaza’s suffering.

“Today, those who pay the price of the conflict between the Palestinian factions are the two million people in Gaza,” Doehler writes, without any mention of Israel’s primary role in any of this.

The dishonesty of the writer should not be entirely surprising, considering the biased nature of the publication. This is particularly symptomatic of Israeli and pro-Israeli media which often shy away from acknowledging the facts, but deflect responsibility from Israel, and point the finger of blame on Palestinians only.

That said, it is interesting that Gaza’s growing humanitarian crisis is finally registering in Israel as a pressing problem requiring action. However, it is not the impact of the crisis on the population of Gaza that is sounding the alarm bells in Tel Aviv, but rather the potential environmental damage Gaza’s ongoing misery may cause Israel.

On June 3, researchers from Israel’s Tel Aviv and Ben-Gurion universities presented a report commissioned by the environmental organization, EcoPeace Middle East, in which they warned that “the collapsing water, sewage and electricity infrastructure in the Gaza Strip pose a material danger to Israel’s groundwater, seawater, beaches and desalination plants”.

One would expect any report on the environmental situation in Gaza to focus on the fact that nearly two million Palestinians in the Strip are living in inhumane conditions due to a relentless 12-year Israeli blockade and repeated devastating military assaults which are rending the area “uninhabitable by 2020“.

Instead, the report has implied that the residents are solely responsible for the imminent environmental catastrophe in Gaza, which is threatening the security and well-being of Israeli citizens. The Israeli newspaper, Haaretz, which published a detailed report on the presentation, also spun the issue as a matter of national security.

But what Israel has now identified as a “national security problem” is indeed a disaster of its own making. The occupation, colonisation, dispossession and aggression against Palestine and the Palestinians have caused untold environmental damage to the extent that now, even the Israeli occupier is suffering.

The environmental situation in Gaza is indeed dire at the moment, but it is not the Palestinians who made it so. Neither the “rapid population growth”, nor neglect or ignorance of residents that are its root causes. Countless reports by the United Nations and other organisations have documented in detail how and why the main culprit is Israel, its violent assaults on Gaza and its merciless siege.

Israeli settlers flood Khan al Ahmar with wastewater [Twitter]

Take the problem of untreated sewage ending up in the sea, which is causing issues for Israeli beach-goers and water desalination plants. The reason why Gaza’s sewage is getting disposed of in this “irresponsible” way is that water treatment plants are not operational; they were targeted in the 2014 Israeli assault on the Strip and were never rebuilt because the Israeli siege does not allow for construction materials and spare parts to be brought in.

Untreated sewage is part of the larger water crisis in Gaza. As the report rightly points out, Gaza residents are overusing the aquifer under the Strip, which has become increasingly contaminated with seawater and chemicals and which constitutes the only source of freshwater for residents because of the involuntary separation with the West Bank.

The reason for Palestinians in Gaza being unable to establish a proper water management system is again Israel’s doing. Israel has repeatedly bombed its water infrastructure, including water pipes, wells and other facilities, and the debilitating Israeli siege has prevented the local authorities from fixing it and building a water desalination plant.

Gaza’s water problem is not only an annoyance for the Israelis but a potential source of an epidemic for the Palestinians. Already, diarrheal diseases have doubled, reaching epidemic levels, according to the Palestinian Ministry of Health, while salmonella and typhoid fever are also on the rise.

Then there is the problem with rubbish which Palestinians are burning, hence “polluting Israeli air”. As Cambridge University academic, Ramy Salemdeeb, has pointed out, Gaza has been unable to develop a proper waste management system because of economic restrictions due to the Israeli siege and a “limited land availability” because of its isolation from the rest of the occupied Palestinian territories.

Given that Israel is a settler-colonial project, the overexploitation of the colonised land to the detriment of the environment and the local population is naturally a part of its modus operandi.

Indeed, all the land Israel has taken and occupied has suffered from environmental degradation in one way or another, with its harmful effects being conveniently shifted towards Palestinians area, villages and cities.

If Israel continues to treat the issue as a “security problem” it will never get resolved because at the heart of it is the destructive logic of a colonial enterprise which seeks to exploit both land and people with no regard for nature and human wellbeing.

In other words, Israel will never achieve security – environmental or otherwise – as long as it continues to oppress the Palestinians, occupy their land and ravage the environment. Israeli air, water and the overall environment will never be immune from the Israeli-made disasters in occupied Palestine. 

July 15, 2019 Posted by | Environmentalism, Ethnic Cleansing, Racism, Zionism | , , , , | 2 Comments

Palestinians lose $270m per year due to military checkpoints: Study

MEMO | July 15, 2019

Palestinians lose about 60 million work hours per year due to restrictions on movement in the occupied West Bank imposed by Israeli occupation forces, according to a study by the Applied Research Institute – Jerusalem (ARIJ).

This loss is estimated at $270 million per year, as well as added fuel consumption of 80 million litres, costing up to an additional $135 million and leading to an increase in carbon dioxide emissions by 196,000 tonnes per year.

The study tracked the movement of citizens through 15 major Israeli military checkpoints between cities in the occupied West Bank as well as 11 crossing points into Jerusalem and Israeli territories. The data was collected from the beginning of January to the end of July 2018, using GPS tracking devices installed on Palestinian vehicles, including public transport and private vehicles. Each device monitored the location, time and speed of the vehicle every ten seconds, giving an accurate idea of the time spent at military checkpoints.

Israel maintains a system of checkpoints that can be closed at any time, preventing Palestinians from travelling to school, hospital or work, or to access their land.

In a July 2018 survey, the UN’s Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHAoPt) recorded that there are “705 permanent obstacles across the West Bank restricting or controlling Palestinian vehicular, and in some cases pedestrian, movement.”

Israel also runs a system of “flying checkpoints” which can disrupt travel at a moment’s notice. OCHAoPt notes that, “between January 2017 and the end of July 2018, Israeli forces employed an additional 4,924 ad-hoc ‘flying’ checkpoints, or nearly 60 a week. These involve the deployment of Israeli forces for several hours on a given road for the purpose of stopping and checking Palestinian drivers and vehicles, but without any permanent physical infrastructure on the ground.”

July 15, 2019 Posted by | Ethnic Cleansing, Racism, Zionism, Subjugation - Torture | , , , , | Leave a comment

Israel face-recognition start-up ‘secretly tracking Palestinians’

MEMO | July 15, 2019

A start-up known as “Israel’s most high-profile biometric recognition firm” is playing a key role in monitoring Palestinians at checkpoints in the occupied West Bank, reported Haaretz.

According to the article, Anyvision Interactive Technologies “is taking part in two special projects in assisting the Israeli army in the West Bank”.

One project “involves a system that it has installed at army checkpoints that thousands of Palestinians pass through each day on their way to work from the West Bank.”

In a statement in February, the army said “27 biometric crossings” had been established in the West Bank, as part of a “wide-ranging” effort to “upgrade” the checkpoints in question.

The second project, however, “is much more confidential”, reported Haaretz, and “includes facial recognition technology elsewhere in the West Bank, not just at border crossings”, as “cameras deep inside the West Bank try to spot and monitor potential Palestinian assailants”.

Anyvision’s president, Amir Kain, is the former head of Malmab, the Defence Ministry’s security department, while one of the company’s advisers is Tamir Pardo, a former head of Mossad.

The company claims to operate in 43 countries and at more than 350 locations such as stadiums, airports and casinos, and recently raised $31 million from Microsoft’s M12 venture capital fund.

As reported by Haaretz, “Anyvision’s involvement in the West Bank is being revealed amid a lively debate around the world on the use of biometric technology, especially facial recognition.”

“About a month ago, San Francisco became the first American city to outlaw facial recognition technology. And camera maker Axon recently decided to eliminate its products’ facial recognition capacity, based on the recommendations of an ethics committee that it had formed.”

According to the paper, “the Israeli surveillance operation in the West Bank is undoubtedly among the largest of its kind in the world. It includes monitoring the media, social media and the population as a whole — and now it turns out also the biometric signature of West Bank Palestinians.”

July 15, 2019 Posted by | Ethnic Cleansing, Racism, Zionism | , , , | Leave a comment

Israel’s machinery of dispossession has crushed the hopes of an inspirational family

The struggle of Jawad Siyam perfectly illustrates the relentless oppression faced by all Palestinians

By Jonathon Cook | The National | July 14, 2019

Israeli police forced out the Siyam family from their home in the heart of occupied East Jerusalem last week, the final chapter in their 25-year legal battle against a powerful settler organisation.

The family’s defeat represented much more than just another eviction. It was intended to land a crushing blow against the hopes of some 20,000 Palestinians living in the shadow of the Old City walls and Al Aqsa mosque.

Dozens of families in the Silwan neighbourhood have endured the same fate as the Siyams, and the Israeli courts have approved the imminent eviction of many hundreds more Palestinians from the area.

But, unlike those families, the Siyams’ predicament briefly caught public attention. That was because one of them, Jawad Siyam, has become a figurehead of Silwan’s resistance efforts.

Mr Siyam, a social worker, has led the fight against Elad, a wealthy settler group that since the early 1990s has been slowly erasing Silwan’s Palestinian identity, in order to remake it as the City of David archeological park.

Mr Siyam has served as a spokesman, drawing attention to Silwan’s plight. He has also helped to organise the community, setting up youth and cultural centres to fortify Silwan’s identity and sense of purpose in the face of Israel’s relentless oppression.

However, the settlers of Elad want Silwan dismembered, not strengthened.

Elad’s mission is to strip away the Palestinian community to reveal crumbling relics beneath, which it claims are proof that King David founded his Israelite kingdom there 3,000 years ago.

The history and archeological rationalisations may be murky, but the political vision is clear. The Palestinians of Silwan are to be forced out like unwelcome squatters.

An Israeli human rights group, Peace Now, refers to plans for the City of David as “the transformation of Silwan into a Disneyland of the messianic extreme right wing”.

It is the most unequal fight imaginable – a story of David and Goliath, in which the giant fools the world into believing he is the underdog.

It has pitted Mr Siyam and other residents against not only the settlers, but the US and Israeli governments, the police and courts, archaeologists, planning authorities, national parks officials and unwitting tourists.

And, adding to their woes, Silwan’s residents are being forced to fight both above and below ground at the same time.

The walls and foundations of dozens of houses are cracking and sinking because the Israeli authorities have licensed Elad to flout normal safety regulations and excavate immediately below the community’s homes. Several families have had to be evacuated.

Late last month Elad flexed its muscles again, this time as it put the finishing touches to its latest touristic project: a tunnel under Silwan that reaches to the foot of Al Aqsa.

On Elad’s behalf, the US ambassador to Israel, David Friedman, and Donald Trump’s Middle East envoy, Jason Greenblatt, wielded a sledgehammer to smash down a symbolic wall inaugurating the tunnel, which has been renamed the Pilgrimage Road.

Elad claims – though many archaeologists doubt it – that in Roman times the tunnel was a street used by Jews to ascend to a temple on the site where today stands the Islamic holy site of Al Aqsa.

The participation of the two US envoys in the ceremony offered further proof that Washington is tearing up the peacemaking rulebook, destroying any hope the Palestinians might once have had of an independent state with East Jerusalem as its capital.

Mr Friedman called the City of David complex – at the core of occupied Palestinian Jerusalem – “an essential component of the national heritage of the State of Israel”. Ending the occupation there would be “akin to America returning the Statue of Liberty”.

While Israel, backed by the US, smashes Silwan’s foundations, it is also dominating the sky above it.

Last month Israel’s highest planning body approved a cable car from Israeli territory in West Jerusalem into the centre of Silwan.

It will connect with the City of David and a network of boardwalks, coffee shops and touristic tunnels, such as like the Pilgrimage Road, all run by Elad settlers, to slice apart Silwan.

And to signal how the neighbourhood is being reinvented, the Israeli municipality enforcing the occupation in East Jerusalem recently named several of Silwan’s main streets after famous Jewish rabbis.

Former mayor Nir Barkat has said the goal of all this development is to bring 10 million tourists a year to Silwan, so that they “understand who is really the landlord in this city”.

Few outsiders appear to object. This month, the tourism website TripAdvisor was taken to task by Amnesty International for recommending the City of David as a top attraction in Jerusalem.

And now, Elad has felled the family of Jawad Siyam in a bid to crush the community’s spirits and remaining sense of defiance.

As it has with so many of Silwan’s homeowners, Elad waged a decades-long legal battle against the family to drain them of funds and stamina.

The Siyams’ fate was finally sealed last month when the Israeli courts extended the use of a 70-year-old, draconian piece of legislation, the Absentee Property Law, to Silwan.

The law was crafted specifically to steal the lands and homes of 750,000 Palestinian refugees expelled in 1948 by the new state of Israel.

Ownership of the Siyams’ home is shared between Jawad’s uncles and aunts, some of them classified by Israel as “absentees” because they now live abroad.

As a result, an Israeli official with the title Custodian of Absentee Property claimed ownership of sections of the house belonging to these relatives, and then, in violation of his obligations under international law, sold them on to Elad. Police strong-armed the family out last week.

To add insult to injury, the court also approved Elad seizing money raised via crowdfunding by more than 200 Israeli peace activists, with the aim of helping the Siyams with their legal costs.

Palestinians such as Jawad Siyam exist all over the occupied territories – men and women who have given Palestinians a sense of hope, commitment and steadfastness in the face of Israel’s machinery of dispossession.

When Israel targets Jawad Siyam, crushes his spirits, it sends an unmistakeable message not only to other Palestinians, but to the international community itself, that peace is not on its agenda.

July 14, 2019 Posted by | Ethnic Cleansing, Racism, Zionism, Illegal Occupation, War Crimes | , , , , , | 5 Comments

Cuba should be careful not to normalise Israel’s colonisation of Palestine

By Ramona Wadi | MEMO | July 13, 2019

In 1947, Cuba was one of the few countries opposing the UN Partition Plan, which laid the groundwork for Israel’s colonisation of Palestine. At the time, the Cuban envoy to the UN Dr Ernesto Dihigo spoke out against Zionist settler colonialism and, with clarity, pointed out the UN’s incompetence and refusal to implement its rhetoric regarding the free determination of people.

Decades later, and at a time when Palestinians are risking the loss of what remains of their land, Cuba must rethink its strategy which runs the risk of normalising Israeli colonialism and human rights violations committed against the Palestinian population.

Israeli media has reported that Doron Markel, chief scientist at the Jewish National Fund (JNF), was invited to an international environmental conference held in Havana, Cuba. Needless to say, Israel was given a golden opportunity to present itself as a model to emulate by lauding its scientific expertise, while eliminating the violent narrative of land and water theft to achieve its goals.

There are no formal diplomatic ties between Cuba and Israel. However, inviting a representative of the JNF to Cuba, an organisation which has been at the helm of displacing the Palestinian people, is tantamount to a tacit decision to normalise the violence upon which Israel has been able to build a prosperous image. For every Israeli achievement, there are hidden Palestinian victims.

The forestation which Markel spoke about must be perceived within the context of destroying Palestine’s own environmental heritage. Likewise, Israel’s water strategy requires mentioning how its theft deprives Palestinians of adequate access to water. Markel’s statement that “science can serve as a bridge” between two countries that have not yet established formal diplomatic relations is a demand for Cuba to normalise Israel’s violations against the Palestinian people. Inviting a JNF representative already points towards such a route.

In one of his memorable speeches to the UN, revolutionary leader Fidel Castro stated: “Colonies do not speak. Colonies are not known unless they have the opportunity to express themselves.”

By inviting an Israeli representative, Cuba has departed from this truthful observation by Fidel and experienced by the Cubans themselves before their liberation.

Cuban support for Palestine is rooted in the shared experience of anti-colonial struggle. The country should be leading by example, rather than accommodating Israeli narratives that speak about achievements at the expense of the Palestinian population. This normalisation of Israeli violations and its neoliberal endeavours is contrary to the Cuban revolutionary struggle and fails to uphold the internationalist principles upon which Cuba was able to impart support to oppressed people around the world, including Palestinians.

While not representative of people’s sentiment, the Cuban government has made its politics ambiguous as a result of this invitation. It is therefore pertinent to ask where Cuba is heading in terms of its own commitment to supporting the anti-colonial struggle of other oppressed people internationally. The US, the EU and the UN have all normalised Israel. Will Cuba rekindle its commitment to its principles or follow the trend that has discarded the Palestinian people’s legitimate political demands?

Read also:

PDFLP condemns renewed US sanctions against Cuba

July 13, 2019 Posted by | Progressive Hypocrite | , , , | Leave a comment

World should cut ties with Israel to deter its new settlements – UN human rights rapporteur

Given international complicity, is cutting ties with Israel possible?

By Ramona Wadi | MEMO | July 12, 2019

UN Special Rapporteur Michael Lynk has suggested that the international community should consider cutting ties with Israel if it goes ahead with further colonial settlement expansion and annexation, according to a report by Al Jazeera. Non-binding requests or suggestions from the UN, however, are unlikely to go beyond rhetoric, given the international community’s political investment in Israel and complicity in the colonial occupation itself.

Had Israel been a country marked for foreign intervention, the international community would have no qualms about implementing Lynk’s suggestions. However, the persistent, non-binding nature of UN recommendations will only serve to create further ambiguous discourse when it comes to Israel and human rights violations.

“The international community has to look at the available menu of countermeasures that is commonly used to a wide range of countries involving gross human rights violations and has to decide what are the appropriate ones to consider to use with respect to Israel,” Lynk told Al Jazeera. Yet the UN is failing repeatedly to consider Israeli colonialism as a “gross human rights violation”. Indeed, the international organisation has served as a platform for Israeli ventures, especially since the state has started to market itself to African countries with regard to sustainable development and agriculture practices. The UN has perpetually excused Israel’s massacres and adopted the colonial entity’s purported security and “self-defence” narrative. In fact, like other entities, the UN has singled out settlement expansion as the only violation worth speaking about.

This begs the question, is the UN seeking out safe measures when it decides to push forward, at least in discourse, the need for punitive measures when it comes to Israel?

Settlement expansion in UN narratives is completely dissociated from the 1948 Nakba and the ongoing colonisation of Palestinian land. It is a subject which enjoys international consensus and which focuses strictly on buildings rather than the ideology and political context behind their construction. When the international community speaks about settlement expansion, it does not draw attention to the resultant Palestinian dispossession, nor does it bring into question the fate of Palestinians and how the right of return for the Palestinian people must be revised to cater for a perpetual, intentional, forced displacement.

Lynk’s argument that Israel’s military occupation will become further entrenched if there is no international economic pressure is not completely accurate. Having positioned and marketed itself to developing countries, Israel has sought to expand its economic possibilities globally. It has prepared itself for possibilities which might see it fall out of favour by extending its reach to countries rich in natural resources. Meanwhile, diplomatically and politically, Israel has gained enough ground to assure itself of minimum repercussions if a hypothetical fallout does occur, which is, by the way, unlikely in any meaningful sense.

Lynk has also suggested the possibility of suspending Israel’s UN membership. This move would be instrumental in implementing the first divide between the international community and the self-styled “Jewish state”. However, Israel is also the UN’s lasting colonial project. As a facilitator of colonialism, it is not in a position to set the rules that penalise Israel. Of course, the Israelis know this. They also know that the UN is much more likely to take measures which restrict Palestinians’ political demands in order to continue its two-state diplomacy. The global level of conspiracy, once again, provides Israel with its greatest level of impunity.

July 12, 2019 Posted by | Ethnic Cleansing, Racism, Zionism, Timeless or most popular | , , , , | 1 Comment

The Book of Palestine: National Liberation Vs Endless Negotiations

By Ramzy Baroud | Palestine Chronicle | July 10, 2019

Those who are still hoping that the new American agenda on Palestine and Israel is temporary, or reversible, should abandon this false hope. Washington’s complete adoption of Israel’s messianic, extremist policies regarding Occupied Palestine has been a long time in the making. And it is here to stay.

Despite the unmistakable clarity in the American political discourse regarding Palestine, the Palestinian Authority (PA) is still trapped in a 25-year long, ineffectual political paradigm. Unable to move past their disproportionate reliance on American validation, and lacking any real strategic vision of their own, PA President Mahmoud Abbas and his men are operating within a clichés-centered trajectory of a “negotiated peace” – a discourse that was, itself, invented and championed by Washington and its allies.

Newly-appointed (not elected) Palestinian Prime Minister, Mohammad Shtayyeh, conveyed this very sentiment in his  June 24 interview with CNN’s Christiane Amanpour. “If you look at the literature, if you look at the statements, our president has been working by the book,” he said.

What book was Shtayyeh referring to? Certainly not the book of international and humanitarian law, which has devised a clear path aimed at achieving Palestinian freedom, rights and territorial sovereignty.

It is, rather, a book that is written by Washington, from which brazen pro-Israel agenda has preceded the Donald Trump administration by decades.

This is, in fact, the core ailment of Palestinian politics, as practiced by the PA. Throughout the years, the PA has received hundreds of millions in American funds, in exchange for sidelining the UN in favor of a complete American hegemony over the so-called “peace process”. Abbas’ recent attempts at reviving the role of the UN and its affiliated institutions is a belated attempt at correcting a historical mistake.

What will it take for Shtayyeh, and his boss in Ramallah, to abandon the American option and, instead, to develop a rounded strategy that is founded on national unity, democratic representation and international solidarity? Much precious time has been lost subscribing to the one-sided American book, which has no room for a Palestinian discourse of national liberation, unconditional freedom and basic human rights.

While Trump’s advisor and son-in-law, Jared Kushner, was referring to Palestinians as “hysterical and erratic”, following the two-day Bahrain economic conference  June 25-26), US Middle East ‘peace envoy’, Jason Greenblatt, was challenging the very terminology used by the entire  international community regarding the illegal Israeli Jewish colonies in Occupied Palestine.

“People (should) stop pretending (that) settlements, or what I prefer to call ‘neighborhoods and cities,’ are the reason for the lack of peace,” the American envoy told participants at the “Israel Hayom Forum for US-Israeli Relations”.

For the record, the widely-circulated right-wing Israeli newspaper, Israel Hayom which sponsored the conference, is financed by pro-Israel American casino mogul, Sheldon Adelson. The latter is known to be the primary advocate behind Trump’s misguided policies in Palestine, including Washington’s recognition of occupied Palestinian East Jerusalem as part of Israel’s capital.

Greenblatt is but one of several unabashedly pro-Israel American politicians, who have taken the already biased US foreign policy to a whole new low. This clique also includes former US ambassador to the UN, Nikki Haley, and Washington’s Ambassador to Israel, David Friedman.

In an interview, also with Israel Hayom on June 11, Haley tried to assure Israelis that “Israel should not be worried,” about having to make any political concessions in exchange for Trump’s recognition of Jerusalem as Israel’s capital or of Israel’s sovereignty over the occupied Syrian Golan Heights.

“Through the Middle East plan [so-called ‘Deal of the Century’], one of the main goals that Jared Kushner and Jason Greenblatt focused on was to not hurt the national security interests of Israel,” Haley said. “They understand the importance of security; they understand the importance of keeping Israel safe.”

While Haley’s, Kushner’s and Greenblatt’s statements can be viewed as part of the ever-skewed, pro-Israel language emanating from Washington, one must not be too hasty. The fact is, Washington has now fully embraced the Zionist Israeli discourse without the slightest attempt at playing the role of the impartial arbitrator.

It is as if Haley et al are now members of Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s right-wing Likud party.

But no one represents this blatant American realignment into the Israeli camp better than Ambassador Friedman, who has, in an interview with the New York Times, on June 8, backed any future Israeli annexation of parts of the Occupied West Bank.

A few weeks later, in a disturbing and highly symbolic gesture, the American ambassador carried a sledgehammer and broke open a tunnel that snakes underneath the East Jerusalem Palestinian neighborhood of Silwan. The tunnel, part of Israel’s expansionistic policy in Occupied Jerusalem, has already damaged the foundation of over 80 Palestinian homes.

The determined and gratified look on Friedman’s face spoke volumes about the “hysterical, erratic” and extremist US foreign policy under Trump.

So what hope is left for the PA in Ramallah, now that Washington has taken all the political, financial and every other practical step to sideline Palestinians, to marginalize their rights and push them into submission? And what good will appealing to American sensibilities through CNN and any other platform do, considering that Washington’s strategy is deeply entrenched and irrevocable?

Much can be said about Palestinian failure to change course when it became repeatedly clear since the signing of the Oslo Accord in 1993 that Washington has no interest in pressuring Israel to end illegal settlement construction and to respect international law. Worse, while Washington paid lip service to “peace”, it supported the Israeli war machine, military occupation and settlement construction with billions of dollars.

While it is good that the PA is finally waking up to the fact that subscribing to Washington’s foreign policy book is a historic mistake, mere awareness is simply not enough.

It is time for the Palestinians to write their own book, one that is guided by the concept of national liberation, not endless negotiations; one that is predicated on unity, not mortifying factionalism; one that appeals to the whole global community, not to American handouts.

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

July 10, 2019 Posted by | Ethnic Cleansing, Racism, Zionism, Illegal Occupation, Timeless or most popular | , , , , | 3 Comments

Israeli Forces Seize Palestinian Garbage Trucks, Detain Drivers

IMEMC News – July 10, 2019

A group of Israeli soldiers on Wednesday detained Palestinian municipal employees in the village of Beit Fourik, in the northern West Bank, and seized several vehicles used for trash collection.

According to local sources, the vehicles that were seized include a garbage truck, a tractor used for hauling garbage and a third vehicle used in trash collection.

The vehicles were loaded with garbage and were headed to a landfill site east of the village, located near Nablus in the northern West Bank, when they were detained by Israeli soldiers in military vehicles.

The soldiers approached with weapons drawn and ordered the municipal employees out of their vehicles, then held them for several hours in the hot sun, and took the vehicles away to an unknown location.

The Palestinian Wafa News Agency spoke with Ata Samara, a health inspector with the Beit Fourik village council, who told them that this trash collection by the municipality is a daily collection, and this is the first time they have been harassed by Israeli occupation forces.

Samara added that the trash dump is located in Area B of the West Bank, which is administered by the Palestinian Authority but falls under Israeli military rule, adding that the village council was not informed by the army that it would no longer be allowed to dump there. He said the seizure of the truck and car is part of an effort by the Israeli army to make life difficult for the Palestinians in that village.

Without a trash truck or a place to put garbage, the Palestinians of the village will be forced to fend for themselves, which will likely result in a buildup of trash at homes in the village, and unsanitary conditions will result.

Israeli authorities have created multiple landfill sites for Israeli garbage on stolen Palestinian land in the West Bank, and frequently haul and dump Israeli garbage onto Palestinian village land. However, in recent years the Israeli authorities have made it harder and harder for Palestinians in the West Bank to dump their garbage, instead closing off the Palestinian landfills and dumps or putting roadblocks to prevent the Palestinians from reaching them.

Israeli forces have targeted the village of Beit Fourik for collective punishment, in violation of the Fourth Geneva Convention, since March, when an Israeli settler was killed in a settlement nearby.

July 10, 2019 Posted by | Ethnic Cleansing, Racism, Zionism, War Crimes | , , , , | Leave a comment

The Obama Wars

By David Swanson | War Is A Crime | July 10, 2019

By “the Obama wars” I don’t mean some overgrown infants on television screaming racist insults or pretending that opposing racism requires cheering for Obama.

I mean: the widespread indiscriminate murder of human beings with missiles — many of them from robot airplanes — let loose to threaten any non-white country on earth by Obama and expanded by Trump. I mean the catastrophic destruction of Libya — still continued by Trump. I mean the war on Afghanistan, the vast bulk of which was overseen by Obama, though Bush and Trump have had minor roles. I mean the assault on Yemen, begun by Obama and escalated by Trump. I mean the war on Iraq and Syria escalated first by Obama and then by Trump (following the de-escalation locked in place by Bush though Obama fought it tooth-and-nail).

I mean the conflict with Iran, heightened by Obama and then dramatically again by Trump. I mean the expansion of conflict-producing troops and bases across Africa and Asia. I mean the creation of the new cold war with Russia. I mean the build up in nuclear weapons and the delusional rhetoric about “usable” nuclear weapons. I mean the support for Israel’s wars on Palestinians. I mean the coups in Ukraine and Honduras. I mean the threats to Venezuela. I mean the normalization of fantastical excuses for the gravest crimes. I mean the practice of campaigning on ending wars, never ending any of them, and never having anyone really care. I mean the constant shattering of past records in military spending.

Obama’s legacy, despite all sorts of variations, many of them superficial, and despite its role in defeating Hillary Clinton at the ballot box, has largely been maintained, advanced, and imitated by bipartisan consensus and by Donald Trump.

If you want to review what Obama did in that quirky little area of his job to which some 60% of federal discretionary spending is devoted, and which puts us all at risk of nuclear disaster, pick up a copy of Jeremy Kuzmarov’s book Obama’s Unending Wars: Fronting the Foreign Policy of the Permanent Warfare State. Kuzmarov places Obama in historical context and outlines his parallels with Woodrow Wilson, another extreme militarist generally understood as a peace visionary. Kuzmarov reviews — and adds information that many of us probably never knew to — the story of Obama’s rise to power and the story of all of his many wars.

We tend to forget that right up through the presidency of George W. Bush wars were thought of as temporary things that had endings. Now they’re hardly thought of at all, but they’re understood to be permanent. And they’re thought of in partisan terms. We sometimes forget that candidate Obama, like candidate Trump, promised a larger military. Candidate Obama promised a larger war on Afghanistan. And when it came time for Obama’s re-election to a second term, he reached out to the New York Times and asked that paper to write an article about how good he was at killing people, about how he carefully studied a list of men, women, and children and picked out the ones in whose name he would send missiles into clusters of unidentified victims. Obama’s claim, in his own words, was “I’m really good at killing people.” Nobody who liked Obama and didn’t like murder allowed themselves to become aware of this aspect of Obama’s re-election campaign; and they never will become aware of it.

The reason it matters is that over 20 Democrats are now campaigning for president, some of whom are promoting the same sort of militarism, some of whom are opposing it to some degree, and some of whom have revealed little or nothing about their positions on such matters. One of them, Joe Biden, was part of Obama’s wars. Biden is the guy who claimed of the mass-slaughter of people in Libya “We didn’t lose a single life.” Kamala Harris is the woman who will never ever question whether by “life” he meant “non-African life.” She’s too busy worrying that peace might break out in Korea. The stupidity of tokenism will plague us until we at least have the decency to regret having fallen for it before. The stupidity of militarism will plague us until we stop glorifying and excusing it and start supporting efforts to create peace.

July 10, 2019 Posted by | Book Review, Militarism, War Crimes, Wars for Israel | , , , | 1 Comment

A Child Under Administrative Detention

Defence for Children Palestine | July 9, 2019

On September 20, 2017, Laith K., 17, was arrested by Israeli forces. He was held in administrative detention for nearly 46 weeks. Administrative detention is a form of imprisonment without charge or trial. Learn more: https://nwttac.dci-palestine.org/

July 10, 2019 Posted by | Ethnic Cleansing, Racism, Zionism, Subjugation - Torture, Timeless or most popular, Video | , , , | Leave a comment

A Secret Meeting to Plot War?

Who is representing the American people in this secret conclave with pro-Israel groups?

By Philip Giraldi | American Free Press | July 6, 2019

On June 5, 16 heads of Jewish organizations joined 25 Democratic senators in a private meeting, which, according to the Times of Israel, is an annual event. All of the Jewish organizations but one were openly declared advocates for Israel and are supportive of its policies. Key groups present included the Council of Presidents of Major Jewish Organizations, the Anti-Defamation League, and the American Israel Public Affairs Committee. A number of the groups have lobbied Congress and the White House in support of the use of force against Iran, a position that is basically identical to the demands being made by the government of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu.

The senatorial delegation was headed by Sen. Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.), currently Senate minority leader who has described himself as the “shomer” or guardian of Israel in the Senate. The 25 senators in attendance constitute one-quarter of the entire deliberative body and more than half of all Democrats serving in it. Sen. Amy Klobuchar (D-Minn.), who has emphatically linked her campaign to become the Democratic presidential nominee in 2020 to Jewish and Israeli interests, chaired the gathering.

After the meeting, Jewish Insider provided a complete list of the participants and also a diagram of how they were positioned in the Capitol Hill conference room. The senators were placed on one side of a rectangle with the Jewish leaders in front of them filling the seats on the other three sides. Who exactly provided the agenda that Klobuchar was presumably following is not known, but one suspects that it may have been a joint effort by Schumer and several of the more prominent Jewish organization participants.

The meeting was by design not a public event, and, to a certain extent, it was a secret. Its time, place, and participants were not announced, and it was only reported at all in the Israeli and Jewish media. According to after-the-fact coverage of the event by Alison Weir of the “If Americans Knew” website, even staffers in the congressional offices were not aware that the meeting was taking place. No statement was issued afterwards, but it is believed that the principal topic under discussion was how to contain and reverse pro- Palestinian sentiment among progressive Democratic voters, who, to the horror of the participants, actually have been embracing the possibility that Palestinians are human beings with plausibly the same rights as Israelis. A particular focus would have been the nonviolent Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions movement (BDS), which has become a growing force on college campuses and in progressive circles.

Other issues raised were mentioned in passing afterwards on the email service “The Tell” by Ron Kampeas of the Jewish Telegraphic Agency (JTA) news service. They included supporting Israel and also more federal-level legislation to combat “anti-Semitism.” And, of course, there was the issue of money. Several groups want funding from the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) increased to pay for more security at Jewish facilities. Current legislation is considering allocating $70 million per year and there were demands that it be increased to $90 million. A 2014 article in the Jewish Forward reported that Jewish institutions received 94% of DHS discretionary funding.

One might reasonably argue that the private meeting with the Democratic senators reflects a singular urgency in that the party base is becoming notably less pro-Israel, suggesting that something had to be done to stop the rot. That may be true enough, but the reality is that the federal government’s pandering to Israel is both bi-partisan and global in its reach. The United States uniquely has a special envoy to combat anti-Semitism, and his writ extends to proposing sanctions against countries that are critics of Israel.

And even as the Democrats were meeting with Jewish leaders, the Republicans were doing much the same thing. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo met with probably some of those very same leaders as the Democrats and expressed concern about the possibility that British Labour Leader Jeremy Corbyn might become prime minister. Corbyn has been targeted by British Jews because he is the first UK senior politician to speak sympathetically about the plight of the Palestinians.

Pompeo was asked, if Corbyn “is elected, would you be willing to work with us to take action if life becomes very difficult for Jews in the UK?” He replied: “It could be that Mr. Corbyn manages to run the gauntlet and get elected. It’s possible. You should know, we won’t wait for him to do those things to begin to push back. We will do our level best. It’s too risky and too important and too hard once it’s already happened.”

So American Jews want to join with their British counterparts to either bring down or contain a top-level elected politician just because he recognizes the suffering of the Palestinians. The American secretary of state meets with those same activists and agrees with them that something must be done, to include quite possibly taking steps to ensure that he does not become prime minister in the first place. Recall for the moment that Britain is America’s closest ally and is what passes for a democracy these days. Jews obviously occupy a rather special space, politically speaking, in the United States. One might reasonably ask, where are the private meetings with representatives of Italian, German, Irish, or Polish organizations, each of which represents a far greater portion of America’s ethnic mix than do Jews? The obvious answer is that those groups do not operate in a cohesive, tribal fashion and they do not possess the financial resources that the 600 or so Jewish groups that advocate for Israel have. In America, unfortunately, money buys access to power and, if there is enough money on the table, it can also buy politicians.

Nor are America’s other white ethnic groups as grievance-driven.

And there is one other significant difference: While other ethnic groups in the United States are protective of their respective cultures and languages, there is no sense that any of them actually seek to advocate policies damaging to the United States to benefit the foreign nations that they identify with. The Jewish advocacy for Israel is something quite different, costing the American taxpayer billions of dollars every year and involving Washington in a sequence of wars of choice driven by Israel itself aided by its powerful domestic lobby.

Israel also comes with a price tag in terms of the constitutional rights enjoyed by Americans. Before too long, legislation currently working its way through Congress will criminalize any criticism of Israel. No other national or ethnic group in the United States seeks to dismantle the First Amendment to the Constitution of the United States in quite that fashion.

Israel is no friend and never has been. Recent media reports detail how Jewish-American oligarch Paul Singer has been working with the Israeli government to transfer thousands of high-paying American IT jobs to Israel. Is he guilty of dual loyalty? No, he is only really loyal to Israel, as are many of the Jewish leaders who met with Pompeo and the senators. It is a disgrace.

And it is also a disgrace that Pompeo and 25 Democratic Party senators should be meeting privately with Jewish organizations to do things for Israel and the Jewish community that do not serve the interests of all Americans, up to and including meddling in the politics of a genuine close ally to respond to the paranoia of British Jews.

Yes, there is a Jewish international conspiracy in place directed by some Jews like those who met with the senators and Pompeo, and it has no off switch. Never before in history has a great power been so dominated by a puny client state and its domestic fifth column, and it is time that the private meetings whereby a government “of the people, by the people and for the people” panders to one group alone should end forever.

Philip Giraldi is a former CIA counter-terrorism specialist and military intelligence officer and a columnist and television commentator. He is also the executive director of the Council for the Interest.

July 9, 2019 Posted by | Civil Liberties, Ethnic Cleansing, Racism, Zionism, Wars for Israel | , , , , | Leave a comment