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Trump Goes to Israel: Another Settler from the United States?

By Philip Giraldi | American Herald tribune | November 19, 2019

President Donald Trump’s lack of any precision when he speaks or tweets sometimes means that multiple meanings can be construed from what he chooses to say or write. At a private gathering last week in which he was wooing potential Orthodox Jewish donors, he responded to a blessing from a rabbi with what he thought to be a joke. Fighting for his political life in the middle of an impeachment process, he observed that if things do no go well in the United States, he could always move to Israel and run for office, saying “if anything happens here, I’m taking a trip over to Israel. I’ll be prime minister.”

The fund-raiser at the Intercontinental Hotel in Manhattan was arranged by the America First Super PAC. Trump’s son-in-law and principal adviser Jared Kushner and his special representative for international negotiations Avi Berkowitz, both Orthodox Jews, also were in attendance. Numerous Trump supporters were present in the ballroom and began shouting out “Four more years!” when the president rose to speak. Rabbi Y.Y. Jacobson offered a blessing, saying “Blessed are you, our Lord, King of the universe, that you have shared of your glory and love and compassion with a human being who maintains the honor of every innocent person and Jew. Thank you, amen.”

The Trump joke appeared to be based on media reports that he enjoys an approval rating of 98% among Jewish voters in Israel, the only country in the world where he has a favorable rating. And he was also presumably referring to the fact that Israel has had two deadlocked elections and may be heading for a third due to the fact that neither Benjamin Netanyahu nor his opponent Benny Gantz seems able to pull  together a governing coalition. Trump quipped in his usual self-serving fashion, “What kind of a system is it over there, right, with Bibi? They’re all fighting and fighting. We have different kinds of fights, but at least we know who the boss is. They keep having elections, and nobody’s elected.”

The president also spent some time affirming his complete support for the Jewish state, citing how it was at that moment defending itself from missile attacks coming from the Palestinian Islamic Jihad group and Hamas in Gaza. He also recalled for the potential donors his unilateral (and illegal) recognition of Israeli sovereignty over the occupied Golan Heights and his decision to withdraw from the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA) agreement limiting Iran’s nuclear program. As expected, the audience cheered.

Also, in a statement that should offend and serve as a wake-up call for all of America’s remaining Arab friends, Trump described how he was able to move the U.S. Embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem. He claimed that when he received calls from Arab leaders objecting to the proposed shift, he refused to speak to them, saying to his aides “Just tell them I’m very busy, I’ll call them back. And then I did it, we got it done, it’s done. And then I announced it, and then I went into the office, I made about 25 calls…. I said, ‘Don’t worry about it, it’s done already; there’s nothing I could do about it.’ It’s much easier. I say, ‘I’m sorry, I wish I could have gotten back to you sooner.’”

So, on the surface it was a complete rah-rah evening among friends, saying wonderful things about Israel and dumb things about Arabs while also bringing in $4 million in donations from the Orthodox Jewish businessmen who made up most of the audience. But at the same time, the Trump remark about moving to Israel and being elected prime minister can be construed as having a darker meaning as Israel is, in fact, a settler state that illegally has dispossessed the original residents of the country and replaced them. Foreign Jews can move to Israel and become citizens automatically under the “law of return” but the people who used to live on that land cannot go to their homes. Trump, who joked about moving and becoming Israeli, described in his usual caustic, off-hand fashion the racist reality of the Jewish state.

Donald Trump might not have been in such a humorous mood if he had considered the fact that while he is wildly popular in Israel because he gives the Israeli Jews everything they want, he continues to be mistrusted and not very well received by American Jews, who continue to vote for and provide most of the funding for the Democratic Party. Some Israelis and many American Zionists have even come to the conclusion that Trump is not to be relied upon when he pledges total support for the Jewish state. They point to the recent White House decision to pull out of Syria, which was made in consultation with Turkey, which the Israelis regard as a hostile power, and without any input from Israel. The fact that Trump then reversed himself also has been noted as characteristic of his basic unreliability.

Some Israelis and their think tank associates in the United States have also expressed particular concern over the fact that Trump and Netanyahu, who still heads the interim government, have not even spoken over the phone in weeks. As Trump’s policy making style is best described as impulsive, there is concern that he will make bad decisions from the Israeli perspective. It is often noted that the Administration’s desire to confront Iran appears to have waned and will probably be even less evident as the 2020 election approaches. Some observers have also cited the example of the betrayal of the Kurds, suggesting that Trump might be inclined to abandon Israel and its other allies in the Middle East in the same fashion.

To be sure, Donald Trump has done everything possible to pander to American Zionists and to Israelis and it is clear that he considers Jews to be a group that has to be courted, if only due to their influence over the media and their willingness to donate large sums to political causes. Israeli concerns that he will pull the plug on them are overstated to put it mildly given their control over Congress and the media. As long as casino magnate Sheldon Adelson continues to be willing to donate $100 million to the GOP every two years, the status quo is guaranteed. But there remains a long-term problem due to the fact that American Jews are overwhelmingly politically liberal and they do not like Trump, no matter what he does for Israel. And Adelson is reported to be in poor health. If he dies and the cash flow dies with him, Trump’s view of Israel just might change dramatically.

November 19, 2019 Posted by | Ethnic Cleansing, Racism, Zionism, Illegal Occupation, Wars for Israel | , , , , | 2 Comments

Israel justice ministry contradicts police on killing of Palestinian

Fares Abu Nab, from Ras Al-Amud in occupied East Jerusalem was shot dead by Israeli police

MEMO | November 18, 2019

Israel’s Justice Ministry has contradicted the police’s account of the killing of a Palestinian, stating that officers shot the man after he had emerged from his vehicle, reported Haaretz.

The ministry’s department responsible for investigating police misconduct announced yesterday that the police officer who shot Fares Abu Nab, from Ras Al-Amud in occupied East Jerusalem, did not in fact shoot the suspect during a car chase, as previously claimed by police.

A gag order has been placed on releasing the name of the police officer involved.

According to police, officers were chasing suspected car thieves when one of the drivers “endangered the lives of policemen and other users of the road”, without specifying how.

“He was shot in order to neutralise the threat he posed,” the original police statement added.

According to Haaretz, yesterday three other Palestinians from occupied East Jerusalem were arrested “on suspicion of belonging to the gang of alleged car thieves that included Abu Nab”.

The three men arrived in court “with signs of violence on their bodies”, and their lawyers “said they had been beaten by policemen”.

The paper noted that “six people have died so far this year in incidents that involved the use of force by the police”, but that “none of the policemen involved has yet been indicted”.

Furthermore, “only in two of the six cases did the Justice Ministry department that investigates police misconduct question the policemen as suspects.”

One of these cases was closed, while the other, “the shooting of Ethiopian-Israeli Solomon Teka by an off-duty policeman in Kiryat Haim in June”, is awaiting a decision by the State Prosecutor.

November 18, 2019 Posted by | Ethnic Cleansing, Racism, Zionism, Subjugation - Torture | , , , | 2 Comments

UN Votes to Renew UNRWA Mandate

Palestine Chronicle – November 16, 2019

The overwhelming vote at the United Nations General Assembly’s Fourth Committee in favor of renewing the mandate of the UN Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees (UNRWA) dominated the front page of the three Palestinian Arabic dailies today.

This issue was given special attention in light of American and Israeli efforts to do away with UNRWA as part of a plan to undermine Palestinian refugee rights in their homeland they were expelled from 70 years ago when Israel was created on their land and in their homes.

The US and Israel were the only two states voting against the renewal of the mandate while 170 countries voted in favor.

Al-Hayat al-Jadida said President Mahmoud Abbas welcomed the vote.

November 16, 2019 Posted by | Ethnic Cleansing, Racism, Zionism | , , , , , | 1 Comment

How Western Media Bias Allows Israel to Get away with Murder in Gaza

By Ramzy Baroud | Dissident Voice | November 16, 2019

An Israeli attack on Gaza was imminent, and not because of any provocations by Palestinian groups in the besieged, impoverished Gaza Strip. The Israeli military escalation was foreseeable because it factors neatly in Israel’s contentious political scene. The war was not a question of “if”, but “when”.

The answer came on November 12, when the Israeli military launched a major strike against Gaza, killing an Islamic Jihad Commander, Bahaa Abu al-Ata, along with his wife Asma.

More strikes followed, targeting what the Israeli military described as Islamic Jihad installations. However, the identities of the victims, along with damning social media footage, pictures, and eyewitness accounts indicate that civilians and civilian infrastructure were bombed and destroyed as well.

As of November 14, when a truce was announced, 32 Palestinians have been killed and over 80 wounded in the Israeli aggression.

What truly frustrates any meaningful discussion on the horrific situation in Gaza is the feeble response, whether by international organizations that exist with the sole purpose of ensuring world peace or by Western monopoly media, that ceaselessly celebrates its own accuracy and impartiality.

A most disappointing response to the Israeli violence was offered by Nickolay Mladenov, the United Nations Special Coordinator for the Middle East Peace Process.

Mladenov, whose job should have long been deemed pointless considering that no “peace process” actually exists, expressed his “concern” about the “ongoing and serious escalation between Palestinian Islamic Jihad and Israel”.

Not only Mladenov’s statement creates a moral equivalence between an occupying power, which instigated the war in the first place, and a small group of a few hundred armed men, it is also dishonest.

“The indiscriminate launching of rockets and mortars against population centres is absolutely unacceptable and must stop immediately,” Mladenov elaborated, putting great emphasis on the fact that, “there can be no justification for any attacks against civilians”.

Shockingly, Mladenov was referring to Israeli, not Palestinian civilians. At the time that his statement was released to the media, there were already dozens of Palestinian civilians that had been killed and wounded, while Israeli media reports spoke of few Israelis who had been treated for “anxiety”.

The European Union did not fare any better. The EU parroted the same American knee-jerk response by condemning “the barrage of rocket attacks reaching deep into Israel”.

“The firing of rockets on civilian populations is totally unacceptable and must immediately stop,” a statement by the European bloc read.

Is it not possible that Mladenov and top EU foreign policymakers do not truly comprehend the political context of the latest Israeli onslaught — that embattled Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu is using military escalation as a way of fortifying his weakening grip on power.

Considering this, what is one to make of the poor media coverage, the inept analyses and the absence of balanced reports in major Western news media?

In a report published by the BBC on November 13, the British broadcaster referred to “cross-border violence between Israel and militants in Gaza”.

But Gaza is not an independent country and, per international law, it is still under Israeli occupation. Israel declared Gaza a “hostile territory” in September 2007, arbitrarily establishing a “border” between it and the besieged Palestinian territory. For some reason, the BBC finds this designation acceptable.

CNN, on the other hand, reported on November 13 that “Israel’s military campaign against Islamic Jihad” is entering its second day, while emphasizing the UN condemnation of the rocket attacks.

CNN, like most of its American corporate counterparts, reports on Israeli military campaigns as a part and parcel of some imagined “war on terror”. Therefore, analyzing the language of US mainstream media with the purpose of underlining and emphasizing its failures and biases, is a useless exercise.

Sadly, US bias regarding Palestine has extended to mainstream media in European countries that were, to some degree, fairer, if not somewhat sympathetic, with the Palestinian peoples’ situation.

El Mundo of Spain, for example, spoke of a number of Palestinians — making sure to emphasize that they were “mostly militants”, — who “died” as opposed to “were killed” by the Israeli military.

“The escalation followed the death of Gaza’s armed branch leader,” El Mundo reported, failing once more to pinpoint the culprits in these seemingly mysterious deaths.

La Repubblica, which is perceived in Italy as a “leftist” outlet, sounded more like a right-wing Israeli newspaper, in its description of the events that led to the death and wounding of many Palestinians. The Italian newspaper used a fabricated timeline that only exists in the mind of Israeli military and decision-makers.

“Violence continued. Several rockets were thrown towards Israel by Gaza’s Islamic Jihad (militants), breaking the brief truce, according to (right-wing Israeli newspaper) The Jerusalem Post and to the Israeli army”.

It remains unclear what “truce” La Repubblica was referring to.

France’s Le Monde followed suit, reporting the same deceptive and cliched Israeli lines and emphasizing statements by the Israeli military and government. Interestingly, the death and wounding of many Palestinians in Gaza did not deserve a place on the French newspaper’s homepage. Instead, it chose to highlight a comparatively irrelevant news item where Israel denounced the labeling of illegal settlement products as “discriminatory”.

Maybe, one could have excused these across-the-board journalistic and moral failings if it were not for the fact that the Gaza story has been one of the most covered news topics anywhere in the world for over a decade.

It is obvious that the West’s “newspapers of record” have maintained their blindspot on fairly reporting on Gaza and intentionally kept the truth from their readers for many years so as not to offend the sensibilities of the Israeli government and its powerful allies and lobbies.

While one cannot help but bemoan the death of good journalism in the West, it is also important to acknowledge with much appreciation the courage and sacrifices of Gaza’s young journalists and bloggers who, at times, are targeted and killed by the Israeli army for conveying the truth on the plight of the besieged but tenacious Strip.


Dr. Ramzy Baroud is an author and a journalist. He is athor of The Second Palestinian Intifada: A Chronicle of a People’s Struggle and his latest My Father Was a Freedom Fighter: Gaza’s Untold Story. He can be reached at ramzybaroud@hotmail.com.

November 16, 2019 Posted by | Ethnic Cleansing, Racism, Zionism, Mainstream Media, Warmongering, War Crimes | , , , | 2 Comments

Gaza Israel Escalation Explained: Who Started It, Where Is It Going And Why?

Palestinian medical workers tend to wounded children of a family six of whose members were killed in an Israeli airstrike, in the central Gaza Strip’s Deir al-Balah, November 14, 2019. (Photo by AFP)
By Robert Inlakesh | American Herald Tribune | November 14, 2019

Earlier this Tuesday morning, Israel initiated airstrikes against Northern Gaza Strip killing the senior commander of Palestinian Islamic Jihad (PIJ), Baha Abu al-Ata (43 years old),  Asma Mohammed (39 years old) and twenty-year-old Mohammed Atiyah.

This ‘targeted assassination’ of a PIJ leader in Gaza was not the end of the Israeli mission, however. Another round of Israeli airstrikes was then launched targeting Western Mezzeh in Damascus, Syria, targeting Akram Ajjouri, a deputy leader in the Palestinian Islamic Jihad movement. The strike took place at roughly 4:20 A.M in the morning and hit the residence of the PIJ commander, killing his son, injuring his daughter and murdering a bodyguard named Abdallah Hassan. The strike also injured 10 others, missing the Akram Ajjouri who escaped the blast.

In response to these ‘targeted assassinations’, as Israel calls them, both Islamic Jihad and Hamas launched a barrage of rockets at Israeli towns and cities.

Over 450 rockets have been fired from Gaza into Israel, striking Tel Aviv, Sderot, and Ashekolon and even triggering alarms as far away as Jerusalem. Islamic Jihad’s armed wing, the al-Quds brigades, have vowed to continue their responses.

Israel has also fired hundreds of Missiles into Gaza, destroying 190 homes, injuring over 111 (mostly civilians) and killing over 34. Included in the dead have been at least 8 children and 3 women in Gaza. Israel has also damaged 15 schools with their airstrikes and attacked a power facility, shutting off the electricity supply in Eastern Gaza.

The rocket fire into Israel has proven to have successfully overwhelmed Israel’s air defense systems, specifically its Iron Dome air defense systems. Considering the fact that most of the rockets fired are nothing more than enhanced fireworks, this is extremely embarrassing to Israel and proves that its systems are a failure. Reports have also surfaced indicating that one of Gaza’s armed factions scored a direct hit, using an RPG, on an Israeli Merkava Tank. Despite the rocket fire destroying homes, vehicles, and roads, no Israeli civilians have been killed.

Israel clearly started the recent round of hostilities in Gaza, it has killed and injured overwhelming non-combatants and has somehow received, yet again, favorable coverage in the Western Press.

The BBC, FOX NEWS, SKY, MSNBC, CNN and the rest of the alphabet soup of corporate media outlets, have joined in on the anti-Palestinian hasbara narrative once again. Despite the fact that Israel committed a flagrant violation of the Syrian Arab Republics’ sovereignty, it killed a Palestinian leader without any due legal process and has been the all-out aggressor and only side to inflict civilian casualties.

The mainstream Western media, in fact, deals such a detriment to the journalistic field of work – when it comes to Palestine/Israel – that it is probably better to receive your news straight from the IDF twitter page than it is from them. At least with the Israeli military propaganda, you are getting the clear propagandistic perspective of Israel. Instead of listening to a loosely put together, poorly packaged, piece of romantic action drama, just listen to the Israeli foreign ministry. You will then have one side of the story and not just hasbara constructed to present specifically to an assumed ignorant Western audience, in order to garner support for Israel.

The Return Of Targeted Assassinations?

A widely repeated claim that is being spread throughout Western media, is that Israel has just resumed its policy of ‘targeted assassinations’ and that it hasn’t been involved in such activities in years. This is incorrect.

Israel has consistently carried out targeted assassinations inside of Syria, this year, targeting Iranian military personnel, Hezbollah and others. In fact, just back in September there was nearly a war sparked between Lebanon and Israel due to a campaign of ‘targeted assassinations’ of Hezbollah members.

The only thing that has changed this week, is that Israel has resumed its assassination campaign against Palestinian leaders. A particularly dangerous development as the last war on Gaza in 2014 was started, in part, as a result of ‘targeted assassinations’.

Another problem with the reporting on this issue has been the way the term “targeted assassinations” itself is being used, implying that the target is, in fact, a single person when this is clearly not the case. Entire families of those targeted from the Palestinian Islamic Jihad leadership, have also been injured and killed in the attacks.

This policy is a cowardly one, one not rooted in international law, and seeks to kill members of groups with their entire families whilst they are defenseless and without any legal process.

Why Is Israel Attacking Gaza Now?

In order to understand Israel’s decision to target the Islamic Jihad leadership, we have to keep in mind two key factors, both Israeli and Palestinian politics.

The first reason for Israel’s recent acts of aggression is that the Israelis are likely concerned about the recent developments on the Palestinian political scene. All of the Palestinian factions have come together and decided that it is time to hold new elections in the occupied territories.

There have been numerous failed proposals for new elections and unity before, yet it has failed time and time again, but this time it seems to really be a possibility. This, of course, scares the Israelis, because they know that if any other factions, other than Fatah, win in the West Bank, Israel will have to deal with a new type of resistance from West Bankers.

More important though, is that there will also likely be an end to the ‘security coordination’ between the Palestinian Authority and the Israeli occupation army, which allows Israel to operate its cost-free occupation of the territory.

If these strikes escalate into war, then the Palestinian Authority headed by Abbas’s Fatah Party, will likely abandon the idea of elections and condemn Gaza’s aggression. We can assume this as in 2014, unity government talks were ongoing and the prospects for it to go further were completely destroyed upon the war’s initiation. In 2014, the war was also started after targeted assassinations of Hamas officials.

The second reason for Israel wanting to initiate a war or even just launch these, so-called ‘targeted assassination’ strikes is the current election deadlock Israel finds itself in. After Israel’s snap elections on the 17th of September, the Israeli regime has been in shambles, with a possible third election on the horizon within the space of one year.

Israel’s current Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu was given the first chance at forming a coalition in the Israeli Knesset, despite winning one less seat than his rival Benny Gantz. Netanyahu, the leader of Israel’s Right-Wing Likud Party was then unable to form a coalition and passed the torch onto his rival Benny Gantz, heading the Blue and White Party. Gantz is still unable to form a coalition.

If a third snap election happens, Netanyahu who is still the reigning PM will have to deal with the “Gaza problem” which has led to him losing many votes in the past, especially in the South of Israel. So executions of the leadership in Gaza, are a great PR move for Netanyahu and a war, or even more, targeted assassinations could help him win the next election.

Netanyahu’s Revenge On Gaza

In order to understand the origins of the current Israeli rage influenced actions, we have to look back to November of 2018, when Israel failed a special forces operation in Gaza, ultimately resulting in the death of an Israeli commander, the death of a Hamas commander and a fight that would ensue in the following hours and days. Israel sought to kidnap a Hamas Al-Qassam brigades commander, Nur Barakah, perhaps wanting to achieve a ‘prisoner swap’ type deal, exchanging him for the bodies of Israelis killed in combat, currently held by Hamas. Israel failed badly and the Israeli press shed light on their failure.

Hamas also successfully used an anti-tank missile, in an attack that destroyed an Israeli bus. Hamas waited for Israel to claim that the bus was full of civilians, before releasing a video that revealed the bus was filled with military personnel. Hamas waited and fired the anti-tank missile, following the departure of all but one soldier, from the bus. This was used, to threaten Israel. The Secretary-General of Hezbollah, Sayyed Hassan Nasrallah, claimed that Hezbollah had smuggled the anti-tank missiles into Gaza.

The Salahaldeen Brigades then leaked a video to ‘Al-Mayadeen TV’, revealing an operation from back in February of 2018. The video showed several soldiers being killed, by an explosive laced flag pole. The operation was at the time covered up by an embarrassed Israeli military.

Avigdor Lieberman then resigned as Israel’s ‘Defence Minister’ after Netanyahu refused to go to war. He has been the kingmaker in Israeli politics ever since and his opposition to Netanyahu stems from this escalation in Gaza last November.

This year there has been a number of ‘flare-ups’ all of which Israel has not come out of looking militarily good, they have consistently killed civilians and have been fought off by Gazan armed factions. This is despite the fact that Hamas and the other armed factions in Gaza have much less in terms of weapons technology.

If Netanyahu is to impress the Israeli population with his military campaign against Gaza and can bring Avigdor Lieberman around, he will be able to successfully form a coalition government in the third round of snap elections.

Why Is Violence The Only Option For Gaza?

The response of Palestinian Islamic Jihad is quite literally all that they could have done. The peaceful resistance has been shunned by the world’s media, NGO’s, governments and the United Nations.

Since the 30th of March, 2018, over 330 unarmed Palestinian demonstrators have been killed by Israeli sniper and tear gas fire, 44,000+ have also been injured since that time. The ‘Great Return March’ demonstrations continue until this day, yet the protesters have been ignored and smeared in the West. This was the last desperate cry from Gaza for a peaceful solution and the West has killed it.

Nothing was done to stop Israel’s massacre and the media described the protests as “clashes”. Hilarious that is that these so-called clashes, have gone on for over a year and a half and yet no Israeli has even sustained so much as a significant wound.

Gaza only has two options at this point, to resist the Israeli aggression with whatever weapons they have, or to lay down and die. The West and Israel will only accept the latter.

What happens next?

The ceasefire which was announced to have taken place at 5:30 A.M this Wednesday has already failed due to Israel not respecting the demands of Islamic Jihad and then later PIJ rocket fire into Israel. The two sides are now firing back and forth again.

Currently, Hamas, which rules the Gaza Strip, has stayed out of the fight. If Hamas joins the fight it will likely be an all-out war between Israel and Gaza. Hamas has only stayed out of the fight this long because they seek to allow for Palestinian elections to take place and a war would prevent this from happening.

There will likely be more massacres in the Gaza Strip in the coming days.

November 15, 2019 Posted by | Ethnic Cleansing, Racism, Zionism, War Crimes | , , , | 4 Comments

Israel has cracked down on Palestinian education, criminalising hundreds of students

By Megan Giovannetti | MEMO | November 15, 2019

Khaleel Shaheen is a senior at Birzeit University in Ramallah. When he heard that four close friends and fellow students were arrested by the Israeli authorities, he didn’t go to the campus for five days.

As a volunteer with Birzeit’s Right to Education Campaign — a student-led group which monitors Israeli violations against students — Shaheen is finding it difficult to continue his work as normally as possible while this latest crackdown against students unfolds.

“I feel so angry,” he told me. “I feel so helpless. “I cannot just go to school. I cannot focus. I cannot function to go to class.”

According to the Right to Education Campaign, 20 students have been detained by the Israeli authorities since the beginning of the current academic year. This is nothing new. Since 2004, more than 1,000 students enrolled at Birzeit have been arrested, 80 of whom are still in Israeli prisons. Seventeen of these are currently held under administrative detention, a process which Israel uses systematically to hold Palestinians indefinitely with neither charge nor trial.

Students are often denied access to a lawyer for up to 60 days and subjected to harsh interrogation and treatment in Israeli custody. Most are taken from their homes in the middle of the night or even kidnapped directly from campus.

Addameer, a Palestinian prisoner support and human rights association, told me that a total of 250 students across various Palestinian universities are currently in Israeli prisons. “There are also around 190 Palestinian children detained and imprisoned in Israeli jails, of whom 20 are under 16 years old,” Addameer’s advocacy officer pointed out. “Those children are all students in primary or secondary schools.”

In an exclusive statement to MEMO, Birzeit University described this escalation of arrests as an ongoing Israeli policy targeting students who have political affiliations and activism. “They are targeting students who are very active in the student movement in the university,” Shaheen explained. “They are not just going after people at random.”

Birzeit University is the only West Bank higher education institution which holds student body elections, with representation from all Palestinian political parties. In a society that has not held a General Election since 2007 — hence the deadlocked political system and a president whose own term ended 10 years ago — Birzeit University’s elections are one of the only ways to gauge public opinion.

“These elections are very, very important for both the [Palestinian] government and the [Israeli] occupation [because] it depicts the streets… and what the new generations are voting for,” said Shaheen. He confirmed that no particular political party’s members appear to be targeted; arrests occur across the spectrum of political affiliation.

Birzeit seems to be targeted because of its reputation for producing politically active students. “The students care so much about politics,” added Shaheen. “They care about what is happening on the streets.” He told me about the weekly demonstrations that students arrange in support of prisoners, refugees and martyrs; or simply demanding their right to education.

The student body council has the power to gather students together and give them a voice. “For the Israelis, this is dangerous. It’s dangerous for them [to have] active students who have a voice and opinions, and influence the opinions of others.”

Last year, a video went viral of undercover Israeli forces kidnapping the president of the student body council, Omar Kiswani, directly from Birzeit’s campus. The video and various reports show six plain-clothed officers beating Kiswani and firing their guns in broad daylight.

Birzeit University faculty member and Professor of Media Dr Widad Bargouthi was swept up in the latest round of Israeli arrests based on a military law of “incitement”. According to Addameer, the indictment was based on social media posts made by Dr Bargouthi, despite them being a part of a class regarding the basic journalistic principles of freedom of expression.

“I believe that most of those arrests [are carried out] to create an atmosphere of fear inside the university,” Shaheen said. This has drawn students away from making social media posts or even simply attending classes. “They want to make students fearful of everything.”

When asked for a comment, the office of the Israel Defence Forces spokesperson indicated that the cases are under investigation by Shin Bet, the internal security agency, and no information could be shared. “The students that are in custody have been suspected of terrorist attacks in which Israeli citizens were killed,” is all that the spokesperson would say. No details of the specific “terrorist attacks” in question were provided.

A public gag order on all student cases was issued on 10 September and has been renewed twice. The current order will expire on 7 December. This limits Addameer’s ability for advocacy. The order — requested by Shin Bet — was not issued by a military court, but a civil court in Jerusalem. “The session was one-sided, without the prisoners or their lawyers [present],” said Addameer’s advocacy officer.

Birzeit University told MEMO that Israel’s policy of arresting students and teachers is a “grave violation” of basic rights to education and academic freedom. “The reality now is turning higher education in Palestine from safe spaces where students can grow, excel and express themselves freely, into zones where students are in grave danger both on and off campus.”

Israel’s crackdown on Palestinian education is criminalising hundreds of young people. This is not the act of a genuine democracy.

READ ALSO:

Jewish Nation-State Law added to Israel high school curriculum

Israel students forced to pass government propaganda course before overseas school trips

November 15, 2019 Posted by | Ethnic Cleansing, Racism, Zionism, Full Spectrum Dominance | , , , , | 2 Comments

Israel is a ‘Terrorist State’: Seven Times Bolivia and Morales Took a Stance for Palestine

By Ramzy Baroud | Palestine Chronicle | November 14, 2019

On November 10 Bolivian President Evo Morales, announced his resignation from office following what was described by his deputy, Álvaro García Linera, as a military coup.

Morales’ 14 years in office have been seen by many as a triumph for the indigenous people of Bolivia; in fact, for indigenous peoples everywhere. Along with late Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez and late Cuban President Fidel Castro, among other socialist or socialist-leaning South American leaders, Morales represented the hope of an entire generation.

All of this came crashing down following the general election in the country on October 20. Morales’ opponents, who have traditionally received strong backing from Washington, accused the president’s camp of rigging the elections. Following the announcement of the results which gave Morales a 10% point lead over his rival, an orchestrated campaign was launched by the opposition to overthrow the president.

Well-publicized opposition protests resulted in national upheaval, political turmoil, and an army ultimatum to Morales. Fearing further violence and chaos in the country, the president announced his resignation.

It would be safe to argue that this is not the end of Bolivia’s socialism or the people’s-led drive for justice and equality. Bolivia’s grassroots movement is strong and rooted not just in Bolivia itself, but throughout the region and beyond. This is one of the reasons why Palestinians of all backgrounds are watching the developments in Bolivia with much anxiety and concern.

Palestinians see in Bolivia, although geopolitically removed from the Middle East, a true friend, and a trusted ally. On the other hand, the resignation of Morales is welcomed news in Tel Aviv.

Highlighted below are seven instances where Bolivia, under Morales, showed the type of solidarity with the Palestinian people that was, at times, unparalleled anywhere else in the world:

  1. Cutting Ties with Israel:

Even before Bolivia officially recognized Palestine, on January 14, 2009, it cut ties with Israel. Later that same day, Venezuela followed suit. The Bolivian decision was made in response to the destructive Israeli war on Gaza, known as Operation Cast Lead. At the time, Morales called for the stripping of the Israeli President Shimon Peres, of his Nobel Peace Prize due to his support of the Israeli crimes in the besieged Gaza Strip.

  1. Recognizing Palestine: 

On December 22, Morales followed his decision of severing ties with Israel with officially recognizing the State of Palestine as an independent and sovereign State. The Bolivian move was clearly part of a coordinated South American effort to show greater solidarity with the Palestinian people, as it came at the heels of a similar decision made by Brazil and Argentina.

  1. Supporting Palestine at the United Nations: 

At his September 21, 2011, UN General Assembly speech in New York, President Morales said, “not only does Bolivia support the Palestinian recognition by the United Nations, our position is to welcome the Palestinians to the United Nations”. Morales also denounced Israel for “bombing, attacking, killing and taking land”, from the indigenous Palestinian people. Bolivia’s support of Palestine at the United Nations remained strong and unfaltering for at least the last decade.

  1. Declaring Israel a terrorist state: 

On July 30, 2014, President Morales went further by declaring Israel a “terrorist state”, following the latter’s most recent war on the Gaza enclave. Morales’ statement was not mere rhetoric as it was coupled with concrete steps to hold Israel accountable for its crimes against occupied and besieged Palestinians. On that day, Bolivia also classified Israel as a “group 3” country, which means that any Israeli wanting to visit Bolivia needed to obtain a visa that required the approval of the National Migration Administration.

  1. Prioritizing Palestine: 

When Bolivia assumed the presidency of the United Nations Security Council in June 2017, it declared Palestine a top priority on its political agenda. “Our priorities: conflict in the Middle East of 50 years of the occupation of Palestine, and non-proliferation of chemical and nuclear weapons,” President Morales tweeted at the time.

  1. Naming Palestinian martyrs: 

On May 15, 2018, the Bolivian ambassador to the United Nations registered one of the most symbolic, yet emotive gestures of solidarity towards Palestine that was ever displayed at international institutions. Sacha Llorenti started his talk at a UN emergency session by naming all 61 Palestinians killed by Israel in Gaza’s Great March of Return. The Palestinian victims were all killed in non-violent popular protests that demanded an end to the Israeli siege on Gaza.

  1. Cooperating with Palestine: 

On June 22, 2019, Bolivia sealed its solidarity with the Palestinian people with the signing of the development cooperation agreement between the two countries. Although free trade and cooperation between both economies is not an easy task, if at all possible, considering that Palestine is under total Israeli control, the agreement was a natural and organic evolution of the political support and the grassroots solidarity with Palestine that has been in the making for many years.

It would be untenable to discount the power of the indigenous movement of Bolivia despite Morales’ abrupt resignation. It would be equally wrong to conclude that the absence of Morales would automatically sever the strong rapport predicated on people’s solidarity and common struggle between Palestine and Bolivia.

– Dr. Ramzy Baroud is a journalist, author and editor of The Palestine Chronicle. His last book is The Last Earth: A Palestinian Story (Pluto Press, London) and his forthcoming book is These Chains Will Be Broken: Palestinian Stories of Struggle and Defiance in Israeli Prisons (Clarity Press, Atlanta). Baroud is a Non-resident Senior Research Fellow at the Center for Islam and Global Affairs (CIGA), Istanbul Zaim University (IZU).

November 14, 2019 Posted by | Ethnic Cleansing, Racism, Zionism, Solidarity and Activism | , , , | 4 Comments

Whilst 18 Israelis are treated for anxiety, 22 Palestinians are taken to the mortuary

Smoke rises following an Israeli attack in Gaza city on November 12, 2019. Photo by Ashraf Amra

Smoke rises following an Israeli attack in Gaza city on 12 November 2019 [Ashraf Amra/Apaimages]
Dr Brendan Ciarán Browne | MEMO | November 13, 2019

The extrajudicial killing of Bahaa Abu Al-Ata of the Palestinian Islamic Jihad movement, the second largest faction in the Gaza Strip, has triggered a predictable spike in “conflict related incidents”. As always, it is the Palestinian civilian population residing in the much maligned Gaza Strip who are affected disproportionately.

On Wednesday morning, Israel’s supposedly “left wing” newspaper Haaretz reported that 18 Israeli civilians had been taken overnight to Ashkelon Hospital to be treated for “anxiety” following a spate of rocket fire emanating from Gaza. At the same time, a spokesperson for Gaza’s Health Ministry, Ashraf Al-Qudra, reported that the remains of 22 Palestinians were being transferred to the mortuary. A stark reminder, if ever one was needed, of the gross asymmetry of the “conflict” in Palestine/Israel.

For some, the “legitimacy” of Abu Al-Ata’s killing is a point of contention under international law. There is the usual binary rhetoric of “execution” versus “legitimate act of war” considered alongside debate over the appropriate designation of “combatant/non-combatant” status and the supposed protections therein. Regardless, and often set aside when debating the extrajudicial killing of “enemy (non)combatants”, it is worth remembering that Abu Al-Ata and his wife were killed in their bed in an Israeli rocket attack that destroyed his house in the Gaza City neighbourhood of Shuja’iyah, leaving his two children orphaned and undergoing emergency treatment at the local Al Shifa Hospital.

Similarly, there will be polarising views on the (il)legitimacy of the simultaneous attack on an Islamic Jihad political bureau member in Damascus, Akram Al-Ajouri, which resulted in the death of his son and a neighbour, and which also involved a flagrant breach of Syrian territorial sovereignty. Thus, what has been clear for some time, when it comes to the rules governing armed conflict and the application of principles of international law, it appears that “might is right” when Israel is involved.

Those with a strong commitment to realising the goals of a fair and, more importantly, a just resolution to the enduring conflict in Palestine/Israel will hardly be surprised by the bias and hypocrisy of Western politicians and the media taking to the airwaves to absolve Israel of any blame. Take, for example, the response of the spokesperson for EU Foreign Affairs and Security Policy, Maja Kocijančič, who tweeted in the aftermath of Abu Al-Ata’s killing that, “The firing of rockets on civilian populations is totally unacceptable and must immediately stop.” Or Joe Biden, in the running to be the next President of the United States, who tweeted, “It is intolerable that Israeli civilians live their lives under the constant fear of rocket attacks.” Not enough twitter characters, it seems, for either to make mention of the fact that it was the Israelis who kicked off this latest round of violence.

Arguably the greatest example of linguistic gymnastics is reserved for the headline writer in the Times of Israel, who led with, “Israel kills powerful Islamic Jihad commander”. Quite a stretch considering the modest arsenal at the disposal of Palestinian factions compared to a nuclear armed Middle East superpower with friends in high places. As leading Palestinian writer and activist Mariam Barghouti has noted, Palestinians, “aren’t leading a war. They have no official army, no official borders; they have no control over their resources and lands; and even their politicians are sometimes assassinated or incarcerated.”

The much-maligned Gaza Strip, considered to be unliveable by 2020 according to a UN report, continues to be the front line of resistance when it comes to Israel’s ongoing colonisation of Palestine. Weekly protests that call for an end to the illegal Israeli (and Egyptian) blockade imposed on the civilian population are often subject to extreme levels of Israeli violence, tantamount to “alleged war crimes” according to the UN and leading regional human rights organisations. Approximately 200 Palestinian civilians, including some 50 children, have been killed since the beginning of the protests in 2018, with many thousands left with life-changing injuries. Yet despite the tough talk from the UN Human Rights Council, when it comes to breaches of international law in Palestine, accountability and justice remain elusive.

It is hard to avoid the sense of déjà vu that surrounds this latest incident. As has been noted in other media outlets, the killing of Abu Al-Ata comes almost 7 years to the day that Israel assassinated Hamas leader Ahmed Jabari, the pretext to the 2012 ground invasion and eventual deadly military offensive against the Palestinians in Gaza. Back then, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu was struggling to hold together his hotchpotch coalition government. In 2019, having gone through two General Election cycles this year without a clear winner, and with pressure mounting on political rivals to form a coalition, Israeli politics is in a similar state of flux. There is nothing better, apparently, than to carry out a choreographed, high profile assassination of a Palestinian to galvanise the nation.

With former Chief of Staff Benny Gantz — chief architect of Israel’s 2014 destruction of Gaza — waiting in the wings, the prospect of an Israeli coalition government comprising Netanyahu, Gantz and Israeli hawk Naftali Bennett as “Defence” Minister seems more likely than ever. It remains to be seen how the latest, cyclical round of violence will evolve, but no amount of false equivalency can mask the fact that this is a dangerously one-sided affair centred on Israeli political posturing.

November 13, 2019 Posted by | Ethnic Cleansing, Racism, Zionism, War Crimes | , , , | 2 Comments

Israel murders senior Islamic Jihad official and his wife in Gaza

MEMO | November 12, 2019

The Israeli occupation army announced on Tuesday that it had killed a senior military official of Islamic Jihad in the Gaza Strip. Bahaa Abu Al-Ata was killed in what was described as a complicated joint operation with the internal security agency Shin Bet.

The Palestinian Ministry of Health confirmed that Abu Al-Ata and his wife Asmaa were killed in an Israeli air strike on their house in the east of Gaza City. It also confirmed that their children Salim, Mohammed Layan and Fatima, as well as their neighbour Hanan Hellis, were wounded in the same attack. All are in a stable condition in hospital.

In its own statement on the murder of Abu Al-Ata, Islamic Jihad also announced that a member of its Political Bureau, Akram Al-Ajjouri, survived an Israeli attack on his house in Damascus, although his son and a number of bodyguards were killed.

“These terrorist crimes are a new aggression against the Palestinian people and the declaration of a new Israeli war on them,” said the movement. It blamed the occupation authorities for any consequent escalation in the Gaza Strip. “The Israeli occupation crossed all the red lines with its new crimes which shattered all efforts being made towards the truce and tranquillity.”

Other Palestinian factions, including Hamas, Fatah and the Popular and Democratic Fronts, condemned the Israeli “aggression” and also blamed Israel for any escalation.

November 12, 2019 Posted by | Ethnic Cleansing, Racism, Zionism, War Crimes | , , | 2 Comments

A lesson for the Palestinian leadership: Real reasons behind Israel’s arrest and release of Labadi, Mi’ri

Heba Al-Labadi (C) was released from prison by Israel on 6 November 2019

Jordanian citizen Heba Al-Labadi (C), following detention by Israeli forces, was released from prison and returned to Jordan on 6 November 2019
By Ramzy Baroud | MEMO | November 11, 2019

The release on November 6 of two Jordanian nationals, Heba al-Labadi and Abdul Rahman Mi’ri from Israeli prisons was a bittersweet moment. The pair were finally reunited with their families after harrowing experiences in Israel. Sadly, thousands of Palestinian prisoners are still denied their freedom, still subjected to all sorts of hardships at the hands of their Israeli jailers.

Despite the jubilant return of the two prisoners, celebrated in Jordan, Palestine and throughout the Arab world, several compelling questions remain unanswered: why were they held in the first place? Why were they released and what can their experience teach Palestinians under Israeli occupation?

Throughout the whole ordeal, Israel failed to produce any evidence to indict Labadi and Mi’ri for any wrongdoing. In fact, it was this lack of evidence that made Israel hold the two Jordanian nationals in Administrative Detention, without any judicial process whatsoever.

Oddly, days before the release of the two Jordanians, an official Israeli government statement praised the special relationship between Amman and Tel Aviv, describing it as “a cornerstone of stability in the Middle East”.

The reality is that the relationship between the two countries has hit rock bottom in recent years, especially following US President Donald Trump’s advent to the White House and the subsequent, systematic dismantling of the “peace process” by Trump and the Israeli government.

Not only did Washington and Tel Aviv demolish the region’s political status quo, one in which Jordan featured as a key player, top US diplomats also tried to barter with King Abdullah II so that Jordan would settle millions of Palestinian refugees in the country in exchange for large sums of money.

Jordan vehemently rejected US offers and attempts at isolating the Palestinian leadership in Ramallah.

On October 21, 2018, Jordan went even further, by rejecting an Israeli offer to renew a 25-year lease on two enclaves in the Jordan Valley, Al-Baqura and Al-Ghamar. The government’s decision was a response to protests by Jordanians and elected parliamentarians, who insist on Jordan’s complete sovereignty over all of its territories.

This particular issue goes back years. Jordan and Israel signed a peace treaty in 1994. An additional annex in the treaty allowed Israel to lease part of the Jordan Valley for 25 years. A quarter of a century later, the Jordan-Israel Peace Treaty failed to achieve any degree of meaningful normalization between both countries, especially as neighboring Palestine remains under Israeli occupation. The stumbling block of that coveted normalization was – and remains – the Jordanian people, who strongly rejected a renewed Israeli lease over Jordanian territories.

Israeli negotiators must have been surprised by Jordan’s refusal to accommodate Israeli interests. With the US removing itself, at least publicly, from the brewing conflict, Israel resorted to its typical bullying, by holding two Jordanians hostage, hoping to force the government to reconsider its decision regarding the Jordan Valley.

Palestinians stage a demonstration in support of Palestinian-Jordanian woman Hiba Al-Labadi, who stages a hunger strike after she was arrested by Israeli forces, in East Jerusalem on 31 October 2019. [Mostafa Alkharouf - Anadolu Agency]

Palestinians demonstrate in support of hunger striking Hiba Al-Labadi, after her arrest by Israeli forces, in East Jerusalem on 31 October 2019. [Mostafa Alkharouf – Anadolu Agency ]

The Israeli strategy backfired. The arrest of Labadi – who started a hunger strike that lasted for over 40 days –  and Mi’ri, a cancer survivor, was a major PR disaster for Israel. Not only did the tactic fail to deliver any results, it further galvanized the Jordanian people, and government regarding the decision to reclaim Al-Baqura and al-Ghamar.

Labadi and Mi’ri were released on November 6. The following day, the Jordanian government informed Israel that its farmers will be banned from entering Al-Baqura area. This way, Jordan retrieved its citizens and its territories within the course of 24 hours.

Three main reasons allowed Jordan to prevail in its confrontation with Israel. First, the steadfastness of the prisoners themselves; second, the unity and mobilization of the Jordanian street, civil society organizations and elected legislators; and third, the Jordanian government responding positively to the unified voice of the street.

This compels the question: what is the Palestinian strategy regarding the nearly 5,000 Palestinian prisoners held unlawfully in Israel?

While the prisoners themselves continue to serve as a model of unity and courage, the other factors fundamental to any meaningful strategy aimed at releasing all Palestinian prisoners remain absent.

Although factionalism continues to undermine the Palestinian fight for freedom, prisoners are fighting the same common enemy. The famed “National Conciliation Document”, composed by the unified leadership of Palestinian prisoners in Israeli jails in 2006, is considered the most articulate vision for Palestinian unity and liberation.

For ordinary Palestinians, the prisoners remain an emotive subject, but political disunity is making it nearly impossible for the energies of the Palestinian street to be harnessed in a politically meaningful way. Despite much lip service paid to freeing the prisoners, efforts aimed at achieving this goal are hopelessly splintered and agonizingly factionalized.

As for the Palestinian leadership, the strategy championed by Palestinian Authority leader, Mahmoud Abbas, is more focused on propping up Abbas’ own image than alleviating the suffering of the prisoners and their families. Brazenly, Abbas exploits the emotional aspect of the prisoners’ tragedy to gain political capital, while punishing the families of Palestinian prisoners in order to pursue his own self-serving political agenda.

Heba Al-Labadi (C) was released from an Israeli prison on 6 November 2019

Jordanian citizen Heba Al-Labadi (C) was released from an Israeli prison and has returned to Jordan on 6 November 2019

“Even if I had only one penny, I would’ve given it to the families of the martyrs, prisoners and heroes,” Abbas said in a theatrical way during his United Nations General Assembly speech last September.

Abbas, of course, has more than one penny. In fact, he has withheld badly needed funds from the families of the “martyrs, prisoners and heroes.” On April 2018, Abbas cut the salaries of government employees in Gaza, along with the money received by the families of Gaza prisoners held inside Israeli jails.

Heba al-Labadi and Abdul Rahman Mi’ri were released because of their own resolve, coupled with strong solidarity exhibited by ordinary Jordanians. These two factors allowed the Jordanian government to publicly challenge Israel, leading to the unconditional release of the two Jordanian prisoners.

Meanwhile, thousands of Palestinian prisoners, including 500 administrative detainees continue to languish in Israeli prisons. Without united and sustained popular, non-factional mobilization, along with the full backing of the Palestinian leadership, the prisoners are likely to carry on with their fight, alone and unaided.

See also:

Israel and the PA: security relations have never been better 

She deserves our support: Betty McCollum wants US to stop subsidising torture of Palestinian children 

November 11, 2019 Posted by | Ethnic Cleansing, Racism, Zionism, Solidarity and Activism, Subjugation - Torture | , , , | 1 Comment

Israel is silencing the last voices trying to prevent abuse of Palestinians

By Jonathan Cook – The National – November 11, 2019

It has been a week of appalling abuses committed by Israeli soldiers in the West Bank – little different from the other 2,670 weeks endured by Palestinians since the occupation began in 1967.

The difference this past week was that several entirely unexceptional human rights violations that had been caught on film went viral on social media.

One shows a Palestinian father in the West Bank city of Hebron leading his son by the hand to kindergarten. The pair are stopped by two heavily armed soldiers, there to help enforce the rule of a few hundred illegal Jewish settlers over the city’s Palestinian population.

The soldiers scream at the father, repeatedly and violently push him and then grab his throat as they accuse his small son of throwing stones. As the father tries to shield his son from the frightening confrontation, one soldier pulls out his rifle and sticks it in the father’s face.

It is a minor incident by the standards of Israel’s long-running belligerent occupation. But it powerfully symbolises the unpredictable, humiliating, terrifying and sometimes deadly experiences faced daily by millions of Palestinians.

A video of another such incident emerged last week. A Palestinian man is ordered to leave an area by an armed Israeli policewoman. He turns and walks slowly away, his hands in the air. Moments later she shoots a sponge-tipped bullet into his back. He falls to the ground, writhing in agony.

It is unclear whether the man was being used for target practice or simply for entertainment.

The reason such abuses are so commonplace is that they are almost never investigated – and even less often are those responsible punished.

It is not simply that Israeli soldiers become inured to the suffering they inflict on Palestinians daily. It is the soldiers’ very duty to crush the Palestinians’ will for freedom, to leave them utterly hopeless. That is what is required of an army policing a population permanently under occupation.

The message is only underscored by the impunity the soldiers enjoy. Whatever they do, they have the backing not only of their commanders but of the government and courts.

Just that point was underlined late last month. An unnamed Israeli army sniper was convicted of shooting dead a 14-year-old boy in Gaza last year. The Palestinian child had been participating in one of the weekly protests at the perimeter fence.

Such trials and convictions are a great rarity. Despite damning evidence showing that Uthman Hillis was shot in the chest with a live round while posing no threat, the court sentenced the sniper to the equivalent of a month’s community service.

In Israel’s warped scales of justice, the cost of a Palestinian child’s life amounts to no more than a month of extra kitchen duties for his killer.

But the overwhelming majority of the 220 Palestinian deaths at the Gaza fence over the past 20 months will never be investigated. Nor will the wounding of tens of thousands more Palestinians, many of them now permanently disabled.

There is an equally disturbing trend. The Israeli public have become so used to seeing YouTube videos of soldiers – their sons and daughters – abuse Palestinians that they now automatically come to the soldiers’ defence, however egregious the abuses.

The video of the father and son threatened in Hebron elicited few denunciations. Most Israelis rallied behind the soldiers. Amos Harel, a military analyst for the liberal Haaretz newspaper, observed that an “irreversible process” was under way among Israelis: “The soldiers are pure and any criticism of them is completely forbidden.”

When the Israeli state offers impunity to its soldiers, the only deterrence is the knowledge that such abuses are being monitored and recorded for posterity – and that one day these soldiers may face real accountability, in a trial for war crimes.

But Israel is working hard to shut down those doing the investigating – human rights groups.

For many years Israel has been denying United Nations monitors – including international law experts like Richard Falk and Michael Lynk – entry to the occupied territories in a blatant bid to stymie their human rights work.

Last week Human Rights Watch, headquartered in New York, also felt the backlash. The Israeli supreme court approved the deportation of Omar Shakir, its Israel-Palestine director.

Before his appointment by HRW, Mr Shakir had called for a boycott of the businesses in illegal Jewish settlements. The judges accepted the state’s argument: he broke Israeli legislation that treats Israel and the settlements as indistinguishable and forbids support for any kind of boycott.

But Mr Shakir rightly understands that the main reason Israel needs soldiers in the West Bank – and has kept them there oppressing Palestinians for more than half a century – is to protect settlers who were sent there in violation of international law.

The collective punishment of Palestinians, such as restrictions on movement and the theft of resources, was inevitable the moment Israel moved the first settlers into the West Bank. That is precisely why it is a war crime for a state to transfer its population into occupied territory.

But Mr Shakir had no hope of a fair hearing. One of the three judges in his case, Noam Sohlberg, is himself just such a lawbreaker. He lives in Alon Shvut, a settlement near Hebron.

Israel’s treatment of Mr Shakir is part of a pattern. In recent days other human rights groups have faced the brunt of Israel’s vindictiveness.

Laith Abu Zeyad, a Palestinian field worker for Amnesty International, was recently issued a travel ban, denying him the right to attend a relative’s funeral in Jordan. Earlier he was refused the right to accompany his mother for chemotherapy in occupied East Jerusalem.

And last week Arif Daraghmeh, a Palestinian field worker for B’Tselem, an Israeli human rights group, was seized at a checkpoint and questioned about his photographing of the army’s handling of Palestinian protests. Mr Daraghmeh had to be taken to hospital after being forced to wait in the sun.

It is a sign of Israel’s overweening confidence in its own impunity that it so openly violates the rights of those whose job it is to monitor human rights.

Palestinians, meanwhile, are rapidly losing the very last voices prepared to stand up and defend them against the systematic abuses associated with Israel’s occupation. Unless reversed, the outcome is preordained: the rule of the settlers and soldiers will grow ever more ruthless, the repression ever more ugly.

November 11, 2019 Posted by | Ethnic Cleansing, Racism, Zionism, Subjugation - Torture | , , | 6 Comments

Trump rejects Israel’s request to fund Palestine security forces

Press TV – November 7, 2019

US President Donald Trump has reportedly told his close assistants that Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu should pay millions of dollars in annual aid to the Palestinian Authority if he thinks Washington’s decision to cut it altogether was wrong.

New website Axios reported on Wednesday that Netanyahu had earlier this year asked the White House to resume transferring money to the Palestinian authority, citing concerns by Israeli experts that not doing so would affect the future of any attempts at “peace.”

Barak Ravid, a Channel 13 reporter in Israel, claimed that Tel Aviv made the request after it found out that the US State Department had discovered $12 million in funds earmarked for the Palestinians but not transferred to the PA.

Israel, which maintains security ties with the Palestinian Authority of President Mahmoud Abbas, asked Trump to hand over the money, a request he swiftly turned down.

“If it is that important to Netanyahu he should pay the Palestinians $12 million,” Trump said according to the report, citing the PA’s decision to cut ties with his administration in the wake of Washington’s 2017 recognition of Jerusalem al-Quds as the capital of the Israeli regime.

The Trump administration ended aid to the PA in January, just before the Anti-Terrorism Clarification Act (ATCA), passed by Congress and then signed into law by President Donald Trump last year, came into force.

The legislation allows Americans to sue those receiving foreign aid from the US government in American courts over alleged complicity in “acts of war.”

The PA reportedly asked the funding stop to avoid possible costly lawsuits in the face of long-running accusations by Washington and Tel Aviv about providing funds to the families of convicted or slain individuals whom they regard as “terrorists.”

The PA argues that the payments are a form of welfare to help the families who have lost their main breadwinner to cope with their absence.

The US State Department alleges that the annual aid of around $60 million was paid to support Palestinian security forces who cooperate closely with their Israeli counterparts against Hamas and other Palestinian resistance groups in the West Bank

Since taking office, Trump has cut hundreds of millions of dollars of aid for Palestinians. This includes America’s entire support for the UN agency for Palestinian refugees as well as another $200 million earmarked for humanitarian programs in the West Bank and Gaza.

The cuts abruptly ended food assistance to 180,000 Palestinians on behalf of the World Food Program last year and defunded a number of health initiatives and hospitals.

Trump’s aid cuts have also brought to halt infrastructure projects, including water treatment facilities in the Gaza Strip.

November 7, 2019 Posted by | Ethnic Cleansing, Racism, Zionism | , , | 22 Comments