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How Israel kills at will and in total impunity while the world asks the Palestinians for non-violent resistance

Frank Barat writes of the life and death of Bassem Abu Rahme, shot by an IOF soldier with “the rocket”, a new kind of weapon also used on critically injured US citizen Tristan Anderson some weeks ago.

On April the 17th, like any Friday afternoon for the last 4 years, the small village of Bil’in, north of Ramallah, was preparing for the usual demonstration against Israel’s annexation wall … The village of Bil’in has, since the mid eighties, lost more than 60% of its land for the purpose of Israeli growing settlements and the construction of the wall. The inhabitants of the village used to live mainly from agriculture and olive trees plantations but more and more, the people of Bil’in have to rely on the women to survive. Embroidery has become one of the main resource of the place, located a few kilometres away from Tel Aviv (on a nice day, you can see the “inaccessible”–for the Palestinians– beach from the roof tops of Bil’in).

In January 2005, a village committee (led by Mohamed Khatib, Iyad Burnat and Abdullah Abu Rahme) was created and a month later non-violent demonstrations started, first taking part every day, then once a week, on Yum Al Juma’a (Friday, day of prayer).

The village won a huge battle in August 2008 (1) when the Israeli High Court of Justice ruled that the new route of the barrier in Bil’in was in violation of the Court ruling released on September 2007 (2) (which ruled that the Wall path was prejudicial to Bil’in and must be altered) and ordered the State to present within 45 days a new route, which will uphold the principles of the ruling.

On Friday the 17th of April 2009, the wall still had not moved one inch and while the inhabitants of the village were praying at the village mosque, many internationals (coming from all around the world) and the strong Israeli contingent (including people from the Alternative Information Centre (3) and Anarchists Against the Wall (4)) were looking for some shade (to hide from the baking sun) and chatting about the day’s event. As soon as prayer was over with, the demonstration started to move forward in direction of the wall, a few kilometres away.

You can be sure that Bassem (aka Phil) was right at the front of the march. He always was. I had met Bassem a few times while visiting Bil’in. He was a strong looking man, singing the loudest, joking all the time, jumping around and leading the way, accompanied by the rest of the village committee and the Israeli contingent.

As it usually happens, as soon as the march reached the corner where the Israeli soldiers can be seen, the tear gas started. A few brave ones, always continue anyway and reach the beginning of the wall, after a few minutes. Bassem, as usual, was one of those. The Israelis present at the front of the demonstration started talking with the nearby soldiers in Hebrew and Bassem too, screamed “We are in a non violent protest, there are kids and internationals…”. He was shot in the chest and never managed to finished his sentence. He fell on the floor, moved a little bit, fell again, and died. ( http://www.bilin-village.org/english/articles/testimonies/Basem-Abu-Rahme-killed-in-Bilin-weekly-protest , scroll down for stills and videos)

Bassem was shot by a new kind of Tear Gas, called “the rocket”. The soldier who shot was a mere 40 meters away. This is the same type of tear gas that critically injured US citizen Tristan Anderson a few weeks ago. Those tear gas canisters are as fast and lethal as live ammunition. Very hard to get away from. Normally, tear gas canisters fly in the air for a long time, then fall and bounce a few times. Those ones fly like a bullet and go straight, not up and down.

Once more, Israel using the West Bank as its testing ground, the Palestinians as guinea pigs.

The soldier who fired, knew what he was doing and who he was targeting. The shame is that he probably knew Bassem. Bassem was always at the front, and had been for a few years now. The soldiers often come back more than once in Bil’in and start to get to know the ones facing them. Bassem did not get a chance to say hi, or bye.

On April the 17th , Bil’in and Palestine lost one of their heroes.

What is going to happen next?

Israel has already said that it will investigate the incident (out of every single investigation into such crimes, only 6% of the soldiers were ever prosecuted, often let off with a few weeks suspension), but before it did, started the usual propaganda, saying that the protest had been really violent and that the soldiers had to react (the video of the demonstration clearly shows otherwise).

We might even hear in a few days that it was actually the Palestinians who fired the tear gas and killed their beloved friend.

The P.A, instead of issuing the strongest statement against this act, stopping once and for all the negotiations with the Israeli government and joining the demonstrators every Friday to be hand in hand with its people, said next to nothing, and is looking forward to the upcoming White House meeting between Mahmoud Abbas and Obama (this is being planned while I write).

The media hardly reported this. The Palestinians do not count. Even more shocking when a video of the event is available to all and could have been used to great effect.

The international community (for what it means) will not mention this “incident” (it is for them) and continue issuing calls for the Palestinians to renounce violence and resist peacefully while saying nothing about Israel’s killings (since the start of the second intifada, 87% of the dead have been Palestinians), violations of international law and oppression of the Palestinians.

It is therefore down to us, the citizens of this world, to act, join solidarity groups, write articles, make films and talk, constantly, about the plight of the Palestinian people. Palestine has to become the number one issue.

This is a must.

For Bassem, his family, Bil’in and Palestine.

Frank Barat is in the organizing committee of the Russell Tribunal on Palestine and a member of Palestine Solidarity Campaign UK.

1. http://www.bilin-village.org/english/articles/testimonies/The-Supreme-Court-The-new-barrier-in-Bilin-violates-the-Court-ruling
2. http://www.bilin-village.org/english/articles/press-and-independent-media/Palestinians-celebrate-rare-victory-over-hated-barrier
3. http://www.alternativenews.org/
4. http://www.awalls.org/

Article source

January 24, 2014 Posted by | Ethnic Cleansing, Racism, Zionism, Solidarity and Activism, Subjugation - Torture, Timeless or most popular | , , , , , | Leave a comment

Another Journalist with Children in the Israeli Military

By ALISON WEIR | CounterPunch | July 26, 2013

The New York Times recently published a news brief, reporting that Israel is going to re-investigate an incident in which an American citizen, Tristan Anderson, was permanently maimed.

Anderson suffered extensive brain damage (part of his frontal lobe was destroyed) and paralysis, and was blinded in one eye, after Israeli soldiers shot him with a tear gas canister intended as a “barricade penetrator” from inappropriately close range. According to eyewitnesses, Anderson was shot as he was taking photographs in a Palestinian village after an unarmed protest against the illegal and extensive confiscation of village land.

Israeli forces have a history of shooting unarmed protesters with these canisters, which one expert likens to “a small missile.”

Yet the New York Times report, “Israel Reopens Inquiry Into Activist’s Injury” (July 11, 2013, P. 9) reveals few of these details.

The Times article states that Anderson was injured when he was hit in the head by a tear gas canister and is partly paralyzed and blind in one eye, but does not mention his extensive brain damage and that his paralysis is over half his body. It doesn’t reveal that the type of canister used is extraordinarily destructive or that it was fired at such close range.

The report also omits the fact that this incident is part of a pattern, even though Israeli forces have killed at least two Palestinians with these canisters, and shot out the eye of an American student with another. According to a report by an Israeli organization, Israeli forces “frequently fire tear-gas canisters directly at demonstrators.”

The Times report states that the protest was “against the extension of Israel’s separation barrier in the West Bank” without citing the villagers’ actual complaint — the confiscation of their land and, thus, livelihood by Israel. It similarly fails to mention that over previous decades Israel confiscated over 80 percent of the village land and now intends to take between a quarter and a third of what remains to build the “barrier.”

Finally, the Times report repeats, without attribution, the Israeli security forces’ claim that the shooting occurred “during a clash,” implying that it happened accidentally during a violent engagement, ignoring eyewitness testimony that the protest had dissipated and most people had gone home.

The byline on the Times report is Myra Noveck. Noveck has bylined a number of stories for both the New York Times and its European affiliate the International Herald Tribune, where ZoomInfo lists her as a contributor.

Noveck is frequently cited in New York Times news reports as a contributor to stories, and a prominent Israeli newspaper calls her the Times’ “deputy bureau chief” for the Times’ Jerusalem bureau, its bureau for covering Israel-Palestine.

From information she has posted online, it appears that Noveck is an American who moved to Israel after college. According to Torah in Motion, which promotes Jewish dialogue and speakers, two of her children were serving in the Israeli military as of 2012. It is unclear whether her children are currently still on active duty or whether they are now serving as Israeli reserve soldiers.

In either case, it appears that while Noveck has been writing and contributing to news reports about Israel and about the Israeli military, her children have been serving in it.

Such a situation appears to constitute a clear conflict of interest – even according to the Times’ own ethics standards – and should normally cause a journalist to be assigned to a different area of reporting.

When it came to light in 2010 that then chief of the Times’ Jerusalem bureau, Ethan Bronner, had a son in the Israeli military, even the Times’ own ombudsman concluded that Bronner should be reassigned.

In response to requests for information and interviews with Noveck and Times Executive Editor Jill Abramson, a Times spokesperson issued a written statement claiming that Noveck is “not a reporter,” but merely a “long-time news assistant in The Times’s bureau in Jerusalem.”

The statement went on to say:  “She works under the direction of our bureau chief primarily doing translation and research.  She is an Israeli citizen.  If she has children and they are also Israeli citizens, presumably they would be required to serve in the military*.  This situation would not constitute a ‘breach with impartiality.’”

I wrote back pointing out (1) that Times’ conflict of interest requirements include family members and (2) that Noveck’s byline appeared on a news report. The spokesperson then admitted that Noveck “on rare occasions received a byline” but still maintained that “she is not a reporter.”

However, the Times’ published ethics standards generally extend ethical requirements ”to all newsroom and editorial page employees, journalists and support staff alike.”

Reporters Frequently Have Ties to Israeli Military

This incident is part of a pattern of ethics violations concerning reporting on Israel.

Isabel Kershner, a senior Times reporter in the region, is an Israeli citizen whose husband, according to Fairness and Accuracy in Reporting (Fair) works for an Israeli organization, the Institute for National Security Studies (INSS), which has close ties to the Israeli military and is “tasked with shaping a positive image of Israel in the media.”

A FAIR study of articles that Kershner had written or contributed to since 2009 found they had overwhelmingly relied on the INSS for analysis about events in the region.

A multitude of journalists at the Times and elsewhere have had close personal and family ties to the Israeli military – almost none of them ever disclosed, including the previous Times bureau chief Ethan Bronner, as noted above.

Jonathan Cook, a British journalist based in Israel, quotes a Jerusalem bureau chief who stated: “… Bronner’s situation is ‘the rule, not the exception. I can think of a dozen foreign bureau chiefs, responsible for covering both Israel and the Palestinians, who have served in the Israeli army, and another dozen who like Bronner have kids in the Israeli army.”

Cook writes that the bureau chief explained: “It is common to hear Western reporters boasting to one another about their Zionist credentials, their service in the Israeli army or the loyal service of their children.”

For more information on journalists’ pro-Israel conflict of interest violations see ”US Media and Israeli Military: All in the Family,” “Jodi Rudoren, Another Member of the Family: Meet the New York Times’ New Israel-Palestine News Chief,” “Ethan Bronner’s Conflict With Impartiality,” and ”AP’s Matti Friedman: Israeli citizen and former Israeli soldier.”

It would appear from this pervasive pattern that many of the owners, editors, and journalists who determine U.S. reporting on Israel-Palestine believe that normal ethics requirements don’t apply in regard to Israel.

This situation holds serious consequences for the American public. American taxpayers give Israel over $8 million per day (more than to any other country) and, as a result, most of the world views Americans as responsible for Israeli actions, exposing us to escalating risks.

Osama Bin Laden and others have often cited U.S. support for Israeli crimes as a primary cause of hostility against us.

It is thus essential that Americans be accurately and fully informed. This is unlikely to happen while those reporting for American news media (whether “reporters” or “assistants”) have such close ties to Israel and its powerful military forces.

Witnesses Describe Soldiers Shooting Protesters with High-Speed Canisters

Anderson was shot in 2009 after a protest in the Palestinian village of Ni’lin in the West Bank. Since 2007 Ni’lin villagers and others have been demonstrating against the illegal Israeli confiscation of up to a third of the village’s land (following previous confiscations in which the majority of the village’s original land was taken by Israel).

Gabby Silverman, a witness to the shooting of Tristan Anderson, describes the incident: “Tristan had wandered off with his camera. I was looking at him. And out of nowhere, they opened fire on us. The first shot they fired, they got Tristan.”

Anderson is now in a wheelchair with permanent brain damage. He is hemiplegic (paralyzed on the left, formerly dominant, side of his body). He is blind in his right eye and part of his head and frontal lobe were destroyed.

The kind of canister Israeli forces shot at Anderson is particularly dangerous, according to their manufacturer itself. The shells have a range of several hundred meters, yet Israeli soldiers fired at Anderson from approximately 60 meters away.

The canisters’ manufacturer, Combined Systems, Inc. (CSI), classifies them as “barricade penetrators” and advises that they should not be fired at people. A spokesperson for an Israeli human rights organization says, “It’s like firing a small missile.” Because of an internal propulsion mechanism, they hurtle through the air at 122 meters per second.

CSI is reportedly the primary supplier of tear gas to Israel. A watchdog group reports that the company flew the Israeli flag at its Jamestown, Pennsylvania, headquarters until, in advance of a planned Martin Luther King Day demonstration, CSI took it down and replaced it with the Pennsylvania state flag.

According to an in-depth report on CSI by Pennsylvania professor Dr. Werner Lange, the company was founded by two Israelis, Jacob Kravel and Michael Brunn.

A month after Anderson was shot, a Palestinian nonviolence leader was killed by this same type of tear gas canister when an Israeli soldier shot it into the victim’s chest (the fifth Palestinian killed in Ni’lin by the Israeli military in a year and a half).

The next year Israeli forces fired a similar canister at a young American art student, Emily Henochowicz, destroying one eye. An eyewitness reported that an Israeli soldier intentionally aimed the canister at Henoschowitz while she was participating in a nonviolent demonstration.

In 2012 another Palestinian was killed when an Israeli soldier shot him in the face with what appears to have also been a long-range CSI canister.

The occupying Israeli forces have consistently suppressed the Ni’lin villagers’ unarmed protests against the stealing of their land. As of 2012, Israel had arrested more than 350 villagers, killed 5 – including a 10-year-old child – injured “multiple” protesters with live ammunition, and broken the bones of 15 people with tear gas projectiles, according to the villagers’ website, created to document the situation.

There are similar reports from other Palestinian villages, where several other protesters have died from tear gas fired by Israeli forces.

It is unfortunate that almost none of this was even hinted at in Myra Noveck’s New York Times report.

*While military service is required for both males and females in Israel, only about 50 percent actually serve; many Israelis have refused to serve in the Israeli military for reasons of conscience.

Alison Weir is executive director of If Americans Knew and president of the Council for the National Interest. She can be reached through contact@ifamericansknew.org.

For more information on Anderson, videos of the incident, and the latest updates go to http://www.justice4tristan.org/.

Ni’lin is also sometimes referred to as Nilin or Na’alin.

July 26, 2013 Posted by | Deception, Ethnic Cleansing, Racism, Zionism, Mainstream Media, Warmongering, Subjugation - Torture | , , , , | Comments Off on Another Journalist with Children in the Israeli Military

Parents of Tristan Anderson, US activist critically wounded following West Bank protest, appeal to High Court of Israel

Parents of US Activist: Police Investigation was Shockingly Negligent

International Solidarity Movement | July 9, 2013

Jerusalem – Tristan Anderson (41, of Oakland, CA) was severely wounded after having been shot in the head with a high velocity tear gas grenade* (made in the USA) fired by Israeli Border Police following a protest in the West Bank Village of Ni’lin, resulting in severe permanent brain damage and paralysis to half his body.

Tristan Anderson with his parents

Tristan Anderson with his parents

Attorneys for Anderson’s family, along with Israeli NGO Yesh Din, will appear before the Israeli High Court of Justice on Wednesday, JULY 10. The petition challenges the investigation that they claim was blatantly inadequate, with the identity of the shooter still being actively withheld to this day.

“Tristan will live the rest of his life with serious mental and physical limitations and chronic pain. This has devastated his life and profoundly affected our family forever,” said Nancy Anderson, Tristan’s mother.

No criminal charges have been brought against any police or military personnel involved in the 2009 shooting of their son. Video evidence uncovered during the course of an ongoing civil lawsuit (trial begins November 10, 2013 in Jerusalem for the civil suit) raises further questions on the credibility of State witnesses, who in contradiction to sworn testimony, are clearly seen shooting tear gas directly at protesters from close range in the video, which was taken earlier that day. The video also raises serious questions relating to the true locations of the various squads of Border Police present at the time of the shooting, with investigators opting only to question those squads that were on the other side of the town at the time the shooting occurred, while failing to question the squad that was stationed on the nearby hill where activist witnesses say the shots came from. As well, investigators failed to visit the scene of the shooting and made no attempts to collect physical evidence.

See “Perpetrators of the Shooting of Tristan Anderson”.

See “Aftermath of the shooting of Tristan Anderson Part 1, Part 2, and Part 3 for further video.

Michael Sfard and Emily Schaeffer, attorneys for the Anderson family commented:

“The astonishing negligence of this investigation and of the prosecutorial team that monitored its outcome is unacceptable, but it epitomizes Israel’s culture of impunity. Tristan’s case is actually not rare; it represents hundreds of other cases of Palestinian victims whose investigations have also failed.”

Tristan joined the ranks of scores of other protesters who have been seriously injured or killed during demonstrations in the Occupied Palestinian Territories in recent years. On March 13, 2009 he was in Ni’alin demonstrating against the annexation of village lands to build the controversial “Separation Wall” when he was shot. Witnesses insist there was no stone throwing in his immediate surroundings at the time when he was shot, and that the shooting was “unexpected and unprovoked”.

“Tristan’s shooting is part of a pattern of deadly violence being used against protesters in the Occupied Territories, who are not recognized as having a fundamental right to political self-determination,” said Gabrielle Silverman, Tristan’s girlfriend, and a witness to his shooting. “We need real accountability and a high standard of human rights, but instead what we get is the military running cover for their soldiers.”

The family of Tristan Anderson is calling the investigation “a cover up and a sham”.

*Tristan Anderson was shot with a High Velocity Tear Gas grenade- sometimes also called “Extended Range Tear Gas”- which is manufactured by Combined Systems Inc in Jamestown, Pennsylvania.

July 9, 2013 Posted by | Ethnic Cleansing, Racism, Zionism, Solidarity and Activism, Subjugation - Torture | , , , , | 1 Comment