Gaza tunnel smuggling OK, says confused Britain

Stuart Littlewood

Stuart Littlewood

Stuart Littlewood

Fuel oil for power generation becomes a black market item

The British government gets hot under the collar at the very thought of Gaza smuggling anything in. So much so, that as Israel’s murderous assault on Gaza was coming to an end in January 2009 our then prime minister Gordon Brown promised to send naval units to stop the Hamas government “smuggling” arms which the Gazans desperately needed to defend themselves and their tiny coastal strip from their state-of-the-art weapons-freakin’ oppressors. Continue reading

Lobby, Lobbification, Lobbified

Dr. Lawrence Davidson

Dr. Lawrence Davidson, 16 April 2011

Lobbification is a word I have just coined for the corruptive process that bends politicians to the will of special interests–that is to the will of lobbies. The result of lobbification can be seen in the stilted and fawning behavior of the lobbified political brain. Politicians with lobbified brains become the obedient instruments of the lobbies which have captured their political souls. Below are a few examples of the results of lobbification.

Part I: An Example from the House of Representatives

The majority of the politicians who sit on the U.S. House Foreign Affairs Committee are victims of lobbification. Among the major lobbies that have, over the decades, carried out this corrupting process are the Zionist organizations in their various Jewish and Christian manifestations. In their present state, the lobbified minds of these committee members, so influential in the foreign policy formulation process of our country, are utterly incapable of questioning, much less defying, the hypnotic power of either American Zionists or the Israelis. Here is just one illustration of the resulting mental paralysis.

On Tuesday 5 April 2011 three Israelis appeared before the US House Foreign Affairs Committee. Two were retired IDF generals and one was Dore Gold, the president of the Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs. Gold is one of those transplanted Americans who have chosen careers as Israeli spokesmen. (As an aside, he is also an Inspector Clouseau look alike). He served as Israeli Ambassador to the United Nations and political advisor to former Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon. Among other dubious accomplishments it was Gold who convinced the Clinton administration not to press Israel on the issue of the Golan Heights. The Saudi Ambassador to the U.S., Prince Bandar bin Sultan once described him as “simply hatred’s scribe.” Here is some of what Gold and his fellow Israelis told the Foreign Affairs Committee:

1. Israel is confronting a new diplomatic assault that could well strip it of territorial defenses in the West Bank that have provided for its security for over forty years…..”

2. “The 1993 Oslo Agreements envisioned a negotiated solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, with borders to be decided by the parties themselves and not imposed by international coalitions or by unilateral acts.”

3. “Traditional U.S. policy recognized that Israel is not expected to withdrew from all territories it captured in the 1967 Six Day War. This was enshrined in UN Security Council Resolution 242….”

4. “…the entire Middle East is engulfed in flames. Just as Israel faces complete strategic uncertainty…it is being asked to acquiesce to unprecedented concessions that could put its very future at risk.” Therefore, “…to agree to a full withdrawal from the West Bank and to acquiesce to the loss of defensible borders pose an unacceptable risk for the Jewish state.”

During this lament our Congressional Representatives sat there, in their collective lobbified frame of mind, and swallowed it all in as if it were gospel. This was completely predictable. The Foreign Affairs Committee is chaired by Florida Rep. Ileana Ros-Lehtinen, an ardent anti-Castro Cuban American who has spent her political life doing two things: first, distorting our foreign policy toward Cuba so that no vestige of national interest can be found therein, and second, promoting a tactical alliance between reactionary Cuban American groups and the Zionists. Ros-Lehtinen has recently confirmed her lobbified status by demanding that Congress “make it U.S. policy to demand that the UN General Assemblyrevoke and repudiate the Goldstone Report.” She did this despite the fact that three of the four signatories of the Report have avowed its accuracy and continued relevance. The ranking Democratic on the committee is Howard Berman who has never been able to figure out who he should represent more diligently, his California district constituents or Israel.

Both these leading committee members clearly suffer from lobbification and most of the other standing members also display this condition to one extent or another. As a result, when it came to the discussion that followed the Israelis’ presentation, all the possible probing questions remained unasked. Here are some of them, figuratively addressed to Ambassador Dore, et. al.

1. What do you mean by “diplomatic assault,” “imposed by international coalitions,” and “unilateral acts”? Do you mean the rather feeble US and European suggestion that your country negotiate in good faith and cease its own series of illegal unilateral acts such as the ethnic cleansing of East Jerusalem?

2. And how is it that you are now telling us that, for the last forty years, your “territorial defenses” have made you secure? For the past forty years you have been telling us how insecure you are! Are we to understand that your constant claim of insecurity was a gross exaggeration? Perhaps nothing more than an addictive frame of mind? Or has it been just a facade behind which you carry on expansion in violation of international law?

3. Why do you bring up the Oslo Accords? For the last few decades you have been telling us that they are dead letters, irrelevant to current circumstances. You seen to trot them out when they serve your purposes and cast them into oblivion when they do not. Also, are you not aware that in the past your country has violated these accords at will?

4. Is Israel’s determined refusal to negotiate rational concessions really a function of the assertion that the “entire Middle East” is allegedly “engulfed in flames”? If we simply go back to a period when there was no “complete strategic uncertainty” we find that Israel’s position on compromise was exactly the same as it is today. So isn’t this new concern really a contrived excuse to justify your country’s refusal to come to just and fair settlement with the Palestinians?

5. Why are you bringing up the possibility of “full withdrawal” from the West Bank as if it was a specter gazing over your shoulder? When is the last time the U.S. government or the European Union demanded this of you? Is not the present understanding of the final character of borders based upon the 1967 Green line one that includes mutually agreed upon and equitable land swaps? Is not this the recognized contemporary understanding of UN Resolution 242?

6. And what is this business of “defensible borders”? When was the last time your country’s borders proved indefensible to conventional military attack? Isn’t it true that, even without the West Bank, your borders have never been seriously crossed by such forces? Your vulnerability lies in your inability to counter guerrilla and terrorist attacks, and to prevent missile penetration. Ultimate security against these threats does not rest in a policy of colonial expansion but rather in an equitable peace agreement.

What a memorable and actually useful committee meeting it would have been if these or similar questions had been posed. But alas, the lobbified brain functions something like Israel’s apartheid wall. Meaningful questions about Israel and doubts about the real consequences of Zionism cannot easily get over or around the 9 meter high conditioning that is lobbification.

Part II – An Example From the U.S. Senate

The on-line magazine Politico reports tells us that “even as they push for huge cuts, 11 freshman GOP senators say the U.S. must continue to provide foreign aid to its strongest ally in the Middle East: Israel.” In a letter to Senate minority leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) the security conscious eleven stated, “as we work to reduce wasteful government spending….we must continue to prioritize the safety of our nation and the security of our allies, including Israel.” Only the thoroughly lobbified brain can advocate cutting $500 million from federal programs for health and nutrition for women, infants and children and simultaneously insist on continuing to give Israel $ 3 billion a year– and, do so in the name of “prioritizing the safety of our nation”! The Senator who organized the letter to McConnell is Marco Rubio of Florida (a male version of Ros-Lehtinen) and he sits on what committee? The Senate Foreign Relations Committee, of course. His lobbified state apparently makes it impossible for him to see the connection between our open-ended support of Israel, Israel’s ethnic cleansing of the Palestinians, and our nation’s insecurity. It should come as no surprise that Senator Rubio has said that the U.S. must “stand with Israel without equivocation or hesitation” and cease pressuring Israel over its settlement policies.

Part III – Conclusion

As the approximately 206.8 million adult Americans go about their daily lives most probably do not realize that they, or at least the approximately57% who bother to vote in federal elections, have placed into positions of power individuals who have been corrupted by lobby power. This is due to the fact that most Americans do not understand and/or pay attention to how their own political system works. Few and far between are the school “civics” courses that, in theory, explain its intricacies. And, once the Republicans get done gutting the education budgets, those remaining courses will most likely disappear.

Ignorance is not bliss. It is often the prelude to sudden destruction. It is not bliss to be ignorant of the corruption that is undermining your government . Lobbification is synonymous with just that –a dangerous form of political corruption. Our political system is riddled with it. It has been so for a long time and the situation is not improving. This condition has recently manifested itself in Wisconsin, Michigan, Maine, Ohio and a host of other states in the form of feverish acts of self-destruction. And, as we have seen, Congress has no immunity. Yet the citizenry goes blissfully about its business. To quote the immortal Samuel Johnson, “Must helpless man, in ignorance sedate, roll darkling down the torrent of his fate? (Oxford Dictionary of Quotations, 2001, p. 411, No. 19). Perhaps it is so.

Dr. Lawrence Davidson

Dr. Lawrence Davidson

Dr. Lawrence Davidson is professor of history at West Chester University. He is the author of numerous books, including Islamic Fundamentalism and America’s Palestine: Popular and Official Perceptions from Balfour to Israeli Statehood.

The author is a regular contributor to RamallahOnline.com.More articles can be found on RamallahOnline.com, Logos Journal, and Dr. Davidson also maintains an online blog, you can find it at http://www.tothepointanalyses.com

Mossad snatches Gaza’s power plant boss

Jonathan Cook

Disappeared on a Ukraine train

Jonathan Cook in Nazareth

Israel admitted this week that it was behind the abduction of a Gazan engineer who went missing more than a month ago while travelling on a train in the Ukraine.

Israeli officials confirmed that Dirar Abu Sisi, 42, was being held in Israel’s Shikma prison, near Ashkelon, after a judge partially lifted reporting restrictions late on Sunday. However, the reasons for Abu Sisi’s abduction are still covered by the gag order.

The whereabouts of Abu Sisi, the operations manager of Gaza’s only power plant, have been the subject of intense speculation since he disappeared on February 18 as he travelled on a train to the Ukrainian capital, Kiev.

Suspicions that he might have been spirited to Israel were raised by the Ukrainian spokesman of the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees earlier this month.

A few days after his disappearance, Abu Sisi’s wife, Veronika, a Ukrainian national, accused the Israeli spy agency Mossad of kidnapping him to extract information that could be used to disable Gaza’s power station in a future confrontation with the enclave’s Hamas rulers.

Israel bombed the plant during its three-week military assault, Operation Cast Lead, in winter 2008, causing blackouts across much of Gaza. Israel also targeted the power station in June 2006, cutting power to 700,000 Gazans for several months while it was fixed at a cost of more than $5 million.

Abu Sisi’s family suggested another reason why Israeli might consider him a high-value target. They say he had recently developed a method to reduce the plant’s dependency on high-grade diesel fuel, the flow of which Israel controls into Gaza.

In January Hamas officials announced that the station’s turbines had been modified to work on regular diesel, which is cheaper and can be smuggled in through tunnels from Egypt.

The Israeli media, on the other hand, have speculated that Abu Sisi must be a senior Hamas activist to have secured an important post at the plant. The family have denied the claim, saying he was not involved in any political faction and was appointed because of his skills as an engineer.

One of his Israeli lawyers, Smadar Ben Nathan, who met him for the first time at the court hearing on Sunday to lift the gag order, said she believed Israel had carried out the operation based on false information.

She called the abduction a “miscalculation”, saying interrogators had dropped their original line of questioning. She said the gag order meant she could not discuss the case further.

No charges have been brought yet. Ben Nathan said her client had lost a great deal of weight and his health was deteriorating after more than a month incommunicado. His family is concerned that he is being tortured.

Although the Mossad is suspected of carrying out many assassinations on foreign soil — including a hit on a Hamas leader, Mahmoud al Mabhouh, in a Dubai hotel last year — there are few examples of it seizing individuals in foreign countries to bring them to trial.

Ben Nathan said she could identify only two similar cases: Israeli agents captured the Nazi war criminal Adolf Eichmann in Argentina in 1960, and smuggled Mordechai Vanunu, a nuclear whisteblower, out of Italy in 1986.

Victor Kattan, an international law expert at the School of Oriental and African Studies at London University, said Israel had broken several human rights laws in seizing him rather than invoking treaty agreements between the Ukraine and Israel and requesting his extradition.

The Palestinian Centre for Human Rights, based in Gaza, said it had learnt the details of how Abu Sisi was seized from another Israeli lawyer who had access to him. They did not name him, apparently because the information was a violation of the gag order.

In a statement, the centre said three men, two of them apparently wearing official Ukrainian uniforms, had dragged Abu Sisi, hooded and handcuffed, from his carriage at a stop en route to Kiev, where he was due to meet his brother.

He was later interrogated in an apartment by six people who identifed themselves as Mossad agents, before being put on a plane. The flight took about four hours. The plane then made another flight of about an hour to Israel, the PCHR said.

Abu Sisi’s brother, Yousef, accused Ukraine of being “deeply involved”, adding that he had spent three weeks being “kicked like a football from one office to another” as he sought help from the police and various intelligence agencies. “At one point an official even threatened to make me disappear,” he said.

Abu Sisi was in Ukraine to apply for citizenship so that he and his wife could immigrate with their six children, his brother said. “He was desperate to leave Gaza and and take his children to Ukraine away from the Israeli bombs and attacks. How could he be a threat?”

According to Veronika, her husband had encountered problems at an interior ministry office in the city of Kharkiv earlier on the day of his disappearance. Officials there had briefly refused to return his passport.

So far Ukraine has kept a low profile on the incident.

During an official visit to Israel last week by the Ukrainian prime minister, Mykola Azarov, reporters due to cover his meeting with Benjamin Netanyahu, Israel’s prime minister, had their invitations withdrawn at short notice and without explanation.

However, during an interview with Israel’s Haaretz newspaper while he was in Israel, Azarov responded to a question about Abu Sisi’s disappearance: “We don’t have clear information right now … I don’t want to imagine that such things are carried out on the soil of a friendly state.”

Abu Sisi’s kidnapping was first brought to light by Richard Silverstein, an American blogger.

The Association of Civil Rights in Israel, which sought the removal of the gag order, said in its petition to the court: “It is inconceivable that the authorities in a democratic country be able to secretly arrest people and ‘vanish’ them from the public eye.”

Jonathan Cook

Jonathan Cook

Jonathan Cook is a writer and journalist based in Nazareth, Israel. His latest books are “Israel and the Clash of Civilisations: Iraq, Iran and the Plan to Remake the Middle East” (Pluto Press) and “Disappearing Palestine: Israel’s Experiments in Human Despair” (Zed Books). His website is www.jkcook.net.

 

A version of this article originally appeared in The National (www.thenational.ae), published in Abu Dhabi.

Washington and the Civilians of Libya

Dr. Lawrence Davidson

Lawrence Davidson, 20 March 2011

Whether you believe that the United Nations resolution authorizing extensive intervention in the Libyan civil war is justified or not, and whether you believe that the admittedly eccentric forty two year rule of Muammar Gadhafi over a complex and fractious tribal society has been cruel or not, there is one thing that all objective observers should be able to agree on. All should agree that the rationale put forth by the United States government for supporting the impending NATO intervention, that this action is to be taken to bring about an immediate end to attacks on civilians, is one of the biggest acts of hypocrisy in a modern era ridden with hypocrisy.

There is, of course, no arguing with the principle put forth. The protection of civilians in times of warfare, a moral good in itself, is a requirement of international law. Yet it is a requirement that is almost always ignored. And no great power has ignored it more than the United States. In Iraq the civilian death count due to the American invasion may well have approached one million. In Afghanistan, again directly due to the war initiated by U.S. intervention, civilian deaths between 2007 and 2010 are estimated at about 10,000. In Vietnam, United States military intervention managed to reduce the civilian population by about two million.

And then there is United States protection of the Israeli process of ethnic cleansing in Palestine. America’s hypocrisy as Washington consistently does nothting about the Israeli blockade of Gaza and the slow reduction of a million and half Gazans to poverty and malnutrition. And, finally, the unforgettable hypocrisy inherent in U.S. support for the 2009 Israeli invasion of that tiny and crowded enclave. The 2009 invasion was the most striking example of an outright attack on civilians and civilian infrastructure since the World War II. And the American government supported every single moment of it.

Thus, when President Obama gets up before the TV cameras and tells us that Libyan civilians have to be protected, when UN ambassador Susan Rice tells us that the aim of the UN resolution is to safeguard Libya’s civilian population and bring those who attack civilians, including Gadhafi, before the International Criminal Court, a certain sense of nausea starts to gather in the pit of one’s stomach. If Washington wants regime change in Libya, which is almost certainly the case, government spokespersons ought to just say it and spare us all a feeling of spiritual despair worthy of Soren Kieregaard!

It was Oscar Wilde who once said that “the true hypocrite is the one who ceases to perceive his deception, the one who lies with sincerity.” I think that politicians learn, some easier than others, to live their lives like this. And, as I have said before, the only way they can be successful in sharing their delusions with the rest of us is that the majority do not have the contextual knowledge to analyze and make accurate judgments on their utterances. The successful hypocrite and his or her ignorant audience go hand in hand.

 

Dr. Lawrence Davidson

Dr. Lawrence Davidson

Dr. Lawrence Davidson is professor of history at West Chester University. He is the author of numerous books, including Islamic Fundamentalism and America’s Palestine: Popular and Official Perceptions from Balfour to Israeli Statehood.

The author is a regular contributor to RamallahOnline.com.More articles can be found on RamallahOnline.com, Logos Journal, and Dr. Davidson also maintains an online blog, you can find it at http://www.tothepointanalyses.com

How to anger the pro-Israel lobby

Stuart Littlewood

Stuart Littlewood, 9 Nov 2010

Tell how it really is in Gaza, especially if you’re an Archbishop
To their eternal shame, Western churchmen seem to care little about the plight of their brothers and sisters in the Holy Land or the fate of the holy places where Christianity was born.

There are, of course, honourable exceptions. One such is the Archbishop of Wales, the Most Rev Dr Barry Morgan, whose church has provided the Gazans with a mobile dental unit.

He is not best pleased that the Israelis make it difficult to obtain fuel and medical supplies for it, and he didn’t mince his words when recently reporting to the Church’s governing body how things really are in Gaza.

The truth of the matter seemed to annoy a certain Mr Simon McIlwaine, who complained that the Archbishop’s words put the state of Israel in an unduly harsh light and he was compelled to “provide some badly needed context”. Whereupon Mr McIlwaine launched into the familiar anti-Gaza, anti-Hamas rant we’re used to hearing from the pro-Israel lobby. http://www.anglicanfriendsofisrael.com/content/view/106/33/

  • “The Archbishop raises a central issue of the Arab-Israeli conflict – anti-Semitism…”

The central issue is 62 years of criminal oppression. The charges include land theft, illegal occupation, ethnic cleansing, disregard for human rights, and war crimes such as those documented in the Goldstone Report. The action required is set out in international law, numerous UN resolutions and every code of human decency.

  • “Hamas is an explicitly anti-Semitic organization that at the very least seeks to exercise a veto over the Jewish right to self-determination.”

Israel is deeply anti-Arab and continues to dispossess and remove Arabs not only from Israel proper but also from areas of the West Bank and East Jerusalem that Israel has earmarked for permanent occupation.

Palestinians have been denied the right to self-determination for decades and Israel even refuses to recognise their perfectly satisfactory democratic process.

  • “Hamas’ anti-Semitic ideology pre-existed the blockade…”

Israel’s illegal occupation pre-dates the founding of Hamas.

  • “Hamas’ attacks against Israel are not merely motivated by a desire to end the blockade, but to deprive the Jewish people of their ability to enjoy a national life of their own.”

The irony of that remark is apparently lost on Mr McIlwaine.

  • “Clearly, anti-Semitism plays a significant role in fomenting violence against Israel in the Middle East.”

Playing the anti-Semitism card yet again. Israel is the violator. Hamas chief Khaled Mesh’al has explained that armed resistance against Israel is the result of Israeli occupation, injustice and oppression, not religious differences.

  • “The Archbishop describes the devastation in the Gaza Strip without acknowledging the role Hamas played in bringing the destruction about.”

Israel broke the ceasefire with a raid killing at least 6 Palestinians in order to provoke the sort of retaliation that could then be used as an excuse to launch Operation Cast Lead, the 3-week onslaught Israel had been preparing for months.

  • “History has shown that isolating tyrannical regimes such as Hamas results in civilian suffering.”

Israel was making Palestinians’ lives a misery long before Hamas appeared on the scene. What right has Israel or anyone else to isolate a democratically elected government and its people anyway?

Hamas is an Islamic party legitimately ruling a mainly Islamic country. It is the people’s choice. How can it be any more “tyrannical” than the Jewish State with its exclusivity laws and lethal attitude towards non-Jews?

  • “…Responsibility for the disruption of daily life in the Gaza Strip lies with Hamas. By way of comparison, daily life in the West Bank, which has not been the source of rocket attacks, is improving.”

As long as Israel occupies Gaza’s airspace, coastal waters and air-waves, controls all access points (except now the Egyptian border, although it still interferes there), maintains a sea blockade and attacks and even murders volunteers bringing humanitarian supplies, it is ridiculous to suggest that anyone else is responsible for disrupting daily life.

In 2007 when Israel tightened the siege on Gaza the prime minister’s adviser, Dov Weisglass, said “the idea is to put the Palestinians on a diet, but not to make them die of hunger”. According to documents just released under a Freedom of Information petition by Gisha, an Israeli law centre, Israel operated “a policy of deliberate reduction” of basic goods in the Gaza Strip. Gisha’s director accuses Israel of “paralyzing normal life in Gaza”, and adds: “I am sorry to say that major elements of this policy are still in place.” http://www.gisha.org/index.php?intLanguage=2&intItemId=1904&intSiteSN=113.

The documents confirm that the siege was not for security reasons but aimed at keeping Gazans at near-starvation level. Since around half the population are growing children this act of collective punishment has meant that hundreds of thousands are undernourished.

Mr McIlwaine is right that no rockets have been fired from the West Bank. Why, then, are the shredded remains of that territory still under cruel occupation and tight restriction?

  • “Hamas has murdered its political opponents, threatened its critics and stolen humanitarian aid shipped in from outside.”

Another classic piece of irony for us to savour… Assassinations and extra-judicial executions are an Israeli speciality. So is thieving. They even steal British passports for their murder squads.

We never hear what happens to humanitarian aid seized in international waters by Israeli thugs who abduct passengers and crew and rob them of their possessions.  Remember how Israel kept stealing Gaza’s tax revenues? Did they ever give the money back?

Simon McIlwaine is co-director of Anglican Friends of Israel, an organization whose aims include:

  • Securing defensible borders for the State of Israel. (What borders… its ever-expanding illegal borders enclosing stolen lands or its internationally-recognised 1967 borders?)
  • Calling Anglicans to repentance for the wrongs inflicted by Christians on the Jewish people and the nation of Israel.
  • Protecting the Christian communities threatened by Islamic extremism in the Middle East (though not, it seems, against the crushing oppression of Israeli extremists).

The puzzle is why any Anglican would befriend a regime with so much blood on its hands and attack a bishop who speaks up for its wretched victims. St Augustine must be spinning in his grave.

At least Dr Morgan went to Gaza to see for himself. Did Mr McIlwaine?

What did the good Archbishop say that so rattled Mr McIlwaine’s cage? http://www.churchinwales.org.uk/structure/bishops/sermonsb/b38.html

Regarding Gaza, Dr Morgan observed: “Two-thirds of these people live in abject poverty, in refugee camps, after the confiscation of their homes and land by the Israeli Government.  The situation is worse now than when I visited in 2001…” He described how people lived in zinc shacks, without electricity or water and with open sewers running down the streets, and how Gaza City itself was like a bombsite.

“Only 32% of the industrial fuel needed in one week in August 2010 for Gaza’s power plant was allowed into Gaza.  The result was that the power plant shut down completely for two days after exhausting its reserves of fuel, triggering power cuts of 16 hours per day – affecting water supply, sewage treatment and removal, and the functioning of health services. 30% of households in Gaza have access to running water for only 4 to 8 hours per week; 40% receive water once every four days, and the other 30% obtain it once every two days.  Half of the normal level of need of cooking gas entered Gaza in August; no diesel or petrol has been delivered for weeks – hence diesel and petrol being taken through the tunnels at the risk of attack by the Israelis. Imports are limited, raw materials severely restricted, no building materials are allowed into Gaza, exports from Gaza are banned entirely.

“The blockade in Gaza has destroyed public service infrastructure and hospitals have power cuts for twelve hours a day, emergency medical treatment for residents of Gaza is denied, and 40 million litres of sewage is being discharged every day into the sea because of lack of fuel to pump or treat human waste.  Family members in Gaza have been separated from relatives living in the West Bank and elsewhere.”
All of which is confirmed by other sources.

Dr Morgan continued: “The United Nations, the Security Council and the European Union want crossings to Gaza to be permanently open to allow access for humanitarian and commercial aid and all of this was agreed between Israel and the Palestinian authorities in 2005.

He also referred to the Kairos document issued by Palestinian Church leaders a year ago and the report ‘Justice and Peace for Palestine’ discussed recently by the Methodist Church. “Both of those reports say that the key hindrance to security and a lasting peace for all in the region is the occupation of Palestinian territory by the State of Israel…”
For 43 long years. Who is foolish enough to believe there can be peace under the jackboot of occupation?

“Settlements by Israeli settlers are illegal under international law, and over one third have been built on Palestinian privately owned land.  The wall that has been built covering a distance of 702 kilometres…not only separates Israelis from Palestinians but Palestinians from family members and friends.  In rural areas, it effectively cuts them off from their olive trees and fruit and vegetable plantations.  In July 2004, the International Court of Justice declared the separation barrier illegal, and called on Israel to cease construction to dismantle constructed areas and provide reparation to those materially damaged by the construction.”
“Settlers” is too nice a word for my taste. It suggests peaceful pioneers wishing to integrate. Israeli “settlers” are anything but. They are squatters, half a million in over 100 illegal colonies – ugly blots on an otherwise lovely landscape. They include gangs of armed delinquents who terrorise local villagers, vandalise their crops, pollute their land and harass their children.

Article 49 of the Fourth Geneva Convention clearly forbids an occupying power from transferring parts of its own civilian population into the territory it occupies.

Next time, the Archbishop might question why the Separation Wall, if meant for security, wasn’t built within Israel’s internationally recognised borders. Its actual route bites deep into Palestinian territory and is designed to annex choice agricultural land and the Palestinians’ precious water supplies. Palestinians are now severely rationed and have to pay Israel inflated prices for a dribble of their own water while Israelis splash around in their swimming pools and wash their cars.

The Archbishop finished by saying: “Now we, as a Church, perhaps cannot do very much except that we ought to acquaint ourselves with what is going on, and fight against injustice, and demand that the rule of law be upheld wherever it is being flouted for whatever reason.  We have a duty to speak out.”
On an earlier occasion in 2009, after Israel’s blitz on Gaza, Dr Morgan was saying:

“Having visited Gaza twice over the past few years I have seen the appalling conditions in which the people there live… with no proper homes, sanitation or means of escape. Their lives are now unbearable as they come under daily fire and are too scared to even leave their homes. We have heard that it has now become too dangerous for our clinic, which was being used as a frontline hospital dealing with casualties, to continue its work.

“It is tragic that there is so much violence in an area known as the Holy Land…  It is time for the fighting to stop – enough children have died and enough homes have been destroyed and it is immoral for the world to stand by and do nothing.”
How very refreshing. Those other bishops who loaf around the House of Lords and never open their mouths when so much needs to be said and done, please note.

Stuart Littlewood

Stuart Littlewood

Stuart Littlewood is an industrial marketing specialist turned writer-photographer. In 2005 he was invited to write and shoot pictures for a book about the plight of the Palestinians under occupation. ‘Radio Free Palestine’ was published in 2007. For details please see www.radiofreepalestine.co.uk.

Stop the Wall: People v. Oppression

Stephen Lendman

Stephen Lendman, 23 July 2010

This article follows an earlier UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs Special Report titled, “The Impact of the Barrier on Health,” accessed through the following link:

Stop the Wall.org (STW) is a “Palestinian movement against the (Separation) Wall and the settlements under Israeli repression,” calling for it to be stopped, portions built dismantled, all confiscated lands returned, and compensation paid for losses.

On July 9, it released a report titled, “People versus Oppression,” a March – June 2010 account of Israeli repression, including “large scale violations of the civil, political and human rights of activists and communities active against the Wall that compounds the dispossession brought upon them by (its) illegal construction.”

In defiance of the International Criminal Court (ICJ) ruling it illegal, calling for it to be dismantled and reparations paid for lost homes, businesses, farmland, orchards, olive groves, and other immovable property seized, construction continues unabated, committing human rights violations against many thousands affected.

Over the past year alone, harsh repression included killings, targeted assassinations, mass arrests, travel bans, raids against Stop the Wall’s offices, and other Palestinian organizations and international activists, notably Freedom Flotilla ones, up to 15 murdered in cold blood in international waters delivering humanitarian aid to besieged Gazans.

From March – June 2010, the “extent of violence and dehumanization (has been) staggering.”

The past year “marked (a) quantitative shift in….Israel(‘s) overall policies and strategies,” its ongoing deterrence and oppression agenda, punctuated by daily violence against defenseless civilians, including women and children, endangering their struggle for justice, self-determination and peace, notions Israel spurns, preferring conflict to conciliation, collective punishment to the rule of law, and crimes of war and against humanity over democratic freedoms and equal justice – how all rogue states operate.

Combined, they’re “part of a new Israeli strategy to deal with growing international (and internal) criticism – through legislation, belligerence, and repression, including Wall construction, land theft, and isolation.

The Wall and Settlements

Projected to exceed 800 km when completed, its route is mostly within the Green Line, confiscating Palestinian land and resources by:

“a network of walls, fences, military zones, 34 fortified checkpoints, 44 tunnels, 634 checkpoints and obstructions, and 1,661 km of settler roads.” Combined with settlements, military zones, parks, commercial developments, other closed areas, and open spaces, more than 46% of the West Bank will be annexed, destroying villages and isolating others into Bantustans, surrounded and denied all rights, including free movement.

Up to eight meters high with watchtowers and a buffer zone 30 – 100 meters wide for electric fences, it included trenches, cameras, sensors, and military patrols.

Other portions consist of razor wire topped fences, patrol roads, sand paths to trace footprints, ditches and surveillance cameras, encircling communities, others between the Wall and Green Line in the so-called Seam Zone, requiring landowners and residents have permits to stay in their homes and access their land.

The effect is devastating, isolating thousands from their property and means of subsistence, dispossessing others to facilitate construction, forcing over 266,000 in 78 communities to abandon their homes, land, and livelihoods, their ability to access health care, education, religious sites, and their right move freely and live normally in peace – a state of hellish dystopia.

“The Wall is an integral part of (Israel’s plan) to control the West Bank” and East Jerusalem, while avoiding its responsibilities as an occupier, ones never observed for decades. It’s part of a massive land grad, a scheme to establish and expand key settlements, seize every valued km of land, dispossess tens of thousands, make Jerusalem exclusively Jewish, and enforce its agenda by extreme belligerence, the worst of police state harshness.

Given Wall protection, settlement expansions are unimpeded, more than 500,000 occupants on confiscated land, including over 200,000 in East Jerusalem, many more to follow, dispossessing Palestinians from their land, livelihoods and futures.

During 2009, 2,316 new housing units were begun, another 2,300 completed. In the first half of 2010, East Jerusalem has been especially targeted, facilitated by evictions, home demolitions, and dispossessions.

“Palestinians are (systematically being) expelled from their capital and their lands….herded into walled-in ghettos….in a well planned, low speed ethnic cleansing operation,” to be replaced by illegal settlements in violation of international law, aided by international complicity and indifference to a defenseless people, abandoning them for their own self-interest.

Popular Resistance

Along with international campaigns and legal measures, Palestinians have protested through regular demonstrations despite harsh Israeli recrimination. In 2002, they began in Qalqilya and Jenin. By 2004, they were large-scale, in 2005 weekly, and throughout 2008 and 2009 gained momentum and strength despite “extraordinary Israeli repression” against organizers and village leaders, beating and arresting them.

The “Stand up….and Break the Siege” initiative continues to demand removal of the military checkpoint, isolating 17 villages north and northeast of Ramallah. On June 18, 2010, a mass demonstration was held in front of the Bet El settlement on Beitin land, condemning the occupation, settlement expansions, checkpoint policies, Wall construction, and collective punishment of an entire people, denying their basic freedoms and self-determination.

Others occur regularly in al-Ma’sara, Wadi Rahal, al-Walaja, and Beit Jala near Bethlehem. Also around Nablus, activists conducting sit-ins against land theft, home demolitions, and isolation, despite beatings, arrests and other forms of abuse.

In addition, major resistance persists in Jerusalem against demolitions and settlement expansions, activists flooding streets in protest. Throughout May and June, 2010, daily mobilizations occurred, resulting in over three dozen arrests, including 14 children.

The ICJ Opinion and its Implications

UN resolutions and the ICJ called the Wall and settlements illegal, the latter, according to the Security Council in “flagrant violation” of Fourth Geneva, the Court saying they were “established in breach of international law,” both the Wall and settlements “tantamount to de facto annexation.”

The ICJ also said the Wall’s “infringements (can’t be justified) by military exigencies (or) requirements of national security or public order.” In other words, the Wall and settlements are land grabs under international law.

Because of Israeli non-compliance, affected residents formed committees of human rights defenders (HRDs), staging mass civil protest actions, legitimate under Fourth Geneva and other international law against an illegal occupation, including the Universal Declaration of Human Rights Preamble stating:

“Whereas it is essential, if man is not to be compelled to have recourse, as a last resort, to rebellion against tyranny and oppression, that human rights should be protected by the rule of law.”

Under General Assembly Resolution 2625 – Declaration on Principles of International Law concerning Friendly Relations and Co-operation among States in accordance with the Charter of the United Nations, every state must “refrain from any forcible action which deprives people (of) their right to self-determination and freedom and independence.” When denied, “such peoples are entitled to (resist) and receive support in accordance with the purposes and principles of the Charter.”

The UN also passed numerous resolutions affirming Palestinian self-determination, including 3070 in 1973 supporting “all available means” to achieve it, including in times of conflict.

HRDs anti-Wall resistance is “unique,” representing an effort to enforce international law and the ICJ ruling, especially with no outside support. They’re on their own because Israel and the world community violated their legal obligations to halt construction, dismantle portions built, and make restitution for damages.

Resistance and civil disobedience are legitimate forms of self-defense against lawlessness and repression, Henry David Thoreau saying people shouldn’t let governments overrule or atrophy their consciences. They’re obligated to confront injustice directly, including by defying the law when it’s wrong.

Stop the Wall.org asks:

“does the continuing confiscation of houses, destruction of property and forced evictions taking place in the West Bank in order to build the Wall constitute big enough crimes or risks to justify the measures taken by Palestinians to dismantle the Wall? And can these measures be further justified by showing that they have a notable impact on those crimes or risks?”

Forms of Repression

From April through June, 2010, STW recorded 114 arrests (mostly minors or persons in their early 20s) compared 89 during 2009 – “a dramatic increase in repression” against legitimate resistance, Adeeb Abu Rahmah, a member of the Bil’in Popular Committee against the Wall and Settlements, one of many affected.

On July 10, 2009, he was arrested during a weekly demonstration, spent 11 months in the Ofer Military Complex, then, on June 30, 2010, was sentenced to two years in prison for “encourag(ing) violence….activity against public order (and being) present in a closed military area,” Bil’in’s designation every Friday from 8AM – 8PM to prevent demonstrations.

Amnesty International (AI) expressed concern saying he could be “the first activist against the fence/wall to be brought to a full evidential trial in a case of this kind,” setting a worrisome precedent for others, criminalizing their legitimate resistance, how all police states operate, Israel one of the worst, a democracy in name only like America.

Many others are also targeted, arrested, bogusly charged, imprisoned, and tortured for their legitimate right to resist, including children, one 15-year old explaining:

In January 2010, he was arrested at home, detained and tortured – shackled, blindfolded, beaten, and ordered to confess (to stone-throwing a year earlier), his interrogator saying, “I’ll break (and) shock you if you” refuse. “Because of the beating, I had to confess….I wanted him to stop hitting me because” of the pain. He spent three and a half months in prison followed by eight months probation and a 1,000 shekel fine.

He wasn’t alone. Defense for Children International (DCI) – Palestine section recorded at least five cases of threatened or actual inhumane treatment and sexual assaults against minors in Israeli prisons.

Violence is official Israeli policy, to intimidate and suppress resistance. “Overwhelming aggression” follows threats, including use of live ammunition, rubber-coated bullets, high-velocity tear gas canisters that can harm or disable, sound bombs, and other measures intended to willfully injure or kill.

The UNESCO Chair of An-Najah National University described the murder of two unarmed boys, aged 16 and 19, in Iraq Burin near Nablus saying:

“One Israeli soldier (came) out of one of the army jeeps and position(ed) himself (with one knee on the ground) on the road, directing his weapon toward the western end of the street and crossroad,” about 60 meters from the boys. They opened fire, “hit(ting) Abd Qadus in the forehead….As Muhammad Ibrahim Abdel-Qadr Qadus rushed to his cousin (and) reach(ed) down to help him, he (was) shot in the chest….” They were both killed in cold blood. No investigations followed, Israel’s usual whitewash, absolving state-sponsored terrorism.

Rarely ever are soldiers held accountable, and almost never their commanders, effectively legalizing the murder of Arabs, even children. “Palestinians are consequently left without remedy or recourse to justice.”

Tear Gas to Intimidate and Injure

On the pretext of dispersing crowds, high-velocity tear gas canisters are used as a weapon, causing a significant number of injuries, many serious, including asphyxiation, skull fractures, brain hemorrhages, and others requiring hospitalization.

Sound bombs, live fire, and rubber-coated bullets also cause casualties when fired directly into crowds, inflicting serious wounds, burns, and deaths. In addition, new weapons have been tested in real time, one in late April producing thick smoke and shrapnel in all directions after exploding. A new type tear gas was fired directly into the face of protestors, causing severe breathing problems.

Against a May demonstration, eyewitnesses described a powerful device detonated by an electrical wiring system, Rali Galli, Corporate vice president of Major Campaigns for Elbit Systems saying:

In “fighting terror,” Israeli companies have an advantage when it comes to the “development of new systems, testing them in real time and adapting and fine tuning following feedback from performance in the field.”

Collective Punishment

Fourth Geneva’s Article 33 is unequivocal, stating:

“No protected person may be punished for an offence he or she has not personally committed. Collective penalties and likewise all measures of intimidation or of terrorism are prohibited….Reprisals against protected persons and their property are prohibited.”

Spurning the law, Israel targets villages as well as people, al-Ma’sara repeatedly raided in the past three months, mostly at night, including Muhammad Brijiyyeh’s home affecting him and his family. He’s the Bethlehem coordinator for the popular committee against the Wall. Israel’s aim – wear him down, “wear him (and his family) out,” including his elderly mother, one and a half year old daughter and infant twins.

Another tactic involves spraying phosphorous green “skunk water” into homes and workplaces, emitting an unhealthy stench lasting weeks. It not only damages property, it harms human health and constitutes humiliating and degrading treatment.

Military zones are also established, repressively closing and isolating villages, Bi’lin and Ni’lin two examples, closed every Friday from 8AM – 8PM to prevent demonstrations. Residents participating are targeted, assaulted and arrested, their property damaged, including by randomly fired tear gas into agricultural fields, igniting fires, consuming large areas of land, homes and other property.

Targeting Children

They’re assaulted and arrested for their activism or presence near demonstrations, Defence of Children International (DCI) recording 335 detained in April 2010 alone, 32 aged 12 – 15, two held in administrative detention without charge. In May, another 305 were detained, 25 aged 12 – 15, two held administratively. Usually they’re accused of stone-throwing whether or not true. Yet they’re brutally treated in detention, as harshly as adults.

In 2009, DCI obtained 100 sworn affidavits, collected by lawyers and fieldworkers, citing the following forms of mistreatment:

– shackling;

– blindfolding;

– forced confessions in Hebrew;

– beatings;

– midnight – 4AM home arrests;

– threats and other forms of intimidation;

– solitary confinement;

– threatened or actual sexual assault; and

– painful position abuse.

Targeting Journalists

In monthly updates, the Palestinian Centre for Development and Media Freedoms (MADA) reported that in April 2010, journalists covering demonstrations were assaulted, five arrested, and two injured. Affected were:

– cameraman Hazem Bader, arrested on April 10 in Beit Safa, Hebron;

– Al-Hayat Al Jadedah correspondent Muheeb Al-Barghouthi, arrested covering the weekly Bil’in April 23 demonstration;

– Al-Jazeera cameraman Majdi Abu Zer and technical assistant Nadir Abu Zer on April 30 in Bil’in; and

– APA photographer Najeh Hashlomoun on April 24 in Beit Ummar, Hebron.

In addition, AP photographer Mahfouz Abu Turk was injured in East Jerusalem on April 9 covering clashes, and other arrests and injuries were reported in May and June, part of Israel’s ongoing campaign against free expression and dissent.

Targeting Human Rights Defenders (HDRs)

Recently in East Jerusalem, they’ve increased as a result of “significant resistance from (residents) under siege,” their homes and land threatened, especially in Silwan and Sheikh Jarrah.

In Silwan alone, 39 arrests were documented, including 14 children. In April, four Sheikh Jarrah families got demolition orders – the Al Kiswani home for the second time, and the Salah family, fined and forcibly evicted from the house they’ve lived in for over 40 years. Other raids targeted numerous residents, eight HRDs arrested including two children. One was charged with threatening Jews during Passover.

In May, 22 more raids were conducted, mostly at night, as well as other clashes with settlers, resulting in 11 arrests, including children. In June, a demolition plan passed an initial Local Planning and Construction Committee hearing, focusing on the Al-Bustan neighborhood where 88 face demolitions on the bogus grounds that they were illegally built. Protests followed, resulting in 60 or more arrests. On June 26 and 27, another 50 were injured.

Other harassments include closures, mobile checkpoints, vehicles stopped and searched, and Jerusalemites ticketed for driving unsafe cars.

Settler violence compounds the abuse. On April 5, a group of extremist Jews tried to provoke Palestinians with racist posters, shouts of “Death to Arabs….Leave Jerusalem now….go to Amman,” and stone-throwing, nearby Israeli security forces doing nothing to stop them, even arresting a targeted child.

“Israeli (violence and other abuses) in Jerusalem are increasing. However, Palestinian Jerusalemites and their international supporters are resisting the oppressive (occupation) and will continue to stand in solidarity for (their) human rights even though their activism comes at a huge cost,” including their freedoms and lives.

Targeting International HRDs

The Gaza Freedom Flotilla was most prominent, causing the cold-blooded murder of up to 15 activists. In addition, international HRDs against the Wall and settlements are routinely assaulted and arrested.

On May 31, Emily Henochowicz, a US citizen was peacefully present during a Qalandiya demonstration when she and other HRDs were assaulted by tear gas canisters. She lost an eye and sustained fractures when struck in the face.

“They clearly saw us,” said Soren Johanssen, a participating Swedish citizen. “They clearly saw that we were internationals and it really looked as though they were trying to hit us. They fired many canisters at us in rapid succession. One landed on either side of Emily, then the third one hit her in the face.”

Although international law obligates other countries to hold human rights violators accountable, they, in fact, collaborate by supporting Israel against the rule of law and well-being of their own nationals.

As a result, Israel gets away with beating, torture and cold-blooded murder, claiming self-righteousness and self-defense – against nonviolent men, women and children guilty of defending their rights, common decency, and the notion that laws are meant to be obeyed, not abused, the latter an Israeli specialty, mainly against the most vulnerable.

  • Stephen Lendman lives in Chicago and can be reached at lendmanstephen@sbcglobal.net. Also visit his blog site at sjlendman.blogspot.com and listen to cutting-edge discussions with distinguished guests on the Progressive Radio News Hour on the Progressive Radio Network Thursdays at 10AM US Central time and Saturdays and Sundays at noon. All programs are archived for easy listening.
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