Friday, October 31, 2014

From Serious Injustice to Chickenshit Bibi:

The devolution of America's Middle East policy:

In 1919, American officials had the brains and the moral fibre to recognise that Western backing for Zionist settler-colonialism in Palestine would lead to a serious miscarriage of justice, and had no qualms in saying so:

"The [Paris] Peace Conference should not shut its eyes to the fact that the anti-Zionist feeling in Palestine and Syria is intense and not lightly to be flouted. No British officer, consulted by the Commissioners, believed that the Zionist program could be carried out except by force of arms... That of itself is evidence of a strong sense of the injustice of the Zionist program, on the part of the non-Jewish populations of Palestine and Syria. Decisions, requiring armies to carry out, are sometimes necessary, but they are surely not gratuitously to be taken in the interests of a serious injustice. For the initial claim, often submitted by Zionist representatives, that they have a 'right' to Palestine, based on an occupation of two thousand years ago, can hardly be seriously considered." (The Recommendations of the King-Crane Commission)

In 2014, when senior officials in the Obama administration, unencumbered by either brains or moral fibre (too old-fashioned?), refer to that same injustice, this is about as good (and sophisticated) as it gets:

"The thing about Bibi is, he's a chickenshit... He's not Rabin, he's not Sharon, he's certainly no Begin. He's got no guts." (Binyamin Netanyahu 'chickenshit', say US officials in explosive interview, Peter Beaumont, theguardian.com, 29/10/14)

That, of course, is off the record. When one of them is speaking on the record, he invariably reverts to sycophantic drivel:

"There are times when we disagree with actions of the Israeli government and we must raise our concerns, such as our concerns about Israel's settlement policy. We raise these concerns as a partner who is deeply concerned about Israel's future and wants to see Israel living side by side in peace and security with its neighbors." (ibid)

Thursday, October 30, 2014

Arab East Jerusalem's Israeli Nightmare

The ethnic cleansing of Palestine never stops:

"On Wednesday evening, Abdel Rahman ash-Shaludi, 21, drove his vehicle at high speed into a crowd of Israelis on a light rail platform at Ammunition Hill in Jerusalem, wounding 8 people. 3-month-old Israeli-American Chaya Zissel Braun died hours later, and Karen Yemima Muscara, an Ecuadorian woman in her 20s, died from her injuries last night.*

"As Shaludi attempted to run away, he was shot by an Israeli security guard. In a video, the guard stood over the mortally wounded Shaludi, pointed a gun in his face at point-blank range and taunted, 'Do you want it?'

"That night, Mohammad Mahmoud of the Addameer Prisoner Support & Human Rights Association was prevented by the army from visiting Shaludi in the hospital. He died hours later. As a result of the army banning visitors to the hospital as Shaludi lay dying, Israel prevented any psychological evaluation or statements that could reveal the nature of the incident. This move ensured that nothing would surface that could derail the impending media frenzy.

"Immediately, Israeli media branded the incident a terrorist attack and declared Shaludi was a Hamas operative with a history of terrorism. Yet according to prior Israeli investigations and statements from his family, he was not affiliated with Hamas. Shaludi had spent 14 months in Israel prisons for stone-throwing - not exactly an act of a mastermind terrorist. He was released in December of 2013, arrested again in February and held for 20 days by Israeli interrogators.

"'They kept on harassing him and summoning him for questioning over and over again and they tried to enlist him into working for them, but he repeatedly refused,' his mother told Ma'an News. 'They threatened him, saying he would never find work or be able to continue his education or have a normal life,' she added.

"According to the Shaludi family, he was brutally tortured in prison and suffered severe trauma as a result. Only hours before the incident, his mother had taken him to 'a doctor who advised him to see a therapist after days of exhibiting signs of mental exhaustion.'

"Over the years, Shaludi's East Jerusalem neighborhood of Silwan has come under attack by Israeli authorities and settlers. Just 3 days before the incident, fanatical Israeli settlers moved into homes in the middle of the night, doubling their presence in the neighborhood.

"For the Israeli public, the possibility that the incident resulted in from severe psychological trauma from torture in Israeli gulags, as well as attacks on Shaludi's neighborhood is inconceivable. Admission of this possibility could implicate Israel's brutal security apparatus in the death of baby Chaya. Besides, insanity is only applicable to whitewash the crimes of Jewish Israelis like Yosef Chaim Ben David, the settler who, with two teenagers, beat Mohammed Abu Khdeir with a wrench before forcing the Palestinian teenager to drink gasoline and burning him alive as revenge for the deaths of the 3 Israeli teenagers this summer.

"The immediate branding of the incident as a Hamas terrorist operation alleviated any potential responsibility from public consciousness. As the news of a terrorist attack spread, the Israeli public demanded the Netanyahu government punish East Jerusalem Palestinians. An op-ed appeared in Haaretz that called for an increased police presence in Jerusalem, signaling consensus from left to right.

"Israel's campaign of escalation and collective punishment began. While visiting the grieving family of Chaya Zissel Braun, Minister of Internal Security Yitzhak Aharonovich announced that he would seal or demolish the Silwan home of the bereaved Shaludi family. Two days later, in an act of provocation, Minister of Housing and Construction Uri Ariel,** announced that he planned to move into Silwan. This morning, Netanyahu announced that 1,000 new homes would be constructed in East Jerusalem, a move that increases pressure on Palestinians.

"The day after the incident, Netanyahu convened with Aharonovich, Jerusalem Mayor Nir Barakat, Shin Bet Head Yoram Cohen, and police officials ordering 1,000 more police and troops from the border police, instructing them to 'exercise Israeli sovereignty' over the occupied territory.

"The police carried out Netanyahu's orders with brute force. As a crowd of 150 Israelis gathered at the site of the incident, calling for expulsions of Palestinians, and chanting 'Death to Arabs' and 'revenge', soldiers, police and settlers mounted attacks on neighborhoods throughout East Jerusalem. In Silwan, soldiers ransacked the Shaludi home and arrested family members including Abdel Rahman's 15-year-old brother Izzedin. Settlers threw stones at homes, cars and property and attacked several Palestinians. Fatimah Rajabi, 11, and her 4-year-old cousin Wael were shot in the face while in their home by Israeli soldiers firing rubber-coated bullets.

"In an attempt to expand martial law that Palestinians live under in the occupied West Bank, Jerusalem police officials are considering legislation that would hold parents liable for the acts of their children.

"As the Israeli government ramped up its attacks on East Jerusalem, it simultaneously recruited Western governments to internationally legitimize the assault. 'The United States condemns in the strongest possible terms today's terrorist attacks in Jerusalem,' US State Department Spokesperson Jen Psaki said in a released statement. The UK and France followed suit and released statements condemning the apparent attack. Israeli Ambassador to the United Nations Ron Prosor called on the UN Security Council to condemn the incident as a 'terrorist' attack.

"This episode illustrates how anti-Arab racism in Israeli society - what Israeli President Reuben Rivlin recently called 'sick' - makes it susceptible to manipulation of facts in order to advance the far right's agenda. Though the secular elite in Tel Aviv may appear to be ambivalent to the religious settler movement's aspirations to completely Judaize Jerusalem, they practically support it in the name of security measures and counter-terrorism.

"Under the pretext of restoring quiet, the Netanyahu government is escalating Israel's war on Palestinians in East Jerusalem. Led by Moshe Feiglin, the Deputy Speaker of the Knesset who has called for genocide of the Palestinians, extremist settlers escorted by armed police have increasingly been visiting the courtyard surrounding the al-Aqsa Mosque - a site of huge importance in Islam. Police have attacked Palestinian worshippers on a near daily basis, and in a move that could ignite an intifada, Israeli lawmakers will soon vote on partitioning the mosque. As Netanyahu incites Israelis and ramps up attacks on Palestinian neighborhoods, the future of Jerusalem is anything but quiet." (Under pretext of restoring calm, Netanyahu government is escalating Israel's war on Palestinians in Jerusalem, Dan Cohen, mondoweiss.net, 27/10/14)

[*See my 25/10 post What's Fit to Print in The Australian; **See my 18/5/14 post Our Klutz in... East Jerusalem.]

Wednesday, October 29, 2014

Unsentimental Israelis

Today is the 58th anniversary of Israel's infamous Kafr Qassem massacre. The following reference to it, in yesterday's Sydney Morning Herald, unfortunately hardly does justice to the gravity of the crime:

"Israeli President Reuven Rivlin has acknowledged past and present wrongdoings to his country's Arabs... Mr Rivlin spoke at a memorial ceremony for victims of the 1956 massacre at Kafr Qassem, where Israeli forces killed 47 residents of the Israeli Arab village for breaking a wartime curfew, becoming the first Israeli president to attend the event. 'A terrible crime was committed here,' he said. 'The brutal killings in Kafr Qassem are an anomalous [?!] and sorrowful chapter in the history of the relations between Arabs and Jews living here... Kafr Qassam is adjacent to the West Bank. In 1956, it was under [Israeli] military rule and, on October 29 - the first day of a war with Egypt - Israeli border policemen gunned down residents who were unaware a curfew had been imposed... The Kafr Qassem massacre is taught in the Israeli education system as a case of an illegal military order that must be refused by soldiers." (Killings were crime against Israeli Arabs, says president, AFP/Sydney Morning Herald, 28/10/14)

Notice how, in the ms media, Israel almost always manages to come up smelling like roses? Funny, that.

By way of contextualising the final sentence in the AFP report, I draw your attention to the following finding by Israeli educationist Nurit Peled-Elhanan:

"The Kaffer Kassem massacre is remembered in Jewish-Israeli consciousness mainly for being the source for the court's unprecedented ruling against compliance with 'manifestly unlawful orders' [but Israeli textbooks] failed to mention that the verdict was not carried out to its term and said nothing about the suffering of the villagers." (Palestine in Israeli School Books: Ideology & Propaganda in Education, 2012, p 172)

The following account of the massacre and its aftermath by British scholar David Hirst shows why:

"The Arabs remember Kafr Qasem as the Deir Yassin of the established State. Less revealing, perhaps, than the event itself was the reaction it generated. On 29 October 1956, on the eve of Israel's invasion of Egypt, a detachment of Frontier Guards imposed a curfew on villages near the Jordanian frontier. Among them was Kafr Qasem. The Mukhtar was informed of the curfew just half an hour before it was due to go into effect. It was therefore quite impossible for him to pass the message on to the villagers who would be returning, as dusk fell, from their various places of work. Major Shmuel Melinki, the detachment commander, had foreseen this eventuality, and he asked his superior, Brigadier Yshishkhar Shadmi, what should be done about anyone coming home in ignorance of the curfew. The Brigadier had replied: 'I don't want any sentimentality... that's just too bad for him.' And there was no sentimentality. In the first hour of the curfew, between 5 and 6 o'clock, the Frontier Guards killed 47 villagers. They had returned home individually or in batches. A few came on foot, but most travelled by bicycle, mule cart or lorry. They included women and children. But all the Frontier Guards wanted to know was whether they were from Kafr Qasem. For if they were, they shot them down at close range with automatic weapons. 'Of every group of returning workers, some were killed and others wounded; very few succeeded in escaping unhurt. The proportion of those killed increased, until, of the last group, which consisted of 14 women, a boy and 4 men, all were killed, except one girl, who was seriously wounded.' The slaughter might have gone on like this had not Lieutenant Gavriel Dahan, the officer on the spot '... informed the command several times over the radio apparatus in the jeep of the number killed. Opinions differ as to the figure he gave in his reports, but all are agreed that in his first report he said:

... 'one less', and in the next two reports: 'fifteen less' and 'many less - it is difficult to count them'. The last two reports, which followed each other in quick succession, were picked up by Captain Levy, who passed them on to Melinki. When he was informed that there were 'fifteen less' in Kafr Qasem, Melinki gave orders which he was unable to transmit to Dahan before the report arrived of 'many less - it is difficult to count them', for the firing to stop and for a more moderate procedure to be adopted in the whole area... This order finally ended the bloodshed at Qafr Qasem.'

"All this was established in the trial which, as the scandal slowly leaked out, the government was obliged to hold. The trial was a pro forma affair. There was little moral outrage in the courtroom, and, apart from a few lone voices, very little outside it. During the proceedings the leading newspaper Haaretz reported that 'the eleven officers and soldiers who are on trial for the massacre in Kafr Qasem have all received a 50% increase in their salaries. A special messenger was sent to Jerusalem to bring the cheques to the accused in time for Passover. A number of the accused had been given a vacation for the holiday... The accused mingle freely with the spectators; the officers smile at them and pat them on the back; some of them shake hands with them. It is obvious, that these people, whether they will be found innocent or guilty, are not treated as criminals, but as heroes.' One Private David Goldfield reportedly resigned from the Security Police in protest against the trial. According to the Jewish Newsletter, his testimony merely reflected what most Israelis thought: 'I feel that the Arabs are the enemies of our State... When I went to Kafr Qasem, I felt that I went against the enemy and I made no distinction between the Arabs in Israel and those outside its frontiers.' Asked what he would do if he met an Arab woman, in no sense a security threat, who was trying to reach her home, he replied: 'I would shoot her down, I would harbour no sentiments, because I received an order and I had to carry it out.' The sentences were pro forma too. Melinki and Dahan got jail terms of 17 and 15 years respectively, but it was a foregone conclusion that they would only serve a fraction of them. In response to appeals for a pardon, the Supreme Military Court decided to reduce the 'harsh' sentence; and, following this generous example, the Chief of Staff, then the Head of State, and finally a Committee for the Release of Prisoners all made contributions, so that within a year of their sentence Melinki and Dahan were free men. As for Brigadier Shadmi - the 'no sentimentality' senior officer - a Special Military Court found him guilty of a 'merely technical' error, reprimanded him and fined him one piastre. But the twist in the tail was yet to come. Nine months after his release from prison, Dahan, convicted of killing 43 Arabs in an hour, was appointed 'officer responsible for Arab affairs' in the town of Ramleh. And the last that has been heard of Major Melinki was that, through his influential connections in the army, he had secured a coveted permit, sought after by many an entrepreneur, to set up a tourist centre in southern Israel." (The Gun & The Olive Branch: The Roots of Violence in the Middle East, 1977, pp 185-87)

By way of highlighting the obscenity of the judicial farce which followed the massacre (which, incidentally, was covered up for 6 weeks before the troops responsible were charged with murder), it's worth recalling colonial Australia's Myall Creek massacre. Here's the introduction to the Wikipedia entry on it:

'The Myall Creek massacre involved the killing of up to 30 unarmed Indigenous Australians by 10 white Europeans and one black African on 10 June 1838 at Myall Creek near Bingara in northern New South Wales. After two trials, seven of the 11 colonists involved in the killings were found guilty of murder and hanged."

That was 118 years before Kafr Qassem.

Tuesday, October 28, 2014

Palestinian Resistance 101

The Palestinians Right & Duty to Resist by Gideon Levy, Haaretz, 26/10/14

"Imagine you're the Palestinians. Perhaps residents of East Jerusalem. Forty-seven difficult years are behind you; a big, depressing darkness lies ahead. The Israeli tyrant that dooms your fate declares arrogantly that everything will stay like this forever. Your city will remain under occupation 'forever and ever.' The defense minister, second in importance in the government that subjugates you, says a Palestinian state will never be established.

"Imagine you're Palestinian and your children are in danger. Two days ago, the occupation forces killed another child because 'he lit a firebomb.' The words 'Death to Arabs' were sprayed near your home. Everywhere you turn, a soldier or Border Police officer may shout at you. Every night, your home may be invaded brutally. You will never be treated like human beings. They'll destroy, humiliate, intimidate, perhaps even arrest you, possibly without trial.

"There are close to 500 administrative detainees, a record number in recent years. If one of your dear ones is arrested, you will have difficulty visiting him. If you succeed, you'll get half an hour's conversation through a glass window. If your dear one is an administrative detainee, you will never know when he'll be released. But these are trivia you grew accustomed to long ago.

"Maybe you've also grown accustomed to the land theft. At any moment a settler can invade your land, burn your orchard or torch your fields. He will not be brought to trial for this; the soldiers who are supposed to protect you will stand idly by. At any moment, a demolition order or random eviction order may appear. There's nothing you can do.

"Imagine you're the Palestinians. You can't leave Gaza and its not easy to leave the West Bank either. The beach, less than an hour's drive from your West Bank home, is beyond the mountains of darkness. An Israeli can go to Tierra del Fuego, between Argentina and Chile, much more easily than you can go to the beach at Ajami. There are no dreams, no wishes. Your children have a slim chance of accomplishing anything in life, even if they go to university. All they can look forward to is a life of humiliation and unemployment.

"There's no chance that this situation is about to change anytime soon. Israel is strong, the United States is in its pocket, your leadership is weak (the Palestinian Authority) and isolated (Hamas), and the world is losing interest in your fate. What do you do?

"There are two possibilities. The first is to accept, give in, give up. The second is to resist. Whom have we respected more in history? Those who passed their days under the occupation and collaborated with it, or those who struggled for their freedom?

"Imagine you're a Palestinian. You have every right to resist. In fact, it's your civil duty. No argument there. The occupied people's right to resist occupation is secured in natural justice, in the morals of history and in international law.

"The only restrictions are on the means of resistance. The Palestinians have tried almost all of them, for better and worse - negotiations and terror; with a carrot and with a stick; with a stone and with bombs; in demonstrations and in suicide. All in vain. Are they to despair and give up? This has almost never happened in history, so they'll continue. Sometimes they'll use legitimate means, sometimes vile ones. It's their right to resist.

"Now they're resisting in Jerusalem. They don't want Israeli rule, or people who set live children on fire. They don't want armed settlers who invade their apartments in the middle of the night, under the Israeli law's protection, and evict them. They don't want a municipality that grants its services according to national affiliation, or judges that sentence their children according to their origin. They also go nuts when the house of a Jewish terrorist is not demolished, while the house of a Palestinian will be torn down.

"They don't want Israel to continue tyrannizing them, so they resist. They hurl stones and firebombs. That's what resistance looks like. Sometimes they act with heinous murderousness, but even that is not as bad as their occupier's built-in violence. It's their right; it's their duty."

Monday, October 27, 2014

Bill Shorten's Values

"No faith, no religion, no set of beliefs should ever be used as an instrument of division or exclusion."  (Shorten to front Christian lobby over his values, James Massola, Sydney Morning Herald, 25/10/14)

That's what federal Opposition leader Bill Shorten reportedly said to Australia's Christian lobby on the subject of same-sex marriages last Saturday.

One is left wondering how, if he really believes what he says, Shorten can reconcile this statement of principle with his unqualified support for Israel, a state which occupies, oppresses and dispossesses the Palestinians simply because they are not Jewish.

As historian Adel Safty reminds us:

"Had the Palestinians been Jewish, they would have been entitled by law in Israel to automatic citizenship, political rights, subsidized housing and medical care." (Might Over Right: How the Zionists Took Over Palestine, 2009, p 255)

Bill?

Saturday, October 25, 2014

What's Fit to Print at The Australian

'All the News That's Fit to Print'. That, of course, is the motto of The New York Times. Whatever this means for today's NYT, for Murdoch's Australian flagship (motto: 'The Heart of the Nation'), crazed, preferably Hamas-affiliated, Palestinians are most definitely newsworthy:

"A Palestinian man rammed a car into pedestrians in Jerusalem yesterday, killing a baby and injuring six people in what Israeli police said was a 'hit-and-run terror attack'... The driver, identified as Abed Abdelrahman Shaludeh, 21, a Palestinian from Silwan in east Jerusalem, died from his injuries... He had been shot and wounded as he tried to flee police spokeswoman Luba Samri said. The US condemned what it called a 'terrorist' attack. 'We express our deepest condolences to the family of the baby, reportedly an American citizen, who was killed in this despicable attack,' State Department spokeswoman Jen Psaki said in a statement... Family members said [Shaludeh] had been recently released from an Israeli prison where he served 14 months for disturbing the peace. Family members confirmed Shaludeh was a nephew of senior Hamas bomb-maker Muhi al-Din Sharif who was killed in the West Bank city of Ramallah in mysterious circumstances in 1998. Israeli officials also identified him as a member of the radical Islamist Hamas movement." (Baby dies as Palestinian rams car in Jerusalem crowd, AFP, The Australian, 24/10/14)

But not the crimes of despicable, land-grabbing settler scum. No way:

"A young Palestinian girl was struck by an Israeli settler vehicle earlier Sunday has succumbed to her wounds, medics told Ma'an. Einas Khalil, 5, died after being hit by a car driven by an Israeli settler near the central West Bank town of Sinjil, medical sources at Palestine Medical Complex in Ramallah said. The girl and young Nilin Asfour were walking on the main road near the village when they were hit, and were taken to the hospital in Ramallah where their wounds were described as serious. Einas passed away hours later. Residents of Sinjil accused the settler of deliberately hitting the girls... Over 500,000 Israeli settlers live in settlements in the occupied West Bank, including East Jerusalem, in contravention of international law." (5-year-old Palestinian girl hit by settler car succumbs to wounds, maannews.net, 19&21/10/14)

Or the latest settler infestation in occupied Silwan, Shaludeh's home patch:

"Dozens of Israeli settlers moved into two homes in the predominantly Arab neighborhood of Silwan in East Jerusalem overnight Sunday. The move effectively doubled the number of Jews living in the central part of Silwan, where relatively few Jewish families had lived before." (Number of Jewish Silwan residents doubles in overnight mission, Nir Hasson, Haaretz, 20/10/14)

Friday, October 24, 2014

Visiting Zionist Comedians You May Have Missed

Zionist comedy? I know, it sounds like the ultimate oxymoron, right?

Wrong!

Meet Breakstone and Hendel:

David Breakstone, vice-chair, World Zionist Organisation (WZO):

"We have to keep hammering home that we also feel terrible distress over the death of so many innocent Palestinian civilians, particularly the children. The other thing I think we need to do is present the human side from Israel. Although our children have not been killed in this conflict, they've certainly been traumatised." (WZO vice-chair in Australia, The Australian Jewish News, 22/8/14)

Dr Yoaz Hendel, former communications director for Benjamin Netanyahu, currently chairman of the Institute for Zionist Strategies:

"Human rights is not the monopoly of the radical left and it's not the monopoly of liberals. It's part of Zionism. The fact that we have minorities in Israel, it's part of what we are... This is Israel's character." (Israel champions human rights, The Australian Jewish News, 22/8/14)

I rest my case.