jump to navigation

The Problem with Mahmoud Abbas and His Authority January 8, 2015

Posted by rogerhollander in Israel, Gaza & Middle East, Palestine.
Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , ,
add a comment

Roger’s note: apart from Israel’s apologists, analysis of the Israel/Arab quagmire tends to focus on US backed Israeli atrocities and violations of international law, and rightly so.  Nevertheless, the situation cannot be understood as simply a good guy/bad guy dichotomy between Israel and the Palestinian Authority.  Here we see a critical examination of the corruption that the Palestinian peoples suffer at the hands of their own leadership.

th
by RAMZY BAROUD

It was the moment many had been waiting for. On January 2, Palestine’s United Nations envoy, Riyad Mansour formally requested membership at the International Criminal Court (ICC).

“We are seeking justice for all the victims that have been killed by Israel, the occupying power,” he said.

There was no explanation why Palestine’s membership of the Rome Statute (through which the ICC is governed) was delayed in the first place; of why no justice was ever sought for thousands of victims in Gaza, and many in the West Bank and Jerusalem, although such membership would have been granted much earlier.

In fact, in 2012, Palestine’s status at the UN was upgraded, from an observer entity to an ‘observer state’. The move was largely symbolic, since it was an attempt at breathing life in the two-state-solution, which was long dead. But it had one single practical benefit – the coveted membership at the ICC. Finally, Israel could be held accountable for its war crimes; finally, a measure of justice was possible.

Shifting Strategy?

Yet, for two years, the Palestinian Authority of Mahmoud Abbas delayed. Not only did Abbas hesitate and carry on with the same tired charade of peace process, but he seemed keen on ensuring that Palestinian unity, even if achieved politically, remained pointless and ineffective.

But isn’t it better late than never?

Agency France Press described Abbas’ move as a “shift in strategy .. away from the US-led negotiation process.” Indeed, the US seemed peeved by the move, describing it as “counterproductive”. It will take some imagination to consider what a ‘productive’ alternative might be, considering that the US’ unhinged bias, and unconditional support of Israel had emboldened the rightwing government of Benjamin Netanyahu into carrying out the most hideous of war crimes.

Yet this is not exactly about the killing of nearly 2,200 Palestinians, mostly civilians during the 51-day Israeli war on Gaza last summer. Nor is it about the more than the 400 children who were killed then. Or even the siege on the Strip, the occupation and illegal settlements in the West Bank and Jerusalem.

Certainly Abbas had numerous chances to admonish Israel in the past, cement unity among his people, use his leverage with Egypt to at least ease the siege on Gaza, devise a strategy that is centered around national liberation (not state-building of a state that doesn’t exist), end the ongoing theft of Palestinian resources by the PA itself, establish a system of accountability, and so on. Instead, he kept his faith in Washington, playing the wait-and-see game of Secretary of State John Kerry centered on a single premise: pleading with Netanyahu to change his ways and freeze settlement construction, which never happened.

Conventional analysis suggests that Abbas’s ICC move was the direct outcome of the expected failure of a UN Security Council resolution that was put to vote a few days earlier. The US, Israel’s main political guardian was, naturally expected to veto the resolution, which would have imposed a deadline on Israel to end its occupation of Palestinian territories. The US used the veto, and only eight member states voted in approval. A day later, Abbas signed the application for the ICC, among others; the following day, the application was formally submitted.

But a ‘shift in strategy’ it was not.

Abbas’ Balancing Act

The current political strategy of the PA reflects the unique qualities of Abbas himself, and is a testimony to his impressive abilities to find the right political balance, ultimately aimed at assuring his survival at the helm.

If Abbas’s own political subsistence largely depends on Israel’s acquiescent and US backing, one can rarely imagine a scenario in which Netanyahu and his war generals are arraigned as war criminals before the ICC.

It is unconceivable that Abbas had finally decided to break away from the restrictive role of being an active member of the US managed club of Arab ‘moderates’.

To do so, it would mean that Abbas is ready to risk it all for the sake of his people, which would be a major departure from everything that Abbas – the ‘pragmatic’, ‘moderate’ and conveniently corrupt Arab leader – has ever stood for.

So what is Abbas up to exactly?

Since the late 1970’s, Abbas began his quest for an elusive peace with Israel, which ultimately lead to the signing of the Oslo accords in Sep 1993. It was Abbas himself that signed the accords on behalf of the PLO.

Let alone that the accords wrought disaster on Palestinians, and failed to meet a single deadline including the final status agreement, which was meant to actualize in May 1999; it introduced a bizarre culture of revolutionaries-turned-millionaires, operating within the confines of militarily occupied Palestinian territories.

Year after year, the corrupt PA maintained its privileges as Israel strengthened its occupation. It was a massive barter that seemed to suit the interests of Israel, selected Palestinians, and of course, the US itself, which, along with its allies funded the whole scheme.

Ten Years of Tragedy

Late leader Yasser Arafat was clearly not suitable for the job expected of him. Flexible at times as he was, he still had political boundaries that he would not cross. In 2003, Abbas, the ‘moderate’ was imposed on Arafat by both Israel and the US as a prime minister, a post that was invented with the sole purpose of containing Arafat’s control. Following a brief power struggle, Abbas resigned. Shortly afterwards, Arafat died from possible poisoning, and Abbas returned to power, this time unchallenged.

Abbas’ mandate, starting January 15, 2004, should have ended in early 2009. But he decided to extend it by another year, and another, and has since then ruled over the fragmented, occupied nation, with the help of Israel, without a shred of legitimacy, except what he, and his supporters bestow on him.

It has been almost exactly a decade since Abbas ruled over Palestinians. They were years of tragedy, political failure, economic crisis, disunity, and unprecedented corruption.

Yes, the 80-year-old leader has survived, partly because Israel found him the most flexible of all Palestinians (he wouldn’t end security coordination with Israel even after he himself described as the genocidal war on Gaza); the Americans too wanted him to remain in his post, for there is yet to be an alternative leader, who places US-Israeli priority ahead of his own people.

But he also survived because he used billions of dollars funneled by international donors to construct a welfare system, creating a class of Palestinian Nouveau riche, whose wealth was a result of the occupation, not despite it. While the new rich basked in their underserved wealth, the fate of millions of Palestinians were tied to pay checks, which were not the outcome of a productive economy but international handouts.

While Israel was spared the burden of looking after the welfare of the occupied Palestinians as dictated by the Geneva and other conventions, it was left with abundance of funds to expand its illegal settlements.

Somehow it all worked out for all parties involved, save the Palestinian people.

The Search for ‘Victory’

In a sense, Abbas was never really a leader of his people as he didn’t place Palestinian national priority as the prime motivator of his action. At best, he was a political manger, whose management strategy is predicated on finding political balances, and catering to those with greater power and influence.

Following the expiration of Kerry’s deadline of April 29, 2014 aimed at reaching a final status agreement, and another major Israeli war on Gaza that ignited massive anger in the West Bank, which is itself on the verge of an uprising, Abbas’s burden was too heavy to bear

To create distractions, and to deny the Gaza resistance any claim on victory, he began to hunt for his own ‘victory’, which he would then promote back in Ramallah, amid major fanfare and celebration of his supporters. With every such symbolic victory, Palestinians were inundated with new songs of Abbas’ supposed heroism, as his mouthpieces traveled the globe in a desperate attempt to reassert Abbas, and the PA’s relevance.

And after much of delay and haggle, Abbas was forced by sheer circumstance to resort to the ICC, not to criminalize Israel, but to win political leverage, and to send a message to Israel, the US and others that he still matters.

The move to join the ICC has little to do with the war crimes in Gaza, and much with Abbas’ growing unimportance among his allies, but also his own people.

The problem with Abbas, however, is bigger than Abbas himself. The ailment lies in the very political culture and class that sustained and benefited from political corruption for over 20 years.

Even when ‘President Abbas’ is shoved aside, due to old age or whatever else, the malaise will persist; that is until the Palestinians challenge the very culture that Abbas has painstakingly constructed with US money, and an Israeli nod.

Ramzy Baroud has been writing about the Middle East for over 20 years. He is an internationally-syndicated columnist, a media consultant, an author of several books and the founder of PalestineChronicle.com. He is currently completing his PhD studies at the University of Exeter. His latest book is My Father Was a Freedom Fighter: Gaza’s Untold Story (Pluto Press, London).

 

Advertisements

Talk of ‘Third Intifada’ Rises as West Bank Tensions Boil June 21, 2014

Posted by rogerhollander in Israel, Gaza & Middle East.
Tags: , , , , , , , , ,
add a comment

Roger’s note: today the Presbyterian Church in the United States voted to divest from three major corporations that supply settlements in Israeli Occupied territories.

 

Bombing of Gaza continues and aggressive raids by the IDF result in two Palestinian deaths overnight

– Jon Queally, staff writer

The mother of Mohammed Dudin, a 14-year-old Palestinian shot dead by Israeli troops in overnight clashes in Dura, weeps during his funeral in the village south of the West Bank city of Hebron on June 20, 2014. (Photo: AFP)

As the death toll rises and clashes mount between Palestinian communities and Israel security forces, the conditions for a widespread street uprising—or intifada—are again taking shape in the occupied West Bank.

Two Palestinians, a teenager and a young man, were killed in separate incidents overnight as violence escalated in the occupied territories with Israeli military units continuing a week of aggressive raids in response to three missing Israeli teenagers who are believed kidnapped.

The Israeli government has said the three missing Israeli teenagers—Eyal Yifrach, Gilad Shaer and Naftali Frankel—were kidnapped by Hamas, but Hamas leaders deny involvement.

Leader of the Palestinian Authority, Mahmoud Abbas, has said that Israel is now using the teenagers’ disappearance as “a pretext to impose tough punishment against [the Palestinian] people” living in the West Bank and Gaza.

As the Ma’an news agency reports:

Israeli forces shot and killed a 14-year-old Palestinian boy after clashes erupted early Friday morning during a raid on the southern West Bank village of Dura, near Hebron.

Local sources told Ma’an that Mahmoud Jihad Muhammad Dudeen was struck by live bullets in the chest before being taken to Hebron Governmental Hospital, where he was shortly pronounced dead.

The local sources said Israeli forces opened fire directly on Mahmoud during the clashes which occurred in the Haninia neighborhood of Dura.

The clashes broke out after Israeli forces stormed the village in a dawn raid and began conducting home raids. In response, local youths threw rocks at the soldiers.

Later, Ma’an reported on the second incident which took the life of 22-year-old Mustafa Hosni Aslan, who shot in the head by IDF forces during an IDF raid on the Qalandiya refugee camp south of Ramallah. Three others were also seriously wounded by gunfire.

As seemingly isolated incident now spirals, a not unfamiliar phrase is now creeping back into the fold: Third Intifada.

On Thursday, in response to the IDF raids and threats to expel Hamas members from the West Bank, a senior member of the political faction Salah Bardawil, reportedly said, “We are capable of igniting a third Intifada and this is our irrevocable right. It will go off when enough pressure is exerted on the Palestinian people.”

Conjured mostly in the Israeli press, the idea that the ongoing raids could spark a large-scale uprising among Palestinians in the West Bank is not far-fetched.

However, as Middle East expert and researcher Samer Badawi, writing at the  +972 website observes: “If Israel is hoping to provoke Hamas into launching a barrage of rockets from Gaza, the tactic has so far not worked.”

So far, nearly 300 Palestinians in the West Bank have been arrested as part of the IDF’s crackdown began earlier this week. With the level of violence and tensions within Palestinian communities escalating, new talk is emerging of the possibility of a Third Intifada.

Israel’s air force has also continued to bomb targets in the Gaza Strip, with strikes overnight resulting in injuries to the civilians population in the sealed-off enclave, including children.

According to Haaretz: “Sources in Gaza report that six people, including four children, were lightly wounded by shrapnel resulting from an IAF strike. The airstrike targeted several storage facilities, which according to Palestinian sources served civilian purposes.”

Offering analysis of the overall situation that has resulted from the alleged kidnapping of the young Israeli settlers, Daoud Kuttab, a Palestinian journalist and former professor at Princeton University, says that recent events should not be viewed without the full context of the ongoing occupation in West Bank.

“It is a basic strategic recipe: If you take away hope for a political solution, you have to expect a spike in violence,” argues Kuttab. “Add to this formula a hunger strike by over 100 Palestinians imprisoned without charge or trial, that has lasted almost two months without a single attempt to negotiate or hear the prisoners’ demands and you have trouble.”

He continues:

Search for the missing Israelis is useless if it does not include a serious attempt to address the underlying causes of the violence that is the result of a sense of helplessness and despair.

As Palestinian areas enter the 48th year under a foreign military occupation that has along with it a colonial settler campaign, one should not be surprised by violent acts here and there.

The sooner all parties reflect on the larger lessons of this act the sooner we can begin the process of moving towards independence for Palestinians and security for Israelis.

____________________________________

Homeless/Stolen/Violence June 10, 2014

Posted by rogerhollander in Israel, Gaza & Middle East.
Tags: , , , , , , , ,
add a comment

by Abby Zimet

Powerful new ads asking, “Does Israel want peace…or land?” now up in Boston’s subway stations are eliciting the usual hysterical claims of “race-based Jew hatred” from the right-wing likes of Pam Geller. But the Jewish-founded Ads Against Apartheid, which sponsored the ad campaign, says they “simply state the facts,” with citations – eg: that Israel has demolished over 25,000 Palestinian homes, built 150 Jewish settlements, killed a Palestinian child every four days since 2000.

“If the ads are shocking, that’s because the reality on the ground is shocking…..These ads show what Israel’s occupation and apartheid really look like, and it is important for Americans to see that.”

The Second Holocaust Was Averted at Brooklyn College BDS Forum February 8, 2013

Posted by rogerhollander in Civil Liberties, Israel, Gaza & Middle East.
Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , ,
add a comment
Posted by Tikkun Daily at 7:43 am
February 8, 2013

Crossposted on Tikkun Daily

By David Harris-Gershon

Last night, Brooklyn College hosted a forum on the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) movement – a non-violent initiative targeting Israel’s suppression of basic political rights for Palestinians, particularly those occupied in the West Bank.

In the weeks preceding the forum, Brooklyn College was under intense pressure to cancel the event, pressure spearheaded by Harvard professor Alan Dershowitz, who curiously chose to argue against the concept of academic freedom by claiming the forum would be a “propaganda hate orgy” and should not be allowed.

New York City Council members soon followed, threatening to cut off funding to the college if the event proceeded, with Assemblyman Alan Maisel stating, “We’re talking about the potential for a Second Holocaust here.

Thankfully, champions of academic freedom stepped in to push back against such bombastic claims, including Mayor Michael Bloomberg, who bluntly told the City Council:

“If you want to go to a university where the government decides what kind of subjects are fit for discussion, I suggest you apply to a school in North Korea.”

Eventually, political pressure against the event relented and it went on as planned, an event at which UC Berkley professor Judith Butler eloquently explained the BDS movement:

The Boycott Divestment and Sanctions movement is, in fact, a non-violent movement; it seeks to use established legal means to achieve its goals; and it is, interestingly enough, the largest Palestinian civic movement at this time. That means that the largest Palestinian civic movement is a non-violent one that justifies its actions through recourse to international law. Further, I want to underscore that this is also a movement whose stated core principles include the opposition to every form of racism, including both state-sponsored racism and anti-Semitism.

Butler also explored and, ultimately, expertly rejected accusations that the BDS movement was inherently anti-Semitic:

But still, it is left to us to ask, why would a non-violent movement to achieve basic political rights for Palestinians be understood as anti-Semitic? Surely, there is nothing about the basic rights themselves that constitute a problem. They include equal rights of citizenship for current inhabitants; the end to the occupation, and the rights of unlawfully displaced persons to return to their lands and gain restitution for their losses…why would a collective struggle to use economic and cultural forms of power to compel the enforcement of international laws be considered anti-Semitic? It would be odd to say that they are anti-Semitic to honor internationally recognized rights to equality, to be free of occupation and to have unlawfully appropriated land and property restored. I know that this last principle makes many people uneasy, but there are several ways of conceptualizing how the right of return might be exercised lawfully such that it does not entail further dispossession.

[…]

If the Jew who struggles for justice for Palestine is considered to be anti-Semitic, if any number of internationals who have joined thus struggle from various parts of the world are also considered anti-Semitic and if Palestinians seeking rights of political self-determination are so accused as well, then it would appear that no oppositional move that can take place without risking the accusation of anti-Semitism. That accusation becomes a way of discrediting a bid for self-determination, at which point we have to ask what political purpose the radical mis-use of that accusation has assumed in the stifling of a movement for political self-determination.

Omar Barghouti, founding committee member of the Palestinian Campaign for the Academic and Cultural Boycott of Israel, spoke in more populist tones, but was clear in reiterating that the BDS movement rejects all forms of discrimination, including anti-Semitism, and is focused on one thing: ending the dehumanization of Palestinians and delivering to them dignity, basic human rights and political self-determination.

In the end, the event was peaceful, cordial and level-headed. A far cry from the small group of protesters outside who yelled that the next slaughter of the Jews was beginning at Brooklyn College.

Follow me on Twitter @David_EHG

‘What Our Society Is Made of’: Former IDF Soldiers Confess Abuse of Palestinian Children August 27, 2012

Posted by rogerhollander in Human Rights, Israel, Gaza & Middle East, War.
Tags: , , , , , , , , , ,
add a comment

Published on Monday, August 27, 2012 by Common Dreams

– Common Dreams staff

Testimony by ex-Israeli Defense Force soldiers reveals a devastating portrayal of ill-treatment and abuse of Palestinian youth by members of Israel’s occupying army in the West Bank and Gaza Strip.

An Israeli soldier restrains a Palestinian girl crying over the arrest of her mother during a protest over land confiscation in al-Nabi Saleh. (Photo: AFP)

The testimony by more than 30 soldiers, and fashioned into a booklet by Breaking the Silence, an organisation of former IDF soldiers dedicated to speaking out against Israeli policy in the occupied territories, contains descriptions of beatings, intimidation and humiliation of Palestinian children.

“It is crucial that people in Israel are confronted about what it means for Palestinian children to live under military occupation,” says Yehuda Shaul, one of the founders of Breaking the Silence.

“This is what [Israeli] society is made of, you cannot ignore it, you cannot just run away from it — this is who we are as people and I think this is something we should face.”

The group plans to hand out copies of the testimonies to Israel high school students in the coming weeks as the school year begins.

“Exposing our teens to this reality is not a trivial matter,” says Avner Gvaryahu, a former soldier who both contributed testimony for the report and works for the organization.

“The group hesitated to distribute the brochure among high school students,” he said, “but it was eventually decided to go through with it. I’m queasy about it even though I understand that it’s necessary… If you’re old enough to enlist and carry a weapon, you’re old enough to know what’s really happening in the territories.”

The Independent excerpts testimony from the booklet:

First Sergeant, Kfir Brigade

Salfit 2009

“We took over a school and had to arrest anyone in the village who was between the ages of 17 and 50. When these detainees asked to go to the bathroom, and the soldiers took them there, they beat them to a pulp and cursed them for no reason, and there was nothing that would legitimise hitting them. An Arab was taken to the bathroom to piss, and a soldier slapped him, took him down to the ground while he was shackled and blindfolded. The guy wasn’t rude and did nothing to provoke any hatred or nerves. Just like that, because he is an Arab. He was about 15, hadn’t done a thing.

“In general people at the school were sitting for hours in the sun. They could get water once in a while, but let’s say someone asked for water five times, a soldier could come to him and slap him just like that. I saw many soldiers using their knees to hit them, just out of boredom. Because you’re standing around for 10 hours doing nothing, you’re bored, so you hit them. I know that at the bathroom, there was this ‘demons’ dance’ as it was called. Anyone who brought a Palestinian there – it was catastrophic. Not bleeding beatings – they stayed dry – but still beatings.”

First Sergeant, Combat Engineering Corps

Ramallah 2006-07

“There was this incident where a ‘straw widow’ was put up following a riot at Qalandiya on a Friday, in an abandoned house near the square. Soldiers got out with army clubs and beat people to a pulp. Finally the children who remained on the ground were arrested. The order was to run, make people fall to the ground. There was a 10- to 12-man team, four soldiers lighting up the area. People were made to fall to the ground, and then the soldiers with the clubs would go over to them and beat them. A slow runner was beaten – that was the rule.

“We were told not to use it on people’s heads. I don’t remember where we were told to hit, but as soon as a person on the ground is beaten with such a club, it’s difficult to be particular.”

First Sergeant, Kfir Brigade

Hebron 2006-07

“We’d often provoke riots there. We’d be on patrol, walking in the village, bored, so we’d trash shops, find a detonator, beat someone to a pulp, you know how it is. Search, mess it all up. Say we’d want a riot? We’d go up to the windows of a mosque, smash the panes, throw in a stun grenade, make a big boom, then we’d get a riot.

“Every time we’d catch Arab kids.You catch him, push the gun against his body. He can’t make a move – he’s totally petrified. He only goes: ‘No, no, army.’ You can tell he’s petrified. He sees you’re mad, that you couldn’t care less about him and you’re hitting him really hard the whole time. And all those stones flying around. You grab him like this, you see? We were mean, really. Only later did I begin to think about these things, that we’d lost all sense of mercy.”

Rank and unit unidentified in report

Hebron 2007-08

“One night, things were hopping in Idna village [a small town of 20,000 people, about 13km west of Hebron], so we were told there’s this wild riot, and we should get there fast. Suddenly we were showered with stones and didn’t know what was going on. Everyone stopped suddenly; the sergeant sees the company commander get out of the vehicle and joins him. We jump out without knowing what was going on – I was last. Suddenly I see a shackled and blindfolded boy. The stoning stopped as soon as the company commander gets out of the car. He fired rubber ammo at the stone-throwers and hit this boy.

“At some point they talked about hitting his face with their knees. At that point I argued with them and said: ‘I swear to you, if a drop of his blood or a hair falls off his head, you won’t sleep for three nights. I’ll make you miserable.’

Comments

 and the West Bank are open air concentration camps, these are the new Warsaw Ghetto.
Auschwitz is still in operation it has been renamed Gaza, and the students have outdid the master.

 

  •  
    Avatar
    Veronica Hope4 hours ago

    I have seen video footage of the violence against Palestinians by the Israeli forces…this was twenty years ago. The Israeli’s have become everything that we hated about Hitler’s regime. Maybe there’s no gas chambers, but does that make it OK? As an American, I am ashamed of what our troops have done in the middle east. I am ashamed that my government continues to give money to the Israeli’s. I am ashamed that my government has continued to perpetuate this brutality. Please forgive those of us who are trying to change that. Please forgive the Jewish people around the world for what the Israeli’s are doing. Hateful, abusive people are found in every “developed” society. They are the fringe in most cases, but those who do nothing to stop these atrocities are just as bad.

     

  •  
    Avatar
    sasboy2 hours ago

    Barbaric as the treatment meted out to Palestinians, including minors is, it is comforting to know there are at least some Israelis with the character to come forward and confront the truth about the occupation.

     
  •  

  • What a powerful video. Pity that it, or anything like it, will never be seen on mainstream media in the U.S.

     

  •  
    Avatar
    Ibo Thorbas5 hours ago

    The opportunity missed by Israel after the second world war can be measured by all the budgets all the world knows today that support war. Whatever the supposed, collective religious claims of that nation may be, they like so many others, are visibly set against peace. War is the proof.

    Irrespective of our collective failures, the opportunity to end war today must now be measured by the social implications of shifting out of and away from what may be the greatest weight of failed, misguided financial foolishness humanity has ever known. You won’t stop spending what you spend on war. All human suffering today is the price humanity pays for your commitment to war. The budget is the proof.

    Rectifying this insane imbalance stands as the greatest challenge human intelligence has ever been faced with. Honesty and commitment to the obvious alternative is the straight-line solution.

    How many need to be strapped into a movie theater seat Clockwork Orange style to be compelled to come to understand the real implications of their own complicity. How do we take collective responsibility for the real Task of shifting away from our collective commitment to the priority of warring ways of competition.

    War or Peace has risen to the place of a final, fortunately single, wide-scale, potentially world-wide policy choice. It is the measure of your investments that prevents the essential honesty necessary to the only agenda that matters in our world today. Everything else we speak about by any means in public is convenient avoidance resting either in denial or resignation all of which is the childish, irresponsible, myopic immaturity of fear.

    Any adult among us who will not stand for the essential, single, polite demand for a worldwide agenda founding a final peace has reason to educate him- or herself about the real details of the financial reality currently committed to weaponry and ALL the skins it infects.

    All of every other thing any of us pay any attention to whatsoever is entirely irrelevant. One nation, any nation, ready to stand for Peace could accomplish the necessary Task, and today none will.

     

  •  
    Avatar
    dus75 hours ago

    One could substitute [any armed forces] abusing and terrorizing [any subject civilian population] during [any occupation in any part of the world during any time period].

    I appreciate this apparently truthful news piece and just want to expand it to the bigger picture of what horrid things we humans historically and currently are, unfortunately, capable of. It’s not a pretty picture but is one we have to acknowledge before we can move forward to eventually become what we could and should be.

    It may be as simple as teaching how to handle anger and frustration as well as the rewards of caring and helping others. Of course, the PTB do the opposite, guiding anger and frustration of whatever group against some other group, keeping the horrid injustice going on and on and on. If there is an ‘enemy’, it’s those who lie and encourage or condone inhumane behavior.

     

  •  
    Avatar
    Tanz Sixfingers5 hours ago

    It always appalls me the evils people do to each other in the name of religion.

     

  •  
    Avatar
    galen0662 hours ago

    So kind of the IDF to provide documentary evidence of their crimes against humanity…

     

  •  
    Avatar
    Ira Wechsler33 minutes ago

    This violence and hatred toward Palestinians is no more an accident or “fringe behavior” than is any other racist actions we see around the globe or in our own cities. This is drummed into soldiers of the US as they are sent into the Middle East and Afghanistan. They call Iraqis and Afghani’s Haji’s and towel heads. This is what the army wants , so they can prosecute this war and commit the atrocities necessary to make way for their dominance of energy sources around the globe.for the benefiit of Exxon-Mobil and the finance bankers of Wall Street. the Israeli’s are no different in their racism and fascist control of occupied territories than other larger imperialists. They all represent the sickness of capitalism and the need for a global communist movement to lead our class to bring about revolutionary change and rule of the 99%, the working class. We nned revolutionary youth to be organized to go into the military and win the alliegiance of working class GI’s , so when we are strong enough we can turn the guns around and bring down the imperialist empires. Then and only then can we hope to establish an egalitarian world without racism, war, exploitatrion or money. Then we can produce and distribute to all based on neednot profit.

     

  •  
    Avatar
    northstatean hour ago

    History will show that when Truman gave Palestinian land to the Jews from Germany, the Arab leaders told him that there would be no peace thereafter. There has been no peace. The Palestinians had nothing to do with the Holocaust. The Diaspora happened 2,000 years ago. Under what law did Truman have the right to give land in the Middle East to German Jews? Prior to that, German Jews were migrating peacefully to Palestine and buying land to farm. They were neighbors of the local Palestinians. That worked. The Wahrburg banking family in NYC donated money to plant trees and build schools. They told Truman not to expropriate land from the Palestinians, not to create a State of Israel. We now have a permanent state of war; we now have a permanent occupation of Palestinian land. And, to add to this awfulness, Israel is encouraging Russian Jews to come to Israel for “free” land. Settlers on the West Bank are expropriating more land from Palestinian pastoral farmers. When does it stop? When does the United States Congress stop supporting this land grab?

     

Top Discussions on Common Dreams

 

Top Commenters

 
Nothing for you here … yet. But as you comment with Disqus and follow other Disqus users, you will start to receive notifications here, as well as a personalized feed of activity by you and the people you follow. So get out there and participate in some discussions!

Nick Antic

 

 
  • comments

    6

  • votes

    30

  • following

    0

  • followers

    0

    The new DISQUS Discovery box helps you find other vibrant discussions on the communities you love. Feedback? Let us know.

    Also on Common Dreams

    Israeli who disrupted PM’s speech: We were raised on human rights November 10, 2010

    Posted by rogerhollander in Israel, Gaza & Middle East.
    Tags: , , , , , , , , , , ,
    add a comment

     

     

     

    Youngster who heckled Netanyahu during GA address in New Orleans says US Jews distancing themselves from community due to ‘expectation of blind loyalty to Israel’

     

    “When I got up to disrupt the prime minister’s speech, he was speaking of the de-legitimization of Israel, and I yelled out that I am an Israeli and that it is the occupation, the Gaza blockade and the loyalty oath which delegitimize Israel,” said Matan Cohen, one of five protestors who heckled Benjamin Netanyahu during his keynote address to the Jewish Federations of North America’s General Assembly in New Orleans on Monday.
     
    “We (protestors) decided every five-six minutes one of us would get up and yell. We were detained and later transferred to the custody of the Secret Service,” he told Ynet.
     
    Cohen is a member of Jewish Voice for Peace, an organization that works to achieve a “lasting peace that recognizes the rights of both Israelis and Palestinians for security and self-determination.”
     
    Cohen, 21, was one of the founders of Anarchists Against the Wall, an Israeli group supporting the Palestinian campaign against the construction of the West Bank security barrier. Four years ago, he was injured from a rubber bullet fired by security forces during an anti-fence rally in the West Bank.
     
    He is currently enrolled at Hampshire College in Massachusetts, which became the first of any college or university in the US to divest from companies due to their involvement in the “Israeli occupation of Palestine.”
     

    Israeli Women Soldiers Break the Silence February 1, 2010

    Posted by rogerhollander in Israel, Gaza & Middle East, War, Women.
    Tags: , , , , , , , , , , ,
    add a comment
    Published on Monday, February 1, 2010 by CommonDreams.orgby Ira Chernus

    What’s it like to be a woman serving in the Israeli occupation force in the West Bank? Is a woman’s experience as an occupier any different than a man’s? Yes indeed, say some women who have just broken their silence and offered a glimpse into the grim reality of the occupation.

    “A female combat soldier needs to prove more,” one explains. “A female soldier who beats up others is a serious fighter…When I arrived there was another female [who] was there before me…Everyone spoke of how impressive she is because she humiliates Arabs without any problem. That was the indicator. You have to see her, the way she humiliates, the way she slaps them, wow, she really slapped that guy.”

    This “impressive” woman is not a rare exception. “We discovered that the girls try to be even more violent and brutal than the boys, just to become one of the guys,” says Dana Golan, director of Breaking the Silence, the Israeli organization that has just released a report with testimony from some 50 Israeli women who are veterans of the occupation.

    The report “indicates how violence was deeply rooted in the daily routine,” according to an article in Yediot Aharonot, one of Israel’s most widely-read newspapers, full of disturbing quotes from the women. One who served at the Erez crossing between Israel and Gaza explained that “there was a procedure in which before you release a Palestinian back into the Strip — you take him inside the tent and beat him. … together with the commanders.”

    For Israelis who care to pay attention, another revelation of routine violence, sanctioned and sometimes even led by officers, hardly comes as news. Breaking the Silence has been offering the Israeli public such eyewitness testimony from Israeli soldiers since 2004. What is news is the first insight into the distinctive experience of women: 

    “The female soldiers repeatedly mention the particular difficulties they had as women, who had to prove that to were ‘fighters’ in the midst of the goading male soldiers on the one hand, and the Palestinians, who have a hard time handling women in uniform on the other hand.”

    One woman recalled an incident several years ago when a Palestinian man laughed at her, because (or so she thought) she was a woman in uniform. She had to “salvage her self-respect,” she says. So she moved close to the man, “as if I was about to kiss him. I told him, ‘Come, come, what are you afraid of? Come to me!’ And I hit him in the balls. I told him, ‘Why aren’t you laughing?’ He was in shock, and then he realized … not to laugh.”

    “It shouldn’t reach such a situation,” the woman says now. “The system is deeply flawed. The entire administration, the way things are run, it’s not right.”

    Palestinian women have a distinctive experience, too. “Was there abuse of women?”, an interviewer asked.  “Yes,” a woman soldier replied. “Slaps, that kind of thing. Mainly slaps. … It was mainly the female combat soldiers who beat people. … But also men, they had no problem slapping a woman around. If she screamed, they’d say, ‘Shut it,’ with another slap. A routine of violence. There were also those who didn’t take part, but everyone knew it happened.”

    Sometimes, as the Breaking the Silence report indicates, the level of brutality grows beyond comprehension: a five year old child beaten; a nine year old who “posed no danger” shot to death; another child with both arms and both legs intentionally broken. The Yediot Aharonoth article offers a series of such horrifying incidents. When the full report is available on the Breaking the Silence website, it will be surely include even more heart-breaking tales. 

    Each soldier, male or female, is responsible for their own individual actions, of course. But this report raises disturbing questions about the society that requires them to serve in the military and then sends them on such a brutalizing mission, one that dehumanizes the perpetrators as well as their victims.

    Most disturbing, perhaps, is their common explanation for the violence the inflict:  The soldiers’ daily routine in the Occupied Territories “is boring, so we’d create some action. We’d get on the radio, and say they threw stones at us, then someone would be arrested, they’d start investigating him… There was a policewoman, she was bored, so okay, she said they threw stones at her. They asked her who threw them. ‘I don’t know, two in grey shirts, I didn’t manage to see them.’ They catch two guys with grey shirts… beat them. Is it them? ‘No, I don’t think so.’ Okay, a whole incident, people get beaten up. Nothing happened that day.”

    Another woman, describing a common ritual of humiliating and beating Palestinians at checkpoints, agreed:  “It could go on for hours, depending on how bored they are. A shift is eight hours long, the times must be passed somehow.”

    The boredom is not a gendered experience. I heard exactly the same thing last year from a young Israeli man, now actively working to oppose the occupation. When he manned a checkpoint, at the tender age of 18, he would start each day intent on treating Palestinians humanely, he said. But as the hours went on — as the boredom, the occasional inevitable conflicts, and often the oppressive heat, grew — he would become more irritable, more violent, more likely to abuse his power. 

    Boredom and its minor irritations can easily lead young people, many of them still teenagers, to commit senseless violence. We see it happening in civilian life in most every nation, far too often. But when we see it we call it anti-social and dysfunctional, a problem to be addressed by society.  We assume that society at large has a different norm, a more constructive way of dealing with boredom, which should be taught to the misbehaving youth.

    Perhaps antisocial violence, wherever it occurs, is always a symptom of a whole society’s dysfunction. But in this case the connection between individual and society is especially obvious and glaring. The antisocial Israeli youth are wearing their nation’s uniform, acting (sometimes under orders) in the name of “national security,” often praised for their violent behavior, and virtually never disciplined no matter how far they go.

    They’ve grown up in a Jewish society that tends to treat Palestinians (not always, but far too often) as inherently dangerous, evil, inferior, and deserving whatever harm comes to them.  It’s hardly surprising that many of them would so easily cross the moral line into the realm of inhumanity.

    Yet they’ve also grown up in a society that teaches them basic moral standards that should apply to all people. Most of the women interviewed in the report say they knew that what they were seeing, and sometimes doing, was wrong. But very few lodged any complaints, fearing the consequences if they spoke up. “I have to make a switch in my head and keep hating the Arabs and justify the Jews,” one explained.

    Now, these women, like their male colleagues, must live with the consequences of participating in a brutal occupation that many realize is a terrible moral, as well as political, mistake. Jewish Israeli society must live with the consequences of putting its young people into such an agonizing situation, where moral contradiction is an everyday fact of life. Worst of all, Palestinian society must go on paying the price for Israel’s failure to bring its reality in line with its proclaimed principles.

    Ira Chernus is Professor of Religious Studies at the University of Colorado at Boulder. Read more of his writing on Israel, Palestine, and the U.S. on his blog.

    Israel’s death squads: A soldiers story March 1, 2009

    Posted by rogerhollander in Israel, Gaza & Middle East, War.
    Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,
    add a comment

    Sunday, 1 March 2009, www.indeendent.co.uk

     

    A former member of an Israeli assassination squad has broken his silence for the first time. He spoke to Donald Macintyre.

    The Israeli military’s policy of targeted killings has been described from the inside for the first time. In an interview with The Independent on Sunday, and in his testimony to an ex-soldiers’ organisation, Breaking the Silence, a former member of an assassination squad has told of his role in a botched ambush that killed two Palestinian bystanders, as well as the two militants targeted.

     

    The operation, which took place a little over eight years ago, at the start of the present intifada, or uprising, left the former sharpshooter with psychological scars. To this day he has not told his parents of his participation in what he called “the first face-to-face assassination of the intifada”.

    As the uprising unfolded, targeted assassinations became a regularly used weapon in the armoury of the Israel military, especially in Gaza, where arrests would later become less easy than in the West Bank. The highest-profile were those of Hamas leaders Ahmed Yassin and Abdel Aziz Rantisi in 2005, and of Said Siyam in the most recent offensive. But the targeting of lower-level militants, like the one killed in the operation described by the former soldier, became sufficiently common to attract little comment.

    The incident described by the ex-soldier appears almost trivial by comparison with so much that has happened since in Gaza, culminating in more than 1,200 Palestinian casualties inflicted by Operation Cast Lead this January. It might have been forgotten by all except those directly affected, if it had not been for the highly unusual account of it he gave to Breaking the Silence, which has collected testimony from hundreds of former troops concerned about what they saw and did – including abuses of Palestinians – during their service in the occupied territories.

    That account, expanded on in an interview with the IoS, and broadly corroborated by another soldier’s testimony to Breaking the Silence, directly challenges elements of the military’s official version at the time, while casting new light on the tactic of targeted assassination by the Israeli Defence Forces (IDF). So do comments by the father of one of the Palestinians killed, and one who survived, also traced by the IoS.

    Our source cannot be identified by name, not least because by finally deciding to talk about what happened, he could theoretically be charged abroad for his direct role in an assassination of the sort most Western countries regard as a grave breach of international law. From a good home, and now integrated into civilian life in the Tel Aviv area, the former soldier is about 30. Intelligent and articulate, and with a detailed memory of many aspects, he is scrupulous in admitting his recall of other points may be defective.

    The former conscript said his special unit had trained for an assassination, but was then told it would be an arrest operation. They would fire only if the targeted man had weapons in his car. “We were pretty bombed it was going to be an arrest. We wanted to kill,” he said. The unit then went south to Gaza and took up position. It was 22 November 2000.

    The squad’s main target was a Palestinian militant called Jamal Abdel Razeq. He was in the passenger seat of a black Hyundai being driven north towards Khan Younis by his comrade, Awni Dhuheir. Both men were wholly unaware of the trap that was waiting for him near the Morag junction. This section of the main Salahadin north-south road in Gaza went straight past a Jewish settlement. Razeq was used to seeing an armoured personnel carrier (APC) beside the road, but he had no idea that its regular crew had been replaced by men from an elite air force special unit, including at least two highly trained sharpshooters.

    Since before he even left his home in Rafah that morning, Shin Bet – the Israeli intelligence service – had been monitoring Razeq’s every move with uncanny accuracy, thanks to a running commentary from the mobile phones of two Palestinian collaborators, including one of his own uncles. The man who was to kill him says he was “amazed” at the detail relayed to the unit commander from Shin Bet: “How much coffee he had in his glass, when he was leaving. They knew he had a driver [and] … they said they had weapons in the trunk, not in the car. For 20 minutes we knew it was going to be a simple arrest because they had no weapons in the car.”

    But then, he says, the orders suddenly changed. “They said he had one minute to arrive, and then we got an order that it was going to be an assassination after all.” He thinks it came from a war room set up for the operation and his impression was that “all the big chiefs were there”, including a brigadier general.

    The two militants would still have suspected nothing as they approached the junction, even when a big Israel Defence Forces (IDF) supply truck lumbered out of a side turning to cut them off. They would have had no way of knowing the truck was full of armed soldiers, waiting for this moment. A 4×4 was deployed by the road, only in case “something really wrong” happened.

    But something did go wrong: the truck moved out too soon, and blocked not only the militants in their black Hyundai, but the white Mercedes taxi in front of them. It was carrying Sami Abu Laban, 29, a baker, and Na’el Al Leddawi, 22, a student. They were on their way from Rafah to Khan Younis to try to buy some scarce diesel to fire the bread ovens.

    As the critical moment approached, the sharpshooter said he began to shake from the waist down. “What happens now is I’m waiting for the car to come and I am losing control of my legs. I have an M16 with digicom [special sharpshooter sights]. It was one of the strangest things that ever happened to me. I felt completely concentrated. So the seconds are counted down, then we started seeing the cars, and we see that two cars are coming, not one. There was a first car very close to the following one and when the truck came in, it came in a bit early, and both cars were stopped.Everything stopped. They gave us two seconds and they said, ‘Shoot. Fire.'” Who gave the order, and to whom? “The unit commander … to everybody. Everybody heard ‘Fire’.”

    The target, Razeq, was in the passenger seat, closest to the APC. “I have no doubt I see him in the scope. I start shooting. Everyone starts shooting, and I lose control. I shoot for one or two seconds. I counted afterwards – shot 11 bullets in his head. I could have shot one shot and that’s it. It was five seconds of firing.

    “I look through the scope, see half of his head. I have no reason to shoot 11 bullets. I think maybe from the fear, maybe to cope with all the things that are happening, I just continue shooting.”

    As far as he can recall, the order to fire was not specific to the sharpshooters in the APC. He cannot know for certain if the troops in the truck thought wrongly that some of the fire was directed at them from the cars. But he says that after he stopped “the firing gets even worse. I think the people in the truck started to panic. They’re firing and one of the cars starts driving and the commander says, ‘Stop, stop, stop, stop!’ It takes a few seconds to completely stop and what I see afterwards is that both cars are full of holes. The first car, too, which was there by coincidence.”

    Razeq and Dhuheir, the militants, were dead. So were Abu Laban and Al Leddawi. Miraculously, the driver of the taxi, Nahed Fuju, was unscathed. The sharpshooter can remember only one of the four bodies lying on the ground. “I was shocked by that body. It was like a sack. It was full of flies. And they asked who shot the first car [the Mercedes] and nobody answered. I think everybody was confused. It was clear that it had been a screw-up and nobody was admitting [it].” But the commander did not hold a formal debriefing until the unit returned to its main base.

    “The commander came in and said, ‘Congratulations. We got a phone call from the Prime Minister and from the Minister of Defence and the chief of staff. They all congratulated us. We succeeded perfectly in our mission. Thank you.’ And from that point on, I understood that they were very happy.” He says the only discussion was over the real risk there had been of soldiers’ casualties from friendly fire in the shoot-out, in which at least one of the IDF’s own vehicles was hit by ricocheting bullets, and at the end of which at least one soldier even got out of the 4×4 and fired at an inert body on the ground.

    Saying his impression was “they wanted the press or the Palestinians to know they were raising a step in our fight”, he adds: “The feeling was of a big success and I waited for a debriefing that would ask all these questions, that would show some regret for some failure, but it didn’t happen. The only thing that I felt is that the commanders knew that it was a very big political success for them.”

    The incident immediately caused something of a stir. Mohammed Dahlan, then head of the Fatah-run Preventative Security in Gaza, called it a “barbaric assassination”. The account given at the time to the press by Brigadier General Yair Naveh, in charge of IDF forces in Gaza, was that it had been intended as an arrest operation, but that sensing something amiss, Razeq had pulled out a Kalashnikov rifle and attempted to open fire at the Israeli forces, at which point the troops shot at his vehicle. While Razeq was the main target, it was claimed, the two victims in the taxi were were also Fatah activists “with ties to Razeq”.

    Mr Al Leddawi said last week that his son’s presence was a tragic accident of timing and that the family had never heard of the other two men. “It was all by coincidence that they were there,” he said. “We have nothing do with the resistance in this family.” Beyond saying that he had received “not a shekel” in compensation, the taxi driver, Mr Fuju, did not want to talk to us in Rafah last week. “You want to interview me so the Israelis can bomb my house?”

    The Israeli military said in response to detailed queries about the incident and the discrepancies between its account at the time and that of Palestinians, and now the ex-soldier, that it takes “human rights violations very seriously” but “regrets that Breaking the Silence does not provide it with details or testimony of the incidents it alleges in order to allow for a thorough investigation”. It added that “these soldiers and commanders did not approach senior commanders … with their complaints during their service.”

    Our revelations in brief: Secret unit on a mission to kill

    The Independent on Sunday has obtained an account which, for the first time, details service in one of the Israeli military’s assassination squads.

    A former conscript has told the IoS and an ex-soldiers’ organisation of his part in an ambush that went wrong, accidentally killing two men as well as the two militants targeted.

    The ex-soldier, a trained sharpshooter, says he fired 11 bullets into the head of the militant whose death had been ordered by his superiors. The squad was initially told it was going on an arrest mission, but was then ordered on a minute’s notice to shoot to kill.

    Instead of the flaws in the operation being discussed afterwards, the squad was told it had “succeeded perfectly” and had been congratulated by the Prime Minister and chief of staff.

    The former soldier, who was psychologically scarred by the incident, has never told his parents what happened.