Ignore the spin, the siege of Gaza endangers everyone, israelis included, so end it now

Ignore the spin, the siege of Gaza endangers everyone, Israelis included, so end it now

By Alastair Sloan | MEMO | September 16, 2017

Palestinian children sit on a horse cart in Gaza [file photo]

Save the Children reckons that the Israelis have delivered a major project in record time, with the Gaza Strip described in the NGO’s latest report as “unliveable.” The United Nations made its own prediction in 2012, giving the territory until 2020 before it would be at that inhospitable stage.

As autumn wears on and some three years ahead of the UN deadline, the Israeli government has turned basic essentials such as food, water, hospital access, education and shelter into luxury items in an enclave that the state and its supporters still claim somewhat disingenuously to have “withdrawn” from in 2005.

Of course, Save the Children and the UN aren’t to be trusted; it you pay heed to the pro-Israel lobby you will know this. The lobby has a convenient conspiracy theory that the UN is engaged in “anti-Semitism” rather than reasonable criticism of the Israeli state and its policies. Much of this lobby nonsense comes from mysterious pro-Israel organisations like “UN Watch”, which routinely derides UN predictions and announcements the moment that they are made public.

Another such group is “NGO Monitor”; it has already dismissed the Save the Children report as a “renewed anti-Israel campaign.” Which, of course, it is, and rightly so. This group condemns the respected NGO for daring to publicise the suffering of children, and suggests that Save the Children “should return to a policy of providing aid without adopting the Palestinian political narrative.”

Telling NGOs what they can and cannot do and say is in vogue in Israel, much as it is in autocratic Turkey or Hungary, but the illogical positions of NGO Monitor are still worth exposing. Consider this: “[Save the Children] also called on Israel to blindly ‘lift the Gaza blockade’ without acknowledging the rationale behind it.” NGO Monitor claims that the siege is in place, “to prevent weapon smuggling into Hamas-controlled Gaza.”

We should test this thesis that it is all the fault of Hamas, and the Israeli-led blockade of Gaza is simply the state acting in self-defence.

Fifteen year old Ali suffers from cerebral palsy, and is an example of the kind of problems engulfing a Palestinian youngster which NGO Monitor cannot have missed because his story was included in the press release which accompanied the charity’s report. Ali’s mother Yara told Save the Children:

“My son is dying in front of my eyes. He can’t sleep most nights, and suffers from continuous pain. We don’t have enough power to get his electric wheelchair and mattress fully charged. If his wheelchair doesn’t get charged, he suffers psychologically, as he sees people around him move and walk but he can’t. He feels depressed and often fights with other children. When the wheelchair runs out of battery, Ali becomes totally paralysed. He also needs constant showers as he is wearing diapers, but there is no water. We don’t get water unless there is electricity. If I don’t change his diapers and wash him regularly he will suffer from skin rashes and other problems. We have not had any tap water for two days. I feel suffocated.”

The problem here then, as with so many of the problems outlined in the report, is primarily one of electricity, or the lack thereof. This is why Ali is growing up soaked by his urine and faeces, is unnecessarily paralysed and is suffering psychologically as he grapples with one of the world’s most cruel medical conditions.

In April, Gaza’s sole power plant was forced to shut down after completely exhausting its fuel reserves; the company which runs the plant was unable to obtain fuel due to a shortage of funds. How this makes Israel any safer is unclear, but its government claims that the blockade is all about security. Having 2 million Palestinians living in Gaza in darkness surely doesn’t make Israelis more secure, does it?

Likewise the contamination of Gaza’s water supply. The Palestinian Water Authority and the UN have now warned that the territory’s fresh water aquifer, shared by Israel and Egypt, may be “completely contaminated” by the end of this year. Israel says it won’t let in more aid or spare parts to repair the water treatment plants that it destroyed in its 2008/9 military offensive. Why? Because of Hamas. That, though, doesn’t explain why Israel has repeatedly refused to allow UN Environment Programme inspectors to assess the water situation and try to improve it.

As yet another curious pro-Israel lobby organisation – the American-Israeli Co-operative Enterprise (AICE) – puts it, “There is indeed a humanitarian crisis in Gaza, but it is not to be blamed on Israel.” Thus does the lobby acknowledge the pain that is being caused, and yet it denies that its favoured state, Israel, has anything to do with it, despite controlling everything that goes into or comes out of the Gaza Strip. “Israel has consistently sent aid in many forms through the border,” claims AICE, “and the blockade will be lifted once the violent Hamas government is ousted and the people of the Gaza Strip are ready to live in peace with Israel as their neighbour.”

There is no suggestion by the lobby that Israel, which is the relative newcomer in the neighbourhood, might decide to live in peace with the Palestinians. It is, after all, Israel which has repeatedly broken ceasefires, before telling the world that Hamas started firing rockets. It is also a fact that Hamas can be remarkably quiet when given the choice. Every few years, however, the Israelis re-invade Gaza unnecessarily, launching massive military offensives with accompanying death and destruction, and then withdraw, killing, maiming or traumatising a million children in the process.

The reality is that the siege of Gaza is a manifestation of Israeli military weakness. There is no chance that Israel will re-take Gaza from Hamas by force; the resistance movement not only enjoys general popular support amongst Palestinians but, more importantly, is also expert in the kind of guerrilla warfare that the founders of Israel used to such devastating effect themselves not so many years ago. Conventional armies of the kind that Israel deploys never, ever, win against Middle Eastern militias, particularly those with a religious mindset faced with a Western-backed enemy.

The siege tactic is the only option that the Israeli government can resort to. Ten years on, it appears to be working. As making somewhere “unliveable” is essentially a form of ethnic cleansing by what claims to be a democracy, a coterie of propaganda organisations and lots of media-spin groups are required to defend Israel and gloss over that very distasteful fact.

Perhaps these spin doctors should be asking their government why it can’t defend its citizens, who all pay for the Israel Defence Forces. The answer – or their own conclusion – might then be, because the increasingly right-wing governments of Israel which control the military are stubborn and stupid. They alone are endangering the people of Israel every day through their thankless and pointless siege. So ignore the spin, the siege needs to end now, not in 2020; that will be too late for all concerned.

Read also:

Poverty rate hits 80% in Gaza

Oslo: 24 years of Palestinian losses

WHO: Israel hinders 40% of Gaza patients’ access to health care abroad

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israel denies aid workers visas

Source

MEMO | September 5, 2017

Humanitarian aid sent by Disaster and Emergency Management Presidency of Turkey (AFAD) and Turkish Cooperation and Coordination Agency (TIKA) are being distributed in Gaza City, Gaza on 16 July, 2017 [Ali Jadallah/Anadolu Agency]

Israel has suspended granting work visas to foreign charity workers delivering aid to Palestinians, according to AFP. Humanitarian organisations have noted numerous refusals or delays on the part of the Israeli government for over a year, affecting dozens of aid workers as they try to enter the country.

“This situation could escalate into crippled humanitarian operations,” a senior aid worker told AFP. “A country director who is waiting outside the country for months means timely delivery of aid will be affected.”

Israel has suspended various visas since August 2016, and in June of this year stopped issuing the B1 work visa, the most common documentation sought by those working with NGOs. Many are left working illegally on tourist visas only and fear that they could be expelled at any time.

Israeli authorities deny that the delays have been intentional and the Ministry of Social Affairs has attributed them to “ongoing inter-ministerial considerations regarding the applications approval procedure”.

Read: 15 Gazans die after Israel denies them treatment

Aid workers however, cite the length and extent of the refusals as evidence of other motives, pointing to the recent Israeli decision that would give the government the right to deny entry to those who support the Boycott Divestment Sanctions (BDS) movement. They argue that the right wing stance of Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s government have resulted in their work being curtailed.

In the past, Israel has accused aid workers of supporting Hamas, and the Gaza head of the international Christian charity World Vision Mohammed El-Halabi, is currently on trial after facing such allegations. He denies all charges.

In February, Israel also refused a visa to the US head of Human Rights Watch, claiming the group was “fundamentally biased” towards Palestinians. The authorities were forced to reverse the decision following international condemnation.

Palestinians in the occupied territories and the besieged Gaza Strip are heavily dependent on aid, the vast majority of which is distributed by international charities crossing through Israel. Such dependency has only increased in recent months as the situation in Gaza deteriorates even further. The coastal enclave faces an energy, water and healthcare crisis prompting UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres on his visit to the region last week to label conditions as “one of the most dramatic humanitarian crises that I’ve seen”.

 

Israeli Settlers Spew Obscenity-Filled Racist Filth Over Loud Speakers in Palestinian Neighborhood

By Richard Edmondson

Trump’s special “advisor” on Israel, Jason Greenblatt, is now in the Zionist state spouting nonsense and complaining about Hamas, this after Israeli authorities took him on a “tour” of the Gaza border region. Meanwhile, not so very far away–in a Palestinian neighborhood in Israeli-occupied Hebron–Jewish settlers have terrorized residents by hurling profanity-laced racist insults over loud speakers.

Check out the video below, but be advised: it shows Jews from Kiryat Arba, an illegal Israeli settlement, roaming through the Palestinian neighborhood of al-Hariqah shouting through a loud speaker and using some of the filthiest, vilest language imaginable. The slurs are intended not only to demean Palestinians but also the Muslim religion.

Normally, I don’t post videos that are content-heavy with obscene language, but I decided to make an exception in this case so that people could see the level of depravity that exists among Israeli settlers.

The incident reportedly took place on August 24. This comes as Trump administration envoys are currently in Israel attempting to negotiate “peace.” It was back on August 15, I put up a post regarding the eviction of an elderly Palestinian couple from their home, commenting that a three-member delegation from the Trump administration was at that time about to embark for the Middle East. The delegation, I noted, consists of Trump’s son-in-law, Jared Kushner,  Greenblatt, and Dina Powell, a former Goldman-Sachs employee who also previously worked in the White House during the George W. Bush administration.

The three finally did make it to their destination. The New York Times reports on some of their meetings in Jerusalem and Ramallah in a piece that was published on August 25. This was one day after the settlers in the video above made their noxious, nauseating presence felt in al-Hariqah. This was also one day after I had put up a post entitled First a Kindergarten and Now a School: Are the Israelis Trying to Block Childhood Education? That post, just as a matter of interest, dealt with the Israeli destruction of Palestinian schools, notably the confiscation of mobile classrooms that were to have served more than 60 first-through-fourth grade students in the village of Jubbet al-Dib, near Bethlehem. The confiscation of the classrooms took place on August 22. The Israelis had already torn down a kindergarten just the day previous, and the theft of the classrooms on August 22 came just one day before the new school year was to have begun. On August 23, the first day of school, children showed up at the school in Jubbet al-Dib only to find the classrooms gone.

The reason I go to the trouble of mentioning all this is because Jason Greenblatt shows no indication of recognizing that Israeli settlements are an obstacle to peace. In fact, a report published Thursday by Ma’an News includes a quote from Greenblatt which suggests that the Trump administration’s envoy to Occupied Palestine believes the entire problem lies with Hamas:

“It is clear that the Palestinian Authority needs to resume its role in the administration of Gaza, as Hamas has substantially harmed the people of Gaza and has failed to meet their most basic needs,” he said.

I’m not the world’s biggest fan of Hamas, but even that being said, Greenblatt’s comment is patent nonsense. Gaza has been under blockade for more than a decade. The blockade has been imposed by Israel, not Hamas. It is Israel that has failed to meet the “most basic needs” of the people of Gaza, not Hamas. Moreover, it is Israel as well that is closing Palestinian schools in the West Bank, not Hamas; it is Israel that continues to build settlements in violation of international law, notHamas; and it is Israel that maintains a grotesque occupation that makes it nigh impossible for people to do such simple things as move from one house into another. Watch the video in the tweet below, and notice the Palestinian family trying to get their household belongings through an Israeli checkpoint. Notice them handing items through the guardrail to a child on the other side who stacks them carefully next to a curb–only to have them re-confiscated by an Israeli soldier!

But yet in Greenblatt’s disingenuously fevered imagination, the blame for the Palestinian people not getting “their most basic needs” met has nothing to do with Israel. It’s all the fault of Hamas!

One other thing worth mentioning in all this is a tweet posted Wednesday by Greenblatt in which the Trump administration official expresses thanks to “COGAT” for helping arrange his guided tour:

The letters COGAT stand for “Coordinator of Government Activities in the Territories.” It is a unit within the Israeli Ministry of Defense whose responsibilities include coordinating with the Palestinian Authority while at the same time implementing Israeli government policies in the Occupied Territories. My post of August 24 actually included a mention of COGAT.

Within that post you can find an article written for Mondoweiss by Sheren Khalel, who, it seems, in the course of writing her report on the confiscation of the mobile classrooms, contacted COGAT for a comment. She was told by a spokesperson that the agency had issued “stop-work orders” on the school several days previously. But according to activists in the Jubbet al-Dib community, the stop-work orders were only to have applied to concrete bathrooms that were being built next to the mobile classrooms. This is what Khalel writes in her report: the bathrooms were the target of the stop-work orders, not the classrooms. But when the Israelis arrived on August 22, the bathrooms were left while the classrooms were confiscated!

And it is this very same Israeli government agency, COGAT, that Greenblatt expresses his hearty “thank you” to in the above tweet! The same agency that shut down a school by confiscating its classrooms!

As I said at the top of this post, Greenblatt is spouting nonsense. But this is hardly surprising. In regards to Israel, every US official over the past 50 years has ended up spouting the same. America is a nation under foreign occupation. This has become all too apparent to the rest of the world, and even Americans are now waking up to the seriousness of the problem.

But getting back to the Israeli settlers and their putrescent irruptions. The video you see above was filmed by a Palestinian volunteer with the Israeli B’Tselem human rights organization–a woman–who captured the footage from her window. Here is what she told B’Tselem about the incident:

“At 6:00 P.M. I went up to my apartment, which looks out over al-Hariqah neighborhood and the settlement of Kiryat Arba. At first I ignored the settlers’ party, but they turned the music up just when the muezzin called out for evening prayers from the mosque. They started mocking the prayer and insulting the Prophet Muhammad

“I saw a military jeep on the hilltop where the settlers were gathered. There were several other soldiers on the road below, which looks out over al-Hariqah Street that runs by the settlement. I began filming.

“The settlers began to use foul language and call out obscenities concerning me, Islam, and especially the Prophet Muhammad. The Israeli soldiers and police did nothing to stop them. This was not the first time: about a year ago, I documented settlers swearing, using foul language and calling out obscenities against the Prophet Muhammad while soldiers and police allowed them to continue.

“Life in al-Hariqah has become intolerable. The military repeatedly raids the neighbourhood and the settlers assault and harass us. As a Muslim, I was extremely offended by the insults hurled at the Prophet Muhammad, peace be upon him. As a woman, I felt terrible hearing the foul language directed personally at me for filming them.”

As you can tell from her video (starting at about halfway in), once the Jewish settlers became aware they were being filmed, they started swearing at her as well. Maybe someone should take the time to share this video with Jason Greenblatt. Although a little voice inside tells me that even if he did devote the three minutes and twenty-four seconds needed to watch it, he would probably still insist that Hamas is the problem.

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Trump’s Peace Envoy: Palestinian Authority Must Control the Gaza Strip

Ma’an News

BETHLEHEM (Ma’an) — US President Donald Trump’s Middle East peace envoy said on Wednesday that the Palestinian Authority (PA) must resume its control over the government in the besieged Gaza Strip during a tour of the Gaza-Israel border.

Jason Greenblatt voiced vehement opposition to Hamas’ rule in the small Palestinian territory, and his support of the PA to take back control of the besieged enclave.

“It is clear that the Palestinian Authority needs to resume its role in the administration of Gaza, as Hamas has substantially harmed the people of Gaza and has failed to meet their most basic needs,” Greenblatt said following the tour, which also included Israel’s Coordinator of Government Activities in the Territories Yoav Mordechai.

Greenblatt said he had “learned a great deal” from the border tour, particularly concerning the “challenges” facing the Israeli army, Israeli civilians living near the border, and Palestinians living in Gaza, which he then singularly attributed to “Hamas’ mismanagement of humanitarian aid and its commitment to terrorist violence.”

Hamas and the Fatah-ruled PA have been embroiled in a more than a decade-long conflict since 2006, when Hamas won Palestinian legislative elections and a bloody conflict between the two groups broke out.

Hamas, the de facto leaders in Gaza, is often criticized by the international community and among Palestinians themselves, most notably owing to the group’s attempted rocket attacks on Israel, which rarely result in casualties, and what is seen as their mismanagement of the government in Gaza.

However, Palestinian frustrations have also continued to mount against the PA, as the semi-governmental body in the occupied West Bank has passed devastating policies in recent months aiming to plunge the Gaza Strip deeper into a humanitarian crisis in an attempt to force Hamas to relinquish their authority.

These policies have included halting medical referrals so patients can receive treatment abroad while simultaneously cutting funding to the local medical sector, cutting salaries to its Gaza-based employees, discontinuing payments to former prisoners of Israel, and dramatically reducing fundingfor Israeli fuel.

Greenblatt’s trip to the occupied Palestinian territory and Israel is part of Trump’s attempts at relaunching peace talks between Israeli and Palestinian leaders that have remained stagnant for decades.

However, leaders and analysts have expressed doubt that Trump’s initiatives will lead to a peace plan, as Trump himself has remained elusive concerning his stance on the conflict, while a number of high-profile US officials, including Trump’s son-in-law and Chief Adviser Jared Kushner, are known to be staunch supporters of Israel.

UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres also visited the Gaza Strip on Wednesday. The UN head demanded that Israel’s decade-long blockade on the territory be lifted, describing life in the besieged coastal enclave as “one of the most dramatic humanitarian crises” he had seen.

In 2012, the UN warned that Gaza could become uninhabitable by 2020 if current trends were not altered. However, a new report released last month by the UN said that “life for the average Palestinian in Gaza is getting more and more wretched,” and that for the majority of Gaza’s residents, the territory may already be unlivable.

Israelis Demolish Kindergarten

[ Ed. note – No words. ]

Times of Israel

Israeli Civil Administration officials and security forces on Monday demolished a temporary structure built without a permit that was to house a kindergarten in a Jerusalem-area Bedouin village.

The room, built of wood and metal paneling in the Bedouin village of Jabal al-Baba adjacent to al-Azariya, in the West Bank and just east of Jerusalem, was slated to open next month as a schoolroom for 25 four- to six-year-olds.

According to a statement from Israeli rights group B’Tselem, the kindergarten was to be the primary childcare facility for some two dozen Palestinian families from the Bedouin encampment at the site who otherwise have no access to either the Israeli or Palestinian education systems.

A picture of the demolition order circulated by B’Tselem showed the official reason for the demolition was the listing of the structure as “illegal construction,” meaning that it was built without a permit from Israeli authorities.

In a statement, the group said the Defense Ministry’s Civil Administration also confiscated classroom equipment including desks, chairs, cabinets and blackboards worth some NIS 10,000 ($2,765).

A number of traditionally nomadic Bedouin communities are based in the hills east of Jerusalem. Activists have long criticized Israel for neglecting their development needs and seeking to move them from sprawling encampments to urban residential areas. Palestinians fear this is to enable the expansion of settlements in the area, which could further isolate the Arab neighborhoods of East Jerusalem from other Palestinian population centers.

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Israel Demolishes Kindergarten in Bedouin Community Near Jerusalem

Ma’an News

BETHLEHEM (Ma’an) — Israeli forces have reportedly demolished a kindergarten in the Bedouin community of Jabal al-Baba in the outskirts of al-Eizariya in the occupied West Bank district of Jerusalem.

Meanwhile, Israeli media reported Monday that the Israeli Civil Administration is threatening to destroy a number of homes in Jabal al-Baba and the nearby Bir al-Maskub area, despite an order by the Israeli Supreme Court forbidding the demolitions until the court determines whether the communities, which have been living there for decades, can be “legalized” in the eyes of the Israeli state.

Bedouin communities such as Jabal al-Baba have been settled in Jerusalem’s outskirts, now within the so-called E1 corridor near the illegal Israeli settlement of Maale Adumim, since they were forcibly displaced from their villages in Beersheba during the creation of the state of Israel in 1948.

According to a report from Jerusalem-based al-Quds News and corroborated by the United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA), the kindergarten in Jabal al-Baba was dismantled early Monday morning.

Large numbers of Israeli soldiers and forces from the Israeli Civil Administration raided the community as Israeli bulldozers began to raze the school to the ground.

According to al-Quds, Israeli forces confiscated property from inside the kindergarten before the demolition and ripped apart European Union flags that were posted in the building — an indication that the structure had been built with EU funds.

In response to a request for comment, a spokesperson for COGAT, the larger Israeli entity of which the Civil Administration is part, told Ma’an: “Today an illegal tin and wood shed was caught in Eizaria, that was established over the past two weeks without receiving the required permits. The shed was confiscated by virtue of the procedure to confiscate caravans and in accordance to the law. We would like to emphasize that the construction was not in use.”

In addition to reports from al-Quds and OCHA, Palestinian Authority-owned Wafa news agency also cited witnesses as saying the structure demolished was a kindergarten. Due to being continuously targeted with demolitions and suffering from high poverty rates, most shelter in Bedouin communities are makeshift, informal structures.

Meanwhile, according to Israeli news daily Haaretz, the Israeli Supreme Court issued interim restraining orders against the demolition of a number of homes in Jabal al-Baba and Bir al-Maskub in February.

Despite this, a subcommittee of the Civil Administration threatened to carry out the demolition immediately if the residents didn’t return certain documents to defend their case within one week. The Bedouins then submitted a request last Thursday to declare the Civil Administration in contempt of court.

Israeli forces have demolished dozens of homes in Jabal al-Baba area, many of them built with assistance from the EU and humanitarian organizations, over the past few years. The hill is populated by some 55 Bedouin families (around 300 people) who have inhabited the area for 65 years, and face constant threat of being expelled from their homes.

Some 90 Palestinian Bedouins, the majority of them children, were left homeless when Israeli forces disassembled EU-donated mobile homes in the Jabal al-Baba in May 2016.

Jabal al-Baba, like other Bedouin communities in the region, is under threat of forcible transfer by Israel for being located in the contentious “E1 corridor” set up by the Israeli government to link annexed East Jerusalem with the mega settlement of Maale Adumim.

Israeli authorities plan to build thousands of homes for Jewish-only settlements in E1, which would effectively divide the West Bank and make the creation of a contiguous Palestinian state — as envisaged by the two-state solution to the Palestinian-Israeli conflict — almost impossible.

Rights groups and Bedouin community members have sharply criticized Israel’s relocation plans for the Bedouin residing near the illegal Israeli settlement of Maale Adumim, claiming that the removal would displace indigenous Palestinians for the sake of expanding Israeli settlements across the occupied West Bank in violation of international law.

Two weeks ago, Israeli authorities seized solar panels that powered an elementary and preschool in the Bedouin community of Abu Nuwwar, located in the E1 area, despite a petition against the seizure having been filed to the Israeli Supreme court, which issued a restraining order against the confiscation an hour after the panels were taken.

An elementary school in the Bedouin community of Khan al-Ahmar, which is also within the so-called E1 corridor, has also long been slated for demolition by Israel.

After a visit by the EU Heads of Missions in Jerusalem and Ramallah to Khan al-Ahmar in March, the EU missions reminded Israel that demolishing the school would not only have a severe negative impact on Palestinian children’s right to education, but would also represent a violation of international humanitarian law.

NGO: Palestinian Territories Facing Worsening Child Protection Crisis

NGO: Palestinian Territories Facing Worsening Child Protection Crisis

Hundreds of Palestinian children are arrested and face ill-treatment by Israeli forces each year. (Photo: via Alarabiya)

Ahead of World Humanitarian Day, to be marked on August 19th, as the United Nations (UN) prepares a global awareness campaign on the impact of conflict on humanitarian aid workers and the broader civil society, including children and families, the occupied Palestinian territory is facing a “worsening child protection crisis” brought on by 50 years of Israel’s military occupation, according to Jennifer Moorehead, director of Save the Children – Palestine.

“Today, there are more than 2 million Palestinian children who face increasing violations of their rights: displacement and forcible transfer, the demolition and destruction of homes and schools, arbitrary arrest and detention, harassment at checkpoints, and frequent violence and intimidation when they are simply trying to reach school, as well as when they are at school,” Moorehead said in a statement Thursday.

According to Save the Children, in 2016 alone, there were “256 education-related violations” documented by UNICEF and Save the Children, affecting the education of 29,230 Palestinian students.

Between January and March 2017, the group documented 24 cases of “direct attacks” against Palestinian schools; many Palestinian students often come under fire from tear gas canisters and sound bombs on their way to school.

In 2016, more than 20,000 pupils lost important school time due to obstructions,such as delays at checkpoints or areas declared closed for Israeli military use, as well as the arrest and detention of children in and around schools, Moorehead said.

In the case of Gaza, where more than two million Palestinians suffer under a crippling Israeli siege, the humanitarian crisis has been exacerbated by an ongoing electricity crisis, that has left Gazans with little more than three to four hours of electricity a day.

“The education sector is facing a crisis of its own,” Moorehead noted, highlighting that 70.4 percent of UNRWA schools and 62.8 percent of schools run by the Ministry of Education operate on a double or triple shift system and are struggling to accommodate such a high number of students.

Moorehead said that as the start of the new school year is just weeks away, the energy shortages “will have a devastating impact on the ability of schools to operate and provide a safe environment for children to learn.”

“Save the Children, along with other agencies and partners, calls upon world leaders to take action to protect children’s inalienable right to safe access to a quality education and to guarantee the special protection afforded to children in areas of conflict,” she said.

In a June report, the Palestinian Ministry of Information said that some 12,000 Palestinian children were detained by Israel in the span of 17 years, adding that the overwhelming majority of them were beaten or tortured while in Israeli custody, handcuffed, blindfolded, and forced to confess to charges in the absence of a lawyer or guardian

From the Heart to the Mouth: Jesus’ Views on the Talmud

Perversity, Stupidity and Blind Guides

As Al-Aqsa descends into chaos…

By Richard Edmondson

I came across the above picture several days ago. It is of Nur Hamdan, a 13-year-old Palestinian boy who lost his eye earlier this month after being shot by Israeli police. According to news reports, Nur was standing on the balcony of his East Jerusalem home along with his mother and a cousin when he was hit by a “sponge-tipped bullet.”

Reportedly he suffered eye socket fractures and other facial injuries. According to Israeli authorities, clashes were occurring in the area, but Nur’s family says he was not involved in any of this. When his mom saw the Israeli police presence in the street below, she ordered the children to come inside from the balcony, and reportedly it was just as Nur stood up that he was hit by the projectile.

You can go here and here to access news articles on the incident. (All of this took place just a few days before the shooting of two Israeli police officers and subsequent outbreak of violence at the Temple Mount.) One of the reports says the use of sponge-tipped bullets for crowd control began three years ago, but now the Israelis have adopted a new version that is “twice as hard and heavy and their potential to cause injury is much greater.” Official police regulations stipulate the bullet should not be fired at children, and if used against adults only the legs should be targeted. Apparently, however, this regulation was disregarded in Nur’s case.

It may have been disregarded other times as well. One of the reports linked to above is from The Independent, whose article notes that, “as of January 2016, 15 people have lost an eye in similar shootings involving Israeli forces, including a six-year-old boy.”

It seems almost as if Israel’s behavior grows progressively worse the more global public opinion galvanizes against it. Perhaps there is a perverse sort of logic in this. Just a guess here, but maybe the thinking goes something along the lines of: “Well people are going to hate us anyway, so we might as well do whatever the f-ck we want.” Whether this is the new credo or not, certainly perversity and perverse thinking–quite a bit of it actually–can be found in the Talmud, one of Judaism’s “holy” books. For instance, a passage from the Moed Kattan reads, “If a Jew is tempted to do evil he should go to a city where he is not known and do the evil there.” If you think about it, there is a perverse sort of “logic” to it, I suppose.

The Talmud also has passages concerning non-Jews, such as this one from the Sanhedrin, “What a Jew steals from a Gentile he may keep,” and even those applying to non-Jewish children, such as this gem–“All gentile children are animals”–from the Talmudic tractate known as the Yebamoth.

The above quotes are taken from an article by Michael Hoffman, who is the author of Judaism’s Strange Gods and is widely regarded as one of the preeminent non-Jewish authorities on the Talmud. You might want to go and check it out. There are lots of other quotes from the Talmud as well.

So is there a connection between the perverse ideology found in the Talmud and the perverse behavior we see from Israelis? I don’t have a definitive answer to that, but my guess is probably there are Israeli rabbis who point to various passages in the Talmud in order to justify things such as settlement expansion, demolition of Palestinian homes, and–well, who knows?–maybe even shooting children in the eye. All this is not to say that there aren’t some good and decent Israeli Jews who oppose their government’s policies.  I suspect, however, these are not the ones who spend their days reading and studying the Talmud.

Jesus had a few thoughts on this subject as well, although I should qualify the title I’ve given to this post–“From the Heart to the Mouth: Jesus’ Views on the Talmud”–by mentioning that the Talmud did not exist in Jesus’ day. Ah, but the oral law did. And the oral law became the basis for a good portion of the Talmud, which began to be written down starting in about 200 A.D.

So what exactly was this oral law that existed in Jesus’ time? Well, it consisted of “interpretations” of the law of Moses, along with some outright additions that supposedly had been omitted from the five books of the Torah, presumably due to oversight, all of this as envisaged, or imagined, by rabbis and “sages” of the day–a group of people Jesus referred to (almost always derisively) as “teachers of the law.”

A clear picture of the contempt Jesus felt for their perverse edicts can be found in the fifteenth chapter of Matthew (a parallel passage can also be found in Mark 7). The chapter starts out with a group of Pharisees and teachers of the law coming to Jesus and demanding to know why he doesn’t insist on his disciples washing their hands before they eat. Here is his reply to them, starting in verse 3 and running through verse 9:

“And why do you break the command of God for the sake of your tradition? For God said, ‘Honor your father and mother’ and ‘Anyone who curses his father or mother must be put to death.’ But you say that if a man says to his father or mother, ‘Whatever help you might otherwise have received from me is a gift devoted to God,’ he is not to ‘honor his father’ with it. Thus you nullify the word of God for the sake of your tradition. You hypocrites! Isaiah was right when he prophesied about you:

‘These people honor me with their lips,
but their hearts are far from me.
They worship me in vain;
Their teachings are but rules taught by men.’”

Jews were required in those days to make sacrifices at the Temple as well as pay a yearly Temple tax. Apparently the teachers of the law felt it more urgent and of greater priority for members of the public to fulfill these obligations  than obligations toward their own parents. And Jesus called them out on it.

The quote Jesus supplies from Isaiah is from chapter 29, verse 13. Interestingly, the entire 29th chapter of Isaiah is a prophecy of the destruction of Jerusalem. Verse 14, immediately following the one quoted by Jesus, reads:

Therefore once more I will astound these people with wonder upon wonder; the wisdom of the wise will perish; the intelligence of the intelligent will vanish.

Isaiah seems to have been envisioning a time in which the intelligent and wise, the “sages” if you will, would sink into a morass of perversity and stupidity. Again, keep in mind the Talmud began to be written down starting in about 200 A.D.

Another interesting aspect to all this is that Isaiah refers to the city of Jerusalem not by its common name–Jerusalem–but by the name “Ariel.” The Hebrew word “ariel” means “lion of God,” but because of Isaiah’s use of it in this context, it has also come to be recognized as an alternate name for Jerusalem. Thus, Ariel Sharon, the former prime minister of Israel who spent the last eight years of his life in a vegetative state, could also be known as “Lion of God Sharon” or “Jerusalem Sharon.” Either would be technically correct.

Here is what Isaiah says about the city of Ariel/Jerusalem:

Woe to you Ariel, Ariel,
the city where David settled!
Add year to year
and let your cycle of festivals go on.
Yet I will besiege Ariel;
she will mourn and lament,
she will be to me like an altar hearth.

The above are the first two verses of chapter 29. A bit of explanation regarding the term “altar hearth” is warranted. In ancient Israel, particularly in the homes of the poor, a “hearth” consisted of a depression in the ground in which a fire was kindled. An “altar” was a place where sacrifices were made–and hence where blood was shed. So Jerusalem, Isaiah in effect was saying, will become like “a depression in the ground where blood is shed.” Also take note: the Hebrew word for “ariel”, spelled אךיאל ,   is very similar to the Hebrew word for “altar”, spelled  אךאיל ,  and both are pronounced ar-ee-ale’ . In other words, Isaiah was making a play on words! And a rather ironic one at that: the “lion of God” was going to become nothing more than a “depression in the ground where blood is shed.”

But to return to the Gospel of Matthew. The verbal dressing down of the teachers of the law is followed, in verses 10 and 11, with:

Jesus called the crowd to him and said, “Listen and understand. What goes into a man’s mouth does not make him ‘unclean,’ but what comes out of his mouth, that is what makes him ‘unclean.’”

It is while Jesus is addressing the crowd that the Pharisees and teachers of the law stalk away, apparently incensed at being called hypocrites and having the words of Isaiah thrown up in their faces. This in fact is remarked upon by one of the disciples. “Did you know that the Pharisees were offended when they heard this?” he entreats Jesus with a sense of alarm. The latter replies:

“Every plant that my heavenly Father has not planted will be pulled up by the roots. Leave them; they are blind guides. If a blind man leads a blind man, both will fall into a pit.”

It is at this point that the ever-curious and ever-quizzical Peter asks for an elaboration–what exactly did Jesus mean about words coming out of a person’s mouth making the person unclean? The reply is well worth recording here:

“Don’t you see that whatever enters the mouth goes into the stomach and then out of the body? But the things that come out of the mouth come from the heart, and these make a man ‘unclean.’ For out of the heart come evil thoughts, murder, adultery, sexual immorality, theft, false testimony, slander. These are what make a man ‘unclean’; but eating with unwashed hands does not make him ‘unclean.’”

In his article, Hoffman says that most religious Orthodox Jews ascribe greater authority to the Talmud than to the Old Testament, and he supplies a quote from a Rabbi Yehiel ben Joseph, who insists that without the Talmud, Jews would be unable to grasp the meaning of the Old Testament.

“God has handed this authority to the sages and tradition is a necessity as well as scripture,” ben Joseph asserts. “The Sages also made enactments of their own…anyone who does not study the Talmud cannot understand Scripture.”

In the video below we see a couple of erudite Israeli “sages” offering up their views on Gentiles.

On a scale of 1 to 10 how would you rate the level of perversity and stupidity you see in this video? Isn’t it ironic–that we observe these two teachers of the law referring to Gentiles as animals, insisting that they exist to serve only Jews, while at the same time congratulating themselves on being the most “humane” creatures on the planet? Is it any wonder Jesus referred to them as hypocrites and blind guides?

One of the foremost Talmudic scholars of the 20th century was a US rabbi by the name of Joseph D. Soloveitchik, who served at Yeshiva University in New York and is said to have ordained some 2,000 rabbis over the course of his career. Soloveitchik reportedly had a close relationship with Chabad Lubavitch Rabbi Menachem Mendel Schneerson, and is also said to have been highly admired by Rabbi Meir Kahane. Schneerson believed that two types of souls exist: a Jewish soul and a non-Jewish soul. The latter, he held, comes from “satanic spheres,” but the Jewish soul “stems from holiness.”* As for Kahane, he was founder of the Jewish Defense League (JDL) and was convicted of domestic terrorism in the US. All three men–Soloveitchik, Schneerson, and Kahane–were avid supporters of Israel.

Among the JDL’s more notable accomplishments were acts of violence aimed against Russian targets in the US as well as bomb threats called in over the 1970 TV sitcom Bridget Loves Bernie (the show portrayed an interfaith marriage between a Catholic woman and a Jewish man and was cancelled after only one season despite having high ratings).

Hoffman, who describes the Talmud as “hate literature,” says the body of writing “has caused untold suffering throughout history and now, in occupied Palestine, it is used as a justification for the mass murder of Palestinian civilians.”

Interestingly, Isaiah evinced what could possibly be construed as a premonition of the coming of the the oral law. In his chapter 29, verse 4, he writes:

Brought low, you will speak from the ground;
your speech shall mumble out of the dust
Your voice will come ghostlike from the earth;
Out of the dust your speech will whisper.

The prophet died in about 681 B.C. Legend has it that he was sawed in half. Mannasseh, one of the more evil rulers of the ancient Israelites, was king of Judah at the time. Roughly a hundred years after his death, Jerusalem, in 586 B.C., was sacked by the Babylonians.

Christ was crucified in 30 A.D. Forty years later, in 70 A.D. Jerusalem was sacked again, this time by the Romans.

Does history repeat itself? With the plethora of blind guides leading the blind that we see today in Israel, the answer to that is probably going to be yes.

* as quoted in Jewish Fundamentalism in Israel, by Israel Shahak and Norton Mezvinsky

62% rise in israel’s arrests of Palestinian children

62% rise in Israel’s arrests of Palestinian children

MEMO | July 19, 2017

Palestinian children are often beaten and strip searched at arrest

Some 331 Palestinian minors were arrested by Israel between January and May this year, a 62 per cent increase on figures from 2012 to 2015, NGO Defence for Children International – Palestine (DCIP) revealed yesterday.

According to a report released by the human rights group, Israeli forces regularly abuse Palestinian children, depriving them of food, subjecting them to beatings and preventing them from accessing legal counsel.

Accountability Programme Director at DCIP, Ayed Abu Eqtaish, stated: “For over a decade, ill-treatment of Palestinian children in the Israeli military detention system has been widespread and systematic.”

From the persistent and institutionalised ill-treatment and torture of Palestinian children, to the systematic denial of their due process rights, emerges a system of control far removed from justice.

DCIP records of cases between January and June also show that 81 per cent of Palestinian children were strip searched upon detention, two thirds were denied legal counsel prior to interrogation and only three had a parent present during proceedings.

Read: Palestinian boy, 13, loses eye after Israeli forces shoot him

The report details that one of the youngest children to be detained was 12-year-old Suheib from a refugee camp in the occupied Ramallah-area. He was allegedly throwing stones when he was knocked to the ground by Israeli officers and then restrained, beaten and blindfolded. He was subsequently held overnight at a police station where he was interrogated and denied food for 24 hours.

In another case, a 13-year-old boy known only as Anas M. was tortured as an Israeli soldier grabbed his neck and attempted to strangle him.

Israel prosecutes up to 700 children each year in military courts. Last month DCIP held a congressional meeting on the situation of Palestinian children over 50 years of illegal occupation, concluding that Israel’s actions against minors outdoes all security rationale

 

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