Europe’s Human Rights Exposed in Treating Refugees: Families Fed ’Like Animals in Pen’!

Local Editor

Disturbing footage emerged Friday of the way migrants are being treated inside Hungary’s main refugee camp on the border with Serbia, with images showing families fed “like animals in a pen”.

The video, shot secretly by an Austrian volunteer who visited the flashpoint Roszke camp on Wednesday, shows some 150 people wildly scrambling for bags of sandwiches thrown at them by Hungarian police wearing helmets and hygiene masks in a fenced-in enclosure inside a big hall.

Women and children were caught in the chaotic scrum as hungry people frantically tried to catch the bread flying through the air.

Many migrants too far back in the crowd climbed onto the fence, waving and shouting to get the officers’ attention.

“It was like animals being fed in a pen, like Guantanamo in Europe,” said Klaus Kufner, a volunteer who was with the woman who recorded the images, referring to the notorious prison camp where the US is accused of torturing inmates.

He stated that he and Michaela Spritzendorfer — who filmed the scenes — had driven together to Roszke to bring food, clothes and medication to help the thousands of refugees pouring over the border.

“It was inhumane and it really speaks for these people that they didn’t fight over the food despite being clearly very hungry,” said Spritzendorfer, the wife of a Vienna councilor with Austria’s Green Party.

The footage, which was uploaded on YouTube late on Thursday and widely shared on social media networks, had more than 20,000 views by Friday morning.

The UN’s refugee agency criticized the dire conditions at the Roszke camp earlier this week, with Hungary’s hardline stance against migrants also angering other EU countries.

Harsh laws which could see migrants jailed for crossing its borders are due to come into force on Tuesday.

Hungary’s right-wing government in late August completed a razor-wire barrier along its 175-kilometer border with Serbia but it is not proving to be much of an obstacle for desperate people fleeing war in Syria and Iraq.

Prime Minister Viktor Orban has however ordered the building of an additional four-meter high fence that he wants completed by the end of October.

Source: News Agencies, Edited by website team

11-09-2015 | 12:46

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The views expressed in this article are the sole responsibility of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of the Blog!

An Israeli Conundrum

Israeli News Channel (Channel 10) recently covered my appearance as a guest artist on Pink Floyd’s latest album, The Endless River.  On the one hand they were very proud of my artistry, on the other, they admitted, he is not one of us anymore and he is not going to receive a “congratulations call from Bibi.”

The Israeli channel was  honest in  their reporting of  my criticism of Israel and Jewishness. They reported that I had renounced my Israeli citizenship,  They quoted my observation that  Gilad Shalit had been a “post guard in a concentration camp (Gaza)”. And when they referred to  my recent Press TV appearance  about Gaza they translated the word ‘genocide’  as “Shoah.”  This is very revealing. While The Guardian Of Zion and the Soros funded BDS  network would never compare the Palestinian plight with the Holocaust, the Israelis understand  that the comparison is natural.

The message is clear.  Israel is more tolerant of its critics than its Diaspora Jewish opposition (the Anti Zionist Zionists). This is why Israel rather than the Jewish Diaspora Left has produced the sharpest criticism of Jewish power, Judaism and Jewishness (Israel Shahak, Yeshayahu Leibowitz, Israel Shamir, Shlomo Sand, and many more).

 River to Sea Uprooted Palestinian   

The views expressed in this article are the sole responsibility of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of the Blog!

US Ordered to Explain Withholding of Iraq and Afghanistan Torture Photos

Obama admistration must justify suppression of never-before-seen photographs depicting US military torture of detainees
The photographs discussed in court on Tuesday are said to be even more disturbing than the infamous prison photos from Abu Ghraib. Photograph: Khalid Mohammed/AP

http://www.theguardian.com/us-news/2014/oct/21/us-withholding-torture-photographs-iraq-Afghanistan

abu Ghraib prison iraq baghdad The   Photograph: Khalid Mohammed/AP

The Obama administration has until early December to detail its reasons for withholding as many as 2,100 graphic photographs depicting US military torture of detainees in Iraq and Afghanistan, a federal judge ordered on Tuesday.

By 12 December, Justice Department attorneys will have to list, photograph by photograph, the government’s rationale for keeping redacted versions of the photos unseen by the public, Judge Alvin Hellerstein instructed lawyers. But any actual release of the photographs will come after Hellerstein reviews the government’s reasoning and issues another ruling in the protracted transparency case.

While Hellerstein left unclear how much of the Justice Department’s declaration will itself be public, the government’s submission is likely to be its most detailed argument for secrecy over the imagery in a case that has lasted a decade.

“The only thing that bothers me is that we’re taking a lot of time,” Hellerstein told a nearly empty courtroom.

At issue is the publication of as many as 2,100 photographs of detainee abuse, although the government continues not to confirm the precise number. Said to be even more disturbing than the infamous Abu Ghraib photographs that sparked a global furor in 2004, the imagery is the subject of a transparency lawsuit that both the Bush and Obama administrations, backed by the US Congress, have strenuously resisted.

In 2009, US president Barack Obama reversed his position on the photographs’ release and contended they would “further inflame anti-American opinion and … put our troops in greater danger”. That year, Congress passed a law, the Protected National Security Documents Act, intended to aid the government in keeping the images from the public. Two secretaries of defense, Robert Gates in 2009 and Leon Panetta in 2012, have issued assertions that US troops in Afghanistan and Iraq would be placed at risk by the disclosure.

But in August, Hellerstein said the government’s declaration was overbroad. Some of the photographs, which he said on Tuesday he had seen behind closed doors, “are relatively innocuous while others need more serious consideration”, Hellerstein said in August.

Disclosure, sought by the American Civil Liberties Union since 2004, will not come this year. Hellerstein scheduled a hearing to discuss the upcoming government declaration for 23 January.

The return of the US to war in Iraq raises the stakes for the case. Unlike in 2012, when Panetta certified that the release of the photographs would endanger the US military in Afghanistan, some 1,600 US troops are also now in Iraq again, this time to confront the Islamic State (Isis).

But while Hellerstein indicated he was interested in an “update” about current exposure to danger, he only ordered the government to specify its reasons for keeping each individual photograph withheld as of Panetta’s November 2012 declaration.

Potential release of the photographs dovetails with another imminent torture disclosure. The Senate intelligence committee is expected to soon unveil sections of its long-awaited investigation into CIA torture. The government’s most recent filing in a different transparency suit indicated the report’s release will come on 29 October, though the government has asked for extensions in the past and may do so again.

Marcellene Hearn, an attorney for the ACLU, portrayed the release of the torture photographs as an accountability measure.

“It’s disappointing that the government continues to fight to keep these photographs from the public,” Hearn said after the half-hour hearing. “The American people deserve to know the truth about what happened in our detention centers abroad. Yet the government is suppressing as many as 2,100 photographs of detainee abuse in Iraq and elsewhere. We will continue to press for the release of the photos in the courts.”

Advocates for U.S. Torture Prosecutions Shadow Report to the United Nations Committee Against Torture

FULL REPORT Here

Shadow Report to the United Nations Committee Against Torture

on the Review of the Periodic Report of the United States of

America

Advocates for U.S. Torture Prosecutions

Dr. Trudy Bond, Prof. Benjamin Davis, Dr. Curtis F. J. Doebbler, and

The International Human Rights Clinic at Harvard Law School

Summary:

Since the United States last reported to the Committee Against Torture in 2006, even more

evidence has emerged confirming that civilian and military officials at the highest level created,

designed, authorized, and implemented a sophisticated, international criminal program of torture.

In August 2014, President Barack Obama conceded that the United States tortured people as part

of its so-called “War on Terror,” yet the United States continues to shield senior officials from

liability for these crimes, in violation of its obligations under the Convention Against Torture.

Recommended Questions:

  1. Why has the United States not prosecuted senior officials for authorizing conduct it admits was torture?
  2. Were the following people ever criminally investigated for their role in torture, and why have they not been prosecuted?
  3. Former President George W. Bush
  4. Former Office of Legal Counsel (OLC) at the Department of Justice lawyer John Yoo
  5. Former Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) contractor Dr. James Mitchell

Suggested Recommendation:

  1. That the United States promptly and impartially prosecute senior military and civilian

officials responsible for authorizing, acquiescing, or consenting in any way to acts of

torture committed by their subordinates.

Advocates for U.S. Torture Prosecutions

2

  1. Reporting Organization

Advocates for U.S. Torture Prosecutions is a group composed of concerned U.S. citizens,

residents, and students—scholars, legal and health care professionals, and law students1—who

have sought for years to use what modest levers we have to end the U.S. program of torture put

in place post-9/11, to obtain justice and redress for those harmed, and to seek accountability for

those responsible.2 We are joined in our submission by supporting organizations and individuals

from across civil society.3

  1. Summary of the Issue
  2. The U.S. Government’s criminal program of torture was authorized at the highest

levels.

Since the United States last reported to the Committee in 2006, even more evidence has emerged

confirming that civilian and military officials at the highest level created, designed, authorized,

and implemented a sophisticated, international criminal program of torture between 2002 and

  1. Just this past August, President Obama conceded that the United States tortured people as

part of its so-called “War on Terror,”4 yet the current administration continues to shield senior

officials from liability for these crimes, in violation of its obligations under the Convention

Against Torture.

The techniques in question, sometimes styled as interrogation techniques and sometimes as

detention procedures, included near-drowning (“waterboarding”), sleep deprivation for days, and

forced nudity.5 They have caused many people intense suffering, including severe mental harm6

and, in some cases, death.7

On Israel’s little-known concentration and labor camps in 1948-1955

Civilians captured during the fall of Lydda and Ramle around the time of July 12, 1948 and taken to labour camps. In the July heat they were thirsty and were given a drop of water carried by a child under soldiers’ guard. (Photo: Salman Abu Sitta, Palestine Land Society)
Published Monday, September 29, 2014
Much of the grim and murky circumstances of the Zionist ethnic cleansing of Palestinians in the late 1940s have gradually been exposed over time. One aspect – rarely researched or deeply discussed – is the internment of thousands of Palestinian civilians within at least 22 Zionist-run concentration and labor camps that existed from 1948 to 1955. Now more is known about the contours of this historical crime, due to the comprehensive research by renowned Palestinian historian Salman Abu Sitta and founding member of the Palestinian resource center BADIL Terry Rempel.
The facts are these.
The study – to be published in the upcoming issue of theJournal of Palestine Studies – relies on almost 500 pages of International Committee of the Red Cross’s (ICRC) reports written during the 1948 war, that were declassified and made available to the public in 1996, and accidentally discovered by one of the authors in 1999.
Furthermore, testimonies of 22 former Palestinian civilian detainees of these camps were collected by the authors, through interviews they conducted themselves in 2002, or documented by others during different moments of time.
With these sources of information, the authors, as they put it, pieced together a clearer story of how Israel captured and imprisoned “thousands of Palestinian civilians as forced laborers,” and exploited them “to support its war-time economy.”
Digging up the crimes
“I came across this piece of history in the 1990s when I was collecting material and documents about Palestinian,” Abu Sitta told Al-Akhbar English. “The more and more you dig, the more you find there are crimes that have taken place that are not reported and not known.”
At that time, Abu Sitta went to Geneva for a week to check out the newly-opened archives of the ICRC. According to him, the archives were opened to the public after accusations that the ICRC had sided with the Nazis during World War II. It was an opportunity that he could not miss in terms of seeing what the ICRC had recorded of the events that occurred in Palestine in 1948. It was there he stumbled onto records discussing the existence of five concentration camps run by the Israelis.
He then decided to look for witnesses or former detainees, interviewing Palestinians in occupied Palestine, Syria, and Jordan.
“They all described the same story, and their real experience in these camps,” he said.
One question that immediately struck him was why there was barely any references in history about these camps, especially when it became clearer the more he researched that they existed, and were more than just five camps.

“Many former Palestinian detainees saw the concept of Israel as a vicious enemy, so they thought their experience labouring in these concentration camps was nothing in comparison to the other larger tragedy of the Nakba.” – Palestinian historian Salman Abu Sitta

“Many former Palestinian detainees saw the concept of Israel as a vicious enemy, so they thought their experience labouring in these concentration camps was nothing in comparison to the other larger tragedy of the Nakba. The Nakba overshadowed everything,” Abu Sitta explained.
“However, when I dug into the period of 1948-1955, I found more references like Mohammed Nimr al-Khatib, who was an imam in Haifa, who had written down interviews with someone from al-Yahya family that was in one of the camps. I was able to trace this man all the way to California and spoke with him in 2002,” he added. More references were eventually and slowly discovered by Abu Sitta that included information from a Jewish woman called Janoud, a single masters thesis in Hebrew University about the topic, and the personal accounts of economist Yusif Sayigh, helped to further flesh out the scale and nature of these camps.
After more than a decade, Abu Sitta, with his co-author Rempel, are finally presenting their findings to the public.
From burden to opportunity: concentration and labor camps
The establishment of concentration and labor camps occurred after the unilateral declaration of Israel’s statehood on May 1948.
Prior to that event, the number of Palestinian captives in Zionist hands were quite low, because, as the study states, “the Zionist leadership concluded early on that forcible expulsion of the civilian population was the only way to establish a Jewish state in Palestine with a large enough Jewish majority to be ‘viable’.” In other words, for the Zionist strategists, prisoners were a burden in the beginning phases of the ethnic cleansing.
Those calculations changed with the declaration of the Israeli state and the involvement of the armies of Egypt, Syria, Iraq, and Transjordan, after much of the ethnic cleansing had occurred. From that moment, “the Israeli forces began taking prisoners, both regular Arab soldiers (for eventual exchange), and – selectively – able-bodied Palestinian non-combatant civilians.”
The first camp at Ijlil, which was about 13 km northeast of Jaffa, on the site of the destroyed Palestinian village Ijlil al-Qibiliyya, emptied of its inhabitants in early April. Ijlil was predominately made up of tents, housing hundreds and hundreds of prisoners, categorized as POWs by the Israelis, surrounded by barbed wire fences, watchtowers, and a gate with guards.
As the Israeli conquests grew, in turn exceedingly increasing the number of prisoners, three more camps were established. These are the four “official” camps that the Israelis acknowledged and were actively visited by the ICRC.
The study notes:
All four camps were either on or adjacent to military installations set up by the British during the Mandate. These had been used during World War II for the interment of German, Italian, and other POWs. Two of the camps – Atlit, established in July about 20 kms south of Haifa, and Sarafand, established in September near the depopulated village of Sarafand al-Amar in central Palestine—had earlier been used in the 1930s and 1940s to detain illegal Jewish immigrants.
Atlit was the second largest camp after Ijlil, it had the capacity of holding up to 2,900 prisoners, while Sarafand had the maximum capacity of 1,800, and Tel Letwinksy, near Tel Aviv, held more than 1,000.
All four camps were administered by “former British officers who had defected their ranks when British forces withdrew from Palestine in mid-May 1948,” and the camp’s guards and administrative staff were former members of the Irgun and the Stern Gang – both groups designated as terrorist organizations by the British before their departure . In total, the four “official” camps were staffed by 973 soldiers.
A fifth camp, called Umm Khalid, was established at a site of another depopulated village near the Zionist settlement of Netanya, and was even assigned an official number in the records, but never attained “official” status. It had the capacity to hold 1,500 prisoners. Unlike the other four camps, Umm Khalid would be “the fist camp established exclusively as a labor camp” and was “the first of the “recognized” camps to be shut down…by the end of 1948.”
Complementing these five “recognized” camps, were at least 17 other “unrecognized camps” that were not mentioned in official sources, but the authors discovered through multiple prisoner testimonies.
Civilians in a labour camp in Ramleh, July 1948. (Photo: Salman Abu Sitta, Palestine Land Society)
“Many of [these camps],” the authors noted, “[were] apparently improvised or ad hoc, often consisting of no more than a police station, a school, or the house of a village notable,” with holding capacities that ranged from almost 200 prisoners to tens.
Most of the camps, official and unofficial, were situated within the borders of the UN-proposed Jewish state, “although at least four [unofficial camps] – Beersheba, Julis, Bayt Daras, and Bayt Nabala – were in the UN-assigned Arab state and one was inside the Jerusalem “corpus separatum.”

“[T]he situation of civilian internees was ‘absolutely confused’ with that of POWs, and… Jewish authorities ‘treated all Arabs between the ages of 16 and 55 as combatants and locked them up as prisoners of war.’” – ICRC report, 1948

The number of Palestinian non-combatant detainees “far exceeded” those of Arab soldiers in regular armies or bona fide POWs. Citing a July 1948 monthly report made by ICRC mission head Jacques de Reynier, the study states that de Reynier noted, “that the situation of civilian internees was ‘absolutely confused’ with that of POWs, and that the Jewish authorities ‘treated all Arabs between the ages of 16 and 55 as combatants and locked them up as prisoners of war.’” In addition, the ICRC found among the detainees in official camps, that 90 of the prisoners were elderly men, and 77 were boys, aged 15 years or younger.
The study highlights the statements by an ICRC delegate Emile Moeri in January 1949 of the camp inmates:
It is painful to see these poor people, especially old, who were snatched from their villages and put without reason in a camp, obliged to pass the winter under wet tents, away from their families; those who could not survive these conditions died. Little children (10-12 years) are equally found under these conditions. Similarly sick people, some with tuberculosis, languish in these camps under conditions which, while fine for healthy individuals, will certainly lead to their death if we do not find a solution to this problem. For a long time we have demanded that the Jewish authorities release those civilians who are sick and need treatment to the care of their families or to an Arab hospital, but we have not received a response.
As the report noted, “there are no precise figures on the total number of Palestinian civilians held by Israel during the 1948-49 war” and estimates tend to not account for “unofficial” camps, in addition to the frequent movement of prisoners between the camps in use. In the four “official” camps, the number of Palestinian prisoners never exceeded 5,000 according to figures in Israeli records.
Taking accounting the capacity of Umm Khalid, and estimates of the “unofficial camps,” the final number of Palestinian prisoners could be around the 7,000 range, and perhaps much more when, as the study states, when taking into account a November 17, 1948 diary entry by David Ben-Gurion, one of the main Zionist leaders and Israel’s first prime minister, who mentioned “the existence of 9,000 POWs in Israeli-run camps.”
In general, the living conditions in the “official” camps were far below what would be considered appropriate by international law at that time. Moeri, who visited the camps constantly, reported that in Ijlil in November 1948: “”[m]any [of the] tents are torn, that the camp was “not ready for winter,” the latrines not covered, and the canteen not working for two weeks. Referring to an apparently ongoing situation, he stated that “the fruits are still defective, the meat is of poor quality, [and] the vegetables are in short supply.””
Furthermore, Moeri reported that he saw for himself, ““the wounds left by the abuse” of the previous week, when the guards had fired on the prisoners, wounding one, and had beaten another.”
As the study shows, the civilian status of the majority of the detainees were clear for the ICRC delegates in the country, who reported that the men captured “had undoubtedly never been in a regular army.” Detainees who were combatants, the study explains, were “routinely shot on the pretense that they had been attempting to escape.” ‘
The Israeli forces seemed to always target able-bodied men, leaving behind women, children, and the elderly – when not massacring them – the policy continued even after there were low levels of military confrontation. All in all, as the Israeli records show and the study cites, “Palestinian civilians comprised the vast majority (82 percent) of the 5,950 listed as internees in the POW camps, while the Palestinians alone (civilian plus military) comprised 85 percent.” The wide-scale kidnapping and imprisonment of Palestinian civilians tend to correspond with the Israeli military campaigns. For example, one of the first major roundup occurred during Operation Danj, when 60-70,000 Palestinians were expelled from the central towns of Lydda and Ramleh. At the same time, between a fifth and a quarter of the male population from these two towns who were over the age of 15 were sent to the camps.
The largest round-up of civilians came from villages of central Galilee who were captured during Operation Hiram in the fall of 1948.
One Palestinian survive, Moussa, described to the authors what he witnessed at the time.
“They took us from all villages around us: al-Bi’na, Deir al-Asad, Nahaf, al-Rama, and Eilabun. They took 4 young men and shot them dead…They drove us on foot. It was hot. We were not allowed to drink. They took us to [the Palestinian Druze village] al-Maghar, then [to the Jewish settlement] Nahalal, then to Atlit.”
A November 16, 1948 UN report collaborated Moussa’s account, stating that some 500 Palestinian men “were taken by force march and vehicle to a Jewish concentration camp at Nahlal.”
Maintaining Israel’s economy with “slave labor”
The policy of targeting civilians, particular “able-bodied” men, was not accidental according to the study. It states, “with tens of thousands of Jewish men and women called up for military service, Palestinian civilian internees constituted an important supplement to the Jewish civilian labor employed under emergency legislation in maintaining the Israeli economy,” which even the ICRC delegation had noted in their reports.

Abuses by the Israeli guards were systematic rife in the camps, the brunt of which was directed towards villagers, farmers, and lower class Palestinians.

The prisoners were forced to do public and military work, such as drying wetlands, working as servants, collecting and transporting looted refugee property, moving stones from demolished Palestinian homes, paving roads, digging military trenches, burying the dead, and much more.
As one former Palestinian detainee named Habib Mohammed Ali Jarada described in the study, “”At gunpoint, I was made to work all day. At night, we slept in tents. In winter, water was seeping below our bedding, which was dry leaves, cartons and wooden pieces.”
Another prisoner in Umm Khalied, Marwan Iqab al-Yehiya said in an interview with the authors, “We had to cut and carry stones all day [in a quarry]. Our daily food was only one potato in the morning and half dried fish at night. They beat anyone who disobeyed orders.” This labor was interspersed with acts of humiliation by the Israeli guards, with Yehiya speaks of prisoners being “lined up and ordered to strip naked as a punishment for the escape of two prisoners at night.”
“[Jewish] Adults and children came from nearby kibbutz to watch us line up naked and laugh. To us this was most degrading,” he added.
Abuses by the Israeli guards were systematic rife in the camps, the brunt of which was directed towards villagers, farmers, and lower class Palestinians. This was so, the study said, because educated prisoners “knew their rights and had the confidence to argue with and stand up to their captors.”
What is also interestingly noted by the study is how ideological affiliations between prisoners and their guards, had another effects in terms of the relationship between them.
Citing the testimony of Kamal Ghattas, who was captured during the Israeli attack in the Galilee, who said:
We had a fight with our jailers. Four hundred of us confronted 100 soldiers. They brought reinforcements. Three of my friends and I were taken to a cell. They threatened to shoot us. All night we sang the Communist Anthem. They took the four of us to Umm Khaled camp. The Israelis were afraid of their image in Europe. Our contact with our Central Committee and Mapam [Socialist Israeli party] saved us .… I met a Russian officer and told him they took us from our homes although we were non-combatants which was against the Geneva Conventions. When he knew I was a Communist he embraced me and said, “Comrade, I have two brothers in the Red Army. Long live Stalin. Long Live Mother Russia”.

“Anyone who refused to work was shot. They said [the person] tried to escape. Those of us who thought [we] were going to be killed walked backward facing the guards.” – Former Palestinian detainee Tewfic Ahmed Jum’a Ghanim

Yet, the less fortunate Palestinians faced acts of violence which included arbitrary executions and torture, with no recourse. The executions were always defended as stopping “escape attempts” – real or claimed by the guards.It became so common that one former Palestinian detainee of Tel Litwinsky, Tewfic Ahmed Jum’a Ghanim recounted, “Anyone who refused to work was shot. They said [the person] tried to escape. Those of us who thought [we] were going to be killed walked backward facing the guards.”Ultimately, by the end of 1949, Palestinian prisoners were gradually released after heavy lobbying by the ICRC, and other organizations, but was limited in scale and very focused to specific cases.

Prisoners of Arab armies were released in prisoner exchanged, but Palestinian prisoners were unilaterally expelled across the armistice line without any food, supplies, or shelter, and told to walk into the distance, never to return.
It would not be until 1955 when most of the Palestinian civilian prisoners would finally be released.
Forced Labour Camps Atlas. (Source: Salman Abu Sitta,
Palestine Land Society)
An enduring crime
The importance of this study is multi-faceted. Not only does it reveal the numerous violations of international law and conventions of the age, such as 1907 Hague Regulations and the 1929 Geneva Conventions, but also shows how the event shaped the ICRC in the long run.
Because the ICRC was faced with an Israeli belligerent actor who was unwilling to listen and conform to international law and conventions, the ICRC itself had to adapt in what it considered were practical ways to help ensure the Palestinian civilian prisoners were protected under the barest of rights.
Citing his final report, the study quotes de Reynier:
[The ICRC] protested on numerous occasions affirming the right of these civilians to enjoy their freedom unless found guilty and judged by a court. But we have tacitly accepted their POW status because in this way they would enjoy the rights conferred upon them by the Convention. Otherwise, if they were not in the camps they would be expelled [to an Arab country] and in one way or another, they would lead, without resources, the miserable life of refugees.
In the end, the ICRC, and other organizations, were simply ineffective as Israel ignored its condemnations with impunity, in addition to the diplomatic cover of major Western powers.
More importantly, the study sheds more light on the extent of the Israeli crimes during its brutal and bloody birth. And “much more remains to be told,” as the final line of the study states.

The study essentially shows the foundations and beginnings of Israeli policy towards Palestinian civilians that comes in the form of kidnapping, arrest, and detainment.

“It is amazing to me, and many Europeans, who have seen my evidence,” Abu Sitta said, “that a forced labor camp was opened in Palestine three years after they were closed in Germany, and were run by former prisoners – there were German Jewish guards.”“This is a bad reflection of the human spirit, where the oppressed copies an oppressor against innocent lives,” he added.
The study essentially shows the foundations and beginnings of Israeli policy towards Palestinian civilians that comes in the form of kidnapping, arrest, and detainment. This criminality continues till this day. One merely has to read the reports on the hundreds of Palestinians arrested prior, during, and after Israel’s latest war on Gaza mid-summer of this year.
“Gaza today is a concentration camp, no different than the past,” Abu Sitta concluded to Al-Akhbar English.

Yazan is a staff writer for Al-Akhbar English. Follow him on Twitter: @WhySadeye
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The views expressed in this article are the sole responsibility of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of the Blog!

U.S. Jewish Leader Henry Siegman to Israel: Stop Killing Palestinians and End the Occupation

Given his background, what American Jewish leader Henry Siegman has to say about Israel’s founding in 1948 through the current assault on Gaza may surprise you. From 1978 to 1994, Siegman served as executive director of the American Jewish Congress, long described as one of the nation’s “big three” Jewish organizations along with the American Jewish Committee and the Anti-Defamation League. Born in Germany three years before the Nazis came to power in 1933, Siegman’s family eventually moved to the United States. His father was a leader of the European Zionist movement that pushed for the creation of a Jewish state. In New York, Siegman studied the religion and was ordained as an Orthodox rabbi by Yeshiva Torah Vodaas, later becoming head of the Synagogue Council of America. After his time at the American Jewish Congress, Siegman became a senior fellow at the Council on Foreign Relations. He now serves as president of the U.S./Middle East Project. In the first of our two-part interview, Siegman discusses the assault on Gaza, the myths surrounding Israel’s founding in 1948, and his own background as a German-Jewish refugee who fled Nazi occupation to later become a leading American Jewish voice and now vocal critic of Israel’s policies in the Occupied Territories.

“When one thinks that this is what is necessary for Israel to survive, that the Zionist dream is based on the repeated slaughter of innocents on a scale that we’re watching these days on television, that is really a profound, profound crisis — and should be a profound crisis in the thinking of all of us who were committed to the establishment of the state and to its success,” Siegman says. Responding to Israel’s U.S.-backed claim that its assault on Gaza is necessary because no country would tolerate the rocket fire from militants in Gaza, Siegman says: “What undermines this principle is that no country and no people would live the way that Gazans have been made to live. … The question of the morality of Israel’s action depends, in the first instance, on the question, couldn’t Israel be doing something [to prevent] this disaster that is playing out now, in terms of the destruction of human life? Couldn’t they have done something that did not require that cost? And the answer is, sure, they could have ended the occupation.”

In the second part of our interview, Henry Siegman, the former head of the American Jewish Congress and the Synagogue Council of America, discusses the assault on Gaza, Hamas’ rocket attacks on Israel, and how peace could be attainable if the Obama administration reverse decades-long support for the Israeli occupation. Born in 1930 in Germany, Siegman fled as the Nazis came to power, eventually arriving in the United States. His father was a leader of the European Zionist movement pushing for the creation of a Jewish state. In New York, Siegman studied and was ordained as an Orthodox rabbi by Yeshiva Torah Vodaas. He now serves as president of the U.S./Middle East Project. Commenting on the Hamas charter that calls for Israel’s destruction, Siegman says: “The difference between Hamas and Israel is that Israel is actually implementing [a destruction policy] — actually preventing a Palestinian state which doesn’t exist. Millions of Palestinians live in this subservient position without rights, without security, without hope, and without a future.” Commenting on Israeli justifications for killing Palestinians in the name of self-defense from 1948 through today, Siegman responds: “If you don’t want to kill Palestinians, if that’s what pains you so much, you don’t have to kill them. You can give them their rights, and you can end the occupation. And to put the blame for the occupation and for the killing of innocents that we are seeing in Gaza now on the Palestinians — why? Because they want a state of their own? They want what Jews wanted and achieved? This is a great moral insult.”

Click here to watch part 1 of this interview.

TRANSCRIPT

This is a rush transcript. Copy may not be in its final form.

AMY GOODMAN: This is Democracy Now!, democracynow.org,The War and Peace Report. I’m Amy Goodman. As we continue our coverage of the Israeli offensive on Gaza, we turn to part two of our conversation with Henry Siegman, the former head of the American Jewish Congress and the Synagogue Council of America. What he says about the future of Israel and the ongoing assault on Gaza may surprise you. Siegman was born in 1930 in Frankfurt, Germany. His family fled Germany as the Nazis came to power. He eventually arrived in the United States in 1942. His father was a leader of European Zionism, pushing for the creation of a Jewish state. In New York, Henry Siegman studied and was ordained as an Orthodox rabbi by Yeshiva Torah Vodaas. He now serves as president of the U.S./Middle East Project. He recently wrote a piece for Politico headlined “Israel Provoked This War: It’s Up to President Obama to Stop It.”

Democracy Now!‘s Nermeen Shaikh and I sat down with Henry Siegman on Tuesday. I asked him about Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s claim that Israel is just responding to the thousands of rockets that Hamas and other groups are firing from Gaza.

HENRY SIEGMAN: My response is that they wouldn’t be firing those rockets if you weren’t out—if you didn’t have an occupation in place. And one of the reasons you say you do not have an occupation in place is because you really don’t have a united partner, Palestinian partner, to make peace with, and when Palestinians seek to establish that kind of a government, which they just recently did, bringing Hamas into the governmental structure, Palestinian governmental structure, that is headed by Abbas, you seek to destroy that. You won’t recognize it. And this is why I say there are several reasons for the Israeli action. A primary one is to prevent this new government from actually succeeding. It’s an attempt to break up the new unity government set up by the Palestinians.

NERMEEN SHAIKH: Why would they do that? Why would they want to do that?

HENRY SIEGMAN: They want to do that, for the first time—for years, I have been suggesting and arguing that they want to do that because they are intent on preventing the development of a Palestinian state. To put it bluntly, they want all of it. They want all of Palestine.

Now, this is something that Netanyahu said openly and without any reservations when he was not in government. He wrote about it, published a book about it, his opposition to a Palestinian state, that Israel couldn’t allow that. The difference between the time that he—and he, incidentally, opposed not just Palestinian statehood. He opposed peace agreements with Egypt. He opposed peace agreements with Jordan. Any positive step towards a stabilization and a more peaceful region, Netanyahu has been on record as opposing.

And when he came into office as prime minister, he understood that it is not a smart thing to say that Israel’s policy is to maintain the occupation permanently. So, the only difference between his positions in the past and the position now is that he pretends that he really would like to see a two-state solution, which, as you know, is the affirmation he made in his so-called Bar-Ilan speech several years ago. And some naive people said, “Ah, you know, redemption is at hand,” when, to his own people, he winked and made clear, and as I just read recently—I didn’t know that—that it’s on record that his father said, “Of course he didn’t mean it. He will attach conditions that will make it impossible.” But that was his tactic. His tactic was to say, “We are all in favor of it, but if only we had a Palestinian partner.”

Now, in fact, they’ve had a Palestinian partner that’s been willing and able—they set up institutions that the World Bank has said are more effective than most states that are members of the U.N. today. And that, of course, made no difference, and continued to say we do not have a partner, because you have nearly two million Palestinians in Gaza who are not represented. So the unity government became a threat to that tactic of pretending to be in support of a Palestinian state.

AMY GOODMAN: In a response to the piece that you wrote for Politico that was headlined “Israel Provoked This War,” the Anti-Defamation League writes, quote, “Hamas has a charter which they live up to every day calling for Israel’s destruction. Hamas has used the last two years of relative quiet to build up an arsenal of rockets whose sole purpose is to attack Israel. Hamas has built a huge network of tunnels leading into Israel with the purpose of murdering large numbers of Israelis and seizing hostages.” Henry Siegman, can you respond?

HENRY SIEGMAN: What I would point out to my former friend Abe Foxman of the ADLis that, too, is Israel’s charter, or at least the policy of this government and of many previous governments, which is to prevent the emergence of a Palestinian state. And they have built up their army and their armaments to implement that policy. And the difference between Hamas and the state of Israel is that the state of Israel is actually doing it. They’re actually implementing it, and they’re actually preventing a Palestinian state, which doesn’t exist. And millions of Palestinians live in this subservient position without rights and without security, without hope and without a future. That’s not the state of—the state of Israel is a very successful state, and happily Jews live there with a thriving economy and with an army whose main purpose is preventing that Palestinian state from coming into being. That’s their mandate.

But sadly and shockingly, they can stand by, even though international law says if you’re occupying people from outside of your country, you have a responsibility to protect them. I mean, the responsibility to protect is the people you are occupying. The soldiers who are there, ostensibly to implement that mandate, will watch settler violence when it occurs when they attack Palestinians in the Occupied Territories, and they won’t do a thing to prevent it. They won’t intervene to protect the people they are supposed to protect, and they will tell you, “That’s not our job. Our job is to protect the Jews.”

NERMEEN SHAIKH: On the question of the support, the successive U.S. administrations supporting Israel, I’d like to again quote from something you said in a 2002 New York Times interview with Chris Hedges. You said, “The support for Israel,” in the United States, “fills a spiritual vacuum. If you do not support the government of Israel then your Jewishness, not your political judgment, is in question.” So could you explain what you mean by that and what the implications of that have been, in terms of U.S. governments supporting Israeli government policy?

HENRY SIEGMAN: Well, what I meant by that, and that was an interview quite a while ago—

NERMEEN SHAIKH: 2002, yes.

HENRY SIEGMAN: I see, OK, which is not all that long ago, for me anyway. I meant by that something quite simple, that for many American Jews—and, I suspect, for most American Jews—Israel has become the content of their Jewish religious identification. It has very little other content. I rarely have been at a Shabbat service where a rabbi gives a sermon where Israel isn’t a subject of the sermon. And typically, they are—the sermons are not in the spirit of an Isaiah, you know, who says, “My god, is this what God wants from you? Your hands are bloody; they’re filled with blood. But he doesn’t want your fast. He doesn’t want—he despises the sacrifices and your prayers. What he wants is to feed, to feed the hungry, to pursue justice and so on.” But that’s not what you hear from rabbis in the synagogues in this country. So, what I meant by that is that there’s much more to Judaism and to the meaning that you give to your Jewish identity than support for the likes of Netanyahu.

NERMEEN SHAIKH: And Henry Siegman, what do you think the Obama administration has done since his first administration? And what do you think he ought to be doing differently, on the question of Israel-Palestine and, in particular, his response to this most recent military assault on Gaza?

HENRY SIEGMAN: Look, I have written about this for years now. It’s not all that complicated. It is quite clear that, left to its own devices, if Israel—if the United States says to the Palestinians, “Hey, you guys have got to talk not to us; you’ve got to talk to the Palestinians—to the Israelis, and you have to come to an understanding that’s how peace is made, but we can’t interfere. You know, we cannot tell Israel what to do”—left to their own devices, there will never be a Palestinian state. And the question is—I have very serious doubts that we have not gone beyond the point where a Palestinian state is possible. The purpose of the settlement movement was to make it impossible. And I believe they have succeeded: That project has achieved its goal.

AMY GOODMAN: The Jewish settlements.

HENRY SIEGMAN: The Jewish settlers have achieved the irreversibility of the settlement movement, in terms of the vast infrastructure that has been put in place. So, even if there were a leftist government, so-called leftist government, that came to power, it would not be able to do it, because of the upheaval that would be necessary to create such a state.

There is only one thing—as far as I’m concerned, there are only two things that could happen that could still, perhaps, produce a Palestinian state. The first one is for the—because the United States remains absolutely essential in terms of Israel’s security, to its continued success and survival. If at some point the United States were to say, “You have now reached a point—we have been your biggest supporters. We have been with you through thick and thin. And we have based—we have treated you”—you know, a lot of people say, criticizing the U.S. and the international community, that we have double standards, that we expect things of Israel that we don’t expect of the rest of the world. We do have double standards, but it works the other way around: We grant Israel privileges and tolerate behavior that we would not in other allies. We may say there’s nothing we can do to change that, but we don’t give them billions of dollars. And we don’t go to the U.N., at the Security Council, to veto when the international—efforts by the United Nations to prevent that bad behavior. So we have double standards, but it works the other way. But if the United States were to say to Israel, “It’s our common values that underlie this very special relationship we have with you and these privileges that we have extended to you, but this can’t go on. We can’t do that when those values are being undermined. The values—what you are doing today contradicts American values. We are a democratic country, and we cannot be seen as aiding and abetting this oppression and permanent disenfranchisement of an entire people. So, you’re on your own.” The issue is not America sending planes and missiles to bomb Tel Aviv as punishment; the issue is America removing itself from being a collaborator in the policies and a facilitator, making it easy and providing the tools for Israel to do that. So, if at some point the United States were to say what is said in Hebrew, ad kan, you know, “So far, but no further. We can’t—this is not what we can do. You want to do it? You’re on your own,” that would change—that could still change the situation, because the one thing Israelis do not want to do is have the country live in a world where America is not there to have their back.

And the other possibility, which I have also written about, is for Palestinians to say, “OK, you won. You didn’t want us to have a state. We see that you’ve won. You have all of it.” So our struggle is no longer to push the border to—to maintain a ’67 border, where nobody is going to come to their help, because borderlines—international opinion doesn’t mobilize around those issues. But this is a struggle against what looks and smells like apartheid—we want citizenship, we want full rights in all of Palestine—and make that the struggle. If Palestinians were to undertake that kind of a struggle in a credible way, where the Israeli public would see that they really mean it and they are going to fight for that in a nonviolent way, not by sending rockets, for citizenship, I am convinced—and I’ve seen no polls that contradict that belief—that they would say to their government, “Wait a minute, that is unacceptable, in fact, for us, and we cannot allow that. We don’t want a majority Arab population here.” I’ve talked to Palestinian leadership and urged them to move in that direction. There is now a growing movement among younger Palestinians in that direction. And that, I hope, may yet happen. Now, it has to be a serious movement. It can’t just be a trick to get another state, but only if it is serious, where they are ready to accept citizenship and fight for it in a single state of all of Palestine, is it possible for the Israeli public to say, “This we cannot want, too, and we have to have a government that will accept the two states.”

AMY GOODMAN: Why would Prime Minister Netanyahu, who has said he supports a two-state solution, create a situation that makes it virtually impossible, since it leads to this second possibility, which is a one-state solution, to the possibility that he does not want, which would be a majority Arab country?

HENRY SIEGMAN: He obviously believes that a one-state—well, I said earlier in our conversation that he never meant—when he said in his Bar-Ilan speech that he embraces a two-state, that was totally contrived. It was dishonest. Or, in simple English, he lied. And I appreciated the fact that several weeks ago, two weeks ago, he had a press conference in which he said—he didn’t say, “I lied,” but he said, “There will never be a truly sovereign Palestinian state anywhere in Palestine.” So, it’s quite clear now, and one of his friends, the former editor of The Jerusalem Post, who now edits The Times of Israel, had this big headline: “Finally, Now We Know It.” We know he never meant it. He didn’t say this critically; he said this positively. “Finally, he’s back in the fold, and we know he will never allow a sovereign Palestinian state.” Now, what will he do with a majority Arab population? He will do what the head of HaBayit HaYehudi, Bennett, has been advocating and proposed.

AMY GOODMAN: That means Jewish Home party in Israel.

HENRY SIEGMAN: That means the Jewish Home, and the Jewish Home meaning everywhere. And what he has said is that we’ll solve this problem of a potential apartheid in Israel in the following way: We will allow certain enclaves where there are heavy population—heavily populated by Palestinians, in certain parts of the West Bank, and those enclaves will be surrounded by our military. In other words, a bunch of Gazas; there will be several Gazas. Gaza, of course, will be shed or will become one of those enclaves, so they’re not part of the population of Israel. All the rest of Israel—the Jordan Valley, Area C, all of Area C, which is over 60 percent of the West Bank—will be annexed unilaterally by Israel. So, we will have shed two million Palestinians from Gaza. We will have shed another million and a half that live in the cities and in the more populated urban areas, in those enclaves—in those, essentially, bantustans. And the rest, that there are—what did he say? There are 50,000 Palestinians who live in Area C. We will make them citizens, and voila, apartheid is solved. That is—I believed that for the longest time, but that is the plan of Bibi Netanyahu. He may have to settle for less than 60 percent of the West Bank, but essentially he thinks he can solve this problem, this demographic bomb, as it’s been described, in this manner.

NERMEEN SHAIKH: You’ve also expressed in an interview in 2012 with The Jewish Daily Forward a concern that if Israel continues on its present path, its path in 2012, which I think it’s safe to say it continues today, that Israel will not be able to exist even for another 50 years. Could you explain what you mean by that? Why couldn’t it exist in the form that you’ve just described, for instance?

HENRY SIEGMAN: In which form?

NERMEEN SHAIKH: What you were saying earlier about the way in which the—

HENRY SIEGMAN: You mean in Bennett’s form?

NERMEEN SHAIKH: Well—

HENRY SIEGMAN: Well, it certainly would not be existing as a Jewish state, and neither as a democratic state or a Jewish state.

AMY GOODMAN: Because?

HENRY SIEGMAN: Because a country that creates—for the same reason that South Africa could not claim it is a democratic state, because it has a bunch of bantustans.

AMY GOODMAN: Do you see Israel as an apartheid state?

HENRY SIEGMAN: If they were to implement Bennett’s plan, absolutely. I don’t know if technically this is apartheid, but it certainly would not be a democratic state. It would lose its right to call itself a democracy.

AMY GOODMAN: Henry Siegman, I wanted to ask you about media coverage of the conflict right now in Gaza. In a comment to close the CBS show Face the Nation on Sunday, the host, Bob Schieffer, suggested Hamas forces Israel to kill Palestinian children.

BOB SCHIEFFER: In the Middle East, the Palestinian people find themselves in the grip of a terrorist group that is embarked on a strategy to get its own children killed in order to build sympathy for its cause—a strategy that might actually be working, at least in some quarters. Last week I found a quote of many years ago by Golda Meir, one of Israel’s early leaders, which might have been said yesterday: “We can forgive the Arabs for killing our children,” she said, “but we can never forgive them for forcing us to kill their children.”

AMY GOODMAN: That was the host, the journalist Bob Schieffer, on Face the Nation. You knew Prime Minister Golda Meir.

HENRY SIEGMAN: Yes, I did. I wasn’t a friend of hers, but I knew her, and I heard her when she made that statement. And I thought then, and think now, that it is an embarrassingly hypocritical statement. This statement was made by a woman who also said “Palestinians? There are no Palestinians! I am a Palestinian.” If you don’t want to kill Palestinians, if that’s what pains you so much, you don’t have to kill them. You can give them their rights, and you can end the occupation. And to put the blame for the occupation and for the killing of innocents that we are seeing in Gaza now on the Palestinians—why? Because they want a state of their own? They want what Jews wanted and achieved? I find that, to put it mildly, less than admirable. There is something deeply hypocritical about that original statement and about repeating it on the air over here as a great moral insight.

AMY GOODMAN: Henry Siegman, president of the U.S./Middle East Project, former head of the American Jewish Congress and the Synagogue Council of America, recently wrote a piece for Politicoheadlined “Israel Provoked This War.” Visit democracynow.org for part one of our conversation with Henry Siegman.

This is Democracy Now! When we come back, Iron Dome or Iron Sieve? How effective is the Iron Dome that Israel has touted? Stay with us.

River to Sea Uprooted Palestinian   

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Getting Israel behind us – Let God give them financial aid and weaponry

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Stand with Israel harper tx

Hi readers.  Thanks for coming by for a read.

Back during the Yom Kipper War, Six Days War, one of those, I recall a friend named Victor Sturm, an atheist, commenting the Israeli military prowess was almost enough to make him believe in God.  I think that was true for most of us, whether we were atheists, or not.  Israel’s always been easy to support.

During all those years everyone I was acquainted with felt badly about what was done to the Jews in Germany, and supporting the secular state of Israel seemed one of the ways to compensate.  In those days television would play a German Holocaust movie at the drop of a hat to keep it fresh on the minds.  I recall during the Cambodian killing fields times the only thing competing on television was constant reminders of the German camps.  Same was true when millions of Biafra folks were dying like flies.  It was always “Yeah, but look what happened in Germany to Jews!”

Well, we’re a lot more informed these days.  Germany was one of the places where one hell of a lot of people were systematically persecuted and killed.  One of the places, and Jews were one of the targets.

Fact is nobody cares about all that.  Nobody cares about atrocities and genocides.  Including Israel.  Nobody lifted a finger to stop Cambodia, Biafra, and a dozen other places where the death counts got into six figures or higher.  And WWII sure as hell wasn’t fought about what Germans were doing in those camps to Jews and Gypsies.  Nor what the Japanese were doing to the Chinese and other countries they occupied.

Justifying US involvement in WWII because of Hitler’s camps is pure fabrication by hindsight.  Nobody before Pearl Harbor gave a popcorn fart what Hitler was doing to Jews.  And the Jews fleeing Germany were having one hell of a time finding any country willing to take them.  They were stacking up like cordwood in Spain and Portugal because Britain, the US and almost everyone else didn’t want any more than they had already.

So when the dust settled Israel was formed to assuage the guilt feelings of the US population, the British, everyone who sat by with their thumbs up their butts at a time when they might have saved a lot of lives.  Christian religious fanatics in all the civilized countries loved the idea.  It carried the undertone suggesting somehow God was involved in all this, letting his Chosen People return to the Promised Land.

It might have worked out fairly well.  If Israel hadn’t turned out to be as savage, greedy and lacking in human compassion as the rest of humanity, it could have worked out.  Likely as not they could have settled in, shaken hands with the new neighbors and worked together to make the world a better place.

But that couldn’t happen.  Israel was won by terrorism and terrorists, and it’s continued to indulge in State terrorism from the day it was founded.  The Israeli government continues to grab land outside the boundaries established by the United Nations, continues to slaughter the neighbors without conscience, and blames everything on the people they’re robbing and slaughtering.

And nobody’s quicker on the draw with playing the race card than Israeli supporters.  Anyone who tries to examine the behavior of Israel critically is immediately accused of hating Jews, being an anti-Semite.  It’s happened right here in the comments of blog posts whenever Israel received critical examination.  Or even in response to pleas that they resort to peace occasionally just for the novelty.

Savagery and blaming the victims, same as the US has done countless times in countless places.  Same as the Russians, the Japanese, the Chinese, the British, the French.

Hell, the contagion of being Chosen People must have been awfully damned infectious to have infected so much of humanity with Hebrew Biblical behavior.

Israel has passed the Modern Civilization 101 course in greed, aggression, brutality, callous disregard for human suffering and tedious self-aggrandizement.  It’s time to put them up there with the Great Nations and let them sink or swim among the sharks.

I think they might make it for a while.  Because when we have to get along with our neighbors to survive, we tend to become circumspect and reasonable in ways we’d never thought of when we were being mollycoddled and pampered as though we could do no wrong.

The US is bankrupt, though it doesn’t admit it.  Our industry’s all gone to Asia.  Our weaponry’s all designed and manufactured by Asians.  A time is coming when US foreign aid will be a footnote in history.  Along with US military prowess.

But we can be confident Israel will probably be the recipient of the last US foreign aid dollar to be sent anywhere, despite famines and disease where they really need it.

Old Jules

River to Sea Uprooted Palestinian   

The views expressed in this article are the sole responsibility of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of the Blog!

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