How unrest in Bedouin villages poses a threat to Israel’s government

22 Jan, 2022 

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By Robert Inlakesh

Robert Inlakesh is a political analyst, journalist and documentary filmmaker currently based in London, UK. He has reported from and lived in the occupied Palestinian territories and currently works with Quds News and Press TV. Director of ‘Steal of the Century: Trump’s Palestine-Israel Catastrophe’. Follow him on Twitter @falasteen47

The Negev’s Bedouin demonstrations first re-erupted on January 9 in opposition to an afforestation (tree planting) project by the quasi-governmental body called the Jewish National Fund (JNF) in what Israel calls “disputed lands.” They quickly turned violent as Bedouin residents of nearby villages confronted what they saw as a drive to displace their communities. Israel’s police forces, domestic intelligence service (Shin Bet), and, as of last Thursday, the Israeli military, were all deployed to help put down the growing movement. The clashes that ensued resulted in tens of Bedouin Palestinians being arrested and injured. Additionally, stones were thrown at an Israeli train and an Israeli journalist’s car was torched.

The JNF project is just the beginning of a larger $48 million project set forth by the Israel Land Authority, which threatens to cover residential areas where six unrecognized Bedouin villages are located. While Israeli environmentalists argue that the project is geared towards cleaning up the land, Bedouin villagers see the push as a means of displacing them and taking away their agricultural lands, which is where the JNF began planting trees last week. Although the tree planting has been frozen as of an Israeli government concession, following pressure by Israeli lawmaker Mansour Abbas’s threat to pull out of the coalition government, the projects for construction in the Negev are still under way.

Israeli Interior Minister Ayelet Shaked announced in late December the construction of four settlements in the Negev, as part of a project to establish 12 new settlements there and raise the Jewish population to 2 million over 10 years. Shaked is part of Israeli Premier Naftali Bennett’s right-wing Yamina Party, and this is where the issue begins to get more complex for the current Israeli administration, and poses a major threat to its political establishment.

Just days before the surge of protests, on January 6, the Israeli government was pressured to freeze plans for a phosphate mine project in the Negev, which threatened to displace 36,000 Bedouins living in al-Fura’a village. This came after Israeli lawmaker Mansour Abbas’ ‘Ra’am Party’ pressured the government to halt the plan. Abbas, leader of the ‘United Arab List’, made history by becoming the first Palestinian-Israeli to enter an Israeli coalition government. Bennett and Yair Lapid, who negotiated a power-sharing agreement – meaning both would share serving as prime minister – did so to oust former PM Benjamin Netanyahu and received criticism for aligning centrists, right wingers and an Islamic party in order to do so. This now also means that if Mansour Abbas pulls out of the government, he could effectively cause the fall of the Bennett-Lapid coalition as it would not hold a majority in the Knesset. 

When it comes to the issue of Bedouin in the Negev, Mansour Abbas understands that a large portion of his voter base (60%) comes from that region and so on this issue he is willing to throw his weight around. Attempts have been made to secure the establishment of four Bedouin villages in the Negev by Abbas, although Israel’s plan is to have three major newly constructed Bedouin areas, where 70% of the Bedouin community would live, which would pave the way for communities to be forcibly transferred to these segregated Bedouin areas. 

On this issue I spoke to a Bedouin Palestinian protester, present at the al-Atrash village demonstrations. Speaking on condition of anonymity, he said that “most of us reject this plan and seek to remain on our lands.” He told me he feels the “oppression we face, especially with our homes being destroyed,” which has led to a rise in Palestinian nationalism and political activism amongst the Negev population. “If you look at the demonstration, whose flag do you see held high? [The Palestinian flag],” he said.

Foreign Minister Yair Lapid seems to prefer a pragmatic stance here, but his coalition partner Bennett cannot afford to abandon his base by appearing weak on popular right-wing causes. Netanyahu’s Likud Party has also gotten into the mix with the party’s spokesperson, Jonatan Urich, stating“The Bennett government mulling to stop planting due to violence against police is a continuation of it selling out the Negev to the Islamic Movement,” hitting out at Bennett from the right. For the Israeli opposition, led by Likud, if the government loses its majority over this issue, it paves the way for their possible, gradual, return to power.

Riya al-Sanah, an activist from Lakiya village in the Negev, says “Israel has pursued a policy of displacement through what they call infrastructure and national priority projects, this includes laying railways or roads, industrial areas, or in this case forestation.”

Of course in a settler colonial context the majority of the project, and certainly this context, described as being in the interest of the population comes against the direct interests of the Palestinian population, so what Palestinians are saying here on the ground is that you are planting trees and uprooting people… this is not a new strategy, this is a project the JNF has led even prior to 1948.”

“Planting trees is a method to hide the presence of Palestinian communities. So, for example, a lot of Israel’s national parks are constructed on the remains of Palestinian villages. Forestation is also a mechanism that is used to stop Palestinians returning to their land once they are actually displaced,” says al-Sanah, elaborating on why planting the trees has caused such a strong response. “It’s a step towards displacing the communities, it’s not just about planting the trees, people see that as a way of taking their land.”

Riya also stated that the displacement of Bedouins in the Negev and the West Bank are very much interlinked. In the Negev, she explained, “as well as facing systematic house demolitions, they [Bedouins] are disconnected from the water, electricity and any infrastructure which enables a reasonable standard of living.” She also believes the demonstrations of solidarity taking place throughout the country are “a continuation of what we saw in May of last year, when Palestinians everywhere rose up against Israeli policies of displacement in Sheikh Jarrah [in East Jerusalem].”

In 2020, a report put together by the Israeli NGO called the ‘Negev Coexistence Forum for Civil Equality’, indicated – using statistics from 2017, 2018 and 2019 – that an average of 2,000 Bedouin homes had been destroyed yearly in the region. The Bedouin population is estimated to be around 300,000 in the Negev (al-Naqab in Arabic), and they are the most impoverished community inside Israel, with the majority lacking basic welfare, education and health services. Whilst Israeli settlements and Kibbutzim communities stand at 114 for Israeli Jews, all recognised by the state, only seven of 53 Israeli-Bedouin villages are currently fully recognised.

In 1948, the population of around 100,000 Bedouin that lived in the Negev were reduced to 11,000, due to Israeli expulsion efforts. The remaining group of Arab Bedouin were displaced to an area called al-Siyaj, which was placed under military rule. In 1965 the Israeli Knesset adopted the ‘Planning and Building Law’, which then made most of the Siyaj area “agricultural lands,” making building homes there illegal. This even meant homes built there prior to the law taking effect would also be considered illegal. Al-Araqib is an example of a village, demolished 186 times, that has fallen victim to Israel deeming building in such areas illegal. 

Riya al-Sanah says, of the current demonstrations, “it is not just the question of recognition of the existing residential areas… the demands are recognition and ownership of the land in the Naqab [Negev], which Israel has consistently refused to do.” She went on to say that “the demands [of the demonstrators] are not just about recognition, because the card of recognition is often waved by Israel and historically has not happened… recognition has only happened in partial areas of the land and there are villages with partial recognition, which has meant there’s still home demolitions going on in villages recognised since 2000.” 

In 2017, due to rising tensions over Israeli government neglect of the Bedouin community, a five-year plan was adopted by the Knesset to tackle the socioeconomic disadvantages faced by Bedouins in the Negev. But, due to a lack of implementation, Mansour Abbas has criticized the government and urged them to fulfill their obligations. Israel clearly sees economic benefits in constructing infrastructure in the Negev; the area is also a key portion of the country for the military and its bases.

Palestinian citizens of Israel in areas like Umm al-Fahm, Haifa, Kufr Qassim and elsewhere have now mobilised to confront Israeli construction plans in the Negev, uniting with the Bedouin of the south and protesting for their cause as their own. Hamas, the PFLP, DFLP, PIJ and other political parties have come out to urge their supporters to confront Israel in the Palestinian occupied territories over the Negev issue also. If the issue goes too far and Israel’s government cannot agree on concessions, this could potentially lead to the most serious threat to the state’s stability since May last year, a very bad prospect for Bennett and Lapid.

Israel is Tightening Its Grip on Syria’s Golan Heights by Creating “Facts on the Ground”

January 20th, 2022

By Jessica Buxbaum

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In the occupied Golan Heights, the population of Settlers and Syrians is approximately equal, but experts fear that a new Israeli project will turn Syrians into a demographic minority on their own land.

MAJDAL SHAMS, OCCUPIED GOLAN HEIGHTS — On Dec. 15, 1981, the Knesset (Israel’s parliament) enacted a law officially annexing the Golan Heights — Syrian territory captured by Israel during the 1967 Six Day War. Now, 40 years later, the Israeli government hopes to double the size of Jewish settlements there by the end of this decade, in an effort human-rights activists see as further normalizing a forgotten occupation.

Last month, the Israeli government approved a $300 million plan to promote Jewish settlement expansion in the occupied Golan Heights. In response, Adalah – The Legal Center for Arab Minority Rights in Israel and Al-Marsad – Arab Human Rights Center in Golan Heights submitted a letter to Attorney General Avichai Mandelblit and Prime Minister Naftali Bennett this month demanding the plan’s cancellation, given that it is a violation of international law to build settlements on occupied land.

“Attempts to normalize the occupation of the Syrian Golan have no validity in international law and the status of the Golan Heights remains occupied territory,” Adalah attorney Suhad Bishara said in a press release. The Israeli government has yet to respond to the organizations’ letter.

Currently, about 28,000 settlers reside in 34 settlements in the Golan. They operate 167 settlement businesses and control 95% of the land. The new government initiative seeks to double the settler population in the Golan in five years by establishing two new settlements and relocating or building factories in the region. The aim is to add 23,000 settlers and construct 7,300 housing units. It also wants to boost the population of Katzrin, the largest settlement in the Golan, by 50,000 residents by 2040.

“The expansion of settlements in the Golan Heights not only violates the rules of international humanitarian law and human-rights law but also deepens the discriminatory reality against the natives concerning their rights to use natural resources,” Al-Marsad attorney Karama Abu Saleh said. “This exacerbates the situation whereby settlers have privileges in receiving budgets and access to natural resources, while the natives are suffering from land shortages and other crises.”

A forgotten occupation

In 2019, then-President Donald Trump signed a proclamation declaring the Golan Heights as part of Israel — not Syria. In doing so, the United States became the first country to recognize Israeli sovereignty over the occupied Syrian territory. Two days after Israel’s official annexation of the Golan Heights in 1981, the UN Security Council used Resolution 497 to determine the Knesset’s Golan Heights Law as null and void. Today, most of the international community considers the Golan Heights occupied.

Israel decided to build a settlement in honor of Trump — to be called Trump Heights  — as a thank you to the former president for his executive order. Trump Heights is part of the government’s development plan to increase the settler population in the Golan. While Trump’s action altered the U.S.’ Middle East strategy, it did not change the global status quo, Adalah attorney Bishara reiterated, telling MintPress News:

The declaration of the Trump administration in this regard did not change anything on the ground. It has, of course, its international implications in terms of how Israel perceives this acknowledgement. But in terms of international law, the annexation and any recognition by any state, including the U.S., does not change the status of the area as an occupied territory and the Syrian community there as a protected community under international humanitarian law.”

Al-Marsad’s founder and director, Nizar Ayoub, said that Trump’s declaration increased settlement activity in the Golan, with many settlements adopting expansion projects. “A few years ago, settlers were around 19,000 to 20,000. Now, there are about 28,000 to 29,000 settlers,” Ayoub said.

But Trump’s decision isn’t the only factor speeding up settlement expansion efforts in the Golan. “The Israelis are taking advantage of the holocaust going on in Syria and the destruction of the Syrian state,” Wael Tarabieh, director of Al-Marsad’s Economic, Social and Cultural Rights Program told MintPress News. “So this is the opportunity that they are using to cement their grip on the Golan.”

After Israel occupied more than two-thirds of the Syrian Golan during the 1967 War, 95% of the population was displaced and banned from returning. Israeli forces destroyed the area’s infrastructure and built settlements using the rubble from the razed villages. But the speed at which the settlements expanded was slower than what Israel hoped, Tarabieh explained. “The heart of the Golan is almost empty because the policy of the settlers since the occupation was to go as far as possible toward the Syrian ceasefire line and to create facts on the ground there,” Tarabieh said, detailing that until 2010, Israel and Syria were in discreet negotiations about what to do with the Golan, thereby keeping settlement expansion from happening. This changed, however, when war broke out in Syria.

Golan Heights
Druse supporters of President Assad wave Syrian flags during a rallydemanding the return of the Golan Heights in Majdal Sham. Oded Balilty |AP

Today, only 27,000 Syrians remain concentrated in five villages (Majdal Shams, Buqaatha, Masaada, Ain Qinya, and Ghajar) in the northern Golan. Settlers and Syrians are approximately equal in number now, but Al-Marsad’s Tarabieh believes the new settlement project will turn the Syrians into a demographic minority on their own land. He explained:

The main point is ignored and denied all the time, which is that the other Syrians who were uprooted from their lands count at more than half a million and no one is talking about them. No one is talking, for example, about the right of return for the Syrians as we talk about the Palestinians. That’s why we call it a forgotten occupation, and everybody is treating the Golan as if it were a normal expansion of Israeli land.”

And amid the crisis in Syria, the Golan’s Syrians are left without a voice, Tarabieh said, continuing:

Because of what’s happened in Syria in the last decade, the people [here] are helpless and they feel helpless. If you take a look at the local media, you’ll find that the reaction from the side of locals [to Israel’s settlement plan] is very few compared to what we used to see in the past years. And this explains that the people of the Golan, the Syrians, do not have any political support or representation.”

Despite most of the global community recognizing Israel’s occupation of the Golan Heights as a violation of international law, the oppression is largely absent from international headlines.

Adalah attorney Bishara surmised this is because public attention has been preoccupied with Syria’s civil war, ongoing developments in the occupied Palestinian Terrirtories, and a raging pandemic. With the occupation of the Golan less of a violent land grab compared to the volatile situation in Palestine, Israel’s injustice against Syrians gets pushed aside.

As less focus is drawn to the issue from an international perspective, within Israel’s government the occupation becomes further normalized. Bishara concluded:

It seems that the Golan Heights is becoming consensus. Because even Meretz [an Israeli left-wing political party] government members voted in favor of this governmental decision, which says that there is a consensus along the whole spectrum of the Israeli political arena — from the right wing to the so-called left, Zionist parties.”

How settlement expansion will impact the native Syrians

Golan’s remaining Syrian villages control less than 4% of their own land. This is because Israel designated the occupied Golan Heights as “state land,” meaning the Israeli government determines its use. While turning some of it into military training fields and outposts, other portions were allocated as nature reserves and national parks, and the largest area is reserved for settlement development. A severe housing crisis emerged out of the Israeli-made land shortage — a problem that will only be exacerbated by the government’s settlement plan.

Discriminatory land policies have made it nearly impossible for Syrians to receive building permits, forcing them to build illegally and risk demolition orders. Israeli authorities have issued 1,570 demolition orders since its annexation of the Golan. As a result, many Syrians have had to pay exorbitantly high fines, go to prison, or have their homes demolished.

“The new project to double the settlement population will seriously affect the Syrian villages. As long as the settlements are expanding, more restrictions will be forced on the local population and make the housing crisis here even more difficult,” Ayoub said.

Golan Heights
Israeli tanks maneuver in the Israeli-occupied Golan Heights, Aug. 4, 2020. Ariel Schalit |AP

Israel’s plan to turn more than 2,000 acres of the Golan into a national park has severely restricted the surrounding villages’ development. Majdal Shams, for instance, is now unable to expand because of limited space.

Al-Marsad’s Tarabieh speculated the settlement expansion plan may benefit local construction businesses; but, overall, the Syrian-Golanese economy will suffer.

“The economic situation will become worse and worse with time,” Tarabieh said, explaining how along with settlement growth, Israel hopes to transform the Golan Heights into Israel’s renewable-energy capital. Last year, Israel approved a plan to build a giant wind farm on a fifth of Syrian agricultural land in the Golan — significantly harming the natives’ health, environment and economy, and depleting their natural resources. “That’s why people feel that they can do nothing. We are a few people without any kind of support,” Tarabieh said.

But he argued that the Syrian communities are not in regular confrontation with the settlers, but rather the Israeli government is their main source of friction. “When we talk about the housing crisis, people don’t connect it directly to the settlers. They connect it to the policies of the Israeli government, because we deal with the Israeli authorities,” Tarabieh said. “They are the ones who reject our need to expand the villages.”

In daily life, the settler and indigenous populations have coexisted in a relatively quiet, peaceful way, as Tarabieh described. Settlers visit the Syrian villages’ medical clinics and supermarkets. They employ Syrian architects and engineers to build their homes. And you’ll find young Syrians working for settlers in agricultural spaces. “It’s not a daily conflict with the settlers. It’s not a direct clash between the settler and the Syrian native. It’s between us and the [Israeli] government.” Tarabieh said.

With greater settlement development, however, Tarabieh believes the balance of power in the Golan will shift. “When these settlers control more lands, this tension will grow,” he said. “And we may become closer to our Palestinian fellow brothers in the sense of the relationships with the settlers.”

Deceased Nobel Peace Laureate Desmond Tutu Faces Zionist Reputational Firing Squad

January 13th, 2022

By Miko Peled

Source

January 13th, 2022


Zionist organizations in the United States and around the world will continue to feel entitled to call anyone they wish a racist, a bigot, and an antisemite. Their successes empower them and, since there is no one who stands up to them, there is no reason for them to stop.

JOHANNESBURG – Vilakazi Street in Soweto is perhaps the most famous street in all of Johannesburg, maybe even in all of South Africa. The street is named after Dr. B.W. Vilakazi, who was a South African poet, novelist, and intellectual. He was the first Black South African to teach at the University of the Witwatersrand; though, because they did not allow Black lecturers at the time, he was employed as a language assistant. But that is not why Vilakazi Street is famous.

At the corner of Vilakazi and Ngakane is the home of Nelson Mandela, known today as the Mandela House. It serves as a sort of museum and memorial to Nelson Mandela. When I was there in 2014, I was given a tour by the very lady who worked for the Mandelas as a housekeeper. Also on Vilakazi Street is the home of the recently deceased Archbishop Desmond Tutu. It is said to be the only street in the world where two Nobel Prize laureates resided, and these were no ordinary laureates even by Nobel Prize standards.

Zionists denounce Archbishop Desmond Tutu

According to the January 11 issue of Newsweek magazine, while speaking on Fox News, former Harvard Law Professor Alan Dershowitz said, “The man was a rampant antisemite and bigot,” referring to Desmond Tutu.

The Guardian, writing about the passing of the archbishop, also mentioned Dershowitz’s absurd accusation. The piece says correctly that “[a] figure of Tutu’s stature drawing parallels between a system constructed on racism and the reality of Israel’s domination of the Palestinians, and calling for boycotts to end it, alarmed the government in Israel.”

The piece goes on to report that “[a]ll of this earned Tutu a particular ire from some of Israel’s defenders. The Anti-Defamation League accused him of antisemitism over his boycott call.” The report continues to say:

Citing at least half a dozen instances in which the anti-apartheid activist spoke out against Israel, ZOA president Morton Klein criticized Yeshiva University’s Cardozo School of Law for hosting Tutu … and the University of Pennsylvania for inviting Tutu to be its commencement speaker.

Also chiming in was Yishai Fleisher, spokesman for the militant religious-Zionist settlers in Hebron. He posted on Twitter:

Tutu was a serious enemy of Israel because he used his clout as an anti-apartheid warrior to stick that ignominious epithet onto Israel. But underneath the nice guy facade he was [sic] religious antisemite, a supporter of the genocidal Hamas terror, and a serial liar.?

I am quite speechless that anyone could characterize Tutu as a racist. However, the claim that Tutu was an antisemite is not new. In 2003 the Forward reported: “The Zionist Organization of America has denounced two universities for inviting Nobel laureate Archbishop Desmond Tutu to speak on their campuses.”

According to a piece in the Jewish Telegraph Agency, or JTA, from October of 2007, “Bishop Desmond Tutu had been slated to visit the University of St. Thomas next spring as part of a program that brings Nobel laureates to teach youth about peace and justice.” However, in a strange chain of events, university administrators concluded that “Tutu has made hurtful comments about Israel and the Jewish people that rendered him inappropriate as a speaker.” These administrators reached this puzzling conclusion “after consulting with Minnesota Jewish leaders.” One of these “leaders” was Julie Swiler, the public affairs director for the Jewish Community Relations Council of Minnesota and the Dakotas, (JCRC), a Zionist not-for-profit that is charged with monitoring activities that show Israel in a negative light and acting to stop them.

Swiler told JTA that the university approached her organization for an opinion about Tutu, which led her to discover a speech Tutu delivered in Boston in 2002. “He compared the power of the “Jewish lobby” to Hitler, and Israeli policies to those of the South African apartheid regime.

What the archbishop actually said was:

People are scared in this country to say wrong is wrong because the Jewish lobby is powerful – very powerful.”

He went on to say:

We live in a moral universe. The apartheid government was very powerful, but today it no longer exists. Hitler, Mussolini, Stalin, Pinochet, Milosovic and Idi Amin were all powerful, but in the end, they bit the dust.”

According to Swiler, “those comments go beyond legitimate criticism of Israel.”

South Africa Obit Tutu
Pro-Palestine activitists form an honor guard as they await for the arrival of the body of Desmond Tutu, Dec. 31, 2021. Nardus Engelbrecht | AP

Morton Klein, president of the Zionist Organization of America (ZOA), said that “Desmond Tutu is an antisemite who hates Jews and is obsessed with demeaning and smearing the Jewish state.” Klein claimed that Tutu delivered a speech in 2002 at a conference that was sponsored by the Palestinian organization Sabeel, which Klein says is “a Christian Palestinian group that some have described as antisemitic.”

Sabeel is a peace-loving Christian Palestinian organization. The organization’s website states:

Sabeel is an ecumenical grassroots liberation theology movement among Palestinian Christians. Inspired by the life and teaching of Jesus Christ, this liberation theology seeks to deepen the faith of Palestinian Christians, to promote unity among them and lead them to act for justice and peace.

Weaponizing antisemitism

It is well known that the extent to which Zionists around the world use antisemitism as a tool to silence those who reject their racism, hate and violence know no boundaries. When public figures dare to stand for justice – even if, like Archbishop Desmond Tutu, they do not reject Zionism completely – they are immediately labeled as antisemitic. After the success of the Zionist campaign to bring down the U.K. Labour Party leader, Jeremy Corbyn, and demonize many of his supporters — many of whom were Jewish themselves – there is no reason to expect that these hate-filled lies about people who fight for justice will stop.

Like a bully with a loaded weapon, Zionist organizations in the United States and around the world will continue to feel entitled to call anyone they wish a racist, a bigot, and an antisemite. Their successes empower them and, since there is no one who stands up to them, there is no reason for them to stop.

South Africa

A few years ago I had the privilege of visiting South Africa to participate in the Israeli Apartheid Week, and it was during that visit that I walked down the famous Vilakazi Street. While there, I was also invited to take part in a discussion that was broadcast live on SABC television. The discussion was between myself and an Israeli who was sent to represent Israel and the view that Israel is anything but an apartheid state.

At the 3:56 mark of the program, I was asked by the moderator to explain why Israel is an apartheid state, which of course, is quite easy to do. At 8:30 in, the moderator asked the other guest to explain how what I described is not apartheid. This was followed by about 30 seconds of silence, confusion, and incoherent mumbling. When he was finally able to speak, it was clear that he was not able to answer the question.

People in South Africa cannot be fooled by Israeli propaganda; they know apartheid and they can see it even from the six thousand miles that separate Cape Town from Jerusalem. Furthermore, the two Nobel Peace laureates who lived on Vilakazi Street in Soweto and fought the apartheid regime in South Africa knew all too well that Israel is an apartheid regime.

With Symbolic Hebron Chanukah Visit, Israeli President Greenlights Al-Aqsa Destruction

December 03rd, 2021

By Miko Peled

Source

Israeli President Isaac Herzog’s visit to the Ibrahimi Mosque should be seen as nothing less than an invitation by the Zionist establishment to the Zionist radical elements to go ahead and burn the Al-Aqsa Mosque.

HEBRON, PALESTINE – “Should the Al-Aqsa Mosque be destroyed, the match will be lit by a fanatic settler, but it is decades of Zionist indoctrination and Israeli policies that will be responsible for the destruction.” I wrote these words in a piece in this publication in August of 2021. In December of this year the Israeli establishment has taken a huge step in this direction: the president of Israel, Yitzhak (Isaac) Herzog, decided to light the first candle of Chanukah at the Ibrahimi Mosque in the Palestinian city of Al-Khalil – Hebron.

This visit represents a “go ahead” by the so-called moderate Israeli establishment to the fanatic religious-Zionists to continue their unchecked, unhinged violent attacks against Palestinians in general and their pursuit of the destruction of the Al-Aqsa Mosque in particular.

The Ibrahimi Mosque

It is said that the Jerusalem geographer Muqqadasi, writing in 985 CE, described the town of Hebron as follows:

In Hebron is a public guest house continuously open, with a cook, a baker and servants in regular attendance. These offer a dish of lentils and olive oil to every poor person who arrives, and it is set before the rich, too, should they wish to partake. Most men express the opinion this is a continuation of the guest house of Abraham […] At present time I do not know in all the realm of al-Islam any house of hospitality and charity more excellent than this one.”

A UNESCO report declared the city of Hebron and the Ibrahimi Mosque that lies within it as Palestine Heritage sites. The report states, “The main monument of the town is the centrally sited Al Haram Al-Ibrahimi Mosque/The Tomb of the Patriarchs.” The mosque sits on what is believed to be the burial site of the biblical patriarch Abraham, his wife Sara, their son Isaac and his son Jacob, as well as Rebecca and Leah. This belief is based on a story from the Book of Genesis 23:1–20 that tells about the patriarch Abraham purchasing a cave in order to bury his wife.

An endangered shrine

Another UNESCO report regarding the city of Al-Khalil, now known as Hebron, states that it and the mosque are “endangered sites.”

According to the report, “The nominated property is considered […] of Outstanding Universal Value as a cultural property” for the following reasons:

The Al-Khalil/Hebron old town “is an outstanding, exceptionally complete and well preserved example of unique urban and architectural characteristics inspired by the human values of Hebron/Al-Khalil community” and “[r]eflects continuous fabric which dates back to the Mamluk and Ottoman Periods.” The report goes on to state that the old town “[w]as shaped by the Al-Ibrahimi Mosque/The Tomb of Patriarchs, an outstanding example of building that illustrates significant stages in human history,” which “[b]enefited from its location on the main commercial routes in the region.”

Israeli police occupy Shuhada before the arrival of Herzog to the Ibrahimi mosque in occupied Hebron, November 28, 2021. Photo | Activestills

Writing about Israel’s continuous threats to the sites, UNESCO reports:

What is clear is that threats and violations are systematic and long-standing. They have a significant impact on the lives of ordinary citizens, resulting in the gradual depopulation of the old town […] and also interfere with the conservation of cultural heritage assets.

The site of the mosque and the Old City of Hebron are under threat because of Israeli attempts to de-Arabize the old city, build Jewish-only settlements, rename the streets, and cover up the rich history of the city and the mosque, a history that spans thousands of years.

Isaac Herzog

Isaac Herzog, Israel’s president, is described in a piece in The Guardian as a “softly spoken veteran of centre-left.” When Herzog was an attorney, he represented large corporations like Coca-Cola Israel. A prominent Palestinian who knows Herzog and dealt with him when Herzog was a lawyer once said to me, “I don’t know what he was thinking, what would make him do such a thing.”

This “thing” that this Palestinian was referring to was the dangerous accommodation of the militant right-wing Religious-Zionists and legitimization of their desecration of an ancient and revered Muslim site – the Ibrahimi Mosque — with Herzog’s visits to the site.

However, as we look at the history of the State of Israel, we see that the so-called moderate Zionist establishment has always accommodated the radical right and legitimized the achievements the Zionist state has enjoyed through the brutality and violence perpetrated by Zionist fanatics.

From the earliest days of the Zionist colonization of Palestine, the radical violent elements pushed forward while the so-called moderates, while initially distancing themselves from the actions of “extremists,” gradually legitimized their actions.

This was true in the pre-1948 actions of Zionist terror squads that included the bombing of the King David Hotel in Jerusalem; the assassination of the United Nations mediator, the Swedish diplomat Folke Bernadot; and the brutal massacre of the people of Deir Yasin on the outskirts of Jerusalem.

In fact, the war of 1967 also was a push by Zionist radicals – who by that time were generals in army uniform and had a well-equipped and well-trained army at their disposal – to do what was left undone in 1948. While the more “moderate” Israeli politicians were hesitant, the generals demanded to start a war and take parts of Palestine that were left outside the state of Israel.

Post-1967

In post-1967 Israel, the face of the fundamentalist radical Zionists had slightly changed but the tactics remained the same. The 1967 occupation gave rise to a new form of radical Zionism called Religious Zionism. These were Zionists who had been indoctrinated in the hate-filled, violence-infused yeshiva, Yeshivat Mercaz Harav. Named “The Mother of Zionistic Yeshivot,” it was the very first Zionist yeshiva and the ‘flagship’ for the National Religious movement.

Originally the Labour-Left establishment, to which President Isaac Herzog belonged, had looked down on and even distanced itself from the National Religious movement. However, as early as 1968, when that movement initiated Jewish-only settlements in the heart of the West Bank, the army and the Labor-Left establishment supported them wholeheartedly. Today, Religious Zionists are credited with establishing a Jewish-Zionist presence throughout the entire West Bank.

What used to be the Zionist Labor-Left establishment is all but gone, and only a few relics like Herzog remain. Today the Israeli establishment consists of two factions of ultra-right fanatic blocks, fighting each other for power. Politically they are identical and their hate-filled anti-Palestinian rhetoric is equally appalling.

Hertzog’s visit to the Ibrahimi Mosque should be seen as nothing less than an invitation by the Zionist establishment to the Zionist radical elements to go ahead and burn the Al-Aqsa Mosque.

Masar Badil: The New Palestinian Movement that Has Both Israel and the PA on Edge

November 23rd, 2021

By Robert Inlakesh

Source

Palestinians overwhelmingly reject the Palestinian Authority — which has refused to hold elections and constantly sided with Israeli forces, jailing and torturing rather than protecting its own people — and have long sought an alternative. Now, Masar Badil claims to be the solution.

OCCUPIED PALESTINE — “We are building a campaign against the Palestinian Authority” and will “mobilize our people in the refugee camps” from Lebanon, Syria, and Jordan, to all corners of the globe, says a newly launched Palestinian revolutionary movement that supports all forms of resistance against Israel in order to liberate Palestine “from the river to the sea.”

On November 2, a revolutionary Palestinian movement called ‘Masar Badil’ (The Palestinian Alternative Revolutionary Path) officially announced its launch following conferences convened in Madrid, Sao Paulo, and Beirut. The movement vows to build on the cause of Palestine’s national liberation within the Palestinian diaspora and to provide an alternative to the Palestinian Authority (PA), which currently operates out of Ramallah in the West Bank. A major component of their work will be to unite Palestinians in the refugee camps of Lebanon, Jordan and Syria, seeking to build the strength of these communities.

In late August, Palestinians in the occupied West Bank began taking to the streets, calling for the fall of the Palestinian Authority, which has ruled over them for decades, after the brutal murder of popular PA critic Nizar Banat. The demonstrations frightened the PA as well as its Israeli allies, threatening to pose serious problems for Israel’s relatively stable security situation in the occupied West Bank.

The Palestinian Authority, a representative body which was created as a result of the Oslo Accords — signed between the Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO) and Israel — currently rules over the most heavily populated cities in the Israeli-occupied West Bank. Per the agreements made between the two sides, Oslo had established that three areas would be designated for different levels of control in the occupied Palestinian territories: Area A, where the PA would have both civil and security control; Area B, where Israel controls security and the PA has civil control; and Area C, where Israel has full control. Area C currently covers approximately 63% of the territory. However, this plan was supposed to last only five years, before control was gradually ceded to the PA and eventually a Palestinian State inaugurated on roughly a quarter of historic Palestine.

Israel, however, continues to ignore its obligations under Oslo and Tel Aviv now rejects the notion of a Palestinian State. While many Palestinians expected the PA, led by President Mahmoud Abbas, to fight for their rights, most now see it as doing the very opposite. All elections since 2006, when Hamas beat the ruling Fatah Party in a landslide, have been canceled by Abbas. The PA — which is funded by the UK, EU, and the U.S. — also uses its security forces to collaborate with Israel in the oppression of the Palestinians. Strategically, the Oslo areas gave Israel control in most of the agricultural and open lands, which is where all their illegal settlements are located; and, in turn, the PA forces would rule over the major population centers, such as Ramallah, Nablus and Al-Khalil, among others.

After facing the PA’s perpetual postponement of democratic processes; its refusal to protect Palestinians from Israeli forces; and instead its jailing, torturing, and handing over of its citizens who take action against Israel, through what is called ‘Security Coordination,’ the Palestinian people have come to a position of overwhelming rejection of the Palestinian Authority’s rule and have long sought an alternative. Masar Badil claims to be the movement finally to provide the solution.

A Palestinian revolutionary alternative to Oslo futility

Notable international representatives who appeared for the launch of the Palestinian Alternative Revolutionary Path (PARP) Movement in Madrid included: Bolivia’s Nardi Suxo, Venezuela’s Mauricio Rodriguez, and Eumelio Caballero Rodríguez of Cuba, who all attended the PARP Movement’s cultural event. They were joined by representatives from grassroots groups across Europe and from the United States who pledged to work with the PARP.

The attendees of the conference also met with representatives from a range of resistance movements across the world at the headquarters of the Spanish Communist Party, discussing various projects and resulting in the formation of a Boycott Committee, Return Committee and Youth Committee. Additionally, in a letter of support, the National Democratic Front of the Philippines (NDFP) pledged its support for the PARP. Luis Jalandoni, the chief international representative of the NDFP, stated the following:

Let us join hands as we struggle to liberate ourselves from the clutches of U.S. imperialism, overthrow the oppressive and exploitative ruling system, and carry forward with determination our struggle for national and social liberation.”

“We are working to build a Palestinian revolutionary alternative to the Oslo process and the futile so-called peace process,” says Khaled Barakat, the Coordinator of the Preparatory Committee of the PARP Movement. Barakat says that the PARP will begin to “organize with our communities in the refugee camps in Lebanon, in Jordan, in Syria, and across the globe.” He continued:

One of the positions that came out of our conference is to immediately set up a campaign against the Palestinian Authority and the self-rule government in the West Bank, in order to bring this government down and form revolutionary councils and committees in Palestine.”

When I asked Barakat about some of the aspects that make the Masar Badil different as an alternative revolutionary movement, he responded:

Ninety percent, so the vast majority, of the three committees that convened — in Beirut, Madrid and Sao Paulo — were youths and they are assuming their responsibilities, the younger generations participating is very important for us. We also value, whether it be in leadership or other roles, the participation of Palestinian women and put an emphasis on their playing a central role in decision-making, and we believe that this will push our movement into becoming much stronger.

PARP Movement demonstration
PARP Movement demonstration in central Madrid, November 1, 2021. Photo | Robert Inlakesh

Putting the Palestinian Authority on edge

To find out more about the positions of Masar Badil on the PA, I also spoke to a founding member of the PARP Movement, Mohammed Khatib, who participated in the group’s launch and is additionally the European Coordinator for Palestinian Prisoners Solidarity Network, Samidoun. Khatib says, “I do believe that any step, any work, against the Oslo Agreements and against the Madrid Conference, is against the Palestinian Authority and against the Zionist Entity.” Khatib further states that one of the major missions of the PARP Movement is to “focus on the Palestinian diaspora, on reorganizing our people in the diaspora and re-establishing our institutions in the diaspora and re-establishing our national liberation movement in the diaspora,” which he believes means taking down the PA. Khatib continued:

Sixty percent of the Palestinian people live in the diaspora, as migrants and refugees, so we are the ones with the interest to go back to Palestine and to dismantle this Zionist Entity and also everyone who is cooperating with the Zionist Entity inside of Palestine — especially the PA, who are doing security coordination with the occupation [by Israel] against our people.”

He also says that opposition to the PA comes from the attacks carried out against Palestinians by the forces of PA President Abbas, including “giving up on our political prisoners, shutting off funds and salaries of the families of our martyrs.” He continued:

What the Palestinian Authority is doing today is besieging the resistance, not only inside the West Bank; they are also participating, with the Zionist Entity and the Egyptian Regime, in the siege placed against the Gaza Strip.”

Khatib stresses that all the work that the Masar Badil is doing is to create an alternative to the Palestinian Authority, not to the Palestinian National Liberation Movement:

We are an essential part of the Palestinian National Liberation Movement. All the organizations and associations that are part of the Masar Badil, are part of the National Liberation Movement, so we are not an alternative to anyone who is participating in or practicing resistance against the Zionist Entity. Instead, what we are trying to do is to create a mass movement, a popular movement, that can help to create a supportive environment around the Palestinian resistance.”

The PARP Movement, Khatib told me,

…calls on all the resistance and Palestinian political Parties — Hamas, Islamic Jihad, the PFLP and everyone who participates and practices armed resistance, especially in Gaza and elsewhere inside Palestine — to work on creating a national democratic Palestinian front where all the resistance will work together to achieve the one program, which is the liberation of all Palestine from the river to the sea and to drop the two-state solution.

Our one and only aim is liberating all of Palestine, so we believe that all of our actions against the Zionist Entity and the Arab Reactionary Regimes are de-facto an effort against the Palestinian Authority. The PA does not represent anyone in our land today; they are there only because they take funds from the EU, U.S., and the Zionist Entity. How can the PA take money from Israel to protect our people? Of course, this is not the case; instead, the PA is a hand of the Zionist Occupation.”

As one of the first journalists to cover the movement’s first public press conference on November 2, I asked Barakat what the PA thinks about the launch of the PARP movement, to which he replied:

We know that the Palestinian Authority is nervous, particularly Fateh. They are nervous because of the establishment of the Masar Badil… last night they [the PA] forged a statement in Spanish and Arabic and they signed three [Palestinian] factions onto it; the statement was a fabrication designed to make it look like Palestinian Parties are rejecting Masar Badil and we believe it to be the work of the PA’s intelligence agents. In fact, one hour ago the PFLP, who were falsely connected to the statement, issued their own statement stating that they had nothing to do with this statement and it was a forgery by the PA.”

Barakat says that the Palestinian Authority’s intelligence network has been consistently attempting to distort the image of the Masar Badil and has caused many problems, including in Beirut, for the PARP’s conference there. He told me:

The PA is nervous because they know what they have done and what they are doing now; …they are attacking our people not just physically, but also our student movements in Palestine and our intellectuals. Critics of theirs, like Nizar Banat, were killed at the hands of the Palestinian security forces.”

I was also informed that Palestinian Authority representatives in Beirut had allegedly been making problems for the Masar Badil, spreading misinformation about the group and its intentions prior to the conference in the Lebanese capital. In response to threats put out, through back channels, the conference required the presence of a security detail for fear of violence being carried out against them and it was believed that the PA had something to do with this, but I was informed that there was no way we could know whether or not it was their doing.

Masar Badil demonstrators
Masar Badil demonstrators hold up banners demanding the freedom of Ahmed Sa’adat and George Abdullah, November 1, 2021. Photo | Robert Inlakesh

After convening three separate conferences, from October 30 to November 2, Masar Badil announced its official declaration and list of 10 key positions, agreed upon by consensus of “The General Preparatory Committee” during the conference’s Plenary Session.

A movement to take on the PA “is finally here”

As one of its first actions, the PARP Movement has received the signatures of at least 91 Palestinian and international musicians, including that of Pink Floyd’s Roger Waters, to a statement urging artists to boycott Israel’s annual Oud Festival. The statement reads:

The oud, as the quintessential stringed instrument of Palestinian and Arab world music culture, is being appropriated by a Zionist state whose history is based on the erasure and theft of indigenous livelihoods. As the Israeli ‘Jerusalem Municipality’ re-launches its musical PR projects with the easing of certain coronavirus restrictions, Palestinians in Jerusalem are fighting tooth and nail against the accelerating land-grab of Sheikh Jarrah and swathes of the land east of their city. Palestinian performing artists are attacked or imprisoned, while broader communities of the displaced face the terror of aerial destruction of their cultural centers and systematic underdevelopment of their means of production.”

The movement to boycott the festival falls in line with the overall stance of the PARP movement, which rejects any form of normalization with Israel.

As an attendee of the conference myself, I was able to read through all documents outlining the movement’s long-term visions and goals — including creating a Palestinian students network, labor union network, and networks for everything from Palestinian youth institutions and movements to popular committees and Palestinian Cultural Centers. This in addition to founding an institution that sponsors sports clubs; providing support financially for fishermen and farmers in the Gaza Strip; and establishing a foundation that deals with art, cinema, theater, and the fields of creativity and the arts. Even child care and kindergartens, as well as institutions for research and strategic studies, were mentioned. This is important to note, as it demonstrates the long-term scope that the movement has.

As a result of the discussions at the conference, Barakat says,

…we made a decision to establish two youth centers, one in Berlin and another in Athens; the reason we made that decision is that this is where the majority of newly arrived Palestinians in Europe are residing. In Athens in particular, the Palestinian youth in the thousands now are living in poverty, so we seek to organize our youths, our women, and our students; that’s our goal and we have a five-year plan to do this.”

I then asked what the relations between the Palestinian resistance parties were with the PARP movement, to which Khaled responded:

As far as the forces of the resistance — like Hamas, the PFLP, Islamic Jihad — the relationship is good and we hope that we can strengthen this relationship with the Palestinian resistance movement, because we consider ourselves an integral part of the resistance movement, not just on the Palestinian level but on the Arab level.”

The Masar Badil movement also states its intention to fight all imperialist forces, in addition to the reactionary Arab regimes and Israel — with members mentioning the Islamic Republic of Iran as being targeted by imperialist powers, and condemning the sanctions against the people of Iran, which they say comes regardless of any potential reservations from within the group regarding some Iranian policies. The movement sees itself as part of a camp that is confronting imperialism, Zionism and reactionary regimes in the Global South, and hence works with international groups, organizations, and movements in Africa, Europe, the Middle East, the Philippines, South America, and elsewhere.

The first demonstration that the group staged took place through the streets of Madrid and featured chants against the Palestinian Authority and in solidarity with Palestinian political prisoners, national liberation, and the likes of Ahmed Sa’adat, George Abdullah, and Ghassan Kanafani.

https://w.soundcloud.com/player/?visual=true&url=https%3A%2F%2Fapi.soundcloud.com%2Ftracks%2F221904575&show_artwork=true&maxheight=702&maxwidth=468

More on the topic

Ultimate Dog Whistle: World Misses Israel’s Hebrew-Language Incitement Against Palestinians

November 22nd, 2021

By Miko Peled

Source

Israeli State-sponsored terrorism and incitement against the Palestinians are not new. The intensity that we currently see, particularly since the uprising of May 2021, is a serious cause for concern. 

THE NAQAB — Zionist incitement against Palestinians is at an all-time high but you wouldn’t know it by reading the international press because it is all done in Hebrew. The violent, racist-supremacist discourse that takes place in the Israeli media and among Israeli politicians is also done in Hebrew and so it gets little or no attention. And so, as the world remains comfortably numb, the Zionist apartheid state is wiping Palestine — or what remains of it — off the face of the earth. The intent is to push Palestinians out of their homes, to take their land, to erase their history, and eventually, to come to the moment Israelis have all been waiting for: the final, glorious destruction of Al-Aqsa and the building of a so-called third Jewish temple in its place.

Wadi Ara

Wadi Ara is a valley in Northern Palestine that connects the coastal plain to Marj Ibn Amr. In 1948, heavy fighting took place in the area and it was eventually occupied and became part of the State of Israel. While there were villages that were destroyed and subjected to ethnic cleansing, many Palestinians did remain steadfast and, to this day, the area is home to Palestinian towns and villages with a combined population of close to 120,000. This reality is one that Zionists, in general, find troubling.

From the outset, Israel has been obsessed with demographics, and particularly what they refer to as the “demographic threat,” wherein Palestinians outnumber Israelis. There have been many open discussions about how to deal with the large Palestinian population that still resides in this very strategic area of northern Palestine. Talk of transferring the people — with or without the land — outside of the state of Israel is not uncommon, and the term “Judaizing the Galilee,” which means boosting Israeli presence in the area so as to create a “Jewish majority,” is not uncommon either.

Wadi Ara Protest
Women protest against home demolitions on the road in Wadi Ara, April 5, 2008. Oren Ziv | Activestills

However, in a recent interview with the Israeli daily Ma’ariv, retiring Israeli Army General Yitzhak Turgeman took the incitement against the Palestinian citizens of Wadi Ara to a whole new level. He warned that in a future war, military convoys going north will have to avoid driving through Wadi Ara. This, he said, is one of the conclusions the Israeli top brass reached as a result of the Palestinian uprising that took place in May of 2021, in which all of Palestine resisted the Zionist oppression, the desecration of the Al-Aqsa mosque, and the brutal bombing of the Gaza Strip.

According to a piece in The Times of Israel, General Turgeman is quoted as saying,

What I’m really concerned about… is the impact of violent disturbances on internal security and movement of IDF’s transport convoys… It is a factor that I foresee as having significant potential to delay the ability to maneuver IDF troops.”

While it might seem encouraging to think that Palestinian citizens of Israel have the capacity to slow down the Israeli military, it is hard to believe that they possess such capabilities. Palestinian citizens of Israel — unarmed and suffering greatly under the brutality of the Israeli apartheid system — do not have the ability to slow down the movement of Israeli military convoys going towards Lebanon and Syria. The comments made in this interview are dangerous incitement, feeding into what Israelis already believe of the Palestinian citizens of Israel, even though there is no evidence to this claim: that the Palestinian citizens are, in fact, a fifth column and must be treated as such.

Jenin

A piece in the Hebrew news outlet Mako reports about an event that “raised serious concerns in Israeli military circles.” It was during the funeral of former Palestinian Minister for Prisoner Affairs Wasfi Qabha. According to the report, written in Hebrew, there was a large turnout of armed Hamas fighters during the procession. Qabha was a Hamas leader and, the report claims, this not only worried the Israeli military but also presented a serious problem for the Palestinian Authority.

“Armed members of Qassam Brigades were marching in the street during the procession,” the report states, and it continues, “This is not Gaza but Jenin,” which, the readers are reminded, is near the northern Israeli city of Afula. Jenin does in fact sit in the very northern boundary of the West Bank which means it is close to many Israeli settlements in 1948 Palestine.

Not unlike the incitement against the Palestinians of Wadi Ara, this should be seen as a call for Israeli action against the people of Jenin. Also according to the report, the Palestinian Authority sees this as a problem because “Hamas is the PA’s greatest enemy.” While a strong showing of support for Hamas presents a problem for the Fateh-led Palestinian Authority, the notion that the biggest threat to Palestinians is anything but Israel is absurd.

The Naqab

Hardly a day goes by that Israeli politicians and the Israeli media do not incite against the Palestinian Bedouin of the Naqab. They are portrayed as violent, armed gangs who take over “Jewish-owned” land or “state-owned” land, and as a community that presents a threat to the law-abiding good Jewish citizens of the Naqab, and there is a constant demand that the state use harsher, more punitive measures to control them.

As it is, over the last several years more than 2,000 homes were demolished per year in the Naqab alone. Some of Israel’s most affluent communities and highest standards of living can be found among the Israeli settlements and cities in the Naqab, while the Palestinian Bedouin live in abject poverty as they see their lands being taken and cultivated by their occupiers.

The Hebrew news outlet Walla reports from the occupied city of Bir El-Saba, known as the capital of the Naqab, about a recent outbreak of violence between two Bedouin clans. The Zionist mayor of the city used every codeword in the Hebrew language to call on the government to come down hard on the Palestinian Bedouin community. While the State of Israel ignores and even encourages violent crime within the communities of its Palestinian citizens, Israeli politicians ignore the pleas of the community to disarm the gangs but never miss an opportunity to blame the violence on the community itself.

House demolition Naqab
Israeli bulldozers demolish a house in a Bedouin village of Umm Al-Hiran, in the Naqab. Photo | Activestills

Mayor Ruvik Danilovitch said that, “the State has lost all control,” and that “the militias must be dismantled. He also referred to the Bedouin as terrorists, saying that, “the State needs to fight the internal terrorism.” He called on the government to make use of the Shabak, the Israeli secret police, which detains and tortures Palestinians regularly. It should be noted that Palestinians in the Naqab are already governed by a separate government agency over which they have no control and in which they have no say, while the Shabak regularly detains and tortures young activists from the Naqab.

Known as “The Israeli Agency for Bedouin Development,” the agency has its own policing unit called “Yoav,” which is a highly militarized, commando-like unit that is used primarily against the Bedouin community in the Naqab. The agency, and the Yoav units that are attached to it, are not the only ones working to make life impossible for the Palestinian community in the Naqab. The Israeli NGO Regavim conducts nationwide campaigns of smear and incitement against Palestinians in general and against the Palestinian Bedouin of the Naqab in particular.

The Israeli State-sponsored terrorism and incitement against the Palestinians are not new. The intensity that we currently see, particularly since the uprising of May 2021, is a serious cause for concern.

Raising Awareness of Israeli War Crimes, with Palestine Action

October 30th, 2021

By Lowkey

Source

“We’re not breaking the law; what we’re doing is actually rooted in law; it is a lawful act to do something to prevent the greater crime — to act to save lives.” — Huda Ammori, Palestine Action

Earlier this week, rapper Lowkey joined campaigners on the streets of Oldham as they protested at the Elbit Ferranti weapons factory located in the northern English town.

While the post-industrial town of 96,000 people might not seem like a likely flashpoint for the Israel-Palestine conflict, many of the weapons used against the civilian Palestinian population are actually manufactured there by the Israeli arms corporation.

In this interview, Lowkey speaks to the co-founders of Palestine Action, Huda Ammori and Richard Barnard, both of whom have been arrested for their anti-Apartheid activism. Ammori is a Palestinian-Iraqi whose father was chased from his home by Israeli soldiers in 1967. He was forced to flee to Iraq without even a pair of shoes.

The pair discussed what they were trying to achieve with their disruptive tactics and the legal basis for their actions. As Ammori told Lowkey:

People often think when we do these things that we are doing it to defy the law or breaking the law in the process. But we would always say that we’re not breaking the law; what we’re doing is actually rooted in law; it is a lawful act to do something to prevent the greater crime — to act to save lives.

In 2006, at the height of the Israeli invasion of Lebanon, nine activists in Northern Ireland forced their way into the offices of Raytheon, a major arms manufacturer. Once inside, they destroyed everything they could, from servers to computers to documents. At their trial two years later, they were found not guilty by a court, the decision spurring Raytheon to close down operations in the United Kingdom.

A similar protest was carried out in 2009 at the factory of Israeli weapons company EDO in Brighton in the south of England. The plant was a key site for the manufacturing of components for Israeli jets that were pounding Gaza at the time. Once again, the courts cleared the protesters of any serious wrongdoing.

Palestine Action hopes that their actions will have a similar effect, and ultimately force British manufacturing to divest from Israeli war crimes.

While much has been made about the unshakeable U.S. support for Israel, the United Kingdom has been receiving much less negative attention. The British military has designated Israel as a “strategic partner” and has sold the country over half a billion dollars worth of arms since 2015. U.K. forces also help train the Israeli Defense Forces (IDF), with a small number of British soldiers stationed inside the country as well.

After the Israeli bombardment of Gaza in the summer — an action that left more than 250 dead — then-Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu personally thanked his British counterpart Boris Johnson for his “unwavering” support for his state’s actions.

Here, Johnson’s government is at odds with the British public, only around 10% of whom, when polled, say their sympathies lie more with Israel than with Palestine. There is widespread anger at Israeli atrocities. Yet this has not been mobilized into much in the way of direct consequences. Palestine Action hopes to change this.

Israel to Attack Iran? Washington Gives the Green Light to the ‘Military Option’

October 28, 2021

See the source image

By Philip Giraldi

Source

The U.S. will be seen as endorsing the crime, resulting in yet another foreign policy disaster in the Middle East, Philip Giraldi writes.

Some might recall candidate Joe Biden’s pledge to work to rejoin the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA) which was a multilateral agreement intended to limit Iran’s ability to develop a nuclear weapon. The JCPOA was signed by President Barack Obama in 2015, when Biden was Vice President, and was considered one of the only foreign policy successes of his eight years in office. Other signatories to it were Britain, China, Germany, France, and Russia and it was endorsed by the United Nations. The agreement included unannounced inspections of Iranian nuclear facilities by the IAEA and, by all accounts, it was working and was a non-proliferation success story. In return for its cooperation Iran was to receive its considerable assets frozen in banks in the United States and was also to be relieved of the sanctions that had been placed on it by Washington and other governments.

The JCPOA crashed and burned in 2018 when President Donald Trump ordered U.S. withdrawal from the agreement, claiming that Iran was cheating and would surely move to develop a nuclear weapon as soon as the first phase of the agreement was completed. Trump, whose ignorance on Iran and other international issues was profound, had surrounded himself with a totally Zionist foreign policy team, including members of his own family, and had bought fully into the arguments being made by Israel as well as by Israel Lobby predominantly Jewish groups to include the Foundation for Defense of Democracies (FDD) and the American Israel Public Affairs Committee (AIPAC). Trump’s time in office was spent pandering to Israel in every conceivable way, to include recognizing Jerusalem as the country’s capital, granting Israel the green light for creating and expanding illegal settlements on the West Bank and recognizing the occupied Syrian Golan Heights as part of Israel.

Given Trump’s record, most particularly the senseless and against-American-interests abandonment of JCPOA, it almost seemed a breath of fresh air to hear Biden’s fractured English as he committed his administration to doing what he could to rejoin the other countries who were still trying to make the agreement work. After Biden was actually elected, more or less, he and his Secretary of State Tony Blinken clarified what the U.S. would seek to do to “fix” the agreement by making it stronger in some key areas that had not been part of the original document.

Iran for its part insisted that the agreement did not need any additional caveats and should be a return to the status quo ante, particularly when Blinken and his team made clear that they were thinking of a ban on Iranian ballistic missile development as well as negotiations to end Tehran’s alleged “interference” in the politics of the region. The interference presumably referred to Iranian support of the Palestinians as well as its role in Syria and Yemen, all of which had earned the hostility of American “friends” Israel and Saudi Arabia.

Israel inevitably stirred the pot by sending a stream of senior officials, to include Foreign Minister Yair Lapid, Defense Minister Benny Gantz and Prime Minister Naftali Bennett to discuss “the Iranian threat” with Biden and his top officials. Lapid made clear that Israel “reserves the right to act at any given moment, in any way… We know there are moments when nations must use force to protect the world from evil.” And to be sure, Biden, like Trump, has also made his true sentiments clear by surrounding himself with Zionists. Blinken, Wendy Sherman and Victoria Nuland have filled the three top slots at State Department, all are Jewish and all strong on Israel. Nuland is a leading neocon. And pending is the appointment of Barbara Leaf, who has been nominated Assistant Secretary to head the State Department’s Near East region. She is currently the Ruth and Sid Lapidus Fellow at the Washington Institute for Near East Policy (WINEP), which is an AIPAC spin off and a major component in the Israel Lobby. That means that a member in good standing of the Israel Lobby would serve as the State Department official overseeing American policy in the Middle East.

At the Pentagon one finds a malleable General Mark Milley, always happy to meet his Israeli counterparts, and Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin, an affirmative action promotion who likewise has become adept at parroting the line “Israel has a right to defend itself.” And need one mention ardent self-declared Zionists at the top level of the Democratic Party, to include Biden himself, Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi, House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer and, of course, Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer?

So rejoining the JCPOA over Israel objections was a non-starter from the beginning and was probably only mooted to make Trump look bad. Indirect talks including both Iran and the U.S. technically have continued in Vienna, though they have been stalled since the end of June. Trita Parsi has recently learned that Iran sought to make a breakthrough for an agreement by seeking a White House commitment to stick with the plan as long as Biden remains in office. Biden and Blinken refused and Blinken has recently confirmed that a new deal is unlikely, saying “time is running out.”

And there have been some other new developments. Israeli officials have been warning for over twenty years that Iran is only one year away from having its own nukes and needs to be stopped, a claim that has begun to sound like a religious mantra repeated over and over, but now they are actually funding the armaments that will be needed to do the job. Israel Defense Force Chief of Staff Aviv Kohavi has repeatedly said the IDF is “accelerating” plans to strike Iran, and Israeli politicians to include former Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu have regularly been threatening to do whatever must be done to deal with the threat from the Islamic Republic. Israeli media is reporting that $1.5 billion has been allocated in the current and upcoming budget to buy the American bunker buster bombs that will be needed to destroy the Iranian reactor at Bushehr and its underground research facilities at Natanz.

In the wake of the news about the war funding, there have also been reports that the Israeli Air Force is engaging in what is being described as “intense” drills to simulate attacking Iranian nuclear facilities. After Israel obtains the 5000 pound bunker buster bombs, it will also need to procure bombers to drop the ordnance, and one suspects that the U.S. Congress will somehow come up with the necessary “military aid” to make that happen. Tony Blinken has also made clear that the Administration knows what Israel is planning and approves. He met with Israeli Foreign Minister Yair Lapid on October 13th and said if diplomacy with Iran fails, the U.S. will turn to “other options.” And yes, he followed that up with the venerable line that “Israel has the right to defend itself and we strongly support that proposition.”

Lapid confirmed that one of Blinken’s “options” was military action. “I would like to start by repeating what the Secretary of State just said.  Yes, other options are going to be on the table if diplomacy fails.  And by saying other options, I think everybody understands here … what is it that we mean.” It must be observed that in their discussion of Iran’s nuclear program, Lapid and Blinnken were endorsing an illegal and unprovoked attack to prevent Iran from acquiring a nuclear weapon that it is apparently not seeking, but which it will surely turn to as a consequence if only to defend itself in the future.

In short, U.S. foreign policy is yet again being held hostage by Israel. The White House position is clearly and absurdly that an Israeli attack on Iran, considered a war crime by most, is an act of self-defense. However it turns out, the U.S. will be seen as endorsing the crime and will inevitably be implicated in it, undoubtedly resulting in yet another foreign policy disaster in the Middle East with nothing but grief for the American people.  The simple truth is that Iran has neither threatened nor attacked Israel. Given that, there is nothing defensive about the actions Israel has already taken in sabotaging Iranian facilities and assassinating scientists, and there would be nothing defensive about direct military attacks either with or without U.S. assistance on Iranian soil. If Israel chooses to play the fool it is on them and their leaders. The United States does not have a horse in this race and should butt out, but one doubts if a White House and Congress, firmly controlled by Zionist forces, have either the wisdom or the courage to cut the tie that binds with the Jewish state.

The Sword and The Book: How Zionism Does Violence to the Jewish Tradition

October 27th, 2021

By Miko Peled

Source

Glorifying war and violence is, like Zionism itself, an anathema to the Jewish faith.


JERUSALEM —
 In his comprehensive treatise on the subject of Judaism vs. Zionism, Rabbi Yaakov Shapiro writes, “The Jewish lifestyle is incompatible with the sword.” Violence and war are frowned upon in Judaism, which is one of the reasons that traditional, orthodox Jews by and large distance themselves from, if not completely rejecting, Zionism. It also explains why young Ultra Orthodox men and women refuse to serve in the Israeli army, and in fact prefer to go to prison.

A notice in the Ultra Orthodox neighborhood of Me’a Sha’arim.

The violence and brutality with which the State of Israel has conducted itself since it was established shows that it is a state that has an insatiable appetite for war. Because Israel’s false claim of being the State of the Jewish People has been widely accepted, one may wrongly assume that the violence and racism that are so integral to Israel are somehow a reflection of Jewish people and the Jewish religion. This, however, could not be farther from the truth.

Rabbi Shapiro writes, “We never glorified war or warriors the way other nations did. The only people glorified by us are our Torah scholars.” And even though Jewish people do have sites that they consider holy, “never did the Jews commemorate as a national symbol the site of an historic battle,” nor do Jewish people commemorate battles or victories as holidays or event days of remembrance.

Hanukkah

One Jewish holiday that is misunderstood and completely misrepresented by the Zionists is Hanukkah. The Zionists claim that it is a celebration of a military victory of the Jews against their Greek oppressors. However, Rabbi Shairo says, this is a secular-Zionist interpretation of a religious holiday.

The holiday of Hanukkah is a celebration of a miracle in which the oil for the lamp to illuminate the temple in Jerusalem lasted longer than it naturally would have otherwise. In fact, Rabbi Shapiro tells us that even Maimonides, who is arguably the greatest Jewish scholar who ever lived, commented on this issue and stated that celebrating Hanukkah as a military victory would be contrary to the Torah “because the Torah celebrates peace above all else.”

To demonstrate how Hannukah has been misrepresented, Rabbi Shapiro quotes Zionist figures like the poet Chaim Nachman Bialik, author Leon Uris, and even Theodor Hertzl himself. They created and perpetuated the myth that the Macabees fought for national rights and self determination. This, according to Rabbi Shapiro, “is a violent, Zionist interpretation.” “The war in the story of Hanukkah isn’t even mentioned in the Talmud,” Rabbi Shapiro stressed when I asked him about this.

Rabbi Shapiro quotes Rabbi Shimon Shwab (1908-95), a German anti-Zionist rabbi who served as Chief Rabbi of the Washington Heights Jews. Regarding Hanukkah, he said, “The Maccabees didn’t fight for the Jews, they fought for the Torah; they would give their lives to stay Jewish. To show that they’d rather die than not be able to worship.” Rabbi Shwab further said, “Beis ha mikdash [the Temple] is not worth a life. We didn’t go to war because of it but because they tried to make us not Jewish.”

The Sword and the Book

The concept of the Book vs. the Sword is central to Judaism. Judaism is a religion that demands of its followers that they observe the book and not the sword. This goes back as far as the Book of Genesis, where the Patriarch Yitzhak has two sons, the twins Ya’akov and Esav. Each one of his sons represents one of these two qualities. Ya’akov, who inherits from his father and becomes the third patriarch, represents the scholar who is faithful to the Torah. The second son, Esav, represents the warrior. The Torah speaks about “the voice of Ya’akov and the hands of Esav.” Later on in Jewish history these terms were known as safra, which is Aramaic for the word “book,” and saifa, which is Aramaic for the word “sword.” The two are incompatible and will forever be at odds with each other.

To further illustrate this case, Rabbi Shapiro brings a story from the Gemara, one of several elements that make up the Talmud, which is the body of work that constitutes Jewish life, law and learning. In this story, Eleazar ben Perata was a rabbi who lived in Palestine during the second century CE, when the country was ruled by the Romans. The Romans, who according to the story made it illegal to study the Torah, accused him of armed robbery and of studying the Torah. When brought before the judge he claimed, “I can be guilty of either safra (studying the book, or the Torah) or saifa (holding a sword) but not both.”

Resistance to the Zionist warrior mentality

The resistance to Zionism by Torah Jews is largely due to the warrior version of a Jew that the Zionists invented. The early Zionists, and to a large degree Zionists today, despise traditional, ultra-orthodox Jews. Zionism as a movement wanted to put an end to the existence of what they termed “the diaspora Jews,” who were characterized by their devotion to their faith and to the study of the Torah. To this end, the Zionists invented a “new Jew,” which according to Rabbi Shapiro is an “antithesis to Judaism.”

A banner in the main street in the Me’a Sha’arim neighborhood in Jerusalem.

Jews esteem the Torah scholar above all else, while the Zionist “new-Jew” considers the warrior as the epitome of Jewish existence. Young Ultra Orthodox children learn about the lives and teachings of great Rabbis and Torah scholars, while young Israeli children in Zionist schools learn about generals and politicians, many who have a history of war crimes. This is precisely why devoted religious Jews do not allow their children to go to Zionist schools, or for that matter to serve in the Zionist army.

What is perhaps one of the most profound and revealing passages with respect to how Judaism views war and the warrior is the following quote. It is from a book of commentaries by the late Rabbi Samson Raphael Hirsch, a highly regarded scholar and an Orthodox rabbi who lived in Germany in the nineteenth century:

As long as the annals of humanity attach glory to the heroes of the sword; as long as those that throttle and murder the happiness of mankind are not buried in oblivion, subsequent generations will look with admiration upon those infamous strongmen, and their memory will awaken the desire to emulate them in acts of violence and glory. 

A book of commentaries by the late Rabbi Samson Raphael Hirsch.

Throughout its short and violent history, Israel has glorified violence and the perpetrators of violence above all else. Every other street in the cities that the Zionists built, and even the one they occupied, carries the name of an Israeli Army general, military unit, or Zionist politician.

However, as we have established here, glorifying war and violence is, like Zionism itself, an anathema to the Jewish faith.

From Glorious Millennia to Death and Destruction: Zionists Rewrite Palestine’s Story

September 20th, 2021

Palestanian Bedouins
The Zionist narrative is arguably responsible for the welcoming and forgiving attitude the entire world has towards the horrendous, unforgivable crimes committed by Israel since its founding in 1948.

By Miko Peled

Source

PALESTINE — As these words were being written, the final two Palestinian freedom prisoners who escaped from Gilboa Prison were caught by the Israeli authorities. Palestine is still reacting to this courageous escape and the consequent re-capture of the six political prisoners who escaped and defied the entire Israeli security apparatus. However, even though they managed to free themselves from this high-security prison, they found a world that doesn’t care. The rest of the world did not step up to save these brave men and did not provide them with sanctuary, and so they were caught.

One of the great tragedies of Palestine is that almost every day there is a commemoration of one massacre or another, the death of a child or destruction of a home or village, leading one to think that the Palestinian narrative is one of death and destruction, which is what Israel wants people to think. But the truth is that this is not the case. The Palestinian narrative is one of a glorious history with periods of great sadness and tragedy. It is the Zionist story that is full of killing, stealing and destruction and not, as they try to sell it, one of creation and growth.

September 16, 2021, marked 39 years since the massacres at Sabra and Shatila refugee camps in Lebanon. As people remember and mourn the thousands of unarmed civilians who were butchered and the countless who survived suffering terrible injuries and emotional scars, we must also remember the man that stood behind this bloodbath.

This was a man whose complicity even the Israeli authorities could not ignore, the former general and renowned war criminal Ariel Sharon. And although he was momentarily penalized and banished from politics, he very quickly returned, and for a quarter of a century, he was the most powerful and influential man in Israeli politics.

Narratives

At the end of the day, it is all about the narrative, and we know all too well that Israel has done an outstanding job of erasing the Palestinian narrative and injecting its own mythical, false narrative in its place. In the media, in movies, in literature, in public education, and in politics the false Zionist narrative rules supreme and we who oppose racism and violence are faced with an enormous task as we engage in the work of reversing the narrative – a task without which it is hard to imagine Palestine ever becoming free.

Over the last 100 years, the Zionist movement managed to take the truly incredible history of Palestine and turn it into a historical footnote, replacing it with a mythical story that relies heavily on a Protestant-Zionist, literal reading of the Old Testament, which allowed them to create what is known as “return history.” In other words, the Zionist version of the history of Palestine creates the impression that the Jews returned to their ancient homeland after 2,000 years, making it an unprecedented historical event that overshadows anything else that occurred in Palestine over that bimillennial span.

The Zionist narrative is designed to turn the ancient history of Palestine into a small, unimportant story that cannot be compared with the grandeur of the narrative that is presented by the Old Testament. This is highlighted when Israeli politicians like the current prime minister, Naftali Bennett, refer to the Bible as the source of legitimacy for Israel.

A four thousand-year history

Thanks to the historian Nur Masalha, we now know that the name Palestine goes back close to 4,000 years. We know that the name Palestine was used in Egyptian sources going back to the Bronze Age, more than 1,000 BCE. Later, the name was used by the Assyrians in inscriptions from that era. The Greek historian Herodotus, who lived in the 5th century BCE and who is considered to be the father of history as we know it, visited the country and referred to it as Palestine. The Greek scientist and philosopher Aristotle also refers to Palestine by name in his writings.

The cities of Lyd, Ramle, and Yaffa all had remarkable histories, as did the cities of Akka, Haifa, and, of course, Nablus, Gaza, and Al-Quds-Jerusalem. Throughout the Muslim rule of Palestine, cities grew, cultures flourished, economic conditions and trade with Europe allowed people to prosper. Dhaher Al-Umar, who ruled over large parts of Palestine during the 18th century, is seen as the founding father of Palestinian modernity and, according to Nur Maslaha, he was the most influential figure in the modern orientation of Palestine towards the Mediterranean. During his reign in Palestine, there were agricultural and technical innovations introduced that “benefited the majority of Palestinian peasantry.” Thanks to Dhaher Al-Umar, there was considerable growth in the export of cotton, olive oil, wheat and soap.

der Arab-Islamic rule, the town, which sits just southwest of the city of Bi’r Al-Saba, was a major urban center.

According to Mansur Nasasra, the Palestinian Bedouin in the Naqab had a very profitable export of barley to England for the production of beer. Aerial photos from the early British occupation of Palestine also show large tracts of cultivated land in the Naqab. These lands are now mostly depopulated and the Palestinian Bedouin in the Naqab are prohibited from cultivating their ancestral lands. All of this stands in the face of Zionist claims that they came to a barren land and made it bloom.

The Zionist narrative is arguably responsible for the welcoming and forgiving attitude the entire world has towards the horrendous, unforgivable crimes committed by Israel since its founding in 1948. In order to prevent the next massacre by Israel, a state that seems to have an insatiable thirst for Palestinian blood, we have to reverse the narrative and delegitimize Zionism.

Israel’s airstrikes in Syria are not newsworthy for Western media, as a result status quo continues & civilians suffer — In Gaza

moi

-by Eva K Bartlett

Israel again illegally bombed Syria last week, violating Lebanese airspace to do so and putting at risk the lives of untold numbers of civilians. And following this, crickets in the media, again.

On Thursday, just after 11pm, Israeli missiles targeted the vicinities of Damascus and Homs, according to a statement from the Syrian army. Russia’s Reconciliation Center for Syria said Israel did so via six planes which fired 24 guided missiles at Syria.

In its attack on Syria, Israeli missiles put two passenger airplanes in Syrian and in Lebanese airspace at risk, particularly the 130 civilians and flight crew on a Middle East Airlines flight coming from Abu Dhabi to Beirut. Flight trackers show the plane abruptly changed course to avoid being targeted.

Flashback to 2018, when Israel attacked Syria using the cover of a Russian plane – whose presence was legal in Syria, having been invited by the Syrian government, contrary to the invading Israeli plane. Syrian air defense missiles responded to the threat, downing the Russian plane.

Just last month, Israel attacked Syria on multiple occasions, including during Eid al-Adha, one of the holiest times for Muslims.

The reality is that Israel’s bombings of Syria are so routine that this latest attack is hardly ‘news’ and it is hard to make it newsworthy to write about. I’ve written about such attacks before, including noting (February 2021): “Israel’s military chief of staff boasted earlier about hitting over 500 targets in just 2020 alone.

But each attack is, in my opinion, newsworthy, because each of them affects, if not kills, civilians.

Surely, it would be newsworthy if the routine bombings of a neighboring sovereign country were committed by, say, Russia or China. The entirety of Western media and all of the internet would be livid and demanding accountability.

Israel’s pretext when bombing Syria is usually that it is, “targeting Iranian-backed fighters,” a charge gleefully reprinted in media and by sources supporting the fall of the Syrian government.

The psychological terror

British journalist Vanessa Beeley, who lives in a heavily populated suburb on the outskirts of Damascus, tweeted of feeling the impacts of the bombings.

Now imagine all of the people in the vicinity feeling that impact, not knowing if that night they would finally be struck. That’s the thing we don’t hear much of if these attacks even make any media coverage: how they impact on civilians, even those not directly injured but terrorized by them.

I know very well of the terror of being near a site Israel has just bombed. And although I have many anecdotes from my three years of living in Gaza, one rather poignant incident involved me sleeplessly musing on the rooftop of the simple central Gazan home I lived in on a hot August 2011 night. I wrote:

I am watching sporadic shooting stars when the first F-16 appeared from the direction of the sea. Three more follow. The roar is normal, F-16s are normal, and reading in the news the next day that some part of Gaza was bombed is normal. They continue eastward and a bombing seems imminent. It is. A thick cloud of black smoke blots the dim lights of houses in eastern Deir al Balah where the F-16s have struck.”

I went on to write about the planes attacking the city of Khan Younis to the south, and suddenly, bombing close to me.

Two massive blasts, the house shakes. They’ve bombed somewhere near the sea, which is only a few hundred meters away. Concrete dust flutters down upon us. There is a sustained honking in Gaza that everyone recognizes as make way, we’ve got another victim here.”

And, if I may dwell on this one simple anecdote, I remarked on how the men in the house tried to appear calm and cool but, while we were all accustomed to such random bombings and either put on a brave face or genuinely stop flinching, they do still affect you deeply.

“Every time one of those f***ing F-16s flies over us, it’s a reminder of the last war, or of previous attacks, or of random bombings, or of friends and family martyred in their sleep, cars, homes… Every time those F-16s intentionally break the sound barrier to create a bomb-like sonic boom, everyone within range instinctively remembers their own personal horror at whichever Israeli war or attacks.”

I have more terrifying, all night long bombing memories, with massive bombs landing nearby, including just tens of meters away. Those were during the 2008/9 war on Gaza. With the above account, I want to emphasize how these terrors occur on any random day, but will never be heard of in the media.

But it isn’t just the already bad enough bombings. The psychological terror aspect includes the near-continuous presence of drones overhead.

After Israel’s latest bombing of Syria, I spoke with Lebanese journalist Marwa Osman. She emphasized how Israel’s violation of Lebanese airspace is an almost daily occurrence.

All day, you can hear them [Israeli drones]. It causes a nervous breakdown for any human to keep listening to this all day. I can’t even imagine what they feel in Gaza when they have them all the time overhead.”

If you haven’t ever been under one, much less tens, of military drones, you won’t know how deeply disturbing hearing them is. It is hard to concentrate with such an ominous cacophony constantly overhead.

When in early August, in what the Israel army claimed was a “retaliation” attack, Israel fired artillery shells at the Khiam region of southern Lebanon, Osman was at her home less than one kilometer from the bombings. She spoke of the terror of her children. “I found one of them hiding under the sink, I found two of them hiding in my bedroom near the closet because they thought this was the safest place to be.

Limited condemnations, but continued status quo?

Lebanon’s minister of defense condemned Israel’s recent attack and has, “called on the UN to deter Israel from carrying out airstrikes on Syria using Lebanese airspace.” Russia and Iran have on more than one occasion condemned the attacks, rightly noting they violate international law and Syria’s sovereignty. And of course the Syrian government condemns such attacks every time they occur.

But in spite of this, the condemnations get limited notice and the status quo continues. In a day or two, or a week or month, there will be another such Israeli attack that will, again, be deemed not newsworthy.

RELATED LINKS:

Israel violates international law anew, again bombing Syria…to further indifference of Western media

stars and bombs: random israeli bombing a few hundred metres from home

dangerous nights in Jabaliya and throughout Gaza

wreckage trail from Jabaliya to Gaza

The Quiet Rebellion: Why US Jews Turning against Israel is Good for Palestinians

JVP Feature photo

August 18th, 2021

By Ramzy Baroud

Source

Israel is now at a crossroads. It can only win back the support of US Jews if it abandons Zionism altogether, or abandon them in favor of complete reliance on the Evangelicals. In fact, some top Israeli officials are already advocating the latter. 

Aunique but critical conversation on Israel and Palestine is taking place outside the traditional discourse of Israeli colonialism and the Palestinian quest for liberation. It is an awkward and difficult – but overdue – discussion concerning American Jews’ relation to Israel and their commitment to its Zionist ideology.

For many years, Israel has conveniently dubbed Jews who do not support Israel, or worse, advocate Palestinian freedom, as ‘self-hating Jews’. This term, designated to describe dissident anti-Zionist Jews, is similar to the accusation of ‘antisemitism’ made against non-Jews, which includes Semitic Arabs, for daring to criticize Israel. This approach, however, is no longer as effective as it once was.

Recent years have unequivocally demonstrated that there is a quiet anti-Israel rebellion within the American Jewish community. This rebellion has been brewing for long, but only fairly recently did numbers begin reflecting the rise of a new phenomenon where US Jews, especially younger generations, are openly dissenting from the typical Jewish conformity on Israel and supposedly undying love for Zionism.

In the last decade or so, this new reality has sounded the alarm within various Zionist institutions, whether in the US or in Israel itself.

Several opinion polls and surveys are all pointing to an inescapable conclusion that the emotional and political rapport between Israel and US Jews is rapidly weakening. A poll published by the Laszlo Strategies for Jerusalem U in August 2013, for example, concluded that 87 percent of American Jews over the age of 50 strongly agreed that “caring about Israel is a very important part of my being Jewish,” while only 66% of young Jews between the ages of 18 to 29 felt the same.

Other polls reached similar conclusions, where the number of young Jews strongly supportive of Israel continues to decline. A particularly telling and important survey was that of the American Jewish Committee in June 2018. That was the time when the US-Israeli alliance reached its zenith under the administrations of Donald Trump and Benjamin Netanyahu. Though 77 percent of all Israelis approved of the US government’s handling of US-Israeli relations, only 34 percent of American Jews did. In fact, 57 percent of US Jews outright disapproved of Trump’s policies, which practically granted Israel all of its demands and wishes.

The downward trajectory continued unabated. A May 2021 Pew research indicated that one in five US Jews believes that the US is “too supportive of Israel”. Those who hold such a belief, 22 percent of the US Jewish population, have doubled in number since an earlier poll released in 2013.

Pew Jew poll

Data gathering for the above poll, though released during the deadly Israeli onslaught on Gaza (May 10-21), was, in fact, conducted in 2019 and 2020. The numbers of unsupportive US Jews must have risen since then, as if there is a clear correlation between Israeli wars resulting in massive civilian casualties, and the ongoing split between US Jews and Israel.

Libby Lenkinski, Vice President for public engagement at the New Israel Fund, told Rolling Stone magazine that she sees a “noticeable shift in American perception” on Palestine and Israel since the deadly Israeli war on Gaza in 2014, a war that killed over 2,200 Palestinians. For Lenkinski, US Jewish perception should follow an ethical paradigm. “It’s a moral issue. It’s right or wrong,” she said.

Similar sentiments emerged after the May 2021 war, where over 260 Palestinians were killed. In a recent article, American Jewish writer, Marisa Kabas, explains the dilemma felt by many in the US Jewish community regarding Israel. “Because the conflict has so often been boiled down to a binary – you either support Israel or you support its destruction – for many of us it felt like a betrayal to even consider the other side.”  Because of the likes of Kabas and Lenkinski and numerous others, the ‘other side’ is finally visible, resulting in the obvious shift in American Jewish perception of and relations to Israel.

While more space for dissenting US Jews is opening up, the discussion in Israel remains confined and is hardly concerned with ethics and morality.

Recently, the understanding that Israel is losing the support of US Jews has been accepted by the country’s main political parties, with disagreement largely focused on who is to blame for this seismic shift. Netanyahu was often held responsible for making Israel a partisan American political issue through his alliance with Trump and the Republican Party, at the expense of Israel’s relation with the Democrats.

However, the Netanyahu-Trump love affair was not as uncomplicated as Netanyahu’s critics would like to believe. Indeed, the idea of Israel has changed in American society. The notion that Israel is a supposedly vulnerable little state, facing existential threats by Arab enemies, which flourished in the past, has become almost entirely irrelevant. The new concept of Israel, which is Tel Aviv’s main selling point in America, is that of a biblical Israel, a place of prophecies and spiritual salvation, which appeals mostly to right-wing Evangelical Christian groups. Young US Jews, many of whom support the Black Lives Matter and even the Palestinian boycott movements, have little in common with Israel’s zealot American backers.

Israel is now at a crossroads. It can only win back the support of US Jews if it behaves in such a way that is consistent with their moral frame of reference. Hence, it would have to end its military occupation, dismantle its apartheid regime and reverse its racist laws. Specifically, abandon Zionism altogether, or abandon US Jews in favor of complete reliance on the Evangelicals. In fact, some top Israeli officials are already advocating the latter.

On May 9, former Israeli ambassador to the US, Ron Dermer, argued that, since Evangelical Christians are the “backbone of Israel’s support in the United States”, Israel should prioritize their “passionate and unequivocal” backing of Israel over American Jews who are “disproportionately among our critics.”

If Israel officially opts for this choice, perhaps with no other viable option, then a breakdown between Israel and US Jews becomes inevitable. As far as justice and freedom for the Palestinian people are concerned, that would be a good thing.

Suheila’s Story: The Two-Year Quest to Reclaim and Bury Her Martyred Brother’s Body

July 27th, 2021

By Miko Peled

Source

Ali Taha Sabena Feature photo
“You must keep out of our ranks all who do not belong to them, all mercenaries and skeptics, all who join the revolution for private gain.” — From the Will of Palestinian revolutionary Ali Taha

JERUSALEM — Suheila took out the gold, heart-shaped medallion she wears and showed me the images engraved on it — one side has an image of her son, Adnan, as a young man and the other side has an image of her brother, Ali. Ali was killed in 1972 during a hijacking operation; he was 34 years old. Following his death, Suheila worked tirelessly for two years before the Israeli authorities agreed to hand over his body so that she could give him a proper burial. Last night, in a neighborhood in East Jerusalem, she told me the entire story.

It was May 8, 1972, when four Palestinian fighters from the Black September resistance organization hijacked Sabena Belgian airline Flight 571 on its way to Tel Aviv. Suhaila’s brother, Ali Taha, was the commander of the team. The purpose of the operation was to demand the release of several hundred Palestinian prisoners held in Israeli jails. Ali had participated in a similar operation several years earlier. In July 1968, an Israeli airliner was hijacked and made to land in Algeria. The operation succeeded, Israel released two dozen prisoners, and the passengers and crew of the plane were safely released.

This time the Sabena airliner was on the tarmac less than 24 hours when Israeli commandos dressed in white overalls and pretending to be mechanics stormed the plane. They killed Ali and his deputy, Abdel Aziz Atrash, and arrested the two female members of the team, Theresa Halasa, and Rima Tanous. The two women were later released in a prisoner exchange between Israel and the PLO. The Israeli commandos firing inside the plane also caused the death of two of the passengers and slightly wounded two of the commando officers, one of whom was Benjamin Netanyahu.

Ali Taha left behind three young daughters and a young wife, Fathiya, who was expecting their fourth child. The eldest daughter, Raeda, wrote a play about her life growing up as a child of a Palestinian martyr, a Shahid called “Looking for Ali.” According to a piece in The New York Times, “Ms. Taha’s show has drawn large crowds and critical acclaim.” Before she introduced me to her aunt, Suheila, Ms. Taha was kind enough to send me the script to read, and it is truly remarkable.

Having seen the Palestinian resistance in all of its shades, Raeda Taha is brutally honest, and she remains loyal to the last will and testament that her father left. In a segment from his will that Raeda included in the play, Ali Taha writes:

There is a charge or trust we ask of you, one that every honest revolutionary aspires to, a trust to be fulfilled as a national duty irrespective of sacrifice: you must keep out of our ranks all who do not belong to them, all mercenaries and skeptics, all who join the revolution for private gain. Their number is doubtless very large and they are the greatest danger to us because they have no sense of decency or honor. Their only aim is to gratify their personal pleasures.”

A Necropolis

After Ali and Abdel Aziz were killed, a funeral was held for them in Beirut. “As I walked in the procession, I heard people comment that the coffins were empty,” Raeda told me. The seven-year-old Raeda heard this and she was confused. If the coffins were empty then where is her father’s body?

The first time I learned that Israeli authorities keep the bodies of Palestinians killed in action, I was in Ramallah with my friend Jamal, himself a former prisoner. We were driving through the city when we noticed a procession of cars honking and covered with Palestinian flags. Jamal stopped the car and said it looked like a procession for a prisoner that was released, only he was not aware of any releases taking place that day. He went to inquire and when he came back he told me something that I can still not get over, to this day: The Israeli authorities had just released the body of a Palestinian who was killed 20 years earlier. They held the body for 20 years and were only then releasing it to the family for burial.

Another shocking revelation was when I saw one of the sites where Israel keeps the bodies of Palestinians. During a visit to Kibbutz Zikim, which is a kibbutz on the southern Mediterranean coast just a few miles north of Gaza, I walked by the local cemetery. Not far from the cemetery but not inside it, I could see what looked like unmarked graves each with a number written on a piece of wood. When I asked what it was, I was told by a resident of the kibbutz that the army leased the land just by the cemetery to bury bodies of slain Palestinians. I am told that in some cases the bodies are kept refrigerated at various other locations throughout the country.

Give me my brother

Suheila could not let the body of her brother remain in a cold, dark box. She was determined to bring him home and give him a proper burial. She had written to everyone from the mayor of Hebron, where Ali Taha was born, to the Israeli prime minister, who at the time was Golda Meir. When letters did not help, she visited their offices. “I was passed around like a ball in a soccer match,” she told me.

Each person she approached passed her to another. The minister for religious affairs, the minister of defense, the local municipality, over and over again. “I have a file of documents this thick,” she said, demonstrating with her hands just how thick it is. “It was all for nothing until I went to see attorney Felicia Langer; she was wonderful, like a sister to me”

Langer was an attorney, a holocaust survivor, who dedicated her life to representing and defending Palestinians in the Israeli legal system, which was and still is dedicated to denying their legal rights. In an obituary to Ms. Langer, Gideon Levi wrote in Haaretz newspaper:

What did this brave and courageous woman fight against? Against torture by the Shin Bet security service at a time when we didn’t believe that such torture existed, yet it was at the peak of its cruelty. She fought against the expulsion of political activists, against false arrests, against home demolitions. Above all, she fought for the enforcement of international law from which Israel decided to except itself on unbelievable grounds. That’s what she fought and that is why she was considered a public enemy.”

Each day for over two years Suheila walked up the steep hill from her home in Silwan — also known as Wadi Hilwe — which is a steep valley just outside the Old City of Jerusalem. She visited every newspaper office and every official until one day she finally got a break. She heard on the radio that U.S. Secretary of State Henry Kissinger was in Jerusalem. “I asked the people at one of the newspapers to write a nice letter for me in English.” She then went to the King David Hotel, where all foreign dignitaries stay when they visit the country.

“When I arrived I said, ‘I want to see Kissinger,’” she told me, but she was told that “he does not meet with Arab women.” “Why not?” she asked. Eventually, she spotted Dr. Kissinger, walked up to him, and handed him a letter. “The next day early in the morning, my older brother came knocking at my door, asking where I’d been and what I had done. I told him I gave a letter to Kissinger.” Her brother had a notice from the U.S. consulate that she would be receiving the body of her brother, Ali Taha, and that she must go to the Israeli military headquarters in Beit-El to finalize the arrangements.

On August 5, 1974, after more than two years, Suheila was finally able to bring her brother home. “I demanded to open the coffin and see him. Then I covered his body with the flag of Palestine. Now his daughters have a place where they can visit their father.”

Iran Behind Strike on Israeli-Managed Tanker?

This image has an empty alt attribute; its file name is StephenLindmanBW.png

By Stephen Lendman

Source

On July 30, Israeli-owned Zodiac Maritime said an attack on the Liberian-flagged Japanese-owned Mercer Street tanker it manages killed two crew members onboard.

The incident occurred in the Arabian Sea off the coast of Oman.

According to Tehran-based Al-Alam News, attacking the Mercer Street was in response to Israeli aggression on Syria’s Dabaa airport that killed two resistance fighters.

On Friday, Zodiak Maritime said the following:

“Details of the incident are still being established and an investigation into the incident is currently underway.” 

“We continue to work closely with the UKMTO (United Kingdom Maritime Trade Operations) and other relevant authorities.”

Calling the incident “suspected piracy (sic),” the company said it’s “not aware of harm to any other” crew members.

According to Refinitiv ship tracking, the Israeli-managed tanker was en route to the UAE port city of Fujairah from Tanzania.

It continues to an unnamed location with a US naval escort.

Press TV said the attack came “against a backdrop of the Israeli regime’s various assaults on cargo ships across the Persian Gulf region and elsewhere.”

A statement by Britain’s war ministry said it’s “aware of reports of an attack on a merchant vessel off the coast of Oman.” 

“UK military headquarters in the region are currently conducting investigations.”

Israel’s Ynet News quoted an unnamed Bennett regime official vowing a tough response.

An unnamed Biden regime official called the incident an attack by more than one drone — with no further elaboration.

A report by Dryad Global maritime intelligence said drones in the area were spotted before the attack.

In early June, Iran’s Kharg, its largest warship, mysteriously caught fire and sank in the Gulf of Oman near the Hormuz Strait.

At the time, Iranian media reported that crew members on board were rescued, dozens injured from the incident.

Around the same time, a large-scale fire occurred at Iran’s Tondgooyan Petrochemical Company.

In April, Israel was believed behind an attack on Iran’s MV Saviz commercial vessel in the Red Sea.

Ahead of the incident, an unnamed Biden regime official said Israel informed the US of a planned attack on the vessel. 

These and other incidents in recent years heightened tensions between Iran, the US, and Israel.

On August 1, interventionist Blinken and his counterpart Yair Lapid discussed a joint Biden/Bennett regime response to the July 30 incident against The Mercer tanker — according to State Department mouthpiece Price.

The incident comes against the backdrop of Iranian Foreign Minister Zarif’s sharp rebuke of the US and E3 for pressuring, bullying, and blackmailing Iran to accept unacceptable JCPOA changes.

Regional tensions remain heightened at a time of nuclear deadlock.

What Biden regime envoy for Iran Robert Malley falsely called its “unrealistic demands” suggests that the US and E3 intend abandoning the JCPOA if Iran won’t accept what’s unacceptable.

That’s where things appear to be heading.

Years of negotiations for JCPOA agreement in 2015 proved once again that diplomatic outreach to the US-dominated West assures failure even when deals are made.

Meet Toka, the Most Dangerous Israeli Spyware Firm You’ve Never Heard Of

By Whitney Webb

Source

The mainstream media’s myopic focus on Israel’s Pegasus spyware and the threats it poses means that other companies, like Toka, go uninvestigated,  even when their products present an even greater potential for abuse and illegal surveillance.

LONDON – This past Sunday, an investigation into the global abuse of spyware developed by veterans of Israeli intelligence Unit 8200 gained widespread attention, as it was revealed that the software – sold to democratic and authoritarian governments alike – had been used to illegally spy on an estimated 50,000 individuals. Among those who had their communications and devices spied on by the software, known as Pegasus, were journalists, human rights activists, business executives, academics and prominent political leaders. Among those targeted political leaders, per reports, were the current leaders of France, Pakistan, South Africa, Egypt, Morocco and Iraq.

The abuse of Pegasus software in this very way has been known for several years, though these latest revelations appear to have gained such traction in the mainstream owing to the high number of civilians who have reportedly been surveilled through its use. The continuation of the now-years-long scandal surrounding the abuse of Pegasus has also brought considerable controversy and notoriety to the Israeli company that developed it, the NSO Group.

While the NSO Group has become infamous, other Israeli companies with even deeper ties to Israel’s intelligence apparatus have been selling software that not only provides the exact same services to governments and intelligence agencies but purports to go even farther.

Originally founded by former Israeli Prime Minister and Jeffrey Epstein associate Ehud Barak, one of these companies’ wares are being used by countries around the world, including in developing countries with the direct facilitation of global financial institutions like the Inter-American Development Bank (IDB) and the World Bank. In addition, the software is only made available to governments that are “trusted” by Israel’s government, which “works closely” with the company.

Despite the fact that this firm has been around since 2018 and was covered in detail by this author for MintPress News in January 2020, no mainstream outlet – including those that have extensively covered the NSO Group – has bothered to examine the implications of this story.

Worse than Pegasus

Toka was launched in 2018 with the explicit purpose of selling a “tailored ecosystem of cyber capabilities and software products for governmental, law enforcement, and security agencies.” According to a profile of the company published in Forbes shortly after it launched, Toka advertised itself as “a one-stop hacking shop for governments that require extra capability to fight terrorists and other threats to national security in the digital domain.”

Toka launched with plans to “provide spy tools for whatever device its clients require,” including not only smartphones but a “special focus on the so-called Internet of Things (IoT).” Per the company, this includes devices like Amazon Echo, Google Nest-connected home products, as well as connected fridges, thermostats and alarms. Exploits in these products discovered by Toka, the company said at the time, would not be disclosed to vendors, meaning those flaws would continue to remain vulnerable to any hacker, whether a client of Toka or not.

Today, Toka’s software suite claims to offer its customers in law enforcement, government and intelligence the ability to obtain “targeted intelligence” and to conduct “forensic investigations” as well as “covert operations.” In addition, Toka offers governments its “Cyber Designers” service, which provides “agencies with the full-spectrum strategies, customized projects and technologies needed to keep critical infrastructure, the digital landscape and government institutions secure and durable.”

Given that NSO’s Pegasus targets only smartphones, Toka’s hacking suite – which, like Pegasus, is also classified as a “lawful intercept” product – is capable of targeting any device connected to the internet, including but not limited to smartphones. In addition, its target clientele are the same as those of Pegasus, providing an easy opportunity for governments to gain access to even more surveillance capabilities than Pegasus offers, but without risking notoriety in the media, since Toka has long avoided the limelight.

Toka IoT
A slide from an April 20, 2021 presentation given by Toka’s VP of Global Sales, Michael Anderson

In addition, while Toka professes that its products are only used by “trusted” governments and agencies to combat “terrorism” and maintain order and public safety, the sales pitch for the NSO Group’s Pegasus is remarkably similar, and that sales pitch has not stopped its software from being used to target dissidents, politicians and journalists. It also allows many of the same groups who are Toka clients, like intelligence agencies, to use these tools for the purpose of obtaining blackmail. The use of blackmail by Israeli security agencies against civilian Palestinians to attempt to weaken Palestinian society and for political persecution is well-documented.

Toka has been described by market analysts as an “offensive security” company, though the company’s leadership rejects this characterization. Company co-founder and current CEO Yaron Rosen asserted that, as opposed to purely offensive, the company’s operations are “something in the middle,” which he classifies as bridging cyber defense and offensive cyber activities — e.g., hacking.

The company’s activities are concerning in light of the fact that Toka has been directly partnered with Israel’s Ministry of Defense and other Israeli intelligence and security agencies since its founding. The company “works closely” with these government agencies, according to an Israeli Ministry of Defense website. This collaboration, per Toka, is meant to “enhance” their products. Toka’s direct IDF links are in contrast to the NSO Group, a company that does not maintain overt ties with the Israeli security state.

Toka’s direct collaboration with Israel’s government is also made clear through its claim that it sells its products and offers its services only to “trusted” governments, law enforcement agencies and intelligence agencies. Toka’s Rosen has stated that Russia, China, and “other enemy countries” would never be customers of the company. In other words, only countries aligned with Israeli policy goals, particularly in occupied Palestine, are permitted to be customers and gain access to its trove of powerful hacking tools. This is consistent with Israeli government efforts to leverage Israel’s hi-tech sector as a means of countering the Boycott, Divest and Sanctions (BDS) movement globally.

Yaron Rosen
A profile photo of former Chief of Cyber Staff for the IDF and Toka co-founder, Yaron Rosen. Credit | Spy Legends

Further evidence that Toka is part of this Israeli government effort to seed foreign governments with technology products deeply tied to Israel’s military and intelligence services is the fact that one of the main investors in Toka is Dell Technologies Capital, which is an extension of the well-known tech company Dell. Dell was founded by Michael Dell, a well-known pro-Israel partisan who has donated millions of dollars to the Friends of the IDF and is one of the top supporters of the so-called “anti-BDS” bills that prevent publicly employed individuals or public institutions in several U.S. states from supporting non-violent boycotts of Israel, even on humanitarian grounds. As MintPress previously noted, the fact that a major producer of consumer electronic goods is heavily investing in a company that markets the hacking of that very technology should be a red flag.

The government’s initial admitted use of the hi-tech sector to counter the BDS movement coincided with the launch of a new Israeli military and intelligence agency policy in 2012, whereby “cyber-related and intelligence projects that were previously carried out in-house in the Israeli military and Israel’s main intelligence arms are transferred to companies that, in some cases, were built for this exact purpose.”

One of the reasons this was reportedly launched was to retain members of Unit 8200 engaged in military work who were moving to jobs in the country’s high-paying tech sector. Through this new policy that has worked to essentially merge much of the private tech sector with Israel’s national security state, some Unit 8200 and other intelligence veterans continue their work for the state but benefit from a private sector salary. The end result is that an unknown – and likely very high – number of Israeli tech companies are led by veterans of the Israeli military and Israeli intelligence agencies and serve, for all intents and purposes, as front companies. A closer examination of Toka strongly suggests that it is one such front company.

Toka — born out of Israel’s national security state

The company was co-founded by Ehud Barak, Alon Kantor, Kfir Waldman and retired IDF Brigadier General Yaron Rosen. Rosen, the firm’s founding CEO and now co-CEO, is the former Chief of the IDF’s cyber staff, where he was “the lead architect of all [IDF] cyber activities,” including those executed by Israeli military intelligence Unit 8200. Alon Kantor is the former Vice President of Business Development for Check Point Software, a software and hardware company founded by Unit 8200 veterans. Kfir Waldman is the former CEO of Go Arc and a former Director of Engineering at technology giant Cisco. Cisco is a leader in the field of Internet of Things devices and IoT cybersecurity, while Go Arc focuses on applications for mobile devices. As previously mentioned, Toka hacks not only mobile devices but also has a “special focus” on hacking IoT devices.

Toka IoT
A slide from an April 20, 2021 presentation given by Toka’s VP of Global Sales, Michael Anderson

In addition to having served as prime minister of Israel, Toka co-founder Ehud Barak previously served as head of Israeli military intelligence directorate Aman, as well as several other prominent posts in the IDF, before eventually leading the Israeli military as minister of defense. While minister of defense, he led Operation Cast Lead against the blockaded Gaza Strip in 2009, which resulted in the deaths of over 1,000 Palestinians and saw Israel illegally use chemical weapons against civilians.

Toka is the first start-up created by Barak. However, Barak had previously chaired and invested in Carbyne911, a controversial Israeli emergency services start-up that has expanded around the world and has become particularly entrenched in the United States. Carbyne’s success has been despite the Jeffrey Epstein scandal, given that the intelligence-linked pedophile and sex trafficker had invested heavily in the company at Barak’s behest. Barak’s close relationship with Epstein, including overnight visits to Epstein’s now-notorious island and apartment complexes that housed trafficked women and underage girls, has been extensively documented.

Barak stepped away from Toka in April of last year, likely as the result of the controversy over his Epstein links, which also saw Barak withdraw from his chairmanship of Carbyne in the wake of Epstein’s death. Considerable evidence has pointed to Epstein having been an intelligence asset of Israeli military intelligence who accrued blackmail on powerful individuals for the benefit of Israel’s national security state and other intelligence agencies, as well as for personal gain.

Another notable Toka executive is Nir Peleg, the company’s Vice President for Strategic Projects. Peleg is the former head of the Research and Development Division at Israel’s National Cyber Directorate, where he led national cybersecurity projects as well as government initiatives and collaborations with international partners and Israeli cybersecurity innovative companies. Prior to this, Peleg claims to have served for more than 20 years in leading positions at the IDF’s “elite technology unit,” though he does specify exactly which unit this was. His LinkedIn profile lists him as having been head of the IDF’s entire Technology Department from 2008 to 2011.

While at Israel’s National Cyber Directorate, Peleg worked closely with Tal Goldstein, now the head of strategy for the World Economic Forum’s Partnership against Cybercrime (WEF-PAC), whose members include government agencies of the U.S., Israel and the U.K., along with some of the world’s most powerful companies in technology and finance. The goal of this effort is to establish a global entity that is capable of controlling the flow of information, data, and money on the internet. Notably, Toka CEO Yaron Rosen recently called for essentially this exact organization to be established when he stated that the international community needed to urgently create the “cyber” equivalent of the World Health Organization to combat the so-called “cyber pandemic.”

Claims that a “cyber pandemic” is imminent have been frequent from individuals tied to the WEF-PAC, including CEO of Checkpoint Software Gil Shwed. Checkpoint is a member of WEF-PAC and two of its former vice presidents, Michael Anderson and Alon Kantor, are now Vice President for Global Sales and co-CEO of Toka, respectively.

Tal Goldstein
The Wolrd Economic Forum does little to hide its partnership with former Israeli intelligence officials

Toka’s Chief Technology Officer, and the chief architect of its hacking suite, is Moty Zaltsman, who is the only chief executive of the company not listed on the firm’s website. Per his LinkedIn, Zaltsman was the Chief Technology Officer for then-Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu. Last January, when Toka was covered by MintPress News, his profile stated that he had developed “offensive technologies” for Israel’s head of state, but Zaltsman has since removed this claim. The last Toka executive of note is Michael Volfman, the company’s Vice President of Research and Development. Volfman was previously a cyber research and development leader at an unspecified “leading technology unit” of the IDF.

Also worth mentioning are Toka’s main investors, particularly Entrèe Capital, which is managed by Aviad Eyal and Ran Achituv. Achituv, who manages Entrée’s investment in Toka and sits on Toka’s board of directors, was the founder of the IDF’s satellite-based signals intelligence unit and also a former senior vice president at both Amdocs and Comverse Infosys. Both Amdocs and Comverse courted scandal in the late 1990s and early 2000s for their role in a massive Israeli government-backed espionage operation that targeted U.S. federal agencies during that period.

Despite this scandal and others in the company’s past, Comverse subsidiary Verint was subsequently contracted by the U.S. National Security Agency (NSA) to bug the telecommunications network of Verizon shortly after their previous espionage scandal was covered by mainstream media. The contract was part of Operation Stellar Winds and was approved by then-NSA Director Keith Alexander, who has since been an outspoken advocate of closer Israeli-American government cooperation in cybersecurity.

In addition to Entrèe Capital, Andreessen Horowitz is another of Toka’s main investors. The venture capital firm co-founded by Silicon Valley titan Marc Andreessen is currently advised by former Secretary of the Treasury Larry Summers, a close friend of the infamous pedophile Jeffery Epstein. Early investors in Toka that are no longer listed on the firm’s website include Launch Capital, which is deeply tied to the Pritzker family — one of the wealthiest families in the U.S., with close ties to the Clintons and Obamas as well as the U.S.’ pro-Israel lobby — and Ray Rothrock, a venture capitalist who spent nearly three decades at VenRock, the Rockefeller family venture capital fund.

In light of the aforementioned policy of Israel’s government to use private tech companies as fronts, the combination of Toka’s direct Israeli government ties, the nature of its products and services, and the numerous, significant connections of its leaders and investors to both Israeli military intelligence and past Israeli espionage scandals strongly suggests that Toka is one such front.

If this is the case, there is reason to believe that, when Toka clients hack and gain access to a device, elements of the Israeli state could also gain access. This concern is born out of the fact that Israeli intelligence has engaged in this exact type of behavior before as part of the PROMIS software scandal, whereby Israeli “superspy” Robert Maxwell sold bugged software to the U.S. government, including highly sensitive locations involved in classified nuclear weapons research. When that software, known as PROMIS, was installed on U.S. government computers, Israeli intelligence gained access to those same systems and devices.

The U.S. government was not the only target of this operation, however, as the bugged PROMIS software was placed on the networks of several intelligence agencies around the world as well as powerful corporations and several large banks. Israeli intelligence gained access to all of their systems until the compromised nature of the software was made public. However, Israel’s government was not held accountable by the U.S. government or the international community for its far-reaching espionage program, a program directly facilitated by technology-focused front companies. The similarities between the products marketed and clients targeted by Maxwell during the PROMIS scandal and currently by Toka are considerable.

World Bank, IDB aid Toka in targeting Palestine’s allies

While the ties between Toka and Israel’s national security state are clear as day, what is also significant and unsettling about this company is how its entry into developing and developed countries alike is being facilitated by global financial institutions, specifically the World Bank and the Inter-American Development Bank. Notably, these are the only deals with governments that Toka advertises on its website, as the others are not made public.

Several projects funded by one or another of these two institutions have seen Toka become the “cyber designer” of national cybersecurity strategies for Nigeria and Chile since last year. Significantly, both countries’ populations show strong support for Palestine and the BDS movement. In addition, Toka garnered a World Bank-funded contract with the government of Moldova, an ally of Israel, last September.

The World Bank selected Toka in February of last year to “enhance Nigeria’s cyber development,” which includes developing “national frameworks, technical capabilities and enhancement of skills.” Through the World Bank contract, Toka has now become intimately involved with both the public and private sectors of Nigeria that it relates to the country’s “cyber ecosystem.” The World Bank’s decision to choose Toka is likely the result of a partnership forged in 2019 by the state of Israel with the global financial institution “to boost cybersecurity in the developing world,” with a focus on Africa and Asia.

Nigeria Toka
Toka executives pose with Nigerian officials in 2020. Photo | Israel Defense

“Designing and building sustainable and robust national cyber strategy and cyber resilience is a critical enabler to fulfilling the objectives of Nigeria’s national cybersecurity policy and strategic framework,” Toka CEO Yaron Rosen said in a press release regarding the contract.

Given Toka’s aforementioned use of its technology for only “trusted” governments, it is notable that Nigeria has been a strong ally of Palestine for most of the past decade, save for one abstention at a crucial UN vote in 2014. In addition to the government, numerous student groups, human rights organizations, and Islamic organizations in the country are outspoken in their support for Palestine. With Toka’s efforts to offer its products only to countries who align themselves with “friendly” countries, their now intimate involvement with Nigeria’s cyber development could soon have consequences for a government that has tended to support the Palestinian cause. This is even more likely given Toka CEO Rosen’s statements at an April 2021 event hosted by Israel’s Ministry of Economy, where he emphasized the role of cyber in developing countries specifically in terms of their national defense and economic strategy.

Three months after the deal was struck with Nigeria through the World Bank, the Inter-American Development Bank (IDB) selected Toka to advise the government of Chile on “next steps for the country’s national cybersecurity readiness and operational capacity building.” As part of the project, “Toka will assess the current cybersecurity gaps and challenges in Chile and support the IDB project implementation by recommending specific cybersecurity readiness improvements,” per a press release. Toka claims it will help “establish Chile as a cybersecurity leader in South America.” Regarding the deal, Toka’s Rosen stated that he was “thankful” that the IDB had “provided us with this opportunity to work with the Government of Chile.”

Israel signed consequential agreements for cooperation with the IDB in 2015, before further deepening those ties in 2019 by partnering with the IDB to invest $250 million from Israeli institutions in Latin America specifically.

Toka executives are pictured with Chilean officials during a 2020 meeting in Santiago

Like Nigeria, Chile has a strong connection with Palestine and is often a target of Israeli government influence efforts. Though the current far-right government of Sebastián Piñera has grown close to Israel, Chile is home to the largest Palestinian exile community in the world outside of the Middle East. As a result, Chile has one of the strongest BDS movements in the Americas, with cities declaring a non-violent boycott of Israel until the Piñera administration stepped in to claim that such boycotts can only be implemented at the federal level. Palestinian Chileans have strong influence on Chilean politics, with a recent, popular presidential candidate, Daniel Jadue, being the son of Palestinian immigrants to Chile. Earlier this year, in June, Chile’s congress drafted a bill to boycott goods, services and products from illegal Israeli settlements.

While Toka frames both of these projects as aimed at helping the cyber readiness and economies of the countries it now services, Israeli media has painted a different picture. For instance, Haaretz wrote that Israel’s partnerships with development banks, specifically those made in 2019 that resulted in these Toka contracts, were planned by an inter-ministerial committee set up by then-Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu “to realize the potential of international development to strengthen the Israeli economy, improve Israel’s political standing and strengthen its international role.” One source, quoted by Haaretz as being close to this undertaking, stated that “development banks are a way to help advance Israel’s interests and agenda in the developing world, including Latin America. But it’s not philanthropy.”

Given these statements, and Toka’s own modus operandi as a company and its background, it seems highly likely that the reason both Nigeria and Chile were chosen as the first of Toka’s development banks contracts was aimed at advancing the Israeli government’s agenda in those specific countries, one that seeks to counter and mitigate the vocal support for Palestine among those countries’ inhabitants.

The spyware problem goes far beyond NSO Group

The NSO Group and its Pegasus software is clearly a major scandal that deserves scrutiny. However, the treatment of the incident by the media has largely absolved the Israeli government of any role in that affair, despite the fact that the NSO Group’s sales of Pegasus to foreign governments has been approved and defended by Israel’s government. This, of course, means that Israel’s government has obvious responsibility in the whole scandal as well.

In addition, the myopic focus on the NSO Group when it comes to mainstream media reporting on Israeli private spyware and the threats it poses means that other companies, like Toka, go uninvestigated, even if their products present an even greater potential for abuse and illegal surveillance than those currently marketed and sold by the NSO Group.

Given the longstanding history of Israeli intelligence’s use of technology firms for international surveillance and espionage, as well as its admitted policy of using tech companies as fronts to combat BDS and ensure Israel’s “cyber dominance,” the investigation into Israeli spyware cannot stop just with NSO Group. However, not stopping there risks directly challenging the Israeli state, particularly in Toka’s case, and this is something that mainstream media outlets tend to avoid. This is due to a mix of factors, but the fact that NSO’s Pegasus has been used to spy on journalists so extensively certainly doesn’t help the matter.

Yet, Israel’s weaponization of its tech industry, and the global use of its spyware offerings by governments and security agencies around the world, must be addressed, especially because it has been explicitly weaponized to prevent non-violent boycotts of Israel’s occupation of Palestine, including those solely based on humanitarian grounds or out of respect for international laws that Israel routinely breaks. Allowing a government to engage in this activity on a global scale to stifle criticism of flagrantly illegal policies and war crimes cannot continue and this should be the case for any government, not just Israel.

If the outlets eagerly reporting on the latest Pegasus revelations are truly concerned with the abuse of spyware by governments and intelligence agencies around the world, they should also give attention to Toka, as it is actively arming these same institutions with weapons far worse than any NSO Group product.

From Judaism to Fascism: How Zionists Turned Their Backs on Their Own Culture

July 15th, 2021

By Eleanor Goldfield

Source

For the Zionists, the drive to climb the blood-soaked ladder of imperialism, to no longer be on the bottom rungs, shrouded not only their humanity but their own cultural teachings.

WASHINGTON — In late June of this year, New Scientist blandly reported that the Israeli Defense Forces (IDF) had “used a swarm of small drones to locate, identify and attack Hamas militants,” the first documented case of a drone swarm being used in so-called combat.

In his book, “Exterminate All The Brutes,” Sven Lindqvist contextualizes Adolf Hitler’s atrocities in the imperialist violence of the nineteenth century, and in one chapter outlines how European artillery advancements gave colonizers both emotional and physical distance from the indigenous Africans they slaughtered. Europeans were an “invisible and unreachable opponent,” capable of being “victorious without even being present.” This can’t really be called combat, and indeed even Winston Churchill referred to it as “only a sporting element in a splendid game.” Combat was something gentlemen did and in the imperialist mindset, of course, the Africans were savages, barely even human.

There’s a thread that links this kind of “sport” from the atrocities in Africa to the Holocaust and now, so ironically, to the state of Israel.

Your Lebensraum, my Lebensraum

In the 1890s, a German zoologist named Friedrich Ratzel coined the term “Lebensraum,” which literally translates to living space. Those who have studied the Holocaust might be familiar with it as the Third Reich’s reasoning for invading Central and Eastern Europe. Well, this is where they got the idea. Besides the European Scramble for Africa, Ratzel had been inspired by his travels to North America, where he saw how white colonizers were taking land by force. Seeing this as a positive and indeed necessary transgression, Ratzel fashioned a brutal Darwinian ideology: in order to acquire sufficient Lebensraum, inferior races have to be displaced, which incidentally often means they will die and leave the space entirely. Sounds familiar, doesn’t it?

The whole concept of Zionism is that Jews need specific and exclusive Lebensraum. Therefore, others must be displaced. This displacement, far from being a negative or even cruel endeavor, merely proves the supremacy of the displacer, thereby proving the necessity of exterminating the displaced. As Lindqvist writes “during Hitler’s childhood, a major element in the European view of mankind was the conviction that ‘inferior races’ were by nature condemned to extinction; the true compassion of the superior races consisted in helping them on the way.”

During the Holocaust, Jews were an ‘inferior race.’ Today in Israel, Palestinians are an ‘inferior race.’ As reporter and The Electronic Intifada Associate Editor Nora Barrows-Friedman told me when I asked her how Zionists respond to Jewish teachings of solidarity with the oppressed: “When you talk to Zionists about Jewish teachings and how that relates to the Palestinians, they say ‘well we’re not oppressing them, they’re not even people,’” a line that could have easily been taken from Hitler himself. And when Adolf was still just a young lad in Austria, that same sub-human paradigm fueled the celebratory reports of European barbarity in Africa, as well as the U.S. and Canadian genocide of indigenous peoples in North America.

Jude (jew)
The word Jude (Jew) is scrawled on a Jewish-rub shop in Berlin following Nazi-incited mass riots in 1938. Photo | AP

It’s important to place Israel’s atrocities in historical context, for we can only know where we are by understanding where we’ve been. Hitler did not exist in an ideological vacuum. He simply looked around at the world he was born into and pulled from already existing ideologies, tried and true tactics. He was inspired by people like imperialist sycophant Ratzel, who was inspired by the U.S. Hitler too was a big fan of U.S. domestic policy, not least of all the Jim Crow laws that he simply repackaged into yellow fabric Stars of David. Even the concentration camp predates Hitler’s rise to power. The concept was originally used by Spaniards in Cuba then moved north to the U.S., then across the pond to England during the Boer War, and finally a hop and a skip down to Germany. And today, the U.S. carries on that tradition via the PR-polished “detention centers” for migrants.

Zionists were likewise inspired by their socio-political surroundings and, as Barrows-Friedman notes, “were explicit about their colonialist aims. In the original documents that Zionists drew up, they specifically say ‘this is a colonial project,’” she explains. “Everyone was doing the colonialism thing, and they [Zionists] wanted in on it.” This wasn’t about ‘going home.’ Yes, some Jews have always lived in the area now known as Israel, and there were plenty living there quite peacefully as Palestinians up until 1948. Jews have also lived almost everywhere else. We are not a people without a home; we are a people with many homes.

Zionism and supremacy: paying oppression forward

Indeed, this concept of borderless solidarity is something that has inspired many Jews to be active in liberation and justice movements. And while Zionism is packaged as the need for a safe space for Jews, it’s clear that this wasn’t about safety. There is no safety in terrorism. Rather, it was about supremacy. Having been shunned from so many communities for so long warped the perspectives of some Jews into believing that what they really needed wasn’t basic human rights but the right to thwart others’ basic human rights. The drive to climb the blood-soaked ladder of imperialism, to no longer be on the bottom rungs, shrouded not only their humanity but their own cultural teachings.

For those who haven’t had the pleasure of attending a Seder (you’re always welcome to my house for our anti-capitalist, anti-Zionist extravaganza!), the primary theme of the evening is “don’t be an oppressive asshole, for you know what it is to have assholes oppress you.” I’m paraphrasing, but that’s the basic gist. And Passover is just one example. Throughout Jewish traditions and teachings, the voices and experiences of the oppressed are uplifted in order to highlight the need for Jews to not just stand up for our own human rights, but for the human rights of all. We were exiled, we were driven out, we were genocided, we were persecuted just for being ourselves. Our place is therefore in the struggle for a world beyond those atrocities. None are free till all are free. To be Jewish is to be a fighter for liberation, for justice. As Barrows-Friedman explains, “the term ‘Never Again’ is not selective. It has to be universal.”

How Zionism is profoundly anti-Semitic

Zionism is therefore anti-Semitic — in both theory and practice. First and as noted above, it flies in the face of Jewish teachings and traditions. Second, it suggests that we only belong in one place — that we are not welcome in places that we have learned to call home, from New York to Shanghai. It pigeon-holes us into a homogeneous monolith, a singular stereotype. These points were the main drivers of the loud Jewish tradition of anti-Zionism. Again, inspired by teachings and experience, many Jews in early twentieth-century Europe were loud and proud leftists.

As John Merriman writes in his book “Ballad of the Anarchist Bandits,” a popular term for Jews in turn-of-the-20th-century Europe was “Cosmopolitan Anarchists.” Which I actually really love. These Jews were vehemently opposed to the ideas of imperialism, nationalism and colonialism — aspects they saw as intricately linked with any sort of Zionist endeavor. Furthermore, they didn’t like the idea of appeasing anti-Semites in Europe by just disappearing. As one early twentieth-century poster shared in a recent interview with scholar Benjamin Balthaser asserts, “Where we live, there is our country!” Yet, appeasing anti-Semites was a cornerstone of Zionism from the beginning. Theodore Herzl, known as the ‘father of modern political Zionism,’ wrote in his diaries that “[t]he anti-Semites will become our most dependable friends, the anti-Semitic countries our allies.” To quote my Jewish grandmother, “What a schmuck.”

A Yiddish poster reads: “There, where we live, there is our country! ” Credit | Jewish Labor Movement’s Bund Archives

It’s no wonder that Neo-Nazi Richard Spencer calls himself a “white Zionist.” And while Zionist-friendly media was quick to jump on the 2017 Israeli TV comment as totally misguided and a twisting of Zionism, the sad fact of the matter is that the Neo-Nazi got it right (not least of all because Israel is a very racist state, placing light-skinned Jews in higher positions of power while black Jews are considered to be just above Palestinians). Zionism is colonialism, it is imperialism, it is terrorism and apartheid — all things that Neo-Nazis, and original Nazis, hold in very high regard. Where both Zionists and their anti-Semitic pals get it so wrong is the conflation of Judaism with Zionism.

Zionism didn’t get rolling until the end of the nineteenth century and from the outset clearly pulled from imperialist, white-supremacist ideologies, not from Jewish traditions and teachings. Jews, on the other hand, have been around for roughly 6,000 years or so (it’s currently Year 5781 in the Jewish calendar). To conflate Judaism with Zionism is like conflating humanity with iPhones. It’s ahistorical and it paints a picture of Jews that fits rather too comfortably with old caricatures of the conniving Israelite.

And of course, this works out really well for the anti-Semites. I’ve gone to more than one Neo-Nazi rally where I’ve overheard fascists complain about Israel’s control over our government, our economy. “They control everything,” one guy in a MAGA hat loudly proclaimed. I assume the guy standing next to him agreed, as he was wearing a “Hitler Missed a Few” t-shirt. Now, if you’re a Zionist, you can’t disagree with him — because you feel that Israel = Judaism. The only way you can push back against this fascist dumbshittery is to starkly and resolutely separate Israel from Judaism.

Why Fascists love Zionists (and hate Jews)

Israel does have a disturbing stranglehold on our government — be it demands of loyalty from U.S. citizens, truckloads of arms and weapons, or the cozy relationship our police have with Israeli forces. Judaism does not. Indeed, Jews have a long history of not being welcome in the U.S., much like other immigrants, while fascism — well, that’s as American as apple pie. Hitler got plenty of ideas from the U.S. and a lot of people in the U.S. returned the favor.

In 1939, Madison Square Garden in New York City was filled with 20,000 Nazis sieg heiling a massive portrait of George Washington flanked by giant swastikas. In October of that year, the same organization that was behind the MSG event, the German American Bund, held a massive parade through the streets of New York. Two years earlier, nearly 1,000 Jewish refugees were turned away from both Canada and the U.S. and were forced to return to Europe just as the Nazi’s Final Solution was unfolding. Three years before that, the Wall Street-backed American Liberty League plotted to overthrow the government and install a fascist dictatorship. IBM, Coca-Cola, Kodak and other corporations found in Nazi Germany ready customers — and why let a speedbump like genocide stand in the way of a bottom line? Indeed, IBM didn’t just sell to the Nazis, they facilitated mass murder by supplying Nazi Germany with punched-card technology, making it possible to track the Jews — if you ever wondered why Jews in the Holocaust were tattooed with numbers. Thanks, IBM.

20,000 Americans attend a Nazi rally at Madison Square Garden, February 20, 1939.

Again, this historical context matters. We need to understand this history in order to see how events like Charlottesville in 2017 are far from unique or surprising. Rather, they’re part of a long history of American fascism — or, as Mussolini suggested fascism be called, corporatism. This history also shows us the vast disparities between Zionism and Judaism.

Reclaiming what Judaism has always been

Both ideologically and in lived experiences, Zionism and Judaism are at odds. They exist on opposite ends of the power dynamic spectrum. “We have to dismantle Zionism — the way we work to dismantle imperialism and white supremacy, and racism and patriarchy,” Barrows-Friedman says. “It’s all part of the same project. Israel is a project of exploitation of Jewish suffering to further an imperialist Western role.” Therefore, one of the main ways we do this, she says, is to “reclaim what Judaism has always been, going toward Jewish tradition as open and proud anti-Zionists.”

This means taking back our history, and our present as Jewish people. It means highlighting the twisted use of Jewish suffering to claim an inalienable right to oppress. It means taking our place on the side of the oppressed, never the oppressor. Here, less than a century after the Holocaust, Israel has proven that it too can be fascist. To whose glory? What have we Jews gained by Israel’s appeal to fascist ideologies?

Furthermore, why desperately try to affirm your humanity by following a fascist’s description of your lack thereof? Because of course, it won’t ultimately matter. Inferiority is an always-moving target. It always has been — be they the Irish under British terror, the Congolese under Belgian terror, the Indigenous and African-Americans under U.S. terror, Jews in the Holocaust, or today’s War on Terror, any and every people, culture, tradition and belief can be marred and maligned in order to fit the needs of oppression. Jews will never gain peace and safety through terrorism. We will find no supremacy on the other side of brutality. We will always be inferior to the fascist. The question is why then is it so important for Zionists to appeal to fascists?

As Frantz Fanon wrote, “The oppressed will always believe the worst about themselves.” In the case of Zionists, this must be true. They must have believed that they were inferior because they were a “landless people,” just like the imperialists said of Africans; or indeed as Francis Bacon wrote of his perceived “monsters” in the 1600s, that they were mere “swarms of people” who were unavowed by God. They must have believed that they were inferior, weak. It is not uncommon to hear a Zionist talk of the “weak Jews” in the concentration camps who should’ve fought back against their captors. And if you accept that you are inferior based on the claims of the oppressor, the only way to rectify that is to become like the one who oppresses you. Of course, in the process, you will lose yourself. You will lose all that it is to be human. You will become the sick and grotesque creation of your new master — a hideous fascist Frankenstein — and still the inferior.

Fanon also wrote about the colonization that colonizers impose on themselves — the violence that they inflict that is also inflicted upon them. Joseph Conrad, the author of “Heart of Darkness,” wrote graphically of this concept in his first short story, “An Outpost of Progress,” a story of two Europeans who are stationed at an outpost in the jungles of Africa in the 1890s. They gradually lose their minds, and the story ends in a murder-suicide, with Kayerts, one of the European men, hanging from a cross above his predecessor’s grave:

Progress was calling to Kayerts from the river. Progress and civilization and all the virtues. Society was calling to its accomplished child to come, to be taken care of, to be instructed, to be judged, to be condemned; it called him to return to that rubbish heap from which he had wandered away, so that justice could be done. 

As Lindqvist writes, these characters represent a European identity, a “[p]rogress that presupposes genocide.”

There is no glory in the oppressed becoming the oppressor. We who are of European descent must grapple with our genocidal history, unpack what horrors have been passed down from colonizers, and confront that trauma. We must confront that history that has become our present, as children of this Empire, so that we may stop it from becoming the future. And as Jews, we must grapple with Israel’s present for the very same reasons.

Jewish Voice for Peace
A Jewish activist protests Israeli apartheid, in north Jersey. Screenshot | NorthJersery.com

As James Baldwin explained in a 1963 interview:

What white people have to do, is to try to find out in their own hearts why it was necessary to have a nigger in the first place, because I’m not a nigger, I’m a man, but if you think I’m a nigger, it means you need it. Why?”

Zionists need it because they seek to emulate their own oppressors. Someone must replace the Jew in their shitty remake. For they do not wish to be the Jew any longer. As reporter and host, Jacquie Luqman said recently on By Any Means Necessary: “If anybody in the Black community is supporting anybody else in our community who preys on other people, then those people are not our people.” Zionists are not our people.

“I like being Jewish. I really hate the way it’s been co-opted,” Barrows-Friedman explains. “The beauty of Jewish culture is the tradition, the stories, the songs, the education about no one is free if anyone’s oppressed. Zionism cannot dictate how we are Jews. We can’t let them win.”

As Jews, we stand with the oppressed — that is what our own history and our teachings demand. We must bring forward the past because, to yet again quote Baldwin, “history is not the past, it is the present.” We should be proud of our heritage, proud of our culture and the thick bonds of solidarity that bolster our fight and inspire our build.

To be proud to be Jewish is a good thing, so long as we don’t lose sight of what that means. We have a lot of work to do, and the enemies we face will claim to want the same things that we do, to believe in the same teachings we believe in. The fight against Zionism is deeply personal for many Jews, but it is a part of the vital, all-embracing work of dismantling colonialism — in our own communities and likewise in the world. As Simone de Beauvoir wrote, “A freedom that is interested only in denying freedom must be denied.” For the sake of our liberation as Jews — as human beings — we must deny Zionism. In short: Be Jewish. Be proud. Be anti-Zionist.

The Fight to Save Lifta, the Last Remaining Palestinian Village

July 09th, 2021

By Jessica Buxbaum

Source

See the source image
Lifta, the only town Israel did not demolish after the Nakba, stands as a symbol of the Palestinian right of return, but an Israeli government “development” plan may soon change that.

LIFTA, JERUSALEM — Yacoub Odeh is 81 years old but he can still remember his childhood in the Palestinian village of Lifta as if it were yesterday. Children playing together in the gardens, swimming in the pools and laying in the grass.

Today, Lifta remains as a frozen time capsule. While the residents were expelled during Israel’s 1948 ethnic cleansing campaign (Nakba), the ruins of their homes still stand. These ruins carved into the lush hillside are perceived as a symbol of the Palestinians’ right of return. This is the only town Israel did not demolish after the Nakba, but a government plan may soon change that.

In May, the Israel Lands Authority (ILA), the government agency in charge of managing public lands, issued a new tender for construction in Lifta. The development scheme, known as Plan 6036, seeks to build 259 housing units along with a commercial and business space and a luxury hotel on top of and around the existing houses. Daphna Golan-Agnon, a law professor at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem and part of the Save Lifta Coalition’s board, explained that while the homes may not be demolished, “the village will disappear behind walls of concrete needed to hold new construction.”

The bid was supposed to be held on July 4, but significant public opposition delayed it to July 29.

Lifta Jerusalem
The ruins in Lifta, a Palestinian village ethnically cleased in 1948. Liebe Blekh | MintPress News

Attempts to demolish Lifta have been ongoing for years. The ILA first published a tender for Plan 6036 in 2010 after the Israeli state approved the construction plan for Lifta in 2006. A 2012 Jerusalem District Court ruling found Plan 6036 insufficient and requested amending it in accordance with a conservation survey on Lifta from the Israel Antiquities Authority (IAA).

The IAA survey was completed in 2017 and found that Plan 6036 could not be executed without making significant adjustments in order to preserve the ancient village. Plan 270b was drawn up to fit the survey’s findings but in 2017 the Local Planning and Building Committee of Jerusalem temporarily halted the initiative for further examination.

The recent ILA announcement was met with hundreds of letters to Jerusalem’s mayor rejecting the sale. When reached for comment, the Municipality of Jerusalem told MintPress News that it “wasn’t informed about the publication of this tender and didn’t approve it. The mayor of Jerusalem asked all the relevant authorities to reconsider the construction plan.” The Israel Lands Council, which operates the ILA, did not respond to a request for comment.

‘In one hour, we became refugees’

Lifta’s strategic location at the edge of Jerusalem has made it a prime target for land grabs. Acting as a suburb of Jerusalem, Lifta’s placement next to the Jerusalem-Jaffa Highway makes for an easy trip to the Mediterranean while still being tied to the city of Jerusalem.

Lifta, often referred to as the entrance to Jerusalem, was a wealthy, agricultural community supported by olive presses and flour mills and situated atop the Wadi al-Shami spring. Homes made of limestone were cut into the hillside and Lifta’s roads wended through the valley.

Prior to the 1948 Nakba, Zionist militias like the Haganah saw seizing Lifta as necessary to cement Jewish control over all of Palestine. According to the Haganah Historical Archives, “[s]ecuring the western exit of the city [of Jerusalem] entailed the eviction of Arabs.”  Israeli historian Benny Morris said the Haganah fired the first shots in 1947, setting off the mass expulsion of Lifta’s 2,960 residents.

In December 1947, the Haganah killed a Palestinian business owner in Lifta. Later that month, one of Lifta’s two coffeehouses was ambushed with gunfire and grenades. The attack killed six and wounded seven. Two months into 1948, the Jewish Agency chairman and future first prime minister of Israel, David Ben-Gurion, boasted of the ethnic cleansing’s success, telling his political party members: “From your entry into Jerusalem through Lifta — Romema, through Mahane Yehuda, King George Street and Mea She’arim — there are no strangers. One hundred percent Jews.“

Odeh, head of the Lifta Cultural Heritage Protection Commission, was 8-years-old when Lifta came under siege by Zionist forces.

Lifta refugee
Yacoub Odeh, Nakba survivor and head of the Lifta Cultural Heritage Protection Commission. Liebe Blekh | MintPress News

“I remember one day my mother was preparing the fire to heat our room, and then [the Zionist miltiias] began to shoot. My brothers began to cry, ‘Mama, mama! They’re shooting us!’ My mom took us inside the room in the corner and under a table to protect us,” Odeh said, recalling two stories of Lifta — the town’s beauty and charm and then its tragic fall.

“There is the beautiful life and then began the miserable life because of the occupation.”

Toward the end of February 1948, Odeh’s father put him, his siblings and his mother into a truck heading to Ramallah to escape the violence in Lifta. Odeh’s father stayed behind to defend the village from the Zionist gangs.

“We were only wearing the clothing we had on because we are coming back tomorrow. We are coming back. Now we just want to be far from the shooting.” Odeh took a deep sigh and said, “In one hour, we became refugees.”

Today, 55 buildings out of approximately 450 remain in Lifta, including a club, mosque, cemetery and school, which now operates as a school for Israeli Jews. Liftawi refugees are estimated at around 30,000 and live in Jerusalem, the Occupied West Bank and the Diaspora. Most of the homes are empty, but a few are occupied by Israeli settlers. According to Zochrot, the Israeli nonprofit seeking to raise awareness of the Nakba, the “settlements of Mey Niftoach and Giv’at Sha’ul were built on village lands and now have become parts of the suburbs of Jerusalem.”

Saving Lifta

The Save Lifta Coalition orchestrated the campaign to the mayor and has been organizing since 2010 against Plan 6036. The organization spent five years working with scholars, activists, conservation specialists and higher education professionals to develop an alternative to 6036.

Their proposal aims to “expand the area of the national park and turn the village into a natural urban space for the adjacent neighborhoods,” while preserving Lifta’s cultural landscape.

The World Monuments Fund added Lifta to its list of endangered sites in 2018 and UNESCO added the village to its tentative list of world heritage sites.

‘Not something we can discuss now’

When asked about the plan’s responsibility regarding the right of return for Palestinians, Golan-Agnon said, “our plan is a plan to save Lifta as it is for the future generations to decide upon its fate.” She explained:

Many of us [in the coalition] do think there should be a right of return for Palestinians but we know it’s not something we can discuss now. So we say, it’s beautiful, keep it open, and then one day there can be a decision about what happens and who’s coming.

Dana Amawi’s grandmother grew up in Lifta and was expelled from the village in 1948. Now the family lives in Amman, Jordan. The 20-year-old said she was shaken to her core upon hearing the news of the sale. “Lifta symbolized a tiny, very small bit of hope that maybe we will be able to return to it,” Amawi told MintPress. “And now to think that other people might live in the house that I have the right to be in, it’s very sad.”

Lifta Jerusalem
A Palestinian woman holds a partially eaten fig picked from a tree in Lifta. Liebe Blekh | MintPress News

Amawi said that her grandmother fell ill after learning of the auction. “She got sick. She had a fever and she was really, really sad because to her, this is where she grew up. This is where her earliest memories are and this is where she has the right to be,” Amawi said.

Stone houses like the one Odeh spent his early childhood in now crumble from neglect. The walls are sprayed with graffiti and piles of trash line the floors. On Shabbat (the Jewish sabbath), you’ll often find Israelis bathing in the spring’s waters.

Aseel AlBajeh, advocacy officer and legal researcher at the Palestinian human rights organization Al-Haq, visited Lifta in 2018. Her grandmother, who lives in Ramallah, is from Lifta. “It was a painful experience,” AlBajeh said of her time in Lifta. “I wasn’t sure if I wanted to come back to Lifta in this situation.”

‘You are here as a visitor’

During her visit, AlBajeh tried recalling her grandmother’s memories of a flourishing Lifta, but she said those stories were disrupted by the fact that she’s only in Lifta because of a permit she received from the Israeli government to enter 1948-occupied Palestine or modern-day Israel from the West Bank. “You are here as a visitor. It’s like it’s not a place where you belong, or this is what [the Israeli government] intends for refugees to feel like,” AlBajeh said. “Settlers were swimming in the spring of the village and they were blasting loud music, and it also disrupted my ability to even imagine Lifta as Palestinian.”

Jewish settlers in LIfta
Israeli settlers in Lifta hold a middle finger to a group of Palestinian children. Blekh | MintPress News

To help her reclaim Lifta, AlBajeh took a small piece of the village’s remains during her visit. She collected a broken tile painted with traditional designs from one of the house’s floors, knowing this might be the last physical object she can have of Lifta.

“Lifta is a witness of what happened during the Nakba,” AlBajeh said, explaining:

We have this connection as Palestinians, and when we see the cactus plants, we connect this as evidence that displacement happened here. And if you go to Lifta, you’ll see the huge amount of cactus. So even if the houses remain and [Israel] tries to remove the cactus, it’s still painful… It’s not about the stones or about the trees. It’s about the whole identity of Lifta and the Palestinian history, which we still connect to. “

‘We were kings in our village’

Odeh’s memories paint Lifta as an idyllic place, an oasis carved into the steep slopes of Jerusalem where life was carefree and bountiful. “We were kings in our village,” Odeh said. “Everything we need, we had — a life so simple. We didn’t need cinema or computers, no, everything we needed came from our land.”

But the minute Odeh and his family became refugees, their resources became scarce. “At that time there were no charitable associations or agencies ready to help,” Odeh recalled. “You know what Nakba means? Nakba does not mean to destroy homes. No, Nakba means to destroy the life — economic life, social life, educational life, political life. They destroyed our life.”

Upon reminiscing about Lifta, Odeh said his dream is to go back home:

I miss my childhood. Palestinian children have lost their childhood life to play like children, to go to the theater, to concerts, to football. No, until now we have house demolitions, we have arrests, we have land confiscation and killings. Every day we have events like these — if not my family, my neighborhood.”

Palestanian Protesters Recount Harrowing Details of Torture at the Hands of Israeli Police

By Jessica Buxbaum

Source

Officers wounded the detainees, terrorized them, and whomever dared to lift his head upwards risked more beatings by officers. According to affidavits, the floor of the room was covered in blood from the beatings.

NAZARETH, ISRAEL — In May, the world watched Israel’s brutal occupation on full display: The forcible displacement of Sheikh Jarrah residents was underway; Israeli security forces attacked Muslim worshippers at Al-Aqsa Mosque during Ramadan; Israeli rocket fire rained down on Gaza; and Jewish extremists chanted “Death to Arabs!” in the streets.

According to multiple testimonies, Israeli police in Nazareth ran a “torture room” where they ruthlessly attacked Palestinian detainees during the wave of demonstrations against Israel in May.

Now, as international headlines fade on Palestine, Israeli violence continues.

‘The floor of the room was covered in blood’

Faiz Zbedeiat was talking on the phone about 20 feet away from a protest in Nazareth. The moment the 21-year-old student hung up the phone, Israeli police threw a stun grenade into the street. An officer then charged at him and punched him in the nose. Zbedeiat was soon encircled by police who grabbed him, hit him, and pushed him toward a Border Police officer who tried to slam his head against a wall.

“I asked why they were hitting me when I’m not resisting,” Zbedeiat said. “I put my hands behind my back even though they didn’t handcuff me. Nevertheless, the same Border Police officer hit me in the nose with the walkie-talkie that he was holding.”

The officers dragged Zbedeiat by his head to the police station, beating him along the way.

“On the way, we met a policeman who appeared to be an officer, and he started laughing and said to them: ‘Did you only arrest him? That’s not enough. We need more,’” Zbedeiat said.

The beating continued inside the police station. Cops kicked, slapped, and hit detainees with batons, laughing as they struck them.

Zbedeiat detailed how one officer smacked detainees with an M-16 rifle. He watched as one man with a broken nose — face covered in blood — was continuously hit by officers. Then Zbedeiat described his own treatment:

A police officer approached me and whispered in my ear, threatening me. He cursed my mother, my sister, and my wife. He then asked, ‘Did you understand?’ I didn’t answer, and he immediately slapped me in the face. He asked me again: ‘Do you understand?’ I still didn’t answer and he slapped me again in the face. Finally, he said ‘Go explain to your friends.’ He pushed me back down to the floor and hit me again.”

Israeli police torture
A Palestinian child is taken into an “observation post” after his arrest at a protest in Jerusalem, June 10, 2021. Maya Alleruzzo | AP

Zbedeiat’s violent detention in May is one of many such, according to Adalah – The Legal Center for Arab Minority Rights in Israel. The advocacy group collected multiple sworn affidavits attesting to the abuse of Palestinian protesters by Israeli officers, attorneys, bystanders, and children inside Nazareth’s police station from May 9 to May 14. The majority of the violent arrests and most of the abuse were conducted by Israeli special forces, including undercover Mista’aravim (counter-terror units within the Israeli Army, Border Police, and Israel Police) officers pretending to be Palestinians.

Adalah submitted a complaint to Israel’s Attorney General and the chairman of the Police Investigation Department on June 7. In their letter, Adalah wrote:

Police officers led the detainees to a room located on the left side of the entrance corridor to the station, forcing them to sit on the floor handcuffed, to lower their heads towards the floor, and began to beat them on all parts of their bodies, using kicks and clubs, slamming their heads against walls or doors, and more. Officers wounded the detainees, terrorized them, and whomever dared to lift his head upwards risked more beatings by officers. According to affidavits, the floor of the room was covered in blood from the beatings.

Police violence amounting to torture

Under Israeli law, authorities must respond to the letter within 45 days. But Adalah attorney and co-author of the complaint, Wesam Sharaf, told MintPress that Adalah has not received a response from the Attorney General or Police Investigation Department. Adalah did receive a response from Nazareth’s Chief of Police, stating that he will cooperate if there’s an investigation and will take the appropriate disciplinary actions.

“What happened inside the police station in Nazareth amounts to torture and ill-treatment, and requires the immediate opening of a criminal investigation to examine the circumstances and conditions of the protesters’ detention at the station – including the investigation and prosecution of police officers involved in the violence,” Adalah attorneys wrote in their complaint.

Sharaf explained that the witness and victim accounts of police brutality inside the Israeli police station describe activity deemed torturous under international law:

What we have seen in the police station is that instead of investigating the people, the police would beat them up. [The police] deny [the detainees] in need of medical attention that medical attention and make them sign [false] affidavits as a condition to get medical attention… When this treatment is [directed at] detainees, it may amount to torture according to international law.”

Torture is defined under international law as intentionally inflicting severe pain or suffering in order to obtain a confession or information, intimidate or coerce the individual, or as punishment for alleged offenses. Torture is illegal and considered a war crime.

The Police Investigation Department, Nazareth police station, Israel Police, and commander of the Northern District of the Israel Police did not respond to MintPress News’ requests for comment by the time of deadline.

Israel’s mass-arrest campaign targeting Palestinians

In a move largely seen as squelching Palestinian dissent, Israel Police launched a mass-arrest campaign in May, targeting Palestinian citizens of Israel who participated in protests against ethnic cleansing in Sheikh Jarrah, attacks at Al-Aqsa Mosque, and Israel’s assault on Gaza.

Israeli police arrested 2,142 individuals and filed 184 indictments during “Operation Guardian of the Walls” and “Operation Law and Order.” According to Sharaf, more than 150 Palestinians were arrested in Nazareth in May, and about one in ten were indicted.

Ashraf Mahroum, an attorney representing nine people detained by police in Nazareth, said his clients and others were charged for protesting illegally, creating illegal organizations, and assaulting police officers. Maroum’s clients allege police fired rubber bullets at the upper parts of their bodies during the protests — a direct violation of the low governing use of rubber bullets. During their detention, officers struck them with batons and smacked them over the head with guns. Most of his clients’ injuries were on the head and face. Some were forced to sign affidavits stating they won’t disclose what happened to them in order to receive medical treatment.

Evidence of similar police violence against Palestinians appeared in other cities across 1948-occupied Palestine (modern-day Israel) including in Lydd, Akka, Yaffa and Haifa, Sharaf said, adding detainees in these localities arrived in court with visible signs of abuse. Sharaf concluded:

[Adalah] has other testimonies about police brutality in different areas; some of this brutality was against protesters and some of it has been inside police stations against detainees. With the systematic ill treatment that we have witnessed from the 9th of May to the 14th of May, we can assume that more people have been subject to such kind of treatment.”

Israel’s expanding history of torture

The Israel Security Agency (ISA) has long used torture as a standard tactic during interrogations of Palestinian residents of the Occupied Territories. Until the late 1990s, the ISA was allowed to use “psychological pressure” and a “moderate degree of physical pressure” in order to “prevent terrorism,” according to 1987 recommendations from a state commission. The commission’s opinion permitted the ISA to use methods of torture in their interrogations under the “necessity defense” clause found in Israeli penal law.

The Israeli Supreme Court banned the use of physical methods during interrogations in 1999 after a series of petitions were filed by human rights organizations and Palestinians who experienced ISA interrogations. However, the court ruled the practice of physical pressure could remain in urgent cases as part of the “ticking bomb” exception under the necessity defense. This legal loophole has allowed torture and ill treatment to persist in ISA interrogations, despite the Israeli Justice Ministry having drafted a law to criminalize torture.

Israel torture
An illustration from a 1991 B’Teslem report detailing torture methods used by Israeli forces

According to the Public Committee Against Torture in Israel (PCATI), 1,300 complaints regarding the use of torture against Palestinian citizens in the Occupied Palestinian Territories (OPT) by the ISA have been submitted to the Ministry of Justice since 2001. These complaints resulted in only one criminal investigation and no indictments.

PCATI receives dozens of complaints each year attesting to brutality occurring during arrest, detention, interrogation and imprisonment of Palestinians from the OPT. The nonprofit organization estimates 5% to 10% of these cases amount to instances of severe torture.

Severe interrogations increased sharply in 2020. “In the passing year, more people were tortured in Israel than in any other year in the past decade,” PCATI said in their 2020 situation report on torture of Palestinians by Israeli security forces. While cases of torture are prevalent within the OPT, Tal Steiner, Director General of PCATI, said 1948-occupied Palestine is now experiencing an escalation of torture incidents. Steiner told MintPress:

[PCATI] has seen attributes that are usually found in the West Bank trickling into Israel. There’s administrative arrest, prevention of rights to seek counsel, to receive medical attention — those are things that are quite unfortunately common in the West Bank and the Occupied Territories that have now become more evident within Israel proper… This is not something that’s usual or routine within Israel for Israeli citizens — Palestinian or not. So it’s a turn for the worse.”

Israel torture
An illustration from a 1991 B’Teslem report detailing torture methods used by Israeli forces

Steiner attributed this surge within Historic Palestine to a culture of impunity spurred by Israeli politicians like former Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, explaining:

When the police and military forces entered the mixed cities within Israel to so-call restore the peace, then-Prime Minister Netanyahu was quoted saying, ‘Go ahead and do your job and don’t worry about any commission of inquiry.’ These types of announcements by the prime minister and other Israeli leaders can also be a reason why police officers thought they could get away with it. They can use extreme force toward citizens, demonstrators, and especially toward people from minority groups, and go unpunished.”

“I thought I was going to die”

On May 13, the eve of the Muslim holiday Eid al-Fitr, Nazareth resident Omaiyer Lawabne was out with friends to celebrate. As he approached an ATM to withdraw money, he saw an officer decked in full riot gear running toward him. Instinctively, he began running away.

“The cops started throwing grenades at me, and I kept running because I knew that if I stood still I could be badly wounded by the grenades,” Lawabne said. “While I was still running, one of the policemen raised his hand and hit me in the left eye, and I fell to the ground.”

Police surrounded Lawabne on the pavement, kicking him in the face and head. One officer pressed his boot into Lawabne’s head and shoulder. “I felt intense pain all over my body, from my head to my legs. One of them started kicking me in the artery behind the ear,” Lawabne said. “At that moment, I thought I was going to die.”

t the police station, Lawabne saw detainees stuffed into a room, resembling “prisoners of war.” They sat on the floor with their legs folded under them and heads bent. A masked officer paced around the room with a club-like object in his hand. Any detainee who lifted his head met the full swing of the officer’s bat on their head.

“They pushed me down into a corner and I lowered my head and curled up. Nevertheless, the same police officer hit me hard on the head with that object,” Lawabne said.

Days after his detention, Lawabne still felt excruciating pain throughout his body. He couldn’t sleep from the dizziness. He couldn’t eat without vomiting. He couldn’t speak coherently. He still doesn’t understand why he was arrested when he wasn’t participating in any nearby protests.

“It was the first time I had been arrested, an arrest that I believe was illegal, pointless, and very violent,” Lawabne said.

Where Infrastructure Means Prisons: A Drive into the Naqab and the Illusion of Israeli Democracy

By Miko Peled

Source

Out of close to 250,000 Palestinian Beduin in the Naqab, about half live in “unrecognized villages.” This means they get no roads, no electricity or running water, no schools or medical facilities — no services at all.

THE NAQAB, PALESTINE — As I was preparing to leave Palestine, I found it harder to fall asleep. I spent the last few days in Jerusalem, mostly walking between the neighborhoods of Sheikh Jarrah in the north and Silwan in the south, crossing through the alleys of the Old City on the way. But even during the days when things had seemingly calmed down, like lava that seems to have cooled on the surface but is still hot on the inside, eruptions that tell of greater eruptions to come were everywhere.

Two fine boys taken

Abdul Khaliq and Mohammed Burnat — sons of the well-known Bil’in activist and popular resistance leader, Iyad Burnat — were arrested and for days their parents knew nothing of their whereabouts. These two fine young men were kidnapped by armed Israeli terrorists. As I was driving through Jerusalem, I passed by the Moskubiya, or the Russian Compound, where they were being held. The Moskubiya is a notorious prison and interrogation center where the Israeli authorities interrogate and torture Palestinians. It sits in the heart of downtown West Jerusalem, cafes and restaurants all around it filled with people having a good time. Too bad that they cannot hear the screams of children being tortured right around the corner.

I cannot imagine what the parents of Abdul Khaliq and Mohammed must be going through. Knowing that your children were kidnapped and are now being tortured, beaten and threatened with no one to support or help them and there is no law or authority that can provide them protection! If one or both of them were to be killed or permanently injured there would be no recourse. It is like a coming-of-age ceremony that countless young Palestinians must go through because they live on the oppressed side of an apartheid regime.

Iyad Burnat family
Iyad Burnat poses with his family circa 2019. Twitter | @IyadBurnat

A younger generation stands

It was just a few days ago that I spent a long day driving through the Naqab. The first part of the day I was in Bir El-Saba to visit the Zionist district court, where a hearing was taking place regarding the fate of Palestinian activists from the Naqab. These were activists who had been beaten by an Israeli mob and then detained, and the court was discussing their possible release.

Later that day I drove with friends to the unrecognized village of Sawawin. We wanted to visit another local activist who had just been released from prison. The Naqab — or Negev, as Israel calls it — is the entire southern half of Palestine, and its 250,000 Palestinian-Beduin residents are citizens of the State of Israel but enjoy few if any, rights.

Out of close to 250,000 Palestinian Beduin in the Naqab, about half live in “unrecognized villages.” This means they get no services at all. There are no roads, something I was about to experience for myself, as well as no electricity or running water, no schools or medical facilities. This is the apartheid state of “Israel.” As a point of interest, it is estimated that close to half of the refugee population in the Gaza Strip, as well as over a million refugees in Jordan, are from the Naqab region.

As we were speeding down the highway in my tiny rented Citroen, I was told to slow down and look for a place to get off the main road. There was no road, just a place my friends thought was the starting point of the journey that leads to Sawawin as well as several other Palestinian villages to which the State of Israel refuses to provide services. The total population in that part of the Naqab is around 50,000.

We drove with no clear road in sight, on dirt covered in rocks, going up hills and down ravines and we were not really sure whether we were going the right way. We passed other unrecognized villages along the way and asked for directions — my friends, all Beduin Palestinians, speaking in Arabic with an accent that is unique to the Naqab. About halfway through I was urged to start driving faster, my very slow pace and the setting sun meant we would soon see nothing.

It was about five or six miles before we reached Sawawin. The drive was long and far from safe and we had to ask for directions three or four times. I couldn’t help thinking about the possibility of a medical emergency. “How would an ambulance reach this place?” I asked. “Ambulances do not come here,” my friends responded. “If there is a medical emergency the residents need to find their way to the main road.”

Naqab
A child climbs on the remains of a home demolished by Israeli authorities in Naqab Desert. Photo | Activestills

Six and half years in solitary confinement

We reached Sawawin as the sun was setting. We walked into a cinder block structure where about thirty men were sitting on the floor in a large circle. Some of them had their children huddled next to them. We took our places in the circle, the seated area covered by a cloth, large pillows placed on it for people to recline on, all covered in Bedouin-style cloth. Arabic coffee was served, followed by large trays of rice and chicken. Then more coffee, then tea and cigarettes.

The men were talking about prison and their experiences at the hands of the Israeli authorities. One activist leader who had just been recently released sat next to me. He told of his experience,  which included six and a half years in solitary confinement. He was a political prisoner but, unlike most Palestinian political prisoners, he was not from the West Bank or the Gaza Strip but a citizen of Israel. Out of fear that he would influence the others he was kept in solitary.

Citizens with rights?

At one point one of my friends spoke. He told the others — many of whom were arrested for just being at the wrong place at the wrong time, some as young as thirteen or fourteen — about their rights. He reminded them that the Palestinian Beduin in the Naqab have Israeli citizenship, which means they are tried in civilian court, not military-like the residents of Gaza and the West Bank. He reminded them that they have a right to remain silent, and a right to see a lawyer.

He also stated that the state gets around these rights by designating Palestinian detainees as “security” detainees. This means the Shabak, or secret police, have the right to keep the detainees for long periods of time and interrogate them without their seeing a lawyer.

The illusion of democracy in action

As the Israeli parliament, the Knesset, swears in a new government to replace Benjamin Netanyahu, one can see the illusion of democracy in action. It is a democracy for the few, who continue to rule and oppress the many. While many question marks regarding the new government remain — such as how long it will take before Netanyahu returns to the prime minister’s chair — one thing is clear: Mohammad and Abdul Khaliq Burnat, as well as countless others throughout Palestine, will continue to fight the apartheid regime and pay a heavy price.

Zionist Tyranny Unchanged Under Any Israeli Leadership

By Stephen Lendman

Source

Netanyahu’s days as prime minister may be numbered.

London’s Guardian called his “downfall (if occurs) long overdue,” adding:

“Even if we should have no illusions about what comes next, (the end of the Netanyahu era) is a cause for celebration.”

The glue allying opposition coalition members is wanting him disempowered, gone, and never to regain what he lost.

Hold the cheers on what’s ahead if the 8-party coalition for change is sworn into office and retains power.

First up as new coalition prime minister Naftali Bennett once said Palestinian self-determination “would be a disaster for the next 200 years” if happens.

He, second-in-line to be prime minister after two years Yair Lapid and most coalition members are militantly hostile to equal rights for non-Jews.

The scourge of Zionist tyranny remains unchanged regardless of Jewish state rule — how it’s always been throughout its history.

Extremist right-wing coalitions run the country, Jews alone afforded rights denied to Occupied Palestinians and Arab citizens.

Israeli Basic Laws are the equivalent of US constitutional ones.

Nation-State Basic Law illegitimately legitimizes Jewish supremacy over Palestinians and Israeli Arab citizens — what colonization, occupation, and apartheid are all about, enforced by state terror.

Unwanted Arabs are discriminated against in virtually all aspects of their lives — their well-being and safety jeopardized by Zionist tyranny.

Israel’s Nation State Law is the Jewish state’s version of Nazi Germany’s oppressive Nuremberg Laws.

Like Jews in Nazi Germany, Palestinians in Israel are mistreated as subhumans.

They’re forced to endure virtually every imaginable indignity, degradation and crime against humanity.

B’Tselem called Israel “a regime of Jewish state supremacy from the Jordan River to the Mediterranean Sea.”

“This is apartheid,” it stressed. Separate and unequal defines how unwanted Palestinians are mistreated.

Israel’s Nation State law calls for formally annexing historic Palestine altogether.

It institutionalizes discrimination against non-Jews.

B’Tselem’s Executive Director, Hagai El-Ad earlier said the following: 

“The fundamental tenets of Israel’s regime, although already implemented for many years, have recently grown more explicit.” 

“This happened both with the discussion of de jure annexation after decades of de facto annexation, and with the enactment of the Nation State Basic Law, which took the existing discrimination against Palestinians and turned it into an open constitutional principle.”

The Adalah Legal Center for Arab Minority Rights in Israel said the following about Israel’s racist nation-state law:

It “enshrines Jewish supremacy over Palestinian citizens.” 

“The law has distinct apartheid characteristics and requires racist acts as a constitutional value.”

It “guarantees the ethnic-religious character of Israel as exclusively Jewish and entrenches the privileges enjoyed by Jewish citizens, while simultaneously anchoring discrimination against Palestinian citizens and legitimizing exclusion, racism, and systemic inequality.”

It flies in the face of core international law.

Article 7(1)(j) of the Rome Statute of the International Criminal Court states that “(t)he ‘crime of apartheid’ means inhumane acts…committed in the context of an institutionalized regime of systematic oppression and domination by one racial group over any other racial group or groups and committed with the intention of maintaining that regime.”

If sworn into office this month, the anti-Netanyahu coalition will enforce apartheid viciousness like its predecessors.

Long-suffering Occupied Palestinians and Israeli Arab citizens won’t ever live free in their own homes, on their own land, in their own country until apartheid ends and Israeli officials culpable for high crimes are held accountable once and for all.

True enough, “Netanyahu embodied dishonest, divisive demagoguery,” and contempt for the rule of law as the London Guardian explained.

What replaces him may be worse.

On Friday, Likudnik Knesset speaker Yariv Levin said he’ll announce formation of the Lapid/Bennett-led coalition on Monday.

It’s step one before it’s swearing into power as new Israeli government.

A coalition statement called on Levin to “enable the formation of a functioning unity government that will extract us from the chaos.”

He said “(i)t cannot be that coalition agreements will be hidden from the Knesset and the public.”

Bennett-led Yamina party member Nir Orbach was undecided on if he’ll support empowerment of the anti-Netanyahu coalition.

As a Knesset member, his backing is crucial to maintain its razor-thin 61-seat majority.

After meeting with Bennett on Friday, he tweeted:

“I will do all I can to ensure it will succeed,” referring to the anti-Netanyahu 8-party coalition.

On Friday, another earlier undecided Yamina party member, Idit Silman, said she’ll “be voting in favor of (the new) unity government. It’s final.”

On Friday, anti-Netanyahu critic Haaretz expressed concern about whether he’ll pull an 11th hour “stinking trick” to try retaining power.

Knowing how he operates, nothing can be ruled out by a Machiavellian figure perhaps willing to do almost anything to remain prime minister.

Next week or shortly thereafter it’ll be known if he succeeds or if his reign of terror ended once and for all.

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