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.

Zionism Is Genocide

May 23, 2021

By Stephen Lendman

Source

In 2018, Hadassah Magazine called Brooklyn, NY “the most Jewish spot on earth.” 

In the 1940s, its Jewish population numbered around 900,000. Now it’s around 600,000.

On Nakba Day, May 15, at a pro-Palestinian rally in densely Jewish Brooklyn, signs read:

“This Jew will not stand by” silently

“Another Jew for a Free Palestine”

Most striking was the image of a diminutive woman with a determined look in her eyes, holding a sign saying:

“This 90 year old Jew says ZIONISM is GENOCIDE”

Zionism is also racist tyranny by another name.

“Jewish Voice for Peace (JVP) is guided by a vision of justice, equality and freedom for all people,” the organization states.

Zionism abhors these values. It’s why JVP “unequivocally” opposes its scourge.

It’s polar opposite what peace, equity, justice, and compliance the rule of law are all about.

In Israel, it’s a racist, violent, apartheid “settler-colonial movement…where Jews have more rights than others,” said JVP.

Repugnant in all respects, it dispossesses Palestinians from their homes, land, well-being and lives for not being Jewish.

There’s nothing remotely anti-Semitic about Zionist critics. Everyone everywhere should unite with them against apartheid Israel.

Its slow-motion genocide elimination of long-suffering Palestinians makes it a moral and ethical duty for everyone to oppose —Jews and non-Jews alike.

Law Professor Francis Boyle stressed time and again that “Palestinians have been victims of genocide as defined by the 1948 Genocide Convention since the founding of the State of Israel” 73 years ago.

It’s Article II states the following:

Genocide is all about the “intent to destroy, in whole or in part, a national, ethnical, racial, or religious group, as such: 

(a) killing members of the group;

(b) causing serious bodily or mental harm to members of the group;

(c) deliberately inflicting on the group conditions of life calculated to bring about its destruction its physical destruction in whole or in part…”

Boyle: The above “is exactly” how Israel operates against Palestinians — especially besieged Gazans.

They’re victims of four Israeli genocidal wars in the last 13 years.

Since illegally blockading the Strip in 2007, its ruling authorities have waged slow-motion genocide against its two million people daily — along with speeding up the process by four bloody wars of aggression.

According to political economist Shir Hever, Israel is militarily superior to Palestinian resistance while strategically “losing international legitimacy” — including among Jews worldwide.

Despite 11 days of mass slaughter and destruction in Gaza, the Netanyahu regime lost the war.

So did Gazans — at least for years needed to rebuild physically and emotionally for countless numbers harmed by Israeli aggression.

Longer-term remains to be seen.

The struggle to end illegal blockade and for Palestinian liberation overall hopefully will come one day, but for now it’s nowhere in sight.

Friday, interventionist Blinkin’s deputy spokesman Jalina Porter was asked what the Biden regime is doing to condemn “Israeli aggression against Palestinian civilians.”

She ducked the question as expected, instead repeating a usual unacceptable response, saying:

The US is “working tirelessly to bring an end to this (sic),” adding:

It’ll “continue to remain engaged with senior Israeli officials, Palestinian leadership, as well as partners in the region (in) calling for sustainable calm (sic).”

Ignored by Porter were four Security Council draft statements, expressing mild criticism of Israel — blocked by the Biden White House.

She said nothing about its approval of a $735 million supply of US arms to Israel, including precision-guided missiles for further smashing Gaza and aggression against Syria at its discretion.

And, of course, she ignored longstanding US/Western one-sided support for the highest of Israeli high crimes, along with disdain and indifference toward Palestinian rights.

Its people have no high-level friends in Washington or other Western capitals.

The US notably supplies the Israeli war machine with state-of-the-art weapons and generous funding for its perpetual war on long-suffering Palestinians.

In 1920, industrialist Henry Ford called the “International Jew the world’s foremost problem.”

His remark was blatantly racist. Today as it applies to Israel, its hardcore supporters and enablers, it’s reality.

On Thursday, the Addameer Human Rights Group accused the Netanyahu regime of escalating violence against Palestinians throughout the Occupied Territories for the last month — in the run-up to and during its aggression against Gaza.

Hardline racist settlers are complicit, armed gangs attacking Palestinians viciously — while nearby security forces do nothing to intervene.

“Arbitrary arrests have been a key feature of the Israeli occupation’s attempts to repress the Palestinian people’s struggle for liberty all across the occupied Palestinian territory,” Addameer stressed.

Ceasefire on Friday changed nothing because the world community — especially the US-dominated West — does nothing to enforce the rule of law.

On Saturday, Al Jazeera reported that while days of devastating Israeli terror-bombing and shelling went on round-the-clock “terrified (Gazans) sa(id) their final goodbyes to family members and friends…fearing they would die in one of the heaviest Israeli attacks on the Palestinian enclave ever.”

In its aftermath, survivors face the daunting task of trying to rebuild and heal their emotional scars.

They’ll get little or no help from the US and West — their ruling regimes uncaring about their rights, well-being or lives.

Palestine Will Prevail Against Zionism

By Konrad Rekas

Source

Palestine Will Prevail Against Zionism

This political violence cannot last forever, and resistance to supporting Zionism is also growing in the West. Peace and justice are the only acceptable solutions for Palestine, and this must mean the end of the Zionist regime.

It’s not a coincidence that the great Imam Khomeini (blessed be His name) referenced Al-Quds Day in the last Friday of Ramadan. We are used to seeing the Palestinian cause in terms of mourning. So much Palestinian blood was shed by the Zionist occupiers, so much damage was done on Palestinian land, so devastating was Zionist occupation in the Palestinian capital, Al-Quds. These Zionist crimes must of course never be forgotten, the same as we will always remember the Nakba and never accept the existence of the Zionist occupation entity. The mood of Ramadan, its sacred atmosphere, perfectly fosters this absolutely necessary historical reflection.

But we must also think about the Al-Quds Day in terms of hope. Above all hope and future happiness! The great Imam Khomeini with His unparalleled acumen surely saw this as the inevitable event of the future: the return of the liberated Al-Quds to its role as the Palestinian capital, the city of the faithful. To a role that Jerusalem has never lost in our souls. This is what makes each Al-Quds Day event so profound and important, combining the memory of the tragic past, the awareness of the crimes still happening before our eyes, with the certainty of the irreversible victory that will be enjoyed by Palestine and all its friends.

Cut Off The Cancer

Of course, for now we are all in situation of a body attacked by a cancer.A cancer cell is a killer that pretends to belong to the body it kills. This is what the Zionist occupation regime is doing. It has no rights or any grounds for the occupation of Palestine other than its own crimes and the support of the American and British centres serving the Zionists. For centuries, the Jewish population in the Middle East lived in harmony and peace with their Arab neighbours, and thanks to the rule of Islam, they could develop freely, unlike in full-blooded and intolerant Western Europe. And it was from Europe that the invasion of foreigners, attackers of unknown origin, who declared themselves rulers of this land and the World as a whole fell on Palestine! On the basis of a sick, criminal Zionist ideology and invented genealogy children of Eastern European stallholders and Western European doctrinaires, they all turned out to be terrorists attacking a peaceful, friendly Palestine. They came out of the sea like the Jinns, and like the Jinns, they should be thrown back into the sea.

Over the years the Zionists enslaved not only all of Palestine, but also tried to impose their tyranny on their neighbours, especially Lebanon. With the help of their American servants, the Zionists also tried to create “Greater Israel” in Syria and Iraq, and in cooperation with the Saudi traitors of Islam, they tried to impose their power on the entire Middle East. This sect is no different in Europe, where, using especially the myth of the “Holocaust“, it imprints on European nations its ideological and financial dictatorship. Indeed, Zionism is a cancer, not only for Palestine and the Middle East, but for the whole World. And for the sake of all mankind, it must be cut down!

Path Of The Martyrs

The Supreme Leader of the Islamic Republic of Iran, the great Ayatollah Ali Hosseini Khamenei, was the only one to present a viable and rational program for settling the Palestinian question via voting by all the true inhabitants of this land and their descendants. No other government, no state, including the European one, has devoted itself to such a profound and sensitive focus on the tragedy of Palestine. And this despite the fact that the crimes of the Zionists are not a secret in Europe. On the contrary, in many European countries, for example in Scotland, where I live, the social support movements for the victims of Zionist terror are more than strong. Governments, however, prefer to turn a blind eye, frightened by the myth of the “Holocaust” as well as under the pressure of the American Zionist chain dog, which, especially under Donald Trump, brutally forced the unconditionally pro-Zionist political line on its dependent states. And as we can see now, there is no big difference as far as Joe Biden’s administration concerned.

However, this political violence cannot last forever, and resistance to supporting Zionism is also growing in the West. Peace and justice are the only acceptable solutions for Palestine, and this must mean the end of the Zionist regime. Eventually, it will be forced to bow to the increased pressure of heroic Palestinian resistance, economic boycott from the rest of the World, and above all the unshakable will of Islam, led by the Islamic Republic of Iran and its Supreme Leader.

The road to a free Palestine is marked by the graves of the martyrs, and we all know that General Soleimani is one of the greatest of them. No one has ever caused so many losses to Zionism in his whole life, while saving so many believers and, in fact, helping the whole World. It is no coincidence that the Great General was targeted by the Zionist criminals and the American murderers acting on their behalf. However, the blood of the martyrs is the seed of faith. Faith in the final victory, in pushing the Zionists into the sea, in a free Palestine and in the Middle East without the imperialist troops and their Saudi henchmen.

At the same time, however, we must also remember that Zionism is not defenceless. On the contrary, the Zionist regime is held hostage by millions of Palestinians, the entire Middle East is hostage as it is threatened by Zionist nuclear weapons. It is of course possible to destroy the Zionist occupation by military means, but the cost would be enormous. Therefore, Zionism is actively fought wherever it is manifestly aggressive, just as General Soleimani did. However, we must overcome the Zionist occupation from within, by strengthening Palestinian potential and by intensifying the external blockade. Zionists are greedy people, thinking only about profits. Let’s deprive these bandits and thieves of the profits from the exploitation of Palestine and they will run away, rob Mars, work up a trillion-dollar debt to Jupiter or whatever the Zionists come up with. And this victory is inevitable, thanks to the example of General Soleimani and everyday heroes.

We Are Not With Palestine… Enough

In whole Europe we can see now thousands of people attending meetings of solidarity with Palestine. It is an important and touching experience. I have helped to organise some of them, but every time I have one, I share a strong message with the attendance:

We should not say and write “We are with Palestine” because we are… not there.

We were not banished from our homes during Nakba. We did not live in Sabra and Shatila. We were not kids shot at during the Intifada. Water was not shut off from our houses in the Autonomy. No one shot us when we were sailing towards the ships in Gaza. We are not where the Zionists are murdering Palestine.

And let’s not lie to ourselves that we can really do something for Palestine, that we change something by putting away on the shelf of a supermarket oranges fertilized with the blood of children from the West Bank. Because there will always be some other news of the day eventually. Because someday we have a whim to go on a trip to Eilat. Because the governments we vote for will talk us down again into making another deal with the Zionists.

Let’s not say we are with Palestine until we are truly consistent. As long as the chain of economic and political blockade around “Israel” is tighter than the barbed wire strangling the Autonomy. Until real sanctions against the Zionists hit Tel Aviv more accurately than their missiles hit Gaza.

The World conducts so many wars on our behalf, but against ourselves. This one, the one for the liberation of Palestine, let’s help lead it in our own well-understood interest. Not only for a moment, when we are once again saddened by another murdered Palestinian children, but for the final victory.

Otherwise – we will never be with Palestine.

Otherwise – we will become it ourselves.

Russian Foreign Ministry on Ukraine, White Helmets, the US and Gaza

By Stephen Lendman

Source

Russian Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Maria Zakharova (MZ below) slammed US-installed Ukrainian puppet president Zelensky for failing to fulfill his “pledge to launch real reform, restore peace in Donbass and change Ukrainians’ lives for the better.”

He’s gone the opposite way in obeying orders from his higher power in Washington.

MZ: “Political turbulence is growing, and political opposition is being perse

cuted.” 

“Undesirable media are also being persecuted, and the rights of ethnic minorities and the Russian-speaking population are violated on a large scale.” 

“At the same time, local radical nationalists, the ideological heirs of the Nazi accomplices are terrorizing civil society and feel at ease because the authorities are wary of them.”

On Friday, the Donetsk People’s Republic News Bureau quoted DPR deputy chief of staff Eduard Basurin, saying:

“Ukrainian (forces) violated the Additional Measures to Strengthen the Ceasefire 36 times over the past week.”

They fired “mortars of 120 mm and 82 mm caliber, grenade launchers, and small arms including high caliber machine guns to target 19 DPR townships,” the Donetsk News Agency explained.

On orders from Washington, Kiev wants endless war on Donbass, rejecting peace since it launched aggression in April 2014.

At the same time, Kiev ruling authorities falsely blame Donbass and Russia for their own crimes of war and against humanity. 

Days earlier at a so-called security forum in Kiev, combatting a nonexistent Russian threat was featured.

Ignoring vital needs of impoverished Ukrainians, Zelensky and hardliners surrounding him intend increasing military spending at a pace exceeding other countries, MZ explained.

At the same time, Kiev rejects conflict resolution with Donbass.

While world attention was focused on Israeli aggression against Gaza, “Ukraine’s infamous National Corps used the Middle East situation as an opportunity to carry out a provocation outside the Russian Embassy in Kiev,” said MZ.

Backing Netanyahu regime war without mercy, they falsely accused Moscow of aiding Hamas militarily — its legal right if had done so.

Commenting on US/Western support for White Helmets terrorists — masquerading as civil defense workers — MZ stressed how they really operate, saying:

They’re involved in spreading “disinformation (and) open(ly) assist(ing) (ISIS and other) terrorists.” 

Financing is provided them by Western nations and pro-war foundations, including the Amsterdam, Netherlands-based Mayday Rescue Foundation.

MZ: “Dutch journalists published information proving that the Dutch government deliberately concealed information about the foundation’s criminal schemes and illegal transactions from the parliament and the public” — including financing provided to White Helmets terrorists.

The above if further proof of the “Hague’s policy of double standards, hypocrisy and selective approach to reporting or concealing information.”

The US operates the same way to a much greater extent.

MZ noted a phony DHS National Terrorism Advisory System (NTAS) Bulletin that falsely claimed a heightened internal terrorist threat in the US — ignoring a real one in Washington against humanity.

Highlighting phony “malign foreign influences,” the DHS falsely accused Russia, China and Iran of “increased efforts to sow discord” in America — a longstanding US specialty worldwide.

Moscow praised a halt in Israeli terror-bombing and shelling of Gaza, said MZ — but failed to condemn Israeli aggression.

While involved in diplomatic efforts to halt what went on for 11 days, Russian support for restoration of peace failed to halt daily oppression of Palestinians throughout the Occupied Territories.

According to MZ, efforts going forward “should focus (on) international and regional efforts (to) creat(e) appropriate conditions for resuming direct political talks between the Israelis and the Palestinians in order to resolve a range of fundamental matters regarding final-status issues on the basis of UN resolutions and the principle of two states, Palestine and Israel, that would coexist in peace and security within the 1967 borders.”

Left unexplained was whenever steps were undertaken for over the past half century, things were dead before arrival.

No equitable conflict resolution was ever achieved — or will be ahead through diplomacy — because the US and Israel want Palestinian surrender, not equitable conflict resolution.

The so-called Palestinian/Israeli peace process has always been and remains a colossal hoax, a waste of time when initiated.

The only option for long-suffering Palestinians is continued struggle against a ruthless occupier for freedom at last one day.

It’ll never come through diplomacy because the US and Israel want Palestinians subjugated, oppressed, and eliminated from their historic homeland, not freed.

What MZ failed to explain is what’s most important to stress.

Yet Russia continues to call for “direct Palestinian-Israeli dialogue” without explaining the futility of this approach whenever undertaken.

“The Palestinian Sharpeville” – Dr Haidar Eid on the Global Implications of the Gaza Massacre

By Dan Cohen

Source

Gaza
Dr. Haidar Eid, a professor of cultural studies at Gaza’s al-Aqsa University on Israel’s targeting of middle and upper-class segments of Gaza, comparisons to the fall of South African apartheid, and how the attack on Gaza will fuel the rise of BDS.

Behind The Headlines’ Dan Cohen speaks with Dr. Haidar Eid, a professor of cultural studies at Gaza’s al-Aqsa University. They discuss Israel’s targeting of middle and upper-class segments of Gaza, comparisons to the fall of South African apartheid, and how the current attack on the Gaza Strip will fuel the rise of the Boycott Divestment and Sanctions movement.

Facebook, Social Media Giants Admit to Silencing Palestinian Voices Online

May 14th, 2021

By Jessical Buxbaum

Source

Social media companies including Facebook have admitted to MintPress that pro-Palestinian posts were removed, blaming “technical bugs” and “spam filters.”

OCCUPIED EAST JERUSALEM — In a video posted on activist organization Jewish Voice for Peace’s Twitter account, Muna El-Kurd explained why social media is so vital for the Palestinian cause.

“We rely on the honorable people standing in solidarity with us, people who tweet #SaveSheikhJarrah everyday,” Muna El-Kurd said. “Even a short tweet or post is a treasure.”

El-Kurd and her family are under threat of forcible displacement by Israel settlers and Israeli government forces from their home in Sheikh Jarrah, a neighborhood in Occupied East Jerusalem. Over the past week, Palestinians on the ground have documented both Israeli police brutality and settler violence.

In response, the world rallied behind Palestinian home defenders online by sharing information related to Sheikh Jarrah, al-Aqsa Mosque, and Israel’s ongoing ethnic cleansing of Palestine. However, activists claim their content was met with censorship from the very platforms with which they’re engaging.

Instagram disabled Muna El-Kurd’s account last week and her brother, Mohammed El-Kurd, had several of his Instagram stories removed and was threatened with account deletion.

A flurry of content removal and banning

Activists reported that social media companies have been removing their content, stating it violated community guidelines or deeming it “hate speech.” Reports also included suspended and deactivated accounts and text-only content labeled “sensitive,” a designation usually reserved for photos and videos containing violence, gore or derogatory images. The “Save Sheikh Jarrah” Facebook group was also deactivated, according to Mohammed El-Kurd.

Reports were largely centered on Instagram and Twitter, with some restrictive behaviors conducted by Facebook and even TikTok.

Over the weekend, hashtags related to al-Aqsa Mosque, Sheikh Jarrah and Jerusalem could not be found on Instagram.

According to internal employee communications provided to Buzzfeed, al-Aqsa — the third holiest site in Islam — was flagged by Instagram as associated with “violence or dangerous organizations.” The label is typically reserved for terrorist groups.

During the last days of Ramadan, worshippers at al-Aqsa were attacked with stun grenades and rubber bullets by Israeli police in riot gear. More than 170 Palestinians were injured. Social media users hoping to publicize the state violence instead found their content removed from search results.

Twenty-four rights organizations signed a statement demanding that Facebook and Twitter reinstate affected accounts and explain their actions:

The removed content and suspended accounts on both Instagram and Twitter are involved in documenting and reporting what is happening in Sheikh Jarrah, as well as denouncing Israel’s policies of ethnic cleansing, apartheid and persecution. These violations are not limited to Palestinian users, but also affect activists around the world who are using social media to raise awareness about the grave situation in Sheikh Jarrah.

Nadim Nashif, founder and CEO of 7amleh, one of the letter’s signatories, said the digital rights organization had received approximately 200 cases of social media censorship related to the recent events in Palestine. However, he believes the actual number could be well into the thousands, as many users experiencing censorship may not report it.

“Actually, 99 percent of our [content removal] appeals to social media companies were put back, with no questions asked. And this is clearly because these posts did not really violate their community standards,” Nashif told MintPress News. “What’s basically happening is the Israeli Cyber Unit is abusing the system of so-called voluntary takedown.”

When reached for comment, a Twitter spokesperson said “Our automated systems took enforcement action on a small number of accounts in error by an automated spam filter.”

“We are expeditiously reversing this action to reinstate access to the affected accounts, some of which have already been reinstated,” Twitter said.

Facebook, which owns Instagram, responded to requests for comment from MintPress by issuing a statement that reads in part:

We know there have been several issues that have impacted people’s ability to share on our apps, including a technical bug that affected Stories around the world, and an error which temporarily restricted content from being viewed on the Al Aqsa mosque hashtag page. While both issues have been fixed, they never should have happened in the first place. We’re so sorry to everyone who felt they couldn’t bring attention to important events, or who felt this was a deliberate suppression of their voice. This was never our intention.

Corporate and government collaborative censorship

As previously reported by MintPress, social media suppression of Palestinian media is not a new phenomenon. 7amleh’s research unveiled significant cooperation between social media behemoths and Israel in targeting Palestinian content: According to a 2020 7amleh report on the systematic erasure of Palestinian content, the Israeli Ministry of Justice’s Cyber Unit is responsible for submitting removal requests to tech companies based on purported violations of domestic law and the companies’ community guidelines.

7amleh wrote in their report:

The Israeli Minister of Justice, Ayelet Shaked, stated that ‘Facebook, Google, and YouTube are complying with up to 95% of Israel’s requests to delete content that the Israeli government says incites Palestinian violence.’ This shows a significant focus on Palestinian content and efforts to label Palestinian political speech as incitement to violence.

The Israeli government and non-governmental organizations also encourage citizens to participate in these censorship efforts by making their own content removal requests with regard to Palestinian information.

“The big issue of the voluntary takedowns is that there aren’t any legal or bureaucratic procedures to clarify them,” Nashif said.

In 2019, Adalah – The Legal Center for Arab Minority Rights in Israel and the Association for Civil Rights in Israel (ACRI) filed a joint petition to Israel’s High Court of Justice against the Cyber Unit on the grounds its mechanisms violate the constitutional rights of freedom of expression and due process. Last month, Israel’s Supreme Court rejected that petition.

“As usual, the Supreme Court supported and validated the actions of the Cyber Unit,” Nashif said. “And now they’re trying to suppress the Palestinian voice by intensifying these requests for takedowns.”

Nashif could not confirm that Israel’s Cyber Unit is behind the latest alleged censorship. But through Adalah and ACRI’s use of the Freedom of Information Law, 7amleh knows the government entity made more than 15,000 requests last year to social media platforms. Nashif explained:

We don’t have evidence about what’s happened in the last week because neither the Cyber Unit nor Facebook is transparent about the takedowns. But it’s clear from following them, researching their policies, speaking with people working in Facebook and from the different appeals in the court against the Cyber Unit, we know that this is obviously happening.”

Escalating violence, growing grassroots action

Tensions in Jerusalem and throughout Palestine have intensified in recent days. At the time of writing, Israeli airstrikes have killed 87 Gazan Palestinians, including 18 children, and rocket fire from Hamas, the resistance movement governing Gaza, has killed six Israelis and one Indian national. More than 530 Palestinians have been injured and 28 Israelis wounded.

Israeli forces have fired skunk water and stun grenades at crowds demonstrating against the expulsions of Sheikh Jarrah residents. Armed groups of Israelis are currently storming Palestine’s streets—chanting “Death to Arabs,” destroying Palestinian properties, and attacking Palestinians.

Palestinians Gaza
Palestinians carry the body of a child found in the rubble home destroyed by a precision Israeli airstrikes in Gaza, May 13, 2021. Abdel Kareem Hana | AP

Palestinians Gaza
A relative mourns over the bodies of four young brothers from the Tanani family killed in an Israeli airstrike in Gaza, May 14, 2021. Khalil Hamra | AP

Palestinians Gaza
A wounded boy lies on a stretcher following an Israeli attack in Beit Lahiya, Gaza, May 10, 2021. Mohammed Ali | AP

The Israeli Supreme Court postponed a court hearing on the possible dispossession facing Sheikh Jarrah families, including the El-Kurds. The court is expected to set a new date in 30 days.

While the Israeli authorities continue crushing Palestinian dissent on the ground, Nashif said Palestinian voices remain silenced online as well.

“Our feeling is that it’s less now because we are getting fewer requests to appeal. But it is still happening,” Nashif said, referring to how the Israeli Cyber Unit, artificial intelligence, and pro-Israel internet communities like Act.IL are all part of the campaign to diminish the Palestinian perspective on social media.

“You have to understand that this is a fight on narrative,” Nashif said. “There is a strong attempt to suppress the Palestinian narrative.”

US/Western Support for Israel Mass Slaughter and Destruction Throughout the Occupied Territories

May 16, 2021

By Stephen Lendman

Source

Support by the US-dominated West lets apartheid Israel reign terror on Occupied Palestinians with impunity — as it’s done from inception since its 1947-48 war of aggression.

An illegitimately created Jewish state in the Arab Middle East remains a prescription for endless conflict.

It’s ongoing perpetually by Israel against Palestinians its ruling regimes want dispossessed of their homes and land, against Syria for years and Lebanon at the Jewish state’s discretion.

As long as apartheid Israel exists, the Middle East will remain one of the world’s hot spots.  

What the Netanyahu regime named Operation Guardian of the Walls, Hamas calls Operation Al-Quds (Jerusalem) Sword.

A statement its leadership issued last week said the following:

“We warned the enemy not to insist on attacking our holy sites and our people.” 

“The enemy, however, continued its brutality, so it’s time now to pay a price.” 

“We have accumulated our military experience in a bid to defend our people, whom we will never abandon.” 

“Our weapon is the weapon of all our people.”

“The time when the coward enemy can attack Al-Aqsa and Al-Quds without being held accountable is over.”

Sunday marks day-seven of Israeli aggression on Gaza — and throughout the Occupied Territories perpetually — defenseless Palestinian civilians paying the biggest price.

Deaths, injuries and mass destruction increase by the hour, including by smashing residential buildings in the Strip and other non-military-related targets.

In all preemptive Israeli wars, inflicting maximum pain, suffering, deaths, destruction, and slow-motion genocide are key objectives — in flagrant breach of the UN Charter and other international law.

On Saturday, Netanyahu pledged to continue endless Israeli aggression on Gaza.

In response, Hamas political leader Ismail Haniyah vowed that “resistance” to Israeli state terror “will not give in.”

According to Gaza health officials Sunday morning, pre-dawn Israeli terror-bombing killed over two dozen more Palestinians in the Strip, including 8 more children.

As of early Sunday morning local time, at least 182 Palestinians were massacred by Israel in cold blood, including around 50 children — thousands injured in Gaza and throughout the Territories.

Whatever the death, injury, and destruction toll at any moment in time, carnage continues to increase hourly throughout one day after another — how it’s been since May 10.

On Sunday, the UN Security Council will hold a first-ever open discussion on the ongoing conflict — to include representatives from Occupied Palestine, Israel and other regional countries, notably Jordan and Egypt.

Two earlier closed-door sessions were held in the past week.

So far, Biden regime hardliners — in support of Israeli aggression — blocked issuance of a statement criticizing it.

Over the weekend, the Biden regime again defied reality by falsely blaming Hamas for Israel’s preemptive reign of terror on Gaza, the West Bank and East Jerusalem.

Netanyahu regime envoy to Washington Gilad Erdan thanked “POTUS” for its one-sided support.

In cities worldwide, large-scale pro-Palestinian rallies continue to be held.

Some participants carried banners and chanted: 

“Free Palestine.” 

“Israel is a terrorist state.” 

“Occupation No More.” 

“We demand change.”

“Not in my name.”

“Solidarity with Palestine.”

“From the river to the sea, Palestine will be free,” and other anti-Israeli slogans. 

Jewish state flags were burned.

In the US, thousands turned out in New York, Boston, Philadelphia, Pittsburgh, Los Angeles, Atlanta, Houston, Denver, and elsewhere nationwide, including downtown Chicago where I live — in solidarity with long-suffering Palestinians.

According to WGN TV Chicago:

“A massive group of protesters from The Chicago Coalition for Justice in Palestine filled Congress Plaza in downtown Chicago Wednesday to condemn…Israeli aggression.”

“Demonstrators (rallied along the city’s) Magnificent Mile,” including near Chicago’s landmark Water Tower.

CBS TV Chicago reported on a south side “Bridgeview (rally) in support of Palestinians.”

In Los Angeles on Saturday, one demonstrator likely spoke for many others nationwide, saying:

“I’m here because I want a Palestinian life to equal an Israeli life and today it doesn’t,” adding:

“When you have a nuclear-armed state and another state of villagers with rocks, it is clear who is to blame.”

May 15 marked the 73rd anniversary of Nakba Day — the catastrophe, reflecting mass-displacement of Palestinians and decades of endless suffering under suffocating occupation.

Earlier I quoted a violently displaced Palestinian saying the following:

“I cannot forget three horror-filled days in July of 1948.” 

“The pain sears my memory, and I cannot rid myself of it no matter how hard I try.”

“First, Israeli soldiers forced thousands of Palestinians from their homes near the Mediterranean coast, even though some families had lived in the same houses for centuries.”

“My family had been in the town of Lydda in Palestine at least 1,600 years.” 

“Then, without water, we stumbled into the hills and continued for three deadly days.”

“The Jewish soldiers followed, occasionally shooting over our heads to scare us and keep us moving.” 

“Terror filled my eleven-year-old mind as I wondered what would happen.”

“I remembered overhearing my father and his friends express alarm about recent massacres by Jewish terrorists. Would they kill us, too?”

“We did not know what to do, except to follow orders and stumble blindly up the rocky hills.” 

“I walked hand in hand with my grandfather, who carried our only remaining possessions-a small tin of sugar and some milk for my aunt’s two-year-old son, sick with typhoid.”

Palestinians are no match against Israeli brutality committed against them — how it’s always been.

Nakba survivors recall the horror they endured. 

Arabs were gunned down in cold blood, women raped.

Other atrocities were committed. Hundreds of thousands displaced hoped one day they’d return.

They and descendants are still waiting, enduring ruthless militarized occupation.

On Nakba Day 2021, the 

Palestinian BDS National Committee (BNC) explained “10 facts you need to know about the Palestinian Nakba:”

1. Zionist militia forcibly displaced from “750,000 and 1,000,000 Palestinians into exile, making them refugees.”

2. Around eight million Palestinian refugees are denied their legal “right to return to their homes, lands and other property by Israel, simply because they are not Jewish.”

3. The Nakba was well-planned forced displacement of indigenous Arabs to create a Jewish state in historic Palestine.

4. “Zionist militia begun its ethnic cleansing of Palestinian towns and villages months before the creation of the State of Israel.”

5. Jewish state Arab citizens are discriminated against for being non-Jews and treated like fifth column threats which they’re not.

6. In creating an illegitimate Jewish state by stealing historic Palestinian land, Zionist militia “destroyed about 530 Palestinian towns and villages to prevent refugees from returning.”

7. The Jewish National Fund (JNF)…holds…stolen (Palestinian) land as “the perpetual property of the Jewish People” — illegally.

8. “The Nakba did not end in 1948 and continues to this day, in the form of Israel’s ongoing theft of Palestinian land for settlements and for Jewish communities inside Israel, its destruction of Palestinian homes and agricultural land, revocation of residency rights , deportations, demographic engineering, periodic brutal military assaults, and forced displacement.”

9. “Many (East Jerusalem)Sheikh Jarrah…residents were ethnically cleansed from their homes during the Nakba.” 

“They currently face becoming refugees for the second or third time.”

Throughout the Occupied Territories, “(i)ndigenous Palestinians are being forced from their homes by state sponsored violence at the hands of Israeli soldiers, Israeli police, and armed Israeli” settlers.

10. Israeli law “prohibits Palestinians who are second-class citizens of the state from commemorating the Nakba on May 15.” 

“This does not stop Palestinians from remembering.”

According to the BNC, the most effective way to support justice for long-suffering Palestinians is by “(s)har(ing) stories of the Nakba from Palestinians and join(ing) BDS campaigns.”

When Will Israel Be Held Accountable for Genocide?

May 16, 2021

By Stephen Lendman

Source

Apartheid Israel gives new meaning to rogue state ruthlessness.

Since terror-bombing and shelling of Gaza communities began a week ago, their intensity increased from one day to the next.

Its overnight reign of terror massacred 26 Palestinian civilians in Gaza City, wounding at least 50 others.

At least two residential buildings in the city were turned to smoldering rubble.

Instead of condemning mass murder and vast destruction — along with demanding accountability for the highest of high crimes — the world community has done nothing to stop the carnage.

Biden regime hardliners support it.

Because of one-sided US/Western support — how it’s always been for the past 73 years — Israeli regimes know they can do whatever they please unaccountably.

Dem Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez slammed the Biden regime for supporting “apartheid” Israel.

Via Twitter, she explained what everyone paying attention knows.

Israeli mass slaughter and destruction in Gaza “is happening with the support of the US,” adding:

“I don’t care how any spokesperson tries to spin this.” 

“The US vetoed the UN call for ceasefire.” 

“If the Biden (regime) can’t stand up to an ally, who can it stand up to?” 

Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi slammed the Biden regime for “standing on the opposite side of international justice.”

On Saturday, Blinken’s spokesman Price turned truth on its head by falsely claiming “unwavering (Biden regime) support for independent journalists and media organizations around the world (sic), and noted the indispensability of their reporting in conflict zones (sic).”

Silencing what conflicts with Washington’s official falsified narrative is “unwavering” policy by US dark forces and their press agent media.

Over the weekend, Netanyahu said his regime’s reign of terror on Palestinians “will continue as long as needed” — to serve his political aim to retain iron-fisted power.

Along with unrelenting Israeli inflicted carnage on Gaza, the Palestinian Wafa News agency said over a dozen Palestinians were killed in the West Bank and East Jerusalem, many hundreds wounded, scores by live fire.

Wafa also explained that days of Israeli terror-bombing and shelling of Gaza caused “massive destruction” and devastation to the Strip and its two million people.

Over the weekend, the White House again affirmed one-sided Biden regime support for Israeli mass slaughter and destruction throughout the Occupied Territories.

At the same time, it condemned Palestinian self-defense against Israeli aggression as “indiscriminate attacks (sic)” on the Jewish state.

Over the weekend, rescue workers continued pulling survivors and bodies from rubble caused by Israeli terror-bombing.

A statement by American Muslims for Palestine said the following:

Remarks by Biden, Blinken, Psaki, Price, and other regime officials “completely disregard the ethnic cleansing of Palestinians from East Jerusalem, the Israeli assault on Al-Aqsa on worshippers during Ramadan, and the ongoing siege of Gaza that has already claimed the lives of hundreds,” adding:

“In a show of solidarity with our Palestinian brothers and sisters in Palestine, the United States, and around the world, a coalition of Muslims nationwide is urging our Muslim community to boycott the White House event and join the ‘Eid with Palestine: A Protest of the White House Eid event.”

Remarks by the Council on American-Islamic Relations were similar.

Former PLO legal advisor/Law Professor Francis Boyle earlier urged Palestinians to “sue Israel for genocide before the International Court of Justice (ICJ).”

There’s no ambiguity about Jewish state guilt, Boyle adding:

“The purpose of this lawsuit would be to demonstrate that undeniable fact to the entire world.”  

“…World Court legal proceedings (would) prove to the entire world and to all of history that what the Nazis did to the Jews (in the 1930s and 40s) is legally similar to what the Israelis are currently doing to the Palestinian People today: genocide.”

In his earlier statement, Boyle explained required steps for Palestinians to bring the case before the World Court.

While the ICJ has no power to force compliance by the US and other nations to its rulings, finding Israel guilty of genocide would be an indelible stain to taint the Jewish state in perpetuity.

As long as Israeli-installed Quisling Palestinian president Mahmoud Abbas remains in office — enjoying special benefits afforded him — it’s highly unlikely that he’ll bite the hand generously feeding him.

At age-85, he won’t be around forever. If a successor goes where he never dared by suing Israel for genocide at the ICJ, it would be an important step in pursuing long-denied Palestinian rights.

Boyle earlier said he “believe(d) (that) the World Court (would) rule in favor of the de jure

existence of the State of Palestine for the purpose of mounting this

lawsuit against Israel for genocide,” adding:

For sure, the US would “do everything possible to line up the votes of certain Judges against

Palestine.”  

“But it is no longer the case that the United States Government controls the World Court.”

In 1986, the ICJ’s ruling for Nicaragua was ignored by the US.

The Court ordered Washington to pay reparations to Nicaragua for contra war mass slaughter, destruction, and related high crimes against a sovereign state. 

If Palestinians one day sue Israel for genocide, a similar ICJ judgment would likely follow — even though the US, West and Israel no doubt would ignore it.

Boyle earlier added that “if necessary, (he) could the United States before the International Court of Justice for aiding and abetting Israeli genocide against the Palestinian People in violation of Article III(e) of the 1948 Genocide Convention that expressly criminalizes ‘complicity’ in genocide.”

I hope I’m around long enough to witness both the US and Israel sued for the crime of genocide — followed by ICJ rulings of guilty as charged.

Muna is Palestine, Yakub is Israel: The Untold Story of Sheikh Jarrah

May 12th, 2021

Sheikh Jarrah Feature photo

By Ramzy Baroud

Source

There are two separate Sheikh Jarrah stories – one read and watched in the news and another that receives little media coverage or due analysis. 

There are two separate Sheikh Jarrah stories – one read and watched in the news and another that receives little media coverage or due analysis. The obvious story is that of the nightly raids and violence meted out by Israeli police and Jewish extremists against Palestinians in the devastated East Jerusalem neighborhood.

For weeks, thousands of Jewish extremists have targeted Palestinian communities in Jerusalem’s Old City. Their objective is the removal of Palestinian families from their homes in the Sheikh Jarrah neighborhood. They are not acting alone. Their riots and rampages are directed by a well-coordinated leadership composed of extremist Zionist and Jewish groups, such as the Otzma Yehudit party and the Lehava Movement. Their unfounded claims, violent actions and abhorrent chant “Death to the Arabs” are validated by Israeli politicians, such as Knesset member Itamar Ben-Gvir and the Deputy Mayor of Jerusalem, Arieh King.

Here is a little introduction to the political discourse of Ben-Gvir and King, who were caught on video shouting and insulting a wounded Palestinian protester. The video starts with MK Ben-Gvir disparagingly yelling at a Palestinian who was apparently wounded by Israeli police, yet returned to protest against the evictions planned for Sheikh Jarrah.

Ben-Gvir is heard shouting, “Abu Hummus, how is your ass?”

“The bullet is still there, that’s why he is limping,” responds the Deputy Mayor, King, to Ben-Gvir.  King continues, “Did they take the bullet out of your ass? Did they take it out already? It is a pity it did not go in here,” King continues, pointing to his head.

Delighted with what they perceive to be a whimsical commentary on the wounding of the Palestinian, Ben-Gvir and King’s entourage of Jewish extremists laugh.

While “Abu Hummus”, wounded yet still protesting, is a testament to the tenacity of the Palestinian people, King, Ben-Gvir, the settlers and the police are a representation of the united Israeli front aimed at ethnically cleansing Palestinians and ensuring Jewish majority in Jerusalem.

Another important participant in the ongoing Israeli ethnic cleansing campaign in Jerusalem is Israel’s court system which has provided a legal cover for the targeting of Palestinian inhabitants of Jerusalem.

The legal foundation of the Jewish settlers’ constant attempts at acquiring more Palestinian properties can be traced back to a specific 1970 law, known as the Legal and Administrative Matters Law, which allowed Jews to sue Palestinians for properties they claim to have owned prior to the establishment of Israel on the ruins of historic Palestine in 1948. While Palestinians are excluded from making similar claims, Israeli courts have generously handed Palestinian homes, lands and other assets to Jewish claimants. In turn, these homes, as in the case of Sheikh Jarrah and other Palestinian neighborhoods in East Jerusalem, are often sold to Jewish settler organizations to build yet more colonies on occupied Palestinian land.

Last February, the Israeli Supreme Court awarded Jewish settlers the right to many Palestinian homes in Sheikh Jarrah. Following a Palestinian and international backlash, it offered Palestinians a ‘compromise’, whereby Palestinian families relinquished ownership rights to their homes and agreed to continue to live there as tenants, paying rents to the very illegal Jewish settlers who have stolen their homes in the first place, but who are now armed with a court decision.

However, the ‘logic’ through which Jews claim Palestinian properties as their own should not be associated with a few extremist organizations. After all, the ethnic cleansing of Palestine in 1948 was not the work of a few extreme Zionists. Similarly, the illegal occupation of East Jerusalem, the West Bank and the Gaza Strip in 1967 and the massive settlement enterprise that followed was not the brainchild of a few extreme individuals. Colonialism in Israel was, and remains, a state-run project, which ultimately aims at achieving the same objective that is being carried out in Sheikh Jarrah – the ethnic cleansing of Palestinians to ensure Jewish demographic majority

This is the untold story of Sheikh Jarrah, one that cannot be expressed by a few news bytes or social media posts. However, this most relevant narrative is largely hidden. It is easier to blame a few Jewish extremists than to hold the entire Israeli government accountable. Israeli Prime Minister, Benjamin Netanyahu, is constantly manipulating the subject of demographics to advance the interests of his Jewish constituency. He is a strong believer in an exclusive Jewish state and also fully aware of the political influence of Jewish settlers. For example, shortly before the March 23 elections, Netanyahu made a decision to greenlight the construction of 540 illegal settlement units in the so-called Har-Homa E Area (Abu Ghneim Mountain) in the occupied West Bank, in the hope of acquiring as many votes as possible.

While the Sheikh Jarrah story is garnering some attention even in mainstream US media, there is a near-complete absence of any depth to that coverage, namely the fact that Sheikh Jarrah is not the exception but the norm. Sadly, as Palestinians and their supporters try to circumvent widespread media censorship by reaching out directly to civil societies across the world using social media platforms, they are often censored there, as well.

One of the videos initially censored by Instagram is that of Muna al-Kurd, a Palestinian woman who had lost her home in Sheikh Jarrah to a Jewish settler by the name of Yakub.

“Yakub, you know this is not your house,” Muna is seen outside her home, speaking to Yakub.

Yakub answers, “Yes, but if I go, you don’t go back. So what’s the problem? Why are you yelling at me? I didn’t do this. I didn’t do this. It’s easy to yell at me, but I didn’t do this. 

Muna: “You are stealing my house.”

Yakub: “And if I don’t steal it, someone else is going to steal it.”

Muna: “No. No one is allowed to steal it.” 

The untold story of Sheikh Jarrah, of Jerusalem – in fact, of all of Palestine – is that of Muna and Yakub, the former representing Palestine, the latter, Israel. For justice to ever be attained, Muna must be allowed to reclaim her stolen home and Yakub must be held accountable for his crime.

In Wake of HRW Apartheid Report, Israeli Propagandists Launch Global PR Offensive

By Alan Macleod

Source

Much of the online anger at the Human Rights Watch report was actually manufactured by an Israeli government-sponsored app, Act.IL, which organized supporters of the Jewish state to act in sync to create an artificial groundswell of opposition to it. 

NEW YORK — A recently released bombshell Human Rights Watch (HRW) report has made waves around the world. For the first time, the New York-based non-governmental organization has categorized Israel as an apartheid state guilty of “crimes against humanity.”

The 213-page study goes into detail about a range of racist laws and policies carried out by successive administrations, concluding that there is an “overarching Israeli government policy to maintain the domination by Jewish Israelis over Palestinians and grave abuses committed against Palestinians living in the occupied territory, including East Jerusalem.”

The report accuses the state of Israel of widespread “institutional discrimination” and of “denying millions of Palestinians their fundamental rights…solely because they are Palestinian and not Jewish.” It further notes that, across Israel and the Occupied Palestinian Territories, it has “sought to maximize the land available for Jewish communities and to concentrate most Palestinians in dense population centers.”

“Prominent voices have warned for years that apartheid lurks just around the corner if the trajectory of Israel’s rule over Palestinians does not change,” said the organization’s executive director, Kenneth Roth. “This detailed study shows that Israeli authorities have already turned that corner and today are committing the crimes against humanity of apartheid and persecution.

Perhaps most importantly, Human Rights Watch is now openly calling for global action to end the repression. The report asks the International Criminal Court to investigate and prosecute those involved in Palestinian persecution. While not explicitly endorsing the Boycott, Divestment and Sactions (BDS) movement, Human Rights Watch directly advocates that “[s]tates should impose individual sanctions, including travel bans and asset freezes, against officials and individuals responsible for the continued commission of these serious crimes,” and for businesses to “cease business activities that directly contribute to the crimes of apartheid and persecution.”

A big splash

The report was widely covered across the world and has been heralded by Palestine solidarity activists, with experts seeing it as a potential turning point in the struggle for Palestinian sovereignty. “It was inevitable that Human Rights Watch would have to declare Israel an Apartheid state and, from what I hear, Amnesty International is going to be next to say it,” Asa Winstanley of the Electronic Intifada told MintPress. “It puts Israel’s backers in a difficult spot because Human Rights Watch is really part of the establishment so they cannot just dismiss it and it makes it impossible to ignore… It is harder for them to say Human Rights Watch is anti-Semitic, but they’re trying it anyway,” he added.

Trying indeed. Michigan Congresswoman Lisa McClain tweeted that “Human Rights Watch has shown again how they have an anti-Israel agenda,” suggesting they instead focus their attention on China or Iran’s repressive governments. “Hostility and hypocrisy are HRW’s hallmarks when it comes to Israel,” wrote the American Jewish Committee. The Jerusalem Post’s editorial board was equally condemnatory, denouncing what they saw as the “cynical appropriation of the suffering of the victims of the actual apartheid regime.” Other Israeli journalists described the report as “a disgrace to the memory of the millions who suffered under that policy [apartheid] in South Africa.” The news even made enough waves to force a response from the White House. Press Secretary Jen Psaki replied that “[a]s to the question of whether Israel’s actions constitute apartheid, that is not the view of this administration.”

Organized spontaneity

Yet much of the online anger at the report was actually manufactured by an Israeli government-sponsored app, Act.IL, which organized supporters of the Jewish state to act in sync to create an artificial groundswell of opposition to it. The app, which reportedly has a budget of over $1 million per year, instructed users to leave combative comments on Facebook, Twitter, and popular news outlets, and to like and promote others who did the same.

Human Rights Watch’s Facebook post announcing the report’s release has received over 1,400 comments, hundreds of them written in a similar, scathingly negative tone. One that the app directly told users to signal boost, for instance, described Palestinians as a people “indoctrinated with hate for Israel and Jews for over 100 years,” and claimed they were paid salaries to murder Israelis. It also presented the 1967 war and occupation as a humanitarian effort to bring electricity and other infrastructure to Arabs.

Another “mission” Act.IL gave its users was to promote a Facebook comment attacking the report as “nothing more than hate speech” and calling its lead author a “rabid anti-Zionist and Israel hater.”

Omar Shakir HRW
One of the many images provided to Act.IL users for their astroturfing campaign against HRW

Act.IL is one of the chief tools in Israel’s online public relations enterprise. The app debuted in 2017 and is part of what Israeli Minister of Strategic Affairs Gilad Erdan called an “Iron Dome of Truth.” “Our cell phones are the number one weapon against us,” he explained, noting that public opinion in the U.S. was beginning to turn against them. While most of the app’s nearly 20,000 users are volunteers, a core of them are paid operatives, with many students receiving scholarships as a reward for their work.

The app has been designed to feel like a game, with points assigned for completing “missions” such as sharing pro-Israel videos, reporting anti-Israel content, signing petitions, or attending online seminars. Users can track their progress on leaderboards, earn badges and prizes, and chat with other members of the community. While it might feel like Animal Crossing or World of Warcraft for some, its creators see this very much as a new front in the war against Palestine. Israeli Justice Minister Ayelet Shaked categorizes BDS as “another branch of terrorism in the modern age,” and has been an important voice in taking the fight to a new front.

An Act.IL mission encouraging astroturfing of online discussions. Source |
@AntiBDSApp

There is also an online toolkit full of folders of responses to typical questions and issues that arise. Users can, for instance, go to the BDS folder to find stock replies to their arguments. Or they can go to a specific folder to find articles, images and videos they can use to demonize Hamas.

The missions are organized by outlet, so users can, for instance, target only Facebook, Telegram, or other platforms they are most familiar with. At the time of writing, there are 10 missions each to complete on Facebook and YouTube, 30 on Instagram, 25 on Twitter.

One current challenge is to upvote an answer to a question on Quora that asks about the validity and purpose of checkpoints in the West Bank. The answer claims they are purely about protection from terror attacks, and claims that Red Crescent ambulances are used to ferry bombs around the area. Other missions include pressuring an online store to remove a bag with a message stating “Make Israel Palestine Again.”

Act.IL
An Act.IL “mission” encouraging users to demand the removal of products with pro-Palestinian messaging

“It is quite astounding how openly they do it. But, of course, when you see a comment online, you wouldn’t necessarily think that it was coming from the Israeli government, but this is essentially what is happening,” Winstanley said. “Israel is not the only state to do this, but they do it fairly successfully.”

For all this, however, it is clear that Act.IL has a serious problem with user retention and lacks the volunteer numbers for it to be truly game changing.

Controlling the message

In a time of heightened awareness about foreign government interference online, it is particularly surprising that these operations can be openly carried out across virtually every major platform. Big tech companies like Twitter, YouTube and Facebook are constantly deleting tens of thousands of Russian, Chinese, Iranian and Cuban accounts belonging to what they claim are organized, state-sponsored disinformation campaigns.

In an effort to gauge the legality of its operations, MintPress reached out to Facebook, YouTube, Quora, and other big platforms used by Act.IL. We received no response from any of them. While this is particularly noteworthy — as these companies have teams of public relations representatives and are extremely forthright and timely with responses on other issues — it is perhaps not surprising. Facebook especially has long been working closely with the Israeli government in deciding which voices to censor. As far back as 2016, Ayelet Shaked boasted that Facebook removed 95% of the posts her office asked them to. Yet when Shaked herself called for a genocidal war against Palestine and its women, who give birth to “little snakes,” not only did the post remain online, it received thousands of likes and was widely circulated.

“The concern is that Facebook is adopting Israeli policy and terminology when it comes to defining what incitement is,” said Nadim Nashif, co-founder of 7amleh, the Arab Centre for the Advancement of Social Media. 7amleh was therefore dismayed when last year, Facebook appointed former Israeli Minister of Justice Emi Palmor to its Oversight Board, the council having the final say in the moderation of content on the platform used by 2.6 billion people worldwide. In her role as justice minister, Palmor was directly implicated in the persecution and subjugation of Palestinians.

Earlier this year, an Israeli Defense Forces soldier attempted to sue a Palestinian-American activist living in California over an allegedly slanderous Facebook post condemning her for participating in ethnic cleansing. Remarkably, the plaintiff attempted to convince a California judge to apply Israeli law to the incident, despite the fact that both she and the defendant are American citizens.

Inside the world of academia, professors critical of Israel have found themselves pushed out of the profession. In 2007, prominent critic of Israel Norman Finkelstein was denied tenure at DePaul University for political reasons. Seven years later, the University of Illinois “unhired” Steven Sailata for his comments denouncing Operation Protective Edge, the 2014 Israeli attack on Gaza. Emails showed that wealthy donors put significant pressure on the university to pull the plug on him. More recently, Cornel West was blocked from a tenured job at Harvard this year, despite having previously held tenure at Harvard, Princeton, and Yale. “Being the faculty advisor for the Palestinian student group was the one that probably went outside of the line for many Harvard staff,” West told Krystal Ball and Kyle Kulinski. “It’s a joke. It’s ridiculous. It’s ludicrous. It’s preposterous that it wouldn’t have something to do with politics.”

Top media figures have also paid the price for their support of BDS. CNN fired commentator Marc Lamont Hill after he made a speech at the United Nations calling for a free Palestine. Meanwhile, journalist Abby Martin was blocked from speaking at a conference at Georgia Southern University last year after she refused to sign a contract promising to renounce BDS. Georgia is one of dozens of U.S. states to have anti-BDS legislation, essentially forcing any would-be recipient of public contracts or funds, including government employees, to sign a pledge not to boycott Israel. Martin is currently suing the state of Georgia.

Perhaps the greatest PR victory for the Israel lobby in recent years was its defamation campaign against British Labour Party leader Jeremy Corbyn. The lifelong pacifist, anti-racist campaigner was transformed into a raging anti-Semite in the minds of many, thanks to a massive propaganda onslaught. In the three months before the 2019 election, there were 1,450 articles in national British newspapers linking Corbyn with anti-Semitism, chiefly because of his support for Palestinian liberation. Much of this was orchestrated by Israel and its lobby, which worked closely with journalists and politicians keen to see the socialist politician’s demise. The media blitz succeeded. When media researchers asked the public what percentage of Labour members faced official complaints over anti-Semitism, the average guess was 34%. The actual answer was less than 0.1%; and more than half of those complaints were made by one person. Corbyn lost the election and the U.K. chose Boris Johnson.

Winstanley, whose documentary “How they brought down Corbyn” premiered last week, told MintPress:

“The most effective propaganda strategy against [Corbyn] was the fabrication that he was an anti-Semite on the basis of his past criticisms of Israel and his Palestinian solidarity. In my view, the maliciously fabricated anti-Semitism crisis against the Labour Party was the main factor in his [being deposed] as Labour Party leader. Without this factor, he would have made it to Number 10 Downing Street and become Prime Minister of the United Kingdom.”

Apartheid states

While Human Rights Watch’s report is new, the charge of apartheid is not. In 2017, a United Nations report “clearly and frankly concludes” that Israel is “a racist state that has established an apartheid system that persecutes the Palestinian people.” Earlier this year, Israeli human rights organization B’TSelem also used the word “apartheid,” claiming that Israel had established “a regime of Jewish supremacy from the Jordan River to the Mediterranean Sea.”

In the wake of World War Two and the Holocaust, Israel was created by the United Nations in 1947, cutting a section of territory from the British mandate of Palestine to form a new state. While it was immediately recognized by the international powers, Arabs who lived in the region were dead against it, leading to a war in 1948. David Ben Gurion and the founding fathers of Israel immediately began a campaign of ethnic cleansing against the local population, razing their villages and forcing them to flee. Today there are more than 5 million Palestinians registered as refugees.

While many defenders of Israel today balk at the comparison to apartheid South Africa, the two countries were close friends for much of the late 20th century, seeing themselves as similar settler colonial projects surrounded by hostile nations. Furthermore, leaders of the African liberation movement saw themselves as part of the same struggle as those in Palestine. “We know too well that our freedom is incomplete without the freedom of the Palestinians,” Nelson Mandela said in 1997. “I have witnessed the systemic humiliation of Palestinian men, women and children by members of the Israeli security forces,” said Archbishop Desmond Tutu in a statement endorsing BDS. “Their humiliation is familiar to all black South Africans who were corralled and harassed and insulted and assaulted by the security forces of the apartheid government,” he added.

A turning tide

The Human Rights Watch report is the latest reference point showing Western public sympathies swaying towards Palestine. During the 2020 Democratic presidential nomination race, a number of top-tier candidates very publicly shunned the American Israel Public Affairs Committee, refusing to attend the AIPAC conference. Last week, the Pilsbury family called for a global boycott of the food company that bears its name. “As long as General Mills [which owns the Pilsbury brand] continues to profit from the dispossession and suffering of the Palestinian people, we will not buy any Pillsbury products,” they stated, denouncing the building of a factory on illegal settlement land.

Advocates for Palestine hailed Human Rights Watch’s study. Phyllis Bennis of the Institute for Policy Studies wrote:

There can be little doubt that much of HRW’s decision to issue this report now was based on the recognition that not only is it no longer political suicide to call Israeli apartheid what it is, but that we are now at a tipping point whereby failing to call out apartheid risks losing credibility for a human rights organization. It’s a huge victory for our movement.”

The battle, however, is far from won, and it is clear that the Israel lobby will continue to fight to hold back the tide until it is insurmountable.

Israeli Violence Against Palestinian Protesters in Occupied Jerusalem

 April 25, 2021

By Stephen Lendman

Source

Time and again, when Palestinians protest legitimately against Jewish state viciousness, Israeli soldiers and other security forces attack them with live fire, rubber-coated steel bullets, toxic tear gas, and other repressive tactics.

For 11 straight nights, Palestinian residents of Israeli Occupied Jerusalem rallied against assaults and other provocations by police, extremist settlers, and likeminded far-right Jewish hooligans.

According to the Palestine News & Information Agency (WAFA) on Saturday:

“The Jerusalem uprising… expanded to reach the West Bank and Gaza.”

Over 100 Palestinians were injured, nearly two dozen hospitalized, the Palestinian Red Crescent reported. 

WAFA said Saturday night clashes were “in support of the Jerusalem uprising and against Israeli treatment of Palestinians in the holy city.”

What’s going on began on the first day of Ramadan after “Israeli police cut off wires to loudspeakers at Al-Aqsa Mosque minarets in Jerusalem to prevent the call for prayer that alert people to the start and end of the fast as well as the time for prayers,” adding:

For the past 11 nights, “police harassed Jerusalem residents leaving Al-Aqsa Mosque” — Islam’s third holiest site after Mecca’s Sacred Mosque and the Mosque of the Prophet in Madina.

Two nights ago, extremist “Israeli members of the Lahava terror group that advocates killing Palestinians in Jerusalem and taking over their homes joined the police in attacking the city’s Palestinian residents.”

During the weekend, Arab-hating settlers “attacked Palestinian homes and property in Sheikh Jarrah neighborhood, throwing rocks and Molotov cocktails at homes and cars.”

Israeli police and other security forces do nothing to deter them when these incidents happen.

Since the Jerusalem uprising began, “Israeli police (permitted) intrusions” by extremist Jews into the Al-Aqsa Mosque compound.

They’re “allow(ed) to hold rituals in violation of the status quo and the sanctity of the holy site as a Muslim-only worship area, provoking strong reaction from people and countries, such as Jordan, the official custodian over the Muslim and Christian holy places in occupied East Jerusalem,” WAFA explained.

Extremist Jews marched from Jerusalem’s Zion Square to the Old City, chanting: “Death to Arabs.”

In parts of the city, police set up checkpoints, closing off areas to prevent Palestinians from observing traditional Ramadan activities, including prayer at the Al-Aqsa Mosque.

Over the weekend, Israeli warplanes and ground forces terror-bombed and shelled Gaza in response to Strip support for abused Palestinians in Jerusalem.

The city is the epicenter of longstanding struggle. 

Israeli Jews consider it their capital, a national and religious center. 

For Christians, it’s where Jesus lived and died, and for Muslims, it’s home to the sacred Al-Aqsa Mosque.

In June 1967, Israel illegally occupied the city. 

On July 30, 1980, the Knesset introduced the Jerusalem Law, officially annexing it as Israel’s unified capital.

On March 1, 1980, Security Council Resolution 465 declared that “all measures taken by Israel to change the physical character, demographic composition, institutional structure or status of the Palestinian and other Arab territories occupied since 1967, including Jerusalem, or any part thereof, have no legal validity and that Israel’s policy and practices of settling parts of its population and new immigrants in those territories constitute a flagrant (Fourth Geneva) violation.”

These actions also “constitute a serious obstruction to achieving a comprehensive, just and lasting peace in the Middle East.”

On July 4, 2004, the International Court of Justice (ICC) ruled that “Israeli settlements in the Occupied Territory, including East Jerusalem, are illegal and an obstacle to peace and to economic and social development (and) have been established in breach of international law.”

Nothing changed. Like the US and other Western countries, Israel operates exclusively by its own rules.

Illegal settlements continue expanding exponentially on stolen Palestinian land.

Israel wants territory from Jordan’s border to the Mediterranean Sea developed for exclusive Jewish use.

Note: Separately on Saturday, scores of Israeli Peace Now activists rallied against police violence and rights of Arab Jerusalem residents, the group’s head Shaqued Morag, saying:

“We want to send a message both to the (Netanyahu regime) and to our Palestinian neighbors that we won’t stay silent in front of the violence and the incitement and the racism.” 

“We will defend the right of everybody to live in Jerusalem peacefully.”

For his part, Netanyahu warned that his regime is “prepared for all scenarios” —suggesting that if protests continue, so will police state violence.

The Hawks Who Want War With Iran Are Working Overtime

Iran Israel JCPOA

April 15th, 2021

By Ariel Gold & Medea Benjamin

Source

Israeli leaders, Christian fundamentalists, and hawkish Washington neocons are doing everything in their power to block a peaceful US return to the JCPOA.

WASHINGTON (Jacobin) — Just as talks between the United States and Iran were taking place last week in Vienna, a cyberattack was carried out on Iran’s Natanz nuclear facility. Reports are that the Mossad, Israel’s intelligence agency, was behind the attack that blacked out the facility just one day after Tehran launched new advanced uranium enrichment centrifuges, and as US Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin was in Israel speaking about the United States’ “enduring and ironclad” commitment to the Jewish state.

This is the latest in a series of Israeli attacks on Iran designed to scuttle negotiations. Last summer, a number of explosions attributed to Israel broke out across Iran, including a fire at the Natanz site. These took place while US elections were in full swing and Biden was promising that if elected, he would return the United States to the 2015 Iran nuclear deal (formally known as the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action or JCPOA) that Trump withdrew from in 2018. In November 2020, Israeli operatives assassinated Mohsen Fakhrizadeh, Iran’s top nuclear scientist in the city of Absard outside Tehran. Had Iran responded, the United States might have been dragged into an all-out war.

Israeli officials have also directly lobbied the US Congress to quash the deal. In 2015, Netanyahu traveled to Washington, DC in 2015 to address a joint session of Congress in an attempt to uncut Obama’s original negotiations. This time, Mossad chief Yossi Cohen will be traveling to Washington to meet with top White House and US intelligence officials, and he hopes with Biden directly, to convince the administration that Iran has been concealing details about its nuclear program and therefore can’t be trusted. This is indeed ironic coming from a country that, unlike Iran, actually has nuclear weapons and refuses to disclose any information about its program.

Like Israel, the powerful US lobby American Israel Public Affairs Committee (AIPAC) is trying to convince Biden not to go back into the JCPOA. Last month, they organized bipartisan letters in the House and Senate, urging the Biden administration to insist on an expanded deal that included missiles, human rights, and Iran’s activities in the region. Since Tehran has been clear that an expanded or amended deal is a nonstarter, such “advice” was an attempt to quash talks.

The neoconservative think tank Foundation for the Defense of Democracies (FDD), which worked inside the Trump administration during and after Trump pulled out of the JCPOA, has been relentlessly pushing for war with Iran. After the United States recklessly assassinated Iran’s top general, Qassem Soleimani, FDD CEO Mark Dubowitz gloatedtweeting that the death of Soleimani was “more consequential than the killing of [Osama] #BinLaden”; and on April 11, the same day as the Natanz blackout, former CIA officer and FDD fellow Reuel Marc Gerecht, speaking on CNN, voiced disappointment that Trump hadn’t taken the United States and Iran into an all-out war.

Another group against a deal with Iran is Christians United for Israel (CUFI), one of the most powerful pro-Israel voices in the United States. In March 2021, CUFI urged the Senate not to confirm Colin Kahl for a top policy position at the Pentagon, claiming, “Kahl is a serial Iran appeaser” who “helped advance the disastrous Iran nuclear accord.” In response to the blackout at Natanz, they cheered Netanyahu, tweeting “‘Battling Iran is a colossal mission,’ Netanyahu says following blackout at Iranian nuclear plant.”

The People’s Mujahedin of Iran, or MEK, which the United States had previously designated as a terrorist organization and is known for assassinations and bombings it has carried out, is virulently opposed to US-Iran diplomacy. In March 2021, a number of US Senators attended a virtual event organized by the MEK-aligned Organization of Iranian American Communities (OIAC) calling for continued US sanctions and “bringing down the regime.” Senator Bob Menendez, the powerful chair of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, was among several Democrats in attendance.

The opponents of the Iran deal are trying to keep in place the draconian wall of sanctions that the Trump administration imposed precisely to make it more difficult for a future US administration to rejoin the JCPOA. But these sanctions are causing immense suffering for ordinary Iranians, including runaway inflation and skyrocketing food and medicine prices. According to the UN, they contributed to the government’s “inadequate and opaque” response to the COVID-19 pandemic that has hit Iran particularly hard.

While “successful” in inflicting harm on the Iranian people, the sanctions have failed to broaden the terms of the talks, led the nation to increase its uranium enrichment, negatively impacted the human rights situation, and put the United States and Iran on the brink of an all-out war on multiple occasions.

That’s why so many people in Iran, and those who care about them, have been encouraged by this new round of diplomatic engagement. But Israel, AIPAC, CUFI, FDD, MEK, Menendez, and the like are probably instead hoping that Iran carries out the revenge that Iranian officials have called for in response to the Natanz blackout. But as the saboteurs of diplomacy hope for a violent escalation, let’s keep in mind — and hope Iran agrees — that the best revenge would be a revived JCPOA.

What Just Happened In Jordan?

By Andrew Korybko

Source

What Just Happened In Jordan?

Last weekend’s arrest of several prominent people in Jordan, including the unofficial house arrest of former Crown Prince Hamzah, on suspicion of conspiring to destabilize the country in possible coordination with foreign intelligence agencies is more than likely a preemptive security operation aimed at thwarting a latent threat and not an urgent response to what some have feared was an imminent regime change attempt.

An Unexpected Conspiracy In The Heshemite Kingdom

Jordan is one of those few countries that’s friends with everyone and enemies with no one, which is why the world paid attention last weekend after the arrest of several prominent people on suspicion of conspiring to destabilize the country in possible coordination with foreign intelligence agencies. This included the unofficial house arrest of former Crown Prince Hamzah, who subsequently released footage of himself condemning alleged corruption in the monarchy that he claimed was responsible for worsening his citizens’ living standards, after which he pledged loyalty to King Abdullah II to de-escalate the crisis (presumably while under pressure). Former Crown Prince Hamzah had also reportedly met with some tribal leaders who’ve purportedly been unhappy with the stagnant – if not, according to some accounts, gradually deteriorating – socio-economic situation in the Kingdom. Amman has since banned all coverage of this palace scandal on traditional and social media in an attempt to quell the uncertainty that it provoked in this so-called “oasis of regional stability”.

A Saudi, “Israeli”, Or Joint Saudi-”Israeli” Coup Attempt?

These fast-moving developments prompted a lot of speculation about what might really be going on behind the scenes, especially concerning the possible role of foreign intelligence agencies. It can’t be known for sure, but it doesn’t seem like there was any imminent regime change attempt that was thwarted at the last possible minute by the security services. Rather, it appears to be the case that the government staged a preemptive security operation after finally obtaining enough indisputable evidence that something foul was afoot, hoping to nip this latent threat in the bud long before it blooms. Some have suggested that the connections that two of the detained individuals have with Saudi Arabia hints at Riyadh’s covert involvement in recent events. Others, meanwhile, saw a hidden “Israeli” hand behind everything due to the Mossad ties that the businessman who reportedly offered to fly former Crown Prince Hamzah out of the country is alleged to have. It’s unlikely, however, that those secretly allied governments played any significant role in what just happened in Jordan.

Interpreting The Reported Foreign Intelligence Connections

It’s an open secret that foreign intelligence agencies, especially those based and/or active in the Mideast, cultivate a broad network of agents, informants, and “useful idiots”. Neither Saudi Arabia nor “Israel” have any serious problems with Jordan that can’t be amicably resolved, and therefore wouldn’t benefit from a destabilizing regime change in the neighboring kingdom between them. It’s therefore likely the case that while both of their intelligence agencies probably at least have some indirect presence close to the Jordanian royal family, they each lack the strategic motivation whether unilaterally or jointly with one another to overthrow King Abdullah II. In all likelihood, they might have been aware of former Crown Prince Hamzah’s recent meetings with increasingly unhappy tribal leaders and perhaps even his speculative resentment at being passed over for the throne by the current King in favor of the latter’s son in 2004, but it’s doubtful that they sought to operationalize this in any way. They likely only observed and monitored it, that’s all.

A Possible Disruption To The “Phased Leadership Transition”?

This brings the analysis around to discussing the domestic situation in Jordan. Many people are reportedly unhappy with everything there, and have allegedly been so for quite a while already, but the majority of the population is also loyal to the royal family and doesn’t seem to harbor any serious aspirations of replacing it with a republican form of government or any other. Like all monarchies, Jordan will inevitably undergo a “phased leadership transition” one way or another when power is transferred from the current King to his successor at some point in the future, but it’s here where the security services might have feared that a speculatively resentful former Crown Prince Hamzah might try to make a last-ditch move in an attempt to reassert what he and his unclear network of supporters (likely a combination of civil society elements, tribal leaders, and perhaps even some members of the royal family) believe is his rightful claim to the throne. They therefore probably acted preemptively in order to thwart that scenario before it had a chance to materialize.

Concluding Thoughts

As it stands, Jordan’s stability doesn’t seem threatened. Palace intrigue is normal in any monarchy, just like intrigue between members of a democracy’s permanent military, intelligence, and diplomatic bureaucracies (“deep state”) is too, but it was nevertheless unexpected that something so dramatic took place in Jordan last weekend since few thought that such intrigue had became so intense to warrant such a high-profile security response. At the very least, former Crown Prince Hamzah’s reported closeness with increasingly frustrated but also supposedly influential tribal leaders was a cause of serious concern for the Kingdom’s security services since they feared that it represented a latent regime change threat which might materialize in the midst of the inevitable “phased leadership transition” from King Abdullah II to his son sometime in the future. There might even be a bit more to it than just that, but it’s extremely unlikely that any such speculation will ever be confirmed. For now, King Abdullah II doesn’t seem to have anything to worry about except for the economy.

Rethinking Israel’s Blank Check in Light of Palestinian Teen’s Death with US Weapon

Ali Abu Aliya
As Americans become increasingly critical of the Israeli government, foreign assistance is put under a new microscope.
by Jessica Buxbaum

By Jessica Buxbaum

Source

JERUSALEM — Last year, Israeli forces killed a Palestinian teenager with an American gun. Now human rights organizations, activists, and politicians are calling on the United States to investigate the killing and stop the flow of military support to Israel.

On Dec. 4, 2020, Israeli forces fatally shot Ali Abu Aliya in the stomach while he was watching a protest against the establishment of a new settlement in the West Bank. It was his fifteenth birthday. According to Defense for Children International – Palestine (DCIP), Aliya wasn’t participating in the demonstration and did not pose a threat to Israeli soldiers.

“Under international law, intentional lethal force is only justified in circumstances where a direct threat to life or of serious injury is present,” DCIP said. “However, investigations and evidence collected by DCIP regularly suggest that Israeli forces use lethal force against Palestinian children in circumstances that do not appear to be warranted and may amount to extrajudicial or [willful] killings.”

Aliya’s death drew international condemnation and prompted the Israeli military police to launch a criminal investigation. In the U.S., calls are growing for President Joe Biden’s administration to investigate Aliya’s killing, given that he was shot with a weapon made on American soil.

American dollars fueling human rights abuses

Israel is the largest recipient of U.S. foreign assistance, acquiring an estimated $3.8 billion annually in aid. Roughly $800 million of the funds is dedicated to purchasing weaponry from inside Israel. In addition to American dollars maintaining Israel’s occupation of Palestine, American weapons are also being used in the deadly violence against Palestinians.

Aliya was shot with a Ruger rifle, a gun manufactured in the U.S. by Connecticut-based Sturm, Ruger & Company, Inc. This isn’t the first instance of the Ruger firearm being used by the Israel Defense Forces. The Ruger 10/22, the semiautomatic sniper rifle that killed Aliya, has been used by Israeli forces as far back as 1987 during the First Intifada (Palestinian uprising against the Israeli occupation). Despite Sturm, Ruger & Co.’s code of ethics, the company has a distribution partnership with Israel.

The Arms Export Control Act and the Foreign Assistance Act of 1961 contain provisions barring the sale of American weaponry to countries engaging in gross violations of human rights. And under the nation’s Leahy Law, the U.S. government is prohibited from providing assistance to foreign security forces committing human rights violations, such as extrajudicial killing.

With these laws in mind, American Muslims for Palestine (AMP) — along with 29 human rights organizations including Human Rights Watch, Amnesty International USA, and DCIP — sent a letter to the State Department urging the agency investigate Aliya’s death “as a possible case of extrajudicial killing that is subject to sanctions under the Leahy Law.”

“The United States is obligated to investigate whether our tax dollars have contributed to gross violations of human rights,” AMP’s advocacy director, Raed Jarrar, told MintPress News. “Every year around 1,000 foreign units will get suspended,” Jarrar said. “It’s a very strong system that works very well in other parts of the world, but it has not been implemented a single time in Israel.”

The State Department responded to AMP’s letter addressing military training in the U.S. but not the larger issue of the U.S.’s yearly, billion-dollar military aid package to Israel. Currently, AMP is drafting a coalition response to the State Department. “What we are trying to do now is to say ‘enough is enough,’” Jarrar said. “It is time to hold Israel and all other foreign countries accountable. It’s time to hold all countries to the same standard.”

For Jarrar, the Biden administration’s decision on whether to follow through with the AMP letter’s requests is not just a matter of morality but a matter of law. “If the Biden administration chooses to break U.S. law and continue to equip and arm foreign units accused of gross violations of human rights, that will not only be a political issue, it’ll also be a legal violation,” Jarrar said.

A new administration, a new congress: greater accountability?

Human rights organizations aren’t the only ones pushing for an end to military support to Israel in light of Aliya’s killing. Just a few days after Aliya’s death, Rep. Betty McCollum (D-MN) entered a statement into the Congressional Record, calling on the then “incoming administration of President-Elect Biden to investigate Israel’s killing of Ali Abu Aalya, as well as Israel’s ongoing pattern of using state sponsored military violence against Palestinian children.” McCollum explained:

 Members of Congress and the American people deserve to know whether U.S. taxpayer funding to Israel’s Ministry of Defense is being used directly or indirectly to facilitate or enable violence against Palestinian children. Committing human rights abuses with impunity and with U.S. taxpayer aid is intolerable and there must be accountability on the part of the U.S. Government.”

McCollum introduced a bill in 2019 and a bill in 2020, both of which focus on U.S. military funding to Israel. Promoting Human Rights for Palestinian Children Living Under Israeli Military Occupation Act bars foreign funds from being used for the military detention, interrogation, abuse, or ill-treatment of children. The bill currently has 24 cosponsors. The Israeli Annexation Non-Recognition Act, currently with 11 cosponsors, bans certain funds from supporting activities in West Bank areas annexed by Israel and activities facilitating annexation.

Grassroots activists are pressuring congressional leaders to stop the flow of American weapons to Israel. The US Campaign for Palestinian Rights launched a call to action demanding Congress hold Israel accountable and cease arms sales. And, on a more local level, Massachusetts Peace Action released a similar direct-action initiative for Massachusetts residents to urge their representatives to support the aforementioned bills.

The U.S. has been a great ally to Israel since the state’s inception, with some experts even arguing that Israel can’t survive without American financial support. But as Americans become increasingly critical of the Israeli government, foreign assistance is put under a microscope.

Recent polls have shown that Americans—particularly Democrats, Millennials, and Gen-Z’ers—believe Israel has too much influence on American politics and support conditioning aid to Israel. This public shift is reflected in congressional support. “There’s been a really magnificent movement in Congress in the last two years.” AMP’s Jarrar said, continuing:

When I moved to Washington, D.C. 15 years ago, we used to have four or five members of Congress willing to step outside of the pro-Israel, hardcore line. And now sometimes we have 50 or 60 members of Congress who sign on to letters demanding accountability and justice in Israel and Palestine. So, the tide is definitely shifting and this administration feels the heat from Congress and change will come.”

Whether it’s Rep. McCollum, “the squad,” or Sen. Bernie Sanders, more and more of Congress’ progressive wing is speaking out against Israel’s actions. The majority of Americans and Congress are still largely supportive of Israel, but voices from the pro-Palestinian camp are getting louder.

With a slew of domestic problems spurred by the coronavirus, Americans want greater transparency when it comes to how their tax dollars are spent. And they appear less willing to tolerate their government’s complicity in human rights abuses in foreign nations.

“Public opinion has been shifting not only on Israel, but on the idea that the United States government can give its allies a blank check,” Jarrar said. “There’s a clear movement saying our government has to stop contributing to human rights abuses abroad. And Israel is no exception to that.”

Israel: How a Trifecta of Court Cases Could Cement King Bibi’s 12-Year Reign

Image result for Israel: How a Trifecta of Court Cases Could Cement King Bibi’s 12-Year Reign

By Miko Peled

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Three separate court cases have converged in Israel to provide Netanyahu the cover he needs to maintain power amid an endless stream of controversies.

Three judicial matters have been in Israeli headlines recently, all of them very serious in nature and all likely to serve Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu in the upcoming Israeli elections.

The first is the indicted prime minister’s court hearing in early February regarding his ongoing corruption case. The second is that the prosecutor at the International Criminal Court (ICC) announced that the territories Israel occupied in 1967 are within its jurisdiction, meaning that many Israelis may well be the subject of war-crimes investigations. The third is an Israeli court ruling from January 2021 banning the 2003 film “Jenin, Jenin,” made by Palestinian actor and director Mohammad Bakri. The film documents the atrocities committed by IDF forces in the Jenin refugee camp in the spring of 2002. All three are likely to raise serious concerns among the highest echelons of the Israeli government.

Yet even as these court cases loom over him, his government, and the Israeli military, and with national elections rapidly approaching, for Netanyahu these crises present opportunity. Taking the familiar pages from the Trump playbook, Netanyahu can turn every accusation of corruption into an attack by liberals, any claims of war crimes, or even misconduct by Israeli forces, into an attack on all Jews by antisemitic forces. Only in Netanyahu’s Israel could so many problems be a blessing.

Indeed, Netanyahu and his supporters claim that the corruption charges against him represent persecution of the prime minister by the liberal press and a biased judicial system. He is leading the charge to attack the ICC and has already stated that its decision is antisemitism raising its ugly head again. As for “Jenin, Jenin,” it is being universally condemned in Israel and is characterized as libelous and totally false.

When you are Benjamin Netanyahu, the best card player in the casino of Israeli politics — when you are the one who knows how to play everyone else in the room, possessing decades of experience — there’s nothing better than a good crisis. It helps to rally people around you. As a matter of fact, dealing with crises is what Netanyahu does best.

Indictment? No problem!

According to the Times of Israel, because Netanyahu’s corruption case has been in the news cycle for close to five years already, “[a]ny political fallout is already baked into the views, poll responses, and voting calculations on all sides.” In other words, nobody cares, and the election results will not be affected in any significant way.

Furthermore, the Times states that many of Netanyahu’s supporters “agree with Netanyahu that he is being unfairly targeted by a politicized prosecution.” Those who feel that the accusations of corruption against him have merit argue that “the advantages he brings as a leader far outstrip any possible malfeasance claimed in the indictment.” In fact, polls quoted in the Times show that “up to 54 percent of Israelis think he’s the best prime ministerial candidate.”

a politicized prosecution.” Those who feel that the accusations of corruption against him have merit argue that “the advantages he brings as a leader far outstrip any possible malfeasance claimed in the indictment.” In fact, polls quoted in the Times show that “up to 54 percent of Israelis think he’s the best prime ministerial candidate.”

Making a deal with the devil

When no crisis is available, Netanyahu creates his own. Tensions along the border with Syria, a threat from Iran, or an impending War on Gaza are the usual favorites and work very well.

In recent days Netanyahu and his Likud Party signed an agreement with the most right-wing elements in the Zionist political spectrum. The worst neo-fascist religious fanatics within Israel have always been his natural allies and he has now come to an official agreement with them on a vote-sharing deal called “surplus votes.” Under the agreement, “Likud promised that Netanyahu would include Religious Zionism MKs ‘in any government he forms.’” That means that after Knesset votes are counted and applied towards seats in the Israeli Parliament, any leftover votes must be shared with Israel’s militant, right-wing religious fanatics.

Surplus vote-sharing agreements are widely used in Israeli elections and allow parties to ensure that extra votes do not go to waste. Instead, the parties utilize them through special agreements with other parties.

While the vote-sharing agreement has irked many in the center and what is sometimes referred to as the center-left of Israeli politics, it shows once again that Netanyahu calls the shots as he sees fit. If other members of the Knesset and even of his own party are unhappy, well then, they are welcome to go elsewhere. However, with nowhere else to go, year after year and election after election, not only do members of his party come running to him, members of the other parties do too.

The parties with which Netanyahu’s Likud signed the vote-sharing agreement include the far-right Religious Zionism Party and the openly racist “Otzma Yehudit,” or Jewish Might. Members of these parties support an ideology that includes expelling Palestinians who refuse to declare loyalty to Israel and accept diminished status in an expanded Jewish state. Some party members also support LGBT conversion therapy. These fanatic religious-Zionist parties represent armed gangs that openly terrorize Palestinians across the country.

The International Criminal Court ruling

After lengthy deliberations that led to a landmark decision, the International Criminal Court ruled that it has jurisdiction over war crimes committed by Israel in the West Bank, Gaza Strip, and East Jerusalem. This ruling opens the door to possible criminal charges against Israeli military personnel and potentially even against government officials.

Netanyahu called the international tribunal’s decision “pure antisemitism,” a meritless claim he failed to explain. The ruling addresses specific incidents in which the Israeli military was involved and has absolutely nothing to do with Jewish people.

After nearly 20 years, court ruling bans Jenin Jenin

Israel’s Central District Court has banned the screening of the 2003 documentary film “Jenin Jenin” and ordered the confiscation of all copies of the film in the country. In addition, the court ordered the film’s director, Mohammed Bakri, to pay Lt. Col. Nissim Magnagi, one of the reservist officers who was allegedly present during the assault on the Jenin refugee camp and was shown for a brief moment in the film, 175,000 shekels in damages on top of 50,000 shekels in legal expenses.

One has to question the merits of banning a film in 2021 when it was made in 2003. There are no public screenings of the film and the only viewers that watch it do so online — and that of course cannot be banned. The fine, however, is a blow and it has yet to be seen what will happen when the decision reaches a higher court for appeal.

Of the three judicial issues stated here, only one pertains to Netanyahu and is likely to have little or no effect on his chances to win the elections. The other two only confirm what the Israeli electorate already believes, that the International Criminal Court is antisemitic and that a film made by a Palestinian showing Israeli military crimes must be a vicious, libelous lie, and the common wisdom is that Netanyahu knows better than anyone how to deal with the anti-Semites.

The Israeli electorate is used to both crises and to the controversy surrounding Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu. The results of the next election, just like the results of the three previous ones, are almost guaranteed to go in his favor.

Jon Ossoff Victory Proves That the Israel Lobby Still Has an Iron Grip on Democrats

Jon Ossoff Israel Lobby Feature photo

by Jessica Buxhaum

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An analysis by the Washington Report on Middle East Affairs shows the pro-Israel lobby contributes significantly more money to Democrats than Republicans. And those campaign funds appear to be doing their job.

Jerusalem — Jon Ossoff’s historic win was presented as defying America’s far-right. His election to office helped flip the Senate blue and after six long years, changed Mitch McConnell’s title from majority to minority leader. He defeated Donald Trump ally Sen. David Perdue by teaming up with a Black reverend associated with the late civil rights icon, Rep. John Lewis. And he was the first Jew to win a Georgia Senate seat while a racist, anti-Semitic mob raided the U.S. Capitol.

Despite these progressive feats, Ossoff’s political experience and campaign donations reveal he’s more aligned with the Democratic establishment than meets the eye.

Ossoff’s undeniable love affair with the Israel lobby

Ossoff was one of the pro-Israel lobby’s top donation recipients for the 2019-2020 campaign cycle, ranking at number four with a total of $607,915. J Street, the Democratic Majority for Israel (DMFI), New Israel Fund, and the Joint Action Committee for Political Affairs (JACPAC) all funded his campaign. Out of the Israel lobbying groups, JACPAC handed Ossoff the most money with a sum of $12,250. Pro-Israel groups J Street, DMFI, and the Jewish Democratic Council for America endorsed him as well.

Before becoming a senator, Ossoff didn’t have many political credentials to his name. According to The Forward, he handled foreign policy issues as a congressional aide for Georgia Rep. Hank Johnson. In the role, he “work[ed] on legislation improving military funding for Israel and mandating tougher inspections of Iranian nuclear facilities.”

While he supports the Iran Deal and opposes Israeli annexation of the West Bank, the senator has openly embraced Zionist views. He is opposed to the Palestinian-led Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) movement, has supported Israeli attacks on Gaza, commended Israel’s normalization agreements with Arab countries, and supports a two-state solution. A two-state solution is a longtime Democratic Party position, but progressive public support for it is diminishing with the growing momentum for the One Democratic State Campaign.

Foreign policy wasn’t a large section of Ossoff’s campaign platform. As a state senate hopeful upholding a “Black-Jewish alliance,” he focused more on domestic race relations than geopolitics. However, Ossoff’s campaign did publish a document outlining his stance on Israel. In it, he pledged unwavering support for the state, specifically lauding his commitment to Israel’s security and his opposition to BDS as well as any legislation permitting the U.S. to divest from Israel.

Ossoff-Israel-PaperOssoff-Israel-Paper

“Israel’s security requires the Israel Defense Forces to maintain a Qualitative Military Edge (QME) in the region. U.S. foreign assistance ensures that Israel has the military and intelligence capabilities necessary to maintain that QME, to defend itself against missile and rocket threats, and to prevent terrorist attacks within Israel,” the statement read.

“In the Senate, I will push for strong, mutually beneficial, and mutually respectful U.S.-Israel relations, whose strength can sustain Congressional support for the appropriation of U.S. foreign assistance vital to Israel’s security,” Ossoff said.

This excerpt suggests Ossoff supports continuing U.S. military aid to Israel—an issue that received nationwide condemnation after Congress voted to give $600 to Americans amid a pandemic-spurred recession yet handed $500 million in aid to Israel.

In addition to the pro-Israel endorsements Ossoff snagged, he often touts his connections to pro-Israel politicians. His June, 2020 position paper cited his relationship to Michael Oren, the far-right Israeli ambassador he studied under at Georgetown University. Ossoff also credits his historic rise in politics to Rep. Lewis. While Lewis is remembered as a prominent civil rights activist, he was also staunchly pro-Israel. Like Ossoff, he opposed the BDS movement and was considered a friend to Israel.

The Democratic Party toeing the line with pro-Israel funds

Along with Ossoff being the first Jew elected to Georgia’s senate, Rev. Raphael Warnock also made history as the first African-American elected to Georgia’s senate. Together the Democratic pair attributed their success to having fostered a strong Black-Jewish alliance.

Despite his win, Warnock’s campaign was marred with controversy prior to the state’s highly-publicized runoff election in January. Warnock’s Republican opponent, Kelly Loeffler, targeted the reverend’s past criticism of Israel in an attack ad. Warnock signed a letter in 2019 comparing Israel to apartheid South Africa. He also criticized Trump’s decision to move the U.S. embassy to Jerusalem and slammed Israel for shooting Gazan protesters.

Loeffler’s smears worked. His campaign was losing public support and funding was drying up. Two days after Loeffler’s attacks, Rev. Warnock immediately backtracked and released a statement “condemning” the BDS movement and declaring his support for Israel. His quick reversal earned him an endorsement from the Israel lobby group DMFI. Similar to Ossoff, Warnock was also part of the Israel lobby’s top 10 campaign donation recipients, securing funding from J Street, DMFI, and the New Israel Fund. Warnock may not have been as successful with fundraising if he had maintained his previous position on Israel.

Sut Jhally, documentary filmmaker and communications professor at the University of Massachusetts, Amherst, was surprised at how easily Warnock caved to pro-Israel pressure.

“He was persuaded by the mainstream Democrats to win the Georgia election, so he had to make this horrible statement about Israel and BDS,” Jhally told MintPress News.

Warnock and Ossoff ran for Senate on a civil-rights-branded agenda. But for Jhally, you can’t call yourself a progressive if you ignore Palestine.

“The test of whether you’re a true progressive is your position on Israel,” Jhally said. “Because you can’t be progressive about everything else and espouse human rights for everyone else and not espouse human rights for the Palestinians.”

Warnock’s swift 180 on Palestine-Israel demonstrates just how strong of a grip the Israel lobby has on the Democratic Party. While the Trump administration’s policies favorited Israel, the Democratic Party is largely kept in check with pro-Israel funding.

An analysis by the Washington Report on Middle East Affairs shows the pro-Israel lobby contributes significantly more money to Democrats than Republicans. And those campaign funds appear to be doing their job in scratching both the Democrats’ and the lobby’s backs. The top recipient of Israel lobby donations in 2020, President Joe Biden, has made it clear he’s willing to reverse every Trump-era policy except those related to Israel.

Keeping with the status quo

Criticism of Israel is growing louder in the Democratic Party with remarks from more progressive politicians like Sen. Bernie Sanders, Rep. Ilhan Omar, and Rep. Rashida Tlaib. And while Professor Jhally agrees there’s an unprecedented divide emerging in the party over Israel, that will only generate discussion and not substantial policy reform.

“The Israel lobby is still very powerful within both the Republican and Democratic parties and their role right now is to make sure policy does not change,” Jhally said. “And that is about putting pressure on progressives and making sure BDS becomes delegitimized.”

With BDS—arguably the best international strategy available to end Israel’s occupation of Palestine—still seen as a dirty word in American politics, Democrats will likely adhere to the Israel lobby’s agenda rather than risk losing money or being perceived as anti-Israel. And that means sticking with the status quo in the Democratic establishment: condemning BDS, promising U.S. aid to Israel, and supporting Israel’s right to defend itself against “terrorists.” Just like the self-proclaimed progressive Ossoff did in cementing his election win.

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