Terrorism Is What We Say It Is

By Jeremy Salt
Source

Ahwaz terror attack 54fc1

There is no consensus when it comes to defining terrorism. The most acceptable is ‘the unlawful use of violence and intimidation, especially against civilians, in pursuit of political aims.’ Some definitions insert the word ‘systematic’ so the act is defined as the regular, standard behavior of an individual or a group and not just one aberrant or anomalous action.

Terror is not quite the same as terrorism. Terror is experienced by many people in many ways and at many levels of their lives. There is terror at home in the hands of an abusive husband. There is the terror experienced by sexually abused children. There is terror in the school and the church, from abusive priests and teachers.

There is terror in the streets, from the man holding a knife to your throat as he demands your wallet and there can be terror at the hands of police, there to protect but frequently to abuse and even kill.

A violent father will terrorize his family for years. He will terrorize them regularly, day after day. He will assault his wife and children. He might even kill them. The family will live in a state of fear for years. There will be no end to it any more than there seems to be an end to occupation for the occupied.

This is a digression but it is not unreasonable to compare the fear of an abusive father in the home to the fear of soldiers and settlers amongst a people living under occupation. Violence is always just around the corner in both circumstances.

The home is turned into occupied territory, a place of violence and terror from which there is no escape for the trapped child. The abusive father becomes the soldier, the border police and the settler.

The state and the media tell us who the terrorist is. It is never us. It is always them. The terrorist is the Islamic State in Syria, the terrorist is the gunmen shooting dead 90 young people in the Bataclan theatre in Paris and the terrorist is the man driving a 19-ton truck into a mass of people strolling along the Promenade des Anglais in Nice. The central problem with this mainstream definition is that it excludes the terrorist actions of a state, except, of course, when the state is part of ‘them’ and not ‘us’ and needs to be set up as a fitting target for attack.

The killers at Bataclan and Nice had their own political motives but so do ‘western’ governments and their regional allies when launching their wars of aggression in the Middle East. Their actions meet their own criteria of terrorism – unlawful violence against civilians with a political aim in mind – and they have killed infinitely more people than the victims of all individual or group terrorist attacks put together.

Their wars would be more accurately described as onslaughts by the most powerful armies in the world on countries scarcely capable of defending themselves. Israel’s war on Lebanon in 1982 was a terrorist war directed against a civilian population, with the political aim in mind of extinguishing the PLO. Its ‘wars’ on Gaza have been terrorist attacks on a civilian population with the aim of destroying support for the Palestinian government elected in 2006.

When the US and its allies invaded Iraq in 2003 the entire Iraqi population south of the Kurdish region was terrorized. Across the country, people did not know whether they or someone close to them would live to see the next day. Hundreds of thousands did not.

They were the sacrifice that had to be made so a dictator could be stripped of the weapons of mass destruction he did not have and the architects of the killing of these civilians knew he did not have.

There were no elegies, no regrets, and no remorse. No flags waving over coffins and no sound of the last post. They were pulp, no more than dross, the scourings in the factory of war, a faceless, nameless pile of bodies with a sign stuck on the top reading ‘collateral damage.’

This did not mean that death did not concern the folk back home. Many were horrified and came out into the streets to demonstrate but most were concerned only with the death of their own, the soldiers sent to kill in this senseless war.

The same governments that led the attack on Iraq then took advantage of the ‘Arab spring’ to turn their attention to Libya. This most developed country in Africa was not destroyed by ‘rebels.’ It was destroyed by the air forces of the US, the UK, and France. The ‘rebels’ moved forward only under cover of aerial attack. Without it they could not have gone beyond the municipal boundaries of Benghazi.

These same governments changed gear when it came to Syria, where they knew they could not get any kind of UN Security Council backing for what they intended to do. They claimed to have been engaged in a ‘war on terror’ since 9/11 but now they and their regional allies used the terrorist gangs they had pledged to destroy to destroy Syria. Their takfiris were no more than the equivalent of the contras Ronald Reagan used against the Sandinista government in Nicaragua in the 1980s.

The criminality in all of this is enormous. The Nuremberg tribunal defined an aggressive war as the supreme international crime. The invasion of Iraq in 2003, the destruction of Libya in 2011 and the slow-motion destruction of Syria from 2011 onwards were aggressive wars and thus supreme international crimes for which no-one who commissioned them has been held accountable in a court of law.

The 2003 attack on Iraq followed ten years of sanctions described by senior UN humanitarian coordinators as genocidal. This was a decade of terror suffered by the Iraqi people, deprived of food, clean water, and energy supplies. Half a million children who would have lived died. The sanctions sickened so many governments they refused to apply them any longer.

With the sanctions regime collapsing, and with it becoming clear that Saddam would survive and Iraq would again take its place as a front line Arab state against Israel, the US decided to attack again and break Iraq up.

The second war on Iraq was launched and sustained under cover of the most reprehensible lies, not one of them being challenged let alone exposed by the corporate media. Up to one million people were killed within a few years and millions more fled their country. Until the attack on Syria, it was the greatest outpouring of refugees in the Middle East since the ethnic cleansing of Palestine in 1948.

The refugees scattered in all directions. Some managed to reach Indonesia, where they took rickety boats across the Timor Sea to Australia. Many drowned when their boats sank.  Others were turned back and some actually made it through the naval cordon. Taking no responsibility for its military role in the destruction of their country, the Australian government then locked them up in ‘detention centers’ or in camps behind razor wire in the middle of the desert.

The vicious, inhumane treatment of such vulnerable people will rank for all time as one of the most despicable episodes in Australian history. What it exposed yet again was the racism deeply embedded in Australian society, directed against one vulnerable group of people after another, the indigenous people from the beginning of white settlement, Chinese miners in the 19th century, ‘boat people’ escaping the Vietnam war in the 1970s and most recently the ‘boat people’ escaping the wars on Afghanistan and Iraq.

The irony could not be lost on anyone, as it was the white settlers themselves who in 1788 were the first ‘boat people,’ massacring the native people and claiming the entire land under the lie of terra nullius. Neither should the similarities with the Zionist occupation of Palestine be lost on anyone.

War turned Libya into a jumping-off point for Libyans and other Africans escaping war or seeking a better life in Europe. Thousands drowned crossing the Mediterranean. The Aegean was another death zone, for Iraqis driven out of their homeland or Kurds escaping theirs.

Then it was Syria’s turn.  If there is any redeeming feature in this latest attempt to destroy an Arab country it is that Syria has survived and in time foreign forces will eventually have to withdraw from the territory they have occupied.  The governments responsible have again violated international law in the most shocking fashion and again no-one has been punished or even held accountable.

These state crimes are the greatest in modern history, far worse in the scale of destruction and the numbers of people killed than the crimes of the national socialists and fascists in the 1930s. One would have to go back to the war on Vietnam for a parallel measure of death and destruction.

Israel was a central element in the wars on Iraq and Syria. It has long been agitating for war on Iran. Its politicians and lobbyists in the US were pushing for ‘regime change’ in the Middle East two decades ago, with the aim of clearing the region of all possible threats to Israeli military domination.

Psycho-historically, Israel also wanted to destroy what was left of the ‘Arab idea’ and what lay at its heart – Palestine. This project began with its establishment.  Israel would decide what the Arab world would be and Israel would tell the world what Arab and Palestinian history had been. Indeed, there would no longer be an ‘Arab world’ in any integrated sense.  As the Yinon planrevealed in the 1980s, it would be broken up into ethno-religious enclaves that Israel could dominate.

Along with the gross crimes committed in Iraq, Libya and Syria there have been the drone missile attacks ordered against Yemen, Somalia and other countries by that paragon of western liberal democracy, Barack Obama.

Now we have his successor dismissing international law with his claim that Jerusalem and the Golan Heights are part of Israel. Thus encouraged, Netanyahu is pledging that after the forthcoming elections he will annex at least parts of the occupied West Bank. ‘A Palestinian state would endanger our existence’ he says. If he does, Trump is likely to follow through with recognition.

What else are these attacks on the governments and people of the Middle East but terror and terrorism as defined – ‘the unlawful use of violence … especially against civilians … in the pursuit of political aims’?

This terrorism is not random but part of the DNA of certain states, no different in essence from the terror of the gunmen who burst into the Bataclan theatre and began shooting down civilians as innocent as the Iraqis, Libyans, Syrians and Palestinians killed by tank fire and missile strikes or shot by gunmen along the Gaza fence. Only the uniform separates them from the Bataclan killers.

These two governments, the US and Israel, have turned the canons of international law upside down. Their law is no more than the law of the jungle, the law not of the civilization whose virtues they endlessly spout but of brute force. They have demonstrated by their actions that where their perceptions of national interest are concerned there is no law they will obey and every law they will break.

They are the Leviathan without the social contract. They have taken the world back to Thomas Hobbes’ ‘state of nature,’ in which, for millions of people in the Middle East the life of a man or a woman, adult or child, becomes ‘brutish and short.’

In their eyes, the ‘terrorist’ is not just the Bataclan gunmen but anyone who stands in their way, whether an individual, an organization or a state. The latest addition, put on the list of designated terrorist groups by Donald Trump, is Iran’s Islamic Revolution Guards Corps (IRGC), which has sent forces to support Syrian and Hizbullah resistance to western-led and Israeli aggression against Syria and Lebanon. In response, Iran’s Supreme Security Council has designated the US government as a terrorist government and CENTCOM, the US central military command, as a terrorist group.

The attack on Syria has been yet another terrible violation of international law, at numerous levels, by the US and its ‘western’ and Middle Eastern regional partners. As usual, the UN Secretary-General refuses to speak out, further whittling away the UN’s credibility as the supposed defender of international order. The response by the Syrian government and its allies to the attack on Syria is not terrorism, but resistance to it.

US and Israeli orchestrated terror in the Middle East has to be put in the right semantical order. Israel was founded through terror and by terror it has been maintained. Its terrorism is not random but normalized and necessary to its existence as a state that has chosen to live outside the law, with the full support of the US.

Israel is not ‘defending’ itself when it attacks Gaza or when its soldiers, police, and settlers kill Palestinians in Jerusalem or on the West Bank. What is it is ‘defending’ is its theft of someone else’s property. It is the Palestinians who are defending their rights, under law, not Israel.

Israeli civilians living illegally on occupied land in east Jerusalem or the West Bank put themselves in harm’s way and are to be held primarily responsible for the consequences to themselves and their families.

The terror experienced by Israeli Jews living close to the Gaza fence is the minutest fraction of the terror routinely inflicted on Palestinians on the other side of the fence. They are being targeted not because they are Jews, as Netanyahu and Zionist lobbyists would have the world believe, but because they are living on land stolen from its owners more than seven decades ago after being ethnically cleansed. It would not matter who they are.  They would still be resisted because of what they have done.

Adherence to international law would redress the situation in Palestine yet the joint US and Israeli response to the violence and terror they have initiated across the Middle East is more violence and more terror. This is their answer. You will do as we say or else, signaling that the ‘special relationship’ between these two unruly, lawbreaking countries is one of the most dangerous in history.

Advertisements

Israel: Defending the Indefensible

By Stuart Littlewood
Source

Israel penetration of UK 68114

It’s monotonous the way British government ministers spout propaganda lies in an attempt to make the stink of Israel smell sweeter. Why do they feel compelled to do it?

Too many in public life have placed themselves under the evil influence of that criminal military power. The mystery is why the Committee on Standards in Public Life hasn’t put a stop to it. The Committee’s job is to

  • advise the Prime Minister on ethical issues relating to standards in public life,
  • conduct broad inquiries into standards of conduct,
  • promote the 7 Principles of Public Life.

But the Committee says it is not allowed to investigate individual allegations of misconduct. That’s the role of the relevant regulator, presumably the Parliamentary Commissioner for Standards.

Theresa May has treated us to these gems:

We have, in Israel, a thriving democracy, a beacon of tolerance…” – December 2016. I think she means a thriving ethnocracy and a beacon of terror against the weak.

It is when you walk through Jerusalem or Tel Aviv that you see a country where people of all religions… are free and equal in the eyes of the law.” – December 2016. Phooey, that was never the case. Now read Israel’s new nation-state laws.

We have common values; we work together on health, counter-terrorism, cyber security; technology; and we can help each other achieve our aims.” – December 2016. Is she aware what Israel’s aim actually are?

Conservative grandee Sir Eric Pickles, CFI Parliamentary chairman, said: “It is immensely important that we speak up for the only working democracy in the Middle East. A bastion of democracy; a bastion of free speech; a bastion of civil liberties.

Proud Muslim Sajid Javid, now Home Secretary, said in December 2012: “Israel, the only nation in the Middle East that shares the same democratic values as Britain….

And Chancellor of the Exchequer Philip Hammond, in October 2015, contributed this: “Under a Conservative government our foreign policy will be made in the Foreign Office…” Funny, I could have sworn it’s made in Tel Aviv or The Israeli embassy in London, which is under the control of propaganda mastermind Mark Regev, Netanyahu’s former chief spokesman.

I’m obliged to the Conservative Friends of Israel website for this selection of fatuous quotes.

Just last week in the House of Commons at Foreign Office Questions and Answers Sir Nicholas Soames (Churchill’s grandson) asked: “Is it not a matter of the greatest regret that our most important ally, the United States, is in clear contravention of United Nations Security Council resolution 497 by recognising Israeli sovereignty claims over Golan? As annexation of territory is prohibited under international law, will the Foreign Secretary send a very strong message to the United States that the British House of Commons condemns unreservedly this breach of the rules-based order?”

To which Jeremy Hunt, our nearly-new Foreign Secretary, replied: “We should never recognise the annexation of territory by force. That has been one of the great achievements since the founding of the United Nations. I do that with a very heavy heart, because Israel is an ally and a shining example of democracy in a part of the world where that is not common. We want Israel to be a success, and we consider it to be a great friend, but on this we do not agree.”

Mark Field, Foreign Officer minister, chimed in: “I think we all recognise that Israel is an important strategic partner for the United Kingdom and that we need to collaborate actively on issues of defence, security and intelligence. In October 2018, the Government launched the UK-Israel counter-terrorism dialogue to share best practice and insights on a wide range of capabilities. We are now committed to holding such a dialogue annually, which will help to complement the already strong operational relationship between our countries.” That, frankly, made my flesh creep.

Their unquestioning adoration simply legitimises the crimes of the racist terror regime.

And how do these Foreign Office jockeys respond to the statement by their “great friend” and common thief Benjamin Netanyahu that, if re-elected, he will annex Jewish settlements in the occupied West Bank?  “I am going to extend [Israeli] sovereignty and I don’t distinguish between settlement blocs and the isolated settlements,” said Netanyahu in a TV interview.

Palestinians, of course, want to establish their own state in the occupied West Bank, East Jerusalem and the Gaza Strip. After all, it’s their land and theJewish settlements are illegal under international law. Israel has transferred about 400,000 Jews into the West Bank and another 200,000 live in East Jerusalem which is also Palestinian. That’s actually a war crime; and annexation of the whole of Palestine is one of Israel’s chief aims that Mrs May apparently wants to help the regime achieve…. as if she didn’t know.

Standards? What standards?

That high-placed individuals in Britain’s Establishment can adore and promote such a vile foreign power as an act of policy is shocking. I blame in part the Christian Church which could and should call out the evil but instead hides behind its insistence – stupidly – that interfaith dialogue is the answer.

But most of all I blame the Standards Committee which clearly hasn’t been advising the PM on good behaviour where the racist regime is concerned, nor for that matter other offenders against ethical standards in our public life.

And of course the Parliamentary Commissioner. She (Kathryn Stone) can investigate allegations that MPs have broken their Code of Conduct and its supporting rules which include “INTEGRITY: Holders of public office should not place themselves under any financial or other obligation to outside individuals or organisations that might influence them in the performance of their official duties.”Has she ever bothered to look into the boast that 80% of Conservative Party MPs and MEPs are signed up Friends of Israel and many receive money from Israel related sources? Same goes for a good number of Labour MPs.

To be fair, though, have pro-Palestine activists ever lodged a complaint with Ms. Stone? If not, what are they waiting for?

I and others complained to the Standards Committee years ago and drew a blank, noting that some members of that committee at the time were themselves associated with the Israel lobby. Isn’t it time the ‘big’ guns like the BDS movement prodded these so-called guardians of our ethics and morality? And kept prodding?

Trump’s “Deal of the Century” To Hand Palestine to Israel Along with Whole Set of New Problems

By Miko Peled
Source

As Benjamin Netanyahu returns from Washington to Jerusalem determined to keep his seat as Israel’s prime minister, it is clear that the Final Status issues — those pesky issues between Israel and the Palestinians that Israel never wants to discuss –  are being eliminated one by one in a regional scheme that is titled Deal of the Century. This so-called “Deal” will be the final undoing of Palestinian hopes for justice, self-determination and return.

From the reckless declaration by President Donald Trump that the United States recognizes Jerusalem as the capital city of Israel, to his more recent proclamation that the United States recognized Israeli sovereignty over the Syrian Golan Heights, it is becoming clear what the Deal of the Century will entail: disregard of the Palestinians and recognition of Israeli rights to all of Palestine.

The purpose of the declaration recognizing Israeli sovereignty over the Golan Heights at this particular moment is twofold: It is an enormous contribution to Netanyahu’s campaign for re-election on April 9, a clear signal that Trump favors Netanyahu; and, what is even more troubling, it is a precursor to what we may soon see happen with Judea and Samaria, also known as the West Bank.

Four elements

Four elements are likely to dominate the Deal of the Century: Palestinian self-determination; refugees; Jerusalem; and the future of what was formerly known as the West Bank and has been named by Israel Judea and Samaria. We have already been given a  preview of what is to come with the first three:

  • Jerusalem, with the Trump declaration of December 6, 2017 recognizing the city as the capital of Israel;
  • Recognition of Palestinian right to self-determination was de-facto reversed when in September 2018, on the 25th anniversary of the Oslo Accords, the Trump administration closed down the PLO mission in Washington;
  • The refugee issue received an almost fatal blow when in August of 2018 the State Department announced that it will no longer provide funds for UNRWA , the United Nations agency created to take care of Palestinian refugees. Even more than financial significance, the $350 million cut to the UNRWA budget was a blow to the very existence of refugee issue. Trump, serving Netanyahu’s agenda, is attempting to eliminate the refugee issue altogether by questioning the right of the Palestinians to aid and by questioning the right of the descendants of the 1948 refugees to refugee status.

The refugees must cease to exist

The Deal of the Century is likely to include an attempt to eliminate the Palestinian refugee issue. In a statement he made in Hebrew to the Israeli cabinet, in July 2018, Netanyahu called the Palestinian refugee issue “fictitious.” He claimed that the sole purpose of UNRWA was to keep the Palestinian refugee issue alive forever and thus to threaten the state of Israel by perpetuating the notion of a right of return. Trump, for his part, is currently claiming that only the people who had actually lived in Mandatory Palestine before the 1948 ethnic cleansing — people who are now 70 years old or older — can be considered refugees; their descendants cannot.

Netanyahu’s problem is that when you ask Palestinians in the diaspora where they are from, they say Yaffa, Haifa, Ramle, and so on. When you ask Israelis where they are from, they say, Poland, Russia, Morocco, Yemen, and so on.

Palestine | Refugees

When you ask Jews around the world they say the same thing Israelis do. So, while the grandchildren of the 1948 refugees can tell you the name of the town or village from which their family came, even though the village has been destroyed, no Israelis — or Jewish people, for that matter — can trace their roots back to the ancient kingdom of Judea.

It is important to note and remind both Trump and Netanyahu that, according to international law, even refugees who were not born in Palestine but in the diaspora are refugees and have a right to return. This is because, under international human rights law, neither local integration nor resettlement forecloses the possibility of refugee return to their country of origin. Furthermore, after a large-scale displacement, such as the one that took place in Palestine in 1948, restitution may cover both public and private property.

Not only people

It is not only the return of the people, but it is also the rightful claim to restitution, which will surely be made, that Israel dreads.

The extent of abandoned property that Israel has taken over as a result of the 1948 ethnic cleansing of Palestine is enormous. Palestinians were expelled from entire cities including Jaffa, Ramleh, Haifa and all of west Jerusalem. In addition to that, there are vast tracts of agricultural land that were taken. After the population was expelled, profit-making orchards of citrus, olive and other agricultural products were handed over by the newly established state to Jewish agricultural settlements.

Netanyahu and the entire Zionist establishment are aware of all this and they fear the day when they will be held accountable for this theft of property. Restitution of Palestinian property has received little discussion, largely because of Israel’s refusal to engage and pressure by Zionist groups to keep this subject off the table. The Deal of the Century is likely to try to make it disappear for good.

Judea and Samaria is next

Israeli annexation of the West Bank used to be a far-fetched idea. That is no longer the case. The West Bank is now, and has been for many years, “Judea and Samaria.” It has cities and counties; it includes industry and a bureaucracy with its own police force. There is a highway system in place and shopping centers — all built exclusively for Jews. Official annexation of the area to Israel today — much like recognizing Jerusalem as the capital city of Israel and Israeli sovereignty over the Golan Heights — would be merely a formality, albeit one that contravenes international law.

Palestinian protesters carry national flags and plant olive trees facing the Israeli settlement of Beitar Illit during a protest marking Land Day, in the village of Wadi Fukin, near the West Bank city of Bethlehem, March 30, 2015.

It is realistic to expect that, as part of the Deal of the Century, the U.S. will, before long, recognize Israeli sovereignty over Judea and Samaria. This will mean officially creating one state over all of Palestine with exclusive rights for the minority Israeli Jews. While this may seem like a win for Israel, it will also give rise to serious problems for the Zionist state.

Israel controls the lives of 2 million Palestinians who hold Israeli citizenship, 2.2 million Palestinians locked up in the Gaza Strip and about 3 million Palestinians in what used to be the West Bank. That is a total of 7 million Palestinians living without rights in a state where about 6 million Israeli Jews have exclusive rights.

Careful what you wish for

Today, perhaps more than ever, U.S. foreign policy in the Middle East is being dictated by Israel and specifically by Benjamin Netanyahu. It is executed by Jared Kushner through his father-in-law, the president of the United States. Though the Deal of the Century will try to eliminate the Palestinian issue for good, what the architects of the “Deal” in their arrogance fail to see is that this so-called “Deal” is nothing more than an irresponsible, impractical and precarious plan that will fall just as soon as it is raised.

Why Israel Has No ‘Right to Exist’

By Jeremy R. Hammond
Source

Palestinian refugees ae950

Zionists taking it upon themselves to try to defend Israel’s crimes against the Palestinian people frequently level the charge that its critics are attempting to “delegitimize” the self-described “Jewish state”. Israel, they counter, has a “right to exist”. But they are mistaken.

This is not to single out Israel. There is no such thing as a state’s “right to exist”, period. No such right is recognized under international law. Nor could there logically be any such right. The very concept is absurd. Individuals, not abstract political entities, have rights.

Individual rights may also be exercised collectively, but not with prejudice toward the rights of individuals. The relevant right in this context is rather the right to self-determination, which refers to the right of a people to collectively exercise their individual rights through political self-governance. The collective exercise of this right may not violate the individual exercise of it. The only legitimate purpose of government is to protect individual rights, and a government has no legitimacy without the consent of the governed. It is only in this sense that the right to self-determination may be exercised collectively, by a people choosing for themselves how they are to be governed and consenting to that governance.

The right to self-determination, unlike the absurd concept of a state’s “right to exist”, is recognized under international law. It is a right that is explicitly guaranteed, for example, under the Charter of the United Nations, to which the state of Israel is party.

The proper framework for discussion therefore is the right to self-determination, and it is precisely to obfuscate this truth that the propaganda claim that Israel has a “right to exist” is frequently made. It is necessary for Israel’s apologists to so shift the framework for discussion because, in the framework of the right to self-determination, it is obviously Israel that rejects the rights of the Palestinians and not vice versa.

And it is not only in the ongoing occupation of Palestinian territory that Israel’s rejectionism is manifest. This rejection of Palestinians’ rights was also manifest in the very means by which Israel was established.

There is a popular belief that Israel was founded through some kind of legitimate political process. This is false. This myth is grounded in the idea that the famous “partition plan” resolution of the United Nations General Assembly—Resolution 181 of November 29, 1947—legally partitioned Palestine or otherwise conferred legal authority to the Zionist leadership for their unilateral declaration of Israel’s existence on May 14, 1948.

Indeed, in that very declaration, Israel’s founding document, the Zionist leadership relied on Resolution 181 for their claim of legal authority. The truth is, however, that Resolution 181 did no such thing. The General Assembly had no authority to partition Palestine against the will of the majority of its inhabitants. Nor did it claim to. On the contrary, the Assembly merely recommended the partition of Palestine into separate Jewish and Arab states, which would have to be agreed upon by both peoples to have any legal effect. The Assembly forwarded the matter to the Security Council, where the plan died with the explicit recognition that the UN had no authority to implement any such partition.

The Zionists’ unilateral declaration is frequently described as a “Declaration of Independence”. But it was no such thing. A declaration of independence assumes that the people declaring their independence are sovereign over the territory in which they wish to exercise their right to self-determination. But the Zionists were not sovereign over the land that became the territory of the state of Israel.

On the contrary, when they declared Israel’s existence, Jews owned less than 7 percent of the land in Palestine. Arabs owned more land than Jews in every single district of Palestine. Arabs also constituted a numerical majority in Palestine. Despite mass immigration, Jews remained a minority comprising about a third of the population.

Even within the territory proposed by the UN for the Jewish state, when the Bedouin population was counted, Arabs constituted a majority. Even within that territory, Arabs owned more land than Jews.

Simply stated, the Zionist leadership had no legitimate claim to sovereignty over the territory they ultimately acquired through war.

Notably, the acquisition of territory by war is prohibited under international law.

Far from being established through any kind of legitimate political process, Israel was established through violence. The Zionists acquired most of the territory for their state through the ethnic cleansing of most of the Arab population, more than 700,000 people, from their homes in Palestine. Hundreds of Arab villages were literally wiped off the map.

So when Zionists claim that Israel has a “right to exist”, what they are really saying is that the Zionists had a “right” to ethnically cleanse Palestine in order to establish their “Jewish state”.

Obviously, there is no such right. On the contrary, once again, under international law, ethnic cleansing is recognized as a crime against humanity.

Zionists charge that critics of Israel’s crimes against the Palestinians seek to “delegitimize” the “Jewish state”, but it matters that the unilateral declaration by the Zionists on May 14, 1948, had no legitimacy. It matters that the crime of ethnic cleansing cannot be justified or legitimized.

When this charge is leveled at Israel’s critics, what is really happening is that it is Israel’s apologists who are attempting to delegitimize the Palestinians’ right to self-determination, along with the internationally recognized right of refugees of war to return to their homeland.

Regardless of the illegitimacy of the means by which Israel was established, it exists. This is the present reality. However, the demand by the state of Israel that the Palestinians recognize its “right” not just to exist, but to exist “as a Jewish state” is simply a demand that the Palestinians surrender their rights and accede that the Zionists’ unilateral declaration and ethnic cleansing of Palestine were legitimate.

And that is why there has been no peace. There will be no peace until the rights of the Palestinians are recognized and respected. The problem for Zionists is that for the Palestinians to exercise their rights would mean the end of Israel’s existence as a “Jewish state”.

But what would be wrong with ending a fundamentally racist regime that perpetually violates international law and Palestinians’ human rights? What would be wrong with replacing it with a government that respects the equal rights of all the inhabitants of the territory over which it exercises political sovereignty and rules with the consent of the governed?

To anyone with any honesty and moral integrity, the clear answer to both questions is: nothing.

For all those who take an active role in pursing peace and justice, it is therefore to that end that we must focus our collective efforts. It starts with gaining a proper understanding of the true nature of the conflict and helping to open the eyes of all those who have integrity, but who have been deceived by the lies and propaganda that have perpetuated the violence and injustice for so long.

Israeli Violence Against Peaceful Palestinian Demonstrators

By Stephen Lendman
Source

Saturday, March 30, marked the 43rd anniversary of Land Day for Palestinians throughout the Occupied Territories.

The anniversary is all about Palestinian resistance against Israeli theft of their land, displacing them for exclusive Jewish development and use.

It’s against the systematic transformation of historic Palestine into a state affording rights to Jews alone, Arabs treated like nonpersons, Israeli Arab citizens, 20% of the population, treated like fifth column threats.

March 30 was also the one-year anniversary of weekly Great March of Return demonstrations in Gaza against Israel’s illegal suffocating blockade, an act of war without declaring it.

Two million Gazans are held hostage by Israeli viciousness, the world community doing nothing to relieve their suffering, nothing to hold Israel accountable for high crimes too serious to ignore.

They include three premeditated wars of aggression on the Strip since December 2008, along with intermittent terror-bombings and cross-border incursions, civilians threatening no one harmed most.

On Saturday, Sabreen al-Najjar, mother of 21-year-old Razan al-Najjar, commemorated her daughter’s murder at the hands of an Israeli sniper – an angel of mercy paramedic, a victim of Gaza’s killing fields.

Dressed in white attire, identifying her as a first responder medic, she was lethally shot in the neck and back, an exploding dum dum bullet destroying her heart, killing her instantly.

“My daughter…Razan…was (lethally) shot by an Israeli sniper while wearing her white uniform and trying to rescue those injured protesting for their rights,” said Sabreen, adding:

“During Razan’s short life, she was confined to a densely populated, prison-like strip of land, surrounded by Israeli blockades and walls.”

“She witnessed three Israeli military aggressions that wounded and killed thousands of innocent Palestinians. For her and for all Palestinians, the Great Return March is our cry for justice.”

“As we stand together peacefully, every weekend, for the rights and freedoms freely given to others without hesitation, it’s the obligation of the international community to act and stop supplying Israel with the weapons that it used to kill Razan and so many others like her.”

“I call on organizations and states to implement our Palestinian call for a military embargo against Israel so that we can live in freedom and peace.”

Gaza-based BDS community organizer Abulrahman Abunahel said “(f)or more than seven decades, Palestinian people have been struggling to return to their homes from which they were uprooted in the Nakba in 1948.”

“Israel denies us our right of return. On the first anniversary of the ongoing Great March of Return in Gaza, we reiterate the call for boycott, divestment and sanctions for Palestinian rights.” 

“It is high time to fully isolate and prosecute the Israeli regime of settler-colonialism, occupation, and apartheid. The bloodshed in Gaza and elsewhere in Palestine must be stopped.”

According to Gaza’s health ministry, Israeli soldiers killed 266 Palestinians, injuring over 30,000 others since Great Gazan March of Return demonstrations began one year ago.

On Saturday, Israeli snipers killed four Palestinians, injuring 316 others, including 86 children and 29 women, said Gaza’s health ministry – many seriously during all Great March of Return protests, including yesterday’s.

Razan and two other Palestinian medics were killed, 665 others wounded, and 112 ambulances damaged, Gaza’s health ministry explained.

At least two clearly identified journalists by their attire were killed, dozens of others wearing press IDs injured.

Israeli soldiers and other security forces routinely attack peaceful Palestinian demonstrators throughout the Territories with live fire, rubber-coated steel bullets, toxic tear gas, and other repressive tactics.

The Gaza-based Palestinian Center for Human Rights (PCHR) condemned Israeli use of lethal force against peaceful protesters threatening no one – how its regimes confront all nonviolent demonstrations, falsely blaming Palestinians for high crimes committed against them.

Like ahead of all Great March of Return demonstrations, the IDF set up fortified positions on the Israeli side of the border, snipers positioned with orders to use live fire and other toughness against peaceful protesters.

Israeli media reported that the IDF deployed three brigades of combat troops and an artillery battalion along the Gaza border, along with 200 snipers.

PCHR: “According to observations by (its) fieldworkers (on the ground in Gaza), Israeli forces…stationed in prone positions and in military jeeps along the fence with Israel continued to use excessive force against the (peaceful) demonstrators by opening fire and firing teargas canisters at them.”

As in previous weeks, tens of thousands of Gazans turned out on Saturday, including entire families. Threatening no one, Israeli soldiers fired on them for target practice, gunning down or otherwise injuring hundreds.

Reporting on what happened on Saturday, the NYT featured a photo of a Palestinian demonstrator using a sling shot to hurl a likely stone in the direction of Israeli forces, safely behind barricades, too far away to be harmed – instead of showing IDF snipers gunning down Palestinians in cold blood.

The Times turned truth on its head, calling Saturday events “mostly peaceful” – entirely so by Palestinians, nothing of the kind by IDF soldiers, attacking them unrestrained.

The photo published by the Times was unrelated to Saturday protests, showing black smoke from burning tires.

Haaretz reported the following: “As part of understandings reached between Israel and the Palestinians through Egyptian mediation on Friday, Palestinians refrained from setting ablaze car tires at the protest sites.”

The Times (and other US media) falsely accused Gazans of hurling “dozens of homemade bombs” at Israeli soldiers. Nothing of the kind occurred. Demonstrators were entirely peaceful as during other Great March of Return protests.

The Times quoted IDF spokesman, Lt. Col Jonathan Conruus’ Big Lie, claiming “(i)t’s clear that Hamas controls the level of violence (sic),” adding:

“When they want less violence (sic), we see that they can keep people back from the fence. And when they want more violence (sic), they get more violence (sic).”

The Times lied saying “Israel made a point before Saturday of cautioning its soldiers against taking shots that might hit unintended targets.”

Fact: The Netanyahu regime and IDF consider civilians legitimate targets, including young children and women – 86 children and 29 women wounded by live fire, rubber-coated steel bullets, and toxic tear gas on Saturday.

Many thousands of Gazans have been protesting weekly and other times against their virtual incarceration in the world’s largest open-air prison.

Though unable to change things, their courage against a brutal occupier got worldwide attention. With nothing to lose, they’re unlikely to quit as long as their suffering continues.

A Final Comment

On March 29, Fairness & Accuracy in Reporting (FAIR)  explained major media calls to renounce violence is almost exclusively directed at Muslims, saying:

“A FAIR survey of the phrase “renounce violence” in the New York Times over the past 10 years shows that 95 percent of the time the demand is made of Muslim organizations, people or political parties, the most prominent being the Taliban and Hamas.” 

“There are zero instances of anyone in the Times — whether reporters quoting officials or columnists — from March 28, 2009, to March 28, 2019, insisting or suggesting that the United States, Israel or any white-majority country ‘renounce violence.’ ”

The above information should surprise no one. The self-styled newspaper of record and other establishment media operate as virtual imperial press agents – supporting US-led NATO and Israeli wars of aggression, along with their other hostile actions against targeted nations and people.

That’s what the scourge of imperialism is all about, establishment media acting as accomplices.

Land theft, ethnic cleansing, and Jewish supremacy: Israel’s settler colonialism in Syria’s Golan, the forgotten occupied territory — what’s left

By Stephen Gowans March 31, 2019 Israel’s occupation, annexation, and plunder of Syria’s Golan recapitulates all that is repugnant about the Zionist state: its wars of aggression, land theft, ethnic cleansing, racism, quest for lebensraum, and contempt for international legal norms. It also shows that Israeli citizens, including the country’s Left, are not only complicit […]

via Land theft, ethnic cleansing, and Jewish supremacy: Israel’s settler colonialism in Syria’s Golan, the forgotten occupied territory — what’s left

Lebanon Decides to Confront Israel And The US in Shebaa, Kfarshouba And Syria

By Elijah. J. Magnier
Source

YXdLdTXCBLHdjfTpaXneAixNJ9AnPALr 1 8a7a0

Lebanese Judge Ahmad Mezher has given orders that a survey be conducted of Lebanese occupied territories in the Shebaa Farms, Kfarshouba, Huneen, Ideise and Bleeda. These villages are bordering Hasbaiya, Rashaya al-Fukhar and Kiyam and have been under Israeli occupation since 1981, as Syria’s Golan Heights have been since 1967. This step coincides with the illegal “gift” of the Syrian Golan Heights offered by US President Donald Trump to his closest ally Prime Minister Benyamin Netanyahu. Although Trump’s move was verbally condemned by the international community, no other state or international body seems likely to openly oppose Trump’s move at the moment.

However, Lebanon has decided to confront this move on the ground, showing its readiness to defend its territory if US “gifts” were ever seen to include Lebanese occupied territories. The Lebanese presidency, the Parliament and the government agreed that it is the right of Lebanon to regain its occupied territory and that the equation “the army, the people, the resistance” is united under one umbrella. Thus, the possibility of confrontation between the Resistance – i.e. Hezbollah in this case – and Israel is now on the table.

The level of tension and chances of confrontation increased during Lebanese President Michel Aoun’s visit to Moscow. During meetings with his homolog Russian President Vladimir Putin, the Christian President Aoun rejected US pressure on his country. The US establishment, including Secretary of State Mike Pompeo and his envoys to Lebanon, wants to prevent the over one and a half million Syrian refugees in Lebanon from returning home. President Aoun also rejected Trump’s gift to Netanyahu, stating clearly that the Golan Heights is Syrian territory illegally occupied by Israel,  and not the property of the US to dispose of as it will.

It remains unclear whether the Shebaa Farms, Kfarshouba and neighboring villages are part of Trump’s gift to Israel. This is why Lebanese authorities have requested the judiciary authority officially survey the southern Lebanese territories occupied by Israel. If in response to the survey, any attempt is made to assert that these areas are part of Israel, then the Lebanese triad (the army, the people and the resistance) will be bound to recover its occupied territory. The timing of the decision is important because it shows the readiness of the Lebanese government to raise the subject and to confront Israel in the wake of the US decision on the Golan Heights, a territory closely linked to the Lebanese farms and villages. As recently as 2009 some of these lands were contested between Syria and Lebanon, but now that Lebanon is in a better position than Syria to vindicate its claims against Israel, the Syrian government will be happy for it to do so.

President Aoun raised these issues with President Putin in the context of Trump’s previous gift of Jerusalem, by virtue of his recognition of an undivided Jerusalem as the capital of Israel. Lebanon fully supports the right of return of Palestinians to their land, particularly since there are over 800,000 Palestinians living in Lebanon. Just as the US would prefer these Palestinians to remain in Lebanon, the US now seems to want Lebanon to accept an ongoing presence of Syrian refugees on Lebanese soil. The US policy of keeping Syrian refugees in Lebanon has several goals.

The first is to shift the religious balance of power in Lebanon. Most Syrian refugees are Sunni (mainly hostile to Assad and to his allies) and the US would like to see a Sunni plurality in Lebanon to confront Shia Hezbollah and the society behind it. All Israeli wars have failed to curb Hezbollah and could not reduce its strength. On the contrary, Hezbollah military power is increased to an unprecedented level, domestically and regionally. Moreover, in the last Lebanese Parliamentary polls, Hezbollah won more votes than any religious party, surprising everyone. Support for Hezbollah goes beyond any one religious confession; it has proved itself as a force defending Christians and Shia against Wahhabi takfiri extremists. Confronting Hezbollah face to face would lead to certain failure, hence the US need to strategically build another society to stand against it.

President Aoun insists on the return of Syrian refugees to Syria, notwithstanding the financial incentives being offered by the US and Europe to keep them in Lebanon. The presence of the refugees upsets the religious equilibrium in Lebanon and accelerates the process by which Christians are becoming a minority on Lebanese soil. The religious terrorism that hit the Middle East over the last decade targeted regional minorities, notably the Christians. The same NATO leaders whose governments sponsored takfiri terrorism against Christians in the Levant proposed to Lebanese Christian leaders that they leave the land of their ancestors and settle in the west. Christians who were raped, murdered and terrorized by ISIS and al-Qaeda in Iraq and Syria would have suffered the same fate in Lebanon had Hezbollah decided to entrench themselves in the south of Lebanon, in the Beirut suburbs, or in selected villages of the Bekaa Valley.

Moreover, the Lebanese President considers the Syrian refugees a security and a financial burden that is placing a heavy burden on the fragile and chaotic Lebanese infrastructure.  These refugees currently represent a third of the total Lebanese population.

Another objective of US refugee policy in Lebanon is to recover from Syrian President Bashar al-Assad what it failed to achieve by arming militants to overthrow his government over the last 8 years. The US establishment would like to keep over 5 million Syrian refugees outside Syria, mainly in Lebanon, Jordan, Turkey and Europe. This, in US thinking, could impede forthcoming presidential elections in Syria, and prevent both the rebuilding of the Syrian Army and the reconstruction of the country. Syrians are skillful craftsmen; keeping them away from home impedes rebuilding.  All these US objectives do not help Lebanon in any way. On the contrary, they weaken Lebanon, which needs a healthy relationship with neighboring Syria for its security and commercial development.

Trump has made the Middle East less secure. He has offered Israel an illegal and unnecessary gift. Israel was already controlling the Syrian Golan Heights; Syria posed no threat to it. Syria had not fired a bullet against Israeli occupation of the Golan for 30 years and will be busy for the next ten years rebuilding its destroyed infrastructure. Moreover, the late President Hafez Assad had engaged with Israel, through US mediation, to negotiate a peace deal in exchange for the Golan Heights. It was Israel who rejected the deal at the last minute. Assad then said he would leave liberation of the territory to the generation to come.

The US establishment is undermining Lebanon’s security and peace by imposing one and a half million refugees on the country, destabilizing the local society, and threatening to impose sanctions if Lebanon does not submit to US bullying.

Trump gave Jerusalem to Israel and can no longer be considered a partner in any peace process. This realization has given new urgency to the Palestinian cause. He is not willing to give a state to the Palestinians, but he is disposing of their rights.

US forces are unwelcome in Syria, occupying a third of the country and a bordering passage, while ISIS no longer controls any Syrian territory in the north-east. At the same time the US is keeping tens of thousands of Syrian refugees at the al-Rukban camps from returning home.

In Iraq, the parliament is divided between those willing to see the last US soldier depart and those who want to maintain some training and intelligence collaboration. Iraqi politicians are afraid of asking the US to stay or to leave permanently for fear of seeing ISIS return with US support in either case (if US forces stay there is fear of seeing the US support for ISIS, an eventuality Iraqis also fear if the US were to leave).

Finally, the US is now seen as a superpower ruled by a thug sucking wealth from the oil-rich Arab countries, forcing them to buy US weapons so that Middle Easterners can continue killing each other at their own expense. Arab countries, once very rich, are imposing local taxes they have never imposed before on their own nationals and are going through a financial crisis unheard of for decades. Syria, Iraq, Yemen, Palestine and Lebanon are on the floor financially and even Saudi Arabia, the Emirates, Qatar and Bahrein are not in their best financial shape. Iran’s nuclear deal was revoked and since Trump took power the country is facing the harshest sanctions ever.

It is unclear when the next war may erupt to challenge US hegemony in this part of the world. It is clear that Russia and China are already present in the Middle East, ready to take the place of a US establishment which is no longer regarded as a friendly nation by any state but Israel.

%d bloggers like this: