«Israel’s» Gaza Headache

«Israel’s» Gaza Headache

Abdallah al-Sinawi

“I hope to wake up one morning and not find Gaza on the map,” former “Israeli” Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin told the French President Francois Mitterrand during a meeting in the Elysee Palace. These were feelings he could no longer hide and the nightmares haunting him when he thought about the future of the Jewish “state”.

This was in the early 1990s when talk of settling the Palestinian issue dominated the arena of international diplomacy. The “Israeli” statement, conveyed by the surprised French president to his old friend Professor Mohamed Hassanein Heikal, was not a metaphor for fears as much as it was the basis of a complete strategy that governed “Israel’s” negotiations with the Palestinians in Oslo.

“Israel’s” strategic goals in the Oslo negotiations leaned towards getting rid of the Gaza headache as quickly as possible and transferring the responsibility over to a Palestinian Authority that is bound by full security cooperation with the “Israeli” occupation forces.

It was no coincidence that the title of the first phase of the Oslo agreement was “Gaza and Ariha [Jericho] first”. At the time, there was a fundamental criticism regarding the gaps and concessions that took on the title: “Gaza and Ariha, first and foremost”. This has been happening somewhat for more than a quarter of a century.

“Israel” did not abide by what it signed and there was no Palestinian state created on the territories occupied in 1967. The settlements expanded until they almost devoured the greater part of the West Bank. Al-Quds was annexed by the force of arms and not much attention was paid to any legitimate rights or international resolutions. The Palestinian Authority itself became a hostage under the bayonets of the occupation.

Popular uprisings unfolded. Confrontations took place in al-Quds and the West Bank. Gaza progressed to become “Israel’s” headache.

New situations arouse, the worst of which was the bloody Palestinian division between Fatah and Hamas or the West Bank and Gaza. A harsh siege was imposed on the impoverished enclave, making life there almost impossible.

Three devastating wars were carried out against Gaza in 2008, 2012 and 2014. Sporadic “Israeli” raids and attacks destroyed and killed. But Gaza did not succumb. No one in “Israel” is thinking of reoccupying Gaza. The price is high and intolerable. There are no biblical references advocating the occupation of a populated and armed enclave poor of natural resources.

“Israel’s” exact intentions with respect to its ongoing military operations against Gaza and its people are to reduce the prospects for the growth of the armed resistance and to sever its links to the West Bank in order to break the unity of the people and the cause. This is the closest explanation to the truth regarding the motives of the intelligence operation, the repercussions of which have caused the most severe clashes between the “Israeli” army and the resistance groups since 2014.

The failure of the operations shocked the “Israelis”. The commando force, which infiltrated into Khan Younis, fell into the ambush of the resistance. Its commander was killed and another officer was seriously wounded. It almost fell captive had it not been for the general military and intelligence mobilization directly supervised by the “Israeli” chief of staff to save it from that fate.

That incident with its ramifications and the courage shown by the Palestinians in a battle that lacked military parity was a new Gaza headache for “Israel”. The “Israelis” thought they can do whatever they wanted, launch incursions, kill and arrest, without caring about the truce that is supposed to refrain it from any provocative actions.

Such operations are not new. It cannot be envisioned that “Israel” will stop launching them in any long-term truce. It believes that it has the right to do whatever it wants in the name of its security without taking into account that there are about two million Palestinians who demand reciprocity. Calm in return for calm. Not calm from one side. That was the first message. There was a second message sent by the besieged Strip, which was targeted by “Israeli” missiles and destroyed while its residents were intimidated. The message conveyed is that it can retaliate, hurt and push 250 thousand “Israelis” to bomb shelters, paralyze and frighten the southern part of the Jewish “state” and eventually force the “Israelis” to accept Egyptian mediation for a ceasefire and a return to the course of calm, whose longevity cannot be counted upon.

While accepting the ceasefire, “Israel” declared that it would continue military operations if necessary.

What was the necessity that called for breaking the truce?

There is no single answer that goes beyond the loose phrases about “Israeli” security. As if one side has the right to violate the truce on vague grounds and to remove the other party’s similar rights. As usual, the US administration ensured that the “Israeli” war machine was protected in the UN Security Council. Hamas rockets appeared to be the only culprit, as if Palestinian victims were not terrorized and killed by “Israel’s” excessive violence. As usual, the Arab powerlessness was clearly tragic. As if the Gaza headache struck Arab rulers that wished not to find it on the map or that the entire Palestinian cause would simply disappear.

The Arab scrambling for normalization was the fundamental reason that drove the “Israeli” delegate in the UN Security Council to call other states that were talking about the disproportionate use of force ‘immoral’. That light criticism was not easy for “Israel”. As if identifying with the occupation and condemning the victims are the components of morality according to the latest “Israeli” definitions.

Despite “Israel’s” arrogance in its power, its fragility and lack of confidence in the future cannot be hidden. Suffice it to point the targeting of the Al-Aqsa TV with intensive shelling that leveled the premises and surrounding areas. This is a sign of weakness, not power. The capabilities and level of broadcast of the TV station is limited. This shows that “Israel” cannot tolerate a voice against its policies. It is unleashing policies that do not have a way to get rid of the chronic Gaza headaches other than the excessive use of force. It is a peace imposed by force, according to US President Donald Trump, in other words the “Deal of the Century”. With any objective reading, Gaza is its main focus. There is no room for negotiations over the settlements in the West Bank and al-Quds as well as the refugees. The Arab initiative of a comprehensive normalization in return for a full withdrawal from the Arab territories occupied since 1967 has clinically died. The separation of Gaza from the West Bank is an essential objective of the prepared plan.

What is being planned and what the “Israelis” hope to implement is striping away Gaza’s National liberation nature and transforming it into a purely humanitarian issue that includes improving the standards of living and services such as electricity, fuel and the establishment of a water corridor between Cyprus and Gaza under the full supervision of the “Israeli” security services. In one way or another, the failed intelligence operation and the ensuing military confrontation come in the context of the “Deal of the Century”. In one surreal scene, the violence, siege, starvation and the pressure to halt US shares to the United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees (UNRWA) come side by side with proposed projects, deals and promises to improve the standards of living in exchange for Palestinians surrendering any legitimate rights. This kind of thinking is closer to delirium and is certainly fated to fail.

Source: Al-Akhbar, Translated by website team

صداع غزة في رأس إسرائيل

عبدالله السناوي

  الخميس 15 تشرين الثاني 2018

«أتمنى أن استيقظ من النوم ذات صباح فلا أجد غزة على الخريطة». هكذا كاشف رئيس الوزراء الإسرائيلي الأسبق إسحاق رابين الرئيس الفرنسي فرانسوا ميتران في اجتماع ضمهما بقصر الإليزيه بمشاعر لم يعد بوسعه أن يخفيها وكوابيس تلاحقه في النظر إلى مستقبل الدولة العبرية. كان ذلك مطلع تسعينيات القرن الماضي وأحاديث تسوية القضية الفلسطينية تتسيّد كواليس الديبلوماسية الدولية. لم تكن العبارة الكاشفة، التي نقلها الرئيس الفرنسي مندهشاً من رسائلها إلى صديقه القديم الأستاذ محمد حسنين هيكل، تعبيراً مجازياً مبالغاً عن هواجس ومخاوف بقدر ما كانت تأسيساً لاستراتيجية كاملة حكمت إدارة إسرائيل للمفاوضات مع الفلسطينيين في «أوسلو».

مال التصميم الاستراتيجي الإسرائيلي في مفاوضات «أوسلو» إلى التخلص بأسرع ما هو ممكن من صداع غزة وإحالة مسؤوليتها إلى سلطة فلسطينية مقيّدة بالتزامات التعاون الأمني الكامل مع قوات الاحتلال الإسرائيلي. ولم تكن مصادفة أن يكون عنوان المرحلة الأولى في اتفاقية «أوسلو»: «غزة وأريحا أولاً». شاع وقتها نقد جوهري لما انطوت عليه الاتفاقية من ثغرات وتنازلات أخذ عنواناً مضاداً: «غزة وأريحا أولاً وأخيراً». على مدى أكثر من ربع قرن هذا ما حدث تقريباً.

لا إسرائيل التزمت بما وقعت عليه ولا نشأت دولة فلسطينية على الأراضي التي احتلت عام 1967. توسعت المستوطنات حتى كادت تلتهم الجانب الأكبر من الضفة الغربية وضمت القدس بقوة السلاح من دون التفات كبير لأية حقوق مشروعة أو أية قرارات دولية، والسلطة نفسها تحولت إلى رهينة تحت حراب الاحتلال.

هبّت انتفاضات شعبية وجرت مواجهات في القدس والضفة الغربية وتقدمت غزة لتفاقم صداعها في الرأس الإسرائيلي.

ثم نشأت أوضاع جديدة، أسوأها الانشقاق الفلسطيني الفادح بين «فتح» و«حماس» أو الضفة وغزة، وفرض حصار قاس على القطاع الفقير حتى أصبحت الحياة شبه مستحيلة.

جرت ثلاثة حروب مدمرة عليه أعوام 2008 و2012 و2014 فضلاً عن غارات واعتداءات متكررة تضرب وتدمر وتقتل من حين لآخر من دون أن تخضع غزة. ليس في وارد أي تفكير إسرائيلي إعادة احتلال غزة، فالثمن باهظ وغير محتمل، كما أنه ليست هناك مطامع توراتية، أو إغواءات ما لاحتلال قطاع فقير في موارده الطبيعية ومكتظ بالسكان والسلاح. ما تريده إسرائيل ـ بالضبط ـ من عملياتها العسكرية المتواصلة ضد غزة وأهلها تقليل احتمالات نمو المقاومة المسلحة واتصال أدوارها بالضفة الغربية لفصم وحدة الشعب والقضية. هذا هو التفسير الأقرب إلى الحقيقة لدوافع العملية الاستخباراتية، التي استدعت تداعياتها أوسع اشتباك بين الجيش الإسرائيلي وجماعات المقاومة منذ عام 2014.

كان فشل العملية صدمة إسرائيلية مؤكدة. وقعت قوة الكوماندوس الخاصة التي تسلّلت إلى خانيونس في كمين المقاومة، قتل قائدها وأصيب ضابط آخر بجروح خطيرة، وكادت أن تقع في الأسر لولا التعبئة العامة العسكرية والاستخباراتية لإنقاذها من ذلك المصير تحت الإشراف المباشر لرئيس الأركان الإسرائيلي.

ما حدث تلك الليلة بدلالاته ومستوى الشجاعة التي أبداها الفلسطينيون في معركة تفتقد التكافؤ العسكري، تعبير جديد عن صداع غزة في رأس يتصور أن بوسعه فعل ما يشاء، يخترق ويستكشف ما يريد استكشافه، يقتل ويعتقل، من دون أن يأبه بمسار التهدئة الذي يفترض أن يلزمه بالامتناع عن أية تصرفات استفزازية بالسلاح.

مثل هذه العمليات الإسرائيلية ليست جديدة، ولا يتصور أن تمتنع عنها في ظل أية هدنة طويلة المدى، إذ ترى أن من حقها فعل ما تشاء باسم أمنها من دون أن يخطر ببالها أن هناك نحو مليوني فلسطيني يطلبون المعاملة بالمثل ـ تهدئة مقابل تهدئة وليست تهدئة من طرف واحد. كانت تلك رسالة أولى. كما كانت هناك رسالة ثانية من القطاع المحاصر، الذي استهدفته الصواريخ والطائرات الإسرائيلية تقتيلاً وهدماً وترويعاً لمواطنيه، أن بوسعه أن يرد ويوجع ويدفع نحو 250 ألف إسرائيلي إلى الملاجئ وإصابة جنوب الدولة العبرية بالذعر والشلل ويجبر المعتدي في نهاية المطاف على قبول الوساطة المصرية لوقف تبادل النيران والعودة إلى مسار التهدئة الذي يصعب التعويل على إمكانية ديمومته.

إسرائيل نفسها أعلنت في لحظة قبولها وقف إطلاق النار أنها ستواصل العمليات العسكرية إذا اقتضت الضرورة.

    • ما الضرورة التي تدعو لخرق التهدئة؟

لا إجابة واحدة تتجاوز العبارات الفضفاضة عن الأمن الإسرائيلي، كأنه من حق طرف واحد أن يخرق التهدئة بدواعي غامضة وينزع عن الطرف الآخر أية حقوق مماثلة، أو غير مماثلة. كالعادة تكفّلت الإدارة الأميركية بتوفير الحماية لآلة الحرب الإسرائيلية في مجلس الأمن الدولي، وبدت صواريخ «حماس» متهماً وحيداً، كأنه لم يسقط ويروع ضحايا فلسطينيون بالعنف الإسرائيلي المفرط. وكالعادة تبدى العجز العربي مأسوياً كأن صداع غزة قد أصاب قصور حكمه حتى تمنت بدورها ألا تجدها على الخريطة، أو أن تختفي القضية الفلسطينية كلها من الوجود.

كانت الهرولة العربية للتطبيع داعياً جوهرياً لما أسماه المندوب الإسرائيلي في مجلس الأمن بـ«عدم أخلاقية» الدول التي تتحدث عن عدم تكافؤ العنف بين الإسرائيليين والفلسطينيين. لم يكن ذلك النقد الهيّن مناسباً لإسرائيل، كأن التماهي مع الاحتلال وإدانة الضحايا من مقومات الأخلاق وفق أحدث التعريفات الإسرائيلية.

على رغم عجرفة القوة فإنه لا يخفى مدى هشاشتها وعدم ثقتها في مستقبلها. تكفي الإشارة إلى استهداف «فضائية الأقصى» بقصف مكثف أزال مبناها وما حولها. هذه علامة ضعف لا قوة، فالفضائية محدودة في إمكانياتها ومستويات انتشارها، كأن إسرائيل لا تحتمل صوتاً يناهض سياساتها. إنه انفلات أعصاب وسياسات لا تعرف وسيلة ما للتخلص من صداع غزة المزمن غير الإفراط في استخدام القوة. وإنه سلام القوة ـ بتعبير الرئيس الأميركي دونالد ترامب، أو «صفقة القرن» بتعبير آخر. بأية قراءة موضوعية مما تسرب عنها فإن غزة محورها الرئيسي. لا مجال لأي تفاوض في مستوطنات الضفة الغربية والقدس واللاجئين، والمبادرة العربية التي تقضي بالتطبيع الشامل مقابل الانسحاب الكامل من الأراضي العربية المحتلة منذ عام 1967 ماتت إكلينيكياً. فصل غزة عن الضفة الغربية هدف جوهري للخطة المزمعة.

ما هو قيد التخطيط ومحاولة التنفيذ نزع الطابع التحرري الوطني عن غزة وتحويلها إلى محض قضية إنسانية يخفف من وطأتها تحسين مستويات المعيشة والخدمات كالكهرباء والوقود وإنشاء ممر مائي مع قبرص للانتقال من غزة وإليها تحت الإشراف الكامل للأجهزة الأمنية الإسرائيلية. بصورة أو أخرى تدخل العملية الاستخباراتية الفاشلة وما ترتب عليها من مواجهات عسكرية في سياق «صفقة القرن». في مشهد سريالي واحد يتجاور العنف والحصار والتجويع والضغط بوقف الحصة الأميركية في «الأونروا» وكالة الأمم المتحدة لإغاثة وتشغيل اللاجئين الفلسطينيين مع التلويح بمشروعات وصفقات ووعود تحسن مستوى الحياة مقابل التخلي عن أية حقوق مشروعة. هذا النوع من التفكير أقرب إلى الهذيان ومصيره الفشل المؤكد.

    • * كاتب وصحافي مصري

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Pakistan and China Share the Same Fight Against Extremism and Extreme Disinformation

By Adam Garrie
Source

Not long ago, the province of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa in north-west Pakistan was a no-go area where a combination of foreign terrorists and local extremists ruled the roost. Frequent attacks against civilians continued to scar the landscape while poorly coordinated US drone attacks on civilians only served to add to the blood bath. All the while, US “assistance” to Pakistan often served to perversely feed the dangerous cycles of extremism that all patriotic Pakistanis sought to eradicate.

Today, the region’s fortunes have largely been turned around thanks to an unrelenting anti-terror campaign by Pakistan’s army as well as key intelligence operations by the country’s Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI). On the political front, it cannot be ignored that the 2013 regional election victory of Imran Khan’s PTI helped to bring about the new wave of social normalcy in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa that continues to this day now that PTI heads a government at a national level.

While Pakistan’s war on terror is not over and won’t be so long as a single violent extremist seeks to harm the peaceful operations of society, Pakistan’s war on terror has largely been won both in terms of neutralising multiple extremists (both foreign and local) and in terms of restoring law, order and normal civil society to parts of the country that were once de-facto “governed” by terror groups.

While the US launched a war in neighbouring Afghanistan in 2001, ostensibly to avenge the 9/11 terror attacks, America’s “war on terror” in Afghanistan became a war of terror for innocent Pakistani civilians who had their lives destroyed by the inflow of terrorists and other radicals from Afghanistan.

Today’s Naya Pakistan under the leadership of Imran Khan who for years has articulated the need to combat extremism both through traditional security means and through positive political reform is emblematic of a nation that is looking forward after waves of terror sought to push Pakistan to the brink. While the United States continues to deride Pakistan’s record on combating terrorism rather than laud the country for largely destroying the notorious terror group Tehrik-i-Taliban Pakistan, China is all too aware of Pakistan’s fight against terrorism and if anything seeks to learn from Pakistan’s harrowing experience.

China’s north-west Xinjiang province has itself been subject to a wave of extremism, albeit one that has thankfully been far smaller than that which Pakistan has faced in recent years. China’s solution to the problem, much like Pakistan’s, has been to implement modern security measures against extremists while simultaneously investing in the province’s infrastructure, economic development and educational institutions for both children and adults seeking to learn modern vocations.

While many people in the west who are unfamiliar with the cultural characteristics of both Pakistan and China continue to deride both, Pakistani author and scholar S M Hali is deeply familiar with Xinjiang and stated the following about the progress of development in the province based on his experience through multiple visits to north-western China:

“In the past, China’s eastern provinces enjoyed greater opulence and a higher rate of development, perhaps because they are closer to the coastal region and ports. However, this disparity caused Xinjiang’s population to face a sense of deprivation, which was manipulated by China’s detractors, who tried to incite the Muslim population, ethnic Uighurs, into insurgency.

President Xi Jinping quelled the insurgency with a two pronged policy. Security forces cracked down on the troublemakers with an iron hand, while development projects with the inclusion of Uighurs ushered an era of prosperity. The Belt and Road Initiative (BRI) or the New Silk Road, which promises a new age of affluence, has Xinjiang as its focal point. The flagship BRI project, the China Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC) terminates at Xinjiang’s ancient city of Kashgar, which was a major city of the ancient Silk Road and has become BRI’s launching pad into Central Asia and beyond.

The steps taken by both the central government and the Xinjiang Uyghur Autonomous Region to dispel a sense of deprivation, promote conventions of religious beliefs and conduct an era of harmony is remarkable.

I have been visiting Xinjiang for the past four decades and am a witness to its various stages of development. From a sleepy backwater of the 1970s, Urumqi has become a sprawling metropolis, with high-rise buildings, busy roads, marketplaces and shopping malls. A network for underground Metro trains and high-speed railways is reaching the final stages of completion.

Currently I am touring Xinjiang as a guest of the BRI to delve deep into its core and feel the pulse of this massive project. A detailed tour of the Xinjiang Islamic Institute and discussions with AdudulrekepTumniaz, President of the Institute and deputy director of Xinjiang Islamic Association was very reassuring. The Institute is 28 years old and has came a long way. My previous visit was in 2011 and since then, a new campus with modern class rooms, an impressive mosque, well equipped library, cosy dormitories and state of the art sports facilities has been completed in 2017, which can compete with any modern western university.

The Chinese constitution ensures freedom of religion and Islam is no exception, however, western critics and detractors of China have been spreading rumours about the practice of Islam being curtailed. Since extremists have been distorting the tenets of Islam, quoting verses out of context and leading the faithful astray with their particular brand of religion to fulfil their heinous designs, the Islamic Institute has picked up the cudgel to produce scholars and religious teachers who can become Imams in various mosques and University Professors and teachers as well as research scholars to guide the faithful and protect them from extremism.

The Bachelor’s Degree being conferred upon the Islamic Scholars from the Institute — which numbers around 1200 per year — is spread over five years. Imbibed with the knowledge of Islam, equipped with the wherewithal to take up the responsibility of guiding others, these graduates have an open mind and are well versed in technology science, social studies and current international affairs to meet the challenge head on.

The scourge of extremism, which had hit Xinjiang in 2009 and later in 2014 is now diminishing because of the measures taken by the Central Government of China and the Xinjiang Uyghur Autonomous Region are bearing fruit. Security is tight; vigilance is efficient and more effective because the physical, financial and moral well-being of the citizens is being guarded. More opportunities for education, vocational training, employment opportunities and religious freedom are producing healthy students. Young boys and girls especially from the less developed and impoverished regions are being afforded the opportunity to study in state of the art boarding schools, where they are being provided quality education, mastery over arts, sciences, languages and extracurricular activities at state expense to complete high school and gain admission in inland institutions of higher learning. Facilities for practicing religion are also being enhanced. Modern and well equipped mosques, slaughter houses where halal meat can be procured or the Eid-ul-Azha rituals practiced and support in pilgrimage are paying rich dividends. The government is ensuring that pilgrims for Hajj and Umrah are provided logistic support, while spiritual education and respect for the rights of the faithful is maintained. Medical facilities, which were redundant in Xinjiang once upon a time, have now been established to a level which is unprecedented. Traditional as well as conventional medicine is offered to the urban as well as rural dwellers with the additional advantage of telemedicine, on concessional or gratis basis.

With such a heavy investment, financially, spiritually and morally, there is no way the detractors of China can lead the faithful astray any longer”.

With the US and many European states, so-called “NGOs” and dishonest so-called “journalists” attempt to defame Pakistan for “harbouring religious extremism” while simultaneously running an infowar suggesting that China is repressive towards peaceful Muslims, both of these dystopian narratives are far from true as most ordinary Pakistanis and ordinary Chinese can attest to. The key therefore is for an increased amount of cross-border communication so that China and Pakistan can fight the infowar together, just as sure as China’s largely victorious war against extremism in Xinjiang was partly inspired by Pakistan’s own difficult but ultimately rewarding success story when it comes to suppressing extremism within Pakistan’s border.

The nature of the manifold infowar against China and Pakistan is clearly designed to sow mutual suspicion among all-weather fraternal partners. While the erroneous and defamatory “debt trap” narrative regarding Belt and Road is easily dispelled through the observation of well known case studies, western attempts to defame China as an anti-Islamic society must be dispelled through an increased amount of physical contact between Muslims from places like Pakistan and those living in modern Xinjiang. Like Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, Xinjiang is today a much better place than it was even eight years ago. In both cases, economic, social and infrastructural development has replaced extremist tendencies. Likewise, in both cases the central governments of China and Pakistan continue to respect the unique local characteristics of the respective regions.

To conclude, it is necessary to publish a recent interview that the Chairman of the Government of Xinjiang Uygur Autonomous Region, Shohrat Zakir recently gave with domestic media. When comparing the words of the Pakistani Hali with Chinese Xinjiang politician Shohrat Zakir, it becomes clear that both men are speaking of similar experiences in the same place. By contrast, the Xinjiang described by many western actors is a fictional place that has nothing to do with China, nothing to do with Islam and nothing to do with China’s multiple fraternal partners in the Islamic world, first and foremost Pakistan.

Below is the full interview with Shohrat Zakir from Xinhua: 

Question: Would you please brief us on the current situation in Xinjiang, given that under the influence of international terrorism and religious extremism, the number of violent terrorist attacks had been on the rise in parts of the region over a period of time?

Answer: Since the 1990s, the “three evil forces” (terrorism, extremism and separatism) in China and abroad have plotted, organized and conducted thousands of violent terrorist attacks including bombings, assassinations, poisoning, arson, assaults, unrest and riots, causing the deaths of a large number of innocent people and hundreds of police officers, as well as immeasurable property damage. The horrific crimes of terrorists not only severely undermined the stable and peaceful order and the atmosphere of solidarity and progress of Xinjiang, but also trampled upon the essential human rights of people of all ethnic groups in the region, such as their rights to life, health, property and development. People of all ethnic groups in Xinjiang were enraged and shared hatred toward the terrorist crimes. A child of a Uygur police officer who died in the line of duty wrote me a letter. In emotional words, the letter reads: “My father sacrificed his life on the counterterrorism frontline. His upright personality will always inspire me. I hope that the Party and government can unwaveringly root out terrorism so that no children grow up without their fathers.”

Facing complex and grave circumstances as well as the pressing anti-terrorism desire of the people, the Chinese government has resolutely taken measures in preventing and combating violent terrorist crimes in accordance with the law. In the past few years, under the firm leadership of the Communist Party of China (CPC) Central Committee with Comrade Xi Jinping at the core, Xinjiang has thoroughly carried out the policies of the CPC Central Committee on governing Xinjiang, unswervingly worked for the general goal of ensuring social stability and long-term security and made major achievements in fighting against terrorism and safeguarding stability. Now Xinjiang is generally stable, with the situation under control and improving. In the past 21 months, no violent terrorist attacks have occurred and the number of criminal cases, including those endangering public security, has dropped significantly. Public security has notably improved with religious extremism effectively contained, while people are now feeling more secure. We have laid a good foundation for completely solving the deeply-rooted problems that affect the region’s long-term stability.

Xinjiang has started to enjoy the dividend of effective counter-terrorism efforts with its economy steadily growing, people’s livelihood improving, and overall progress being made in all respects. In 2017, the region had a 7.6 percent growth in GDP while the per capita disposable income of urban and rural residents increased by 8.1 percent and 8.5 percent, respectively. Tourism boomed in 2017 when the region registered more than 100 million trips by domestic and international tourists, a year-on-year growth of 32.4 percent. In the first nine months of this year, Xinjiang has already recorded 132 million trips by tourists from home and abroad, a 40 percent year-on-year increase. Many people who have visited Xinjiang used social media to extol the region’s progress: Today’s Xinjiang is not only beautiful but also safe and stable. No matter where they are or at what time of the day, people are no longer afraid of going out, shopping, dining and traveling.

Question: It has been reported that Xinjiang has launched a vocational education and training program in a bid to facilitate its efforts to counter terrorism and extremism. What’s the thinking behind this move?

Answer: Terrorism and extremism go against human civilization and are the common enemy of the international community. Countering terrorism and eradicating extremism is a global issue as well as a global headache. Over the years, many countries have pursued approaches to countering terrorism and extremism according to their own conditions and have made headway in this regard. The international community has also realized that terrorism and extremism are very hard to root out and can easily resurge. Drawing on the anti-terrorism experience of the international community, China has actively responded to the UN General Assembly’s resolution on Global Counter-Terrorism Strategy, and has been committed to addressing conditions conducive to the spread of terrorism, while preventing and combating terrorism. Based on its realities, China has combined fighting and preventing terrorism with an emphasis on prevention. China has been actively exploring and applying preventive measures in countering terrorism and extremism.

Based on its own realities, Xinjiang has given equal importance to fighting and preventing terrorism, and sought to combine the fight against violent terrorist crimes with the protection of human rights. On one hand, Xinjiang has put emphasis on strictly countering a small number of violent terrorist crimes according to law, and spared no efforts in protecting the basic human rights of the citizens from the harm of terrorism and extremism. On the other hand, Xinjiang has also stressed addressing the root cause of terrorism, and moved to bring around, educate and save the majority of those who committed petty crimes, through assistance and education, to prevent them from becoming victims of terrorism and extremism.

Today, despite the significant progress Xinjiang has made, countering terrorism and extremism is still a long-standing, complicated and serious issue and calls for high alert. In particular, the four prefectures in southern Xinjiang were threatened by terrorism and seriously influenced by the spread of religious extremism in the past. Some residents there have a limited command of the country’s common language and a limited sense and knowledge of the law. They often have difficulties in finding employment due to limited vocational skills. This has led to a low material-basis for residents to live and work there, making them vulnerable to the instigation and coercion of terrorism and extremism. There is still a long way to go for southern Xinjiang to eradicate the environment and soil of terrorism and religious extremism.

Based on the above-mentioned situation, Xinjiang has launched a vocational education and training program according to the law. Its purpose is to get rid of the environment and soil that breeds terrorism and religious extremism and stop violent terrorist activities from happening.

Question: Could you tell us more about the legal basis and relevant procedure of the vocational education and training program?

Answer: In recent years, the Chinese government has accelerated the legislation of its anti-terrorism efforts to strictly prevent and combat violent terrorist crimes according to law.

The National People’s Congress passed the Anti-Terrorism Law in 2015 and the Ninth Amendment to the Criminal Law, while the Supreme People’s Procuratorate, together with the Supreme People’s Court, the Ministry of Public Security, and the Ministry of Justice, in 2018 issued guidelines on the application of law in cases involving terrorism and extremism, which have improved and clarified the definitions of terrorist crimes, criteria for conviction, case handling procedures, and working mechanisms. Together with the Criminal Procedure Law, these laws and regulations have formed a relatively sound Chinese anti-terrorism legal framework. While strictly following the Constitution, the law on regional ethnic autonomy and the legislation law, Xinjiang has taken its local conditions into consideration and formulated the region’s enforcement measures of the anti-terrorism law, de-extremization regulations, among others. These laws and regulations are subject to revisions to keep them up to date.

In practice, when dealing with those who have been instigated, coerced, or lured into terrorist or extremist activities, or people who only committed minor offenses when involved in terrorist and extremist activities, Xinjiang combines punishment with leniency and gives prominence to their rehabilitation and redemption in accordance with the Criminal Law, the Criminal Procedure Law, the Anti-Terrorism Law and other relevant laws and regulations. As for most people who are influenced by terrorism and extremism, those suspected of minor criminal offenses but do not have to be subject to penalties or can be exempted from criminal punishment, Xinjiang has provided them with free vocational training through vocational education institutions to improve their ability in commanding the country’s common language, acquiring legal knowledge and vocational skills, among others. In that way, Xinjiang can better guard against the infiltration of terrorism and extremism. The detailed procedures include, on the premise that training goals, methods, program completion standards and testing methods are clearly identified, that vocational training institutions sign an agreement with the trainees. The institutions will then conduct the free programs through various forms such as collective courses, boarding schools and hands-on training. The trainees will be issued certificates of completion after they meet the required standards.

Question: Could you please elaborate on the main content of the vocational training?

Answer: Currently, Xinjiang has established a training model with professional vocational training institutions as the platform, learning the country’s common language, legal knowledge, vocational skills, along with de-extremization education, as the main content, with achieving employment as the key direction. The vocational training institutions have set up departments of teaching, management, medical care, logistics and security, and allocated a corresponding number of faculty, class advisors, medical, catering, logistics and security staff.

In the process of learning and training, the trainees will advance from learning the country’s common language, to learning legal knowledge and vocational skills. Firstly, the trainees will take learning the country’s common language as the basis to improve their communication abilities, gain modern science knowledge and enhance their understanding of Chinese history, culture and national conditions. The teaching follows standardized plans, textbooks, materials and systems. The trainees are taught in various methods suited to their literacy to raise their abilities to use the country’s common language as soon as possible. Secondly, the learning of legal knowledge is taken as a key part of cultivating the trainees’ awareness of the nation, citizenship and rule of law. Legal experts are hired to lecture on the Constitution, the criminal law and the civil law, etc., and judges, prosecutors and lawyers are invited to teach the criminal law, the law on public security administration, the anti-terrorism law, the marriage law, the education law and Xinjiang’s de-extremization regulations. Thirdly, vocational learning is taken as a key way to help trainees find employment. Courses on clothing and footwear making, food processing, electronic product assembly, typesetting and printing, hairdressing and e-commerce have been set up to suit local social needs and job market. Multi-skill training is provided to trainees who have the desire and capability to learn, so that they acquire one to two vocational skills upon graduation. Businesses in garment making, mobile phone assembly and ethnic cuisine catering are arranged to offer trainees practical opportunities. In the meantime, they are paid basic incomes and a bonus. The mechanism has taken shape in which the trainees can “learn, practice and earn money.”

In daily life, vocational institutions and schools strictly implement the spirit of laws and regulations, including the Constitution and religious affairs regulations, and respect and protect the customs and habits of various ethnic groups and their beliefs in diet and daily life. Faculties of the institutions and schools also try their best to ensure and meet the trainees’ needs in study, life, and entertainment on the basis of free education. The cafeteria prepares nutritious free diets, and the dormitories are fully equipped with radio, TV, air conditioning, bathroom and shower. Indoor and outdoor sports venues for basketball, volleyball and table tennis have been built, along with reading rooms, computer labs, film screening rooms, as well as performance venues such as small auditoriums and open-air stages. Various activities such as contests on speech, writing, dancing, singing and sports are organized. Many trainees have said that they were previously affected by extremist thought and had never participated in such kinds of art and sports activities, and now they have realized that life can be so colorful.

Moreover, the vocational institutions and schools pay high attention to the trainees’ mental health and helped them solve problems in life. They not only provide professional psychological counseling services, but also duly deal with complaints from the trainees and their families. All this shows that the management of the vocational institutions and schools are people-oriented.

Question: Could you please elaborate on the progress of the vocational training?

Answer: Through vocational training, most trainees have been able to reflect on their mistakes and see clearly the essence and harm of terrorism and religious extremism. They have notably enhanced national consciousness, civil awareness, awareness of the rule of law and the sense of community of the Chinese nation. They have also been able to better tell right from wrong and resist the infiltration of extremist thought. They have become more proactive in shaking off poverty, and becoming better off. It has been a common practice among them to expect and pursue a modern life. They are confident about the future. “I didn’t understand the country’s common language, nor did I know about the laws. I wouldn’t even have known that I had made mistakes. But the government didn’t give me up. It has actively saved and assisted me, giving me free food, accommodation and education. Now I have made great progress in many aspects. I will cherish this opportunity and become a person useful to the country and society,” a trainee said.

On the whole, the following achievements have been made. Firstly, the trainees have gained progress in mastering the country’s common language. In the past, many of them had difficulties in listening, speaking and reading. They now are able to basically understand and use it in communication, which has broadened their sources to acquire modern knowledge and information. Many trainees said they were affected by religious extremism and failed to understand the significance of bilingual education. They said they had thought of merely sticking to their own ethnic language as the way to preserve their ethnic culture, so they refused to learn the country’s common language. Now they have realized they should not only learn the common language well, but also foreign languages to follow modernization trends.

Secondly, the trainees have been increasing their awareness of the rule of law. Affected or coerced by religious extremist thought, many of the trainees acted under “religion discipline” or “family discipline” that was distorted or concocted by extremists. Many trainees have now realized that they are firstly citizens of the nation, and their behavior is both protected and regulated by law. They have truly understood what is legitimate and what is not. They now also know how to turn to the law for help. “As a divorced woman, I am raising a son and a daughter with the help of my parents, living in poverty. I did not know that my ex-husband had the obligation to raise the children, too,” said a female trainee, who is now able to use the law to claim overdue alimony from her ex-husband.

Thirdly, the trainees’ vocational skills have been enhanced. Many trainees had no vocational skills before. Even though they wanted to get a job, it was hard for them to find one. By learning vocational skills and knowledge, and participating in practical training, the trainees have now mastered preliminary practical skills. It has gradually become realistic for them to increase their incomes, get rid of poverty and acquire wealth. “Through practicing vocational skills, I can earn 1,500 yuan per month now. My income has increased a lot and I have become the main support for my family. I can stand tall and start receiving praise from my elders. My wife has become more considerate. My kids are proud of me. I have regained respect and confidence,” a trainee said.

As a result of the vocational education and training, the social environment of Xinjiang has seen notable changes, with a healthy atmosphere on the rise and improper practices declining. There has been a growing trend to pursue modern scientific and technological knowledge and etiquette; the dissemination of religious extremism is resisted consciously; communication, exchanges and integration among various ethnic groups are closer; public support for countering terrorism, maintaining stability and de-extremization is stronger; and people of all ethnic groups are full of hope for better lives.

Question: After your introduction, we have got a clear and comprehensive understanding of the work of vocational education and training. Would you please give us some information on the future plan of vocational education and training?

Answer: Facts have proven that vocational education and training fits the reality of current efforts in countering terrorism, maintaining stability and eradicating extremism in Xinjiang. It is an effective measure of Xinjiang to explore ways to remove the environment and soil of terrorism and extremism, and prevent violent terrorist crimes. Since its launch, the work has won high recognition and sincere support from people of all ethnic groups across Xinjiang. It has played an important role in achieving social stability and enduring peace and security in Xinjiang, and served as a positive exploration and constructive attempt for the international community in countering terrorism and eradicating extremism.

According to feedback from the vocational education and training institutions, some trainees have come close to or reached the completion standard agreed in the training agreements. They are receiving course-completion tests in an orderly manner. They are expected to complete their courses successfully by the end of this year. We are busy with their employment arrangements. Meanwhile, Xinjiang will carry out programs to invite investments that suit the vocational skills of trainees. By bringing more businesses to Xinjiang, we will create jobs and alleviate poverty. We will try to achieve a seamless connection between school teaching and social employment, so that after finishing their courses, the trainees will be able to find jobs and earn a well-off life.

Next, Xinjiang will further implement the strategies and policies on the region, set by the CPC Central Committee with Comrade Xi Jinping at the core, adhere to the people-centered philosophy of development, properly handle the relations between stability and development, and concentrate on the three major tasks: construction of the core zone of the Silk Road Economic Belt, the implementation of the rural vitalization strategy and the development of the tourism industry. It will also take the four prefectures in southern Xinjiang as the main battlefield to fight against poverty with targeted measures to ensure that by 2020, all rural residents living below the poverty line are lifted out of poverty. Xinjiang will also work to see that people of all ethnic groups have a stronger sense of fulfillment, happiness and security, and that the gains of development benefit people of all ethnic groups in a fair way.

Former Prime Minister of Israel Menachem Begin: The Nobel Laureate and the father of modern terrorism

_1_5547.jpgMenachem Begin: The Nobel Laureate who bragged about being the Father of Terrorism in the World

It seems that terrorism and political violence have become more prevalent and intense. Not a single day goes by without at least one story about grotesque violence mostly perpetrated against innocent civilians. Somehow, terrorism became a normal part of our everyday life, but this was not always the case.

More worryingly, the absence of debate about the root causes of terrorism have given way to casual media reporting which most likely encourages further terrorism by feeding it the oxygen of publicity.

“How does it feel, in the light of all that’s going on, to be the father of terrorism in the Middle East?” “In the Middle East?” he [Begin] bellowed, in his thick, cartoon accent. “In all the world!” – Russell Warren Howe interview with Menachem Begin, January 1974

Most of us today, associate terrorism with Muslim fanatics that have ever morphing acronyms such as ISIS, ISIL, Al-Qaeda and so forth. A few decades ago, it was either Palestinian individuals or Iranian fanatics and before that very few people remember the IRA, Red Brigade or the many other European groups who too were described in the very same media as evil Terrorist, and only a tiny minority even have an inkling of other cases of terrorism, let alone the definition, history or roots of this scourge of society.

According to all dictionaries, terrorism is defined as the unlawful use of violence and intimidation, especially against civilians, in the pursuit of political aims. This universally accepted definition should already raise eyebrows as it implicates the United States, the United Kingdom and France whom since the September 11 terrorist attacks, have used unlawful military power against Arab or Muslim nations for political or economic gains resulting in millions of casualties, most of them civilians not to mention the mass migration of populations and the destruction of entire countries.

Yet since the 9/11 attacks, we have never heard a single politician in any significant position of power debate the why; instead, defaulting to the meaningless narrative that the terrorist hate our freedoms, even when most perpetrators of these acts were born in the west enjoyed those very freedoms.

Terrorism is not a modern phenomenon. The history of terrorism is a history of well-known and historically significant individuals, entities, and incidents associated, whether rightly or wrongly, with terrorism. Scholars agree that terrorism is a disputed term, and very few of those labelled terrorists describe themselves as such. It is common for opponents in a violent conflict to describe the other side as terrorists or as practicing terrorism.

The first use in English of the term ‘terrorism’ occurred during the French Revolution’s Reign of Terror. The association of the term only with state violence and intimidation lasted until the mid-19th century, when it began to be associated with non-governmental groups. Anarchism, often in league with rising nationalism and anti-monarchism, was the most prominent ideology linked with terrorism.

In the 20th century, terrorism continued to be associated with a vast array of anarchist, socialist, fascist and nationalist groups, many of them engaged in ‘third world’ anti-colonial struggles, which brings us to the origins of Middle Eastern terrorism, currently running amok and destabilising country after country. If you ask anyone in the world about the origins of Middle Eastern Terrorism, you can be sure that the response will be Arab, Islamic or Iranian.

However, modern day terrorism associated with the Middle East actually began in Israel and the current phenomenon of terrorism afflicting the West is not as most people believe simply the result of freedom hating fanatics or revenge seeking 3rd generation off-springs of past colonised people, but a response to Israeli aggression only made possible by the unrelenting support of Israel by the major political, military and economic powers of the world.

There is no doubt that the current wave of terrorism sweeping Europe which has risen 80-fold since the war on terror began is driven in some part by the flawed colonialism and military adventurism of the United States and its allies, which disenfranchised and uprooted huge swathes of populations. However, what has largely been ignored is the origin of the current swathes of Middle Eastern terrorism sweeping the world whose roots lie in early Zionist-Jewish terrorism.

While all the focus of terrorism has fallen on Muslim/Arab countries, there is hardly a mention of where, when and how terrorism began in the Middle East and without coming to terms with these fundamental facts; there is no chance to end the scourge of terrorism that is plaguing western countries and spreading like wildfire.

Up until the end of World War 2; there was not a single act of terrorism committed by an Arab or Muslim country against any Western Target, however this all changed on July 22nd, 1946 when the King David Hotel in Jerusalem was bombed killing 91 people, most of which were innocent civilians.

Although the target of the bombing was the British authorities, the resulting massacre took the lives of 91 people from various nationalities with 46 serious injuries. The bombing was the first major terrorist attack carried out by a Middle Eastern terrorist organization, in this case the Irgun, a militant right-wing Zionist underground organization.

It was targeted against the British administrative headquarters for Palestine, which was housed in the southern wing of the King David Hotel in Jerusalem.

What is ironic is that Menachem Begin, who was later awarded the Nobel Prize for peace, and is the man who planned the destruction of the King David Hotel and the massacre of Deir Yassin unleashing the first waves of modern day terrorism actually bragged about it during an interview with Russell Warren Howe when asked about how he felt about being the father of terrorism in the Middle East.

“How does it feel, in the light of all that’s going on, to be the father of terrorism in the Middle East?” “In the Middle East?” he [Begin] bellowed, in his thick, cartoon accent. “In all the world!” – Russell Warren Howe interview with Menachem Begin, January 1974

The unwillingness to accept the perpetrators’ own words for the motivation behind their attacks is unprecedented in Western jurisprudence. For any other crime, correctly identifying the motive is a key element of the prosecution’s case. Failure to prove a compelling motive can mean acquittal, even for a guilty defendant. Yet our leaders show no interest in the motive for the current wave of terrorism, defaming anyone who talks about it for “blaming America or Israel.”

An entire generation of Middle Easterners who weren’t even born on September 11, 2001 will turn sixteen years old in a few days. They are approaching adulthood having lived their entire lives under the constant threat of death from above, with foreign troops of an alien culture patrolling their streets by day and kicking in their doors at night. Only a fool could expect anything but hatred, rational or not, from people in this situation.

Only a government could suggest this epic failure simply requires more funds spent on the same strategy to turn decades-long failure into success. It’s the same fairy tale taxpayers are told about education, poverty, or drugs.

The dynamics don’t miraculously change nor the government become suddenly competent when it is fighting terrorism. But it does create even more lethal problems for those it purports to help.

First published on Diplomatico in August 2017
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