Pro-Israel Group Is Desperate To Keep You From Watching This Video?

By Peter Beinart

June 24, 2017 “Information Clearing House” –  When it comes to Palestinians, the American Jewish establishment is in the ignorance business. The average American synagogue has never hosted a Palestinian speaker. The average “pro-Israel” activist has never read a book by a Palestinian author. The American Jewish philanthropists who fund Birthright send thousands of young American Jews to Israel each year, on a program that systematically excludes the voices of 50% of the people who live under Israeli control.

But that’s not the worst part. The worst part is that for major American Jewish organizations, ignorance is an export. It is not enough that American Jewish leaders never hear from Palestinians themselves — they do their best to ensure that American politicians don’t, either.

Consider the sequence of events that began on June 8. On that day, an advocacy group called No Way To Treat a Child hosted a panel discussion on Capitol Hill. That’s not unusual. Advocacy organizations hold panel discussions on Capitol Hill all the time; the location makes it easier for congressional staff to attend. What made this one unusual was its subject: the Palestinian experience under Israeli control.

You can watch the panel online. The first speaker was Omar Shakir, the Israel-Palestine director of Human Rights Watch. In dry, rather clinical, terms, Shakir discussed some of the consequences of the fact that West Bank Palestinians are subjects, not citizens, of Israel. He noted, for instance, that in Area C, which encompasses roughly 60% of the West Bank, it is “nearly impossible for Palestinians to obtain a permit to build a home.” When Palestinians build without a permit, the Israeli government often demolishes their homes.

Following him was Brad Parker, a staff attorney at Defense for Children Palestine. Observing that, according to the most recent statistics, Israel holds hundreds of Palestinians between the ages of 12 and 17 in its jails, often for stone throwing, Parker explained that the Israeli military frequently arrests Palestinian children at night. They are often bound, blindfolded and transported to a military installation, where they wait until morning before being interrogated without a lawyer and without their parents knowing where they are. They “essentially disappear for 24, 48, 96 hours.” Then they are generally prosecuted in military courts where the conviction rate approaches 100%. Following Parker was Yazan Meqbil, a young West Bank Palestinian attending college in the United States, who talked about growing up in a house repeatedly slated for demolition. “Every single day,” he said, “I used to wake up hoping my house will not be demolished.” Meqbil ended his remarks by saying: “Palestinians, we all have a dream, to be free, to live like normal human beings. To not be afraid whenever we leave our homes.”

The final speaker was Nadia Ben-Youssef, who works for Adalah–-The Legal Center for Arab Minority Rights in Israel. She stressed the links between Israel’s treatment of Palestinians in the West Bank and its treatment of Palestinian citizens inside Israel proper. Israel’s Palestinian citizens, she noted, lived under military law until 1966. And even today, she argued, inside the Green Line, Israel privileges Jews over non-Jews in important ways.

I offer this summation to illustrate the shamelessness of the attack that followed. In a video posted June 12, The Israel Project, which is led by former AIPAC spokesman Josh Block, called the event an “anti-Israel hatefest” filled with “hate speech.” Notice the Orwellian turn.

According to The Israel Project, it is not hateful to hold millions of West Bank Palestinians for 50 years as non-citizens, without due process, free movement or the right to vote for the government that controls their lives. It is hateful to criticize Israel for doing so. By that standard, the 2012 documentary “The Gatekeepers,” which featured former heads of the Shin Bet calling Israel’s occupation of the West Bank “brutal,” “colonial” and “unbearable,” was an “anti-Israel hatefest,” too.

Then came the inevitable insinuation of anti-Semitism. As menacing music played in the background, the video declares that while the panel pretended to be “about human rights,” the speakers “couldn’t stop talking about Jews.” Actually, the panel was entirely about human rights. But, as if uncovering a terrible offense, the video noted that panelists had 17 times used the phrases “Jewish,” “Jewish state,” “Jewish people,” “Jewish citizens” or “Jews.” How sinister! I’m sure Josh Block never uses such despicable phrases when speaking about Israel.

In fact, two of Shakir’s uses of the word “Jewish” came from quotations. He quoted the State Department as calling settlement growth “inconsistent with Israel’s future as a Jewish and democratic state,” and President Obama as saying that settlement growth undermines “Israel as both Jewish and a democracy.” Then again, everyone knows that Obama and the State Department are anti-Semitic, too.

Most of the references to Jews came from Nadia Ben-Youssef. The video quoted her as saying that “Israel was established as a Jewish state to privilege the rights of Jewish people,” and referring to “this Jewish state that is premised on the basis that you must have greater rights, so that means more Jewish people than anyone else in that land.” The video never explained what’s incorrect or odious about those statements. Their hatefulness is presumably self-evident.

But both statements are true. Yes, Israel’s Declaration of Independence speaks about ensuring “complete equality of social and political rights… irrespective of religion, race or sex.” And yes, Palestinians inside Israel proper (as opposed to Palestinians in the West Bank) enjoy citizenship and the right to vote. But Israel was also explicitly founded to represent and safeguard the Jewish people, and that inevitably privileges Jews over non-Jews.

Jews who immigrate to Israel, for instance, gain citizenship on day one. For non-Jews who wish to immigrate to Israel, by contrast, including Palestinian refugees born inside Israel’s borders, gaining citizenship is virtually impossible. Israel’s flag contains a Jewish star; its national anthem speaks of “the Jewish soul.” In these symbolic ways, too, Israel privileges Jews over non-Jews. As for Israel’s effort to maintain a Jewish majority so that Jews can control the destiny of the state, that’s hardly a secret. It’s a goal that the Israeli government and mainstream American Jewish organizations proudly endorse.

Israel is not the only country on earth to face a tension between its desire to protect and nurture one ethno-religious community and its commitment to provide equality under the law. Many European democracies have immigration policies that favor a dominant ethnic group. Many have crosses on their flags. The 2003 Palestinian Constitutionstates that “the Palestinian people are part of the Arab nation” and that “the principles of Islamic Shari’a shall be the main source of legislation.” So if a Palestinian state is ever created, it will likely wrestle with the tension between ethnic nationalism and democracy, too.

I believe that in a post-Holocaust world, it’s important to have one country on earth that assumes a special obligation to protect Jewish life. The goal, therefore, should be to minimize the tension between Jewish statehood and liberal democracy as much as possible, while acknowledging that you can never erase it entirely. The challenge, as Martin Buber once put it, is to “do no more injustice to others than we are forced to do in order to exist.”

Zionist thinkers like Chaim Gans and Alexander Yakobson and Amnon Rubinstein have sought to meet that challenge. But doing so honestly requires acknowledging that all forms of Jewish statehood entail some moral costs, and that some are more morally defensible than others.

These are the kinds of debates that the American Jewish establishment fears. It fears them because such debates give Palestinians a voice. Given the influence that American Jewish groups wield in Washington, it’s far easier to simply deny Palestinians a platform. That’s why The Israel Project ends its video by urging people to call Rep. Mark Pocan, who authorized No Way To Treat a Child to use a room on Capitol Hill, and “demand that he condemn the event.” The goal is to scare members of Congress so they don’t facilitate such discussions again.

The deep, dark secret of the American Jewish establishment is that its leaders are not equipped to respond to smart Palestinian critics of Israel. They’re not familiar enough with the realities of Palestinian life under Israeli control. So having built itself a cocoon that shuts out Palestinian voices, the American Jewish establishment insists that Congress live inside that cocoon too. Because if the cocoon cracks, American politicians, and the American public, will realize how intellectually weak the American Jewish establishment actually is.

When it comes to Israel, the organized American Jewish community would rather bully than think. That’s what happens when power corrupts. It doesn’t only make you immoral. It makes you dumb.

Peter Beinart is a Forward senior columnist and contributing editor. Listen to “Fault Lines,” his podcast with Daniel Gordis here or on iTunes.

This article was first published by The Forward

The views expressed in this article are solely those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the opinions of Information Clearing House.

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Following Stabbing and Shooting Attack in Occupied Jerusalem, Israeli Forces Impose Collective Punishment Measures Against the City and Deir Abu Mash’al Village

June 18, 2017 3:44 PM

18 JUN  3:44 PM

Following a stabbing and shooting attack in occupied East Jerusalem on Friday, 16 June 2017, that resulted in the killing of three Palestinian youngsters and an Israeli female soldier, the Israeli forces imposed additional collective punishment measures against the Palestinian civilians in occupied Jerusalem and later in Deir Abu Mash’al village, northwest of Ramallah, from which the three youngsters come.

The Palestinian Center for Human Rights (PCHR) strongly condemns these measures and stresses they fall within the collective punishment policy which is prohibited

he Palestinian Center for Human Rights (PCHR) strongly condemns these measures and stresses they fall within the collective punishment policy which is prohibited in the international human rights law. PCHR further calls upon the international community to work on protecting the Palestinian civilians in the occupied Palestinian territory (oPt) and ensure its application.

According to PCHR’s investigations, after the abovementioned attack, the Israeli forces completely closed Bab al-Amoud (Damascus Gate) area, Sultan Suleiman Street and all gates of Jerusalem, excluding Bab al-Asbat (Lions Gate).

They banned the Palestinians from entering and exiting the Old City and obliged the commercial stores’ owners to shut down otherwise they would pay a fine of over NIS 40,000.

The Israeli forces also erupted metal barriers in the streets leading to Bab al-Amoud and prevented vehicles from using these streets. The Israeli officers chased the civilians who were at Bab al-

The Israeli officers chased the civilians who were at Bab al-Sahera (Herod’s Gate), al-Mesrara and Nablus Street and fired sound bombs at them. Moreover, they assaulted some civilians and pushed the journalists away from the scene.

The Israeli forces mobilized all over Jerusalem, mainly the streets of Nablus, Bab al-Sahera, Sultan Suleiman and al-Mesrara. Israeli forces stopped the by-passers and checked their IDs and then deported the West Bank residents by buses distributed throughout the city. The Israeli police declared they “Deported over 350 Palestinians, who entered Jerusalem without permits, and returned them to the Palestinian territories”.

In the same context, after the identities of the three Palestinian youngsters, who carried out the stabbing and shooting attack, were disclosed, Israeli forces moved into Deir Abu Mash’al village, northwest of Ramallah, from which the youngster come. They closed the main entrance by establishing an iron gate and closed the roads with sand and rocks, isolating the village from the world.

According to PCHR’s investigations, at approximately 05:30 on Saturday, 17 June 2017, Israeli forces moved into the said village and imposed a curfew.

The Israeli soldiers accompanied by an engineering team raided the houses belonging to the families of the three attackers and surveyed them. Before

The Israeli soldiers accompanied by an engineering team raided the houses belonging to the families of the three attackers and surveyed them. Before withdrawal, the Israeli forces handed over the owners of the houses decisions to demolish the houses without mentioning the date. The killed youngsters, whose family houses were raided, were identified as:

  1. Osama Ahmed Dahdouh ‘Ata (18). The area of his family house is 150 square meters and his family members are 6;
  2. ‘Adel Hassan ‘Ankoush (19). The area of his family house is 110 square meters and his family members are 10; and
  3. Bara’ Ibrahim Saleh Ata (18). The area of his family house is 140 square meters and his family members are 6.

Furthermore, Israeli forces raided, searched and damaged the contents of dozens of houses belonging to relatives of the attackers and confiscated permits they had to Israel.

In the meanwhile, a number of youngsters gathered in the center of the village and threw stones and empty bottles at the Israeli soldiers, who immediately opened fire in response.

As a result, two Palestinian civilians were wounded. The first sustained a live bullet wound to the right leg and the other sustained a rubber-coated metal bullet wound to the right hand. They were both taken to Palestine Medical Complex in Ramallah to receive the necessary medical treatment.

PCHR condemns the Israeli government’s measures against the Palestinian civilians in occupied East Jerusalem and Deir Abu Mash’al village, northwest of Ramallah, which fall within the collective punishment policy that is internationally prohibited, especially under article 33 of the Fourth Geneva Convention, and:

  1. Demands the United Nations to work on protecting the civilians in the oPt;
  2. Calls upon the High Contracting Parties to the Geneva Conventions to ensure Israel’s commitment as a State Party to the Conventions to apply them in the oPt; and
  3. Demands States Parties to the Geneva Conventions to fulfill their obligations under these Conventions by exercising their Universal Jurisdiction to hold the war criminals accountable regardless of the criminals’ nationalities and the place where the crimes were committed and put an end to the impunity they enjoy for decades.

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‘Today They Took My Son’–a film by Farah Nabulsi

Posted on January 31, 2017

A new film, soon to be released by Farah Nabulsi, the daughter of diaspora Palestinians. In June of 2016, Nabulsi launched OceansofInjustice.com , a project in which she brought together a website and a short film with the aim of drawing attention to the many injustices faced by Palestinians, especially children. Now in 2017, she hopes to raise awareness even further with this, her second short film, “Today They Took My Son.”

A screening is set to be held in London on February 5, 2017. You can find out more about it here.

Saudi, U.S., NATO genocide in Yemen threatens lives of 18 million Yemenis

RSFP

The United Nation’s aid chief has warned that Yemen is facing the risk of all-out famine this year… Warning, you may find the images in the follwing reports disturbing.

 

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Sweeping House Demolitions: ‘A Declaration of War Against the Arab Community’

January 17, 2017 4:06 AM

Palestinians protest the demolition of eleven homes in Qalansuwa by taking to the streets and launching a general strike.


Alternative Information Center (AIC), Beit Sahour

Leaders of the Palestinian community in present-day Israel announced a general strike as hundreds of Palestinians took to the streets in protest of the demolition of 11 houses in the town of Qalansuwa.

The strike was observed in Nazareth, Umm al-Fahm, Haifa as well as Qalansuwa.

The Joint List, a coalition of primarily Palestinian parties that is the third largest bloc in the Israeli Knesset, condemned the demolitions.“The act of demolishing 11 houses, whose owners built on their private lands in Qalansuwa, is an unprecedented crime and a declaration of war against the residents of Qalansuwa and against the Arab community in Israel,” the party said in a statement. “The Arab public will not stand idle by this policy and will defend the right to fair and safe housing.”

Joint List MK Dr. Yousef Jabareen added:

“The source of this issue lies in the institutional, planning, and legal barriers forcing the Arab citizens to build without a permit as a last resort to ensure a basic right of shelter. It is inhuman and immoral to push the Arab citizens into choosing between two terrible decisions: either remain homeless or build without a formal permit.”

Joint List MK Jamal Zahalka said, in reference to Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, “We suggested negotiation to solve the problem of unlicensed houses, but the government sent bulldozers to demolish them, leaving us no choice but to defend our homes.”

Another demonstration is planned for Friday in Qalansuwa. Protestors will gather at the Rabat Mosque and march in the direction of the demolished homes.

The High Follow-Up Committee for Arabs in Israel is planning further actions to upset Israel’s discriminatory city planning regime in coordination with the mayor of Qalansuwa and Joint List MKs.

Also in Human Interest — 12/25/16 DCI Report: Children in West Bank Face Deadliest Year of Past Decade

 

Palestine news

Palestinian Mayor Resigns After Israelis Demolish 10 Homes in His Town

[ Ed. note – Qalansawe is an Arab town located within pre-1967 Israel, though adjacent to the Green Line ]

Ma’an News

QALANSAWE (Ma’an) — Israeli authorities demolished 10 homes belonging to Palestinian citizens of Israel in the city of Qalansawe in central Israel on Tuesday morning, prompting a defeated mayor to resign after Israeli authorities refused for decades to approve the city’s master plan.

Local sources told Ma’an the devastating demolition campaign sparked clashes between Israeli police and residents.

Mayor Abd al-Basit Mansour visited the area along with members of the municipal council and announced he would resign from his post, as Israeli bulldozers razed the homes to ground.

Mansour told reporters that, “We have been waiting for approval of a master plan for twenty years, but our request fell on deaf ears.”

“As head of Qalansawe municipality, who doesn’t have the power to change anything, I decided to send my resignation to the ministry of interior.”

Dozens of locals crowded in the area in an attempt to prevent bulldozers from demolishing the structures, but Israeli police officers dispersed them.

One homeowner described the demolition as part of Israel’s policy of “oppression, injustices, and displacement.”

Qalansawe resident Ashraf Abu Ali criticized leaders of Palestinian communities in Israel. “What have they done to prevent demolitions in the Arab communities?” he asked, asserting that Palestinian citizens of Israel will “remain under threat as long as master plans and allocating land for construction are dealt with so recklessly.”

Another owner of one of the demolished houses Hassuna Makhlouf said he held Qalansawe’s mayor responsible, along with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu.

He told Ma’an that Israeli police officers treated homeowners “violently” during the demolition raid.

Continued here

First week of 2017: israel demolishes homes of 151 Palestinians, almost four times last year’s average

First week of 2017: Israel demolishes homes of 151 Palestinians, almost four times last year’s average

The IDF’s Civil Administration is carrying out Netanyahu’s vow to demolish the homes of Arabs with a vengeance.

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s promise to settlers from the unauthorized outpost of Amona to enforce the law “equally” by demolishing the homes of Arabs is being strictly fulfilled.

The number of Palestinian buildings demolished in the first week of January 2017 is almost four times as high as the weekly average for 2016: 20 structures. In 2015, the average was 10 structures a week, according to the records of the United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA).

In Area C, which is under full Israeli civil and security control, between Monday and Thursday the Israel Defense Forces’ Civil Administration demolished 65 structures in Palestinian communities, and seven rainwater cisterns. The Jerusalem Municipality demolished another two homes in East Jerusalem. Some 151 people, including 90 children, lived in the buildings that were demolished.

On Monday, the day on which the Knesset Constitution, Law and Justice Committee discussed a proposal to annex the city of Ma’aleh Adumim (east of Jerusalem) to Israel, the Civil Administration and IDF forces demolished 12 tin and wood shacks – including eight used for living purposes – in two Bedouin communities from the Jahalin tribe south of the settlement; three shacks in Bir al-Maskub; and nine in Wadi Sneysel. In total, 84 people, 68 of whom are children, lost the roofs over their heads within just a few hours.

Last August, the Civil Administration demolished structures in these communities. But the residents have nowhere else to live and were forced to build new shacks. In the 1990s, dozens of families from the Jahalin tribe were expelled from the area in order to allow the expansion of the settlement.

On Tuesday, the Civil Administration demolished 49 structures in Khirbet Tana in the northwestern part of the Jordan Valley: 13 residential structures, 9 portable toilets and the rest various agricultural buildings. Twenty-eight adults and 22 children lost their homes because of the demolitions. Another 71 people were affected by the destruction of the agricultural structures.

Some 40 families (250 men and women) live in this ancient village of caves, east of the village of Beit Furik. In four previous raids last year, the Civil Administration demolished 150 shacks, sheep pens, tents and various sanitary structures – as well as a school that had been built thanks to European contributions. During the raid on Tuesday, a work stoppage order was also presented for the new school, which is again being constructed with European donations. The High Court of Justice had dismissed a petition of the residents of Khirbet Tana against the order to permanently evacuate their homes, but the residents have built simple new dwellings and a school because they refuse to leave the village where their families lived long before 1948, and before the IDF declared the area a firing zone.

On Wednesday, a large army force raided the lands of the village of Tekoa, southeast of Bethlehem. Here, the Civil Administration bulldozers demolished seven rainwater cisterns and another three sheds used for agricultural purposes. The head of the village council told Haaretz that one of the cisterns was dug some 25 years ago, while the others were dug more recently. Some 180 people depend on these cisterns for their livelihood. And Thursday morning, the Civil Administration demolished an agricultural structure in the village of Jinsafut, east of Qalqilyah in the West Bank.

In mid-December, the Civil Administration told Haaretz that it was holding 11 agricultural machines, mostly tractors, that were confiscated from Palestinian farmers after the IDF turned their lands in the northern Jordan Valley into a firing zone.

The Palestinians must pay the Civil Administration a ransom of a few thousand shekels to release each tractor, and make a commitment not to commit the “offense” a second time. In 2016, only two tractors were released after payment was made. In addition to their agricultural uses, the tractors also aid in transporting water to the residents and their livestock, from the springs that are located a few kilometers away from the sheds. Israel does not allow the Palestinian communities in areas under its control to connect to the water infrastructure.

Another tractor was confiscated from farmers in the northern Jordan Valley on December 21, after they tried to reach their lands on the east side of Highway 90 (named after that preacher of Palestinian population transfer, former Minister Rehavam Ze’evi).

In the final three months of 2016, the IDF conducted 20 live-fire training drills on the land of the Palestinian communities in the northern Jordan Valley. According to the Israeli human rights organization B’Tselem, these drills meant about 220 people – including some 100 minors from the communities of Al-Ras al-Ahmar, Khirbet Khumsa and Abzik – were ordered to temporarily leave their homes on 19 different occasions.

In the village of Al-Farisiyah, which was not evacuated, the army forbade the residents to graze their sheep on the nearby lands, then trained on the cultivated fields and even placed mobile toilets on them, B’Tselem reported. In addition, the troops cleared part of the land in the area to make it easier for military vehicles to pass, and in doing so caused additional damage to the agricultural lands.

The IDF Spokesman’s Office told Haaretz that the “firing zones in the Jordan Valley in particular, and in the area of Judea and Samaria in general, were declared firing zones with an order under the authority of the military commander of the region back in the 1970s, based on security needs. Residents found in these firing zones are doing so in violation of the law.

“Before every military drill, actions are taken whose purpose is to prevent bodily harm or damage to property, such as conducting lookouts, patrols, placing security and dialoguing with the residents of the area through the Civil Administration. During the drills, the residents are requested to leave the exercise area. The actions mentioned in response were approved through the Supreme Court in petitions that were filed in similar matters,” said the IDF Spokesman’s Office.

Dafna Banai of Machsom Watch reported on Tuesday, December 20, 2016: “All tracks connecting the Palestinian Jordan Valley with the West Bank localities of Aqraba, Beit Furik and Tubas are now blocked with earth mounds, ditches, huge boulders and locked gates. Even those opened in the past few years have now been blocked again.”

“Only Gokhia Gate, which separates the Jordan Valley from Nablus and Tubas, is open today [since Sunday, according to local residents]. All of a sudden, there are no ‘security grounds,’ no ‘danger to Palestinians because the area is used for maneuvers’ – of all times, when the maneuvers are on, the gate is open (to enable war machines free passage without delay every time it has to be opened and closed). Near the gate, three armored vehicles and bored soldiers are seen. A military exercise is taking place again in the Palestinian Jordan Valley. We entered Al-Ras al-Ahmar, but couldn’t get through beyond the first encampment because of the thick mud. It was raining heavily this morning and the entire region turned into one big swamp,” she wrote.

“From 12 noon until 4:30 P.M., the road ascending to Tyassir and the rest of the West Bank was blocked because of the army’s maneuvers. Long lines of Palestinian vehicles were seen from Al-Malih, where two bored soldiers were stopping traffic. The soldiers had no idea when the road would be open again,” reported Banai.

“The Palestinians, mostly men, day workers on their way home from their work in the settlements – were loafing around on the road, smoking. Some asked us to ask the soldiers to let them get home – here, there, 200 meters away in Al-Burj. But the soldiers claimed they had orders not to let anyone through, no exceptions. We were also in phone contact with Mahdi, who was on the other [western] side of the blockage, and he spoke of long waiting lines there as well. Worst of all – school and kindergarten children (like 5-year-old Rina) had to wait on the road for 4.5 hours! They roamed around among the APCs, begging the soldiers for some food; they hadn’t had anything to eat since morning,” she wrote

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