israel arming Myanmar amid ongoing Rohingya crackdown

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Thousands of Rohingya refugees continue to flee Myanmar as the army intensifies its crackdown against the minority group

Satellite images showed Rohingya villages in the Rakhine state burned to the ground (AFP)

Israel has continued to sell weapons to Myanmar as thousands of Rohingya refugees flee the military’s violent crackdown in the Rakhine state.

The weapons sold to Myanmar include over 100 tanks, weapons and boats used to police the country’s border, according to human rights groups and Burmese officials. 

Israeli arms companies such as Tar Ideal have also been involved in training Burmese special forces who are currently in the Rakhine state where most of the violence has taken place.

Images previously posted on the arms company’s website showed its staff instructing members of the Burmese special forces on combat tactics and how to use specific weapons.

Petition to ban arms exports to Myanmar

In September, the Israeli High Court of Justice is expected to hear a petition, launched by activists, urging the Israeli government to stop arms exports to Myanmar.

The US and EU have an arms embargo against Myanmar. 

Eitay Mack, the lawyer presenting the petition, told Middle East Eye that Israel has “no control” over its arms exports once they are sent overseas.

“Israel has no control of what’s happening with its weapons once it sends its weapons to Burma,” said Mack, an Israeli human rights lawyer based in Tel Aviv.



A Rohingya village, burned by Burmese forces (Reuters)

“But from Tar Ideal’s website, we know that they are arming and training Burmese special forces who are operating in the Rakhine state right now.

The petition was submitted in January, following visits by Israeli officials to Myanmar to discuss arms deals, and vice versa.

After the petition was submitted, the Israeli Defence Ministry in March said the court had no jurisdiction over the issue and claimed that arms sales to Myanmar were “clearly diplomatic”.

Israel has shared a strong relationship with Myanmar and maintained trade relations over the years. These relations existed before the military junta stepped down.

Weapons used against the Palestinians are being sold as ‘field-tested’ to some of the worst regimes on the planet

– Ofer Neiman, human rights activist

Ofer Neiman, an Israeli human rights activist, said Israel’s relationship with Myanmar is linked to its ongoing occupation of Palestinian territory in the West Bank.

“Successive Israeli governments have been selling arms to the military dictatorship in Burma for years,” Neiman told MEE.

“This policy is strongly related to Israel’s oppression and dispossession of the Palestinian people. Weapons used against the Palestinians are being sold as ‘field-tested’ to some of the worst regimes on the planet.”

Myanmar’s military chief on Friday defended the clearing of villages, attempting to justify it as “unfinished business” dating back to World War Two. 

‘Supporting genocide’

Penny Green, an academic who has documented alleged war crimes perpetrated against the Rohingya people, told MEE that many governments “have lent their support to the current genocide”.

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“It’s not at all surprising that the latest escalation in Myanmar’s genocide of the Rohingya has not moved the Israeli state to cease its supply of weapons to Myanmar’s military,” said Green, director of the International State Crime Initiative at Queen Mary University.

“Its own record of violence and terror against the Palestinian people of Gaza is clear enough evidence that the Israeli government is unmoved by ethical concerns and human rights.

“Last year the British government spent over £300,000 of tax-payer’s money in training the Myanmar military and Commander in Chief General Min Aung Hlaing was welcomed by EU heads of military eager to engage in arms sales and training,” she added, citing figures from the Burma Campaign organisation.

More than 60,000 Rohingya refugees have fled their homes to seek refuge in Bangladesh as violence escalates in the Rakhine state.

Satellite images show dozens of Rohingya villages burned to the ground by the Myanmar army.

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan on Friday accused Myanmar of perpetrating a genocide against the Rohingya.

Neither the Israeli defence ministry or the Israeli embassy in the UK have replied to a request for comment.

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Being a Goy in a Jewish State

August 31, 2017  /  Gilad Atzmon

Settlers from Kiryat Arba verbally abusing Palestinians in the al-Hariqah neighborhood of Hebron on loudspeaker. When they noticed a B’Tselem volunteer filming them from her window, they directed racist and obscene language at her, including threats of extreme sexual violence. Although the threats were explicit and the swearing constituted severe sexual harassment, Israeli security forces at the scene allowed the settlers to continue undisturbed, as is usually the case.

No time for shallow diplomacy, Christians, in the religious war on churches in the Holy Land

No time for shallow diplomacy, Christians, in the religious war on churches in the Holy Land

 

Palestinian Christians cry for help

By Stuart Littlewood

A month ago, after reading a desperate cry for help from the National Coalition of Christian Organisations in Palestine (NCCOP) addressed to the World Council of Churches, I emailed eight churches in my locality asking whether that heart-rending appeal had trickled down to them at parish level.

If not, I hoped to find out where the break in communications occurred, as this wasn’t the first time churches in the Holy Land had sought support from Western Christendom. Previous appeals were largely ignored and left to civil society for action.

Now, say the Palestinians, the situation is “beyond urgent”. So, had the NCCOP’s latest plea actually arrived on the desks of parish priests in my neighbourhood? And if so, how were grassroots Christians responding?

If this local bunch are representative of the Christian community in the UK, they don’t give a four-X for their brothers and sisters in the occupied Palestinian territories. And they are utterly indifferent to the fact that the place where Christianity was born is being stolen from under their noses.

I included a link to the actual crisis document, which should have made every churchman sit up, and a gentle reminder that their faith and their job of work are rooted in the Holy Land. “So what are the chances, I wonder, of seeing concerted action from Western churches before it’s too late? And what part can local parishes play?”

The key point was this: it’s beyond urgent. So are our spiritual leaders, those upstanding “men of the cloth”, mobilising their troops?

Only one of the eight replied – the local Catholic vicar-general – who dismissed the subject in two sentences. So, there you have it. If this local bunch are representative of the Christian community in the UK, they don’t give a four-X for their brothers and sisters in the occupied Palestinian territories. And they are utterly indifferent to the fact that the place where Christianity was born is being stolen from under their noses.

If that’s a wrong interpretation, and Christians in the West do actually wish to help, the issue is straightforward enough. Churches in Palestine are asking churches here to call things as they are: to recognise Israel as an apartheid state in terms of international law and the United Nations report which says so. They are concerned that states and churches are still dealing with Israel on a business-as-usual basis, as if the situation were normal, and ignoring the criminal reality of military occupation.

Churches came together in opposition to apartheid in South Africa and helped end it. Why haven’t they done the same in Palestine?

They ask us to unequivocally condemn the Balfour Declaration as unjust, and they rightly demand that the UK asks forgiveness and compensates the Palestinian people for their losses. Theresa May’s government, however, plans to celebrate the centenary of the Balfour Declaration “with pride” and has invited Netanyahu to the fun.

Clearly, May, God-fearing churchgoer that she is, needs to feel the heat of His wrath. The woman is so arrogant that her government intends to appeal against the recent decision by the Royal Courts of Justice defending our right to boycott Israel.

End the “Ecumenical Deal”, put interfaith dialogue through the wringer

The Palestinians want us to take the strongest possible stand against any theology or group that seeks to justify the occupation. That means, of course, challenging our religious dialogue partners and withdrawing from those partnerships if they won’t condemn Israel’s brutal occupation.

But I can hear our canting clerics muttering: “Oh dear, no, no, no. We mustn’t upset our interfaith colleagues. That would never do.”

Churches that sell their holdings or otherwise divest from companies that profit from the occupation of Palestinian lands often take years of agonising confab to reach such a common-sense position. But they needn’t think just moving their money is enough. A recent example is the Mennonite Church in the USA, where it took (they say) a three-person writing team and a 10-member reference group working intensely during the past two years and consulting widely across the church and with Palestinian and Jewish partners, to come up with a modest proposal. And to sugar the divestment pill they declared that “the legacy of Jewish suffering is intertwined with the suffering of Palestinians”. What the Palestinians had to do with Jewish suffering or ever did to deserve having their lands and homes confiscated, isn’t explained. But it is used to provide an excuse to call on Mennonites to strengthen relationships with Jewish communities.

Why? Can they not understand that you have to be consistent in boycotting Israel? It involves boycotting the people who also support and advocate for Israel, including those who fail to condemn the Zionist regime’s vile policies that hurt our Palestinian friends. As George Galloway has said, you simply don’t engage with them.

Christians who cannot grasp what is really going on out there, and don’t see what is needed to stop it, might find Robert Cohen’s excellent article “Brace Yourselves for Costly Palestinian Solidarity helpful in pointing towards proper, meaningful action.

He explains why the Christian-Jewish dialogue needs resetting. Central to the problem is the so-called Ecumenical Deal, a reluctance to question Jewish support for Israel for fear of unpicking decades of interfaith reconciliation following the holocaust. We appear to have cast ourselves in the self-defeating role of repenting for age-old Christian anti-Jewishness. Breaking out of it and criticising Israel would be seen as a re-emergence of that anti-Jewishness.

I’m not aware of Christian anti-Jewishness, although continuing failure on the part of Jewish leaders to condemn the cruel policies of the Israeli regime, aka “the Jewish state”, is surely asking for it. Does anyone inside or outside the bubble of the Church seriously buy into this repentance stuff? From outside, among people who would never set foot in a church again but still call themselves Christians because they were brought up according to the Christian code, it looks pathetic.

Christians in Palestine, says Cohen, despair of our Church leaders’ endless hiding behind the cover of political neutrality and their unwillingness to offend their religious dialogue partners. Consequently, he predicts, Jewish-Christian dialogue “is about to go through the wringer”.

Time for some “really uncomfortable conversations”

Pressing the reset button means “refusing to allow your local Jewish communal leadership to set the boundaries of permissible debate on Israel”. It also means “listening to the Christian voice under occupation before the Jewish voice living comfortably, with full equal rights, many thousands of miles from that same occupation”.

Operating the wringer, of course, will be followed by a distinct chill in relationships, forcing Church leaders, local ministers and their congregations, as well as the Jewish leaders they have dialogue with, out of their comfort zone. Good. As Rebecca Vilkomerson, Jewish Voice for Peace, recently wrote in Haaretz, after 70 years of dispossessing and expelling Palestinians, 50 years of Israeli military occupation and 10 years of blockading Gaza, it is time for Jewish communities “to have some really uncomfortable conversations”.

Palestinians say no to “shallow diplomacy” but it’s all they’re likely to get

How does the World Council of Churches (WCC) react to those urgent pleas from Palestine?

They will study and analyse. “As we at the WCC consider our plans for 2018 and beyond, we want churches in Palestine to know that their perspective is heard and it is vitally important,” said the WCC’s general secretary. “We will continue with the same passionate spirit to work on specific objectives, strategies and partners for advocacy to end the occupation and to work for just peace in Palestine and Israel.”

The WCC’s Commission of the Churches on International Affairs has been asked to contribute a thorough analysis of the changing political landscapes and dynamics in the Holy Land with an eye towards developing a more specific advocacy strategy that works through nations and organisations with significant influence.

The WCC has also started an online campaign, Seek #JusticeAndPeace in the Holy Land, which features profiles of peacemakers and various cries for justice.

The WCC also plans to “explore theological reflections, studies and projects that will bring a perspective on just peace in the Holy Land from all parts of the world”, and strengthen communication about the situation in Palestine so that it can “help churches and other ecumenical partners address their constituencies and governments in a more systematic way”. This includes developing a set of principles and practices of responsible pilgrimages of justice and peace to the Holy Land.

Will the Palestinian churches be impressed? Their cry for help stated specifically: “We stand in front of an impasse and we have reached a deadlock. Despite all the promises, endless summits, UN resolutions, religious and lay leader’s callings, Palestinians are still yearning for their freedom and independence, and seeking justice and equality.”

They stressed that religious extremism is on the rise, with religious minorities paying a heavy price. “We need brave women and men who are willing to stand in the forefront. This is no time for shallow diplomacy Christians.”

When I called the Church of England press office yesterday they didn’t think any response had been made. Such concern, then. And when I ran through the members of the WCC’s Central Committee I noticed the two representatives from the Church of England were both based in Europe. How helpful is that?

The power of hope

Christianity sometimes has great trouble telling right from wrong and doing something about it. The Holy Land is a case in point. Evil reigns there. Christianity across the world cowers. What would Christ say to that?

I know what Michel Sabbah says. He is a former Catholic Patriarch of Jerusalem, a courageous man of the front line and one of the great heroes of the struggle.

The current situation is hopeless. In reality, there are no signs of hope at all for the Palestinian people. In spite of that, we hope.

We hope because we are Christians, and God is present.

We hope because we believe in the fundamental goodness of the human being, Israeli and Palestinian. Human goodness will prevail at the end upon the human power of evil.

We hope because Palestinians are persevering in claiming their rights.

It is a source of hope that we never gave up…

We hope because among Israelis, there are people who are trying to work with Palestinians for what is right. And there are an increasing number of movements for peace, strong in will…

If we had no hope we would not live. Hope is life, and history gives us hope. What is right will prevail.

Michel Sabbah
Catholic Patriarch Emeritus

I fear that if he pins any hopes on the wets of the Western churches he’ll be disappointed. But he already knows that, surely.

Israel has been busy for years destroying real Middle Eastern history to replace with their own Old Testament fake myths

From a comment by Mike Rivero, at his website whatreallyhappened.com. The lies and deception will never dissipate in the ongoing jewish narrative to elevate israhell from a stolen land to a legitimate land. It never will stop either, until we stop them

INTERPOL: four Israelis Arrested for Trafficking Human organs in Bulgaria, a Rabbi among suspects

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A Rabbi among suspects; traffickers would approach poor Bulgarians and offer to buy a kidney for transplant in Turkey.

According to INTERPOL’s spokesperson , LCol. Asan Kasingye, four people were arrested today in Sofia on suspicion of organ trafficking, one of whom is a Jewish clergyman already standing trial for similar offenses in the past.

The four were arrested today at the end of a month-long undercover investigation. Ziss, a Rabbi, was extradited from Bulgaria to Israel in 2009 on similar suspicions.

“The four men are suspected of running a complete trafficking operation: locating people in Sofia willing to sell a kidney, locating patients willing and able to pay for one and then arranging the transplant. Bulgarian Police said the traffickers would approach poor people who were in debt and propose that they sell a kidney for transplant,”Kasingye told  Bulgarian News Agency (БТА ).

According to Bulgarian officials the actual transplants were performed in a Turkish hospital, with the donors posing as relatives of the patient. Meanwhile the Bulgarian National Transplant Center stressed that it was not involved in any of the transactions and that no illegal transplants were performed in Bulgaria.

Selling organs is illegal everywhere in the world except Saudi Arabia. But Israel is considered a major player in the organ trafficking business, and the number of Israelis who have sold kidneys via traffickers is estimated at between 10,000 and 20,000.

Although recipients pay hundreds of thousands of shekels for the kidney, the donor, according to various reports, gets only between 60,000 and 100,000 shekels ($160,000-$260,000). The rest of the fee goes to the head of the trafficking ring, the doctor overseeing the transplant, the lawyer who prepares the false affidavits, and expenses such as hospital and hotel fees.

One reason Israel is considered fertile ground for organ traffickers is that postmortem organ donation rates are among the lowest in the Western world, mainly for religious reasons.

Wave of settler (Jewish terrorist) violence hits Palestinian villages in West Bank

Wave of settler violence hits Palestinian villages in West Bank

Settlers from the radical Yitzhar settlement attack Palestinians in Urif and Huwwara, just one day after Israeli activists were assaulted by masked settlers in the Jordan Valley.

By Yael Marom

A Palestinian women is stretchered away with a head injury after settlers attacked the village of Huwwara, West Bank, April 22, 2017. (Yesh Din)

A Palestinian women is stretchered away with a head injury after settlers attacked the village of Huwwara, West Bank, April 22, 2017. (Yesh Din)

Dozens of Jewish settlers assaulted Palestinians in two separate West Bank villages on Saturday, just one day after settlers attacked and injured left-wing Israelis in the Jordan Valley.

Israelis from the radical Yitzhar settlement carried out two waves of attacks on the village of Urif, near Nablus. Four Palestinians were injured in the initial assault, and although residents of the village alerted Israeli security forces about the violence, the soldiers and police who arrived on the scene simply ordered the attackers away and did not arrest anyone.

Shortly after, an even bigger group of settlers returned to Urif and started attacking again. A building in the village was damaged and car windshields smashed. This time round, the army entered the village, only to fire rubber bullets at Palestinians who were trying to drive the settlers back by throwing stones at them. According to witnesses, the settlers then started uprooting olive trees, even starting a fire.

A few hours later, Israelis from Yitzhar set out for a further round of violence, this time in the village of Huwwara, also close to Nablus. They threw stones, smashed windows and attacked Palestinians, injuring three — including a woman who received a head wound. According to B’Tselem, her injury was serious, although not life-threatening.

Settlers stand atop a hill near the Palestinian village of Urif, which was attacked twice on Saturday, April 22, 2017. (Urif Council)

Settlers stand atop a hill near the Palestinian village of Urif, which was attacked twice on Saturday, April 22, 2017. (Urif Council)

Zacharia Sadeh, of Rabbis for Human Rights, told Local Call that the settlers who attacked Huwwara passed an IDF outpost on their way to the village.

“They should have reported the settlers heading down [to the village], and they could have prevented three people from being hurt,” he said. “The security forces make no effort to stop these attacks on Palestinians, and do nothing to protect the lives of Palestinians.”

On Friday, a group of Israeli activists with Ta’ayush were attacked by masked settlers from the Baladim outpost, also known for its extremism. The activists, who were in the Jordan Valley in order to assist Palestinian shepherds who were under threat of violence from the settlers, were attacked with stones and clubs, leaving five injured.

Defense Minister Avigdor Liberman commented on the violence on Sunday, but only condemned the fact that an Israeli army officer had been attacked by settlers, and ignored the assault on Palestinians. Rabbis for Human Rights, responding to Liberman’s statement, said that while “attacking an IDF officer is indeed serious,” failing to mention the heart of the matter — violence against dozens of Palestinians — “sends the implicit message that attacking Palestinians isn’t no big deal provided [Israeli] security forces aren’t assaulted at the same time.”

Indeed, as is customary in the face of settler violence, the Israeli forces who arrived on the scene felt no obligation to open fire on the Israeli stone throwers, had apparently left their tear gas and rubber-coated steel bullets at home, and suddenly knew how to restrain themselves.

The fact that settlers are allowed to continue their attacks undisturbed reveals, over and over, the shared interests of the landlords of the West Bank’s hilltops, and the armed forces who serve them.

Yael Marom is Just Vision’s public engagement manager in Israel and a co-editor of Local Call, where this article was originally published in Hebrew

There’s no place for israel in a civilised world

Bethlehem: Israeli Soldiers Detain Three Palestinian Children

Report: Israeli Soldiers Open Fire at Mentally Disabled Palestinian Women

Racist Israelis Taunt Palestinian Hunger Strikers

Hundreds of Palestinian children are arrested, detained and prosecuted in Israel. (Photo: via Mint Press. file)

Israeli soldiers detained, on Thursday evening, three Palestinian children from the Deheishe refugee camp, south of Bethlehem, in the occupied West Bank,International Middle East Media Center reported.

“The army is alleging that the three children threw Molotov cocktails at the military base, in the Gush Etzion Settlement Bloc, south of Bethlehem,” the website noted.

On Friday morning, the soldiers invaded Surif town, west of the southern West Bank city of Hebron, and Beit Ummar town, north of Hebron, detaining two young men and taking over buildings.

Some 300 Palestinian children are currently held in Israeli jails. The Israeli occupation army accuses most of these children of throwing stones at military posts and Israeli Jewish settlers.

Palestinian prisoners in Israeli jails have launched a mass hunger strike on April 17, which marks Palestinian Prisoner Day, to improve their imprisonment conditions.

A Jewish settler in the occupied city of al-Khalil (Hebron) harasses a Palestinian woman. (Photo: File)

Israeli occupation soldiers opened fire at a disabled Palestinian young woman though she posed no threat to them, a human rights report revealed on Friday.

Legal adviser on Israeli violations, lawyer Naela Atiya, urged the Israeli Internal Security Minister “to launch an immediate probe into a shooting attack targeting the disabled Palestinian girl Manar Mujahed, aged 30, that left her paralyzed,” PIC noted.

According to Atiyeh, Israeli border cops opened fire at mentally disabled Manar, from Occupied Jerusalem, on February 27, 2017, leaving her bleeding and crying for help as she rushed to her father to save her, PIC reported.

“Her father, a bus driver, was parking near the military checkpoint where Manar was shot. He saw her from afar and did not recognize her at first sight,” the lawyer said.

According to the lawyer, moments later, “the Israeli soldiers handcuffed the bleeding girl with iron chains at the hospital, where they found out that she was mentally disabled.”

“Manar went back home on a wheelchair, after her health condition had taken a turn for the worse. She has become physically disabled and cannot stand on her feet as a result of the bullets that penetrated her thigh and hip,” noted the lawyer.

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