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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Israel do not want  the world to see the old Pictures about Palestine  هذه الصور عن فلسطين لا تريد إسرائيل أن يراها العالم

31 Unbelievable Photographs Israel Doesn’t Want You To See!

Images of Palestinians being all Palestinian, doing Palestinian things and wearing Palestinian clothing in a ‘land without a people for a people without a land’. Or as the people who lived there liked to call it before being displaced and occupied: Palestine.

 

1. BEDOUIN WOMAN  1 – امرأة بدوية

2. WOMEN FROM NAZARETH 2 – امرأة من الناصرة

3. RAMALLAH FATHER AND SONS  3 – أب وأطفاله في رام الله

4. RAMALLAH WOMAN 4 – امرأة من رام الله

5. JAFFA WOMAN, 1889  5 – صورة من عام 1889 لامرأة من يافا

 

 


6. BETHLEHEM GIRL  6 – فتاة من بيت لحم



7. BETHLEHEM WOMAN  7 – امرأة بزي تقليدي من بيت لحم


8. BETHLEHEM WOMEN  8 – نساء من أجيال مختلفة في بيت لحم


9. BETHLEHEM SISTERS  9 – شقيقتان من بيت لحم


10. BETHLEHEM WOMAN 10 – فلسطينية من بيت لحم تحمل جرة الماء


11. JERUSALEM MAN  11 – شيخ مقدسي 

12. GAZAN MEN 12 – رجال من غزة (كتب أسفلها سكان غزة الأصليين – فلسطين)

 

13. RAMALLAH WOMAN

 


14. RAMALLAH FAMILY 14 – عائلة من رام الله


15. RAMALLAH WOMAN 15 – امرأة من رام الله


16. BEERSHEBA BEDOUIN 16 – بدو من بئر سبع


17. WOMAN & CHILD FLEEING PALESTINE DURING THE NAKBA 17 – نساء وأطفال فلسطين يهربون خلال النكبة – 1948

 


18. 100 YEAR OLD MAN 18 – فلسطيني يبلغ 100 عام

 19. BETHLEHEM WOMAN, 1940 19 – امرأة من بيت لحم عام 1940 تنظر لأرضها

 

20. JERUSALEM  20 – القدس 

21. DEMONSTRATION AGAINST ZIONIST COLONIZATION/BRITISH RULE, 1920  21 – مظاهرات ضد الاستيطان الإسرائيلي خلال الاحتلال البريطاني عام 1920

22. DOME OF THE ROCK, JERUSALEM  22 – قبة الصخرة في القدس

23. SEA OF GALILEE FISHERMAN, 1930  23 – صيادون في بحر الجليل عام 1930

 

24. EARLY 1900 DEMONSTRATION IN JAFFA 24 – احتجاجات في 1900 في يافا


 25. JERUSALEM BETWEEN 1898 AND 1914  25 – القدس بين 1898 و 1914

 


26. JERUSALEM 26 – القدس

 


27. JERUSALEM GRAIN MARKET  27– سوق القدس للحبوب


28. NABLUS 28 – نابلس

 

29. BETHLEHEM 29 – بيت لحم

 


30. THE GREEK PATRIARCH OF JERUSALEM, 1940 30 – البطريرك اليوناني في القدس عام 1940

 


31. JERUSALEM POTTER, 1934  31 – صانع فخار مقدسي عام 1934

 


Israel’s war on Palestine’s food supplies: IOF Fire On Palestinian Fishermen And Farmers In Gaza

Israeli Navy Opens Fire On Palestinian Fishermen And Farmers In Gaza

June 11, 2017 11:35 AM IMEMC News

Israeli navy ships attacked, Sunday, many Palestinian fishing boats, and farmers, in the northern and southern parts of the besieged Gaza Strip, causing damage.

Media sources in Gaza said the navy fired dozens of live rounds at the fishing boats, close to the shore in northern Gaza, forcing the fishermen back to the shore in fear of further Israeli assaults and escalation.

In addition, the soldiers, stationed in military towers across the border fence, east of Khan Younis in the southern part of the Gaza Strip, fired many live rounds at Palestinian farmers, working on their own lands, close to the border fence.

The attacks are part of constant Israeli violations against the Palestinians in the improvised coastal region.

On Monday, May 15 2017, the navy fired many live rounds at Palestinian fishing boats, less than four nautical miles from the Gaza shore, killing a fisherman, identified as Mohammad Majed Bakr, 25.

On Friday, June 9 2017, the soldiers killed one Palestinian, identified as Aa’ed Khamis Jom’a, 35, and injured at ten others, after the army attacked dozens of protesters, in Palestinian lands, near the border fence east of Jabalia, in the northern part of the Gaza Strip.

Palestine news

Palestinian Girl Sought Martyrdom on Her Last Day of School

Imagine being a young girl living under a brutal occupation. You’re in the eighth grade. You work hard at your lessons, but then on your last day of school before summer break you go out and seek martyrdom by stabbing an occupation soldier.

Earlier this month I put up a post about Nouf Infiaat, a 16-year-old Palestinian girl who was shot by Israeli forces after stabbing, and lightly wounding, an Israeli soldier. This happened on June 1 at a checkpoint at the entrance to an Israeli settlement known as Mevo Dotan–located in the northern West Bank not far from the Palestinian village of Yabad, where Nouf lived.

Nouf was shot several times in the midsection and taken to a hospital, where she died the following day. What is perhaps most memorable about it all is that a video surfaced, one filmed shortly after the shooting, which showed the young girl writhing in pain on the ground as Israeli settlers gathered around her calling her a “bitch” and telling her to die.

A Palestinian girl was shot by Israeli soldiers. And while she was bleeding, settlers insulted her and told her to die.

Since posting that article, I’ve come across a few items of interest I thought I would pass along. According to a report here, June 1 was the last day of school in Yabad before recessing for summer break. Just a short while before showing up at Mevo Dotan with a knife, Nouf had received her certificate for passing the eighth grade.

“She told me she was going to pick up her school certificate and I was waiting for her return. But she was planning to get another type of certificate: martyrdom,” says Nouf’s mother, who is quoted in the story.

I’m guessing that Nouf, though she was only 16, knew fully well that carrying out a stabbing attack at a checkpoint manned by heavily armed soldiers would almost certainly result in her death. I would also guess that this is not something she decided to do suddenly on the spur of the moment. Most likely she thought about it for a long time. So why did she decide to carry out the attack on the last day of school? We can only surmise that for some reason completing the eighth grade before laying down her life was important to her.

Nouf died on June 2. Two days later, on June 4, the city of New York held a “Celebrate Israel” parade that was attended by thousands. The parade is an annual event in New York (which kind of makes me glad I don’t live there):

You’ll notice that one of the “dignitaries” marching in the procession was New York Governor Andrew Cuomo. I put up a post about Cuomo last year after he signed an executive order terminating all state contracts with businesses or organizations supporting a boycott of Israel. In that post I noted the hypocrisy of the governor, who, while taking a slash and burn approach to the BDS movement, was at the time lending support to a boycott of North Carolina over that state’s law prohibiting transgender bathrooms. In other words, don’t boycott Israel, but heck, go ahead and boycott a US state if you want to. That’s okay.

On June 5–one day after the parade and three days after Nouf’s death from gunshot wounds–the US Congress and the Israeli Knesset marked the 50th anniversary of the “reunification” of Jerusalem by holding a “joint session” that was broadcast simultaneously to both legislative bodies.

 photo jointsession_zpsv4ld9pyn.jpg

“After thousands of years in exile, the Jewish people are finally back home,” said House Speaker Paul Ryan. “Home in the land of their ancestors. Home in the land that so many have died to defend. And home in their city of Jerusalem, the eternal capital never to be divided again.”

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Knesset Speaker Yuri Edelstein also spoke, both calling for the continued Israeli occupation of East Jerusalem, both claiming that only Israel can guarantee free access to the city’s holy sites, while, hypocritically, in their remarks, wholly ignoring the fact that most Palestinians are denied entry to Jerusalem without Israeli-issued permits and thus making a mockery of the claim of free access.

On the same day, June 5, three days after Nouf’s death, the US Senate unanimously passed a resolution saying that “Jerusalem should remain the undivided capital of Israel in which the rights of every ethnic and religious group are protected.”

What kind of people would hold a parade to “celebrate” a country  like Israel? What kind of people view themselves as righteous victims of eternal persecution while laying entitlement to what some have referred to as a 3000-year-old land claim? How is it that this oh-so-very-esteemed and lionized country could create the conditions that would drive a 16-year-old girl to seek martyrdom on the day of her her graduation from eighth grade while leaders of the Western world do nothing but applaud, celebrate, and give their blessings? What does it say about the world we live in?

Radical? Zionist Book Burner More Likely

May 30, 2017  /  Gilad Atzmon

If Edinburgh is the Athens of the North, it deserves an Athenian bookshop rather than a Jerusalemite crematorium. 

By Gilad Atzmon

For some days now I’ve been feeling a little bored because my new book Being in Time didn’t seem to be attracting any real opposition. My arch-enemy Alan Dershowitz declined calls to disrupt my USA tour which, in fact, was a great success and all-in-all, the launch of the book seemed to be going smoothly, on the verge of going snooze-ly.

But seemingly everything changed. 

Yesterday, on my way to the event in Cluny, Newcastle I learned that the music venue had capitulated to the Zionist lobby’s pressure. Cluny’s manager, Joel Thomson, told me over the phone that they had received two emails and had decided to withdraw. It took a local friend around five minutes to trace a new location. However, when I arrived at The Cluny around 6.30 PM (to divert the traffic to the new location), I ran into some appalling behaviour by staff members and the owner.

But the Cluny wasn’t a big surprise. Two days ahead of our Edinburgh literary event, David Scott and myself received a cancelation email from Mairi, the owner of the Lighthouse ~ Edinburgh’s Radical Bookshop.

Now, before I go on, let me assure you, we are still, as planned, meeting this evening at 7.30PM near the Lighthouse ~ Edinburgh’s Radical Bookshop. From there, we will then walk to a new venue that tolerates intellectual exchange – something contemporary ‘radicals’ seem to struggle with.Mairi

In her email, and later in her official statement, ‘radical’ Mairi tells us all we need to know about the level of her argumentation. It is an insult to the notion of intelligence.

“It was only brought to my attention today that the event would coincide with the beginning of Shavuot,” Mairi writes,  “and as a result many Jewish individuals who might have wanted to attend to challenge Gilad, would not be able to do so. To exclude members of the Jewish community from a controversial discussion on Jewish identity and politics instinctively felt wrong.”

Impressive, don’t you think?

Leaving aside that my new book doesn’t focus on Jewish ID politics or Judaism per-se, I found myself wondering whether ‘radical’ Mairi would be as insistent on ‘Nazis’ attending a literary event that was critical of Adolf Hitler and his ideas. Would ‘radical’ Mairi similarly insist on inviting Isis enthusiasts to events that were critical of the Islamic State? Or is it only Jewish sensitivities that concern ‘radical’ Mairi?

My guess is that this most ‘radical’ owner of this most ‘radical’ bookshop must adhere to the most extreme form of Zionist privilege – something of a happy coincidence since my new book, Being in Time actually identifies the roots of this exact same Zionist bent at the very core of New Left ‘radical’ thought.

 “Gilad”, she writes in her email,  “although I do not believe that you are a hate speaker, I have no doubt that in affiliating yourself with some far right speakers who are openly holocaust deniers, you have undermined your ability to engage in a productive debate about current politics.”

You know, you’d think that the owner of a radical political bookstore would know that in the real world there are no Holocaust deniers: no one with half a brain has ever denied  that Hitler opposed the Jews and wanted them out of Germany and Europe. No one has ever denied that Jews suffered hugely under Nazi occupation and no one denies that Jews, because of the Holocaust, succeeded in stealing Palestine. 

Some people, however, do indeed question the technicality, practicality, factuality and the meaning of Hitler’s anti-Jewish measures. Zionists often refer to these people as Holocaust deniers’ but in practice, the intellectual field in which those ‘deniers’ are submerged is  historical revisionism.

I am proud that I have argued forcefully in support of revisionism. I argue that if history is the attempt to narrate the past as we move along, then making history into a meaningful adventure must entail re-visiting, re-writing and, in practice, revising the past. True history, therefore, is always a revisionist adventure. This applies not just to the Holocaust but to every single event in the past including slavery, the Nakba, the Holodomor and so on.  Unlike ‘radical’ Mairi I oppose the Holocaust being reduced to a religion. If the Holocaust is our new Western religion then I for one insist upon being an atheist! 

Marie adds

“I believe that your views lend credibility to far-right anti-semitic groups even if you do not consider yourself an antisemite.”

But my writing and my thoughts are published and endorsed by many of the most respected intellectuals and humanists  along the entire political spectrum. Being in Time’ is, as it says on the cover, a post-political manifesto. It suggests that the political dichotomy between Left and Right is dated, meaningless and irrelevant and in my universe, thinkers are divided by the merits of their arguments and not by their left/right political affiliations. I don’t ‘denounce’ people as some leftists insist I should. I engage in scholarly dialogue with  people of all political persuasions and if I don’t agree with someone, I do not denounce, I criticise. For me, humanity is that which crosses the divide rather than hiding behind ghetto walls.

But it gets worse. Mairi also claims to have been harassed by people who support my work. But the cancelation of the event was posted on the bookshop’s site on Saturday night when the shop was closed. There was no reason for anyone to assume that our event was cancelled, or about to be cancelled. Moreover, in my entire career, neither myself nor any of my followers have ever been associated with a single violent or unsavoury incident to do with my work. So Mairi is lying and this shouldn’t take us by surprise. Within Left circles, lying for the ‘cause’ is an entirely kosher procedure. Again, this tendency is studied closely in ‘Being in Time.’

But to be fair to Mairi, she was indeed subjected to some intense pressure – but the pressure came, not from any supporter of mine, but from the notoriously tyrannical Mick Napier.  Napier opposes anyone who points out the obvious fact that if Israel defines itself as the ‘Jewish state,’ then we’d better ask ourselves what the ‘J word’ stands for. It is so for years, the ever-marginal Napier and his miniature SPSC, have been desperate to disrupt my events in Scotland (music as well as intellectual) – and, of course, always in the name of ‘Palestinian solidarity’.

It is almost funny the way Napier campaigns for free speech on Israel whilst working 24/7 suppressing free speech here – especially if it should focus on Jewish power. Who really is he working for? Again, ‘Being in Time’ offers a theoretical foundation to help us to grasp this type of activity and all other forms of controlled opposition.

So what do ‘radicals’ like Mairi and Mick Napier mean by ‘free discourse’? Our ‘radical’ bookshop owner offers an answer:

“We are a platform for open discourse, but I intend to give a platform to speakers I support who might not otherwise have a venue, that is my choice and my right.”  So, ‘radicals’ allow free speech – but only to those with whom they agree.

This is not exactly a plan for popular resistance, more a guide to ghetto building. But at least we now know why the revolution never happened.

And finally, if you’re wondering what is it that has, within Left and radical circles, led to such intellectual regression and how come a radical bookshop so easily transforms itself into a book-burning pyre?  Again, my new book provides the answer. It is the suppression of Athens and the invasive power of Jerusalem that has murdered Left tolerance and all revolutionary thinking.

 If Edinburgh is the Athens of the North, it deserves an Athenian bookshop rather than a Jerusalemite crematorium. 

The book can be ordered on Amazon.co.uk  & Amazon.com The book is now available here. 

The book can be ordered on Amazon.co.uk  & Amazon.com

The book is now available here.

Israel Tutors Children in Fear and Loathing

Nazareth

A display of Israeli-style community policing before an audience of hundreds of young schoolchildren was captured on video last week. Were the 10-year-olds offered road safety tips, advice on what to do if they got lost, or how to report someone suspicion hanging around the school?

No. In Israel, they do things differently. The video shows four officers staging a mock anti-terror operation in a park close to Tel Aviv. The team roar in on motorbikes, firing their rifles at the “terrorist”.

As he lies badly wounded, the officers empty their magazines into him from close range. In Israel it is known as “confirming the kill”. Everywhere else it is called an extrajudicial execution or murder. The children can be heard clapping.

It was an uncomfortable reminder of a near-identical execution captured on film last year. A young army medic, Elor Azaria, is seen shooting a bullet into the head of an incapacitated Palestinian in Hebron. A military court sentenced him to 18 months for manslaughter in February.

There has been little sign of soul-searching since. Most Israelis, including government officials, call Azaria a hero. In the recent religious festival of Purim, dressing up as Azaria was a favourite among children.

There is plenty of evidence that Israel’s security services are still regularly executing real Palestinians.

The Israeli human rights group B’Tselem denounced the killing last week of a 16-year-old Jerusalem schoolgirl, Fatima Hjeiji, in a hail of bullets. She had frozen to the spot after pulling out a knife some distance from a police checkpoint. She posed no threat, concluded B’Tselem, and did not need to be killed.

The police were unrepentant about their staged execution, calling it “a positive, empowering” demonstration for the youngsters. The event was hardly exceptional.

In communities across Israel this month, the army celebrated Israel’s Independence Day by bringing along its usual “attractions” – tanks, guns and grenades – for children to play with, while families watched army dogs sicking yet more “terrorists”.

In a West Bank settlement, meanwhile, the army painted youngsters’ arms and legs with shrapnel wounds. Blood-like liquid dripped convincingly from dummies with amputated limbs. The army said the event was a standard one that “many families enjoyed”.

The purpose of exposing children at an impressionable age to so much gore and killing is not hard to divine. It creates traumatised children, distrustful and fearful of anyone outside their tribe. That way they become more pliant soldiers, trigger-happy as they rule over Palestinians in the occupied territories.

A few educators have started to sense they are complicit in this emotional and mental abuse.

Holocaust Memorial Day, marked in Israeli schools last month, largely avoids universal messages, such as that we must recognise the humanity of others and stand up for the oppressed. Instead, pupils as young as three are told the Holocaust serves as a warning to be eternally vigilant – that Israel and its strong army are the only things preventing another genocide by non-Jews.

Last year Zeev Degani, principal of one Israel’s most prestigious schools, caused a furore when he announced his school would no longer send pupils on annual trips to Auschwitz. This is a rite of passage for Israeli pupils. He called the misuse of the Holocaust “pathological” and intended to “generate fear and hatred” to inculcate extreme nationalism.

It is not by accident that these trips – imparting the message that a strong army is vital to Israel’s survival – take place just before teenagers begin a three-year military draft.

Increasingly, they receive no alternative messages in school. Degani was among the few principals who had been inviting Breaking the Silence, a group of whistle-blowing soldiers, to discuss their part in committing war crimes.

In response, the education minister, Naftali Bennett, leader of the settlers’ party, has barred dissident groups like Breaking the Silence. He has also banned books and theatre trips that might encourage greater empathy with those outside the tribe.

Polls show this is paying off. Schoolchildren are even more ultra-nationalist than their parents. More than four-fifths think there is no hope of peace with the Palestinians.

But these cultivated attitudes don’t just sabotage peacemaking. They also damage any chance of Israeli Jews living peacefully with the large minority of Palestinian citizens in their midst.

Half of Jewish schoolchildren believe these Palestinians, one in five of the population, should not be allowed to vote in elections. This month the defence minister, Avigdor Lieberman, called the minority’s representatives in parliament “Nazis” and suggested they should share a similar fate.

This extreme chauvinism was translated last week into legislation that defines Israel as the nation-state of the Jewish people around the world, not its citizens. The Palestinian minority are effectively turned into little more than resident aliens in their own homeland.

Degani and others are losing the battle to educate for peace and reconciliation. If a society’s future lies with its children, the outlook for Israelis and Palestinians is bleak indeed.

Jonathan Cook won the Martha Gellhorn Special Prize for Journalism. His latest books are “Israel and the Clash of Civilisations: Iraq, Iran and the Plan to Remake the Middle East” (Pluto Press) and “Disappearing Palestine: Israel’s Experiments in Human Despair” (Zed Books). His website is www.jkcook.net.

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Syria is the Dam Against More Bloody Chaos

MAY 9, 2017

A decade ago I published a book, Israel and the Clash of Civilisations, that examined Israel’s desire to Balkanise the Middle East, using methods it had refined over many decades in the occupied Palestinian territories. The goal was to unleash chaos across much of the region, destabilising key enemy states: Iran, Iraq, Syria and Lebanon.

The book further noted how Israel’s strategy had influenced the neoconservative agenda in Washington that found favour under George Bush’s administration. The neocons’ destabilisation campaign started in Iraq, with consequences that are only too apparent today.

My book was published when efforts by Israel and the neocons to move the Balkanisation campaign forward into Iran, Syria and Lebanon were stumbling, and before it was clear that other actors, such as ISIS, would emerge out of the mayhem. But I predicted – correctly – that Israel and the neocons would continue to push for more destabilisation, targeting Syria next, with disastrous consequences.

Today, Israel’s vision of the region is shared by other key actors, including Saudi Arabia, the Gulf states, and Turkey. The current arena for destabilisation, as I warned, is Syria. But if successful, the Balkanisation process will undoubtedly move on and intensify against Lebanon and Iran.

Although commentators tend to focus on the “evil monsters” who lead the states targeted for destruction, it is worth remembering that before their disintegration most were also oases of secularism in a region dominated by medieval sectarian ideologies, whether the Wahhabism of Saudi Arabia or the Orthodox Judaism of Israel.

Syria’s Bashar Assad, Iraq’s Saddam Hussein and Libya’s Muammar Gaddafi are or were ruthless and brutal in the way all dictators are, against opponents who threaten the regime. But before their states were targeted for “intervention”, they also oversaw societies in which there were high levels of education and literacy, well-established welfare states, and low levels of sectarianism. These were not insignificant achievements (even if they are largely overlooked now) – achievements that large sections of their populations appreciated, even more so when they were destroyed through outside intervention.

These achievements were not unrelated to the fact that the regimes were or are more independent of the US than the US and Israel desired. The rulers of these states, which comprise disparate sectarian groups, had an interest in maintaining internal stability through a carrot and stick approach: benefits for those who submitted to the regime, and repression for those who resisted. They also made strong alliances with similar regimes to limit moves by Israel and the US to dominate the region.

Balkanisation has been a powerful way to isolate and weaken these states, allowing the process to be expanded to other renegade states.

This is not to excuse human rights violations by dictatorial regimes. But it is to concentrate on an even more important issue. What we have seen unfolding over the past 15 years is part of a lengthy process – often described in the West as a “war on terror” – that is not designed to “liberate” or “democratise” Middle Eastern states. If that were the case, Saudi Arabia would have been the first state targeted for “intervention”.

Rather, the “war on terror” is part of efforts to violently break apart states that reject US-Israeli hegemony in the region, so as to maintain US control over the region’s resources in an age of diminishing access to cheap oil.

Although it is tempting to prioritise human rights as the yardstick according to which the parties should be judged, by now there should be little doubt that the conflicts unfolding in the Middle East are not about the promotion of rights.

Syria offers all the clues we need.

The agents trying to overthrow Assad in Syria are no longer civil society groups and democracy activists. They were too small in number and too weak to bring about change or threaten the Assad regime. Instead, whatever civil war there may initially have been has transformed into a proxy war. (In a closed society like Syria, it is of course almost impossible to know what drove the initial opposition – was it a fight for greater human rights, or growing dissatisfaction with the regime concerning other issues, such as food shortages and population displacements that were themselves a consequence of long-term processes triggered by climate change?)

A coalition of the US, Saudi Arabia, the Gulf states, Turkey and Israel exploited those initial challenges to the Syrian regime, seeing them as an opening. They did not do so to help democracy activists but to advance their own, largely shared agendas. They used Sunni jihadist groups like al-Qaeda and ISIS to advance their interests, which depend on the break-up of the Syrian state and its replacement by a void that empowers them while disempowering their enemies in the region.

Saudi Arabia and the Gulf states want Iran and its Shia allies weakened; Turkey wants a freer hand against Kurdish dissident groups in Syria and elsewhere; and Israel wants to foster the forces of sectarianism in the Middle East to undermine pan-Arab nationalism, thereby ensuring its regional hegemony will go unchallenged.

The agents trying to stabilise Syria are the regime itself, Russia, Iran and Hizbollah. Their concern is to use whatever force is necessary to repel the agents of anarchy and restore the regime’s dominance.

Neither side can be characterised as “good”. There are no “white hats” in this gunfight. But there is clearly a side to prefer if the yardstick is minimising not only the current suffering in Syria but also future suffering in the region.

The agents of stability want to rebuild Syria and strengthen it as part of a wider Shia bloc. In practice, their policy would achieve – even if it does not directly aim for – a regional balance of forces, similar to the stand-off between the US and Russia in the Cold War. It is not ideal, but it is far preferable to the alternative policy pursued by the agents of anarchy. They want key states in the Middle East to implode, as has already happened in Iraq and Libya and has been partially achieved in Syria.

We know the consequences of this policy: massive sectarian bloodspilling, huge internal population displacement and the creation of waves of refugees who head towards the relative stability of Europe, the seizure and dispersal of military arsenals that spur yet more fighting, and the inspiration of more militant and reactionary ideologies like that of ISIS.

If Syria falls, it will not become Switzerland. And if it falls, it will not be the end of the “war on terror”. Next, these agents of anarchy will move on to Lebanon and Iran, spreading yet more death and destruction.

Jonathan Cook won the Martha Gellhorn Special Prize for Journalism. His latest books are “Israel and the Clash of Civilisations: Iraq, Iran and the Plan to Remake the Middle East” (Pluto Press) and “Disappearing Palestine: Israel’s Experiments in Human Despair” (Zed Books). His website is www.jkcook.net.

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