MUST SEE VIDEO ~~ ‘THIS IS PALESTINE’

Must See Video ~~ ‘this Is Palestine’

Nothing new here for anyone aware of ground zero in Palestine or has been awake the past 50 years, but footage of some heart-wrenching scenes reminds us all that there are real people behind the daily headlines and statistics.

Shared by Sam Bahour, with thanks

Haaretz editor declares war on Zionism “Zionism is ‘inherently racist’”

Haaretz editor declares war on Zionism

David Rosenberg — Israel National News July 18, 2017

Haaretz editor declares war on zionism

An editor of the left-wing Haaretz daily chastised French President Emmanuel Macron for calling anti-Zionism a form of anti-Semitism, praising anti-Zionism as “resistance” against racism and apartheid.

Asaf Ronel, the world news editor for Haaretz, criticized Macron’s recent statement that anti-Zionism was a ‘reinvention’ of anti-Semitism.

“We will never surrender to the messages of hate; we will not surrender to anti-Zionism because it is a reinvention of anti-Semitism,” said Macron on Sunday.

Responding to Macron’s comments via Twitter, Ronel rejected the comparison, and denounced Zionism as being ‘inherently racist’. Ronel also praised anti-Zionism for ‘resisting’ the evils of modern Zionism.

“Dear president Emmanuel Macron, you are wrong – anti-Zionism is resisting the racism inherent in today’s Zionism. It’s not antisemitism.”

In a back and forth with French-Israeli foreign policy expert Emmanuel Navon, Ronel later accused Zionism of apartheid.

Do you know “what is the difference btwn blaming Zionism 4 oppression&apartheid & believing the protocols of the elders of Zion,” Ronel asked rhetorically, later answering his own question by writing that as opposed to the mythical Protocols, Zionist ‘apartheid’ was “reality”.

But unlike many radical left-wing critics of Israel, Ronel did not cite Israel’s 1967 liberation of Judea and Samaria as an example of the alleged ‘apartheid’, instead denouncing the very establishment of the Jewish state in 1948.

“& the apartheid refers to 48, not 67.”

On Monday, Ronel took to Twitter again to complain about criticism of his comments after Honest Reporting documented his aforementioned tweets.

“Pro-Israel activists attack my newspaper for something I wrote. Explains a lot about their understanding of free media & freedom of speech.”

Ronel raised the issue again with a tweet Tuesday morning, attacking the “conflating” of anti-Semitism and anti-Zionism, while accusing Israel of “whitewashing Zionist anti-Semites”.

“Conflating antiSemitism w antiZionism only hurts the fight against antiSemitism. Also true for Israel’s whitewashing of Zionist anti-Semites.”

 

Source

62% rise in israel’s arrests of Palestinian children

62% rise in Israel’s arrests of Palestinian children

MEMO | July 19, 2017

Palestinian children are often beaten and strip searched at arrest

Some 331 Palestinian minors were arrested by Israel between January and May this year, a 62 per cent increase on figures from 2012 to 2015, NGO Defence for Children International – Palestine (DCIP) revealed yesterday.

According to a report released by the human rights group, Israeli forces regularly abuse Palestinian children, depriving them of food, subjecting them to beatings and preventing them from accessing legal counsel.

Accountability Programme Director at DCIP, Ayed Abu Eqtaish, stated: “For over a decade, ill-treatment of Palestinian children in the Israeli military detention system has been widespread and systematic.”

From the persistent and institutionalised ill-treatment and torture of Palestinian children, to the systematic denial of their due process rights, emerges a system of control far removed from justice.

DCIP records of cases between January and June also show that 81 per cent of Palestinian children were strip searched upon detention, two thirds were denied legal counsel prior to interrogation and only three had a parent present during proceedings.

Read: Palestinian boy, 13, loses eye after Israeli forces shoot him

The report details that one of the youngest children to be detained was 12-year-old Suheib from a refugee camp in the occupied Ramallah-area. He was allegedly throwing stones when he was knocked to the ground by Israeli officers and then restrained, beaten and blindfolded. He was subsequently held overnight at a police station where he was interrogated and denied food for 24 hours.

In another case, a 13-year-old boy known only as Anas M. was tortured as an Israeli soldier grabbed his neck and attempted to strangle him.

Israel prosecutes up to 700 children each year in military courts. Last month DCIP held a congressional meeting on the situation of Palestinian children over 50 years of illegal occupation, concluding that Israel’s actions against minors outdoes all security rationale

 

The Brutal Realities of israel’s Iron-fisted Occupation

The Brutal Realities of Israel’s Iron-fisted Occupation

By Dennis J Bernstein and John Pilger

Israel is well-known for having a potent U.S. lobby that not only influences Congress and the mainstream media but intimidates Americans who dare criticize its policies toward the Palestinians, as Dennis J Bernstein describes.

The Price for Criticizing Israel

There are very few journalist in the U.S. or Europe who have the courage to report fairly on Israel’s seemingly endless illegal occupation of Palestinian lands. Personally, as a Jewish-American, and the grandson of a revered Rabbi, I have been roundly denounced by pro-Israeli representatives and their Zionist lobbyists in the U.S.

I’ve stopped counting the number of vicious personal attacks that have labeled me a self-hating Jewish anti-Semite. Here’s one that got my attention and the attention of journalist Robert Fisk of the Independent of London, who I introduced one night for a lecture in Berkeley, California, and who then wrote an article about the plight of Jewish journalists and activists in the U.S. who dare to write or speak honestly about Israel’s brutal and illegal occupation of the Palestinians:

“You mother-fucking-asshole-self-hating Jewish piece of shit. Hitler killed the wrong Jews. He should have killed your parents, so a piece of Jewish shit like you would not have been born. God willing, Arab terrorists will cut you to pieces Daniel Pearl-style, AMEN!!!” The latter reference to the late Wall Street Journal reporter Daniel Pearl, who was kidnapped and  decapitated in Pakistan.

And at another level, the Israeli consulate in San Francisco has complained to my managers at KPFA/ Pacifica Radio repeatedly about my “pro-Palestinian terrorist” and “anti-semitic” reporting, and my apparent “hatred” for the Jewish State.

Emmy award-winning filmmaker and investigative reporter John Pilger is one of the rare exceptions who has plowed head-first into this crucial story of our time. Pilger has made two documentaries 25 years apart about Palestine, with almost the same name, Palestine is the Issue and then Palestine is Still the Issue.

I spoke recently with Pilger about Palestine and the brutality of the continuing occupation, and also about the responsibility for empowering and sustaining the occupation that falls at the feet of the Western press, based on its misreporting and, in some cases, not reporting at all the brutal realities of Israel’s iron-fisted occupation of Palestinians, which many critics, as well as several UN officials, have labeled as a form of ethnic cleansing that borders on genocide.

I also spoke with Pilger about the recent G-20 meetings in Germany, where President Trump held his first meeting with Russian President Vladimir Putin amid the Russia-gate frenzy. John Pilger’s latest film is The Coming War on China. He recently gave a moving talk at the Palestine Expo in London on the ongoing battle for the liberation of Palestine, excerpts of which have been published by Consortiumnews.

Dennis Bernstein: Let’s start with some current events. We just had the G20 meeting in Europe with a big deal made about the meeting between Trump and Putin and a lot of action in the streets. Your thoughts on what happened there and some of the goings-on?

Click below to listen to full interview with John Pilger

 

The discussion was appropriated by the meeting between Donald Trump and Vladimir Putin. Putting aside all the grotesque, cartoon qualities of Trump, the one thing that he has been consistent about is doing some deal with Russia. This has gotten him in a lot of trouble because the Democratic Party and, in fact most of the beltway institutions in Washington, don’t want this to happen. They would like Russia to remain a perennial enemy.

Without Moscow there as the demon, it is very difficult to justify a lot of the infrastructure of power in the United States, particularly the massive armament and military industries. Trump openly challenged this, virtually from the beginning. Although he seemed to have to prove himself to the pillars of power in Washington by firing missiles at Syria, this element in his presidency has remained pretty much constant.

This was of course the first meeting between Trump and Putin. They spoke for two hours and twenty minutes and, by all accounts, some kind of rapport was developed. In previous times that would be good news. It used to be called “detente.” These days this is not good news, either in the US political establishment and corporate media or, to a large degree, here in Britain.

The ridiculous allegations that the Russians helped to elect Trump by directly interfering in the great American democratic process have converged with the news that Trump and Putin may well have struck some kind of deal. Whether Trump is allowed to pursue whatever arrangements he has made toward normalizing relations with Russia, given the institutions of power in the United States, is rather doubtful.

DB: Of course, the corporate press is not at all interested in detente in Syria. Their main story ever since Trump’s meeting with Putin has been that his son may be guilty of treason.

JP: I’ve never heard something so absurd in my life, especially as the United States has intervened so aggressively in post-Soviet Russia. All through the 1990’s the open and quite successful intervention was blatant. And for these powerful forces in the United States to obsess with Russian meddling in our election process demonstrates a kind of double standard that is difficult to comprehend.

DB: In light of your new film, The Coming War on China, this is a time when detente at all levels is crucial because the dangers of staying the course are so huge. It is interesting to see that right-wing hawks in Washington are helping to foster a new relationship between Russia and China. But detente is the only answer at this point, isn’t it?

JP: Yes, it is. What’s needed is a diplomatic settlement. Unfortunately, the United States doesn’t do that anymore. It doesn’t have “diplomats” in the real sense of the word. To now see the presidents of two of the major nuclear-armed powers in the world seemingly forging some kind of political arrangement–agreeing, apparently, that they shouldn’t go to war with nuclear weapons. This is a throwback to a time before George W. Bush abolished the START treaties and others that were put together so painstakingly over so many years between the Soviet Union and the United States. It demonstrates how far the world–at the level of its political elite–has regressed. The United States is a very frightening vision for most of us because nuclear weapons are in the background all the time. The chance of a mistaken launch of nuclear weapons is high.

Consider the case of Korea, where the United States has installed its very aggressive THAAD so-called “defense” system which threatens China. No one believes for a minute that these missiles are pointed at North Korea, which could be dealt with in many other ways by the United States. The long-term strategy of an ascendant Pentagon is the balkanization of the Russian Federation and the intimidation of China. And if there is any glint of some kind of pullback from that position, as there might have been in the meeting between Trump and Putin, then that is good news.

DB: And of course it is so bizarre that you have America talking about the role that China should be playing and how we are so disappointed that they are not doing all they can to facilitate THAAD, which is part of a strategy to surround their country in what we know is shaping up to be “the Chinese century.”

John, I’d like you to talk about how you first began to report on Palestine and then I’d like to fast forward to current issues.

JP: I first went to Palestine in the 1960’s and stayed on a kibbutz. I probably came with the popular assumption that Israel’s myths about itself were true, that Israel was a good idea. I conflated the horror of the Holocaust with the new Jewish state. The people on the kibbutz regarded themselves as both socialists and Zionists.

I came to understand the doublespeak or the contemporary amnesia that is so pervasive in Israel. We had some very lively discussions but rarely mentioned the majority people. I saw them one evening and they were referred to as “them,” as silhouettes beyond the limits of the kibbutz. I asked about them and was told, well, they’re the Arabs. One man called them nomads. By just asking the question I was crossing a line, and a disturbed silence followed. I was with good people on the kibbutz, they had principles, many had memories of the horrors in Europe. They knew, of course, that they were on stolen land.

The word “Palestinian” was almost never used, rather echoing Golda Meir’s later remark that “there’s no such thing as Palestinians.” Because once the term “Palestinian” was recognized, the state of Palestine had to be recognized. For me it was a very interesting introduction to the extraordinary situation in Palestine. I learned a lot from a wonderful photographer named Dan Hidani who lost all his family in Germany during the War. We talked out this subject of the so-called Arabs and I learned a lot from him about the guilt of the colonizers that can never quite be covered up. These early experiences really alerted me to the huge injustice the Palestinians were suffering and of course still suffer today.

DB: Could I ask you to tell the story of the novelist Liana Badr, because it really does speak to what has happened to many Palestinians and the way they have been treated?

JP: In 2002, when Ariel Sharon was prime minister and several times sent the Israeli army and tanks into the West Bank, I arrived in Ramallah just when the Israeli army was withdrawing. Ramallah was devastated and one of the places I visited was the Palestinian Cultural Center. There I met the center’s director, the renowned Palestinian novelist Liana Badr, who teaches at Columbia University now. Her manuscripts were torn and scattered across the floor. The hard drive containing her fiction and a whole library of plays and poetry had been stolen by the Israeli soldiers. Not a single book had survived. Master tapes of one of the best collections of Palestinian cinema were lost.

This was an assault on a people’s culture. The soldiers had urinated and defecated on the floors and on the desks and smeared feces on children’s paintings. It was the most vivid and telling symbol of what a colonial power does to the people whose country it occupies

It was an attempt to dehumanize, that is what this assault on the Palestinian Cultural Center represented. What struck me, as well, was the determination of the Palestinians in this situation not to comply with what was expected of them as victims. That is the most astonishing thing about the Palestinians. As you walk through the rubble of Gaza, where the Israelis have attacked so many times, all of a sudden you see in the distance a group of school girls beautifully turned out in their starched and pressed uniforms and their hair done. It is a vision of defiance and determination to keep going. So the occupation may have worked physically but it hasn’t worked spiritually. And perhaps in the near future it may not work politically.

Jaffa oranges are famous around the world. Actually, Jaffa is a Palestinian town taken by Israel. Jaffa oranges form part of the mythical history of modern Israel, the idea that the desert of Palestine would be made green by the arriving Jews, who would make the desert bloom. But the oranges and grapes were in fact grown by Palestinian farmers and the oranges had been exported to Europe since the eighteenth century. At one time, a rather melancholy name for the town of Jaffa used by its former inhabitants was “the place of sad oranges.”

DB: I want to talk to you about Palestine and journalism. Maybe we could compare and contrast Mohammed Omer, on the one hand–who is dodging bombs and trying to get food for his family as the drones are flying past his window, trying to get as best he can the truth from the ground–compare Mohammed Omer with the people at CNBC and the BBC.

JP: Well, we know that most of mainstream journalism is simply an extension of the state. We’ve talked about the extraordinary McCarthy-like propaganda campaign that wants to blame everything including the weather on Russia. That happens because the media is the propaganda wing of the institutions that form power in the West.

The one that produces the most refined propaganda is the BBC. CNN and the others are just cruder versions. Any truth about Israel/Palestine or, more generally, the Middle East is not going to come from the mainstream media. Those of us who know this should rather stop beating our heads against a brick wall, asking why they don’t tell the truth. That’s not what they’re there for.

Fortunately, there are now many independent sources, such as your program. You mentioned Mohammed Omer. We saw how brilliant and objective his reporting was from Gaza during the last terrible attack in 2014. His own family was under attack, they had very little food and water and so on, but every day he would produce these concise reports of no more than maybe 800 words, together with his photographs that would tell you what was happening as he witnessed it. It was about how people were still leading their lives in the most extraordinary ways, despite all the grief and suffering.

In other words, he did what the official media in the West rarely does: He put faces and names on people, he described their lives. He has collected those pieces together in a book. And there have been other journalists, particularly Palestinian photographers and camera people, who have done similar work. They make me proud to be a journalist.

DB: I only bring up the corporate journalists because they sustain these kinds of conditions by not reporting them or misreporting them.

JP: From my own point of view, I find it unwatchable, unless I am either monitoring it or deconstructing it. It is their censorship by omission, by distortion, by demonology. General Petraeus once said he spent most of his time with the media because that mattered more than trying to defeat the Taliban.

The good news is that a lot of people don’t believe it anymore. One of the elements in the rebellion rolling across Western societies is an anger with the media. This is certainly true in Britain. I’ve never known the media to be so popular a subject for debate. And it’s being discussed with a great deal of resentment. Reporters find themselves now having to account for their actions. That’s a new development.

Yesterday, The Guardian ran a rather defensive front-page article about journalists being called to account by the survivors of the terrible Grenfell Tower fire here in London. Well, that was emblematic of the media being called to account over a wide range of issues. People are becoming aware, they understand now. They’re no longer simply consumers of this sort of nonsense.

Certainly, the power of the media remains. But one of my favorite stories is that, on the night that Jeremy Corbyn almost won the election here, there was a party at the Times newspaper, which of course is run by Rupert Murdoch. When the first results came in and it became clear that Labor was doing so well, Murdoch stormed out. That was a very symbolic moment because it meant that his media and the media like his no longer had the power to ensure that certain politicians were elected. Two days before the election, The Daily Mail devoted thirteen pages to an attempted character assassination of Corbyn. It had no effect whatsoever.

DB: We just had on our show Arab Barghouti, the son of Mustafa Barghouti, who hasn’t touched his father for two years. Mustafa Barghouti has been in prison for fifteen years and just led a major hunger strike. Strong, articulate, he can’t be silenced. Or you mentioned Dr. Mona El-Farra, a medical director on the ground who had a good part of her extended family wiped out in 2014. She is still ministering to the people and telling the truth to anyone who will listen. It’s amazing.

JP: Yes, these are amazing people and it’s quite inspiring to be in their company. Even amidst all the carnage in the world, they make you feel good about being human.

DB: Why do you think Nelson Mandela said Palestine is the greatest moral issue of our time?

JP: There is a lot to criticize about Mandela but one of the things that was interesting and admirable about Mandela was that he was loyal to those who had supported and given solidarity to the people in South Africa struggling for their freedom. Certainly, right through his time in prison he always stressed the importance of that solidarity. In other words, of people standing together. It was a rather old-fashioned internationalist view of struggle.

He associated the struggle of the majority people of South Africa against the apartheid regime with the plight of the Palestinians who were struggling with their own form of apartheid. In the same way, Desmond Tutu has been to the West Bank and has been very outspoken in echoing what Mandela said. Tutu is on the record as saying that he regards the structures of apartheid in Israel/Palestine as in some respects even worse than those in South Africa.

I suppose Mandela considered Palestine the greatest moral issue because it was about a people wronged. The Palestinians were not the Germans, they didn’t do terrible things to the Jewish people. In fact, they had lived peacefully with the Jewish people for a very long time. They were the majority people in their country. Jews, Muslims, Christians lived together in peace, generally speaking, until the state of Israel was imposed on them.

As Mustafa Barghouti put it, “The Zionists wanted a state at the expense of the Palestinians.” That’s what Mandela meant. Palestine is a classic colonial injustice. [Israel] is the fourth largest military power in the world backed by the largest military power, the European Union and other Western countries, taking away the freedom and imposing oppression on the people of Palestine.

DB: And the idea of a free Palestinian people is one that is very troubling to the Arab world that is aligned with the United States. It seems nobody wants to think about the liberation of Palestine because then they have to think about their own corrupt and vicious dictatorships. Palestine really is the issue of war and peace. Whether there will ever be peace depends on whether these people will ever have a place to call their home again.

JP: Certainly, until the Palestinians have justice–in a way that they recognize it–there will be no peace in the region. In a sense, all roads of conflict in this troubled region lead back to Palestine. If the Palestine issue were resolved, that would mean that Israel would be a normal country. Not armed to the teeth with nuclear weapons and intimidating and oppressing the indigenous people, but a normal country living with equality within its own sphere. If that happened, if that were resolved, I’m not saying that peace would suddenly break out all over the Middle East, but it would be the beginning.

DB: Do you see the boycott/divestment movement as a hopeful light? Clearly, people who have supported it in the US, students and teachers, have suffered great repression. But do you see this as a viable movement? In some ways it is modeled on the South African anti-apartheid movement.

JP: All you have to do is look at the reaction in Israel. They are terrified of it. They have brought all kinds of pressure to bear on governments, particularly the British government, to stop the BDS movement having an influence. Just the other day, a court judgment found that local councils in Britain could indeed boycott, dis-invest and sanction whoever they please. The British government had told them they couldn’t. Well, they can.

The BDS movement really worries the Israeli regime because it’s popular. In Norway, the biggest trade union has endorsed it. Student bodies in the United States are going along with it. People have had their say and they have voted for it. It represents a kind of local democracy. It’s much more widespread in the United States than people realize and it certainly is across Europe.

BDS on its own is not going to bring about freedom for the Palestinians. In South Africa, the sanctions did undoubtedly have an effect. But White South Africa managed to get around the sanctions. It was when it lost a powerful friend, when the Reagan administration decided that South Africa was causing more trouble than it was worth and finally withdrew its support, that the system fell.

I’m afraid that that is the way power works. But there is no doubt that power is always influenced by popular movements such as BDS. Ultimately, I believe that the solution is in the United States. Without US backing in all its forms, Israel would have no choice but to become a normal country.

DB: It is interesting to see how strong the reaction has been to the boycott/divestment movement. Professors have lost their jobs, kids have been beaten up. Below the corporate media surface, it has really been reverberating out there in the grassroots.

Dennis J Bernstein is a host of “Flashpoints” on the Pacifica radio network and the author of Special Ed: Voices from a Hidden Classroom. You can access the audio archives at www.flashpoints.net.

John Pilgers website is http://johnpilger.com/

 

The Golan Heights and israel’s Forgotten Occupation

The Golan Heights and Israel’s Forgotten Occupation

Listening to political debates or reading media coverage about the Israeli occupation of the Palestinian territories, you could be forgiven for not realizing that Israel is also occupying the Syrian Golan Heights.

Late last year, for example, the United Nations Security Council adopted a landmark resolution condemning settlements on Palestinian territory. Days later, then U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry argued that those settlements threaten the peace process and the two-state solution.

Yet the occupation of the Golan Heights – captured by Israel in 1967 – and the establishment of illegal settlements there attracted relatively little attention.

Following the start of this situation in 1967, over 130,000 native Syrian inhabitants were forcibly transferred or displaced. The Israeli military began a widespread campaign to demolish Syrian homes, destroying the city of Quneitra in 1974, as well as 340 villages and farms. These were replaced by Israeli agricultural settlements, using the same stones from the villages and farms that had been wiped out. In 1981, Israel enacted the Golan Heights Law which purported to annex the territory into the state of Israel, an illegal action condemned by the UN Security Council as “null and void and without international legal effect.”

Today, over seventy percent of the Golan is occupied by Israel, a land mass slightly smaller than Greater London, and only five percent of the original population remains. There are at least 23,000 Israeli settlers in the Golan, living in thirty-four illegal settlements. The remaining native Syrian population numbers approximately 25,000, and live in five villages located in the extreme north of the Golan.

Settlements and Tourism

The first Israeli settlement, Merom Golan, was established in the Golan within just one month of the 1967 war. Shortly after the war, various delegations of Israeli experts, including civil engineers, rural planners, agricultural advisers and hydrologists, visited the Golan to evaluate its potential, particularly to find ways Israel could profit from the area’s abundant natural resources.

An early project was the development of Mount Hermon. In 1968, Israel’s Nature Reserves Authority informed the military high command that the mountain’s snow makes it ‘a unique site for the citizens of Israel’ and an ‘exceptional treasure not found anywhere else [in the country]’. A new government body, the Hermon Authority, operating under military jurisdiction and comprised of officials from the Ministry of Tourism, Israel Land Administration, Nature Reserve Authority, and the Settlement Department of the World Zionist Organization, was established and initiated plans for the development of a ski resort.

This development project involved designating the main Syrian village on the mountain’s slopes, Jubata ez-Zeit, a military zone and then destroying it; the village’s population of at least 1,500 people was forcibly transferred and forbidden from returning.

An Israeli settlement, Neve Ativ – described by the Lonely Planet as the “closest thing Israel has to a Swiss Alpine village” – was built on the ruins of Jubata ez-Zeit.

Since the occupation began, Mount Hermon, and the Golan in general, have become a popular destination for Israeli tourists. The Golan received 150,000 visitors in 1968, increasing to 500,000 during the 1970s, and reaching approximately 1.5 million in 2005. Advertisements encourage Israelis to spend a weekend in the Golan so they can ‘feel like being in Europe while remaining in Israel’.

Tourism is a staple of the settlement economy in the Golan. The Israeli government and businesses promote the area’s natural beauty as a site for hiking, camping, biking, horseback riding, outdoor sports, sightseeing, wine-tasting, and picking fruit. Travel websites that advertise accommodation in the Golan list a plethora of ‘rural guesthouses’, cabins, Bed and Breakfasts, and camping sites. These promoted activities and accommodation are almost all either located in settlements or owned by settlers.

Exploitation of Agriculture and Water

Aside from its natural beauty, the Golan has fertile soil and abundant water resources. As a result, a substantial agricultural industry has developed in Israeli settlements, that includes beef, vegetable, fruit, wine, and mineral water production. In 2009, the revenue generated by agriculture produced in the Golan was estimated at USD 143 million.

Major businesses in the territory include the Golan Heights Winery and Eden Springs / May Eden mineral water, based in Katzrin settlement (population 8,000), the largest settlement in the Golan and considered the ‘settlement capital’. Katzrin was built over the destroyed Syrian villages of Qasrin, Shqef, and Sanawber. In October 2016, the Israeli Finance Ministry approved plans for the construction of 1,600 new settlement units in Katzrin. This follows an announcement in 2015 that the Israeli government would encourage 100,000 new settlers to move to the Golan over the next five years.

Katzrin is also close to one of the sites Israel has illegally authorized for oil exploration. The exploration is being conducted by an Israeli company, Afek Oil & Gas, which is owned by Genie Energy, a U.S. company that has Rupert Murdoch, Dick Cheney, and James Woolsey (the former head of the CIA) on its advisory board.

The Syrians of Golan

Due to discriminatory land, housing, and development policies, the Golan’s five remaining Syrian villages have been unable to expand outwards and are severely overcrowded. It is close to impossible for the native Syrian population in the Golan to obtain building permits, forcing them to build homes without permits, in order to meet their housing needs. Consequently, Syrian home owners risk having their homes destroyed. In 2016, the home of Bassam Ibrahim, in the Syrian village of Majdal Shams, was demolished by Israeli authorities. Currently, the Syrian owners of between eighty to ninety houses have been notified that their homes are due to be demolished.

On top of all this, under the guise of the ‘Hermon National Park’ plan, Israeli authorities are seeking to appropriate 20,000 acres of land used since Ottoman times, by the residents of Majdal Shams and Ein Qynia, for agriculture and housing. If approved, the ‘Hermon National Park’ plan would, in particular, surround Majdal Shams in the north and west.

The designation of land by Israeli authorities as a ‘national park’, ‘abandoned property’ or for ‘military or public needs’ is an oft-used tactic to either prevent the expansion of Syrian and Palestinian communities under occupation, or to appropriate land for settlement construction.

The Forgotten Occupation

Despite the substantial displacement and illegal settlement building in the Golan Heights, the territory has rarely received attention from the international community. There are several reasons for this.

First, the Syrian government has historically failed to ensure the Golan is part of the international community’s agenda, in particular, at the United Nations. This situation has been further aggravated by the absence of civil society in the Golan and the rest of Syria, which advocate for the rights of the territory’s remaining Syrian population.

Indeed, Al-Marsad is currently the only human rights organization based in the Golan and faces significant challenges operating under the Israeli occupation. Israel has, for example, repeatedly blocked Al-Marsad’s application for consultative status at the United Nations Economic and Social Council (ECOSOC).

Second, there have been various rounds of peace talks over the last thirty years between Israel and Syria, regarding the Golan’s status. This, in part, has led some members of the international community to assume the Golan’s future would be resolved between these two states, without involving outside actors.

Finally, while the Golan has a significant population of Israeli settlers, their numbers are not as large as in the Occupied West Bank; in the Golan Heights, settlement expansion typically occurs on a smaller scale. This is partly due to the Golan’s geographic remoteness from large population centers in Israel, as compared to the West Bank.

There is also an understanding among Israeli settlers in the Golan that Israel may at some point withdraw from the territory, as part of a long term peace deal with Syria.

With the outbreak of the conflict in Syria, this assumption has changed, however. Israel is cynically taking advantage of the civil war in Syria, as well as a distracted international community, to create new facts on the ground. It is rapidly increasing the settler population in the Golan and extracting natural resources, while at the same calling for international acceptance of its annexation of the territory. Indeed, when Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu met recently with U.S. President Donald Trump, he urged recognition of Israeli ‘sovereignty’ over the Golan Heights.

Next Steps

This highly alarming situation requires the international community to overhaul its approach to the Golan Heights. Israeli settlements are a clear violation of international humanitarian and human rights law. The presence of Israeli settlements and their continued expansion in the Golan not only has a devastating impact on the remaining Syrian population, but also represents a major obstacle to lasting peace in the Middle East.

The international community must take concrete action to stop settlement expansion and protect the rights of the Syrian population in the Golan, before they are forgotten forever.

israel’s Endless Fake Victimhood

by Uri Avnery

The whole thing could have been a huge practical joke, if it had not been real.

All of Israel was taken in. Left, right and center. All the newspapers and TV networks, without exception.

There it was: UNESCO has declared that the Cave of Machpelah in Hebron is a Palestinian heritage site.

I admit that I was taken in, too. The news was so clear and so simple, its acceptance so uniform, that I too accepted it unthinkingly. True, it was a bit strange, but stranger things happen.

The “Cave of Machpelah” is no cave at all. It is a large building, which the Arabs call al-Haram al-Ibrahim, the Mosque of Ibrahim, in the center of Hebron, the town the Arabs call al-Khalil, the Friend of God (meaning Abraham).

According to the Bible, Abraham, the forefather of the Jews, bought the place from its local owner as a burial plot for his wife, Sarah. When his time came, he was also buried there, as were his son Isaac with his wife Rivka and his grandson, Jacob, with his wife Leah. (His other wife, Rachel, is supposed to be buried on the way to Bethlehem.)

And here comes UNESCO, the anti-Semitic cultural branch of the anti-Semitic UN, and declares that this is a Palestinian holy site!

Is there no limit to Jew-baiting?

A tsunami of emotions surged over Israel. Jews were united in protest. Everybody vented their anger as loudly as possible. Rarely was such unanimity seen here.

If I had stopped to think for a moment, I would have realized that the whole thing was nonsense. UNESCO does not assign places to nations. World Heritage sites are – well – the heritage of the entire world. As a detail, these declarations mention in which country each World Heritage site is located.

The holy church in Nazareth is located in Israel, but it does not “belong” to Israel. The graves of holy Jewish rabbis in Russia or Egypt do not belong to Israel. UNESCO did not say that the Machpelah-al-Haram al-Ibrahim site belongs to the Palestinians. It said that it is located in Palestine.

Why Palestine? Because, according to international law, the town of Hebron is part of Palestine, which was recognized by the UN as a state under occupation. Under Israeli law, too, Hebron is not a part of Israel proper but under military occupation.

I am grateful to an ex-Israeli called Idan Landau who lives in the US. He took the trouble to read the original text and sent us emails to correct our impression. The moment I read it, I hit myself on the brow. How could I have been so stupid!

The UNESCO resolution is fair and correct. It remarks that the site is holy to the three monotheistic religions, as indeed it is. Because of this, a Jewish fanatic – a settler from America – once murdered dozens of praying Muslims there. Jewish fanatics have settled nearby.

Is the place really holy? That is a silly question. A place is as holy as people believe it to be.

Are Abraham and his progeny really buried there?

Even that is irrelevant. Many people – myself included – believe that the entire first part of the Bible, up to the Assyrian era, is fictitious. That does not make the Bible less wonderful. It is the most beautiful work of literature on earth. At least the (original) Hebrew version.

If one believes that Abraham, Isaac and Jacob were real persons, it would still be doubtful that they are buried there. An entire school of archaeologists believes that the burial place is somewhere else in Hebron, not the building now known as the Cave of Machpelah. The graves there are those of Muslim sheikhs.

Be that as it may, millions believe that the Biblical forefathers are buried in the Cave. For them, the place is holy, and it is located in occupied Palestine.

But if you take the Bible so literally, you should also read verse 9 of chapter 25 of Genesis: “And Abraham gave up the ghost and died in a good old age… And his sons, Isaac and Ishmael, buried him in the cave of Machpelah.”

When I pointed this out to people who had attended Israeli schools, they were deeply shocked. Because this verse is never mentioned in any Israeli school. It does not exist.

Why? Because Ishmael is the forefather of the Arabs, as Isaac is the forefather of the Jews. We learned that Sarah, our foremother, who is described in the Bible as a real bitch, induced her obedient spouse, Abraham, to send his concubine Hagar and their son, Ishmael, into the desert, there to die of thirst. But an angel saved them, and they disappeared, though the Bible gives a long list of his progeny.

The revelation that the Bible in fact says the opposite is shocking. So Ishmael did not disappear, but somewhere along the line made his peace with Isaac. The two sons buried their father together.

This changes the story completely. It means that the Bible makes the Arabs, too, rightful heirs of the Cave of Machpelah, side by side with the Jews and the Christians.

I do not believe that Binyamin Netanyahu ever read this verse. He knows only what every Israeli pupil knows. The strict Orthodox line.

This week, at the height of the UNESCO hysteria, Netanyahu did something bizarre: in the middle of a formal cabinet meeting he pulled a kippah from his pocket, put it on and started to read from the Bible (not the aforementioned verse, of course). He looked positively happy. He was showing the bloody Goyim up for what they are: anti-Semites all.

Does Netanyahu really believe (as I think he does) that this part of Biblical legend is history? If so, he has the mind of a 10 year old. If he does not, he is a cheat. In any case, he is a very able demagogue.

But he is not alone. Far from it. The President of Israel, a very nice gentleman, reiterated Netanyahu’s accusations against UNESCO. So did the speaker of the Knesset, an immigrant from the Soviet Union.

It took about four days for some Israeli commentators to cite the true text of the UNESCO resolution. They did not apologize, of course, but at least they started to quote the actual text. Shyly and quietly some other commentators joined them. Most of their colleagues did not.

Special mention is due to Carmel Shama Hacohen, Israel’s ambassador to UNESCO. He is not known as a pillar of wisdom. Indeed, he was only sent to UNESCO in order to allow a protégé of the foreign minister to take over his place in the Knesset.

During the UNESCO meeting, Shama-Hacohen – (his real name was just Shama, but that sounds too Arab, so he added the very Jewish Hacohen) – got very excited. He started a shouting match with the Palestinian ambassador, rushed to the dais and shouted at the chairman, too.

William Shakespeare might have called all this “much ado about nothing”, except for two points.

One is that it shows how easy it is to send all of (Jewish) Israel – all without exception! – into a holy rage. Politicians and commentators from left and right, east and west, religious and secular, unite into one raging mass, even when the pretext is false.

Such an eruption can have very serious consequences. It disables all inner brakes.

The other aspect is even more dangerous.

At the height of the tsunami, it suddenly hit me that everybody seemed to be enjoying themselves hugely. And then I realized why.

For hundreds of years, Jews in Europe were persecuted, deported, tortured and killed. It was a part of reality. They were used to it. Anti-Semitism of all kinds, including the murderous one, was a part of reality. The sadism of the goyim was met with the masochism of the Jews.

(As I have suggested in the past, this is a part of Western Christian culture, emanating from the crucifixion story in the New Testament. It does not exist as such in Islam, since the prophet admonished his believers to protect the two other “peoples of the book” – Jews and Christians.)

Since World War II and the Holocaust, the old vicious European anti-Semitism has disappeared, or gone underground. But Jews have not got used to that. They are sure that it is lurking somewhere, that it can return any minute. When it does, or when it seems to, Jews are apt to feel “I told you so!”

In Israel, this is even more complex. Zionism hoped to rid Jews of their “exilic” complexes. To turn us into a normal people, “a people like other peoples”.

It seems that this has not been quite successful. Or that the success is receding under the stewardship of Netanyahu and his ilk.

This episode has made many Jews happy. They say to themselves: “We were right! All the Goyim are anti-Semites!”

Uri Avnery is a peace activist, journalist, writer, and former member of the Israeli Knesset

The Myth Of Jewish Refugees From Arab Land

The Myth Of Jewish Refugees From Arab Land By Dr. Elias Akleh

Victimizing the Jews has been the successful old political trick Zionists have been using to gain international political sympathy for the Israeli cause, and to justify all aggression and terror the Israeli army perpetrates on Palestinians and on the neighboring Arab countries. Whenever the international views turn against Israel, due to its aggression, a new Jewish victimizing story pops up.

One such late story I happened to come across on page 106 of March 19th. 2007 issue of U.S. News Magazine, was titled “You deserve a factual look at… The Forgotten Refugees. Why does nobody care about the Jewish refugees from Arab lands?” The article was published as an advertisement by FLAME (Facts and Logic About the Middle East), who claims to “publish the truth about Israel and the Middle East conflict in advertisements and letters to editors nationwide.”

The advertisement claims that there exist what it called Jewish refugees from Arab countries, and makes some comparison between these Jewish refugees and Arab refugees in an attempt to point to alleged international injustice when the UN spends “… many billions of dollars” on the Arab refugees while forgetting the Jewish refugees. The advertisement tries to avoid calling the Arab refugees by their true name: Palestinian refugees, in an attempt to deny any moral and legal responsibility of Zionist Israel in violating Palestinians’ human rights and creating Palestinian refugee problem.

The advertisement attempts to refute “A myth that Jews had an easy life in Muslim/Arab countries”. It claims that Jews under Islam were treated worse than second class citizens “governed by a system of discrimination intended to reduce Jews … to conditions of humiliation, segregation and violence”.

The truth is that Jews were treated, under Islam in the Arab World, better than any other place they had lived in the whole world at the time. They were treated like any other ethnic groups, e.g. Christians, with full citizenship that included freedom and rights like the rest of the citizens. They were allowed to live and worship freely in Jerusalem, where they were barred entrance by ancient Romans and European Christian Crusaders. When European Jews faced persecution since the start of Crusaders campaigns, they did not find any safe haven for themselves except in Islamic and Arab countries in North Africa and in the Middle East. Many of those Jews fought along side Muslim and Christian Arabs against the Crusaders, who called for the slaughter of every Jew for crucifying Jesus. In his book “Bitter Harvest” Palestinian scholar Sami Hadawi described this Jewish haven as follows:

“During the Middle Ages, North Africa and the Arab Middle East became places of refuge and a haven for the persecuted Jews of Spain and elsewhere… In the Holy Land they lived together in harmony, a harmony only disrupted when the Zionists began to claim that Palestine was the ‘rightful’ possession of the ‘Jewish people’ to the exclusion of its Moslem and Christian inhabitants”

The Jewish writer Dan Peretz described this situation in his book “The Arab Israeli Dispute” as follows: “Most Jews in Palestine belonged to old Yishuv, or community, that had settled there more for religious than for political reasons. There was little of any conflict between them and the Arab population. Tension began after first Zionist settlers arrived in the 1880’s”

Although given freedom like any other citizens a group of the Jews, believing themselves to be the elite God’s chosen people, who should not mix and mingle with the others, “Goyims”, as been taught by their prophets, had isolated themselves into ghettos the same way they had lived throughout Europe. Those, who had the courage to venture out of the ghettos, had flourished and reached high employment positions in Arabic governments and societies. Many had become the financial and trade centers of the Arab World. This fact contradicts the advertisement claims that Jews “… were excluded from society, from government, and from most professions … They were barely tolerated and often… were victimized by vicious violence” Some extremist fundamentalist Jews, who had their noses up in the sky believing themselves to be the chosen people and better than all other nations, had invited rejection and intolerance from all nations, not just from Arabs, to such snobby racist attitudes.

The advertisement goes on further to claim that Jews in the Arab World were subjected to systematic violence and persecution after the establishment of Israel in 1948 and after Six Days War in 1967. “When Israel declared its statehood in 1948, programs broke out across the entire Arab/Muslim world. Thousands died in this violence… The vast majority of those Jews fled from where they had lived for centuries. They had to leave everything behind. Most of those who were able to escape found their way to the just-created state of Israel”

The programs, the advertisement does not clarify, were terrorist acts perpetrated by Zionists against Jewish communities in the Arab World, as well as throughout European countries to coerce the Jews to immigrate to Palestine to establish the alleged safe haven; Israel, on usurped Palestinian land. Zionist zealots and some mercenaries had fire-bombed Jewish synagogues and shops, damaged Jewish cemeteries, and painted hate graffiti to create anti-Jewish climate. Zionist offer of free transportation, free housing, and free salaries had encouraged a lot of Jews to surrender their fate to the Zionist plan. Those, who immigrated, had plenty of time to sell their properties before leaving.

The Arabs, contrary to the claims, did not subject their long-time neighboring Jews to violence since they distinguished between a Jew and a Zionist. Yet those Jews, who were disillusioned by Zionism and became “enemy combatants” and spies within the Arab World, had to be dealt with as such.

The advertisement brags about “Israel received every one of those Jewish refugees from Arab countries with brotherly open arms; it housed, fed and quickly integrated them into Israeli society”. It is true that Zionist Israel had received immigrant Jews, paid all expenses including transportation, rent, and monthly salaries until they were integrated in Israeli society. Yet this reception was not out of brotherly love. Those immigrant Jews were, deliberately, drowned into financial debt so that they could not leave Israel, after discovering the trap set for them, without repaying all the expenses plus interests. Young Jewish immigrants, and every new generation of their offsprings, have been conscripted into the Israeli terrorist army to kill and to be killed for the interests of rich pro-Zionist corporations of the West.

The advertisement repeats the old myth, that had been told and refuted so many times, that Palestinians had fled from Palestine after the Israeli occupation “… following the strident invocations of their leaders …so as to make room for invading Arab armies”, who according the advertisement will kill all the Jews so that Palestinians “could return to reclaim their properties and that of the Jews, all of whom would have been killed …” by Arab armies.

Palestinians, like any other people, would never leave their homes voluntarily, and Arab leaders had never invoked them to leave. Sami Hadawi refuted this claim in his book “Bitter Harvest” stating the fact that “British Broadcasting Corporation monitored all Middle Eastern broadcasts throughout 1948. The records, and companion ones by a US monitoring unit, can be seen at the British Museum. There was not a single order or appeal, or suggestion about evacuation from Palestine from any Arab radio station, inside or outside Palestine in 1948. There is a repeated monitored record of Arab appeals, even flat orders, to the civilians of Palestine to stay put”.

This myth aims to erase guilt and moral responsibilities off Jewish shoulders for perpetrating the cruelest and ugliest massacres against mostly unarmed Palestinian villagers, and parading their women and children in the streets of Jerusalem to terrorize the rest of the Palestinians into fleeing out of their villages for their lives and for their honor when Zionist terror organizations, such as Irgun and Hagana, spread the rumors of their plans to attack Palestinian villages. Jewish historian Ilan Pappe, in his book “The Link”, mentions this fact: “The Israeli forces expelled the Palestinians from every village and town they occupied. In some cases, this expulsion was accompanied by massacres of civilians as was the case in Lydda, Ramleh, Dawimiyya, Sa’sa, Ein Zietun and other places. Expulsion also accompanied by rape, looting and confiscation”.

During wars people panic and flee their homes searching for safety. Yet they have always been able to return to their homes when danger subsides. Military conquest does not abolish private rights to property, nor does it entitle the victor to confiscate properties of civilian population. Even if the claims were true that Palestinians left their homes on the commands of their leaders, they still have the right to return to their homes and properties that had been stolen by Zionist immigrants. This right is protected by international law as noted by the noted Jewish writer and thinker Professor Erich Fromm “In international law, the principle holds true that no citizen loses his property or his right of citizenship; and the citizenship right is de facto a right to which the Arabs in Israel have much more legitimacy than the Jews”.
Israel’s rejection of Palestinians’ right of return has been on the top of their political agenda, which led them to break all UN resolutions regarding this matter, break all international laws, violate Palestinians’ human rights, and reject all Arab peace initiatives.

The advertisement continues with its allegations “… the Arab countries resolutely refused to accept Arab refugees into their societies. They confined them into so-called refugee camps …to keep them as a festering sore and to make solution of the Arab/Israel conflict impossible. These refugees, whose number has by now miraculously increased from their original 650 thousands to 5 millions, are seething with hatred toward Israel, and provide the cadres for terrorists and suicide bombers”

The Arab countries, mainly Jordan, Egypt, and Lebanon, had received the majority of Palestinian refugees, who became a burden on the already impoverished economy of these countries, who, unlike Israel, were not receiving three billions of Dollars annually from the US. The majority of these refugees (now numbers about 7.5 million and not only 5 million) want to go back to their own homeland and their homes that were illegally occupied by terrorist Israelis. They fight to regain what is rightfully theirs, unlike the terrorist Israeli army, who fight to usurp lands of other people.

As for the solution of the Arab/Israeli conflict, the Arabs had offered Israel many peaceful solutions, yet Israelis categorically rejected them because without the conflict they could not keep usurping more lands to build “Greater Israel”. The latest Arab peace initiative of last month, March 2007, offered Israel to keep 78% of Palestine for permanent peace and normalization of diplomatic relationships with all Arab countries. Yet Israel, as usual, rejected this offer.

The advertisement acknowledges that “since 1947 there have been over 100 UN resolutions concerning Palestinian refugees, but there has not been one single resolution addressing the horrible injustice done to the nearly one million Jewish refugees from the Arab states”

This paragraph refutes the advertisement’s claim by showing that the international community has recognized and acknowledged the existence of a genuine Palestinian refugee problem, and the non existence of the false called-for Jewish refugees from Arab countries. That is why “a special branch of the United Nation (UNRWA) exists for the maintenance of those refugees” (created by Israelis) as the article notices. Israel, backed by successive American administrations, had ignored those UN resolutions that aimed to solve the Palestinian refugees’ problem, rather than spending billion of Dollars “contributed by the US” as the advertisement objects. It, also, totally ignores the attention the world had focused on the issue of the Holocaust, the compensation in hundreds of billions of Dollars to Israeli Jews, making even the study of the Holocaust an international crime, and sentencing, fining and imprisoning all the renowned historians, who questioned some of its details.

The advertisement criticizes the Arab’s justifiable right to ask for compensations, and the Palestinian refugees’ legitimate right to return to their homeland, “what has been Israel for almost 60 years”, where Palestinian tribes had lived for over than three thousand years. It concludes by stating “But if there is to be any compensation, those forgotten Jewish refugees are certainly entitled to such compensation as much as the Arab refugees. Anything else would be an outrage and a great injustice”

The advertisement neglected to mention the most important point in this refugee issue, namely that the Palestinian refugees were forcefully ejected from their homes according to the Zionist ideology that is based on the idea of “people substitution”; the expulsion ‘transfer’ of Palestinians out of Palestine, and the implanting of Jews in their place. The idiom of “Jewish state is unthinkable without compulsory transfer of the Arabs to the Arab states” had been adopted since the first Zionist Congress in Basle in 1897, and had been repeated by notorious Zionist leaders such as British Zionist Israel Zangwill, Haim Weisman, Theodor Herzl, Nahman Syrkin (founder of Social Zionism), Selig Soskin (director of Jewish National Fund), and many others.

On the other hand the so-called Jewish refugees (Zionist Jews) from Arab countries had plenty of time to plan their leave and to liquidate all their properties, and to be fed, resettled and compensated directly by American tax money, where the annual three billion Dollars financial aid pays almost $3,000.00 monthly for every Israeli, not mentioning all the economic aid and tons and tons of military equipment that are given freely to the terrorist Israeli army to inflict terror on Palestinians, Lebanese, Syrians, Iraqis and Iranians.

Finally the advertisement gives a comparison between bogus numbers of the Jews in some Arab countries before and after 1948; countries where Zionists had successfully transferred their Jewish population to occupied Palestine (Israel). It ignores to mention the large number of Jews, who are still living, flourishingly, in Northern African Muslim Arab countries, in Turkey, and even in Iran (the so-called extremist Islamic and terrorist supporting country), that houses the largest Jewish population, 25,000 of them, in the Middle East outside Israel, and are represented by a Jewish MP, Maurice Mohtamed.

The publishing organization (FLAME) of this so-called “factual look”, whose claimed purpose is the research, publication of facts, and exposing false propaganda about the Middle East, seems to do the exact opposite; it distorts the facts and spreads false propaganda instead.

The simple truth of the Arab/Israeli conflict had been reflected by Indian leader and peace teacher Mahatma Ghandi when he stated: “Palestine belongs to the Arabs in the same sense that England belongs to the English and France belongs to the French”

%d bloggers like this: