The real “anti-Semitism”: Palestinians face intense online hate from israelis

Palestinians face intense online hate from Israelis, say campaigners

Palestinian lawyers call for investigation of police minister as survey shows soaring levels of anti-Arab speech on Hebrew social media

By Jonathan Cook • Middle Eastern Eye • February 25, 2017

 

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By Jonathan Cook • Middle Eastern Eye • February 25, 2017

Israel’s 1.7 million Palestinian citizens are facing a tidal wave of incitement and hate speech on social media, including from government ministers, community leaders have warned.

They say the increasingly hostile political climate in Israel is stoking violence from the police and street gangs, and has laid the ground for a recent raft of racist legislative proposals.

The alert comes as a group of Palestinian lawyers demand that Israel’s attorney general investigates Gilad Erdan, the internal security minister, for incitement to racism.

Adalah, a legal group for Israel’s Palestinian minority, highlighted statements from Erdan blaming Palestinian citizens for “arson terrorism” last November after forest fires swept the country, despite their having been no prosecutions.

“Israel has experienced arson terrorism and I won’t let anyone sweep this fact under the rug,” he wrote on Facebook in December. “Why does it seem unrealistic that Arabs would attempt to harm Jews?”

Adalah argued Erdan’s comments were part of a wider government strategy to portray Palestinian citizens, about 20 per cent of Israel’s population, as a “fifth column”.

Although other government ministers had incited, the group said, Erdan’s statements were especially harmful because of his role overseeing the police. Adalah said he was bolstering a police culture that already treated Palestinian citizens as an “enemy within”.

“Incitement from Erdan is dangerous because it reinforces and sanctions existing prejudices in the police,” Nadim Shehadeh, a lawyer with Adalah, told Middle East Eye. “As a result, the police are likely to have an even lighter finger on the trigger.”

Concern about the effects of incitement from leading politicians has been underscored by a survey published this month that found rocketing levels of online abuse from Israeli Jews against Palestinians.

7amleh, an organisation promoting social media rights for Palestinians, identified 675,000 posts in Hebrew last year expressing racism or hatred towards Palestinians – one every 46 seconds, and more than double the previous year’s figure.

“There are terrifying levels of hate speech online from Israeli Jews,” Nadim Nashef, 7amleh’s director, told MEE. “No one in Israel – politicians, the police, the courts and the social media companies – has shown any interest in doing something about it.

“But it’s worse than that. The politicians are fuelling the problem. It has become completely normal in Israel to incite against Palestinians. You find it everywhere. It is entirely mainstream.”

The research identified more than 50,000 Hebrew speakers as persistent offenders on social media, especially Facebook, said Nashef. Spikes in online abuse correlated with incitement from Israeli politicians and the media, he added.

Popular terms of abuse included threats to kill, rape, burn, expel, and assault Palestinians.

Both Adalah and 7amleh said incitement from Israeli Jews was rarely investigated or prosecuted. Palestinians in Israel and the occupied territories, on the other hand, had their accounts closed or were arrested and jailed over less serious online activity.

7amleh said its research showed that the brunt of online abuse was directed at leading Palestinian politicians in Israel.

The most common targets were Haneen Zoabi, one of only two Palestinian women in the parliament, and Ahmed Tibi, a former adviser to the late Palestinian leader Yasser Arafat, 7amleh said. Both Zoabi and Tibi have reported regular death threats.

According to the survey, they received more online abuse than the leader of the Palestinian Authority in the West Bank, Mahmoud Abbas.

“When we are targeted rather than the Palestinian leadership in the occupied territories, a clear message is sent to the [Jewish] public that we have no place in the parliament and those we represent have no right to be citizens,” Zoabi told MEE.

The climate of incitement had very concrete effects, said Zoabi: “It gives a green light to police violence. It is converted into shootings and deaths.”

She said dozens of Palestinian citizens had died in unexplained circumstances at the hands of the police in the last 15 years.

Zoabi also pointed to the increasing reports of gangs chanting “Death to the Arabs!” in Israeli cities and Jerusalem, as well as a growing incidence of street assaults.

Polls have shown high levels of racial prejudice among Israeli Jews. A survey last year found 49 per cent would not live in the same building as a Palestinian citizen.

Another showed a similar number of 16 and 17-year-olds would deny Palestinian citizens the right to vote.

Adalah said constant incitement from government politicians had made possible the drafting of ever-more discriminatory and anti-democratic legislation.

Shehadeh noted that recent laws allowed the parliament to expel the minority’s legislators over their views, and hampered the work of human rights groups assisting Palestinians.

Zoabi agreed. “Every week we see bills being introduced, such as a ban on the mosque call to prayer, or moves to step up home demolitions in Palestinian communities. The political culture sanctions ever more violence through legislation.”

Nashef said a turning point in the levels of incitement could be traced to comments by Israel’s prime minister, Benjamin Netanyahu, at the last general election, in early 2015. Netanyahu posted a video on Facebook telling the Jewish public it was vital they voted because “Arab voters are coming out in droves to the polls”.

“When the prime minister talks like this, then everyone else understands that it is okay to do it too,” Nashef said.

7amleh’s survey showed a significant peak of online incitement and hate speech last November, as hundreds of fires broke out across Israel and the occupied territories, triggered by a prolonged drought and high winds.

Despite the exceptional weather conditions, Erdan led government ministers in accusing Palestinians, especially those in Israel, of being behind the fires.

Adalah cited Erdan’s Facebook post from early December. Dozens of Palestinian citizens were arrested by police, but none have been charged with “nationalist crimes” over the fires.

Nevertheless, Netanyahu has continued to make similar accusations, stating last month: “That fact that we can’t prove it [that the fires were terrorism] doesn’t mean it’s not what happened.”

Nashef said: “These inciteful statements garner a lot of media attention and our research shows they have a powerful impact in shaping public attitudes. But few notice when they turn out to be based on lies or misinformation.”

Adalah also cited comments by Erdan justifying the fatal shooting of Yacoub Abu al-Qiyan by police last month during a demolition operation in Umm al-Hiran, a Bedouin community in Israel’s south.

A police video and post-mortem examination report indicated that Abu al-Qiyan lost control of his car after he was shot, and careered into a group of policemen, killing one of them.

According to Israeli media, a justice ministry report – due to published next month – has found no evidence that Abu al-Qiyan carried out an attack or belonged to an extremist organisation.

Nonetheless, said Shehadeh, Erdan and other government ministers repeatedly accused Abu al-Qiyan, without evidence, of being an Islamic State terrorist.

Erdan tweeted hours after the two deaths: “The terrorist sharply turned his wheel and quickly accelerated in order to run over a group of police officers.”

Netanyahu’s office similarly described the incident as a “car-ramming attack”. Implying that Abu al-Qiyan was part of global trend of Islamic terrorism, Netanyahu said Israel and the world were “fighting this murderous phenomenon”.

Adalah’s letter to the attorney general also pointed out that Erdan had repeatedly blamed the deaths in Umm al-Hiran on Palestinian legislators there to protest against the demolitions. Erdan singled out Ayman Odeh, the leader of the Joint List, the Palestinian coalition in the parliament.

In comments to the media, he said: “Ayman Odeh and the rest of the MKs from the Arab [sic] List who have come to enflame sentiments this morning: This blood is also on your hands. … You are a disgrace to the State of Israel.”

In Umm al-Hiran, Odeh was himself injured twice, including to the head, by sponge-tipped bullets fired at him by police.

Problem with Facebook

Nashef criticised Facebook, where most of the online hate speech was found, for contributing to the problem.

Last summer Facebook agreed to crack down on what Israel defines as incitement by Palestinians. Paradoxically, Erdan was the minister who met the tech companies.

According to reports, in the first half of 2016, a tenth of all content restrictions imposed by Facebook globally were at the Israeli government’s behest.

But Nashef said nothing was being done to deal with incitement and hate speech from the Jewish public.

“It is not reasonable that large numbers of Palestinians have their accounts shut down or are arrested and jailed for online hate speech, while Israeli Jews can engage in the same or worse activity and there are no consequences,” he said.

Neither the justice or police ministries were available for comment.

7amleh said the biggest peak in online abuse followed the arrest last March of army medic Elor Azaria. He was filmed executing a badly wounded Palestinian, Abdel Fattah al-Sharif. This week he was sentenced to 18 months’ jail for manslaughter.

Several government ministers, including Netanyahu, expressed strong support for Azaria.

The survey showed another outburst of online abuse followed attacks last September by the culture minister, Miri Regev, against two Palestinian cultural icons.

She described the late national poet Mahmoud Darwish as the “leader of the Palestinian industry of lies”, and accused a popular rapper, Tamer Nafar, of giving “legitimacy to terrorism”.

The Trump-Netanyahu Circus

The Trump-Netanyahu Circus

By Ramzy Baroud

Information Clearing House” –  The President of the United States can hardly be taken seriously, saying much but doing little. His words, often offensive, carry no substance, and it is impossible to summarize his complex political outlook about important issues.

This is precisely the type of American presidency that Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu prefers.

However, Donald Trump is not just a raving man, but a dangerous one as well. His unpredictability must worry Israel, which expects from its American benefactors complete clarity and consistency in terms of its political support.

At the age of 70, Trump is incapable of being the stalwart, pro-Zionist ideologue in a way that suits Israeli interests well.

Take, for example, the White House press conference following the much anticipated visit by Netanyahu to Washington on 15 February.

The visit was scheduled immediately after Trump’s inauguration on 20 January and is considered the Trump Presidency’s answer to what Israel wrongly perceives as a hostile US administration under former President Barack Obama.

However, Obama granted Israel $38 billion  over the course of ten years, estimated to be the most generous aid package in US history. He supported all the Israeli wars against Palestinians during his presidency, and unfailingly defended Israel before the international community, at the United Nations and every global forum in which Israel was justifiably criticised.

But Israel expects blind support. It needs a US administration that is as loyal as the US Congress, always praising Israel, degrading Palestinians, dismissing international law, calling to stop funding the UN for daring to demand accountability from Israel, feeding Israeli “security” phobias with monetary and absolute political backing, demonising Iran, undermining the Arabs and repeating all Israeli talking points fed to them by Tel Aviv and by the fifth column lobbyists in Washington.

Trump is striving to be that person, the messiah that Israel’s army of right-wing, ultranationalists and religious zealots have been calling for. But this appears beyond the man’s control, no matter how hard he tries.

“Looking at two-state or one-state, I like the one that both parties like. I’m very happy with the one both parties like. I can live with either one,” Trump said in answer to a journalist’s question, implying to Israel that the US will no longer impose solutions; instead, Trump pushed the “one-state solution” idea to the very top of the discussion. It is not what Israel wanted – or expected.

In Washington, Netanyahu, with unmistakable pomposity, stood before the media and simply lied. He painted Israel as vulnerable, a prey for dark “radical Islam” forces, ready to strike from every corner.

He presented Iran’s nuclear capabilities as if it is lined up to incinerate Israel, itself built atop the graves and villages of dispossessed Palestinians. No journalist had the courage to quiz the Israeli leader about his own country’s massive nuclear arsenal and other weapons of mass destruction. Listening to him preach fabricated history to the incurious American media, one would think that militarily powerful Israel is occupied by hostile Palestinian foreigners, and not vice versa.

Netanyahu claimed his people belonged to Palestine as the French belonged to France and the Chinese to China. But if European Jewish immigrants are the natives of Palestine, then what is one to make of Palestinians? How is one to explain their existence on land that has carried their collective name for millennia?

This is inconsequential to the US government and mainstream media. US media is as uninformed about the realities of the Middle East as Trump, who seems to have only two main talking points about the whole issue, both embarrassingly bizarre:

 

Israel has been treated “very, very badly” by the US, and he has a “really great peace deal” in store.

On the contrary, Palestinians have been treated “very, very badly” by the US, the most generous supporter of Israel. Israel has used mostly American weapons in its wars against Palestinians and other Arab nations, with thousands of Palestinians losing their lives because of this blind American patronage.

As for his “really great peace deal”, Trump has nothing. “Really great” seems to be his answer to everything, to the point that his words are becoming ineffectual clichés, suitable for twitter jokes and comedy.

Furthermore, Netanyahu, urged on by – to quote former Secretary of State, John Kerry – the “most right-wing coalition in Israeli history” – wants the US to unconditionally support Israel as the latter is finalizing its future “vision”.

Now, it seems that Israel is concluding that territorial quest. The “Regularization Law” passed recently in Israel’s parliament – the Knesset – will retroactively validate all Israeli illegal settlers’ claims over Palestinian land. Top Israel officials now openly speak of annexation of the West Bank, using language that was formerly reserved for Jewish extremists.

Israel’s president believes annexation is the answer. “I, Rubi Rivlin, believe that Zion is entirely ours. I believe the sovereignty of the State of Israel must be in all the blocs,” Rivlin said, emphasizing that he was referring to the entire West Bank, as quoted by the Times of Israel.

The consensus among Israel’s ruling class is that a Palestinian state should never be established. Trump, although incoherent, granted them just that.

So what does Netanyahu want? We know he does not want a Palestinian state and plans to annex all Jewish colonies, while continuing to expand over stolen Palestinian land. He wants Palestinians to exist, but without political will of their own, without sovereignty, forced to accept that Israel is a Jewish state (thus signing off on their historic right to their own land); to remain subdued, passive, disarmed, dehumanized.

Netanyahu’s end game is Apartheid, racist segregation where one party, Israeli Jews, dominates and exploits the other – Palestinian Arabs: Muslims and Christians.

But human dignity is not open for negotiation, no matter how a “good negotiator” Netanyahu is – according to Trump’s assertion.

Palestinians have resisted Israel for nearly 70 years because they challenge their servitude. They will continue to resist.

Israel has the military means to punish Palestinians for their resistance, to push them behind military checkpoints and trap them behind walls. Yet, it is not a matter of firepower, and no wall can be high enough to stymie the echoes of oppressed people striving for freedom, human rights, equality and solidarity.

Netanyahu must feel triumphant because of Trump’s assuring words. The Israeli leader wants any victory, however illusive, to buy time and the allegiance of his camp of extremists, especially now that he is being investigated for fraud and is likely to be indicted.

He may even initiate a war against Gaza to create further distraction, and will readily spin facts so that his country is presented as a victim, to test American support and to “downgrade” Hamas’ and other Palestinian groups’ defenses.

However, none of this will change the reality that Netanyahu has unwisely constructed. His vision for Israel is the perpetual subjugation of Palestinians through a system of racial discrimination that will continue until the world unravels the lies and the propaganda.

Having Trump by his side, Netanyahu will work diligently to perfect the Palestinian prison in the name of Israel’s security.

Palestinians must now respond, without the irrelevant rhetoric of a “two-state solution”, but with a unified universal message to the rest of the world: expecting – in fact, demanding – freedom, equality, full rights in a society that is not predicated on racial order, but on equal citizenship.

Israel has laid out its dark vision. Palestinians must present the antithesis to that destructive vision: a road map towards justice, equality and peace for all.

Dr. Ramzy Baroud has been writing about the Middle East for over 20 years. He is an internationally-syndicated columnist, a media consultant, an author of several books and the founder of PalestineChronicle.com.

فخامة الرئيس المقاوم

فبراير 25, 2017

أسامة العرب

إنّ للاستقلال ولاسترجاع السيادة الوطنية ثمناً باهظاً يجب أن يُدفع من الأرواح والدماء والدموع التي هي الرصيد الفعلي ومنظومة القيم الرمزية للأمة، والتي يجب أن تعتزّ وتفخر بها وتعمل جاهدة على استثمارها في بناء دولة يحظى فيها المواطن بالعزة والكرامة، ويُشيَّد فيها نظامٌ ديمقراطي حكيم راشد، لا يُحتكم فيه إلا لقيم الوطن ومصالحه العليا.

ومن هذا المنطلق، فإنّ المواقف الوطنية التي صدرت مؤخراً عن رئيس الجمهورية العماد ميشال عون بمواجهة التهديدات «الإسرائيلية»، وبمواجهة رسالة المندوب «الإسرائيلي» داني دانون الموجّهة للأمم المتحدة المحرّضة على لبنان، أتت في مجال التأكيد على حق لبنان ببسط سيادته على كامل أراضيه لا سيما مزارع شبعا وتلال كفرشوبا والجزء اللبناني من بلدة الغجر، ولمطالبة «إسرائيل» بتنفيذ القرار 1701 بعد مرور أكثر من 11 عاماً على صدوره، وبالانسحاب من الأراضي اللبنانية التي تحتلّها، ووقف انتهاكاتها للخط الأزرق وللسيادة اللبنانية جواً وبحراً، خصوصاً بعدما نفّذ لبنان التزاماته تجاه الأمم المتحدة وقوتها العاملة في الجنوب اللبناني. أيّ أنّ رئيس الجمهورية المؤتمن على الدستور تصرّف وفق مسؤولياته والصلاحيات المخصصة له، لكونه يحدّد السياسة الخارجية للبلاد، إضافة الى ذلك فقد أراد بجوابه المباشر إعلام المجتمع الدولي أنّ «إسرائيل» ما تزال تشكّل خطراً على لبنان، لا العكس.

وهذا الموقف ليس بجديد على فخامة الرئيس المقاوم، فلطالما آمن عماد الوطن بأنّ المقاومة هي حقّ مقدّس لتحرير الأرض والشعوب من الاستعمار، وبأنّ شروط النجاح في ربح معركة المستقبل تكمن بالحفاظ على المكتسبات التي أنجزتها الأجيال المتعاقبة، ذلك أنّ الدفاع عن الوطن بوجه المحتلّ ليس بواجب وطني وقومي وشرعي فقط، وإنما هو حقّ طبيعي مرتبط بحق الشعوب بتقرير مصيرها والذي تكفله شريعة الله وقوانين الأرض، وفي مقدمها شرعة إعلان الأمم المتحدة وشرعة حقوق الإنسان.

ومن حسنات هذه المواقف، أنّها استجابت لاستغاثات هيئة أهالي العرقوب ومزارع شبعا لوجوب وضع حدّ للإهمال والتجاهل الرسمي لقضية احتلال العدو الصهيوني لمزارع شبعا وتلال كفرشوبا والجزء اللبناني من قرية الغجر، باعتبار أنّ النظام الرسمي اللبناني قبل اتفاق الطائف سكت عن إقدام العدو الصهيوني على احتلال تلك الأراضي اللبنانية، ثم طوت معظم العهود والحكومات المتعاقبة بعد الطائف صفحة هذه القضية، باستثناء عهد التحرير. ولهذا، يجب أن يتمّ وضع هذه المسألة الوطنية على رأس أولويات العهد الجديد واهتماماته، تثبيتاً لهويتها اللبنانية وهوية أبنائها أولاً، وتأكيداً على حق لبنان في تحرير أرضه المحتلة ثانياً، وتعبيراً عن التزام لبنان الرسمي بالحفاظ على كامل أراضيه وحقه في السيادة عليها ثالثاً، وللقيام بحملة دولية لتحريرها رابعاً، ولتكوين ملف بالخسائر الاقتصادية خامساً، ولرفع شكوى أمام محكمة الجنايات الدولية ضدّ العدو الصهيوني ومطالبته بالتعويض عن هذه الخسائر سادساً.

ونشير هنا إلى أنّ ملكية مزارع شبعا تعود للعائلات اللبنانية التالية: الخطيب، غادر، سرحان، صعب، مركيز، عبد الله، نصار، تفاحة، دعكور، كنعان، عبد الهادي، الزغبي، ناصر، الحناوي، حمد، البقاعي، حسن، إبراهيم، نبعة، رحيل، فارس، فرحات، موسى، قاسم، علي، دلة، منصور، قحواني، ظاهر، حمدان، غياض، غياضة، السعدي، عطوي، الجرار، هاشم، ماضي، زينب، حمد، نصرالله، زهرة، عواد، النابلسي، شاهين، الخوري، أبو رضا، الشعار، ريمة، الترك، رحال، مخايل، سارة، الشريحة، عبد الرحمن، ناصيف، دلال، شريفة، بنوت، زغاط، أبو حويلي، خوندي، عرابي، خالد، غانم، فراشة وعبدو. كما تشترك كلّ من: الأوقاف الإسلامية والمسيحية الروم الأرثوذكس في ملكية هذه المزارع. أما بالنسبة لشمال قرية الغجر اللبنانية، فإذا ما كان عدد سكانها بالمئات في العام 1967، فإنهم أخذوا في الازدياد تدريجياً، ليصل عددهم اليوم بحسب بعض التقديرات إلى نحو ألف نسمة.

ومن المعروف، بأنه بعد الانسحاب «الإسرائيلي» من الجنوب في 25 أيار 2000 بقيت مزارع شبعا وتلال كفرشوبا والجزء اللبناني من بلدة الغجر محتلةً من قبل العدو الذي رفض اعتبارها من ضمن القرار 425، زاعماً أنها احتلّت في العام 1967 وغير مشمولة بالقرار الأممي، ولكن موقف لبنان بقي واضحاً إزاء هذه المسألة ومؤكداً على أن تلك الأراضي مشمولة بالقرار 425، وأنّ «إسرائيل» يجب أن تنسحب فوراً منها. كما ضغط لبنان بالسابق على الأمم المتحدة من أجل استصدار قرار دولي لاستعادة أراضيه المحتلة، ولكن الضغوط «الإسرائيلية» – الأميركية كانت أقوى، حيث زعمت الأمم المتحدة بعد ترسيم الخط الأزرق عقب الاندحار «الإسرائيلي» من جنوب لبنان أن تلك الأراضي ليست لبنانية، وقد نَقل هذا الموقف إلى كل من لبنان وسوريا الموفد الشخصي للأمين العام تيري رود لارسن، ولكن لبنان أبى أن يتخلّى عن أراضيه وأصرَّ على موقفه وأبقى على كل تحفّظاته. فضلاً عن ذلك، فقد قامت الدولة اللبنانية مؤخراً بتقديم وثائق جديدة عدّة للأمم المتحدة تثبت فيها لبنانية أراضيها المحتلة، منها خريطة توضيحية للحدود اللبنانية – السورية تشمل مزارع شبعا وتلال كفرشوبا والجزء اللبناني من بلدة الغجر، ومنها خريطة تحمل توقيع القاضيين العقاريين المختصين بالمسح العقاري في منطقة مزارع شبعا، اللبناني رفيق الغزاوي والسوري عدنان الخطيب اللذين أصدرا قراراً مشتركاً في 27 شباط 1946 أكدا فيه ان الحدود الفاصلة بين قريتي المغر وشبعا أصبحت نهائية. ولكن من المؤسف، أنّ كافة جهود لبنان مع الأمم المتحدة لم تستطع أن تثمر. ولهذا واصلت المقاومة عملياتها كالمعتاد لتحرير أراضيها، وقامت وما تزال تقوم بسلسلة من العمليات الناجحة التي جعلت العدو الصهيوني يتذكر ماضيه في جنوب لبنان ويعيش في مأزق جديد.

ومن هنا، نخلص للقول بأن مواقف فخامة الرئيس وإن تعرضت لبعض الانتقادات، إلا أن تلك الانتقادات جاءت فارغة من مضمونها، لا سيما وأن مواقف الرئيس رمت للتأكيد على لبنانية مزارع شبعا وتلال كفرشوبا والجزء اللبناني من بلدة الغجر ولرفع جزء من الضيم والإجحاف عن أهالي تلك المناطق الحدودية المحتلة صهيونياً، في حين أن هذه المسألة كان من المفترض أن تكون محلّ إجماع وطني، والتفاف حول وطنية الرئيس وشجاعته.

ولكن بغض النظر عن آراء رجال الساسة، فإننا متأكدون بأن شعبنا الأبيّ بشرائحه كافة وخاصة شبابه يتميز بروح وطنية راسخة تكنّ الاحترام والتقدير لتضحيات الشهداء الأمجاد. ويبقى أن نتذكر الجرائم والمجازر الدموية التي سجلها الاحتلال «الإسرائيلي» بحق أمتنا، حتى نرسّخ إيماننا بوجوب التضامن مع المقاومة، ومن أبرزها مجزرة حانين ويارين وعيترون وبنت جبيل والأوزاعي وراشيا وكونين والخيام والعباسية وصبرا وشاتيلا وسحمر وبئر العبد وإقليم التفاح وجباع ودير الزهراني والنبطية الفوقا وقانا، والتي يندى لها جبين الإنسانية وتُدمى لها القلوب.

وأخيراً، فإن الشعب اللبناني كلّه يُثمّن مواقف الرئيس العماد ميشال عون الشجاعة والمؤيّدة لأهمية معادلة الشعب والجيش والمقاومة، لأن العدو لن يرضخ لتطبيق القرارين 1701 و425 الصادرين عن مجلس الأمن إلا باستمرار حركات المقاومة المعزّزة بتضامن الشعب وإسناد الجيش، ونضمّ صوتنا لصوت هيئة أهالي العرقوب ومزارع شبعا ملتمسين من فخامة الرئيس استحداث وزارة دولة لشؤون الأراضي اللبنانية المحتلة صهيونياً. عاقدين الأمل بأن يتحرر كل شبر من أراضي لبنان الغالي في هذا العهد الجديد، عهد الشرفاء والمقاومين.

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Should the Palestinians Seek Justice NOW at the International Criminal Court?

Should the Palestinians Seek Justice NOW at the International Criminal Court?

There is little doubt that the mid-February Netanyahu/Trump love fest at the White House further dampened already dim Palestinian hopes for a sustainable peace based on a political compromise. The biggest blow was Trump’s casual abandonment of the two-state solution coupled with an endorsement of a one-state outcome provided the parties agree to such an outcome, which as so expressed is a result almost impossible to suppose ever happening in the real world. Israel would never agree to a secular one-state that effectively abandons the Zionist insistence on a Jewish state with deep historical roots and biblical validation. The Palestinians would never agree to live in such a Jewish one-state that essentially abandoned their long struggle to achieve national self-determination, thereby gaining liberation from the last major remnant of the colonial era.

With geopolitical bravado suitable for the real estate magnate that he remains, despite the presidential trappings of his formal role, Trump also vaguely promised to negotiate a grand deal for the region that evidently reached beyond the contested territory of Palestine so long locked in conflict, and thus encompassed neighboring countries or possibly the whole region. It is easy to speculate that such murmurings by Trump were not welcomed in either Jordan or Egypt, long favored by rightest Israelis as dumping grounds for Palestinians in the West Bank and Gaza. Such added ‘political space’ is attractive from an Israeli perspective, both to ensure that Israel maintains a comfortable Jewish majority if the one-state solution were ever forcibly implemented by Israel. At the same time the prospect of population transfer would allow Israel to achieve a higher degree of racial purity, a feature of the dominant Zionist imaginary long before Israel became internationally recognized as a state.

An inflammatory part of this new political environment is the accelerated expansion of the existing network of unlawful Israeli settlements located in occupied Palestine. Although near unanimously condemned in Security Council Resolution 2334 last December, Israel responded by defiantly announcing approval of thousands more settlement units, endorsing plans for an entirely new settlement, and by way of a Knesset initiative provocatively legalized settlement ‘outposts,’ 50 of which are distributed throughout the West Bank in direct violation of even Israeli law. It is possible that the Israeli Supreme Court will heed anticipated judicial challenges to this latest move, and eventually void this Knesset law, but even if this happens, the passage of such a law sends a clear message of iron resolve by the political forces currently steering Israeli policy never to permit the establishment of a viable Palestinian state.

In these circumstances, it becomes incumbent upon the Palestinian Authority to show the world that it is still alive, and it currently has few ways of doing this. Given these realities it would seem a no brainer for the PA to light up the skies of public awareness of the Palestinian plight by vigorously demanding justice at the International Criminal Court (ICC). After all there is a wide consensus on the global stage that all the settlements, and not just the outposts, are in violation of Article 49(6) of the Fourth Geneva Convention. These settlements have for decades served as a major obstacle in the search for a satisfactory diplomatic solution of the conflict. Of course, it would be naïve to expect Israel to comply with an adverse judgment of the ICC, or to participate in such a proceeding in ways other than by challenging the competence of the tribunal, but a favorable outcome would still be of great value for the Palestinians. It would cast Israel in an unfavorable light in relation to the UN, international law, and world public opinion, and undoubtedly encourage the further development of the already robust global solidarity movement.

Yet, despite these circumstances that makes the ICC seem such an attractive option, a PA decision to take this path is far from obvious. The former Foreign Minister of the PA and member of Fatah’s Central Committee, Nasser al-Kidwa, effectively dismissed the ICC option by calling it ‘complicated’ without any further explanation, leaving the impression that the costs of taking such a step were too high. However, the issue is not yet settled as mixed signals are emanating from Palestinian leadership circles. For instance, the PLO Secretary General, Saeb Erekat, in contrast to Kidwa, minced no words in his insistence that the ICC investigate “the colonial settlement regime.”

It seems useful to speculate on why there should be this ambivalence among Palestinian leaders. After all, international law, international public opinion, and even most European governments are all supportive of Palestinian claims with regard to the settlements. Israel remains more defiant than ever, and shows every sign of further expansion, possibly with an eye toward soon unilaterally declaring an end to the conflict, a move that Washington might find temporarily awkward, but in the end, acceptable. At the core of this debate about recourse to the ICC is the tricky question as to whether deference to the muscular vagaries of geopolitics serves Palestinian interests at this time.

Recourse to the ICC: Pros and Cons

The argument favoring recourse to the ICC is almost too obvious to put forward. It would back Israel into a corner. The Netanyahu government is certain to react with anger and concrete expressions of hostility to any such move by the PA. Such a reaction would be widely seen as a convincing confirmation of Israel’s vulnerability to any impartial test as to whether its settlement policies meet the minimum requirements of international law. And most importantly for the PA it would demonstrate that despite recent political disappointments the Ramallah leadership was prepared to embark upon a controversial course of action that displayed political courage, including a willingness to endure expected vindictive acts of retaliation.

Recourse to the ICC would play well with the Palestinian people, especially those living under occupation. They experience daily tensions with violent settler groups and see no future for themselves absent confrontation with Israel. If the PA chooses such a course, it would help restore support for the flagging claims of the PA to serve as the sole legitimate representative of the Palestinian people at the global level. This is turn could lead finally to durable arrangements of unity as between Hamas and Fatah, which would raise confidence levels that the Palestinians were prepared for this latest, difficult stage of their national movement.

The arguments against going to the ICC are somewhat more elusive. There is no doubt that Palestine, recognized by the UN as a state now enjoys the jurisdictional qualifications to participate in ICC proceedings. What is less clear is whether the ICC would be responsive, and able to circumvent technical obstacles, such as finding suitable Israeli defendants. During its 15 years of operation the ICC has been very reluctant to be pro-active except in Africa, and even there it has been recently stung by an intense pushback by African governments and the African Union. The ICC has been reluctant to stir up political opposition in the West, which would certainly occur as soon as the ICC launched a full investigation of Palestinian grievances against Israel.

There is also the reverse problem of ICC action that might disappoint the PA. To appear balanced, the ICC would probably extend its investigation to include allegations relating to indiscriminate rocket fire from Gaza. It could then decide that a strong case of probable criminal responsibility attributable to Hamas existed, while allegations against Israel failed because of the inability to establish criminal intent. Although a setback for the PA, such an outcome at the ICC would be internationally criticized as contrary to reasonable interpretations of international law, and be widely regarded as a reflection of political pressures exerted by Washington.

Likely, the PA is most inhibited by the ‘lawfare’ campaign being waged by Israel and the United States. Already during the Obama presidency there was Congressional legislation terminating financial assistance to the PA in the event of any recourse to the ICC. Since Trump these warnings have escalated, including the total suspension of financial aid, the closing of the PLO offices in Washington, and threats to put the PLO and Fatah back on the US list of terrorist organizations. It is evident that the PA is taking these unseemly threats seriously.

There are also PA fears that any ICC initiative would induce Israel to move more quickly toward closure with respect to the underlying conflict, annexing most or all of the West Bank. Such a reaction would both be in keeping with Israel’s tendency to respond disproportionately to any formal action directed at the legality of its policies and practices. Israel is particularly sensitive about war crimes charges, and vows extraordinary measures should any of its citizens be so charged. Now that Netanyahu can count on unconditional support in the White House and the US Congress it would not be surprising to see him use the occasion of an ICC initiative to proclaim Israeli sovereignty over the whole of historic Palestine.

Conclusion

In light of the above, it seems almost certain that the PA will not act take advantage of the ICC option any time soon. The PA is likely to adopt a posture of neither/nor; that is, neither explicitly ruling out recourse to the ICC, nor activating the option. This reflects the reality that the PA is caught between the rock of US/Israel bullying tactics and the hard place of an increasingly restive Palestinian population, being acutely reminded of its ordeal by the grim realization that 2017 is the 50th anniversary of the Israeli occupation.

The United States posture, although somewhat more belligerently pro-Israel as a result of the Trump presidency, is really nothing new except in style. Even during the Obama presidency the US opposed every attempt by the PA to rely on international law or the UN to advance its national struggle. Instead of welcoming the use of law rather than weapons, the US Government castigated efforts of Palestine to gain membership in the UN System or to seek even symbolic relief for its grievances in international venues. This turn against international law, as well as against the UN, is clearly a signature issue for the Trump presidency, and not just in relation to Palestine, and this is not good news for the world. ­

This article was originally published on the author’s blog. A version was also previously published in the Middle East Eye

 

 

israel’s chemical war on Palestine

Study: ‘Israel is Poisoning Palestine’ and Children Are First Victim

 

Poisonous gases sprayed on Palestinian farms and their effects appearing on the crops. (Mohammed Asad, MEMO, file)

Palestinians in the West Bank are facing serious human rights violations and increasing food insecurity as a result of the use of toxic pesticides in illegal settlements, a fact-finding mission, cited by MEMO, has revealed.

A joint research project carried out by the Arab Group for the Protection of Nature (APN) and the PAN Asia Pacific (PANAP) found that the occupied West Bank contains highly hazardous pesticides, which are banned by the Palestinian Authority (PA).

Half of the pesticides used within the areas under the PA’s jurisdiction are illegal, and five tonnes of them have been confiscated since 1995, according to the findings.

Dr. Meriel Watts, who took part in preparing the report, warned that the Israeli policies of control prevent the PA from restricting the trade and use of these pesticides.

 

“It is unacceptable that the PA, with one of the tightest pesticide registration and compliance systems, including not allowing pesticides that are banned in their country of origin, is thwarted at every turn by the Israeli authorities who knowingly facilitate the entry of banned highly hazardous pesticides into the occupied West Bank.”

The Palestinian residents, particularly children, living in villages and cities near Israeli chemical waste-producing settlements are exposed to contaminated soil and drinking water, and mosquito-borne, respiratory and eye diseases, the report added.

To highlight the issue on a global scale, the organisations launched an online petition entitled “Stop Poisoning Palestine” on World Social Justice Day, 20 February.

الصراخ التركي بوجه إيران للتفاوض وليس للحرب

الصراخ التركي بوجه إيران للتفاوض وليس للحرب

فبراير 25, 2017

ناصر قنديل

– يستعيد الكثيرون مع الكلام التركي العدائي العالي السقوف ضد إيران مشهد حلف بغداد في الخمسينيات الذي ضمّ تركيا وإيران الشاه وحولهما عراق نوري السعيد وباكستان بوجه صعود جمال عبد الناصر بدعم أميركي، ويرون تركيا والسعودية و«إسرائيل» والأردن أركان حلف إقليمي جديد يذهب للتصعيد نحو إيران بغطاء أميركي، بعدما استعاد صعودها مشهد صعود عبد الناصر، ويفترض هؤلاء سيناريوات الحرب ضمن هذه التقديرات.

– السعي الأميركي الذي تقوده الـ»سي آي أي» لحلف إقليمي بوجه إيران موجود منذ أيام الرئيس باراك أوباما ولا يزال، لكن امتلاك هذا الحلف ومعه أميركا فرص التحرك كانت أفضل قبل ثلاثة أعوام، عندما جاءت الأساطيل الأميركية ولم تكن روسيا قد جاءت إلى سورية، ولم تكن السعودية قد تورّطت في اليمن، ولا كانت تركيا قد دخلت أزمتها مع واشنطن حول تسليم الداعية فتح الله غولن والقوى الكردية المسلحة شمال سورية. وقبل حلّ هذه العقد لا يملك هذا الحلف قدرة تتخطى الكلام السياسي، ويصير الرهان على التصعيد العسكري في سورية يستدعي التساؤل عن ماهية جديد هذا الحلف بعد هزيمته في حلب، رغم كل الفوارق لصالحه فيها قياساً بكل معركة مقبلة؟

– التفاوض لعقد صفقة مع إيران هدف مشترك تركي سعودي يتفادى ظاهرياً استفزاز روسيا، تقف أميركا وإسرائيل لتشجيعه إذا تضمّن إضعافاً لدعم إيران لحزب الله. والتصعيد يهدف لتشكيل محور مفاوض يتمكن من تعزيز صفوف مكوّناته وعدم الدخول لمفاوضات منفردة، تركية إيرانية وسعودية إيرانية. والعنوان هو عروض لتطبيع العلاقات تقدم تحت ضغوط اتهام إيران بمدّ نفوذها وزعزعة استقرار دول كالبحرين واليمن ودعم قوى معارضة فيها، والتمدّد في كل من سورية والعراق، لمقايضة التطبيع بتنازلات يتمنّى السعودي والتركي الحصول عليها من إيران، وهي تنازلات يسعى إليها كل من الأميركي و«الإسرائيلي».

– في زمن الضعف الأميركي عن صناعة استراتيجية واضحة بعد ارتباك الرئيس الجديد في مواجهة ممانعة المؤسسة الأميركية العسكرية والمخابراتية والدبلوماسية والإعلامية لسياساته الخارجية، قرّرت تركيا انتظار واشنطن لحين نضوج تفاوضهما على بندي، غولن والأكراد، وقامت بتغطية هذا التموضع المعاكس لمسار أستانة، بالتموضع على ضفة مشتركة مع السعودية تقبض ثمنها مالاً وسياسة، عنوانها التصعيد ضد إيران، بما يجنّب تركيا أزمة جديدة مع روسيا، تحت عنوان مقايضة إيران بالتخلي عن قوة حلفائها، وفي مقدمتهم حزب الله بالانفتاح عليها، وربط التعاون في الحرب على الإرهاب بتسهيل إيران لتسويات تحفظ جماعة تركيا والسعودية في الخليج، بمشاركة شكلية للقوى المقاومة هناك، وتحقق مشاركة وازنة لجماعة تركيا والسعودية في سورية والعراق، وورقة القوة المعروضة للمقايضة هي التلويح بخطاب الفتنة المذهبية.

– سبق لإيران وحتى لروسيا وقبلهما لسورية القول بوضوح: إن وجود حزب الله في سورية ليس موضوع تفاوض، وإن التعاون ضد الإرهاب مصلحة مشتركة لدول العالم والمنطقة، ومن شروطه توفير مقوّمات نجاح الحرب وليس توزيع مغانم وأثمان على المشاركين سلفاً لضمان مشاركتهم، وكل مسعى تصعيدي لبلوغ تفاوض هذا عنوانه يعني بلوغ طريق مسدود، فهل تنفجر المواجهة حرباً شاملة تركية سعودية «إسرائيلية» بوجه إيران، أو حرباً يقودها هؤلاء مجدداً في سورية؟

– لن يحدث شيء من هذا. ليس لنقص في الرغبات بل لنقص في القدرات. وقد جرى اختبار الأكثر في ظروف أفضل، وكانت حلب وكانت الهزيمة، لكن تعطيل مسار أستانة في سورية سيعني طبعاً عودة إمساك زمام المبادرة للجيش السوري في الميدان، مع عودة اصطفاف الجماعات المسلحة وراء جبهة النصرة، فإلى شهور ينتظر فيها أردوغان ترامب، على مائدة المال السعودي، يبيعه أوهاماً، ويحسم فيها الجييش السوري المزيد، قبل أن تنضج جولات تفاوض ومسارات، كما من قبل كذلك من بعد، والخط البياني يتكفل بقول الباقي مما لم يقله الرئيس الروسي فلاديمير بوتين لبحارته عن عزمه مواصلة القتال إلى جانب سورية لحماية أمن روسيا، رضي من رضي وغضب من غضب، وأن أمن موسكو لا يزال من أمن دمشق، بعملية تسوية سياسية ومن دونها.

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ترامب نسخة كاريكاتورية لأوباما

ترامب نسخة كاريكاتورية لأوباما

فبراير 23, 2017

ناصر قنديل

– من الواضح أنّ الرئيس الأميركي الجديد دونالد ترامب قد انقلب على خطابه الانتخابي الذي قام على الدعوة للاهتمام بأميركا من الداخل وتخفيض درجة الانخراط بدور الشرطي العالمي، والتدخلات والحروب، باستثناء أولوية الحرب على داعش، ومدخلها تعاون روسي أميركي. وهذه مصطلحات ومفردات مقتبسة من خطابات ترامب في الانتخابات، إلى التركيز على سياسة خارجية تُبنَى على خطاب ترميم ما خرّبه الخطاب الانتخابي مع الحلفاء وتستعيد خطاب الممانعة في الانخراط بالتسويات التي يُمليها التوجّه للتعاون مع روسيا تمهيداً لحلف عالمي ضد الإرهاب.

– اتسمت مرحلة الرئيس الأميركي السابق باراك أوباما المتّهم بالتخاذل من خصومه، والمتّهم بالتطرّف من ترامب. فهو برأيه مَن صنع داعش ومَن ورّط أميركا بحرب سورية لتغيير نظام الحكم فيها، بمحاولة جمع سياسيتي إرضاء الحلفاء في الأطلسي وفي المنطقة، خصوصاً فرنسا وبريطانيا والسعودية وتركيا و»إسرائيل» من جهة، ومحاولة السير بالتسويات في طريق التعاون مع موسكو من جهة أخرى، بعدما أمضى أوباما ولايته الأولى ونصف ولايته الثانية في قيادة الحلفاء في الغرب والمنطقة لحروب الربيع العربي، خصوصاً حرب سورية وصولا لجلب الأساطيل تمهيداً للحرب، واضطر للتراجع تجنّباً لمواجهة شاملة ليست أميركا جاهزة لها، ليكتشف أن التسويات التي توصل لعناوينها مع روسيا ليس لديه حلفاء جاهزون لها، فوقع بالانتظار والتباطؤ واللغة المزدوجة، وصولاً للفراغ.

– صعد ترامب على كتف خطاب يعِد بالشجاعة في خوض غمار التسويات التي تردّد أوباما في خوضها، باعتبارها المكان الوحيد الذي يُتاح فيه للرئيس الأميركي أن يختبر شجاعته. فميدان التصعيد والحروب مسقوف بالعجز، قبل أن يكون الروس قد تموضعوا في المنطقة، وقبل انتصارات حلب، فكيف بعدهما، وبعد وصول ترامب ظهر أمامه حجم التعقيدات التي تحول دون السير بالآلة الأميركية السياسية والدبلوماسية والتشريعية والعسكرية نحو خطوة نوعية من التغيير تتمثل بالانتقال للتحالف مع روسيا، وتورّط ترامب في مواجهات واسعة في الداخل الأميركي وبخطوات مرتجلة وخطابات ومواقف عشوائية تتأسس على العنصرية والغطرسة، تكاملت مع ممانعة المؤسسة الأميركية فرضخ سريعاً وكانت استقالة مستشاره للأمن القومي مايكل فلين بناء على اتصال أجراه بالسفير الروسي في واشنطن تعبيراً عن هذا الرضوخ.

– ترامب المنكفئ عن خيار التسويات بخطاب متعالٍ ومتغطرس، يرث رئيساً لم تبقَ فرصة لاختبار القوة والضغوط والعقوبات لم يختبرها، فهو مَن ضيّق خناق العقوبات على روسيا ومَن فتح حرب أوكرانيا ومَن جلب الأساطيل إلى المتوسط ومَن جلب القاعدة وأرسل داعش، ومَن خاص حتى اللحظة الأخيرة من العقوبات والتفاوض محاولات تركيع إيران، وأبقى الباب مفتوحاً من بعده لخيارين لا ثالث لهما: الأول هو الذهاب لمزيد من الاستثمار على داعش والنصرة علناً، وجعل الحرب على سورية أسبقية للحرب على الإرهاب، والتصعيد بوجه روسيا على هذا الأساس. وهذا الخيار مثّلته هيلاري كلينتون أو الذهاب لخيار الانخراط مع روسيا والتعاون والتفاهم معها على صناعة التسويات تمهيداً للتشارك في الحرب على النصرة وداعش، وما يتضمّنه ذلك من انفتاح على الدولة السورية. وهذه هي العناوين التي بشر بها ترامب.

– تراجع ترامب أمام ممانعة مخابرات أميركا وعسكرييها ودبلوماسييها وإعلامييها. وهي النخب التي قاتلت ترامب لمنع وصوله، يعني سقوطه. وليس سقوط خيار التسويات مخرجاً حتمياً من الفوضى الدولية. فخيار السير بالتصعيد الذي كانت تبتغيه كلينتون وتمثّله بأصالة، يعني خسارة ترامب لمؤيّديه من دون كسب خصومه، وهو خيار مسقوف بالفشل وبكلفته العالية في ظل الانخراط الروسي المباشر في سورية، والموقف الإيراني الصلب تجاهها.

– يتحوّل ترامب لنسخة كاريكاتورية عن أوباما، بالعجز عن أخذ القرار والوقوع في الجمود، مع فارق ملء ترامب للفراغ بالصراخ، ما يمنح مرحلته بعضاً من الكوميديا السوداء.

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