100 years after Balfour: The reality which still shames israel

Peter Oborne

OCCUPIED WEST BANK – Next week, exactly 100 years will have passed since British foreign secretary Arthur Balfour wrote his famous letter to Walter Rothschild, promising that Britain would help to create a “national home for the Jewish people” in Palestine.

Current prime minister Theresa May says that the Balfour Declaration was “one of the most important letters in history”. It led within barely three decades to the creation of the state of Israel. No wonder then that Benjamin Netanyahu flies to London next week to celebrate its anniversary.



It’s understandable Palestinian leaders weren’t invited. But they weren’t even consulted.

This is wrong. The Balfour Declaration not only promised to deliver a homeland for the Jews. It also promised that “nothing shall be done which may prejudice the civil and religious rights of existing non-Jewish communities in Palestine”.

Has this promise been kept?

I flew to Israel and the West Bank to find out. The treatment of the Palestinians I witnessed is not just physically degrading for them. It is also morally degrading for the Israelis as well.

Hebron: Closed city for Palestinians

I drove to the West Bank city of Hebron, about an hour’s drive south of Jerusalem. When I typed “Hebron” into Waze (the local equivalent of Google Maps) a warning flashed up: “This destination is a high-risk area or is prohibited to Israelis by law.”



October 2017: The upper road is for Israeli vehicles, the tunnel for Palestinians (MEE)

Israeli settlers, however, occupy an area of houses above the ancient market, where they are guarded by the Israeli army.

These soldiers – I’d guess at least one per settler – stand idly by as the settlers harass, persecute and assault the local population.

Palestinians said that only that morning, a masked settler had attacked two children aged 10 and 11 in the streets. I was told the soldiers made no attempt to intervene.

Such incidents, locals said, are common. In October 2015, student Dania Ersheid from Hebron was shot dead at a checkpoint. She was 17.


March 2013: A Palestinian protester is arrested by Israeli soldiers during protests in Hebron against the closure of Shuhada Street, the one-time heart of the city (AFP)

According to Breaking the Silence – an NGO which publishes testimonies of Israeli army veterans who have served in occupied Palestine – close personal ties between settlers and the military, combined with the fact that as Israeli citizens settlers are legally answerable not to the army but the police, means that soldiers often do nothing to protect Palestinians from settler violence.

The Israeli army has created a ghost town in parts of Hebron’s Old City. In July, Unesco’s heritage committee gave heritage status to these areas, much to the anger of Israel.

The ancient markets are mainly closed because of “security reasons”. More than 1,000 houses have been shut up and more than 1,300 shops have been closed.

I walked through this desolate area. Slogans such as “Hevron Yehudit” – “Hebron is Jewish” – have been scrawled on the walls. The Star of David was sprayed on the doors of many shops. The names of the streets have been changed from Palestinian to Hebrew.

I reached the Ibrahimi Mosque, known to Jews as the Tomb of the Patriarchs, where it is thought that Abraham, Isaac, Sarah, Jacob and Leah are buried.



October 2017: An Israeli army checkpoint blocks off a street in Hebron (MEE)

This is one of the most significant religious sites in the world. It marks what Jews, Muslims and Christians have in common. All of us (I am a Christian) worship the God of Abraham.

If the magnificent teachings of these three great religions is to have any meaning, then all of us should come together at this site.

But there was an invisible line in the street outside which Palestinians may not cross. A Palestinian woman ventured too far along the road. A soldier asked her: “Are you Muslim?” 

Unequal in death as in life

Inside, the site is divided, as so often is the case in Israel and occupied Palestine. One third is set aside for Muslims and two thirds are set aside for Jews.

The partition was built after 1994, when an Israeli settler called Baruch Goldstein, who emigrated from the United States, entered with a machine gun and shot dead 29 Muslim worshippers in cold blood. More were killed outside the hospital by the Israeli army amid protests.

Not far away is a little museum. I went in. It was empty and unattended. I called out.

A lady came out of a back room and showed me around. The first room was dedicated to the ancient Jewish presence in Hebron. The second concentrated on the massacre of Jews by Arabs in 1929, part of wider tension over access to the Wailing Wall in Jerusalem. It contained horrifying and vivid contemporary photographs and testimony of the atrocity, during which 69 Jews were killed.

This museum helped me to understand the absolute moral and religious certainty felt by the settlers that Hebron belongs to them. For them it is Arabs, not Jews, who are the usurpers.

As I left, I told my guide how moved I had been by the testimony of the 1929 atrocity. Then I asked her why her museum didn’t also mark the 1994 murder of Arabs by Goldstein.



February 1994: The aftermath of the massacre at the Tomb of the Patriarchs (AFP)

She replied that there was no comparison, because the murder of Jews in 1929 had been systematic, while, she said, Goldstein was a deranged individual acting on his own.

Afterwards I drove up to the nearby settlement of Qiryat Arba, where Goldstein is buried. A guard nodded me through the entrance gate.

Israeli authorities did destroy a shrine and prayer area that had been built after the Knesset passed a law prohibiting monuments to terrorists. The grave and plaque with the engraving, however, remained.

I found the grave behind a row of shops in a public park. Part of the Hebrew inscription read: “To the holy Baruch Goldstein, who gave his life for the Jewish people, the Torah, and the nation of Israel.” Beside the grave, a glass container contained two candles and some spent matches. Mourners had also individually laid many small stones, part of the Jewish mourning tradition.

I walked back to the shops and tried to talk to settlers. Most worked in the military or the police. They courteously refused to answer my questions.

I found a woman who said she had known Goldstein. “He was my doctor,” she told me. “He was a wonderful man. He was an amazing person who took care of the Arabs and the Jews as well.”

She said that she had come from the United States to Qiryat Arba as a child and that she was “against violence on both sides”. As for Goldstein, she felt “there was something that pushed him over. There was a lot of violence on both sides at the time.”

But the woman insisted that there was nothing “symbolic” about Goldstein’s grave in Qiryat Arba. He was buried in the settlement, she said, because he could not be buried in nearby Hebron.

It needs little imagination to gauge how Israelis would react if a Palestinian who had shot dead 29 Jews in cold blood was given such a prominent resting place 

It needs little imagination to gauge how Israelis would react if a Palestinian who had shot dead 29 Jews in cold blood was given such a prominent resting place in a West Bank town or village.

Bear in mind many Palestinians killed in attacks on Israelis are buried in secret cemeteries with unnamed (but numbered) graves. This means that the families of the dead cannot visit their loved ones.

Yet the religious terrorist and mass murderer Goldstein rests in peace in an honoured place in the Israeli settlement where he lived. This is but one example of the dual system in the Israeli-occupied West Bank.

Palestinians are subject to military law. Settlers are Israeli citizens, with all the protections of civil law.

Schools, homes, hope crushed

When I visited Israel 10 years ago with the lobby group Conservative Friends of Israel, my guides portrayed settlers as wild men and women who act independently of government in pursuit of a special religious vision.

I have to admit that before last week’s trip, I had wholly failed to grasp the extent to which the settlers have become part of the basic apparatus of the Israeli state.

There is colossal investment in infrastructure, roads, services and security for settlers. Meanwhile basic amenities and rudimentary security are denied to the Palestinians or  – as the Balfour Declaration defines them – “the existing non-Jewish communities in Palestine.”

In the West Bank, these “non-Jewish communities” are vulnerable to arbitrary arrest and detention. Their houses get demolished without warning. They live Kafkaesque lives subject to the whim of inaccessible and largely hostile authorities, with none of the rights that come with citizenship.



April 2016: A Bedouin man next to the rubble of his home, destroyed by Israeli army tractors in Khirbat Tana, near Bait Furik, West Bank (AFP)

Checkpoints make even small journeys laborious, unpredictable and often impossible. Their life is dedicated to clinging on by their fingernails to their land while the settlers desperately try to prise it away.

Let’s meet Abdul Rahim Bisharat, a Bedouin chief who lives in al-Hadidiya, an isolated hillside encampment above the Jordan Valley.

Bisharat, 67, told me how the Israeli army had confiscated his livestock, shot his animals from jeeps and even helicopters, and repeatedly bulldozed his home.

At one stage they attacked his tents 32 times in just 16 days, he said.

As we spoke, Bisharat’s 10-year-old daughter Somood served us tea. Her name means “steadfastness” in Arab: she was born while Israeli bulldozers were demolishing the camp.

Somood’s education is a problem. Bisharat told me how he had built a school, only for it to be destroyed by the Israeli army. He tried to build a kindergarten. That was also destroyed.

In desperation the Bedouins decided to send their children to a school many kilometres away. This meant improving the track from the camp to the main road. But when they did this, the Israelis demolished their work.


February 2016: Palestinian bedouin children attend class near the Jewish West Bank settlement of Maale Adumim, after the Israeli army dismantled classrooms and homes funded by the French government (AFP)

The Israelis appear to be out to destroy the Bedouin way of life. That means driving them off their lands. It means the destruction of homes and livestock. It also means denying them access to water.

Traditionally the Jordan River has been their main source of water, but the Bedouin are denied access because the river is a military zone.

The Bedouin take water from streams. But the Israelis dig deep artesian wells to access the underground water supply, so the streams have mainly dried up. Now they have to buy water from the same Israelis who took it from them.

The sheikh said that when the occupation of the West Bank started in 1967, his camp had included some 300 families amounting to 2,000 people. Now, just 16 families are left, scarcely amounting to 100 people.

“Some have sold their sheep and become workers in settlements,” he told me. “Others are unemployed. All the time we are chased and expelled from one area or another.”

How UK government still echoes Balfour

The Israelis want to relocate the Bedouin to what are are frequently called townships and end their ancient nomadic way of life.

There is a deep paradox lurking here. The Israelis impose their own arbitrary system of law on the West Bank. Yet the Israeli occupation is itself illegal under international law.

Theresa May’s exclusion of Palestinians from her celebration reflects the exclusion of Palestinians from the Balfour Declaration 100 years ago

Yes, the Jews have the national homeland promised by the British a century ago. I wholeheartedly concur with a common British view that no other people have suffered as much as the Jews at the hands of persecutors throughout their extraordinary history.

That is why I have always supported the existence of an Israeli state.

But May’s exclusion of Palestinians from her celebration next week reflects with uncanny accuracy the exclusion of Palestinians from the Balfour Declaration 100 years ago.

The British treated the Palestinians as non-people then, and still treat them as non-people today. I believe this scornful neglect may be even more damaging for Israelis than it is of the Palestinians themselves because it is such a betrayal of the idealistic and humane vision that brought Israel into being.

– Peter Oborne won best commentary/blogging in 2017 and was named freelancer of the year in 2016 at the Online Media Awards for articles he wrote for Middle East Eye. He also was British Press Awards Columnist of the Year 2013. He resigned as chief political columnist of the Daily Telegraph in 2015. His books include The Triumph of the Political Class, The Rise of Political Lying, and  Why the West is Wrong about Nuclear Iran.

The views expressed in this article belong to the author and do not necessarily reflect the editorial policy of Middle East Eye.

Photo: Abdul Rahim Bisharat, a Bedouin chief who lives in al-Hadidiya, an encampment above the Jordan Valley (MEE), is interviewed by Peter Oborne

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#Ireland Deportations and Harassment of Irish Group Traveling to West Bank

Deportations and Harassment of Irish Group Traveling to West Bank

By Caoimhghin Ó Croidheáin,

A trip to Palestine resulted in deportations and harassment by security as the Israel authorities step up attempts to intimidate or frighten future travelers to the area. During our trip we experienced CS gas, checkpoints, apartheid in action and military harassment of Palestinians. Caoimhghin Ó Croidheáin relates his experiences as a member of the group.

Departure

I joined the group in Dublin airport on the morning of September 8th and we flew out to Istanbul where we waited in a transit area cafe for a couple of hours. As it turned out our flight departure lounge for Tel Aviv was next to the cafe where we were sitting and we noticed that an extra layer of security was being prepared by ground staff for the Tel Aviv flight. After boarding, and a smooth Turkish Airlines flight to Ben Gurion Airport in Tel Aviv, we disembarked and queued up for passport control. I was on my own and after 2 or 3 questions (what was the purpose of my trip, had I been to Israel before, etc). I was given a one month visa and waved through.

Meanwhile, however, trouble was brewing as I could hear the two Irish girls at the kiosk next to me being asked to bring the group leader over. I went directly through to the arrivals hall as I had not checked in any bags. Then began a long wait as myself and the few who got through unhindered discovered that security had rounded up as many of the group as they could find including those who had decided to wait in the luggage hall rather than in the arrivals hall. In all 21 were detained and 6 questioned, and of those 4 were deported (Elaine Daly, Fidelma Bonass, Joan Nolan and Stephen McCloskey) a few hours later. The four who were detained were informed that they were being deported to prevent ‘illegal immigration’ even though they had valid passports and return tickets. Around 4am the others were released and we finally boarded the bus and made the journey to our hotel in Bethlehem.

West Bank wall and turnstiles

Fact Finding Program

Our tour, though coordinated in Dublin, was organised by the Siraj Centre, a non-profit organization licensed by the Ministry of Tourism and based in Palestine. Our Fact Finding Program included meetings with prominent peace activists, political officials, human rights organizations, settlers and Jewish tour guides. This makes the deportation of our group leader, Elaine Daly, even stranger as she has been organising trips with the Siraj Centre every year from Ireland since 2006.

Sat 9th Sept: Day 1 Bethlehem

On our first morning we attended a talk by Prof. Mazin Qumsiyeh, a local university professor and activist, at the Natural History institute who emphasised the strong link between biodiversity, political struggle for the land and its safeguarding for future generations. It was interesting to note that it had been his son who had first drawn the infamous ‘shrinking’ map of the Palestinian territories showing their loss of land from 1946, 1947, 1967 to the 2000s.

Entrance to Aida refugee camp

CS gas

Afterwards we headed over to the Lajee Center, a cultural centre beside the main Palestinian refugee camp in Bethlehem for a talk and a traditional dance display from the local children. Soon however they switched off the air-conditioning and when we asked why we were told that tear gas was coming through the system. Directly outside the window local youth were throwing stones at the Israeli army at the far end of the road. Soon more and more tear gas came into the building and the windows and doors were shut. For most on the tour it was their first experience of the burning effects of CS gas yet for the members of the Lajee Center it had become merely a nuisance. After about a half hour we were able to leave and go for a short tour of the area. We passed under the arch of Aida camp with a giant key symbolising the principle that Palestinian refugees, both first-generation refugees and their descendants have a right to return. On our left were simple concrete buildings while on the right the street is cut off from Jerusalem by the Israeli West Bank wall and covered in murals and graffiti.

Wall mural, Aida refugee camp

Sun 10th Sept: Day 2 Hebron

The next day on the way to Hebron we stopped off at a small park beside a main road containing the tomb of Baruch Goldstein, the religious extremist who carried out the 1994 Cave of the Patriarchs massacre in Hebron. Goldstein killed 29 Palestinian Muslim worshippers and wounded another 125. He was then overpowered and beaten to death by the survivors. Goldstein was not allowed to be buried in a Jewish cemetery but his current burial site still attracts Jewish extremists. We drove on to the Cave of Patriarchs or Ibrahimi Mosque where the Goldstein massacre took place. There are now two separate entrances, one for Muslims and one for Jews, both of which we were able to enter. This building is over 2,000 years old is believed to be the oldest continuously used prayer structure in the world. However, it was outside the Mosque at the military checkpoints we witnessed Israeli apartheid for the first time. Palestinians are barred from the using the street and our guide was apprehended by two soldiers. Our group complained to the soldiers but only our guide responded saying he would get a taxi and meet us elsewhere. In the end, the group spontaneously applauded our guide for his patience and perseverance as he was removed from the area. Our waiting bus had only been 50 metres around the corner…

Ibrahimi Mosque, Hebron

We walked through streets of Hebron going through different stages of clearance. In some places only a few Palestinians were left in the old stone buildings and Israeli street signs had been erected pointing to Jewish places of interest. In other streets nets had been used to stop settlers throwing objects on the shoppers below. Afterwards we were brought to meet with a settler where some asked questions about the settlements and their legality but this ended up with some storming out and others realising how it easy it was to become an Israeli citizen and participate in the land confiscations.

Mon 11th Sept: Day 3 Jerusalem

Our guides were Palestinian and Jewish and both were equally as good when it came to explanations and answering questions from our group. As we drove through East Jerusalem it was pointed out by our Jewish guide that Palestinians pay taxes yet their areas had bad roads and poor rubbish collection services.

Tues 12th Sept: Day 4 Nablus

In Nablus we visited Jacobs Well Church, and then to Balata Camp to meet with a representative from the Yafa cultural Center. The centre was set up in 1996 by the Committee for the Defence of Refugee Rights and offers a range of educational and creative programs to camp residents. We were brought around the closely-built neighbourhoods of the camp where some ‘streets’ were less than one metre wide. After lunch we had a tour in the old city of Nablus and visited the Samaritans Museum. The bustling old city gave us a feel for what many areas should have looked like and felt like without occupation.

Yafa cultural Center, Nablus

Wed 13th Sept: Day 5 Ramalah

We began the day driving to Ramalah to meet with a speaker from Boycott, Divestment, Sanctions (BDS). BDS has become an extensive movement against Israeli apartheid and settler-colonialism. It is also a Palestinian-led movement made up of unions, academic associations, churches and grassroots movements across the world. We also met with a representative from Al Haq, an independent Palestinian non-governmental human rights organisation also based in Ramallah. According to their website: ‘Al-Haq documents violations of the individual and collective rights of Palestinians in the OPT, irrespective of the identity of the perpetrator, and seeks to end such breaches by way of advocacy before national and international mechanisms and by holding the violators accountable.’ In the afternoon the group were brought on a sightseeing tour of Jerusalem which I did not participate in due to feeling unwell. Instead, I went with our Palestinian tour guide back to Bethlehem on the public bus instead. As the bus approached the wall we all had get off and pass through the many turnstiles and barricaded-off pathways to get to the other side of the wall. The queues moved quickly enough as the military generally do not carry out checks on Palestinians going home to the West Bank from Jerusalem in the evening. It is in the early morning that the long queues form as workers are stopped and permits scrutinised on the way to work in Jerusalem.

Old City, Nablus

Thurs 14th Sept: Day 5 Bethlehem

The next day I went back to Jerusalem from Bethlehem on public bus No. 231. At a major checkpoint a male and female soldier got on the bus while about a third of the bus got off to have their permits checked outside. They questioned a Palestinian woman with children for about ten minutes on the bus before suddenly leaving the bus again and letting the others back on. These checks, the roadworks and traffic jams into Jerusalem added up to about 30 minutes onto our journey, a journey which should have taken only around 20 minutes. In the centre I crossed the road and entered into the Old City through Herod’s Gate. I headed through the old city markets to the Al-Aqsa Mosque but at various Israeli military check points I was stopped and informed that the Mosque was only open in the mornings. There were 4 or 5 groups of about 20 Israeli soldiers each walking and singing down the narrow streets towards the Western Wall. The area was being prepared for a swearing-in ceremony for Paratrooper recruits taking place that evening. After walking the Via Dolorosa and around to the Damascus Gate I got the bus back to Bethlehem. Later, after dinner with the group in a Palestinian restaurant in Bethlehem, a few of us took a taxi to visit the Banksy’s Walled Off Hotel about ten minutes drive away. The ‘Walled Off’ sits beside the massive wall which is covered in graffiti executed in many styles by various artists. Boasting the ‘worst view in the world’ the lobby contains a collection of art and there is a museum upstairs. People sat outside on the veranda between the hotel and the wall having a quiet drink in this most incongruous of places.

Mural near ‘Walled Off’ hotel

Fri 15th Sept: The Dead Sea

For our last day the group decided to visit the Dead Sea. After arriving at the resort, getting to the water’s edge meant walking down layer after layer of beaches as the Dead Sea evaporates. The recession of the water’s edge is believed to be about 1 m (3 ft) a year. The speed and breadth of the recession of the Dead Sea was a fitting symbol for the recession of the West Bank itself as more and more settlements and walls reduce further the size of the Palestinian territories.

Early the next morning we were back on the bus to Tel Aviv and Ben Gurion airport where there was some anxiety as the security checks were known to be more stringent in the departures area than in arrivals area. (Why? a form of damage limitation?) Once again our group was held up to the last minute for our flight to Istanbul. We had a much more pleasant time in Dublin airport where a welcoming committee was waiting for us with a Palestinian flag. Elaine and the other deportees had decided to hold off publicising the deportations so as not to create any unnecessary difficulties for the rest of the group’s departure from Tel Aviv. Of course, our problems were nothing compared to the daily experiences and hardships of the Palestinian people being forced through turnstiles, having to obtain multivaried permits, losing land and dwellings, enduring constant military checks and an oppressive political/legal system (like the 17C Penal Laws in Ireland) all because of a particular nationality or religion. The trip left an indelible impression on us as individuals and as a group which would not be easily removed by the self-serving rhetoric of an all-powerful occupying force.

Since our return the issue of the deportations has been raised in various articles in the national newspapers. It has also been brought up during question time in the Dáil (the Irish parliament). Despite not being able to return to the West Bank again, Elaine is already planning to organise two trips to the West Bank from Dublin for 2018. All aboard!

Caoimhghin Ó Croidheáin is an Irish artist, lecturer and writer. His artwork consists of paintings based on contemporary geopolitical themes as well as Irish history and cityscapes of Dublin. His blog of critical writing based on cinema, art and politics along with research on a database of Realist and Social Realist art from around the world can be viewed country by country at http://gaelart.blogspot.ie/.

All images in this article are from the author.

Israeli Settlers Spew Obscenity-Filled Racist Filth Over Loud Speakers in Palestinian Neighborhood

By Richard Edmondson

Trump’s special “advisor” on Israel, Jason Greenblatt, is now in the Zionist state spouting nonsense and complaining about Hamas, this after Israeli authorities took him on a “tour” of the Gaza border region. Meanwhile, not so very far away–in a Palestinian neighborhood in Israeli-occupied Hebron–Jewish settlers have terrorized residents by hurling profanity-laced racist insults over loud speakers.

Check out the video below, but be advised: it shows Jews from Kiryat Arba, an illegal Israeli settlement, roaming through the Palestinian neighborhood of al-Hariqah shouting through a loud speaker and using some of the filthiest, vilest language imaginable. The slurs are intended not only to demean Palestinians but also the Muslim religion.

Normally, I don’t post videos that are content-heavy with obscene language, but I decided to make an exception in this case so that people could see the level of depravity that exists among Israeli settlers.

The incident reportedly took place on August 24. This comes as Trump administration envoys are currently in Israel attempting to negotiate “peace.” It was back on August 15, I put up a post regarding the eviction of an elderly Palestinian couple from their home, commenting that a three-member delegation from the Trump administration was at that time about to embark for the Middle East. The delegation, I noted, consists of Trump’s son-in-law, Jared Kushner,  Greenblatt, and Dina Powell, a former Goldman-Sachs employee who also previously worked in the White House during the George W. Bush administration.

The three finally did make it to their destination. The New York Times reports on some of their meetings in Jerusalem and Ramallah in a piece that was published on August 25. This was one day after the settlers in the video above made their noxious, nauseating presence felt in al-Hariqah. This was also one day after I had put up a post entitled First a Kindergarten and Now a School: Are the Israelis Trying to Block Childhood Education? That post, just as a matter of interest, dealt with the Israeli destruction of Palestinian schools, notably the confiscation of mobile classrooms that were to have served more than 60 first-through-fourth grade students in the village of Jubbet al-Dib, near Bethlehem. The confiscation of the classrooms took place on August 22. The Israelis had already torn down a kindergarten just the day previous, and the theft of the classrooms on August 22 came just one day before the new school year was to have begun. On August 23, the first day of school, children showed up at the school in Jubbet al-Dib only to find the classrooms gone.

The reason I go to the trouble of mentioning all this is because Jason Greenblatt shows no indication of recognizing that Israeli settlements are an obstacle to peace. In fact, a report published Thursday by Ma’an News includes a quote from Greenblatt which suggests that the Trump administration’s envoy to Occupied Palestine believes the entire problem lies with Hamas:

“It is clear that the Palestinian Authority needs to resume its role in the administration of Gaza, as Hamas has substantially harmed the people of Gaza and has failed to meet their most basic needs,” he said.

I’m not the world’s biggest fan of Hamas, but even that being said, Greenblatt’s comment is patent nonsense. Gaza has been under blockade for more than a decade. The blockade has been imposed by Israel, not Hamas. It is Israel that has failed to meet the “most basic needs” of the people of Gaza, not Hamas. Moreover, it is Israel as well that is closing Palestinian schools in the West Bank, not Hamas; it is Israel that continues to build settlements in violation of international law, notHamas; and it is Israel that maintains a grotesque occupation that makes it nigh impossible for people to do such simple things as move from one house into another. Watch the video in the tweet below, and notice the Palestinian family trying to get their household belongings through an Israeli checkpoint. Notice them handing items through the guardrail to a child on the other side who stacks them carefully next to a curb–only to have them re-confiscated by an Israeli soldier!

But yet in Greenblatt’s disingenuously fevered imagination, the blame for the Palestinian people not getting “their most basic needs” met has nothing to do with Israel. It’s all the fault of Hamas!

One other thing worth mentioning in all this is a tweet posted Wednesday by Greenblatt in which the Trump administration official expresses thanks to “COGAT” for helping arrange his guided tour:

The letters COGAT stand for “Coordinator of Government Activities in the Territories.” It is a unit within the Israeli Ministry of Defense whose responsibilities include coordinating with the Palestinian Authority while at the same time implementing Israeli government policies in the Occupied Territories. My post of August 24 actually included a mention of COGAT.

Within that post you can find an article written for Mondoweiss by Sheren Khalel, who, it seems, in the course of writing her report on the confiscation of the mobile classrooms, contacted COGAT for a comment. She was told by a spokesperson that the agency had issued “stop-work orders” on the school several days previously. But according to activists in the Jubbet al-Dib community, the stop-work orders were only to have applied to concrete bathrooms that were being built next to the mobile classrooms. This is what Khalel writes in her report: the bathrooms were the target of the stop-work orders, not the classrooms. But when the Israelis arrived on August 22, the bathrooms were left while the classrooms were confiscated!

And it is this very same Israeli government agency, COGAT, that Greenblatt expresses his hearty “thank you” to in the above tweet! The same agency that shut down a school by confiscating its classrooms!

As I said at the top of this post, Greenblatt is spouting nonsense. But this is hardly surprising. In regards to Israel, every US official over the past 50 years has ended up spouting the same. America is a nation under foreign occupation. This has become all too apparent to the rest of the world, and even Americans are now waking up to the seriousness of the problem.

But getting back to the Israeli settlers and their putrescent irruptions. The video you see above was filmed by a Palestinian volunteer with the Israeli B’Tselem human rights organization–a woman–who captured the footage from her window. Here is what she told B’Tselem about the incident:

“At 6:00 P.M. I went up to my apartment, which looks out over al-Hariqah neighborhood and the settlement of Kiryat Arba. At first I ignored the settlers’ party, but they turned the music up just when the muezzin called out for evening prayers from the mosque. They started mocking the prayer and insulting the Prophet Muhammad

“I saw a military jeep on the hilltop where the settlers were gathered. There were several other soldiers on the road below, which looks out over al-Hariqah Street that runs by the settlement. I began filming.

“The settlers began to use foul language and call out obscenities concerning me, Islam, and especially the Prophet Muhammad. The Israeli soldiers and police did nothing to stop them. This was not the first time: about a year ago, I documented settlers swearing, using foul language and calling out obscenities against the Prophet Muhammad while soldiers and police allowed them to continue.

“Life in al-Hariqah has become intolerable. The military repeatedly raids the neighbourhood and the settlers assault and harass us. As a Muslim, I was extremely offended by the insults hurled at the Prophet Muhammad, peace be upon him. As a woman, I felt terrible hearing the foul language directed personally at me for filming them.”

As you can tell from her video (starting at about halfway in), once the Jewish settlers became aware they were being filmed, they started swearing at her as well. Maybe someone should take the time to share this video with Jason Greenblatt. Although a little voice inside tells me that even if he did devote the three minutes and twenty-four seconds needed to watch it, he would probably still insist that Hamas is the problem.

***

Trump’s Peace Envoy: Palestinian Authority Must Control the Gaza Strip

Ma’an News

BETHLEHEM (Ma’an) — US President Donald Trump’s Middle East peace envoy said on Wednesday that the Palestinian Authority (PA) must resume its control over the government in the besieged Gaza Strip during a tour of the Gaza-Israel border.

Jason Greenblatt voiced vehement opposition to Hamas’ rule in the small Palestinian territory, and his support of the PA to take back control of the besieged enclave.

“It is clear that the Palestinian Authority needs to resume its role in the administration of Gaza, as Hamas has substantially harmed the people of Gaza and has failed to meet their most basic needs,” Greenblatt said following the tour, which also included Israel’s Coordinator of Government Activities in the Territories Yoav Mordechai.

Greenblatt said he had “learned a great deal” from the border tour, particularly concerning the “challenges” facing the Israeli army, Israeli civilians living near the border, and Palestinians living in Gaza, which he then singularly attributed to “Hamas’ mismanagement of humanitarian aid and its commitment to terrorist violence.”

Hamas and the Fatah-ruled PA have been embroiled in a more than a decade-long conflict since 2006, when Hamas won Palestinian legislative elections and a bloody conflict between the two groups broke out.

Hamas, the de facto leaders in Gaza, is often criticized by the international community and among Palestinians themselves, most notably owing to the group’s attempted rocket attacks on Israel, which rarely result in casualties, and what is seen as their mismanagement of the government in Gaza.

However, Palestinian frustrations have also continued to mount against the PA, as the semi-governmental body in the occupied West Bank has passed devastating policies in recent months aiming to plunge the Gaza Strip deeper into a humanitarian crisis in an attempt to force Hamas to relinquish their authority.

These policies have included halting medical referrals so patients can receive treatment abroad while simultaneously cutting funding to the local medical sector, cutting salaries to its Gaza-based employees, discontinuing payments to former prisoners of Israel, and dramatically reducing fundingfor Israeli fuel.

Greenblatt’s trip to the occupied Palestinian territory and Israel is part of Trump’s attempts at relaunching peace talks between Israeli and Palestinian leaders that have remained stagnant for decades.

However, leaders and analysts have expressed doubt that Trump’s initiatives will lead to a peace plan, as Trump himself has remained elusive concerning his stance on the conflict, while a number of high-profile US officials, including Trump’s son-in-law and Chief Adviser Jared Kushner, are known to be staunch supporters of Israel.

UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres also visited the Gaza Strip on Wednesday. The UN head demanded that Israel’s decade-long blockade on the territory be lifted, describing life in the besieged coastal enclave as “one of the most dramatic humanitarian crises” he had seen.

In 2012, the UN warned that Gaza could become uninhabitable by 2020 if current trends were not altered. However, a new report released last month by the UN said that “life for the average Palestinian in Gaza is getting more and more wretched,” and that for the majority of Gaza’s residents, the territory may already be unlivable.

israeli border police: World’s Cruelest Force

Israeli border police: World’s Cruelest Force

 

 I got to admit, I agree with Israel’s veteran journalist Amira Hass giving the Israeli border police that AWARD in her column at Israeli daily Ha’aretz on July 24, 2017.

I bet the award will pay Israeli border police handsomely. It is already training police forces in the United States, Britain, India, France, Denmark, Germany, Malaysia, Sri Lanka, Myanmar, etc. Donald Trump has contracted an Israeli company to built the US-Mexico border wall modeled on Israel’s separation wall.

Amira Hass shows her disgust over Israeli police actions during the recent banning of Muslim worshippers to enter Islam’s third  most sacred place – the Al-Aqsa Mosque compound which the Zionist Jews wrongfully claim to be their so-called Temple Mount (Temple of Solomon).

And maybe even more appalling than the sight of the police and the Border Police – and their arrogant, alienated and hostile sneers at the Palestinians – is Israelis’ delight at their attractiveness, heroism and sweetness,” Hass said.

The real heroes are of course the Palestinians. It’s heroism to constantly live in the shadow of people in gray uniforms and ammunition belts aiming their rifles (and the army of expropriating officials and settlers, whom the police are protecting). On Friday, before noon, these heroes once again came en masse to pray, despite the aimed rifles and the knowledge they might easily find themselves in areas where stun grenades, tear gas, sponge-tipped bullets and rubber-coated metal bullets would be fired at them,” Haas added.

Since 1920s, Zionist Jews have been feed their next generations hatred towards Muslims and Arabs based on their Babylonian Talmud against non-Jews.

The Price of israeli State Terror

Source

by Stephen Lendman (stephenlendman.org – Home – Stephen Lendman)

According to West Bank Palestinian journalists, Israeli-instigated violence from July 14 – 28 caused 15 deaths, about 1,400 others injured, some seriously.

Clashes resulted from unacceptable Israeli security measures imposed on the Al-Aqsa mosque and compound, mostly in Jerusalem’s Old City, elsewhere in the West Bank and Gaza.

Israel continues holding bodies of 13 Palestinians killed during this period – so far refusing to return them to families for proper Muslim burials.

On Friday, Israel lifted security measures and other restrictions imposed on the Al-Aksa mosque and compound.

The Islamic Endowment in charge of running the holy site confirmed all gates are open, Palestinian men and women of all ages free to enter the mosque and compound for prayers.

Over 100 detained Palestinians were released on Thursday and Friday on these conditions. Old City residents were banned from entering Al-Aqsa for two weeks, other Jerusalem residents banned from the Old City for two weeks, other Palestinians banned from the city for two weeks.

Palestinian victories are rare and nearly always short-lived. It’s just a matter of time before large-scale Israeli-instigated violence again occurs.

Besieged Gazans endure horrendous Israeli mistreatment, struggling to survive under dire conditions.

Elsewhere in the West Bank and East Jerusalem, Israeli persecution continued on Saturday, numerous Palestinians assaulted, many detained, including disabled ones in Hebron and Bethlehem.

Multiple raids happen daily in Palestinian communities. Hundreds are administratively detained uncharged without trials.

Separately, Netanyahu threatened to expel Al-Jazeera from Israel, claiming it’s “inciting” violence in Jerusalem’s Old City, especially around the Al-Aqsa mosque and compound.

“I have appealed to law enforcement agencies several times to close the Al-Jazeera office in Jerusalem,” he blustered.

“If this does not happen because of legal reasons, I will work to legislate the laws required to remove Al Jazeera from Israel.”

Israel rejects criticism of its policies – by media, groups and individuals, including bloggers freely expressing their views.

Repressive Knesset legislation targets speech, assembly, association and the right to dissent, Palestinians especially vulnerable.

Military censorship prohibits information published about its high crimes against peace. willfully suppressing what Israelis need to know, claiming national security priorities.

Discussing anything Israel considers classified information risks prosecution. Protests are prohibited for political reasons. Nonviolent resistance is suppressed, academic freedom endangered.

The Palestinian Center for Development & Media Freedoms (MADA) reported “51 violations of media freedoms in Palestine during June by Israeli and Palestinian authorities.

Palestine is illegally occupied territory, the entire population threatened by brutal Israeli repression – ongoing daily.

VISIT MY NEW WEB SITE: stephenlendman.org (Home – Stephen Lendman). Contact at lendmanstephen@sbcglobal.net.

My newest book as editor and contributor is titled “Flashpoint in Ukraine: How the US Drive for Hegemony Risks WW III.”

http://www.claritypress.com/LendmanIII.html

Listen to cutting-edge discussions with distinguished guests on the Progressive Radio News Hour on the Progressive Radio Network.

Stephen Lendman
Stephen Lendman
Stephen Lendman was born in 1934 in Boston, MA. In 1956, he received a BA from Harvard University. Two years of US Army service followed, then an MBA from the Wharton School at the University of Pennsylvania in 1960. After working seven years as a marketing research analyst, he joined the Lendman Group family business in 1967. He remained there until retiring at year end 1999. Writing on major world and national issues began in summer 2005. In early 2007, radio hosting followed. Lendman now hosts the Progressive Radio News Hour on the Progressive Radio Network three times weekly. Distinguished guests are featured. Listen live or archived. Major world and national issues are discussed. Lendman is a 2008 Project Censored winner and 2011 Mexican Journalists Club international journalism award recipient.

israeli forces kidnap 64 Palestinians in 2 days

Source

Israeli occupation forces kidnapped 64 Palestinians from occupied Jerusalem and West Bank, Palestinian and Israeli sources said. On Wednesday night, the Israeli occupation forces kidnapped 23 Palestinian civilians from their homes, while a 13-year-old school girl was shot and moderately wounded in her leg. Yesterday night, the Israeli occupation forces kidnapped 41 Palestinian civilians and shot wounded two others.

The Palestinians Prisoner Committee (PPC) said that the number of the Palestinians kidnapped by the Israeli occupation forces included 21 minors -one of them is 11 years old. Spokespersons of the Israeli occupation forces confirmed the large number of kidnappings, but did not verify the number given by the Palestinian sources. However, it could be larger because the Palestinian sources depend on family reports. It is worth noting that this massive kidnapping campaign came ahead of a season of Jewish holidays during which the Israeli occupation imposes strict security measures on Palestinians restricts their movement. It also closes all border crossings and bans all kinds of travel and goods passage.

Palestine news

Thanks to israel, Jerusalem is a “City of fear”

City of fear

Israeli border police push Palestinian men as they try to cross through the Qalandiya checkpoint, between the cities of Jerusalem and Ramallah in the occupied West Bank, on 11 July.

Oren Ziv ActiveStills

 

A few days ago, I was driving through Qalandiya checkpoint for the first time since I came back to Jerusalem.

My dad, sitting next to me, had to yell “stop here!” at me as I was queuing behind a car at the checkpoint.

“You’re too close,” he said, “stop and wait for them to call you, otherwise they’ll shoot you and not even care.”

When I left here to begin my life as a university student four years ago, and despite my sense of general optimism, I never really believed that I would come back to a better and more hopeful Jerusalem.

Over the four years, I would come back during the summer and end up leaving again with a strong belief that things would only be worse the next time I’d be home.

Here I am now, four summers later, having earned my degree, and I believe Jerusalem is worse than it has ever been for its non-Jewish inhabitants, the Palestinians.

Despite this depressing assessment, I have been looking forward to come back to Jerusalem as it is not only the city that I grew up in, but it is the place where I want to embark on the journey of being a young adult.

Fear everywhere

Two years ago, I wrote about the pervasive fear we Jerusalemites feel in our own city.

Today, sadly, this fear is even more intense and tangible. It is not just fanatics or nationalist mobs that worry me, it is every armed Israeli – citizen, police and military – who could end my or anyone else’s life in a second for no reason and without anyone batting an eye.

Since last summer, the ugliness of life in Jerusalem has come to show.

Hundreds of Palestinians of all ages have been harassed, brutalized, arrested, shot or killed.

This is in a city where Israel’s slow, steady but systematic discrimination is forcing Palestinian children out of schools and Palestinian families out of their homes.

In April, Maram Salih Hassan Abu Ismail, a 23-year-old mother of two small children, reportedly five months pregnant, and her 16-year-old brother Ibrahim Salih Hassan Taha, were gunned down by Israeli personnel at the same Qalandiya checkpoint, in the occupied West Bank, north of Jerusalem.

Israel claimed the pair were killed during an attempted knife attack on soldiers, but eyewitnesses described an execution of two people who didn’t understand commands being shouted at them in Hebrew and presented no threat to anyone.

The private firm contracted by the Israelis to man the checkpoint carried out an “internal investigation” and absolved itself of any wrongdoing.

The siblings were among more than 220 Palestinians, as well as more than 30 Israelis and two Americans, who have died since a new phase of violence began last October.

And according to Israel’s B’Tselem human rights group, Maram and Ismail were among dozens of Palestinians killed when they posed no threat in slayings “tantamount to executions.”

Driving while Palestinian

On the day I drove through Qalandiya, I recall my dad reminding me repeatedly how I should be extra careful how I am perceived by Israelis while on the road as anything they deem suspicious could have fatal consequences.

It has become standard in recent months for Israelis to judge any driving irregularities or accidents to be deliberate vehicular attacks, prompting Israelis to attack the driver and ask questions later.

Last month, an Israeli driver plowed his car into a Tel Aviv restaurant, killing two people, before a mob pulled him from the car and beat him believing him to be a Palestinian attacker.

But the man had suffered a heart attack. He died, though it was unclear whether it was due to the beating or the heart attack.

Sometimes just driving around puts your life at risk. On Wednesday, three young men in al-Ram came under a hail of bullets from Israeli forces raiding the village north of Jerusalem. One, Anwar al-Salaymeh, 22, was killed. Another was critically injured and the third detained.

An Israeli spokesperson told the Ma’an News Agency that the soldiers “saw a speeding vehicle heading towards them” and opened fire.

An autopsy was ordered for al-Salaymeh, after it was discovered that he was shot in the back three times, challenging the Israeli narrative.

And during Ramadan, 15-year-old Mahmoud Badran was killed when Israeli soldiers fired on the car he and friends were riding in on their way home from a late-night pool party. In that case, Israel admitted the car was “mistakenly hit.”

Merely walking around in Jerusalem’s Old City for the first time this summer was an uneasy experience.

Anything deemed provocative by the pervasive Israeli police could have costly consequences. It is an environment of fear designed to make us Jerusalemites feel uncomfortable and unwelcome in our own city.

First resort

The killing of Fadi Alloun last October, and other instances of Israeli police shooting Palestinians as mobs cheered them on, are memories we cannot shake and reminders of the precarious nature of our continued existence in this place.

Newly revealed documents show that Israeli police have been authorized to use lethal force as a first resort against any Palestinian seen to throw stones or firecrackers.

For years, Israel claimed that lethal force was only a last resort – even though in practice Israeli forces killed frequently, without provocation and with total impunity.

But you would never see similar measures taken against Jewish stone throwers or attackers who harass Palestinians regularly across the West Bank. Instead, the attackers habitually enjoy army protection.

Every few days I wake up to news of Palestinians being shot for acting “suspiciously” or allegedly possessing a knife. In all these cases, Israel is judge, jury and, often, executioner, with no credible justice system in place to independently investigate such claims or killings.

I still remember a few years back when a man in front of me at Qalandiya checkpoint was kicked by soldiers, humiliated and reduced to tears as he was denied passage through the checkpoint.

He had been carrying a bag full of cooking equipment and chefs knives and he had multiple papers showing he was part of a culinary school in Jerusalem.

Today, a person in a similar situation would have been killed and no one would question it as the mere possession of a knife has become enough of an excuse legitimizing the summary execution of Palestinians.

Still standing

An internal police report exposed by the Tel Aviv newspaper Haaretz this week, revealed, to no surprise of any Jerusalemite, that Israeli Border Police in Jerusalem “deliberately provoke Palestinians” in order to get a violent response.

One such manufactured provocation in Issawiyeh, in January, led to a confrontation in which Israeli forces shot 12-year-old Ahmad Abu Hummus in the head, causing severe brain damage.

Social media is never lacking in daily videos documenting the regular harassment, searches and humiliation of Palestinian youths in Jerusalem that lead to similar violence.

It is weird living in Jerusalem right now, especially knowing that this situation only strengthens my determination to stay here, live here and fight for this city.

I know too that if I wanted to write about all the forms of abuse against Palestinians in Jerusalem, I would be writing endlessly for days.

It is a situation where the power and might of the whole Israeli state is determined to alienate Palestinian Jerusalemites. However, this cruelty and injustice only breeds further resistance and defiance.

They may deem our lives worthless, our dignity of no value, our existence an inconvenience, but I believe Jerusalem continues to stand tall and defy the oppression no matter how dark the times have become.

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