israel’s Rogue Arms Trade

by Jonathan Cook

Israel has not divulged details of its ties to Myanmar's military government, but public records show that it has sold the military there armed patrol boats, guns and surveillance equipment [File: Soe Zeya Tun/Reuters]

Israel has not divulged details of its ties to Myanmar’s military government, but public records show that it has sold the military there armed patrol boats, guns and surveillance equipment [File: Soe Zeya Tun/Reuters]

Human rights activists are stepping up efforts to expose Israel’s long and covert history of supplying weapons and military training to regimes while they actively commit massacres, ethnic cleansing and genocide.

The issue of Israel’s trade with rogue regimes has been thrust into the spotlight again after revelations that it is sending weapons to Myanmar, in defiance of a US and European arms embargo.

Formerly known as Burma, Myanmar was condemned last month by the United Nations for conducting what it called a “textbook ethnic cleansing” of the Rohingya, a Muslim minority. Hundreds of thousands of Rohingya are reported to have fled to neighbouring Bangladesh in recent weeks, after evidence of the torching of entire villages, massacres and systematic rapes.

Israel has not divulged details of its ties to Myanmar’s military government, but public records show that it has sold the military there armed patrol boats, guns and surveillance equipment. Myanmar’s special forces have also been trained by Israelis.

Human rights groups are set to stage a protest outside Israel’s parliament on October 30, calling for an immediate halt to the weapons sales to Myanmar.

Israeli firms have also broken with the United States and Europe by supplying weapons and surveillance equipment to militias in South Sudan, where a civil war has raged since late 2013. Some 300,000 Sudanese are believed to have been killed in the fighting.

Eitay Mack, a human rights lawyer, has submitted a spate of petitions to the Israeli courts in an attempt to bring to light details of Israel’s trade with such regimes. He said the cases were designed to hasten war crimes investigations of the officials and contractors involved.

“Many Western states sell arms, but what’s unique about Israel is that, wherever war crimes and crimes against humanity are being committed, you find Israel is present,” Mack told Al Jazeera.

“The companies selling the weapons, and the officials who quietly approve the trade, must be held accountable. Otherwise, why would this ever stop?”

Clandestine practice

Mack said that Israel’s collusion with Myanmar’s military was part of a pattern of aiding rogue regimes that went back decades and reflected the importance of the arms trade to Israel’s economy.

Over the summer, it was revealed that Israeli defence officials approve 99.8 percent of all requests for arms export licences.

As well as fuelling the current violence in Myanmar and South Sudan, Israel has been accused of clandestinely providing arms used in notorious past episodes of genocide and ethnic cleansing in places such as Rwanda, the Balkans, Chile, Argentina, Sri Lanka, Haiti, El Salvador and Nicaragua. Israel also cultivated close ties to apartheid South Africa, Mack noted.

Yair Auron, a genocide researcher at Israel’s Open University, said that Israel’s supply of weapons to regimes such as Myanmar should be compared to the sending of arms to Nazi Germany during the Holocaust.

“These sales turn me and all Israelis into criminals, because they are sent in our name,” he told Al Jazeera. “We are abetting genocide.”

Efforts by human rights groups to shed light on Israel’s collusion with Myanmar have so far been frustrated by Israeli authorities and the courts.

The Haaretz daily accused Defence Minister Avigdor Lieberman of “lying” when he claimed in parliament last month that Israel’s policy in Myanmar accorded with that of the “enlightened world”.

Officials refused to disclose information of arms exports to the military government during a hearing at Israel’s Supreme Court last month on a petition to halt the sales. Lawyers for the state insisted on closed-door sessions when discussing relations with Myanmar.

The three judges hearing the case issued a gag order to prevent publication of their decision, widely assumed to have approved the continuation of arms sales. They justified the blackout on the grounds that publicity risked damaging Israel’s foreign relations.

Late last year, the same court rejected a petition demanding that officials release documents showing Israel’s role in arming Serbian forces that carried out massacres of Bosnians in the 1990s.

Campaigners are waiting on hearings in a host of other cases concerning South Sudan, Rwanda, Chile, Haiti and Argentina.

In August, Israeli officials argued before the Supreme Court that its exports to militias in South Sudan were “lawful”.

Evidence suggests that Israel sold rifles and surveillance equipment to militias and the army in South Sudan. A UN report found that the Israeli-made Ace and Galil rifles were in widespread use there. 

‘No oversight’

Next week, the Supreme Court is due to hear a petition on Israel’s involvement in Rwanda, where it reportedly armed Hutus who carried out genocidal attacks against Tutsis.

Mack noted that there were a handful of officials in the Israeli Defence Ministry overseeing some 400,000 annual permits issued for weapons sales. “That means in practice, there is no oversight at all,” he said.

Israeli companies, meanwhile, are authorised to sell arms to some 130 countries, though activists say there are other states with which Israel deals covertly.

Israel is the only major weapons exporter that has consistently bucked the global trend of a downturn in arms sales. In March, it was reported that Israel’s weapons trade in 2016 was worth some $6.5bn, up from $5.7bn the year before. That included a 70 percent jump in sales to Africa.

If countries want the best arms, then they probably go to the US and Europe. But when no one else will sell to you, then you turn to Israel.

John Brown, investigative journalist

African states accused of widespread human rights abuses were among more than 100 countries that attended the annual Israel Defence Exhibition, a weapons trade fair, in June.

Despite its tiny size, Israel is believed to be the sixth biggest arms exporter in the world – and the largest one per capita.

That has made arms sales integral to the Israeli economy, accounting for possibly as much as 8 percent of gross domestic product. As many as 100,000 Israeli households are reported to be dependent on the arms industry.

John Brown, an investigative journalist with the Haaretz newspaper who writes under a pseudonym, said there was a long history of what he called “Uzi diplomacy” – referring to the Israeli sub-machine gun that became a favourite with security forces around the world from the 1960s onwards.

“If countries want the best arms, then they probably go to the US and Europe. But when no one else will sell to you, then you turn to Israel,” he told Al Jazeera.

“The benefits for Israel are not just measured in money. Often even more important are the diplomatic and strategic alliances Israel can gain from this arms trade.”

A conduit for drones

Mack said that mounting international outrage over the plight of Myanmar’s Muslim minority provided an opportunity to shine a light on Israel’s long role in supporting regimes in the midst of ethnic cleansing and genocide.

In what sounded like a rare rebuke to Israel, Nikki Haley, the US ambassador to the UN, said last month: “Any country that is currently providing weapons to the Burmese military should suspend these activities until sufficient accountability measures are in place.”

Although the Israeli courts have blocked access to documents that could shed light on what arms have gone to Myanmar, activists have been able to identify some dealings from open sources

In September 2015, Min Aung Hlaing, the commander of Myanmar’s army, posted on social media details of a “shopping trip” to Israel that included visits to leading Israeli weapons manufacturers and a meeting with the Israeli military’s chief of staff, Gadi Eisenkott.

A year later, Michael Ben Baruch, an Israeli defence ministry official in charge of exports, visited Myanmar to meet its army’s top brass to sign a deal for patrol boats.

Shortly afterwards, the website of TAR Ideal Concepts, an Israeli company, posted images of its staff training Myanmar special forces and teaching them how to handle Israeli-made Corner-Shot guns.

Other analysts have suggested that Israel has also been acting as a conduit for Chinese weapons, including drones, to Myanmar, allowing Beijing to bypass the embargo.

“There is no statute of limitations on war crimes and crimes against humanity, so we will keep putting Israeli officials under pressure till the trade stops,” Mack said. “They will have to endure a regular ‘walk of shame’ in the courts, forcing them to explain their policies and why the documents remain secret.”

He noted that Israel’s success in arms dealing was intimately tied to five decades of its control over the occupied Palestinian territories.

“Israeli companies exploit Israel’s long experience there to sell arms, arguing that the weapons and training have been tested in real-world conditions.”

Brown said that Israel appeared to be indifferent towards the victims of the violence it helped to stoke. This was especially evident during the so-called “Dirty War” in Argentina, through much of the 1970s, when 30,000 left-wing activists were “disappeared”, he said. Israel is believed to have supplied the military government there with some $700m in weapons. 

“Of those killed, probably some 2,000 were Argentinian Jews,” he said. “Israel knew that the weapons it was selling were being turned on Jews, but that did not stop it selling arms. It simply didn’t care.”

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The History of israeli Support for Oppression and Genocide across the World (Part II)

(Part II)

The history of supports that the Zionist regime has provided for dictatorships around the world is filled with examples that should be registered in a long list.
South African Prime Minister Vorster meets with Israeli Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin and Knesset members Menachem Begin and Moshe Dayan, during a reception at Jerusalem’s Hilton.

The Israeli regime, weak at the beginning in the mid of twentieth century, made attempts to favor the countries from which it could get a mutual support. From the US to Britain, Germany and smaller countries like Myanmar, the Zionists made a long history of lining up with dictatorships.

Between 1973 and 1991, Pinochet’s dictatorship in Chile received weapons and training from Israeli governments and the IDF. The regime committed crimes against humanity, disappeared thousands, and tortured tens of thousands. The Pinochet regime brought torture to new heights of cruelty, unseen in modern history.

Between 1991-1995, the second Rabin Government sold arms used in both the Rwandan Genocide and the Bosnian War. As early as mid-1992, reports and footage of concentration camps set up by the Serbs for Bosnian Muslims began to emerge. Detainees in these camps were starved and tortured, and their bodies were thrown to the animals. Additional findings attested to the existence of rape camps, where Serbs held Muslim and Croatian women. Yet Israeli arms exports did not stop.

It was revealed, in September 2016, that Israel is trying to ensure the lifting of sanctions against Sudan, following the latter’s abandonment of its alliance with Iran. This took place although no one can deny that Sudanese dictator Omar al-Bashir — wanted by the International Criminal Court for the genocide in Darfur — continues to commit grave crimes.

The Nazis and Nazi Collaborators (Punishment) Law (1950), The Israeli Law on the Prevention and Punishment of Genocide (1950) and Article 16 of the Israeli Penal Law (added in 1994) were the Three laws which deals with offenses by “the Law of the Nations.” They have all stipulated universal jurisdiction in Israel for severe crimes under international law. In reality, these laws have been rendered null and void by the IDF, the Ministry of Defense, Israeli arms dealers, and senior Israeli officials.

The State of Israel’s fight against global anti-Semitism has been hollow from the beginning, in view of the racist elements underlying the ostensibly democratic regime within the Green Line and the military government in the occupied Palestinian territories, as well as Israel’s treatment of Mizrahi Jews, Ethiopian Jews, Palestinian citizens, refugees, and foreign workers.

One cannot fight anti-Semitism seriously without fighting racism inside and outside Israel, and without ending Israeli support for racist regimes across the world. One cannot speak of the lessons of the Holocaust while abetting the genocide of other nations, and even inviting murderers to lay wreaths at Yad Vashem.

Israel is the modern version of dictatorship from which no one could expect justice because it has been ruled mainly by dictators who excuse anything for the sake of reaching selfish and inhumane aims.

Religious bigotry is alive and well in israel

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Huge Spike in Number of Israelis ‘un-Jewed’ by Chief Rabbinate in Past Two Years

Trend appears related to new practice of re-examining and revoking religious status of citizens already recognized as Jewish

Judy Maltz, Haaretz
17 September 2017

The number of Israelis featured on a blacklist of  “unmarriageable” individuals, maintained by the Chief Rabbinate, has grown exponentially over the past two years, a new document obtained through a Freedom of Information Act inquiry shows. The list refers to individuals who are recognized as Jewish in the Population Registry but who are prohibited from marrying in Israel for various reasons.

This spike, as documented in a recent petition to the Supreme Court, coincides with a relatively new practice embraced by the Chief Rabbinate: Over the past two years, its representatives have begun summoning immigrants, already recognized as Jewish and who married in Israel, for background checks after doubts were raised about the religious status of relatives seeking to marry in the country. In such cases, after the marriage applicants had their request to marry denied, their relatives in Israel were suddenly notified that their Jewish status was either revoked or awaiting clarification.

Jews cannot marry in Israel without providing evidence to the Chief Rabbinate that they are Jewish. Typically, that evidence consists of the marriage certificates of their parents or, in the case of Jews from abroad, letters of certification from their congregational rabbis. Immigrants are often asked to provide the names of relatives living in Israel who can vouch for them. The Chief Rabbinate has the sole authority over marriage and divorce of Jews in Israel. Without being approved by the Chief Rabbinate, Jews cannot marry legally in Israel.

According to the newly released document compiled by the administrative offices of Israel’s rabbinical courts, almost 900 Israelis were added in 2015 and 2016 to the list of “unmarriageable” individuals in the following two categories: “pending clarification” and “non-Jews.” In all cases, these were individuals who were previously registered as Jewish.

The Chief Rabbinate began compiling its blacklist of “unmarriageable” Israelis in 1954. Since then, the total number of individuals in these two categories has been fewer than 4,000. That means that 22 percent of them were added in the past two years alone. Other categories included on the blacklist are “mamzerim” (the offspring of relationships forbidden by Jewish law), individuals suspected of still being married or divorced couples who have resumed living together. The total number of individuals on the list, since it was first compiled, is close to 6,800.

These numbers were compiled by the administrative offices of Israel’s rabbinical courts in response to a Freedom of Information Inquiry submitted by ITIM, an organization that advocates on behalf of immigrants facing challenges from Israeli religious authorities.

They are cited in an appeal to the Supreme Court filed by the organization several weeks ago on behalf of four families in Israel whose members were recently added to the blacklist.

The appeal was filed after the highest court of the Chief Rabbinate ruled, on appeal, that its representatives are authorized to reexamine the Jewish credentials of Israelis who have already been recognized as Jews in Israel. The ruling was issued in December, just days after the Chief Rabbinate published a new regulation allowing it to investigate the religious status of Israelis even if they are not applying to marry in Israel and even if they were already recognized as Jewish for the purpose of marriage.

In its appeal, ITIM argues that the Chief Rabbinate does not have this authority. It also argues that such background checks constitute an invasion of privacy.

According to Rabbi Seth Farber, the founder and executive director of ITIM, never in the past have relatives of marriage applicants had their Jewish status revoked or subject to further clarification.

“The idea that the Chief Rabbinate can suddenly ‘un-Jew’ individuals,” he said, “is completely antithetical to halakha (Jewish religious law), which states that one must take the word of people who say they are Jewish,” he said.

Representing the four families whose Jewish status in Israel has been challenged are also the Center for Women’s Justice and the Rackman Center for the Advancement of the Status of Women at Bar-Ilan University.

One case involves an American-born woman who married an Israeli in a civil ceremony in Florida in 1984. The couple moved to Israel that year, and the woman and the couple’s oldest child converted to Judaism the following year. Both were subsequently registered as Jewish in the Population Registry, as were two daughters later born to the couple. A few years ago, the oldest daughter applied to marry in Israel. In the process, her mother was notified by a representative of the Chief Rabbinate that her marriage was no longer valid because she was not Jewish. Her daughter subsequently decided to marry in a civil ceremony in Cyprus. The couple’s other daughters were notified that their names had been added to the blacklist until further clarification.

A second case involves a family of immigrants from the former Soviet Union. Recently, a relative of theirs who applied to get married in Israel was rejected because he could not provide sufficient proof that he was Jewish. After he was rejected, all his family members, who had already been registered as Jewish, were notified that their Jewish status was now pending clarification. A third case involves another family that immigrated to Israel from the former Soviet Union. When a daughter of theirs applied to get married two years ago and was not able to provide sufficient proof of her Jewish ancestry, all her relatives in the country, who already had been registered as Jewish, were subsequently informed that their religious status was now also pending clarification.

The fourth case also involves a family of immigrants from the former Soviet Union. In this particular case, an investigation was launched when a member of the family sought to divorce her husband, citing domestic violence. The estranged husband, in response, claimed that his wife had converted to Christianity. Based on this claim, which the woman categorically denied, the Chief Rabbinate notified relatives, who had already been registered as Jewish, that their Jewish status was now pending clarification.

Commenting on the four cases, Farber said: “ Behind each story here are real families who have had the carpet pulled out from under their feet. Halachic Judaism is not meant to cause suffering. By initiating Jewishness investigations, the rabbinate is further undermining its historic role in Israel.”

A few months ago, it emerged that the Chief Rabbinate also maintains a blacklist of rabbis from abroad whose letters of certification for the purpose of marriage it does not honor. This controversial list was also obtained through a Freedom of Information Act inquiry. The Chief Rabbinate has since announced that it plans to make public a new list of criteria for approving rabbis from abroad for such letters of certification.

The Brutal Realities of israel’s Iron-fisted Occupation

The Brutal Realities of Israel’s Iron-fisted Occupation

By Dennis J Bernstein and John Pilger

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

The Price for Criticizing Israel

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Click below to listen to full interview with John Pilger

 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

Isaac Herzog: Netanyahu and I Visited Arab Leaders

Local Editor

03-07-2017 | 15:29

‘Israeli’ opposition leader Isaac Herzog confirmed that he, along with Zionist Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu visited leaders in the Arab world, saying: “I met with leaders that have never been seen by ‘Israeli’ eyes. The political process I was in charge of was huge, and it gives hope of building a Palestinian state,” ‘Israel’ Hayom reported.

Isaac Herzog: Netanyahu and I Visited Arab Leaders


Herzog, however, said he was “not ready for any one-sided step,” the newspaper added. “There is an alternative coalition in our hands. Proper work might defragment Netanyahu’s coalition,” he added.

Herzog’s remarks were made on the eve of the preliminary elections of the Zionist “Labor” Party which will take place on Tuesday to elect a new president.

Estimations, however, show that none of the candidates will win 40% of the votes, the required percentage for someone to win, expecting to hold another round next Monday.

Source: Zionist Media, Edited by website team

It’s official, israel is on the road to fascism

First a flashback to the 60’s …. There was a joke circulating that went something like this … An American and a Soviet were having a discussion. The American said “I live in a Democracy, I can call President Kennedy a bastard and nothing will happen to me”. The Soviet responded, “I too live in a Democracy, I can also call President Kennedy a bastard and nothing will happen to me”.

Now, a look at ‘The Only Democracy in the Middle East” ….

U.S.-born Jeff Halper, cofounder of the Israeli Committee Against House Demolitions, was held after leading a tour of the E1 area across the road from the Israeli settlement of Ma’aleh Adumim.

Police Detain Prominent Israeli Activist for Alleged Possession of BDS Material
Yotam Berger

Police detained prominent left-wing activist Jeff Halper last Wednesday at the Ma’aleh Adumim settlement, for suspected incitement, saying they acted on a complaint he had “materials related to BDS” in his possession.

Halper, who moved to Israel from the United States in 1973, was picked up after leading a tour of foreigners to the E1 site across the road from the settlement and transported by police van to a nearby station then released without being placed under arrest.

Police officers photographed the posters and maps he was holding before freeing him. Halper denies handing out any material related to BDS during the tour, or even discussing the boycott movement.

Handing out such materials would not have been in violation of the law, even a 2011 anti-boycott law according to which a person or an organization calling for the boycott of Israel, including the settlements, can be sued by the boycott’s targets without them having to prove that they sustained any damage.

The law also denies a person or a company that declares a boycott of Israel or the settlements eligibility to bid for government tenders. A separate law passed this month entitles Israel to deny entry to pro-BDS activists.

Halper, cofounder of the Israeli Committee Against House Demolitions, told Haaretz he was on a tour with foreign visitors in the territories last Wednesday. He took the group of 15 to a lookout over Area E1, near Ma’aleh Adumim.

“It’s a good place to show them this context of where Ma’aleh Adumim is located relative to Jerusalem. It’s a regular stop on our tours, this wasn’t the first time I was taking a group to this spot,” Halper said.

After the tour the tourists boarded a bus headed north and he headed to catch a bus to Jerusalem, but “as I ran toward a bus, I saw police in the area, and I saw them talking and contacting the group. I called the Palestinian driver (of the bus transporting the tourists) and he said he had heard a rumor that we were distributing BDS material.”

“Suddenly the bus came to a stop in the Middle of Maaleh Adumim, after two stops, the police boarded the bus and told me, you are being detained, and they took me off the bus,” Halper said.

Halper was questioned about the material he had.

“They didn’t tell me why I was being detained; they said something about BDS, but no details. They put me into a van, which is unpleasant as it is. They drove me in the direction of the police station. Just when we got to the station they stopped and asked me a few questions about what I had in my bag and whether I had any BDS material in the bag.

“We got out of the vehicle and they threw my maps on the van, the maps were of Jerusalem and the greater Jerusalem area. There was also something on which it was written BDS for BDS, it’s something that I use. I say that we have no solution to offer and I propose a binational democratic state, so I have the slogan that goes BDS for BDS. It’s not a sticker or flyer, but just a map with those words on it.

“They found it and took it, wrote up a summons or something like that, and released me,” Halper said.

Halper said the police refused to give him a copy of the ticket or explain what he was suspected of.

In response to a query from Haaretz, the Samaria regional police said:
“There is no investigation into this matter. There was information checked by a patrol once it became clear he committed no violations, he was freed.”
Police spokespeople said the suspicion against him is “incitement” but he was released after questioning, and no further investigation was expected to take place.

Jeff Halper from his Facebook page. Credit Facebook

Also this weekend ….

British pro-BDS activist barred from entering Israel

Week after Knesset passes law banning foreign nationals who call for boycotts, ex-chair of Palestine Solidarity Campaign Hugh Lanning denied entry

Full report HERE

Israel is quickly getting there …

’Israeli’ A-G Orders Criminal Investigation into Netanyahu المدعى العام فى إسرائيل يأمر بالتحقيق فى “أمور” تتصل بنتنياهو

Netanyahu to Be Investigated For Bribery, Fraud

Local Editor

‘Israeli’ Attorney General Avichai Mandelblit reportedly approved a full criminal investigation of Zionist Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu into allegations of bribery and fraud.

Netanyahu will be investigated by police for two separate cases and will be called in for police questioning in the coming days, Channel 10 reported on Wednesday.

Earlier on the same day, ‘Israeli’ media reported that the police obtained new documents in a secret probe against Netanyahu, prompting them to seek a full criminal investigation against him.

Since discovering the files, police have requested from Attorney General Avichai Mandelblit that he allow a full investigation against Netanyahu.

 

Authorities are reportedly convinced that they will be able to open one in the coming days, Channel 2 News reported, according to The Times of ‘Israel’.

The documents were reportedly obtained as part of a secret inquiry against Netanyahu by special police unit Lahav 433, which was launched in June. The probe was given the green light by Police Chief Roni Alsheich, who demanded secrecy and that no details of the investigation be leaked to the media.

Meanwhile, Mandelblit also reportedly instructed employees in the state prosecutor’s office to look into allegations that Netanyahu accepted €1 million [$1.04 million] from Arnaud Mimran, a French businessman currently serving eight years in prison for committing carbon tax fraud.

During his trial, Mimran claimed he donated the money to Netanyahu during his 2009 election campaign.

However, Netanyahu has repeatedly denied the donation, and a spokesperson for him called the newest action “nonsense.”

It is indeed far from the first time that Netanyahu has come under fire for suspected corruption. Last month, Mandelblit opened a probe into an alleged scandal involving the purchase of German submarines, with Netanyahu’s personal friend and lawyer suspected of a conflict of interest. The prime minister is expected to be questioned in the probe.

In July 2015, then-Attorney General Yehuda Weinstein announced a criminal investigation into alleged misconduct at Netanyahu’s residences.

Netanyahu’s wife, Sara, has also found herself in the spotlight for corruption, accused of misusing public funds in May. She was also accused of stealing thousands of dollars worth of state funds from bottles returned to local supermarkets last year.

Source: News Agencies, Edited by website team

28-12-2016 | 10:43

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قالت وزارة العدل الإسرائيلية اليوم الأحد إن المدعى العام فى إسرائيل أمر بفتح تحقيق فى “أمور” تتصل برئيس الوزراء بنيامين نتنياهو لكن الوزارة لم تحدد ماهية هذه الأمور.
جاء هذا البيان بعد أيام من تكهنات وسائل الإعلام الإسرائيلية بشأن وجود شكوك رسمية محتملة فى ارتكاب أخطاء من جانب نتنياهو أو أشخاص مقربين منه.
ونفى نتنياهو عبر محاميه ارتكاب أى أخطاء. ويقضى نتنياهو الفترة الرابعة له فى منصب رئيس الوزراء.

وقال البيان إن قرار المدعى العام أفيخاى ماندلبليت جاء بعد الحصول على معلومات عن أمور تتعلق ضمن أشياء أخرى برئيس الوزراء، والتى بحثها مع مسئولين كبار فى الشرطة والادعاء.
وتابع البيان لابد من التأكيد على أن هذه عملية بحث وتحر ولم يفتح بعد تحقيق جنائى يتعلق برئيس الوزراء.

ويمكن أن تكون هذه العملية مرحلة أولية تقود إلى فتح تحقيق جنائي.

 

 

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