Israel Cannot Use Violent Self-Defense While Occupying Gaza

Photo Source U.S. Embassy Jerusalem | CC BY 2.0

Whenever bombings and shootings escalate in the Middle East, Israeli propagandists say that Israel is exercising its right of military self-defense against indiscriminate attacks coming from the Gaza Strip. But as this article documents, the right to use force in self-defense is contingent on Israel ending its military occupation and blockade of Gaza.

DON’T MISQUOTE ME ON THAT!

Doubtless some unscrupulous person or persons will quote or interpret this article out of context and claim that I’m saying that Israel has no right to self-defense at all. So, let me be clear: Israel is a nation-state like any other, like it or not. It therefore has the same legal rights as any nation-state, like it or not; including the right to use self-defense when under attack.

However, that right within the context of occupation is contingent on Israel’s adherence to international law; again, just like any state. For example: The US and British forces had no legal right to hurt or kill Iraqis resisting the illegal US-British invasion and occupation, which began in 2003. The only rights that the US and British had there was to leave.

Since 1967, Israel has occupied the Gaza Strip (and the West Bank of the Jordan, which it has now de facto annexed) in violation of international law. Yes, Israel withdrew its illegal colonies from Gaza in 2005, but it maintained the military blockade, which is an act of war and a violation of the IV Geneva Convention, which prohibits collective punishment.

As long as it continues its occupation/annexation of the Palestinian territories, Israel cannot use force in self-defense from attacks, even indiscriminate ones, emanating from Gaza. If it ended the occupation and blockade of the Palestinian territories, then it could argue a case for the use of force, assuming peaceful options are exhausted.

WHAT THE LIBERAL MEDIA SAY

Forget the madcap right-wing (e.g., a Fox News reporter standing next to what he claims is a flaming bakery hit by Palestinian rockets). How are the supposedly more intelligent and humane liberal media reporting the current violence?

The BBC says that “Violence has flared between Israel and Palestinian militants in Gaza, a day after seven militants and an Israeli soldier were killed during an undercover Israeli operation in Gaza.” Militants? It goes on to say that: “Militants fired 300 rockets and mortars at Israel. One hit a bus, seriously injuring a soldier nearby. Israel responded with more than 70 strikes on what it said were targets belonging to Hamas and Islamic Jihad.” Responded? Surely the BBC means to say that armed Palestinian groups responded to Israel’sactions, which occurred in the context of its unlawful 50-year occupation?

Notice the use of the word “militants.” The report doesn’t use words like “Zionists” when describing Israelis.

The online article includes an embedded tweet from the Israeli Defense Forces: “RAW FOOTAGE: The skies of southern Israel RIGHT NOW. Dozens of rockets are being fired from #Gaza at Israeli civilians.” There is no embedded video of the shocking conditions in which Palestinian civilians are forced by Israel to live (a point to which we shall return). Near the bottom of the article, the BBC approaches something bordering truthfulness when it says: “Israel, along with Egypt, has maintained a blockade of Gaza,” but it then goes back to the lies: “…since about 2006 in order, they say, to stop attacks by militants.”

The word “occupation” is mentioned not once. So, the gist of the BBC’s reporting is that Gaza is plagued by dangerous Islamists hell-bent on Israel’s destruction and that Israel is doing what it can, sometimes ham-fistedly (as in the latest “botched” special forces operation), to defend itself.

CNN quotes Israeli PM Netanyahu as saying that “Hamas vowed to destroyed Israel,” ergo long-term peace was “impossible.”

The Washington Post claims that the latest “flare-up” was “triggered” by a “botched” Israeli operation inside Gaza. It quotes Israeli Army spokesman Lt. Col. Jonathan Conricus, that Israelis under Palestinian rocket-fire face “the most severe attack on … civilians by terrorist organizations from Gaza since our 2014 operation [Protective Edge].” Near the end of the article, the reporters mention, casually, Israel’s “tight restrictions on trade and travel.” Below, we’ll take a look at what these “tight restrictions” actually mean.

The New York Times describes what is happening as “An eruption,” rather than a continuation and predictable consequence of Israel’s ongoing brutality. It also mentions Israel’s “tight control over the border,” which has endured since 2005, they claim (not 1967 as is the reality), when Israel withdrew its illegal colonies. Approaching truth toward the end of the article, the NTY, unlike the BBC, quotes Chris Gunness of the UN Relief and Works Agency, who describes the humanitarian situation in Gaza for nearly 2 million ordinary civilians, half of whom are children, as a disaster and a “collective punishment.”

WHAT HUMAN RIGHTS GROUPS SAY

With the exception of the Gunness quote, the media have suppressed the severity of the humanitarian crisis in Gaza. The crisis is caused by the US-enabled Israeli blockade. Its importance in terms of the number of people affected vastly eclipses the firing of indiscriminate rockets into Israel by armed Palestinian groups.

The UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs states:“Palestinians in Gaza are ‘locked in’, denied free access to the remainder of the occupied Palestinian territory and the outside world.” According to the UN children’s fund UNICEF, “more than 96 per cent of abstracted water is polluted and not fit for human consumption due to high salinity levels from sea water intrusion and high nitrate levels from excessive use of agrochemicals and wastewater infiltration.”

Jamie McGoldrick and James Heenan of the UN say:

“All over the occupied Palestinian territory, but particularly in the Gaza Strip, we see children robbed of every right. Families cope with four hours of electricity per day in the sweltering heat. Clean drinking water is expensive and hard to find. The start of the school year in one month will be very difficult for tens of thousands of families who cannot afford basic school supplies.”

When trapped Gazans resist with overwhelmingly non-violent protest, they receive the following treatment, as described by a Red Cross doctor, Gabriel Salazar: “We estimate there are over 1,300 people with complex, sometimes multiple injuries,” care of the Israeli Defense Forces responding to the protests, “that will require at least three to five surgeries each. The recovery period may take months or even years and we believe some 400 will remain with temporary or permanent disability.” Many demonstrators are deliberately shot in the legs and refused treatment by Israel in neighboring Jordan.

IS GAZA STILL OCCUPIED?

Gaza and the West Bank, including East Jerusalem, have been unlawfully occupied by Israel since June 1967. This means that every Israeli military action in those territories, except withdrawal, is unlawful. In November 1967, the United Nations adopted Security Council Resolution 242, which states:

Emphasizing the inadmissibility of the acquisition of territory by war and the need to work for a just and lasting peace in which every State in the area can live in security,…

1. Affirms that the fulfillment of Charter principles requires the establishment of a just and lasting peace in the Middle East which should include the application of both the following principles:

(i) Withdrawal of Israel armed forces from territories occupied in the recent conflict…

In 2004, the International Court of Justice opined:

“All these territories (including East Jerusalem) remain occupied territories and Israel has continued to have the status of occupying Power … Israeli settlements in the Occupied Palestinian Territory, including East Jerusalem, are illegal … The Court concludes that the Israeli settlements in the Occupied Palestinian Territory (including East Jerusalem) have been established in breach of international law.”

In 2018, the UN Human Rights Council reaffirmed that Gaza and the West Bank, including East Jerusalem, are occupied by Israel:

“In the resolution, adopted by a vote of 29 in favour, two against [the US and Australia], and 14 abstentions, the Council decided to urgently dispatch an independent, international commission of inquiry, to be appointed by the President of the Human Rights Council, to investigate all alleged violations and abuses of international humanitarian law and international human rights law in the occupied Palestinian territory, including East Jerusalem, particularly in the occupied Gaza Strip, in the context of the military assaults on the large-scale civilian protests that began on 30 March 2018.”

ISRAEL’S RIGHT OF SELF-DEFENSE

Given that the international consensus is that Israel remains the illegal occupying power in the Palestinian territories (including Gaza and East Jerusalem), Israel has no right to use force to defend itself against Palestinian attacks while it remains the illegal occupying power. If Israel ended the occupations of Gaza and the West Bank, it would be entitled to use force in self-defense, assuming that peaceful options are exhausted.

Hyde’s International Law Volume III states: “A belligerent,” i.e., Israel in this case, “which is contemptuous of conventional or customary prohibitions,” i.e., Israel continues to occupy Gaza, “is not in a position to claim that its adversary,” i.e., Hamas and other armed Palestinian groups, “when responding with like for like,” i.e., rocket-fire into Israel, “lacks the requisite excuse” (emphasis in original).

The Annual Digest and Reports of Public International Law Cases 1948 states: “Under International Law, as in Domestic Law, there can be no reprisal against reprisal. The assassin who is being repulsed by his intended victim may not slay him and then, in turn, plead self-defense.” By the same logic, Israel cannot occupy Gaza, collectively punish the population, and then claim to be acting in self-defense against Gazan rocket-fire.

In response to the Gaza massacre 2014, international jurist John Dugard said: “given the fact that Gaza is an occupied territory, it means that Israel’s present assault is simply a way of enforcing the continuation of the occupation, and the response of the Palestinian militants should be seen as the response of an occupied people that wishes to resist the occupation.”

More articles by:

Dr. T. J. Coles is director of the Plymouth Institute for Peace Research and the author of several books, including Voices for Peace (with Noam Chomsky and others) and the forthcoming Fire and Fury: How the US Isolates North Korea, Encircles China and Risks Nuclear War in Asia (both Clairview Books).

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Israel Is Now Powerless – Palestine Is Inevitable

Image result for Israel Is Now Powerless – Palestine Is Inevitable

By Mikhail Osherov

Nov 19, 2018

Op-ed By Mikhail Osherov – The current military-political doctrine of the Israeli leadership is based on the continuation of the occupation of the Syrian and Palestinian territories occupied by the state of Israel, which requires constant violence and acts of international aggression and state terrorism against the population of the occupied territories of the West Bank, Gaza Strip, Syria and Iran.

Also, the military-political doctrine of the leadership of Israel requires impunity, and no losses. Israeli society is not prepared for any losses. Israeli moms love when their children dress in a beautiful green uniform, eat in army canteens and kill Arabs, but they don’t like their children being killed in a war.

From a historical point of view, when citizens of a state are not ready to die for their country, such states die (as an example, Byzantium, whose walls could no longer protect them, and had only mercenaries).

In order to commit unpunished acts of aggression without loss, considerable, if not absolute, military-technical superiority is required. Until recently, the state of Israel had such superiority. But in recent years and months the situation has begun to change.

During the Israeli aggression against Lebanon in 2006, the latest Israeli Merkava tanks were destroyed and damaged by the usual old Soviet anti-tank systems of the 1970s.

After several days of fighting with absolute air supremacy and after the loss of a significant number of tanks for Israel, all the Merkava tanks were no longer used as assault tanks in the first line of attack, and were diverted to the second line and later used as self-propelled artillery guns.

Casualties in Lebanon forced the Israeli army to retreat back into Israeli territory. If the Israeli leadership had any goals in this war, they were not met. The Israeli army suffered a defeat in this war, and Israeli society began to demand even more military operations from its government.

Recently, Syria saw the end of many years of Israeli aggression. After the tragic death of the Russian Il-20 aircraft, which occurred because of an Israeli air raid on Latakia, and the transfer to Syria of S-300 air defense systems by Russia, Israeli air raids on Syria ceased due to fear of losing the aircraft and the pilots.

Syrian and Russian air defense systems now “see” the entire north and center of Israel. Israeli aircraft now use airfields in the Beersheba area for reconnaissance missions for reconnaissance missions.

During the last Israeli conflict with the [tremendously lesser equipped – ed] Gaza Strip, which occurred on November 11-12 due to another Israeli attempt to conduct a terrorist operation in the Gaza Strip by Israeli special forces, which was discovered and partially eliminated, another war of the State of Israel with the surrounded and he blocked the Gaza Strip.

Israeli missiles destroyed 160 objects in the Gaza Strip. From the Gaza Strip towards Israel, 460 missiles were fired, of which only 106 were intercepted by the iron dome’s vaunted Israeli air defense systems.

It turned out that these systems cannot intercept salvo launches of unguided rockets and shells. This can be compared with the actions of the Syrian air defense systems “Pantsir” and “Thor” in Syria, which reflected the simultaneous attack of hundreds of maneuvering American cruise missiles. After the threat of the leaders of the Gaza Strip to strike at the Israeli Ben-Gurion airport, hostilities between Israel and the Gaza Strip were stopped.

In the near future, the state of Israel will inevitably lose its military superiority over neighboring countries, which is actually happening today. This means that further unilateral and unpunished Israeli aggressive actions against Syria and the Palestinians will be impossible in the future.

Having embarked on the path of supporting Syrian and international gangsters fighting against the legitimate Syrian government, the State of Israel only reduced its diplomatic capabilities and tainted itself with the shame of working with bandits and murderers.

The endless Israeli provocations against the Gaza Strip and violence against the Palestinian population of the Israeli-occupied West Bank cannot last forever. The hands of the clock of history are approaching the final mark for the state of Israel.

The leadership of the State of Israel now needs to think not about the war, but that it’s better and more beneficial for the State of Israel to end the occupation of the Palestinian and Syrian territories, conclude a comprehensive peace agreement in the Middle East and create an independent Palestinian state today, with Israel’s relative superiority than later, when it will be done ultimately on Iranian, Syrian and Egyptian conditions alone.

Netanyahu’s ceasefire is meant to keep Gaza imprisoned

Netanyahu’s ceasefire is meant to keep Gaza imprisoned

Israeli bombing of Gaza

By Jonathan Cook in Nazareth

Palestinians in Gaza should have been able to breathe a sigh of relief last week, as precarious ceasefire talks survived a two-day-long, heavy exchange of strikes that threatened to unleash yet another large-scale military assault by Israel.

Late on 13 November, after the most intense bout of violence in four years, Israeli Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu and Hamas, the Islamic movement that rules Gaza, approved a long-term truce brokered by Egypt.

Both are keen to avoid triggering an explosion of popular anger in Gaza, the consequences of which would be difficult to predict or contain.

The tiny enclave is on life support, having endured three devastating and sustained attacks by Israel, as well as a suffocating blockade, over the past decade. Thousands of homes are in ruins, the water supply is nearly undrinkable, electricity in short supply, and unemployment sky-high.

In the hands of warmongers

But as is so often the case, the enclave’s immediate fate rests in the hands of Israeli politicians desperate to cast themselves as Israel’s warmonger-in-chief and thereby reap an electoral dividend.

Elections now loom large after Avigdor Lieberman, Israel’s hawkish defence minister, resigned on 14 November in the wake of the clashes. He accused Netanyahu of “capitulating to terror” in agreeing to the ceasefire.

Lieberman takes with him a handful of legislators, leaving the governing coalition with a razor-thin majority of one parliamentary seat. Rumours were rife over the weekend that another party, the ultra-nationalist Jewish Home, was on the brink of quitting the coalition.

Scuppering the ceasefire

In fact, Netanyahu recklessly triggered these events. He had smoothed the path to a truce earlier this month by easing the blockade. Fuel had been allowed into the enclave, as had $15 million in cash from Qatar to cover salaries owed to Gaza’s public-sector workers.

At this critical moment, Netanyahu agreed to a covert incursion by the Israeli army, deep into Gaza. When the soldiers were exposed, the ensuing firefight left seven Palestinians and an Israeli commander dead.

The two sides then upped the stakes: Hamas launched hundreds of rockets into Israel, while the Israeli military bombarded the enclave. The air strikes killed more than a dozen Palestinians.

Lieberman had reportedly expressed outrage over the transfer of Qatari money to Gaza, claiming it would be impossible to track how it was spent. The ceasefire proved the final straw.

Hamas leaders boasted that they had created a “political earthquake” with Lieberman’s resignation. But the shockwaves may not be so easily confined to Israel.

“Moderate” hyena

Strangely, Netanyahu now sounds like the most moderate voice in his cabinet. Fellow politicians are demanding Israel “restore its deterrence” – a euphemism for again laying waste to Gaza.

Naftali Bennett, the head of the settler Jewish Home party, denounced the ceasefire as “unacceptable” and demanded the vacant defence post.

There was flak, too, from Israel’s so-called left. The opposition Labour Party leader, Avi Gabbay, called Netanyahu “weak”, while former Prime Minister Ehud Barak said he had “surrendered to Hamas under fire”.

Warmongering Israeli public

Similar sentiments are shared by the public. Polls indicate 74 per cent of Israelis favour a tougher approach.

Sderot, close to Gaza and targeted by rockets, erupted into angry protests. Placards bearing the slogan “Bibi Go Home” – using Netanyahu’s nickname – were evident for the first time in his party’s heartland.

With this kind of goading, an election in the offing, and corruption indictments hanging over his head, Netanyahu may find it difficult to resist raising the temperature in Gaza once again.

But he also has strong incentives to calm things down and shore up Hamas’s rule.

The suggestion by some commentators that Netanyahu has turned a new leaf as a “man of peace” could not be more misguided. What distinguishes Netanyahu from his cabinet is not his moderation, but that he has a cooler head than his far-right rivals.

Overriding aim: to undermine the Palestinian national project

He believes there are better ways than lashing out to achieve his core political aim: the undermining of the Palestinian national project. This was what he meant on 14 November when he attacked critics for missing “the overall picture of Israel’s security”.

On a practical level, Netanyahu has listened to his generals, who warn that, if Israel provokes war with Hamas, it may find itself ill-equipped to cope with the fallout on two other fronts, in Lebanon and Syria.

But Netanyahu has still deeper concerns. As veteran Israeli military analyst Ben Caspit observed: “The only thing more dangerous to Netanyahu than getting tangled up in war is getting tangled up in peace.”

The Israeli army has responded to months of largely non-violent mass protests at Gaza’s perimeter fence by killing more than 170 Palestinian demonstrators and maiming thousands more.

The protests could turn into an uprising. Palestinians storming the fence that imprisons them is an eventuality the Israeli army is entirely unprepared for. Its only response would be to slaughter Palestinians en masse, or reoccupy Gaza directly.

Netanyahu’s preference for Hamas

Netanyahu would rather bolster Hamas, so it can keep a lid on the protests than face an international backlash and demands that he negotiate with the Palestinians.

Further, a ceasefire that keeps Hamas in power in Gaza also ensures that Mahmoud Abbas and his Palestinian Authority, based in the West Bank, can be kept out.

That was in part why Netanyahu, against his normal instincts, allowed the transfer of the Qatari money, which had been opposed by the Palestinian Authority. It is not just a fillip for Hamas, it is a slap in the face to Abbas.

A disunited Palestine, divided territorially and ideologically, is in no position to exert pressure on Netanyahu – either through Europe or the United Nations – to begin peace talks or concede Palestinian statehood.

That is all the more pressing, given that the White House insists that President Trump’s long-delayed peace plan will be unveiled within the next two months.

Leaks suggest that the US may propose a separate “entity” in Gaza under Egyptian supervision and financed by Qatar. The ceasefire should be seen as a first step towards creating a pseudo-Palestinian state in Gaza along these lines.

Palestinians there are now caught between a rock and a hard place. Between vengeful hotheads such as Lieberman, who want more carnage in Gaza, and Netanyahu, who prefers to keep the Palestinians quiet and largely forgotten in their tiny prison.


A version of this article first appeared in The National, Abu Dhabi. The version here is published by permission of Jonathan Cook.

 

UN Special Rapporteurs give Israel 60 days to respond to ‘deep concerns’ regarding Jewish Nation-State Law

UN Special Rapporteurs give Israel 60 days to respond to ‘deep concerns’ regarding Jewish Nation-State Law

Adalah – 15/11/2018

Four Special Rapporteurs express ‘deep concern’ that Nation-State Law is ‘discriminatory in nature and in practice against non-Jewish citizens and other minorities and does not apply the principle of equality between citizens, which is one of the key principles for democratic political systems.’

Following a special request for action issued by Adalah – The Legal Center for Arab Minority Rights in Israel, four United Nations special rapporteurs have given Israel a 60-day deadline to respond to their grave concerns regarding the Jewish Nation-State Law, adopted by the Knesset on 19 July 2018.

The 60-day period began on 2 November 2018 when UN Special Rapporteur in the field of cultural rights Karima Bennoune, Special Rapporteur on the situation of human rights in the Palestinian territories occupied since 1967 Michael Lynk, Special Rapporteur on minority issues Fernand de Varennes, and Special Rapporteur on contemporary forms of racism, racial discrimination, xenophobia and related intolerance E. Tendayi Achiume sent a communique to Israeli authorities expressing their deep concerns regarding the impact of the new law.

In their letter, the special rapporteurs expressed “deep concern” that the Israeli Basic Law appears “to be discriminatory in nature and in practice against non-Jewish citizens and other minorities and does not apply the principle of equality between citizens, which is one of the key principles for democratic political systems.”

Adalah, representing all of the Arab political leadership in Israel – The High Follow-up Committee for Arab Citizens in Israel, the Joint List (Arab members of the Knesset), and the National Committee for Arab Mayors, filed a petition against the Jewish Nation-State Basic Law on 7 August 2018 to the Israeli Supreme Court. The petition demands that the Court cancel the law as it contradicts fundamental international human rights norms in place since the end of World War II; negates almost 20 years of Supreme Court caselaw concerning the right to equality and land rights; and constitutes an abuse of power by the majority in the Knesset.

The special rapporteurs emphasize that they fear that “the law as adopted offers a legal basis for the pre-eminence of Jewish people over non-Jewish citizens who are members of other ethno-religious and linguistic minority groups, and creates a legal order and an environment that could potentially lead to further discriminatory legislative and/or policy actions, which contravene the international human rights obligations of Israel.”

The special rapporteurs further expressed concern, in light of the Nation-State Law, regarding Israel’s commitments to the  International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights and the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights which both stipulate the right of all peoples to self-determination.

Amongst a more extensive series of requests, the special rapporteurs call on Israel to:

  • “Indicate the impact of Article 5 of the Law on the current immigration procedures in Israel, on how Jewish and non-Jewish immigrants are dealt with under current procedures, and how such provision may affect the immigration status determination of non-Jews”;
  • “Provide further information on Article 7, and particularly whether it will or not contribute to potential segregation on the basis of ethnicity or religion, and whether it is an endorsement to develop Jewish settlements, including in the Occupied Palestinian Territory, in direct violation of international law”;
  • “Clarify the consequences of the new status of the Arabic language, and the impact if any on its use for official purposes, including on public signs, in public institutions including social and health services and in the education system.”

The special rapporteurs note that the State of Israel failed to respond to an earlier query sent 21 June 2017 by the UN special rapporteurs concerning a draft bill of what was to eventually be adopted as the Jewish Nation-State Law.

Any response Israeli authorities may send to the special rapporteurs will be provided to the United Nations Human Rights Council for consideration.

CLICK HERE to read the UN Special Rapporteurs communique

CLICK HERE to learn more about the Jewish Nation-State Law

The Art of the Smear – The israel (apartheid state) Lobby Busted

The Art of the Smear — The Israel Lobby Busted
By Sheldon Richman

Information Clearing House    In 2016 and 2017 Al Jazeera produced a program that unmistakenly documents the Israel government and U.S. Israel lobby’s all-out effort to spy on, smear, and disrupt American students and other activists who are working to build an understanding of the Palestinians’ plight. The Lobby — USA, however, has never been broadcast by Al Jazeera. Reporting indicates that it was suppressed after pressure from the lobby on the government of Qatar, which funds Al Jazeera. Nevertheless, it is now available at The Electronic Intifada and on YouTube. Watch all four parts here and here. What the program presents is shocking.

The Lobby — USA, which features an undercover journalist who won the trust of key pro-Israel operatives and who videoed revealing meetings, demonstrates beyond question the lengths to which the Israelis and their supporters in the United States will go to prevent a change in American thinking about the beleaguered Palestinians. The effort aims to smear Palestinian students in the United States and pro-Palestinian American activists and political candidates who criticize Israeli policy as anti-Semites and enablers of terrorism. The paid pro-Israel operatives, guided by Israeli government officials and embassy staff, have used social media and other channels in an attempt to destroy the career potential of student activists who work to raise Americans’ consciousness about the Palestinians. Establishment news operations, such as the Washington Post, are also implicated. Major targets are activists in the Boycott, Divestment, Sanctions (BDS) Movement and Students for Justice in Palestine.

Al Jazeera produced a similar program about Israeli interference in British politics, which led to resignations of a key Israeli embassy official and other reactions that confirmed Al Jazeera’s damaging charges.

I could not do justice to the program even in a long article. Instead, I will urge readers to watch it in its entirety — and think carefully about what it means.

As one critic of Israel asks on the program, if Russia or Iran or China were doing what Israel and its American friends are doing, most people would be outraged. This is hardly the first time that Israel and friends have been caught covertly and overtly trying to influence discourse and even elections here through smear campaigns against activists, writers, and political candidates, but this is certainly among the most flagrant and elaborate examples.

Let’s step back from the poisonous trees for a moment to view the forest. In 1948 the leaders of a European and nominally Jewish movement, Zionism, unilaterally declared the existence of the State of Israel, which they proclaimed the nation-state of all Jews everywhere, a status recently reaffirmed by the Israeli Knesset. (The UN General Assembly recommended partitioning Palestine into a larger Jewish state and a smaller Palestinian state, but it had no power to actually create the state of Israel.)

It so happened this state was built on land taken by force from the long-standing majority indigenous Palestinian population, most of which was Muslim and Christian. Hundreds were massacred, three-quarters of a million were driven from their homes, and the remainder were subjected to martial law for two decades, before being given third-class citizenship with no power to improve their legal status. (Arab nations half-heartedly tried to assist the overwhelmed Palestinians, although the king of Jordan worked with Israel to divide the spoils.) Almost 20 years later, the rest of Palestine was taken through warfare, producing what are known as the occupied territories in the West Bank, with its apartheid-like regime, and the Gaza Strip, which is nothing more than an open-air prison under a cruel Israeli blockade.

Why? Because a “Jewish State” could not be realized if it were populated by non-Jews. And if some non-Jews remained, the state could not be a liberal democratic state, with equality under the law, for obvious reasons. All this was aided from the start by European Christians who, apparently guilt-ridden over how the Jews of Europe had been tyrannized, culminating in the Nazi genocide, opted to assuage their guilt with the land, blood, and liberty of the innocent people of Palestine, long the plaything of colonial powers.

Since that time, Israel has repressed the Palestinians in a variety of ways, depending on whether they are in the state as it existed in 1949; the West Bank, which was seized during the June 1967 war; or the Gaza Strip (also called the Gaza Ghetto), also seized in that war. Meanwhile, millions of refugees — people (and descendants of people) driven from their homes by Zionism’s terrorist militias, have been confined to refugee camps, stateless, rightless, and destitute. At various time, Israel, with America’s backing, has cut deals with Arab states and Palestinian quislings for the purpose of keeping the Palestinians from winning their rights either in a single secular democratic state or through a two-state plan. Western political and media establishments have overwhelmingly sympathized with the Israelis and demonized the Palestinians (and Arabs and Muslims generally). It didn’t take long for the public to be propagandized, against all evidence, into believing that the Palestinians are the aggressors and the Israelis the victims. Apparently, a person is anti-Semitic if he objects to having his property stolen by someone who claims that property in the name of the Jewish People.

But after so many decades of Israeli wars, massacres, repression, and routine brutal dehumanization, the tide has started to turn. Israel pulverized Gaza and its people one too many times; it shot and broke the bones of too many children before too many video cameras. And so public opinion, especially among younger Americans — and particularly among younger Jewish Americans, has been turning against Israel. Then the BDS Movement arose to accomplish what a similar movement help to accomplish against apartheid South Africa: bringing world attention to an intolerable situation and take concrete steps to change it.

All of this has been too much for Israel’s ruling elite and its supporters in the United States, Great Britain, and elsewhere, and they are fighting back. They know they can’t win on the merits. Well-documented historical studies and basic morality have seen to that. So they smear their opponents as Jew-haters and supporters of terrorism. As one Israel lobby operator puts it in the Al Jazeera program, you discredit the message by discrediting the messenger — which is what The Israel Project, Foundation for Defense of Democracies, Israel on Campus Coalition, Canary Mission, Emergency Committee on Israel, Israeli Embassy in Washington, Israeli Ministry of Strategic Affairs, and the other co-conspirators have set out to do. Their goal, as their leaders themselves acknowledge, is to identify criticism of Israel with anti-Semitism. (Also see this.)

But it goes beyond that. The Israel lobby realizes that the anti-Semitism charge no long sticks so tenaciously to people who merely indict Israel for its obvious mistreatment of the Palestinians. So the lobby has resorted to a broader brush: it says that those who support BDS and the Palestinians are anti-American, anti-democracy, and anti-all-blessed-things. BDS and Students for Justice in Palestine, the lobby contends, are hate groups. This of course is patently absurd, but Israel’s side observes no limits it what it is willing to say and perhaps do to destroy the reputations anyone who realizes that the Israeli emperor has clothes.

Al Jazeera, the Electronic Intifada, Max Blumenthal’s The Gray Zone Project, and others have performed a much-needed service on behalf of freedom, justice, and decency. I urge you to watch this program and spread the word.

Sheldon Richman is the executive editor of The Libertarian Institute, senior fellow and chair of the trustees of the Center for a Stateless Society, and a contributing editor at Antiwar.com. He is the former senior editor at the Cato Institute and Institute for Humane Studies, former editor of The Freeman, published by the Foundation for Economic Education, and former vice president at the Future of Freedom Foundation. His latest book is America’s Counter-Revolution: The Constitution Revisited. https://libertarianinstitute.org/articles/sheldon/

israeli (apartheid state) Sources Admit Hamas in Possession of “Game Changing” Missiles

Israeli Sources Admit Hamas in Possession of “Game Changing” Missiles

 

18 Nov
8:32 PM

An Israeli website known for its close links to the regime’s military intelligence services has admitted that the Palestinian resistance movement of Hamas is now possessing “game-changing” missiles that could hit targets in Israel with considerable ease and precision.

The Debka file said, in a report on Saturday, that its sources had identified the type of modern missiles used by Hamas in recent attacks on the Israeli-occupied territories that inflicted considerable damage and casualties on the regime and forced the Israeli government to accept a ceasefire with the Palestinians

It said, according to Al Ray Palestinian Media Agency, that the missiles were of the 333mm-caliber type and had a medium range of 11 kilometers. The report added that the missiles were capable of destroying Israel’s “artillery emplacements, Iron Dome batteries, armored force concentrations – whether over ground or in trenches, as well as combat engineering equipment and command centers”.

“It is not launched from stationary batteries, but from any combat 4×4 vehicle or jeep, each of which carries two rockets,” said the report, adding that the main advantage of the missiles was its mobility which allowed Hamas to fire them from any area in the Gaza Strip without Israeli radars noticing them.

The report came just days after Israelis signed into a ceasefire with Hamas, when a barrage of resistance missile attacks on southern occupied territories killed one and injured more than 80 Israelis.

The Israeli government decision to accept the Egyptian-brokered ceasefire, prompted its Minister of Defense, Avigdor Lieberman, to resign. Hamas called the resignation, which could bring about early elections in the occupied lands, as “an admission of defeat” and a “political victory” for the Palestinian resistance.

Lieberman said, after resigning from the Israeli cabinet, that Hamas was on its way to becoming a serious threat to Israel, saying that, in a year’s time, the group and its partner in Gaza, the Islamic Jihad Movement, would reach the military prowess of Hezbollah, the dominant resistance movement in Lebanon which has successfully defended the small country against Israeli aggression, in the past.

The Debka file report about Hamas missiles also came hours after Hamas leader in Gaza, Yahya Sinwar, warned Israel not to test the resistance group again.

“I advise Israel not to try and test us again. This time you did not have a lot of casualties and you managed to rescue your special forces,” said Sinwar, at a memorial service for the Palestinians killed in recent confrontations.

“Whoever tests Gaza will find only death and poison. Our missiles are more precise, have a greater range and carry more explosives than in the past,” said Sinwar, adding, “Our hands are on the trigger and our eyes are open.”

The Twisted Logic of the Jewish ‘Historic Right’ to israel, the Jews never existed as a ‘people’ – still less as a nation

The Twisted Logic of the Jewish ‘Historic Right’ to Israel
By Shlomo Sand

A synagogue in Sarcelles, outside Paris. CAPUCINE GRANIER-DEFERRE / NYT

Our political culture insists on seeing the Jews as the direct descendants of the ancient Hebrews. But the Jews never existed as a ‘people’ – still less as a nation

I enjoy the vacillations of Chaim Gans, even if I don’t always understand them. I have the highest esteem for his intellectual honesty – even if at times, perhaps like everyone, he tries to resolve contradictions with lame arguments.

However, before going into the heart of the matter, I must pause over an annoying mistake – I’m certain that at bottom it’s not deliberately misleading but a folly – concerning my writings. In the article, “From rabid Zionism to egalitarian Zionism” (November 9), Gans writes, “because, according to [Sand], there is purportedly no genetic continuity between ancient and modern Jewry, it follows that the Jewish nationhood engendered by Zionism is a total fabrication, a nationhood created out of thin air.”

If my assumption that Gans has perused my books is correct, he appears to have read them both too quickly and at a diagonal. Since the publication of my first book “The invention of the Jewish people” a decade ago, I have made a point of emphasizing that it’s not only Jews who don’t possess a common DNA – neither do all other human groups that claim to be peoples or nations – besides which I have never thought that genetics can confer national rights. For example, the French are not the direct descendants of the Gauls, just as the Germans are not the offspring of the Teutons or of the ancient Aryans, even if until a little more than half a century ago many idiots believed just that.

One trait that all peoples have in common is that they are retroactive inventions with no distinctive genetic “traits.” The acute problem that genuinely disturbs me is that I live in a singular political and pedagogical culture that continues persistently to see the Jews as the direct descendants of the ancient Hebrews.

The founding myth of Zionism – which proceeds in an unbroken line from Max Nordau and Arthur Ruppin, to worrisome geneticists in several Israeli universities and at Yeshiva University in New York – acts as the principal ideological glue for the nation’s everlasting unity, and today more than ever. The justification for Zionist settlement/colonization (choose your preferred term – they mean the same thing) is the meta-paradigm that is expressed in the declaration of the establishment of the state, namely: “We were here, we were uprooted, we came back.”

Full disclosure: Even when I believed, mistakenly, that the “Jewish people” was exiled by the Romans in 70 C.E. or 132 C.E., I didn’t think that this conferred on the Jews some sort of imagined “historic right” to the Holy Land. If we seek to organize the world as it was 2,000 years ago, we will turn it into one big madhouse. Why not bring Native Americans back to Manhattan, for example, or restore the Arabs to Spain and the Serbs to Kosovo? Of course, such twisted logic of “historic right” will also commit us to supporting the continued settlement/colonization of Hebron, Jericho and Bethlehem.

As I pursued my research, my realization that the Exodus from Egypt never happened and that the inhabitants of the Kingdom of Judah were not exiled by the Romans, left me nonplussed. There is not one study by a historian who specializes in antiquity that recounts that “exile” or any serious historiographic study that reconstructs a mass migration from the place. The “exile” is a formative event that never took place, otherwise it would be the subject of dozens of research studies. Judahite farmers, who constituted an absolute majority of the population at the first century C.E., were not seafarers like the Greeks or the Phoenicians, and did not spread across the world. It was Jahwist monotheism, which since the Hasmonean era had become a dynamic religion engaged in conversion, which laid the foundations for the Jews’ age-old existence around the globe.

Here’s where we get to the heart of Gans’ arguments. This distinguished jurist and political theorist is not prepared to accept the standard justifications for settlement and for Zionism’s conception of land ownership since the end of the 19th century. He is well aware that such popular propositions would oblige him to justify continuation of the present-day settlement project, and perhaps also to deny the rights of the natives who still remain in “the land of Israel.”

Gans even knows that there never actually was a Jewish nation, which is why he resorts to the literal image of a “profile” – a surprising and original term in the national context – wholly based on ignorance. For him to understand what Clermont-Tonnerre meant in his famous speech (a subject I addressed in an article in the Haaretz Hebrew edition last August), a perusal of Wikipedia would have sufficed. He’d have learned immediately that by “nation,” the French liberal was referring to a closed, insular religious community. Did the Jews, in contrast, not see themselves as a people or a nation according to the modern usage of these terms?

Until the modern era, the terms “people” or “nations” were used in a variety of senses. In the Bible, Moses goes down to the people and speaks with them directly (without a loudspeaker, newspapers, television or Twitter). The people also gathers to welcome Joshua and to congratulate him on his victories. In the Middle Ages the Christians viewed themselves as “people of God,” a term in wide use for hundreds of years. In our time, the terms “people” or “nations” are applied in a different way, albeit not always accurately. A “people” is, generally, a human community living within a defined territory, whose members speak a common language and maintain a secular culture with the same, or similar, foundations. “Nation,” on the other hand, is a term that is today generally applied to a people that claims sovereignty over itself or has already achieved it

I don’t think peoples existed before the modern era – that possibility would have been ruled out by the level of communication they had. There were large clans, tribes, powerful kingdoms, large principalities, religious communities and other groups with various forms of political and social bonds – usually loose ones. In an age when few people could read and write, when each village had a different dialect and the lexicon was appallingly meager, it’s hard to talk about a people with a shared consciousness. Minorities of educated literates do not yet constitute nations, even if they have sometimes created that impression.

I don’t understand why all cats have to be called cats and all the dogs, dogs – and only one cat has to be called a dog. The Jews, like the Christians, Muslims or the followers of the Bahá’í Faith, had in common a strong belief in God alongside diverse and closely linked religious practices. However, a Jew from Kiev could not converse with a Jew from Marrakesh, didn’t sing the songs of the Yemeni Jew and didn’t eat the same foods as the Falash Mura, or Beta Israel, community of Ethiopia. The whole fabric of day-to-day secular life was completely different in each community. Accordingly, to this day – and rightly so – the only way to join the “Jewish people” is through an act of religious conversion.

The Christians, by contrast, viewed the Jews as members of an abominable money-worshipping faith. The Muslims perceived them as adherents of an inferior religion. With the advent of progress in the modern era, many Europeans started to treat them as a defiled race. Anti-Semitism endeavored mightily to cast the Jews as an alien people-race with different blood (DNA hadn’t yet been discovered).

But what in blazes was their self-“profile”? A salient product of the Zionist education system, Chaim Gans tells us that they saw themselves as a kind of nation that dreamed of getting to the “Land of Israel.” I would not suggest that Gans should read distinctively Jewish authors such as Hemann Cohen or Franz Rosenzweig, or the Talmud, which rejected collective emigration to the Holy Land. I’m sure he won’t have time for that. I would only ask him to read a short history that is slightly more reliable.

Until World War II, the vast majority of Eastern and Western Jews – traditionalist, Orthodox, Conservative, Reform, Communists and Bundists – were avowed anti-Zionists. They did not wish for sovereignty over themselves within a nation-state framework in the Middle East. The Bundists did in fact see themselves, and quite rightly, as a Yiddish people in need of cultural-linguistic autonomy, but they rejected outright the proposal to immigrate to Palestine as part of a project of a trans-world Jewish nation.

And here we come to the last desperate attempt to justify the Zionist enterprise retroactively: Zionism as a response to an emergency situation. History, unfortunately, was more tragic. Zionism failed utterly to rescue Europe’s Jews, nor could it have done so. From 1882 until 1924, the Jews streamed in their masses – about 2.5 million – to the North American continent of promise. And yes, had it not been for the racist Johnson-Reed Immigration Act that prevented continued immigration, another million or perhaps two million of these souls might have been saved.

Additional full disclosure: I was born after the war in a DP camp in Austria. During my first two years I lived with my parents in another camp, in Bavaria. My parents, who lost their parents in the Nazi genocide, wanted to steal into France or, alternatively, immigrate to the United States. All the gates were closed, however, and they were compelled to go to the young country of Israel, the only place that agreed to accept them. The truth is that for Europe, after its participation in the mass slaughter of the Jews, it was convenient to spew out the remnant of a native population that hadn’t taken part in the awful murder, and thereby created a new tragedy, though of a completely different scale.

Chaim Gans isn’t comfortable with this historical narrative, especially when the oppression of the natives and the plundering of their land is continuing even now. Zionism, which succeeded in forging a new nation, is not prepared to recognize its political-cultural-linguistic creation, nor even the specific national rights which that process conferred on it. But Gans, ultimately, is right. From Meir Kahane to Meretz, all Zionists continue to view the state we live in not as a democratic republic belonging to all its Israeli citizens – who definitely have a right to self-determination – but as a political entity that belongs to the Jews of the world, who like their forebears have no wish to come here or to define themselves as Israelis.

What remains for me, then, is to go on being a-Zionist or post-Zionist while doing what I can to help rescue the place I live in from an ever-intensifying racism, due, among other reasons, to the teaching of a false historical past, fear of assimilation with the Other, revulsion of the indigenous culture and so on. For, as the Turkish poet Nazim Hikmet wrote, “If I don’t burn / if you don’t burn / … if we don’t burn / how will the light / … vanquish the darkness?”

Shlomo Sand is a historian and professor emeritus of Tel Aviv University.

This article was originally published by Haaretz

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