Poisoned chalice, israel Backs Kurds` Aspiration for Independence – Netanyahu

Israel Backs Kurds` Aspiration for Independence – Netanyahu

According to Benjamin Netanyahu, Israel supports the legitimate efforts of the Kurdish people to achieve their own state while considering the Kurdistan Workers’ Party a terrorist group. An independence referendum is slated for September 25.

TEL AVIV (Sputnik) — Israel is supportive of the Kurds’ efforts to create their own state, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said ahead of the independence referendum in Iraqi Kurdistan.

“While Israel opposes terrorism as a whole, it supports the legitimate efforts of the Kurdish people to achieve their own state,” Netanyahu said Tuesday, as quoted by the Haaretz newspaper.

At the same time, Israel opposes the activities of the Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK) and considers it a terrorist group, the prime minister added.

Netanyahu’s speech came just weeks before the referendum in Iraqi Kurdistan scheduled for September 25 and aimed at the creation of an independent Kurdish state in what is currently part of Iraq.

The statement by the Israeli leader contradicts the positions of a number of countries, including Iran, Iraq, Turkey and the United States that have already criticized the plans to hold the independence vote in Iraqi Kurdistan.

Tuesday’s speech was not the first statement from Netanyahu in support of the Kurdish state, as he had already made similar statements in 2004 and 2014

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Iran and Hamas restore relations, includes major military support

Iran and Hamas restore relations, includes major military support

BEIRUT, LEBANON (10:30 A.M.) – After six years of diplomatic disillusionment between Iran and Hamas due to different opinions and fundamental loyalties regarding the Syrian War, the two’s foreign offices have official restored full relations.

Yesterday it was announced by the military leader of Hamas, Yehya al-Sinwar, that diplomatic ties with Iran had been completely healed and that the relationship between the two is “returning to what it was in the old days.”

Indeed, to go with a return to the “old days” is a resurgence of Iranian military support for Hamas.

To this end, Sinwar also clarified that Iran is currently the “largest supporter of the Izz el-Deen al-Qassam Brigades (Hamas’ military wing) with money and arms” and that this was linked directly to the great reconciliation between the two.

Iran’s renewed support for Hamas now further weakens the position of the President Mahmoud Abbas’ Western-backed government in Gaza that is already quite unpopular among Palestinians due to failed domestic policies (namely with regards to energy) which are linked to its inability to properly manage state finances

The Kurdish Connection: israel, ISIS And U.S. Efforts To Destabilize Iran

The Kurdish Connection: Israel, ISIS And U.S. Efforts To Destabilize Iran

Like the Palestinians, the Kurds aspire to dispose of their own state. However, since the dislocation of the Ottoman Empire, some of their leaders have favored alliances with some imperialist powers rather than those with their neighbors. These leaders – and the families attached to them – have turned into an imperialist joker to disturb the Middle East. They tried to establish puppet states, successively in Iran, Iraq and Syria, that is to say on the lands of those who had welcomed and protected them. Sarah Abed tells us their story.

Kurdish ties to Israel

The Kurdish-Israeli relationship has matured significantly. Since at least the 1960s, Israel has provided intermittent security assistance and military training to the Kurds. This served mostly as an anti-Saddam play – keeping him distracted as Israel fought two wars against coordinated Arab neighbors – but mutual understanding of their respective predicaments also bred an Israeli-Kurdish affinity. All signs point to this security cooperation continuing today. Israeli procurement of affordable Kurdish oil not only indicates a strengthening of economic ties, but also an Israeli lifeline to budget-starved Erbil that suggests a strategic bet on the Kurds in an evolving region.

The people closest to the Jews from a genetic point of view may be the Kurds, according to the results of a recent study by Hebrew University [1].

The Kurds are allied with Syria’s fiercest enemy – Israel – whose planned Greater Israel project coincidentally aligns almost perfectly with the Kurds’ plans for “Kurdistan.” [2] In the Oded Yinon plan, which is the plan for a “Greater Israel,” it states the imperative use of Kurds to help divide neighboring countries in order to aid in their plans for greater domination [3]. Interestingly enough, Kurds brush this alliance off as being just another step in achieving their ultimate goal of creating an autonomous Kurdistan.

Every major Kurdish political group in the region has longstanding ties to Israel. It’s all linked to major ethnic violence against Arabs, Turkmens and Assyrians. From the PKK in Turkey to the PYD and YPG in Syria, PJAK in Iran to the most notorious of them all, the Barzani-Talabani mafia regime (KRG/Peshmerga) in northern Iraq. Thus it should come as no surprise that Erbil supplied Daesh (ISIS) with weaponry to weaken the Iraqi government in Baghdad [4]. And when it becomes understood that Erbil is merely the front for Tel Aviv in Iraq, the scheme becomes clear.

Israel has reportedly been providing the KRG with weapons and training even prior its military encounters with Daesh [5]. On the level of economic strategy, Israel granted critical support to the KRG by buying Kurdish oil in 2015 when no other country was willing to do so because of Baghdad’s threat to sue. KRG Minister of Natural Resources Ashti Hawrami even admitted to the arrangement, saying that Kurdish oil was often funneled through Israel to avoid detection.

In January 2012 the French newspaper Le Figaro claimed that Israeli intelligence agents were recruiting and training Iranian dissidents in clandestine bases located in Iraq’s Kurdish region [6]. By aligning with the Kurds, Israel gains eyes and ears in Iran, Iraq and Syria. A year later, the Washington Post disclosed that Turkey had revealed to Iranian intelligence a network of Israeli spies working in Iran, including ten people believed to be Kurds who reportedly met with Mossad members in Turkey [7]. This precarious relationship between Israel and Turkey persists today.

Western veterans take up the Kurdish cause

The Kurdistan Workers’ Party, or PKK, and its Syrian spinoff, the YPG, are cult-like radical movements that intertwine Marxism, feminism, Leninism and Kurdish nationalism into a hodge-podge of ideology, drawing members through the extensive use of propaganda that appeals to these modes of thought. Abdullah Ocalan, the leader of the PKK, took inspiration from American anarchist Murray Bookchin in creating his philosophy, which he calls “Democratic Confederalism.”

The PKK spin-off group YPG represents most of the SDF in Syria. With Western political support, they have gained popularity and garnered an impressive amount of support from many military veterans in the West, some of whom have left the comfort of their home countries to fight with the group. One of their most productive marketing tools has been to use young, attractive female fighters as the face of the guerrillas. During their fight against Daesh, the PKK has saturated the media with images of these young female “freedom fighters,” using them as a marketing tool to take their cause from obscurity to fame.

Watch a BBC report on female Kurdish fighters in Syria, featuring Kurdish singer ‘Helly Luv’:

But what doesn’t get reported is how the movement has carried out kidnappings and murder – not to mention its involvement in trafficking narcotics.

Kurdish families are demanding that the PKK stop kidnapping minors. It started on April 23, the day Turkey marked its 91st National Sovereignty and Children’s Day. While children celebrated the holiday in western Turkey, the Kurdistan Workers Party (PKK) kidnapped 25 students between the ages of 14 and 16 on the east side of the country, in the Lice district of Diyarbakir.

Although the PKK has kidnapped more than 330 minors in the last six months, the Bockum family was the first in the region who put up a tent near their home to start a sit-in protest, challenging the PKK and demanding that it return their son. Sinan was returned to the family on May 4. Al-Monitor reported this incident from the beginning in great detail [8].

As Bebyin Somuk reported in her article, the PKK and PYD still kidnap children in Turkey and Syria [9]. She states: “As I previously wrote for Kebab and Camel, the PKK commits war crimes by recruiting children as soldiers. Some of the PKK militants that surrendered yesterday were also the PKK’s child soldiers. The photos clearly show that these children are not more than sixteen years old. The Turkish army released video [10] of the 25 PKK militants surrendering in Nusaybin.”

SouthFront reported on female PKK fighters who have killed Turkish soldiers [11]. “The women fighters command of the Kurdistan Worker Party (PKK) have released a statement, claiming PKK female fighters killed 160 Turkish military servicemen in 2016. According to the statement, the women fighters command of the PKK carried out 115 operations against Turkish government forces in 2016. The group also vowed to ‘proceed the struggle during the new year for a life of freedom and until victory is achieved.’”

The PKK is also killing Kurds under the guise of protecting their rights [12]. “Senior PKK leader Cemil Bayık, in an interview with the Fırat News Agency (ANF) on Aug. 8, said, ‘Our war will not be confined to the mountains like it was before. It will be spread everywhere without making a distinction between mountains, plains or cities. It will spread to the metropolises.’ Terrorist Bayık’s statement signaled that the PKK would take increasing aim against civilians, targeting civilian areas more than ever. And it is happening. Since July 15, the day when the Gülenist terror cult, FETÖ, launched its failed military coup attempt to topple the democratically-elected government, the PKK perpetrated dozens of terrorist attacks, killing 21 civilians and injuring 319 others – most of them Kurdish citizens.”

According to The Washington Institute “On November 18, FBI Director Robert Mueller met with senior Turkish officials to address U.S.-Turkish efforts targeting the Kurdistan Workers Party (PKK), also known as Kongra-Gel. A press release from the U.S. embassy in Ankara following the meeting stressed that U.S. officials ‘strongly support Turkey’s efforts against the PKK terrorist organization’ and highlighted the two countries’ long history of working together in the fight against terrorism and transnational organized crime.

These discussions are timely. Despite Ankara’s recent bid to alleviate the Kurdish issue — a bid referred to as the ‘democratic opening’ — the PKK is one of a growing number of terrorist organizations with significant stakes in the international drug trade. In October, the U.S. Treasury Department added three PKK/Kongra-Gel senior leaders to its list of foreign narcotics traffickers. The PKK, along with the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC), is one of only a few organizations worldwide designated by the U.S. government as both a terrorist organization and a significant foreign narcotics trafficker. [13]

Drug smuggling is reported to be the main financial source of PKK terrorism, according to the organization International Strategic Research, whose detailed report can be seen here [14].

Their exaggerated triumphs against Daesh have helped them evolve from a radical militia to an alleged regional power player. Have they been successful in fighting against Daesh in Syria? Yes – but while the Syrian Arab Army has been more effective, it does not receive a fraction of the praise or recognition that the PKK does.

Pato Rincon, a U.S. military veteran, recently wrote about his experience training with the YPG in Syria [15]. Although initially interested in their desire for autonomy, he soon got to know a different side of the group:

“While they are a direct ideological descendant of the Soviet Union, their take on Marxism has a much more nationalistic bent than that of their internationalist forebears. At their training camp that I attended, they constantly spoke of their right to a free and autonomous homeland–which I could support. On the other hand, they ludicrously claimed that all surrounding cultures from Arab to Turk to Persian descended from Kurdish culture. One should find this odd, considering that the Kurds have never had such autonomy as that which they struggle for. All of this puffed-up nationalism masquerading as internationalism was easy to see through…not only was their idea of Marxism fatuous, their version of feminism was even worse.”

Accounts such as this will certainly not make it to mainstream media, as they do not fit the narrative that the Kurds and their sponsors promote.

In another example of Western support for the YPG, Joe Robinson, an ex-soldier and UK national, recently returned to the UK after spending five months in Syria fighting with the group [16]. He was detained and arrested by Greater Manchester Police officers on suspicion of terrorism offenses as soon as he returned. He joined the British military when he was 18 and toured Afghanistan with the Duke of Lancaster’s Regiment in 2012.

He left the UK when an arrest warrant was issued after he failed to appear in court. Robinson is pictured here in Syria with YPG fighters.

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Robinson is on the far left, holding his weapon while his fellow YPG comrades are holding a Daesh flag. The writing on the wall speaks volumes about the relationship between Israel, the Kurds and the United States.

SDF working with Daesh

The most evident contradiction to be noted is that the Kurds in the SDF are working with the U.S. through its so-called “Operation Inherent Resolve,” which is the official name for its anti-Daesh operations. But at the same time, the U.S.-led coalition, including Kurdish armed units, lets “militants of the Islamic State terrorist group leave Raqqa instead of killing them,” according to Sergey Surovikin, the commander of Russia’s force grouping in Syria.

“Instead of eliminating terrorists guilty of killing hundreds and thousands of Syrian civilians, the U.S.-led coalition together with the Democratic Forces enters into collusion with ringleaders of ISIL, who give up the settlements they had seized without fighting and head to the provinces where the Syrian government forces are active,” he said [17]

Sputnik Arabic was able to talk to Husma Shaib, a Syrian expert on armed groups in Syria who explained why the SDF is comparable to the al-Nusra Front and what the actual aim of their operations in Syria is [18].

“In Syria, we regard these forces as unlawful military formations which operate outside of the legal environment. They are the same a terrorist units like al-Nusra Front and Daesh. The Syrian Democratic Forces do not coordinate their activities with the Syrian Army. We regard them as terrorists,” Shaib told Sputnik.

The SDF is mostly comprised of the Kurdish YPG militia, which unanimously declared the “federalization” of what they call “Rojava,” or “Western Kurdistan,” in March 2016 [19].

The leaders of the SDF announced that they’ll try to annex the majority-Arab city of Raqqa if they manage to liberate it.

The Kurds are ethnically cleansing Arabs from Raqqa en masse in order to pave the way for the city’s annexation to their unilaterally declared “Federation” after its forthcoming capture. [20]

Hostility against SAA forces

On June 18, a U.S. jet shot down a Syrian Su-22 fighter-bomber near the city of Tabqa. The U.S.-led coalition said the Syrian aircraft attacked SDF positions, adding that the coalition downed the Syrian jet as part of “collective self-defense of coalition partnered forces,” according to Sputnik News [21].

However, the SAA stated that they were, in fact, attacking Daesh, not the SDF. The Syrian Arab Army (SAA) then sent in a rescue mission to retrieve the downed pilot. Al Masdar News (AMN) reported that they encountered intense resistance from the SDF, which would imply a serious escalation between the two [22].

The Syrian Army General Command responded with an official statement that the flagrant aggression undoubtedly affirms the US’s real stance in support of terrorism which aims to affect the capability of the Syrian Arab Army- the only active force- along with its allies that practice its legitimate right in combating terrorism all over Syria [23].

“The attack stresses coordination between the US and ISIS, and it reveals the evil intentions of the US in administering terrorism and investing it to pass the US-Zionist project in the region.” The statement added.

It affirmed that such aggressions would not affect the Syrian Arab Army in its determination to continue the fight against ISIS and Jabhat al-Nusra terrorist organizations and to restore security and stability to all Syrian territories.

Earlier in the week, Russian Deputy Foreign Minister Sergei Ryabkov told Sputnik that the U.S. strikes on SDF aircraft are aiding terrorists. “In the case of strikes [by U.S. forces on the aircraft and drones of the Syrian Armed Forces], we are dealing with an open complicity with the terrorists operating on Syrian soil,” Ryabkov said.

CIA-armed Kurds in Syria

The U.S.-led coalition has on numerous occasions stated that it is working with the SDF to try to defeat Daesh in Syria. However, there have been numerous reports of U.S.-led airstrikes targeting Syrian civilians, military and infrastructure. These deadly and avoidable mistakes clearly illustrate how the US-led coalition’s presence in Syria has had a harmful impact on civilians. On June 26, the SDF cut off water supplies to 1 million civilians in Aleppo. Some sources stated that this was out of spite, whereas others stated they were unaware of the reason(s) behind such a destructive and deliberate against innocent civilians.

On July 5, 21st Century Wire reported on U.S. efforts to establish a greater military presence in Syria [24]. “The U.S. is setting up its military bases in the territories that were liberated from Daesh by our fighters during the fight against terrorism,” a senior SDF representative stated.

“The number of U.S. military installations in Syria has increased to eight bases according to recent reports, and possibly nine according to one other military analyst,” 21st Century Wire reported. [25]

The Syrian government considers separatist Kurds to be just as dangerous as Daesh and other terrorist groups in the country. Their plans to destabilize the country are more dangerous than those of Daesh, especially since the West provides them with moral support, weapons, training, financial aid, armed vehicles and even air support [26]. “We’ll be recovering [weapons] during the battle, repairing them. When they don’t need certain things anymore, we’ll replace those with something they do need,” stated U.S. Defense Secretary James Mattis in late June.

Kurds selling weapons given to them from Germany to fight against Daesh

Reporters from German broadcasters NDR and WDR found several G3 assault rifles and a P1 pistol, all engraved with the initials “BW” for Bundeswehr – Germany’s military – in the northern Iraqi cities of Erbil and Sulaymaniyah. German Foreign Minister Frank-Walter Steinmeier pledges German military support to the Kurds in northern Iraq during a meeting in Erbil with Masoud Barzani, president of the Iraqi Kurdistan region.

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German Foreign Minister Frank-Walter Steinmeier pledges German military support to the Kurds in northern Iraq during a meeting in Erbil with Masoud Barzani, president of the Iraqi Kurdistan region.

The weapons apparently came from stocks that the German government delivered to the Kurdish autonomous government in northern Iraq [27]. The weapons were intended to be used in the fight against the Daesh. Several members of Germany’s Green and Left parties have long raised concerns in parliament that arms delivered to Peshmerga fighters could fall into the wrong hands.

There have been several credible reports since the U.S.-led military alliance formed to help combat Daesh in Syria and Iraq of American-supplied weapons falling into the hands of unallied militias and even Daesh itself [28]

The U.S. has armed the Kurds and supported their efforts since helping them establish the Syrian Democratic Forces on Oct. 10, 2015. The U.S. needed to fund a group within Syria that was fighting against Daesh, but that was not as extremist as the Free Syrian Army, which was outed as being affiliated with al-Qaeda. The U.S. has stated that its main reason for being in Syria is to fight Daesh, but its actions have proved otherwise. Its true mission is to destabilize the country by assisting the Kurds through the SDF and other armed opposition forces in liberating land that can be used as a bargaining tool in future negotiations.

Ron Paul explains why arming the Kurds was a dangerous idea:

Washington has repeatedly brushed aside Ankara’s irrefutable evidence that the YPG is an extension of the outlawed PKK terrorist organization, which has terrorized Turkey for more than three decades [29]. U.S. Secretary of Defense James Mattis has sent a letter to his Turkish counterpart Fikri Işık pledging that the United States will retrieve the weapons it sent to the YPG immediately after Daesh is defeated [30].

Meanwhile, the U.S. Department of Defense will supply Turkey with detailed lists of the military materials and equipment dispatched to the YPG, implying that the U.S. aims to guarantee transparency in their bilateral relationship. This itself is an attempt to backtrack on a terrible decision that the U.S. may or may not believe they have made. If the reality hasn’t sunk in yet, it most certainly will when the Kurds refuse to give back the weapons or decide to sell them. Washington will then have to deal with an even more disgruntled Turkey [31].

Why Are Kurds Joining Daesh?

For over a year, Kurdish forces have united in defense against bloody Daesh attacks. So how has Daesh still managed to recruit hundreds of young Kurds to fight for the caliphate against their own families?

“There are Kurdish families in Halabja whose sons are in IS [Daesh] and their hearts are broken, but I’ll never go to their funerals,” said the grieving mother of Kaihan Borhan, a Kurd who died fighting with the Peshmerga against Daesh. Her family is distraught that the people responsible for his death could well be Kurdish nationals.

“I have a friend whose brother died fighting for ISIS,” said Kaihan’s brother. “I never grieved for him and my friend cannot bear to look me in the eye.” Here, we can see the path to extremism that many Kurds have taken. Dissatisfaction with the Kurdish intelligence service, Asayish’s persecution of Muslims and domestic grievances are being skilfully exploited by Daesh through the use of propaganda, led by Khattab Al-Kurdi and his Saladin Brigade [32]

“With God’s permission we will sow the seeds of the Caliphate throughout our land,” said Khattab, who has been one of the most persuasive forces in luring Kurds towards the caliphate. Even with Khattab’s reported death in April 2015, the threat of more Kurds joining Daesh seems unlikely to diminish, with a new Kurdish imam carrying the rhetoric forward.

Kurds being used to destabilize Iran

Documents leaked by WikiLeaks in 2010 suggested that Israeli Mossad Chief Meir Dagan wanted to use Kurds and ethnic minorities to topple the Iranian government [33]. The Israeli spy service was aiming to create a weak and divided Iran, similar to the situation in Iraq, where the Kurds have their own autonomous government, the spy chief told a U.S. official.

The Partiya Jiyana Azad a Kurdistane (PJAK), a militant Kurdish nationalist group based in northern Iraq, has been carrying out attacks on Iranian forces in the Kurdistan Province of Iran (Eastern Kurdistan) and other Kurdish-inhabited areas. Half the members of PJAK are women. The PJAK has about 3,000 armed militiamen. They represent yet another example of the Kurds finding themselves in the middle of a conflict and being used as a pawn by the West.

The party is closely linked to the PKK. Iran has often accused PJAK and other Kurdish nationalist groups from Iran of being supported by Israel. Journalist Seymour Hersh has also claimed that the U.S. supported PJAK and other Iranian opposition groups. However, both the U.S. and Israel have denied supporting PJAK. In fact, the U.S. Treasury branded PJAK as a terrorist organization last year.

As Hersh noted in 2004: “The Israelis have had long-standing ties to the Talibani and Barzani clans [in] Kurdistan and there are many Kurdish Jews that emigrated to Israel and there are still a lot of connection. But at some time before the end of the year [2004], and I’m not clear exactly when, certainly I would say a good six, eight months ago, Israel began to work with some trained Kurdish commandos, ostensibly the idea was the Israelis — some of the Israeli elite commander units, counter-terror or terror units, depending on your point of view, began training — getting the Kurds up to speed.” [34]

Why are the so-called Kurdish “freedom fighters” willing to get in bed with any and every group that has an interest in destabilizing Syria? The provocative manner in which the SDF has teamed up with terrorist organizations during the war in Syria is a blaring contradiction to the “revolutionary” public relations image that they have fought hard to establish in recent years.

Iraq, Syria, Turkey and Iran, continue to oppose the notion of having their borders and sovereignty divided by the U.S. for yet another U.S./NATO-dictated social engineering experiment in the Middle East.

Attempts to rewrite geographic history

An estimated 30 million Kurds reside primarily in mountainous regions of present-day Iran, Iraq, Syria and Turkey. They remain the world’s largest nomadic population without a sovereign state. The Kurds are not monolithic, however, and tribal identities and political interests often supersede a unifying national allegiance.

Some Kurds, particularly those who have migrated to urban centers, such as Istanbul, Damascus and Tehran, have integrated and assimilated, while many who remain in their ancestral lands maintain a strong sense of a distinctly Kurdish identity. A Kurdish diaspora of an estimated two million people is concentrated primarily in Europe, with over a million in Germany alone. These migratory wanderers never possessed their own country at any point in their history, but were always part of a larger country or empire that took them in and provided them refuge.

The version of events that the Kurds present is in staunch contrast with the account that is supported by most historians. This has proven to be a point of contention between the Kurds and the citizens of other countries.

The Kurds claim to have been conquered and occupied throughout their history, for instance. Here is an example of their attempt to rewrite history to fit their narrative: “The Kurdish region has seen a long list of invaders and conquerors: Ancient Persians from the east, Alexander the Great from the west, Muslim Arabs in the 7th Century from the south, Seljuk Turks in the 11th Century from the east, the Mongols in the 13th Century from the east, medieval Persians from the east and the Ottoman Turks from the north in the 16th Century and most recently, the United States in its 2003 invasion of Iraq.” [35]

(To be continued…)

israel steals important Jerusalem property deeds from Al-Aqsa

Source

MEMO | August 7, 2017

During the closure of Al-Aqsa Mosque last month, Israeli occupation authorities stole important documents from Al-Aqsa Mosque relating to Jerusalem’s properties and endowments, Felesteen.ps revealed yesterday.

Chairman of the Jerusalem International Centre Hassan Khater said that the Israeli occupation stole the documents from the “rooms, libraries, documentary archives” of Al-Aqsa Mosque when its forces were alone during the closure.

“Through these documents, the Israeli occupation is putting its hand on the endowments, properties and real estate of Jerusalem’s endowment department,” Khater said, noting that the theft of these documents is a “real disaster”.

He noted that these documents include “details, secrets and signatures”, adding that more than 90 per cent of Jerusalem’s Old City is part of these endowments.

Khater stressed that the “Israeli occupation’s ability to forge documents will harm the endowments of the city.”

He also expressed his fears that the Israeli occupation would use these documents to help carry out its Judaisation plans in the holy city, noting that Judaisation is “the main battle” between the Palestinians and the Israelis

It’s check mate for israel in Golan Heights

source

By M K Bhadrakumar | Indian Punchline | July 27, 2017

Israel has suffered a big setback in the Syrian conflict with the deployment of Russian military police in the safe zone being established in south-western Syria near the Golan Heights. The Russian Defence Ministry announced the deployment on Monday. Col.-Gen. Sergei Rudskoy, chief of the Main Operational Directorate of the Russian General Staff, said in Moscow that Russian forces had set up checkpoints and observation posts in the southwest de-escalation zone. The Russian general said that the US, Israel and Jordan have been informed of the deployment.

The boundaries of the de-escalation zone were agreed upon between Russia and the US on the eve of the meeting between presidents Donald Trump and Vladimir Putin on the sidelines of the G20 summit in Hamburg. According to the Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov, Israel’s security considerations had been taken into account while finalizing the de-escalation zone. But Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has since openly voiced rejection of the US-Russia agreement, arguing that the deal does not adequately address Israel’s threat perceptions regarding Iranian and Hezbollah presence in the south-western regions of Syria.

The Israeli Defence Minister Avigdor Liberman was on record that Jerusalem has set certain red lines. “We will not tolerate any Iranian presence on the border and we will continue to act against that,” he said. Quite obviously, Israel does not trust Russia. Israel suspects that it is only a matter of time before Shia militias and Hezbollah start quietly infiltrating south-western Syria, setting up the Assad regime and its Iranian friends to consolidate control over the border areas near Israel and Lebanon.

In reality, though, all this is a major strategic play. Israel has long paid, supplied and supported the extremist groups (including al-Qaeda and ISIS groups) controlling the area where the de-escalation zone is being set up. Israel even provided fire support for these terrorist groups whenever they came under attack by the Syrian government forces.

Israel was hoping that the area could somehow remain as a zone of ‘frozen conflict’, which could be incrementally annexed by Israel. Israel’s preference, therefore, was that the de-escalation zone near Golan Heights should be enforced by the US – and not Russia. But then, Washington does not want to get entangled. As a commentary in the Atlantic magazine put it this week,

  • Pentagon is focused on operations in Mosul and Raqqa hundreds of miles away—commanders on the ground would surely see a U.S. military presence in south-western Syria as a costly and unnecessary diversion of manpower in the fight against the Islamic State. Given limited intelligence-surveillance-reconnaissance assets in the region, it is also unlikely that U.S.Central Command would be happy diverting scarce ISR platforms to monitor the ceasefire… All this… means that the Trump-Putin ceasefire is likely to hand Russia the keys to south-western Syria.

That is more or less what is unfolding on the ground. The US-Russia agreement envisages the supervision of the de-escalation zone area by Russian military police.

It is check and mate for Israel’s interventionist policy in Syria. The Russian monitors will react harshly if Israel plays the spoiler’s role. Plainly put, the Israeli dream of territorial expansion into south-western Syria as part of a ‘Greater Israel’ (even beyond the occupied Golan Heights) has crash landed. Israel’s Plan B was that as part of any Syrian settlement, the international community should at least legitimise Israel’s occupation of Golan Heights. That is also not going to happen.

Netanyahu’s credibility once again takes a big blow. Two years ago, his ‘red line’ over the Iran nuclear programme – that Israel would act on its own militarily against Iran, etc. – turned out to be sheer bluster. Now he has drawn a ‘red line’ in Israel’s northern front regarding Iranian presence in Syria, but lacks the capacity to enforce it. The international community is simply ignoring his tantrums once again.

Significantly, the US has done nothing to oppose a massive Hezbollah operation which began last week to take control of the heights on the Lebanon-Syrian border that were under the occupation of various insurgent groups such as Ahrar, al-Qaeda, ISIS (some of whom were Israel’s bedfellows.) The Iranian media reported today that Hezbollah fighters have scored a stunning victory. Of course, it is hugely important for Hezbollah (and Iran) to ensure that the Lebanon-Syria border remains open.

The Golan Heights and israel’s Forgotten Occupation

The Golan Heights and Israel’s Forgotten Occupation

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

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

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

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

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

Settlements and Tourism

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

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

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

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

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

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

Exploitation of Agriculture and Water

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

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

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

The Syrians of Golan

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

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

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

The Forgotten Occupation

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Next Steps

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

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

The Myth Of Jewish Refugees From Arab Land

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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