With Criticism Crushed in the West, Israel Can Enjoy Its Impunity

Global Research, July 29, 2019

Recent events have shone a spotlight not only on how Israel is intensifying its abuse of Palestinians under its rule, but the utterly depraved complicity of western governments in its actions.

The arrival of Donald Trump in the White House two-and-a-half years ago has emboldened Israel as never before, leaving it free to unleash new waves of brutality in the occupied territories.

Western states have not only turned a blind eye to these outrages, but are actively assisting in silencing anyone who dares to speak out.

It is rapidly creating a vicious spiral: the more Israel violates international law, the more the West represses criticism, the more Israel luxuriates in its impunity.

This shameless descent was starkly illustrated last week when hundreds of heavily armed Israeli soldiers, many of them masked, raided a neighbourhood of Sur Baher, on the edges of Jerusalem. Explosives and bulldozers destroyed dozens of homes, leaving many hundreds of Palestinians without a roof over their heads.

During the operation, extreme force was used against residents, as well as international volunteers there in the forlorn hope that their presence would deter violence. Videos showed the soldiers cheering and celebrating as they razed the neighbourhood.

House destructions have long been an ugly staple of Israel’s belligerent occupation, but there were grounds for extra alarm on this occasion.

Traditionally, demolitions occur on the two-thirds of the West Bank placed by the Oslo accords temporarily under Israeli control. That is bad enough: Israel should have handed over what is called “Area C” to the Palestinian Authority 20 years ago. Instead, it has hounded Palestinians off these areas to free them up for illegal Jewish settlement.

But the Sur Baher demolitions took place in “Area A”, land assigned by Oslo to the Palestinians’ government-in-waiting – as a prelude to Palestinian statehood. Israel is supposed to have zero planning or security jurisdiction there.

Palestinians rightly fear that Israel has established a dangerous precedent, further reversing the Oslo Accords, which can one day be used to justify driving many thousands more Palestinians off land under PA control.

Most western governments barely raised their voices. Even the United Nations offered a mealy-mouthed expression of “sadness” at what took place.

A few kilometres north, in Issawiya, another East Jerusalem suburb, Israeli soldiers have been terrorising 20,000 Palestinian residents for weeks. They have set up checkpoints, carried out dozens of random night-time arrests, imposed arbitrary fines and traffic tickets, and shot live ammunition and rubber-coated steel bullets into residential areas.

Ir Amim, an Israeli human rights group, calls Issawiya’s treatment a “perpetual state of collective punishment” – that is, a war crime.

Over in Gaza, not only are the 2 million inhabitants being slowly starved by Israel’s 12-year blockade, but a weekly shooting spree against Palestinians who protest at the fence imprisoning them has become so routine it barely attracts attention any more.

On Friday, Israeli snipers killed one protester and seriously injured 56, including 22 children.

That followed new revelations that Israeli’s policy of shooting unarmed protesters in the upper leg to injure them – another war crime – continued long after it became clear a significant proportion of Palestinians were dying from their wounds.

Belatedly – after more than 200 deaths and the severe disabling of many thousands of Palestinians – snipers have been advised to “ease up” by shooting protesters in the ankle.

B’Tselem, another Israeli rights organisation, called the army’s open-fire regulation a “criminal policy”, one that “consciously chose not to regard those standing on the other side of the fence as humans”.

Rather than end such criminal practices, Israel prefers to conceal them. It has effectively sealed Palestinian areas off to avoid scrutiny.

Omar Shakir, a researcher for Human Rights Watch, is facing imminent deportation, yet more evidence of Israel’s growing crackdown on the human rights community.

A report by the Palestinian Right to Enter campaign last week warned that Israel is systematically denying foreign nationals permits to live and work in the occupied territories, including areas supposedly under PA control.

That affects both foreign-born Palestinians, often those marrying local Palestinians, and internationals. According to recent reports, Israel is actively forcing out academics teaching at the West Bank’s leading university, Bir Zeit, in a severe blow to Palestinian academic freedom.

Palestinian journalists highlighting Israeli crimes are in Israel’s sights too. Last week, Israel stripped one – Mustafa Al Haruf – of his Jerusalem residency, tearing him from his wife and young child. Because it is illegal to leave someone stateless, Israel is now bullying Jordan to accept him.

Another exclusion policy – denying entry to Israel’s fiercest critics, those who back the international boycott, divestment and sanctions (BDS) movement – is facing its first challenge.

Two US congresswomen who support BDS – Ilhan Omar and Rashida Tlaib, who has family in the West Bank – have announced plans to visit.

Israeli officials have indicated they will exempt them both, apparently fearful of drawing wider attention to Israel’s draconian entry restrictions, which also cover the occupied territories.

Israel is probably being overly cautious. The BDS movement, which alone argues for the imposition of penalties on Israel until it halts its abuse of Palestinians, is being bludgeoned by western governments.

In the US and Europe, strong criticism of Israel, even from Jews – let alone demands for meaningful action – is being conflated with antisemitism. Much of this furore seems intended to ease the path towards silencing Israel’s critics.

More than two dozen US states, as well as the Senate, have passed laws – drafted by pro-Israel lobby groups – to limit the rights of the American public to support boycotts of Israel.

Anti-BDS legislation has also been passed by the German and French parliaments.

And last week the US House of Representatives joined them, overwhelmingly passing a resolution condemning the BDS movement. Only 17 legislators demurred.

It was a slap in the face to Omar, who has been promoting a bill designed to uphold the First Amendment rights of boycott supporters.

It seems absurd that these curbs on free speech have emerged just as Israel makes clear it has no interest in peace, will never concede Palestinian statehood and is entrenching a permanent system of apartheid in the occupied territories.

But there should be no surprise. The clampdown is further evidence that western support for Israel is indeed based on shared values – those that treat the Palestinians as lesser beings, whose rights can be trampled at will.

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A version of this article first appeared in the National, Abu Dhabi.

Jonathan Cook won the Martha Gellhorn Special Prize for Journalism. His books include “Israel and the Clash of Civilisations: Iraq, Iran and the Plan to Remake the Middle East” (Pluto Press) and “Disappearing Palestine: Israel’s Experiments in Human Despair” (Zed Books). His website is http://www.jonathan-cook.net. He is a frequent contributor to Global Research.

Recorded Moments of War, Suffering, Resistance and Victroy

Western Media Perpetuate Gaza’s Brutal Blockade

Western Media Perpetuate Gaza’s Brutal Blockade

Tue May 07, 2019 7:59

TEHRAN (FNA)- Human rights groups continue to slam corporate media outlets in the West for perpetuating anti-Palestinian sentiments in their reporting on the recent Israeli violence against Gaza.

As always, major news sources gave little in-depth information or a timeline regarding the Israeli military’s killing of Palestinians at a protest on Friday, may 3 – one of the weekly demonstrations Palestinians have held for more than a year to call for an end to illegal Israeli settlements in the West Bank, blockades which have led to food and medicine shortages, and ongoing attacks by the Israeli forces.

Instead, they reported mainly on more than 200 rockets which Hamas and the Islamic Jihad launched into illegal Israeli settlements, writing that Israel retaliated for those attacks and ignoring what led up to the rocket strikes.

This is while even the United Nations had said earlier this year that Israeli soldiers who attack Palestinians at the peaceful protests along the Gaza border could be found liable for war crimes. So those who come up with headlines to frame the recent violence on Palestinians are complicit in Israeli war crimes as well.

Unsurprisingly, the United States and other Western governments that arm Israel also backed Israeli forces as they bombed the besieged city of Gaza yet again. It’s a sign of utter criminality between Tel Aviv, the West and mainstream media outlets in colonizing Palestine and projecting militarism upon Palestinians, whether through direct force, clandestine subversion, or blockade, illegal settlement construction and false news reporting.

It’s also an expression of complicity on the part of the US and certain European powers. They are assisting through their corps of engineers and companies with the construction of underground steel impenetrable walls and illegal settlements on stolen Palestinian lands.

No doubt the ongoing Palestinian protests are an expression of the desperation created in Gaza as a result of the Western-backed blockade that’s been going on for years in a severe and continuing form. Gaza’s suffering is unacceptable and must end. Israel must lift the blockade and end its collective punishment of the civilian population. The relentless air assault has seen Israeli forces flagrantly disregard civilian life and property, which must be protected under international humanitarian law.

Netanyahu and other Israeli leaders are pretty much aware that what they are doing to Gaza is a war crime. Deliberately attacking civilian homes is a war crime, and the overwhelming scale of destruction of civilian objects points to a distressing pattern of repeated violations of the laws of war. Netanyahu must bear responsibility for his war crimes – identified by the UN Human Rights Council in its investigation into Israel’s last year assault on Gaza.

With Tel Aviv still refusing to respond to the language of diplomacy and peaceful protest, the international civil society should call for greater diplomatic pressure to force the paranoid, exclusivist, and imperious regime to lift the illegal blockade and allow international supporters to help.

It is time for leading international organizations not to admit Israel as a member. The blockade has been presented as punishment for the democratic election of Hamas; punishment for its subsequent takeover of Gaza; and punishment for justified resistance through attacks on illegal settlements. True, the UN has criticized Israel over its blockade. But, criticism alone is not enough. The international body needs to do more than just lip service.

Meantime, to help bring change and peace to the Middle East, business companies, universities, organizations and individuals, especially those that advocate human rights and democracy in the West, should support the international campaign to boycott Israeli goods and the companies that support the regime financially in illegal settlements.

Israel has expanded its illegal settlement construction in the occupied territories in the past few years in defiance of international calls to end its expansionist policies. Over half a million Israelis live in over 120 illegal settlements built since occupation of the West Bank in 1967.

Too many years have gone by with no change in the brutal isolation of Gaza. Since the siege is being backed by the West, mainstream media and military violence, only armed resistance on the part of Palestinians and international pressure on Egypt and Israel can help reopen Gaza’s border to the outside world permanently.

 

‘They have punished the victims’: Hebron struggles 25 years after Ibrahimi mosque massacre

zzat Karaki, centre, demonstrating with Youth Against Settlements for the reopening of Shuhada Street on 22 February 2019 (MEE/Megan Giovannetti)

The repercussions of the attack are still felt keenly by Palestinians in Hebron, who have seen their rights eroded and their formerly bustling city centre turn into a ghost town

By 

in

Hebron, occupied West Bank

“Since the massacre, everything changed.”

Jamal Fakhoury, 40, struggles to find the right words to describe his hometown.

With a furrowed brow and damp eyes, he utters: “Every day it’s a difficult life for Hebron.”

Fakhoury is reflecting on the Ibrahimi mosque massacre – the 25th anniversary is on Monday – and its impact on the southern occupied West Bank city.

On 25 February 1994, a Jewish-American settler named Baruch Goldstein opened fire on Palestinian worshippers inside the Ibrahimi mosque – also known as the Tomb of the Patriarchs – in the centre of the Old City of Hebron.

We are not humans at all. We are numbers

– Izzat Karaki, activist with Youth Against Settlements

Goldstein killed 29 men in an instant, and injured well over 100 more. Six other Palestinians were killed by Israeli security forces in the ensuing chaos.

Although it is the biggest city in the West Bank, Hebron’s residents are interconnected in almost every way through its cultural and family structures. Nearly every citizen has ties to the Ibrahimi mosque massacre through some relative, friend or neighbour.

“A settler from the US came and killed Palestinians,” Izzat Karaki, a 29-year-old activist with the Palestinian-led group Youth Against Settlements (YAS), said exasperatedly. “And after that they punish us, the victims.”

Beyond mourning for the lives lost, the attack has also affected the people of Hebron – and its generations to come – in a profound and structural way.

Full of life

“Before the massacre, I felt something like peace in the old city,” Fakhoury recalls.

He is from the Old City and still resides there, just around the corner from Shuhada Street and the mosque.

Along some two kilometres, Shuhada Street is tightly packed with shops sitting below several-storey high homes. The road leads directly to the Ibrahimi mosque and once stood as the heart of the Old City.

Munir, 65, owns a shop directly across from the mosque that remains open to this day. He likes to show laminated pictures to passing tourists of the bustling Shuhada Street back in its heyday, brimming with cars and people.

Munir shows a photo of Shuhada Street in the days before the massacre, back when the road was the bustling centre of Hebron (MEE/Megan Giovannetti)
Munir shows a photo of Shuhada Street in the days before the massacre, back when the road was the bustling centre of Hebron (MEE/Megan Giovannetti)

He does point out that the First Intifada, which started in 1988, only ended in 1993, five months before the massacre. “The six years of the Intifada were really not a normal time,” he said, pointing out that the area around the mosque “was part of the ‘playground’ where the Intifada took place”.

But, he explains, “before, this area was full of life”.

“We used to have four people working in this place,” Munir continues, showing the shop where he is standing. “Today, it is me alone and I am also taking care of two stores which belong to my neighbours.”

Collective punishment

“After the massacre, the mosque was closed for six months, and they [Israeli forces] closed Shuhada Street,” Karaki tells MEE.

For nearly three months, Karaki said, Palestinian residents of Hebron lived under an Israeli-imposed curfew while military checkpoints were built in the Old City – checkpoints that are still present today.

The aftermath of the Ibrahimi mosque massacre Hebron on 25 February 1994 (AFP)
The aftermath of the Ibrahimi mosque massacre Hebron on 25 February 1994 (AFP)

When the Tomb of the Patriarchs and the surrounding area was reopened to the public, the religious site had now been divided into two – a synagogue on one side, a mosque on the other.

Palestinians were no longer allowed to drive cars in the area, Munir says, and the number of Israeli soldiers and cameras around the Ibrahimi mosque dramatically increased.

The post-massacre changes made to the city were in a lot of ways a preface to the dramatic transformation that the Hebron Protocol was to create three years later.

The 1997 agreement between the Israeli government and the Palestine Liberation Organisation divided the city into two areas: Palestinian Authority-controlled H1 and Israeli military-controlled H2.

In H2, making up nearly 20 percent of Hebron, some 40,000 Palestinians currently live under Israeli military law, while the 800 Israeli settlers in H2 are ruled by Israeli civil law.

“Animals here have rights more than us,” Karaki exclaims. “Any cat, any dog can go to Shuhada Street. But me? I cannot.”

“Why? What did I do? We are not human at all.”

In the wake of the Hebron Protocol, shops were permanently closed in H2, and many Palestinians were driven out of their homes, many of whom “by military order”, Karaki explains.

The harsh living conditions and restricted freedom of living and movement in H2 drove many Palestinians out – turning the bustling city centre into a ghost town.

“We are talking about 1,827 shops closed and 140 apartments empty,” Karaki adds.

There are currently 20 permanent checkpoints inside the city of Hebron, dominating Palestinians’ lives with curfews and indiscriminate closures.

It is now necessary to go through two separate checkpoints just to enter the Ibrahimi mosque.

“When I go to my home every day they check my ID,” Fakhoury says, “I wait 20 minutes behind the checkpoint near the mosque.”

“If you don’t have your ID you are not allowed to get in or to pass through the checkpoint,” Karaki concurs. “We are not humans at all. We are numbers.”

Monitoring group expelled

The massacre led to the creation of the Temporary International Presence in Hebron (TIPH), an international organisation meant to monitor the situation in the city and document violations of international law and human rights.

In its 22-year-long presence, TIPH filed more than 40,000 incident reports – many of which Karaki says the Palestinians Authority can take to the International Criminal Court.

Jamal Fakhoury waits in line at one of 20 Israeli army checkpoints in H2 (MEE/Megan Giovannetti)
Jamal Fakhoury waits in line at one of 20 Israeli army checkpoints in H2 (MEE/Megan Giovannetti)

But last month, the Israeli administration refused to renew TIPH’s mandate, forcing it out of the city.

Fakhoury, like many Palestinians in the Old City, enjoyed TIPH and felt safe with its monitors’ presence.

“I think it will be difficult now with no one watching the problems,” Fakhoury says. He fears things “will get worse, because the Israeli government doesn’t like to tell people what is happening here”.

There are currently four Israeli settlements inside the city of Hebron – Avraham Avino, Beit Romano, Tel Rumeida, Beit Hadassah – all established well before the 1994 massacre.

But since the expulsion of Palestinian from H2, it has become easier for Israelis to occupy Palestinians homes.

“Usually settlers focus on the empty houses,” Karaki explains. “Where there is an empty house, they occupy it and change it from a Palestinian (home) to a settlement.”

With TIPH gone, Palestinians fear that they will witness an increase in both settlement expansion and settler violence.

“When I go to my home I need to protect myself, protect my home,” Karaki says.

Citing the Fourth Geneva Convention as an example, he says: “On paper, soldiers are here to protect me like they protect settlers. But unfortunately, we see something different.”

Hope for the future?

YAS has stepped in recently to fill in the void left by TIPH. Its activists walk around the Old City most mornings, monitoring settler activity and protecting Palestinian children on their walk to school.

On Friday, YAS organised its 10th annual “Open Shuhada Street” demonstration to denounce the ongoing situation in Hebron – just like every year in the past quarter century. Israeli forces reportedly fired tear gas and rubber-coated steel bullets at demonstrators, injuring at least two Palestinians, including a 13-year-old boy.

“Here, nothing changes,” Munir says. “It’s the same year after year after year.”

But despite the grim circumstances, Karaki says it is important for him as an activist to keep fighting with a purpose.

“Often people are shocked when I say if there is a tomorrow, there is hope,” he says.

But his optimism is dampened by what he and all Palestinians in Hebron have witnessed for years.

“Usually when tomorrow comes, it only gets worse.”

This article is available in French on Middle East Eye French edition.

Read more

Occupied Palestine in 2018: Record Deaths and Injuries, Food Insecurity, Demolitions, Record Low Humanitarian Funding

Global Research, December 30, 2018
ReliefWeb 27 December 2018

Trends affecting humanitarian affairs in the occupied Palestinian territory

Today, the United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) in the occupied Palestinian territory (oPt) released a summary of data collected during 2018. Further breakdowns and statistics from previous years are available through the links below.

Record numbers of Palestinian deaths and injuries

A total of 295 Palestinians were killed and over 29,000 were injured in 2018 by Israeli forces. This is the highest death toll in a single year since the Gaza conflict of 2014 and the highest number of injuries recorded since OCHA began documenting casualties in the oPt in 2005.

About 61 per cent of the fatalities (180 people) and 79 per cent of the injuries (over 23,000) were in the context of Gaza’s ‘Great March of Return’ demonstrations by the fence. Across the oPt, 57 of the Palestinian fatalities and about 7,000 of the injuries were under 18 years of age. At least 28 of the Palestinians killed by Israeli forces in 2018 were members of armed groups in Gaza and another 15 were perpetrators or alleged perpetrators of attacks against Israelis in the West Bank.

A total of 14 Israelis were killed during the year by Palestinians and at least 137 others were injured. While the number of fatalities is nearly the same as in 2017 (15 people), the proportion of civilians among these fatalities (50 per cent) increased compared to the previous year (27 per cent).

Uptrend in attacks by settlers

In 2018, OCHA recorded 265 incidents where Israeli settlers killed or injured Palestinians or damaged Palestinian property, marking a 69 per cent increase compared with 2017; as a result, one Palestinian woman was killed, and another 115 Palestinians were injured (another two Palestinian suspected perpetrators of attacks were killed by Israeli settlers). Palestinian property vandalized by settlers includes some 7,900 trees and about 540 vehicles.

There were at least 181 incidents where Palestinians killed or injured settlers and other Israeli civilians in the West Bank or damaged Israeli property, a 28 per cent decline compared with the previous year. However, the number of Israelis killed in these incidents in 2018 (seven), increased compared to 2017 (four).

West Bank demolitions continue, but fewer Palestinians are displaced

In 2018, the Israeli authorities demolished or seized 459 Palestinian structures across the West Bank, mostly in Area C and East Jerusalem, overwhelmingly on the grounds of a lack of Israeli-issued building permits, which are almost impossible to obtain, slightly more than in 2017. Such incidents displaced 472 Palestinians, including 216 children and 127 women, the lowest such figure since OCHA began systematically recording demolitions in 2009. In Area C alone, there are over 13,000 pending demolition orders, including 40 issued against schools.

The blockade on Gaza still extremely restrictive

The land, sea and air blockade on the Gaza Strip, imposed by Israel citing security concerns, continued, with people being able to exit on an exceptional basis only. On a monthly average, in 2018 (Jan-Nov) there were some 9,200 exits from Gaza by permit holders through the Israeli-controlled Erezcrossing, a 33 per cent increase compared to 2017, but 35 per cent less than the 2015-2016 average. The Egyptian-controlled Rafah Crossing has opened on a regular basis since May, recording about 56,800 exits in all of 2018, up from a yearly average of less than 19,000 in 2015-2017.

The rate of approval of permit applications for UN national staff to leave Gaza stood at 59 per cent during 2018, up from 47 per cent in 2017. However, the total number of applications submitted in 2018 dropped by 24 per cent, primarily due to the larger number of staff that were denied for security reasons and banned for reapplying for 12 months, currently 131 compared to 41 staff by the end of 2017.

Kerem Shalom, controlled by Israel, remained the almost exclusive crossing for the movement of commodities to and from Gaza, with limited imports also allowed via the Salah Ad Din Gate on the border with Egypt. On a monthly average, about 8,300 truckloads of goods entered Gaza via both crossings in 2018, 17 per cent below the equivalent average in the previous two years, while 209 trucks exited Gaza on average, mostly to West Bank markets, nearly the same as in 2016-2017. Access to fishing areas and to farming lands near the fence inside Gaza remained restricted.

More people in Gaza food insecure

About 1.3 million people in Gaza, or 68 per cent of the population, were identified as food insecure in 2018, primarily due to poverty, up from 59 per cent in 2014, when a similar survey was conducted. The unemployment rate in Gaza reached an average of almost 53 per cent in the first three quarters of 2018, an all-time record, with youth unemployment at 69 per cent. By contrast, in the West Bank, 12 per cent of the Palestinians are food insecure, down from 15 per cent in 2014, while unemployment stood at an average of 18 per cent.

Record-low in humanitarian funding

While humanitarian needs across the oPt rose during 2018, funding levels for humanitarian interventions declined significantly: only US$221 million had been received, against the $540 million requested in the 2018 Humanitarian Response Plan

Note: Data on casualties and demolitions is as of 26 December 2018 and is subject to caveats and definitions available in these links. Israeli fatalities exclude a baby delivered prematurely after the injury of his mother. Data on exits via Erez crossing is up to 30 November 2018, and data on imports and exports, as well as on the Rafah crossing are as of 15 December 2018.

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Trump is willing to starve Palestinians into compliance with his Deal of the Century

Source / If Americans Knew Blog

The Trump administration has permanently cut $250 million in aid for the Palestinian West Bank and Gaza, saying the appropriated funds will be “redirected” elsewhere.

Palestinians have always had just 3 wishes: a capital someday in Jerusalem, a return to the 1967 borders, and the Right of Return. Between Trump and Israel, there’s nothing left to even dream of: the barest minimum is disappearing – food, medicine, the title of “refugee.”

by Kathryn Shihadah, Palestine Home

President Trump seems to think he’s the perfect blend of Santa Claus and Scrooge. On Tuesday, he revealed that since Israel got its present last May – the embassy (what a glorious day) – the Palestinians will now “get something very good” because “it’s their turn next.”

What could it be? A pony? What could the Palestinians possibly wish for?

Ever since the 1948 Nakba, Palestinians have had only 3 modest longings.

  • Each generation has dreamed of worshiping unimpeded in Jerusalem, the city that PLO executive Hanan Ashrawi has called “the core of Palestinian existence, history and culture” and “beyond price,” the capital of their future state
  • Palestinians have imagined a return to the 1967 borders (no doubt many have fantasized about reclaiming the whole land, but 22% would be a windfall)
  • Palestinian refugees have visualized returning home to Palestine – the “Right of Return”

A capital? Nope.

Of course, Jerusalem is now just a memory to Palestinians: Trump essentially gave it as a Hanukkah gift to Israel last December.

(My Jewish acquaintances responded in the days following, “well, Jerusalem was ours all along, so this just makes it official. It’s no big deal. Nothing has changed.” Does this indicate ignorance or privilege, or perhaps a combination? Because for every Palestinian in the world, a part of their soul died that day.)

President Trump explained that his idea was brilliant (not stupid and reckless, like we thought): he had “taken Jerusalem off the table,” so now it’s no longer a point of contention. So simple, yet so elegant. This should streamline the peace process. Definitely.

African refugees in Israel face deportation.

1967 borders? Fat chance.

As for the 1967 borders, Palestinians recognize that’s a pipe dream. Settlements are growing, unimpeded – in spite of the United Nations’ frequent reminders that settlements are illegal. Israel is apparently the exception to every rule – breaking international laws, shooting unarmed people, imprisoning children, ethnically cleansing villages, dropping bombs on civilians.

Yep, that’s the country with which we share an “unbreakable bond based on common values.” These inspiring words have been uttered countless times by our Congress people, in spite of the above atrocities.

As of 21 August, 500 undocumented children in the US are still separated from their parents as they await deportation.

(Our legislators have a point: the United States and Israel have both treated indigenous peoples somewhat unreasonably; both have behaved rather shamefully toward minorities; each believes itself to be “a nation of immigrants” with total disregard for the natives of the land, and selectivity about which immigrants are desirable. We do have much in common.)

But to return to the issue of the settlements: there are now over 600,000 Israelis living on Palestinian land in the West Bank and East Jerusalem. Although there was plenty of available land within Israel, they took Palestinian land to build homes, schools, settler-only roads (does that sound like apartheid?); they created roadblocks so that Palestinians couldn’t drive or walk near settlements; they built a 25-foot-high concrete wall that blocks many Palestinians from their own families, farmland, schools, and businesses.

(Don’t bother with the argument that “the wall keeps the terrorists away,” because it doesn’t fly. It took 15 years to complete the wall – that means for 15 years, people could go around it. As recently as 2017, tens of thousands of Palestinians were illegally slipping into Israel every day – mostly through gaps where the wall had not yet been completed. Also, 1.5 million Palestinians live in Israel. One more thing: take a look at any detailed map of the wall, and you will see that – heavens to Betsy –  some settlements are on the same side of the wall as the Palestinians. So really, it is only the good will of Palestinians that will keep Israelis safe.)

So, in order for Palestinians to see their dream fulfilled, to return to the 1967 borders, 600,000 settlers would have to be relocated. Back in 2005, when only 8,000 settlers were evacuated from Gaza, they were given a generous compensation package and all kinds of incentives, totaling – in 2005 dollars, mind you, for just 8,000 settlers, mind you – about $2.5 billion. Israel “asked” the US to pay at least $2 billion of that, which is only fair since the US also paid for the building of the Gaza settlements to begin with. Someone (I’m guessing not Israel) would have to cough up a rather large sum today to relocate 600,000+ settlers.

An Israeli Jewish settler shoots in the air as Palestinians protest against the forced relocation of Israel’s Palestinian Bedouin minority from their villages in the Negev Desert.

But not to worry. According to US Ambassador to Israel David Friedman, Israeli settlers “aren’t going anywhere.” More and more settlers today – and the IDF soldiers who would enforce an evacuation – believe that the land in question was not snatched away from Palestinian farmers, but “given to them by God.” Resistance against any relocation program would be fierce, so it’s out of the question. Sorry, Palestinians. You’ll have to make do.

Golly, it’s a shame that the Israeli government actually encouraged ideological settlement, and that the Israeli Supreme Court approved settlement building time and time again (although the UN has declared settlements illegal), because now Palestinians are stuck with the burden of Israel’s failure to think ahead.

Right of Return? No can do.

A Jewish, Zionist acquaintance of mine explained why the Right of Return can never happen: Israel needs to have a Jewish majority. If a bunch of non-Jewish “Arabs” (um, they’re Palestinians) came swarming in, the Jewish State would no longer be Jewish.

Never mind that the United Nations guaranteed the Right of Return to the Palestinians in 1948. It’s just not really convenient.

Gee, maybe the founding fathers of the Jewish State should have thought about that 70 years ago. Their neglect to plan ahead is now the burden of several million Palestinian refugees.

But again, not to worry! President Trump will take care of it. When he’s not busy figuring out how not to get impeached, he’s working on a scheme to strip the refugee status from all but 20,000 Palestinians – rendering the Right of Return practically meaningless. (Not exactly the fix that Palestinians were hoping for.)

Which would also kill the last of the Palestinians’ dreams.

“For Hanukkah this year, Israel, Uncle Donald is giving you something you think is already yours: Jerusalem. Mazel tov!”

When Trump announced the embassy move, Palestinians suspended contact with him and his Dream Team. Clearly he is too partisan to be trusted. He went on to cut $65 million in funding to UNRWA; week after week he has ignored Gazan deaths during the Great March of Return; he wants to disappear millions of refugees.Thanks but no thanks

Now suddenly he says “it’s your turn,” and he expects Palestinians to come running back, ready to accept whatever crumbs he wants to drop on them? Is he surprised that they aren’t interested in his trinkets?

Spurned and insulted by this indifference, now Trump has also cut $251 million in economic aid to Palestinians. If there was any food or medicine left after the cuts to UNRWA, Palestinians can now count on starving until they get on the Trump Train.

What kind of “deal” is so bad that you have to be forced to take it?

And have you met Palestinians, Mr. Trump? They don’t cave.

Hanan Ashrawi

In the words of Hanan Ashrawi,

The US administration is demonstrating the use of cheap blackmail as a political tool. The Palestinian people and leadership will not be intimidated and will not succumb to coercion. The rights of the Palestinian people are not for sale.

There is no glory in constantly bullying and punishing a people under occupation. The US administration has already demonstrated meanness of spirit in its collusion with the Israeli occupation and its theft of land and resources; now it is exercising economic meanness by punishing the Palestinian victims of this occupation.

No, President Ebenezer Scrooge, you won’t get Palestinians to sign on any dotted lines by persecuting them – they have mastered the fine art of survival in the face of oppression. They will settle for nothing less than justice.

Source / If Americans Knew Blog

Ariyana Love

Ariyana Love is Founder of Occupy Palestine TV, TLB Director of Middle East Rising and Goodwill Ambassador to Palestine (ICSPR, Gaza). Ariyana is Chairwoman of Meta Nutrients Trust, a Human Rights Defender and Activist.

Netanyahu Uncensored – must watch!

June 11, 2018  /  Gilad Atzmon

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