Under Guise of Green Energy, Israel Entrenches Itself in Syria’s Golan Heights

By Jessica Buxbaum

Source

If Israeli energy firm Energix is successful, a sprawling complex of wind turbines will soon cover up to a quarter of the agricultural land still under the control of Syria’s indigenous Golan residents.

Jerusalem — On December 9, Israeli police fired tear gas and rubber bullets at hundreds of Syrians peacefully demonstrating against the development of a wind farm in the occupied Golan Heights.

Ten protesters were injured and eight arrested. According toAl-Marsad, the sole human rights organization in the occupied Golan, the Golan Association for the Development of Arab Villages’ medical clinic received 12 cases of protesters with rubber bullet wounds—some on the upper body and face. Dozens of demonstrators suffered from gas inhalation. According to the police, officers responded with “non-lethal weapons” and four officers were injured from stones being thrown.

The violent confrontation capped off a week of heavy police presence in the Golan Heights. Officers were there to escort employees from Israeli company Energix Renewable Energies as they took soil samples using drilling machines for their wind turbine project being built on Syrian land.

Police road closures prevented 1,000 Syrian farmers from accessing their land. Demonstrators say the excavation work damages agriculture.

Israeli police block farmers from accessing agricultural roads. Photo | Emil Masood

Syrian Druze say the wind farm will disrupt their way of life

The December 9 protest was part of a general strike in the Syrian Druze communities against Energix and the police. But the Syrian struggle against Energix stems as far back as 2018 when Energix was in the final stages of getting its wind turbine project approved.

Now, the wind farm is underway after being approved by Israel’s National Committee of Infrastructure (NIC) and all government ministries despite strong opposition to it from the local residents.

“[This project] will have bad effects for our land, our environment and for us as farmers and human beings,” Emil Masood, an activist and cherry farmer who is organizing against the wind farm, said.

Dubbed the ARAN Wind Project, the plan will install 23 wind turbines onnearly a quarter of Syrian agricultural land. The originalproposal requested 52 wind turbines, but the project was scaled back as it went through the government stages.

Energix denies the project will harm the local economy, environment, and health, arguing, “it will lead to a significant improvement in the quality of life of the residents” and “occupy less than 2 percent of the margins of the agricultural space of the Druze community.” According to the approved project map, the wind farm will span a little more than 3,500 dunams (nearly 870 acres).

Energix-map
A map published by Al-Marsad shows proposed turbine locations in the midst of farmland nestled between Syrian villages

Energix boasts the project will create hundreds of jobs while meeting Israel’s renewable energy goals.Israel entered the Paris Climate Agreement in 2015 and agreed to have 10 percent of its energy produced through renewable sources by 2020 and 17 percent by 2030.

But according to expert testimonies filed as part of ajoint objection to the wind farm, the project will significantly harm Syrians’ health, housing, and livelihoods.

Dr. Hagit Ulanovsky, who provided an expert opinion for the community appeal, explained that because of the region’s mountainous topography, residents are going to feel the infrasound from the wind turbines more intensely in their bodies. And these noise disturbances will ultimately prevent Syrian farmers from cultivating their land.

“The noise is going to be impossible. Nobody will be able to stand 200 to 300 meters [about 650 to 980 feet] from each turbine, which is half of the area that’s covered,” Ulanovsky said. “And during the construction phase, thousands of trees will be taken out and basically be dead forever.”

“At least 500 to maybe 5,000 years of Druze people living in the same place and growing the same trees for several generations is going to stop,” Ulanovsky added.

A forgotten occupation

Israel occupied the Syrian Golan during the 1967 Arab-Israeli war.Hundreds of thousands of Syrians were forcibly displaced and now roughly 22,000 Syrians remain in the four villages of Majdal Shams, Masada, Buqata, and Ein Qiniyye. In 1981, Israel annexed the Syrian Golan and tried to impose Israeli citizenship on the Jawlani, theSyrian residents of the occupied Golan Heights. Many Jawlani continue to this day to reject Israeli citizenship, with only 20% of the population having acquired it.

Druze farmer Noraldeen Masoud makes coffee on his farm in the Israeli-occupied Golan Heights. Ariel Schalit | AP

Dr. Muna Dajani from the London School of Economics, who also provided expert testimony, explained that because of this refusal to take Israeli citizenship, the Jawlani’s travel documents state they don’t have a nationality. Instead, the Israeli government has labeled them as “undefined.”

“The Jawlani have started relating more and more to the land as their source of identity and their source of belonging to a community because of that exclusion from being Syrian, and that meant they started valuing the land beyond its physical economic value,” Dajani said.

“Constructing these wind turbines in the middle of the land not only undermines the economic viability of their agriculture but also has a detrimental psychological effect on their community well-being, their sense of purpose and sense of belonging,” Dajani continued. “People feel without land they have nowhere, they don’t have an identity left.”

Expert opinions also emphasized the wind farm will restrict the expansion of at least three surrounding Syrian villages, thereby exacerbating the housing crisis in these communities. The collective appeal wassubmitted by Al-Marsad to the NIC in June 2019 on behalf of Syrian agricultural cooperatives, civil society groups, and thousands of civilians. By August of that same year, the NIC rejected all objections and approved the project in September.

Golan Heights wind
Druze farmer Noraldeen Masoud works his orchard where towering wind turbines could soon jut up from the picturesque farmland. Ariel Schalit | AP

Energix plans to connect the wind farm to the electricity grid by the end of 2022. Nizar Ayoub, Al-Marsad’s director, told MintPress News that the organization is collaborating with the Association for Civil Rights in Israel and Planners for Planning Rights (Bimkom) to utilize every legal tool to stop the wind turbine project. Al-Marsad alleges the project violates international humanitarian law whereby an occupying power is prohibited from exploiting the natural resources of the occupied territory or using their land for economic benefit.

However, the organization is currently embroiled in a lawsuit against them from Energix. In 2019, the energy company sued Al-Marsad, claiming the human rights center defamed them and violated Israel’s Anti-Boycott Law. In addition to the lawsuit against Al-Marsad, Energix also filed five cases against activists.

“There’s no basis in their arguments,” Ayoub said. “They’re just using this strategy to silence the local communities and Al-Marsad.”

The resistance continues

Following this month’s confrontation between Israel police and activists, thelocal committee for planning and construction – Ma’ale Hermon – issued a restraining order to Energix to cease all work. The order was issued after the local village councils filed an appeal to the committee. Energix is aware of the order but said it will not impact their wind turbine project and has no legal grounds.

For activist and farmer Masood, any attempts by local authorities to stop the project are merely a sham.

farmers peacefully protest against Energix
Syrian civilians and farmers peacefully protest against Energix and Israeli police. Photo | Emil Masood

“The municipality doesn’t represent Syrian Arab citizens in the Golan because they’re appointed by the Israeli authorities,” Masood said. “In this conflict, they didn’t invest a lot of effort to stop it. So, all the effort was from social, public, and private initiatives and dependent on us farmers and citizens of the four villages—not the municipalities.” The village councils weren’t available for comment.

The Syrian activists’ next steps rely on how Energix proceeds, Masood said, “if they want to force this project on us, we will react.” Activists are currently working with an engineer to measure the amount of land damage caused and submit it to their lawyer in Tel Aviv for court procedures.

“But in the field, whenever the company will come back,” Masood said. “We will stand and confront it.”

Israel And The Emirates Sign The “Abraham Accords”

Written by Thierry MEYSSAN on 25/09/2020

The situation in the Middle East has been blocked since the Oslo Accords signed by Yitzhak Rabin and Yasser Arafat in 1993. They were supplemented by the Jericho-Gaza Agreement, which recognizes certain prerogatives of the Palestinian Authority, and the Wadi Araba Agreements, which concluded peace between Israel and Jordan.

At the time, the Israeli government intended to separate definitively from the Palestinians. It was ready to do so by creating a Palestinian pseudo-state, devoid of several attributes of sovereignty, including an independent army and finances. Labour’s Yitzhak Rabin had previously experimented with Bantustans in South Africa, where Israel was advising the apartheid regime. Another experiment took place in Guatemala with a Mayan tribe under General Efraín Ríos Montt.

Yasser Arafat accepted the Oslo Accords to derail the process of the Madrid Conference (1991). Presidents George W. Bush and Mikhail Gorbachev had tried to impose peace on Israel by removing Arafat from the international scene with the support of Arab leaders.

Despite all this, many commentators believed that the Oslo Accords could bring peace.

In any case, 27 years later, nothing positive has limited the suffering of the Palestinian people, but the state of Israel has been gradually transformed from within. Today this country is divided into two antagonistic camps, as evidenced by its government, the only one in the world to have two Prime Ministers at the same time. On the one hand the partisans of British colonialism behind the first Prime Minister, Benjamin Netanhyahu, on the other hand the partisans of a normalization of the country and its relations with its neighbors, behind the second Prime Minister, Benny Gantz. This two-headed system reflects the incompatibility of these two projects. Each camp paralyzes its rival. Only time will come to end the colonial project of conquering Greater Israel from the banks of the Nile to those of the Euphrates, the comet tail of an outdated era.

Since the attacks of September 11, 2001, the United States has implemented the Rumsfeld/Cebrowski strategy aimed at adapting the US army to the needs of a new form of capitalism based no longer on the production of goods and services, but on financial engineering. To do this, they began an “endless war” of destruction of state structures throughout the “broader Middle East” without taking into account their friends and enemies. In two decades, the region became cursed for its inhabitants. Afghanistan, then Iraq, Libya, Syria, Yemen are the theater of wars presented as lasting a few weeks, but which last indefinitely, without perspective.

When Donald Trump was elected president, he promised to put an end to the “endless wars” and to bring US soldiers home. In this spirit, he gave carte blanche to his special adviser and nevertheless son-in-law, Jared Kushner. The fact that President Trump is supported in his country by Zionist Christians and that Jared Kushner is an Orthodox Jew has led many commentators to portray them as friends of Israel. If they do indeed have an electoral interest in letting this be believed, it is not at all their approach to the Middle East. They intend to defend the interests of the American people, and not those of the Israelis, by substituting trade relations for war on the model of President Andrew Jackson (1829-37). Jackson managed to prevent the disappearance of the Indians he had fought as a general, although only the Cherokees signed the agreement he proposed. Today they have become the largest Native American tribe, despite the infamous episode of the “Trail of Tears”.

For three years, Jared Kushner travelled through the region. He was able to see for himself how much fear and hatred had developed there. For 75 years, Israel has persisted in violating all UN resolutions that concern it and continues its slow and inexorable nibbling of Arab territory. The negotiator reached only one conclusion: International Law is powerless because almost no one – with the notable exception of Bush Sr. and Gorbachev – has wanted to really apply it since the partition plan for Palestine in 1947. Because of the inaction of the international community, its application if it were to happen today would add injustice to injustice.

Kushner worked on many hypotheses, including the unification of the Palestinian people around Jordan and the linking of Gaza to Egypt. In June 2019, he presented proposals for the economic development of the Palestinian territories at a conference in Bahrain (the “deal of the century”). Rather than negotiating anything, the idea was to quantify what everyone would gain from peace. In the end, he managed, on September 13, 2020, to get a secret agreement signed in Washington between the United Arab Emirates and Israel. The agreement was formalized two days later, on September 15, in a watered-down version.”

Press in the Emirates
The press in the Emirates does not have the same version of the events as that of Israel. None of them has an interest in expressing itself frankly.

As always, the most important thing is the secret part: Israel was forced to renounce in writing its plans for annexation (including the territories allegedly “offered” by Donald Trump in the “deal of the century” project) and to let Dubai Ports World (known as “DP World”) take over the port of Haifa, from which the Chinese have just been ejected.

This agreement is in line with the ideas of the second Israeli Prime Minister Benny Gantz, but represents a disaster for the camp of the first Prime Minister, Benjamin Netanyahu.

Not having read the secret part of the agreements myself, I do not know if it clearly indicates the renunciation of annexing the Syrian Golan Heights, occupied since 1967, and the Lebanese Shebaa Farms, occupied since 1982. Similarly, I do not know whether compensation is provided for the port of Beirut, since it is clear that its eventual reconstruction would be detrimental both to Israel and to the Emirates’ investments in Haifa. However, the Lebanese President, Michel Aoun, has already publicly evoked a real estate construction project instead of the port of Beirut.

In order to make this treaty acceptable to all parties, it has been named “Abraham Accords”, after the common father of Judaism and Islam. The paternity was attributed, to the great joy of Benny Gantz, to the “outstretched hand” (sic) of Benjamin Netanyahu, his toughest opponent. Finally, Bahrain was associated with it.

This last point aims to mount the new regional role that Washington has granted to the Emirates in replacement of Saudi Arabia. As we announced, it is now Abu Dhabi and no longer Riyadh that represents US interests in the Arab world Other Arab states are invited to follow Bahrain’s example.

The Palestinian President, Mahmoud Abbas, has not had harsh words against the Emirati “betrayal”. He was taken up both by those who remain hostile to peace (the Iranian ayatollahs) and by those who remain committed to the Oslo Accords and the two-state solution. Indeed, by formalizing diplomatic relations between Israel and the new Arab leader, the Emirates, the Abraham Accords turn the page on the Oslo Accords. The palm of hypocrisy goes to the European Union, which persists in defending international law in theory and violating it in practice.

If President Trump is re-elected and Jared Kushner continues his work, the Israeli-Emirati agreements will be remembered as the moment when Israelis and Arabs regained the right to speak to each other, just as the overthrow of the Berlin Wall marked the moment when East Germans regained the right to speak to their relatives in the West. On the contrary, if Joe Biden is elected, Israel’s nibbling of Arab territories and the “endless war” will resume throughout the region.

Relations between Israel and the Emirates had long since stabilized without a peace treaty since there was never a declared war between them. The Emirates have been secretly buying arms from the Jewish state for the past decade. Over time this trade has increased, especially in terms of telephone interceptions and internet surveillance. In addition, an Israeli embassy was already operating under cover of an intelligence agency.

In addition, an Israeli embassy was already operating under cover of a delegation to an obscure UN body in the Emirates. However, the “Abraham Accords” challenge the dominant Arab-Israeli discourse and shake up internal relations in the entire region.

Source: Voltaire Network

The Six-Day War: The Myth of an Israeli David Versus an Arab Goliath

By Miko Peled

Source

The son of an Israeli General, Miko Peled reflects on the nefarious intent behind what was presented to the world as the heroic triumph of an outmatched Israel vs its aggressive Arab neighbors

June 2, 1967, was a tense day at the Israeli army headquarters in Tel Aviv. For weeks, IDF generals had been pushing the government to initiate a war and the atmosphere was tense. Israel’s Prime Minister Levi Eshkol, who also acted as minister of defense, came to see the generals at the IDF command center. All the generals who made up the IDF high command were present. This meeting became known as the showdown. Years later, some would even accuse the army of an attempted coup d’etat.

A fraud

One of the biggest frauds perpetrated by the Israeli military is the claim that the Six-Day War was initiated by Israel due to an existential threat. The reality though is that in 1967, the Israeli army faced an elected civilian government that was less excited about the prospects of war than the generals were. So, as is clearly seen in the minutes of meetings between IDF generals from those days, minutes that are available in the IDF archives, seeing that the government was hesitant, the military decided to sow fear, and they did it very effectively, claiming that the Jewish state faced an existential threat and that the army must act decisively.

The deception worked and over the following three days, Eshkol was forced to yield. He resigned his post as minister of defense and gave it to retired army Chief of Staff, General Moshe Dayan. The IDF generals got the war they so badly wanted. They initiated a massive assault against Egypt, reducing the Egyptian military to ashes and taking over the entire Sinai Peninsula. As a result, the IDF was able to capture the largest stockpile of Russian made military hardware outside of the Soviet Union.

Israeli Prime Minister Levi Eshko Peled

Israel would make good use of the knowledge that came with this loot.

It also captured thousands of Egyptian soldiers who were stationed in the Sinai Desert and caught unprepared. According to the testimonies of Israeli officers, at least two thousand Egyptian prisoners of war were executed right there and buried in the dunes.

But the generals were not satisfied. They seized the opportunity that they were given and decided to make the most of it. Without any discussion, much less approval from the elected civilian government, the army proceeded to take the Gaza Strip, the West Bank and something the generals had been chomping at the bit to take for many years, the fertile water-rich Syrian Golan Heights, tripling the size of the state of Israel. They had finally completed the conquest of Palestine and pushed the eastern border of Israel all the way to the Jordan River.

The military moved like a bulldozer, destroying cities and towns both in the Golan Heights and in the West Bank. As a result, countless Syrians who lived in the Golan Heights, and hundreds of thousands of Palestinian residents of the West Bank and East Jerusalem became refugees.

The myth of the threat

As the generals themselves stated during their meetings prior to the war, the entire affair was about seizing an opportunity to start a war they knew they would win, and not about averting some existential threat. In fact, the word “opportunity” is mentioned several times in their discussions and the word “threat” is not mentioned at all.

One general who was present in the June 2 meeting was my father, General Matti Peled. According to accounts by some of his comrades who were there, accounts that I later verified by reading the minutes of the meetings, he stood up and told Prime Minister Eshkol that the Egyptian army was an ill-prepared army and therefore Israel must seize the opportunity to destroy it. He stated that the Egyptian army, which at the time was recovering from a war in Yemen, would need at least a year and a half to two years before it was prepared for war. The other generals concurred. My father then went further and said that the IDF command “demands to know why this army that has never lost a battle” is being held back. He didn’t say one word about a threat.

General Matti Peled Six-Day War

More of the minutes of the general’s meeting are included in my book, “The General’s Son,” but it is clear that Israel initiated the war, not out of concern for the safety of Israel, but out of a desire to demonstrate its power and use it to achieve territorial gains. For anyone paying attention the result of the war proved that there could not possibly have been a military threat to Israel. However, people were so moved by the story of little David defending himself from the onslaught of the evil Goliath that they let themselves be taken by the fraud.

Divine intervention

There is a story that I heard from Rabbi Moishe Beck, a revered Ultra-Orthodox Rabbi who used to live in Jerusalem and moved to New York. I asked him why he decided to leave after the Six-Day War. He told me that he was sitting in a bomb shelter in Jerusalem’s Me’a Sha’arim neighborhood and there was the sound of shelling not far from there. At one point, people could hear Israeli Air Force planes flying overhead and began referring to the IDF successes as a sign of divine intervention. He found it abhorrent that people would see the Zionist state military force, which he viewed as criminal, as divine intervention. As soon as he was able, he took his family and with very little means, left Jerusalem. He did not want his children to grow up in an atmosphere that idolized the Israeli military, or any military for that matter.

Many years later, while sitting with Ultra-Orthodox friends in New York, I was asked if it was true that the 1967 victory was so unpredictable that even people who were secular saw it as divine intervention. There was nothing divine about the Israeli assault and the theft of Arab lands. Not in 1967 and not at any other time. The Israeli army was well prepared, well-armed, and well trained and the generals knew victory was inevitable.

The writing on the wall

Israel had, in fact, intended to occupy the West Bank and the Golan Heights many years prior to 1967 and the war presented the perfect opportunity. In the memoirs of Israel’s second Prime Minister, Moshe Sharet, he describes a meeting that took place in Jerusalem in 1953 where dignitaries from around the world were present. Israel’s first prime minister, David Ben-Gurion, was also present.

One of the presentations given to this gathering was by my father, then a young and promising IDF officer. He gave the talk in English which he spoke well, and among other things, he stated in no uncertain terms that the IDF was prepared for the moment that the order would be given to “push Israel’s eastern border to its natural place, the Jordan River.” In other words, take the West Bank and complete the conquest of historic Palestine.

Today we know that Israel had plans in place to occupy and impose its own military rule in the West Bank as early 1964. It is also well known that Israel initiated skirmishes with the Syrian army throughout the early 1960s in the hopes that Syria would initiate a war.

The USS Liberty

On the morning of June 8, 1967, in the midst of the war, the USS Liberty was about 17 miles off the Gaza coast, in international waters. Being an intelligence-gathering ship, it had no battle capabilities and was armed only with four fifty caliber machine guns to ward off unwanted boarders. For several hours throughout that day, Israeli Air Force reconnaissance planes had been flying over the Liberty in what seemed like attempts to identify it. The crew felt no threat – quite the opposite, Israel was a U.S. ally.

The General's Son, Journey of an Israeli in PalestineThen, at 14:00 hours, (2:00 PM local time) and without any warning, Israeli fighter jets launched an attack on USS Liberty. The attack included rockets, cannon fire, and even napalm, a toxic, flammable combination of gel and petroleum that sticks to the skin and causes severe burns.

The attack ended with 34 U.S. sailors dead and 174 injured, many seriously. As the wounded were being evacuated, an officer with the Office of Naval Intelligence instructed the men not to talk to the press about their ordeal.

Within three weeks of the attack, the Navy put out a 700-page report exonerating the Israelis, claiming the attack had been accidental and that the Israelis had pulled back as soon as they realized their mistake. Defense Secretary Robert McNamara suggested the whole affair should be forgotten. “These errors do occur,” McNamara concluded. The U.S. desire to see the Soviet arms that Israel had in its possession had something to do with the ease with which the Pentagon swept this affair under the rug.

In 2003, almost forty years after the fact, the “Moorer Commission,” an independent commission chaired by retired Admiral Thomas H. Moorer, United States Navy, was established in order to investigate the attack. The commission included a former Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, a former Assistant Commandant of the Marine Corps, retired admirals, and a former ambassador. Among its findings are the following:

That Israeli torpedo boats machine-gunned the Liberty’s firefighters, stretcher-bearers and the life rafts that had been lowered into the water to rescue the most seriously wounded.”

That fearing conflict with Israel, the White House deliberately prevented the U.S. Navy from coming to the defense of USS Liberty by recalling Sixth Fleet military rescue support while the ship was under attack […] never before in American naval history has a rescue mission been cancelled when an American ship was under attack.”

That surviving crew members were threatened with “court-martial, imprisonment or worse” if they exposed the truth.”

That due to continuing pressure by the pro-Israel lobby in the United States, this attack remains the only serious naval incident that has never been thoroughly investigated by Congress.”

In five days it was over. The war ended as expected, with a massive Israeli victory. The IDF destroyed the armies of the Arab countries around it. The death toll was 18,000 Arab soldiers and 700 Israeli soldiers.

In retrospect, one would do well to stop calling what took place in June of 1967 a war, but rather an Israeli assault on its neighboring countries. The name Six-Day War was no coincidence. Israel took the name from the Jewish scriptures, more specifically from the prayer book, where one sees reference after reference to the divine creation or The Six Days of creation.

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