Al Mayadeen: Roth reveals the role of ‘Israel’ in Harvard decision

8 Jan 2023

Source: Al Mayadeen Net

By Al Mayadeen English 

The former director of Human Rights Watch, Kenneth Roth, speaks to Al Mayadeen about how he was declined a Harvard University position because of his criticism of “Israel,” and the pressures exerted on him to dissuade him from his positions.

Former HRW director Kenneth Roth at Al Mayadeen

The former director of Human Rights Watch (HRW), Kenneth Roth, revealed in an interview with Al Mayadeen how he was refused a fellowship in human rights at Harvard University because of his criticism of “Israel.”

Roth stated that the veto on him either came from one of the donors or from the dean of the university, who was afraid that someone would object to Roth’s positions on “Israel.”

He added that when Harvard University called him, they claimed that the position was granted to another person despite the fact that initially, he had been offered the position by the university.

The former HRW director also pointed out that when one of his colleagues inquired about the reasons behind his sidelining, the dean of the university told argued that he is an “observer,” but added that HRW is biased against “Israel,” and that the refusal also came as a result of Tweets in which Roth criticized “Israel.”

Roth stressed that what happened constituted a great shock, as this has never happened in the history of Harvard.

Punishing academics for criticizing ‘Israel’ is not new

Roth further revealed to Al Mayadeen that what happened to him was not a first, as there had been several instances where an academic who criticized “Israel” was punished. Roth warned that the danger lies in the fact that new academics may see what transpired and may become afraid of directing any criticism towards “Israel” for fear of punishment.

He added that what happened to him at Harvard University is not unique, as it had happened in other universities before. For example, Roth explained that a similar situation had taken place “at the University of Toronto, two years ago, where a person was hired to head a human rights center, then a tentative offer has been made, and then suddenly it was withdrawn due to her criticism of ‘Israel’.” 

In this case, Roth was referencing Dr. Valentina Azarova, an international law practitioner, and researcher. Azarova has described herself as an anti-oppression educator and had written several research pieces regarding Israeli practices in occupied Palestine, such as “The Pathology of a Legal System: Israel’s Military Justice System and International Law.” 

The former HRW director continued that the disappointing thing about what happened with him is that “if any institution can resist donor pressure, it is Harvard, as it is the richest university in the world,” adding that Harvard must have maintained that “we do not accept pressure from donors that tries to censor our scholars, that try to undermine academic freedom.”

He stressed that what happened pointed to a serious matter regarding new academics. Roth argued that these new academics will refrain from criticizing “Israel” out of fear of losing their career or getting canceled following what happened to him and how it affected his career.

Roth stated he is not worried about his career given that he had plenty of other options, however, he said “I fear about a young academic who sees what just happened to me and says: uh oh! I can’t touch ‘Israel’, if I criticize ‘Israel’ that’s going to end my career; I’m going to get canceled.”

Pressure exerted on Roth to refrain from ‘Israel’ criticism

Roth revealed to Al Mayadeen that donors and other parties pressured him during his time as HRW director and urged him not to criticize “Israel.” Roth stressed his resistance to all pressures and argued that Harvard’s decision to fold under donor pressure and cancel his fellowship did not change his position or perspective on how Human Rights must be applied across the world.

He said, “Harvard should not impose bans on its scholars. It should be upholding academic freedom.”

The academic further stressed that he has not changed his perspective on the fact that “human rights standards must be applied even-handedly” and expressed his hope that Harvard would change the way it treats this kind of pressure because the university should not censor its scholars. Moreover, Roth insisted, “I am not going to change what I do but I hope that Harvard changes the way it proceeds.”

Roth hoped that university officials would realize that what happened was wrong and that they would change their minds, take a different path, and rectify things. It is worth noting that Roth here referenced the need to reassess Harvard’s decision-making process with respect to donor pressure and not just the incident that took place with respect to his fellowship. Only that, the former director argued, will “send a message to scholars around the world that it is safe to criticize ‘Israel’, that they’re not going to be punished for it.”

What do the supporters of “Israel” rely on to defend it?

The former director general of HRW confirmed to Al Mayadeen that supporters of the Israeli government engaged in a campaign of “name-calling” against those who criticize “Israel.”

He added that those engaged in the name-calling campaign have no intention of discussing the facts of what “Israel” is doing because “it’s pretty disturbing,” adding that “Israel” is “committing the human rights crime of apartheid.”

Additionally, Roth explained that instead of discussing the substance itself, these supporters show a sign of weakness as they resort to name-calling and say “you’re biased; you’re anti-Semitic.”

In conclusion, Roth voiced, through Al Mayadeen, that his greatest concern is the paralleling that Israeli government supporters are committed to in labeling any criticism of “Israel” as anti-Semetic. 

In a letter sent by HRW to Harvard University President Lawrence Bacow, it was noted that “the Kennedy School’s decision to deny Mr. Roth the opportunity of joining the Carr Center because of his work will doubtlessly have repercussions for academic freedom throughout Harvard University,” adding that “unless addressed it could taint Harvard’s stellar reputation around the globe.”

The letter further urged the president “to review the decision and take the measures necessary to uphold the values of academic freedom.”

Read more: Harvard revokes former HRW head’s fellowship over “Israel” criticism

Related Stories

People Power in the Donbass Republics

January 09, 2023

Source

by Francis Lee

It is an open question as to why Putin and the Russian government tolerated the 2014 coup which was blatantly funded and organized by internal and external actors followed by the war in the Donbass. The coup was bought and paid for by the usual suspects – The National Endowment for Democracy (NED) the ubiquitous Mr. Soros (The Open Society Foundation – OSF) and Human Rights Watch (HRW); this in addition to Victoria Nuland and Geoffrey Pyatt adding their input into the Maidan during the stage-managed ‘revolution’. The shock troops of the coup were bussed in from all points in the west Ukraine to Lviv, then on to the battleground of Kiev and the Maidan. These rightwing ultras were to openly flaunt and use their improvised weapons – usually Molotov cocktails and medieval studded clubs, last used at the battle of Agincourt – against the riot police. The legitimate president, at the time Viktor Yanukovych – was ousted by this illegal show of force and forced to flee Kiev for other places outside the reach of the mob. Poroshenko – one time finance minister of Yanukovych – was thus ‘elected’ as the new President.

The first thing on Poroshenko’s agenda was the war against the Eastern provinces of Lugansk and Donetsk. According to Poroshenko this was going to be a simple ‘police operation’ which would be over in a few hours. The initial phase of the conflict was a sortie by the Ukrainian Army which rolled into Mariupol and began to shoot up the place killing a number of Russian civilians. News of this Ukie incursion began to trickle through to Donetsk and Lugansk where hastily formed local militias began to be created.

However, the significance of the events in the Southeast extended far beyond Ukraine. No sooner than the Donetsk republic was proclaimed, official Moscow let it be understood, in no uncertain terms, that it made no claim to Ukraine’s rebellious provinces. This was neither diplomatic nor a concession to the West; the conflict was far greater than anything the Kremlin found convenient or manageable. Unlike Crimea – where the process was controlled and where, after two or three demonstrations, the transfer of power was carried out by the local elite. But the process in Donetsk and Lugansk had borne witness to the elemental force of a popular movement which simply could not be managed from outside. But this spontaneous political uprising did not go down too well inside the more conservative elements in the Russian political hierarchy and the financial clique whose interests largely lie outside of Russia.

The movement itself was decentralized and rapidly threw up hitherto unknown leaders (such as Alexander Zakharchenko – see below – a heroic figure and leader who was later assassinated in a restaurant off Lenin Square in Donetsk by an unknown assailant who set off the bomb. Born: June 26, 1976, Donetsk, Ukrainian SSR, Soviet Union. Died: August 31, 2018, Pushkin Boulevard, Donetsk, Donetsk People’s Republic/Donetsk Oblast, Ukraine). Zakharchenko had since May 2014 worked as a mine electrician in 2011 to manage the Donetsk branch of the martial arts club and eventually Pan-Slavic nationalist current and militia organization Oplot. And he had remained in situ during the war period 2014-15 and was heavily involved in the conflict.

A picture containing person, person, wall, indoor Description automatically generated

On the 14 August leadership changed hands in Lugansk, as skirmishes took place inside the city limits between the rebels and Ukrainian Army Units. Again, after a visit to Moscow ‘’Head of Republic’’ Valery Bolotov resigned due to war injuries. His replacement was former defence minister Igor Plonitsky. Locally born the 50-year-old Plonitsky had served as an officer in the Soviet Armed Forces before becoming a dealer in fuel and lubricants during the 1990s, and later, a consumer rights inspector for the provincial administration.

Another resignation at the same time was that of Igor Strelkov. As reported by TASS the DPR Council of Ministers avowed that the defence chief was leaving his post ‘’at his own request’’ and would take up another position. Strelkov, however, vanished from the Don Bass, only to reappear in Russia a few weeks later. His replacement as defence minister was Vladimir Kononov, a Donetsk-born judo instructor and mid-ranking militia commander described by the Interpretermag site ‘’as having a firm political position and organizational skills.’’ (1)

These organizational changes were seemingly made at the behest of Moscow. The goal was evidently to install leaders in the republics who were both more predictable and more attuned to the ways of Moscow officialdom than those they replaced. Whether or not these changes in organizational structures and practise made any difference to the eventual outcome of the war was of necessity a moot point.

It had formulated and developed its agenda as events became unfolded. Absorbing such an organized and active population at a time of growing crisis in Russia itself was hardly advisable. So, the rebel republics had to rely overwhelmingly on their own resources. To the extent permitted by popular support for their cause within Russia, increased by the governments own patriotic propaganda, official Russia surprisingly left them to their own fate – provisionally at least.

However, unofficial Russia had other ideas. Volunteers from Russia began to trickle into the rebel republics, as did arms and food were also smuggled into the two republics. Military training was becoming widespread among the population. It seems an open question as to whether Putin was behind the leadership of the rebel republics, but the ensuing events took on a momentum of their own. The Ukie army was stopped in its tracks at the airport and was then decisively halted at the battles of Ilovaisk and Debaltsevo – this was 2015. But the shelling of the Donbass continued to this day.

See below: Ukrainian Prisoners of War (POWs) captured or surrendered at Debaltsevo 2015. They looked pretty miserable, but who wouldn’t? It’s better than being killed after all.

And so here we are in January 2023 at the present conjuncture. The local war has become global, but that was always going to be the final outcome. The half-finished job (farce) of the Minsk/Normandy format was ultimately to receive its demise from the German/French delegation and the final funeral rites when Frau Merkel spilled the beans. Now that chapter is over, the Republics have finally been brought into Russia proper, and have taken their legitimate position in Russia’s heroic struggle.

But things were not always as unified and expected between Moscow and Donetsk, at least in the early stages of the war. Russia was just emerging from the disastrous period of political, social, and economic collapse. This was due in large part to what was in fact a class struggle between – a fortiori – the domestic Russian globalist neo-liberal agenda which was just as pervasive as it was in the West, if not also more acute than in the western hinterland of the globalist elite. Following the usual period of class struggle the Russian and Liberal intelligentsia had only hatred and contempt for the protesting workers, deriding them as ‘lumpens’ ‘trash’ and ‘hooligans’ and worse of all – Vatniks.

These simple Russian folk were derided to suggest simpletons unswervingly loyal to the state authorities and completely taken in by government propaganda. However, in this sense of course it was the ‘intellectuals’ uncritically parroting even the most absurd Kiev propaganda who deserved to be most regarded as being – Vatnik. Whilst the propaganda services of both Kiev and Moscow lied, the latter did so more recklessly and inventively, showing not the slightest regard for the truth and not even whether the television they showed bore any relation to the commentary. Like all elites in a period of intensified class struggle they hung on to their money, property, political and social contacts.

It would appear that this social-political upheaval was taking on a political class structure – how could it have been otherwise? The open social and political anomalies had been fermenting and the dramatic deterioration of the conditions of life that followed the change of government in Kiev was the last straw. Steep increases in the price of gas and medicines followed the IMF agreement to become a member of the EU, and ultimately NATO, so much so that a political and economic explosion was inevitable. The use of nationalist rhetoric and anti-Russian propaganda in the West, had the reverse effect in the East. The pro-Russian sympathies of the local population nor even the Kiev’s intention to repeal the status of Russian as a ‘regional language’ triggered the revolt. These open social and political anomalies had been gradually fermenting and became dangerously unstable. The dye was caste: war was to follow.

Yegorov Voronov, a resident of Gorlovka wrote on the Ukrainian site: Liva – In English – ‘The Left’.

‘’I find it hard to believe the change in my compatriots. Only six months ago they were simple folk who watched TV and complained about the bad state of the roads and of the communal services. Now they are fighters. In several hours by the provincial administration building, I didn’t meet a single person who’d come from Russia. The people were from Mariupol, Gorlovka, Dzershinsk, Artemovsk, Krasnoarmeysk … those people with whom I ride every day on the bus, stand next to in the queues, and argue with when they leave the door to the stairwell open. They were not the supercilious Kiev middle-class, set aside from the people by their special circumstances but everyday workers. And there is no denying, there are plenty of unemployed in these parts. Here were all the people who for the past month and a half had been ’begged’ in the private offices and state enterprises to take a cut in their miserable wages. So here is another conclusion – the more the wages of the Donbass residents are cut or squeezed today, the more protesters would emerge in the East.’’ (Voronov 2014 translated from Russian)

It would appear that the Donbass peoples’ militias having taken up arms converted themselves into partisan units and actually put the Ukies to flight in 2015. But the war went on with Ukie artillery pounding the Donbass, a policy which was allowed to the present day. During this 8-year period the Donbass was mercilessly targeted by the ukie artillery and suffered some 14000 casualties during that period. It has to be said that Putin and his advisers were perhaps somewhat gradual and deliberative in terms of putting an end to what was basically a massacre from 2014 until 2022 ongoing. But the decision was finally made to enter the war which was forced upon Putin by external factors which needed urgent resolution. By April 2022 Putin had made his move and if the cosmopolitan conservative elements in the Moscow bureaucracy, as well as the financial oligarch high-rollers didn’t like it – well, hard cheese old chap, as we say in the UK.

As the whole drama of the Ukraine/Russia moves into its final stages it became apparent that Ukraine, under its present leadership, was desperately looking for an exit from the imbroglio that it had initially and unwisely set for itself. Ukrainian politicians were a pretty rum bunch: all kleptocrats that had imbibed the neo-liberal weltanschauung and the promise of a golden age to come. Alas it was not to be. Even the corrupt Yanukovych only really became an enemy of the West when he committed the unforgivable sin of refusing to implement an EU/US-counselled austerity programme. Had he acted more like the Romanian leader Nikolai Ceausescu in Romania (1980s) who unwisely eagerly implemented the dreaded IMF structural adjustment policies it seems likely that Yanukovych would have become one of the darlings of the West. Ukrainians looking to the EU for their salvation – even today – are looking back to what was and not what it has now become. What we are bearing witness to are the last remnants of a social model that has been sacrificed on the altar of neo-liberalism. It would appear that those who wished to hitch their horses to the EU cart are always in for a disappointment, not even to say passe.

‘’The aim of the EU and the United States is to transfer public wealth into the hands of private individuals who will be steered by the ‘invisible hand’ (presumably the hand behind the ‘color revolutions’) to seek their gains by selling what they have taken to western investors. Finance is the new mode of warfare, as Michael Hudson notes. We are seeing a grab for finance that in earlier times was just a military option.’’

NOTES

(1) Russia, Ukraine and Contemporary Imperialism. Edited by Boris Kargalitsky, Radhika Desai and Alan Freeman. Passim.

(2) Seven Roads to Moscow – Lieutenant-Colonel – W.G.F.Jackson MC, BA, R.E. Instructor, Staff College, Camberley, 1948-50, Instructor, Royal Military Academy, Sandhurst, 1950-53

Iran to Grab the Initiative in the “Combined War”

November 26, 2022 

By Ali Abadi

Have the authorities of the Islamic Republic of Iran begun to regain the initiative in the “combined war” that was imposed on them? What is the horizon for the next stage in dealing with the emerging internal-external challenge?

When Leader of the Islamic Revolution His Eminence Imam Sayyed Ali Khamenei indicated in a speech to a gathering of school students earlier this month that the enemy had a “plan” behind igniting the “combined war” currently targeting Iran, His Eminence was recalling the information contained in a joint statement of the Ministry of Intelligence and the Revolutionary Guards on October 28. The statement included data, most notably:

  • The involvement of the CIA and the British, “Israeli” and Saudi intelligence in the disturbances within the “plan to destroy Iran”. The planning and practical implementation of the bulk of the riots was carried out by the Mossad.
  • Smuggling military and espionage equipment for subversive networks into Iran.
  • The CIA organized training courses for some of its Iranian agents, including “N.H.” who took the first photo of the late Mahsa Amini while she was in the hospital.
  • Setting American institutes for riots several months before they occurred, as they ordered their agents to abuse sanctities, burn the Holy Quran and mosques, and target security forces and clerics.

The decline of “protests” and the progress of assassinations

About two months after the outbreak of the protests, it can be said that their course is taking a downward turn based on several indicators. The first chapter of it, which is to stir people up and push them to the street, has exhausted its energy, even if it has not completely ended yet. Now it is mainly dependent on armed groups carrying out assassination attacks against security personnel. Over the past few days, these groups carried out attacks that led to the killing of security officers who were working to control the situation and interview some people on the street [in Mashhad, Isfahan, Kurdistan, Khuzestan, and Baluchistan]. It seems that the aim of these attacks is to escalate the situation again in the street by provoking the security forces to draw them into a reaction that sheds more blood.

The shootings took place in provinces where the activities of separatist armed groups are concentrated, such as Khuzestan, Baluchistan, Kurdistan and West Azerbaijan, and incidents took place in other regions [Isfahan, Tehran, Mashhad] to give the impression that all of Iran is a hotspot. However, the movements remain limited in comparison to the vastness of Iran, and the number of participants in each movement in the street is in the hundreds at best.

In a preliminary reading, it appears that the security services are acting according to a plan that takes into account the following objectives:

  • Luring: Detecting riot groups and their organizers by giving them an opportunity to go out in public, as what happened in the past weeks, when a large number of people were arrested based on what was captured from cameras, drones and information of informants on the ground.
  • Gaining public opinion: To allow people who were affected by the demands raised by the rioters to see the truth about these people through their practices and to reveal the fall of a large number of security personnel during the protests at the hands of armed and rioting groups. It is worth noting here that the climate in which these disturbances were born affected some of the political elites in the country who did not take a position on what was happening, which the Iranian president referred to as “a clouding of the minds of the elite”. This reveals a loophole similar to what happened in Lebanon after October 17, 2019, where some figured had been affected by the propaganda atmosphere on social media and foreign media. This imposes a tax on solution that has a greater political and security cost.
  • Reducing casualties among people during security measures on the ground to prevent the enemy from benefiting from any mistakes that might contribute to the siding of bewildered Iranians to the rioters against public order. This may lead to losses and sacrifices among the officers of the security forces, but this price remains small given the goal of not harming the largest number of people.

The Iranian security services were able to defuse the tension in some areas after opening dialogues with many social elites, as many people who were concerned about the safety of their regions and countries confirmed that the issue was not related to specific demands, but rather to dragging the country into an open confrontation with dangerous consequences.

In parallel, the security services are carrying out local operations to dismantle many cells responsible for killing people and security personnel and arresting their members, which is expected to lead to the dispersion of these groups and the scattering of their efforts and ability to communicate. And the security services show that they have accurate information about the people involved, based on technical tracking and relying on surveillance cameras and drones that play a role in monitoring movements on the ground.

In his speech to a delegation from the people of Isfahan a couple of days ago, Imam Khamenei drew attention to two points: the first is reassuring, in which he said that the current events will be accommodated and that “rioters and those behind them are too despicable to be able to harm the regime”. The second is that the people respond to these practices with greater awareness through massive participation in the funeral ceremonies of security personnel who are killed by the enemy. This last observation was tested and seen clearly in the funerals of martyrs who died in different provinces, and this would “turn the threat into an opportunity” to mobilize the people in the face of the enemy’s plans.

Direct US Intervention

Also, within the combined war, there are direct interventions led by the United States to add fuel to the fire and encourage the continuation of the unrest through:

  • Statements by American and European political leaders criticizing what they call “violations against protesters in Iran”, in an unbalanced view that reflects a strategy pursued to undermine the Islamic Republic’s government.
  • The mobilization of the media and the use of the capabilities of social media platforms in order to undermine Islamic values and transform the current problem into a position on the Islamic identity of Iranian society [the hijab, turban, flag of the Islamic Republic, pictures of martyrs, various religious symbols]. This malicious endeavor is being carried out by some idiots who see the West as their reference, and not the broad masses of the Iranian people who are proud of their religious values.
  • Imposing commercial sanctions on Iranian companies and others on Iranian media personalities, particularly on state television, which broadcasts video clips of confessions of those arrested in the assassination crimes.
  • Pressure through the United Nations General Assembly, where Western countries pushed for a session that voted to condemn Iran regarding alleged “violations” of human rights, noting that the number of countries that supported the resolution [78 votes] represents less than half of the number of countries that participated in the session [178 countries], where the rest preferred to abstain [69 countries], and a smaller number dared to refuse to condemn [31 countries]. This comes at a time when the US State Department exempted the Saudi Crown Prince from prosecution in a case brought before US courts in the case of the murder of journalist Jamal Khashoggi in exchange for US commercial interests.
  • Pressure through the United Nations Human Rights Council as well, as it will meet within days to vote on a project directed against Iran, after it was prepared in a text proposed by Western countries.
  • Pressure in the United Nations Women’s Committee “to get Iran out of the committee,” as US Vice President Kamala Harris pledged.
  • Pressure through the International Atomic Energy Agency [IAEA] by holding a meeting condemning Iran for “not cooperating with the agency in the investigation of uranium enrichment activities”, without regard to the steps presented by Tehran in this context, including the signing of the Additional Cooperation Protocol. Washington hopes, in coordination with its partners, to bring Iran’s file to the Security Council, claiming that it poses a threat to international peace and security. This claim is not approved by several countries, including Russia and China, which indicates that the ultimate US goal is to defame Iran and harm its reputation and credibility in international forums, in preparation for its isolation, to prevent it from achieving great gains in the event that an agreement regarding the nuclear file was reached later.

Thus, the US administration proves that it uses the United Nations with all its bodies to implement its own agenda aimed at subjugating Iran and achieving what it failed to achieve in the Vienna meetings. It is concretely confirmed that the Biden and Trump administrations are two sides of the same coin, as the current administration completes the investment in what its predecessor began in terms of the strict blockade against the Islamic Republic.

There remains a final sign: Iranian media reported that Iran had informed Qatar that it would not respond during the period of the World Cup hosted by Doha to external parties that planned and organized interference in its internal affairs, in response to Qatar’s positive position of not cooperating with the efforts aimed at preventing the participation of Iran’s national team in the event. And if this is true – and it appears that it is according to some evidence – then this means that the authorities of the Islamic Republic will take advantage of the period of the Qatar World Cup in order to rearrange the internal security situation, after which it will devote itself to dealing with the sources of the external threat.

Why is Amnesty apologising for telling the truth about Ukrainian war crimes?

16 August 2022

JONATHAN COOK

Allowing only one side to be criticised for its crimes – reinforcing the loaded western political narrative of good guys versus bad guys – is likely to fuel war rather than resolve it

Middle East Eye – 16 August 2022

Should a human rights organisation apologise for publishing important evidence of war crimes and human rights abuses?

If it does apologise, what does that suggest about its commitment to dispassionately uncovering the truth about the actions of both parties to war? And equally, what message does it send to those who claim to be “distressed” by the publication of such evidence?

Those are questions Amnesty International should have pondered far more carefully than it obviously did before issuing an apology last week over its latest report on the war in Ukraine.

In that report, Amnesty accused Ukrainian forces of committing war crimes by stationing troops and artillery in or near schools, hospitals and residential buildings, thereby using civilians effectively as human shields. Such practices by Ukrainian soldiers were identified in 19 different towns and villages.

These incidents did not just theoretically endanger civilians. There is evidence, according to Amnesty, that return fire by Russian troops on these Ukrainian positions led to non-combatants being killed.

The Israeli army regularly accuses Palestinian factions like Hamas of hiding among civilians in Gaza, while obscuring its own, long-documented practice of using Palestinians as human shields.

But whatever the truth of Israel’s claims, unlike the tiny and massively overcrowded Gaza, which offers few or no hiding places outside of built-up areas for Palestinian fighters to resist Israeli aggression, Amnesty concluded of the situation in Ukraine: “Viable alternatives were available that would not endanger civilians – such as military bases or densely wooded areas nearby, or other structures further away from residential areas.”

In other words, it was a choice made by the Ukrainian army to put its own civilians in harm’s way.

Mounting pressure

Notably, this is the first time a major western human rights organisation has publicly scrutinised the behaviour of Ukraine’s soldiers. Until now, these watchdog bodies have focused exclusively on reports of crimes committed by Russian forces – a position entirely in line with the priorities of their own governments. By its own admission, Amnesty has published dozens of reports condemning Russia.

The pushback against the latest report was relentless, coming even from Amnesty’s own Ukrainian team. Oksana Pokalchuk, its head, quit, explaining that her team “did everything they could to prevent this material from being published”.

Under mounting pressure, Amnesty made a statement last week in which it said it “deeply regrets the distress and anger” caused by its report, while at the same time stating: “We fully stand by our findings.”

The idea that only one side has been committing war crimes in Ukraine was always implausible. In wars, all sides commit crimes. It is in the nature of wars.

Faulty lines of communication mean orders are misunderstood or only partially relayed to those on the front lines. Inevitably, soldiers prioritise their own lives over those of the enemy, including civilians. Terrorising the other side – through human rights violations – can be an effective way to avoid combat, by sending a warning to enemy soldiers to desert their posts and civilians to flee. Sadists and psychopaths, meanwhile, find themselves with plenty of opportunities to exploit during the fighting.

But conversely, parties to wars invariably struggle to acknowledge their own abuses. They prefer simple-minded, self-serving narratives of good and evil: our soldiers are heroes, morally spotless, while their soldiers are barbarians, indifferent to the value of human life.

Western governments and establishment media outlets have readily peddled this foolish line in Ukraine, too, even though neither Europe nor the United States are supposed to be directly involved in the war. They have reflexively amplified Ukrainian claims of Russian war crimes, even when the evidence is lacking or the picture murky, and they have resolutely ignored any evidence of Ukrainian crimes, such as evidence that Russian prisoners of war have been executed or that Ukraine has been using petal cluster bombs in civilian areas.

More self-censorship

In such circumstances, only the human rights community is in a position to provide a more faithful picture of how events are unfolding, and hold to account both sides for their crimes. But until Amnesty stepped out of line, western human rights groups had moved in lockstep with western governments, the same governments that appear to want endless war in Ukraine, to “weaken Russia”, rather than a quick resolution.

Even the author of Amnesty’s new report, Donatella Rovera, has conceded: “I think the level of self-censorship on this issue [Ukrainian war crimes] has been pretty extraordinary.”

Amnesty should not be apologising for providing a rare window on such crimes. It should be emphasising the importance of monitoring both sides for serious breaches of international law. And for very good reason.

Amnesty’s apology sends a message to those partisans trying to shut down scrutiny of Ukrainian crimes of just how easy it is to put the human rights community on the defensive. Efforts to deter reporting of a similar nature in the future will intensify.

Ukraine’s foreign affairs minister, Dmytro Kuleba, was among those who lost no time vilifying Amnesty by characterising its report as “Russian disinformation”.

Amnesty’s apology suggests such pressure campaigns have an effect and will lead to increased self-censorship – in a situation where the evidence already indicates that there is a great deal of self-censorship, as Rovera pointed out.

The apology betrays the civilians who have been, and will be, used as human shields – putting them in lethal danger – over the coming months and potentially years of fighting. It means Ukrainian forces will feel even less pressure to rein in behaviour that amounts to a war crime. 

Amnesty would never apologise to Russian partisans offended by a report on Russian war crimes. Its current apology indicates to the victims of Ukrainian human rights abuses that they are less worthy than the victims of Russian abuses.

Flooding the battlefield

Turning a blind eye to Ukrainian crimes also lifts the pressure on western governments. They have been recklessly channelling arms worth many billions of dollars to Ukraine, even though they have little idea where most end up. (In a further worrying sign of self-censorship in the west, CBS recently postponed the broadcast of an investigation suggesting as little as a third of western weapons reach their intended destination in Ukraine.)

That is all the more dangerous because, even before Russia’s invasion in late February, Ukrainian forces – including the neo-Nazi elements now glossed over in western narratives – were engaged in a vicious civil war with ethnic Russian communities in Ukraine’s east. That region, the Donbas, is where Moscow has been focusing its military advances.

Human rights violations by Ukrainians against other Ukrainians were regularly committed during the eight-year civil war, as western monitors documented at the time. Such crimes are almost certainly continuing under cover of the war against Russia, but with the aid now of western arms shipments.

Ignoring abuses by Ukrainian forces gives them a free hand to commit crimes not only against Russian soldiers but also against the large number of Ukrainians who are not seen as loyal to Kyiv.

A failure to closely scrutinise how and where western artillery is being used is almost certain to result in more, not less, of the kind of Ukrainian crimes Amnesty has just highlighted.

Western governments, and publics, need to be confronted with the likely consequences of flooding the battlefield with weapons before they prefer such a policy over pursuing diplomatic solutions.

Ultimately, allowing one side only to be criticised for its crimes – reinforcing the simple-minded narrative of good guys versus bad guys – is likely to fuel the war rather than resolve it.

War-mongering

Amnesty’s conduct over this latest report is not exceptional. It is part of a pattern of behaviour by a western human rights community vulnerable to political and financial pressures that detract from its ostensible mission. 

As the near-exclusive focus on Russian crimes in Ukraine illustrates, international humanitarian law is all too often interpreted through the prism of western political priorities.

There has long been a revolving door between the staff of prominent human rights groups and the US government. And pressure from elite donors – who are invested in these dominant narratives – doubtless plays a part, too.

Anyone departing from the narrow political consensus imposed by western political and media elites is defamed as spreading Russian “disinformation”, or for being apologists for dictators like Syria’s Bashar al-Assad or Libya’s late ruler Muammar Gaddafi. Criticisms of Israel, meanwhile, are demonised as proof of antisemitism. 

Certainly, Russian, Syrian and Libyan leaders have committed war crimes. But the focus on their crimes is all too often an excuse to avoid addressing western war crimes, and thereby enable agendas that advance the interests of the West’s war industries.

I experienced this first hand during the month-long conflict between Israel and Hezbollah in the summer of 2006. Israel accused Hezbollah of using its own population as “human shields” – framed by the Norwegian politician and United Nations official Jan Egeland as “cowardly blending” – an allegation lapped up by the western media.

Whatever the truth of that claim, it presented a very one-sided picture of what took place during that summer’s fighting. Though no one was allowed to mention it at the time because of Israel’s strict military censorship laws, it was common knowledge among Israel’s minority of Palestinian citizens that many of their own communities in northern Israel were being used as locations for Israeli tanks and artillery to fire into Lebanon.

The Israeli army had forcibly recruited these third-class citizens as human shields, just as the Ukrainian army is now accused by Amnesty of doing to civilians.

I saw for myself a number of the locations where Israel had installed batteries in or next to the minority’s communities. There were later Israeli court cases that confirmed this widespread practice; Palestinian politicians in Israel raised the matter in the Israeli parliament; and a local human rights group later issued a report documenting examples of these war crimes.

But these revelations never gained any traction with either the western media or human rights groups. Western publics were left with an entirely false impression: that Hezbollah alone had endangered its own civilians, even though Israel had undoubtedly done the same or worse.

The reality could not be acknowledged because it conflicted with western political priorities that treat Israel as a valued ally with a moral army and Hezbollah as a depraved, bloodthirsty terrorist organisation.

Saints and sinners

Human rights groups reporting on the 2006 Lebanon war actively echoed these self-serving western narratives that unfairly differentiated between Hezbollah and Israel, as I highlighted at the time.

I found myself in a very public row with Human Rights Watch over comments made by one of its researchers to the New York Times claiming that Hezbollah had intentionally targeted Israeli civilians whereas Israel had avoided targeting Lebanese civilians.

First, it completely failed to fit the known facts of the war. Israel’s strikes on Lebanon had caused a disproportionately large number of civilian deaths, despite the use of precision weapons. Hezbollah, using far more primitive rockets, meanwhile, had killed mostly soldiers, not civilians. 

But more problematic still, HRW had ascribed intentions to each side – good and bad – when it could not possibly know what those intentions were. As I wrote at the time of its researcher’s comments:

Was he or another HRW researcher sitting in one of the military bunkers in northern Israel when army planners pressed the button to unleash the missiles from their spy drones? Was he sitting alongside the air force pilots as they circled over Lebanon dropping their US-made bombs or tens of thousands of ‘cluster munitions’, tiny land mines that are now sprinkled over a vast area of south Lebanon? Did he have intimate conversations with the Israeli chiefs of staff about their war strategy? Of course not. He has no more idea than you or I what Israel’s military planners and its politicians decided was necessary to achieve their war goals.

HRW’s comments made sense only in a political context: that the group faced enormous pressure from US politicians and funders to focus on Hezbollah’s crimes. It also faced a damaging vilification campaign led by Israel lobbyists who wished to shield Israel from scrutiny. They accused the group’s senior staff of antisemitism and spreading a blood libel.

It looked very much like HRW caved into that pressure, just as Amnesty is now effectively doing in apologising for upsetting Ukrainian partisans and those emotionally invested in the one-sided narrative they hear constantly from their politicians and media.

Neither Amnesty nor Human Rights Watch responded to a request for comment. 

The reality is that western publics need more, not less, scrutiny of the crimes committed in wars, if only to tear the facade off narratives designed to paint a picture of saints and sinners – narratives that dehumanise official enemies and fuel more war.

The minimum needed to achieve that is an independent, fearless, vigorous human rights community, not an apologetic one. 

If you appreciate my articles, please consider hitting a donate button (left for Paypal, right for GoCardless):

Freedom Tunnel prisoner Yaqoub Qadri on hunger strike for 11th day

11 Jun 2022

Source: Al Mayadeen net

By Al Mayadeen English 

Muhjat Al-Quds foundation announces receiving a letter from Yaqoub Qadri who is on hunger strike for the 11th day, whereby he confirmed he was transferred to a dumpster-like cell infested with insects.

Isolated prisoner Yaqoub Qadri

The media department of Muhjat Al-Quds Foundation for Martyrs, Prisoners, and Wounded confirmed in a statement that the isolated prisoner Yaqoub Mahmoud Ahmed Qadri is on an open hunger strike for the 11th consecutive day to demand the restoration of all his rights he was coerced out of by the “Ohalei Keidar” prison administration.

Muhjat Al-Quds stated that the prisoner confirmed in a letter that he has been on an open-ended hunger strike since the beginning of June, in refusal of the prison administration’s decision to close his cantina account, claiming that he owed 7,500 shekels, which he has no clue where it came from.

The Foundation added that he was denied family visits for a period of two months and going out to the square for a period of two weeks, and he recieved a fine of 250 shekels. He stressed that he decided to go on an open hunger strike “in order to recover all the rights stolen from him by the prison administration.”

In his letter, Qadri indicated that his situation is very difficult as he faces daily inspections by the prison administration, adding that the prison administration has moved him to a new dumpster-like cell infested with cockroaches, mosquitoes, ants, and bedbugs that feed on his body day and night, all for the sake of breaking his will and forcing him to end his hunger strike without retrieving any of his stolen rights.

Muhjat Al-Quds called on international, human rights institutions, especially the International Committee of the Red Cross and the Human Rights Council of the United Nations, to “carry out their legal and moral responsibilities of exposing the arbitrary practices and crimes of the Zionist occupation prisons against the isolated prisoners, specifically the prisoners of the Freedom Tunnel, and bringing the Zionist officials to justice by forcing them to stand before the International Criminal Court.”

It is worth noting that the prisoner Yaqoub Qadri from the village of Bir Al-Basha, in the Jenin governorate in the northern West Bank, was born in 1972 and is single. He was arrested by the Israeli occupation forces on October 18, 2003, and the Israeli court sentenced him to life imprisonment twice, plus 35 years. His charges were “belonging to and being a member of Saraya Al-Quds (Al-Quds Brigades) – the military wing of the Islamic Jihad movement, and participating in operations against the occupation forces.”

On September 6, 2021, six prisoners broke out of Gilboa prison in Palestine.

Read more: Meet the Mastermind behind the Gilboa Prison Break

According to Israeli sources, the prisoners who managed to escape through a tunnel were Zakaria Al-Zubaidi, Munadel Yaqoub Nafi’at, Mohammad Qassem Al-Arida, Yaqoub Mahmoud Qadri, Ayham Fouad Kamamji, Mahmoud Abdullah Al-Arida, knowing that the last five are members of the Islamic Jihad Movement.

Mahmoud Al-Aridah and Yaqoub Qadri were re-arrested four days later, on September 10, 2021 in Al-Nasra. Zakaria Al-Zubaidi and Mohammad Al-Aridah were re-arrested the next day, and Ayham Kamamji and Mundadel Nafi’at on Sunday the 19th, after the house they had barricaded themselves in, east of Jenin, was surrounded.

The so-called “Nazareth Court” issued a sentence on May 22 against the Palestinian prisoners who broke out of Gilboa Prison on September 6, in what was later known as the Freedom Tunnel operation.

Al Mayadeen‘s correspondent said the occupation court sentenced five of the prisoners to five years and eight months in prison, adding that Zakaria Al-Zubaidi was not sentenced today because of his different circumstances.

The court also issued a four-year prison sentence and a fine of 2,000 shekels against the five prisoners who provided assistance to the Freedom Tunnel prisoners as per Israeli claims: Iyad Jaradat, Ali Abu Bakr, Muhammad Abu Bakr, Qusai Merhi and Mahmoud Abu Ashrin.

Related

A disturbing trend in Ukraine

April 10, 2022

A disturbing trend in Ukraine

This article provides an overview into a deeply disturbing trend in Ukraine, one that started in 2014, that has accelerated and intensified since 24 February 2022. Extrajudicial killings, harassment, arbitrary detentions by men in camouflaged uniforms, beatings and disappearances continue to take place on a regular basis in Ukraine.  Most of the detentions and disappearances are often carried out by the Ukrainian Security service, (SBU), under a sweeping repression.

While we have all heard about the egregious processes that took place in the USA, a witch hunt for suspected communists, better known McCarthyism,  a similar course of action is taking place in Ukraine.  The Ukrainian authorities and associated ultra-nationalist groups are after people who were not only very critical of the former but also the current Ukrainian government.   Threats, harassment and calls for violence has been and continue to be made against those who:

  • publicly supported the Minsk Agreements,
  • are against “de-communisation”,
  • highlight human rights abuses,
  • advocated for a settlement of the conflict in Donbass,
  • are deemed to be “pro-Russian”.
  • Church representatives and clergy;
  • For reading the news in Russia.

Add into this maelstrom another layer of extra-judicial repression, in the form of impromptu justice being meted out to civilians, bound up, tied to posts, beaten, humiliated and some killed as a result.  There are simply hundreds and hundreds of video clips and photos showing these events, which are outlined in another article.

People are not only being tied up to street furniture as suspected looters, but people are being bound up or arrested for being pro-Russian, for not being able to say the word “Palyanytsya” in Ukrainian.  Not every ethnic Russian speaker in Ukraine can speak good Ukrainian, and some have trouble pronouncing certain words in Ukrainian.  People have been reportedly killed for not pronouncing the shibboleth word correctly and thus assumed to be part of subversive Russian reconnaissance groups.

The so called” international community” has expressed no interest or desire to take a closer look at this disturbing situation in Ukraine.  Once again, the moral high ground as avidly promoted by thousands of NGOs’, think tanks and a multitude of reports, dissipates rapidly in reality into a dark void.  The silence is deafening and all of them mute on the repression that is taking place in Ukraine, likely start the process of EU accession in June.  Obviously, a highly repressive with systematic serious human rights abuses committed against civilians, by members of the military and police are not an impediment to being part of the European and NATO family.

Once upon a time, there would have been prisoners of conscience that Amnesty International would have supported and denounced human right abuses, now it is a case of total amnesia, right across the board, a deadly silence reigns over the widespread instances of human right abuses and atrocities, unless it is finger pointing at Russia.

For 8 years Ukrainian nationalists have internalised naked hate against Russian speaking Ukrainians and by default judged them to be guilty of being pro-Russian. Within this scope includes being pro-Minsk agreements, advocating for peace in Donbass or highlight human rights abuses. Against this background of feverish witch-hunts, any hint of the slightest suspicion of cooperation or aiding Russians is tantamount to a summary execution in some situations, or more likely, a beating and being handed over to the SBU.

A short list of those who have fell foul of the Ukrainian government and its policies:

Vlodymyr Struk (Major of Kreminna)

Denis Kireev  (high-ranking government official)

Mikhail & Aleksander Kononovich (political party leaders)

Nestor Shufrych (Verkhovna Rada deputy)

Yuri Tkachev (journalist)

Yan Taksyur (writer)

Elena Berezhnaya (Human rights activist / ex-figure skater)

Dmitry Dzhangirov,  (TV presenter, political scientist);

Yuriy Dudkin, (political scientist);

Maxim Rindkovsky (MMA fighter);

Dmitry Skvortsov (journalist);

Aleksandr Matiushenko (activist organisation “Livytsia”);

Oleg Smetanin (violinist);

These individuals and others are listed in further details later on in the article.

Remember these people, these Ukrainians who for various reasons fell afoul of the authorities, imprisoned, tortured, disappeared, or killed.   Those detained are often put under huge stress, threatened, beaten, or tortured into giving confessions.   Another aspect to consider is that many lawyers do not wish to represent these people, as doing so may lead to being accused of being an accessory and likewise accused of being “agents of the enemy”.

The SBU, human rights abuses and paramilitaires

The SBU has a history of torture, brutal interrogations, extra judicial murders and other violence and threats carried out with total impunity.  The Ukrainian government knows this, more so since Zelensky, since he  appointed Oleksandr Poklad as the SBU’s counter-intelligence chief in 2021.  Poklad has a sinister reputation as the ‘The Strangler’ . He is known to have links to organised crimes and involvement in extrajudicial killings. This person is now a top-level official and just one of a number of decidedly highly unscrupulous characters that are law enforcement officers.

A glimpse of some of the attitudes tolerated within the law enforcement structures, starting with 2018, when an ex-SBU adviser,  former deputy in the Rada, member of the far-right nationalist party Svoboda [Freedom], Yuri Michalchyshyn, advocated the following:

To propagate a total extermination of the Kremlin vultures and ghouls, local traitors and turncoats, its voluntary helpers and accomplices — instead of “reconciliation” with the traitors of the Motherland and the enemies of the Ukrainian people.

Another paramilitary group, Right Sector also has wide connections with the SBU.

A picture containing person, outdoor, dressed Description automatically generated

SBU officer, with Right Sector insignia on 6th April. Notice the other insignia, one SS Galicia of WW2 notoriety.

Prior to the start of the Russian military operation against Kiev,  a few instances of the brutality, torture and extra judicial killings were reported by a host of organisations, HRW,  OSCE, Amnesty International, OHCHR and in France — OFPRA.  These reports provided a glimpse into a situation that was overwhelmingly swept under the carpet by EU, U.S. officials and the corporate MSM alike.   Most of the cases were connected to the conflict in Donbass, yet there were many instances elsewhere in Ukraine.

“OHCHR documented allegations of enforced disappearances, arbitrary and incommunicado detention, and torture and ill-treatment, perpetrated with impunity by Ukrainian law enforcement officials, mainly by elements of the Security Service of Ukraine (SBU).”

Source: OHCHR

The June 2016 UN report noted that the cases of incommunicado detention and torture brought to their attention in late 2015 and early 2016 “mostly implicate SBU”

Source: HRW Report 2016

The SBU accounts for a large percentage of reported “arbitrary detention, torture, and abuse of detainees”,  from a period from 2014 to 2019. In reality, this is a fraction of what took place, given the one-sided assessment of many of these reports in the first place.  Horrid glimpses into these detentions were provided:

Several also alleged that after being transferred to SBU premises they were, variously, beaten, subjected to electric shocks, and threatened with rape, execution, and retaliation against family members, to induce them to confess to involvement with separatism-related criminal activities or to provide information. (HRW 2016)

Notably, during the Donbass conflict, the Ukrainian side committed extremely  heinous crimes, such burying people alive, beheadings (as reported by Newsweek), pitiless systematic acts of torture, rapes, looting, on a significantly much larger scale compared to the reported crimes committed by the “pro-Russian side”  also featured in these reports.  On the flip side, the Russian side has also documented the human rights abuses and repression:  report of violations from 2017-2020.

Tellingly, even the U.S State Department managed to notice and picked up on these disturbing aspects of Ukrainian law enforcement behaviours:

“UN noted significant deficiencies in investigations into human rights abuses committed by government security forces …into allegations of torture, enforced disappearances, arbitrary detention, and other abuses reportedly perpetrated by the Security Service of Ukraine (SBU).”

Source:  U.S. Report

These reports made for grim reading, yet no one in the corporate Western media dare to make references to these, but instead continue to whitewash the hideous crimes committed by Ukrainian law enforcement & military units.  The worst cases are carried out by paramilitary and ultra-nationalist units.

More recently:

No justice, truth or reparation was attained for any of the victims of enforced disappearance, secret detention and torture of civilians by the Security Service of Ukraine (SBU) from 2014 to 2016, and not a single suspected perpetrator was prosecuted”

2020 Amnesty International 

The SBU has a harrowing track record of serious human right abuses, which continues today.  Worse still, is the participation of  the likes of ‘Azov’, Right Sector and others in the detentions and also disappearances of people.  The Neo-Nazi group C-14 leader, Yevhen Yaras openly acknowledged working with the Ukrainian security service, (SBU).

Now, we are being told repeatedly that this is “Russian misinformation” by certain corporate MSM outlets or being told that this is not relevant any longer. As if this was remotely possible to gloss over or make light of absolutely odious human rights abuses. Washington, Brussels are indeed capable of doing, as they shown a long-standing ability to sweep under the carpet, Contras in Nicaragua, death squads in South and Central America,  KLA crimes in Kosovo, moderate rebels in Syria and now Ukrainian ultra-nationalists. Mykola Azarov made references to death squads in a video.

These practices and human right abuses still take place on a regular basis in Ukraine.  Details of arrests, detentions are always sketchy as legal representation is practically nil and no communication is possible.

In short, under Zelensky’s rule, the government agencies and others armed groups are detaining, imprisoning, and killing people in Ukraine. Anyone that criticises or is considered as opposing his government, any perceived actions, (current or historical) is duly noted,  and thus is likely to get persecuted, detained by either the SBU or irregular paramilitary groups.  The government knowingly allows these human rights abuses for its own interest.

It must remembered that the Ukrainian authorities have continued to use a  database, the Mirotvorets (Peacekeeper) website, to highlight those that they consider as ‘enemies of Ukraine’.  This controversial website created in 2014, under the initiative of Anton Gerashchenko, (the Ukrainian deputy minister of internal affairs).    Gerashchenko stated that the site was “extremely important for the national security of Ukraine.” He then added that “anyone who does not understand this or tries to interfere with this work is either a puppet in the hands of others or works against the interests of national security.” [2]

The inclusion of details of individuals, recommended for liquidation and arrest, has in the past led to people, Ukrainian and foreigners, being targeted, arrested, and murdered.  A Ukrainian journalist, Oles Buzina, had his personal details published on the site in 2015, which led to his murder shortly afterwards. All of this in a supposedly democratic Ukraine.

Remember that Zelensky has now outlawed all opposition parties —but not  all, those parties who support him are allowed to continue, with ultra-nationalists & Neo-Nazis part of these political parties and who happen to be highly influential too. Facebook and other social media platforms also helped in this process by deleting sites and accounts of opposition organisations and individuals.

Top-level officials and media outlets are wilfully ignoring what is taking place in Ukraine, by believing that the Russians are far worse, in scope and extent of human right abuses, while at the same time sanitising a wide range of heinous abuses, disappearances and killings in Ukraine. Additionally, this is swept under the vague categories of ‘treason’, support for the Russians or “saboteurs”:

Graphical user interface, text, application Description automatically generated

Individual cases

Case: Vlodymyr Struk

Mayor of Kreminna

Event: kidnapped & extra judicially killed

Date: 01 March 2022

Accused of: being a traitor  and pro-Russian

Ref: New York Post  /  Daily Mail

Notes: Anton Gerashchenko, Advisor to the Minister of Internal Affairs of Ukraine, announced on his social media account that the Mayor of Kreminna, Volodymyr Struk, was shot dead by “unknown patriots” after he was kidnapped from his home. He also added that Struk ‘was judged by the court of the people and called hime a traitor.

Case: Denis Kireev 

A member of the Ukrainian government negotiating team.

Event: murdered on the street of Kiev, near Pechersky Court building by the SBU security service.

Date: 5 March 2022

Accused of:  allegedly for having “pro-Russian position” and ‘ suspicion of treason’.

Ref: Times of Israel / Daily Mail / Kyiv Independent

Notes: gunned down while “resisting arrest”.   Reportedly a member of the Ukrainian military intelligence service.

Case: Nestor Shufrych

Verkhovna Rada deputy  (Opposition Bloc)

Event: Arrested and kidnapped

Date: 4 March 2022

Accused of: allegedly “providing Russia with intelligence”.

Ref:  Reportedly detained by the 206th Territorial Defense Battalion.  Photos + video clip of him being intimated and threatened.

Case: Mikhail & Aleksander Kononovich

Leading members of the outlawed Leninist Communist Youth Union of Ukraine.

Event:  Arrested and detained by SBU

Date: 6 March 2022

Accused of: “spreading “pro-Russian and pro-Belarusian views.” and ‘treason’.

Ref:

Notes: Currently held in a pretrial detention centre, been beaten and are facing execution on false charges.

Case:  Yan Taksyur

Writer and TV journalist / presenter.

Event: Arrested and detained by the SBU.

Date:  10 March 2022

Accused of: ‘treason’

Ref:  70-year-old native of Kiev, an Orthodox journalist and TV presenter, “Pershiy Kozatsky”. Currently in a pre-trial detention centre.

Case:  Yuri Tkachev 

Scientist and independent journalist

Editor-in-chief of the online magazine https://timer-odessa.net/.

Event: Arrested and detained in Odessa

Date: 19 March 2022
Accused of: ‘ treason’.

Ref: No contact or information on his current status. Wrote just before his arrest: “They came for me, it was a pleasure to talk”.

Case: Dmitri Dzhangirov

TV presenter, political scientist

Member of the “Novyi Sotcialism” (“New Socialism”) party

Event: detained by the SBU (?)

Date: 7 March 2022

Accused of: ?

Ref:  According to social media information, “subscribers denounced that an anti-Russian statement was published on his Youtube channel “The Capital”.  He was subsequently forced to make a anti-Russian speech on camera and on his YouTube channel as well.

Case: Elena Berezhnaya 

Sportswoman / human rights activist

Event: Detained by the SBU (?)
Date: 16 March 2022

Accused of:

Ref:  article

Case: Maxim Rindkovsky

MMA fighter

Event: detained, beaten and tortured by ultra-nationalist group

Date:  Precise date unknown-  1st week of March 2022

Accused of: having trained  with MMA fighters from the Chechen Ahmat club during his sports career.

Ref:  Article /   Current status is unknown although alleged to have been killed.

Case:  Dmitry Skvortsov 

Journalist and peace activist of the Ukrainian Orthodox Church

Event: Detained by the SBU

Date: 10 March 2022

Accused of:

Ref:  tweet 

Case: Mikhail Pogrebinsky

Political scientist

Event: Arrested by the SBU

Date: 27 March 2022

Accused of: treason and illegal enrichment.

Ref: Considered to be pro-Russian as he appeared on Russian TV channels.

Case: Vladimir Ivanov

Left-wing activist

Date:  4th March

Case: Aleksandr Matiushenko

Militant of the Ukrainian left-wing organisation “Livytsia”

Date: 3rd March

Charged with “participation in the aggressive war”.

Ref: Arrested by SBU and ‘Azov’

Case: Oleg Smetanin 

Violinist

Date: 4th March

Accused of: passing information about an airport to the Russians.

Case: Vasily Volga

Former leader of the Union of Left Forces,

Date: 7 March

Case: Yury Dudkin

Journalist

Date: 7 March

Case: Aleksandr Karevin

Writer

Date: 7 March

Ref: wrote on his FB page: “The SBU has arrived”

Case: Oleg Pankartiev

Assistant to a deputy of the opposition party “OPZZH (Opposition Platform for Life)

Date: 9 March

Accused of: ?

Ref: Brutally beaten during arrest and is still detained by SBU.

Case:   Spartak Golovachiov 

Left-wing activist

Date: 11 March

Ref: Managed to write on social media : “They are breaking down my door armed with Ukrainian uniforms. Goodbye.”  Whereabouts unknown.

Case: Elena Viacheslavova

Human rights activist

Date: 11 March in Odessa

Detained by SBU

Ref: The daughter of Mikhail Viacheslavov, burned alive on 2 May 2014, in the Odessa House of Trade Unions.

Case: Artiom Khazan

Representative of the Shariy Party

15 March

Detained by the SBU

Ref: He was severely beaten during his arrest by the SBU,

The next day, a video appeared on social networks, in which Khazan slandered the party chairman Anatoli Shariy. Current whereabouts unknown.

Case: Yury Bobchenko

Chairman of the trade union of Ukrainian steelworkers and miners

Date: 19 March

Arrested by Ukrainian military.

Ref: A worker from the Arcelor Mittal Krivoi Rog company.

Case: Gleb Lyashenko 

Political scientist and blogger

Date:  29/30 March

Arrested by SBU (?) and charged with treason.

Case: A German

Ex-journalist — Radio Liberty

Case: Oleg Novikov

Opposition Activist

Date: 5 April

Arrested by SBU

Ref: Managed to write on Telegram: “They came for me. Don’t think ill of me. Stay yourself”

As you can see from the list, the whereabouts of many are not known, actual accusations against them are not known either.  Just an accusation, having your name on a blacklist can get you kidnapped, brutalised, and potentially killed in Ukraine.

Situation

Situation in Ukraine

There are still some brave few who try to gather information on the arrests and detentions.   The increasing levels of lawlessness and repression makes it very difficult to collect precise information.

Embedded into the already volatile mix of state repression, Ukrainian ultra-nationalists operate outside of any legal oversight, thus not accountable to state political structures.  Moreover, many had total impunity since 2014 and despite a couple of incidents between the SBU and Right Sector, they still have undeclared support by all levels of Ukrainian officialdom.

It is only to be expected that ultra-nationalists have taken matters in own their hands, such as the kidnapping, beating and torture of an MMA fighter, Maxim Rindkovsky, solely based on the fact he had trained in the past with a Chechen MMA club. Unverified claims made indicate the participation of Azov members in the torture and disappearance of Maxim Rindkovsky.

Other recent instances of the rule of the mobultra-nationalist, territorial defense enforcers:

13 March, the house of Dmitry Lazarev, a left-wing activist, was burnt down, (in a village near Odessa).

16 March, in the village of Tomashevka in the Kiev region: Guennady Batenko, a priest of the Ukrainian Orthodox Church was kidnapped by an armed commando. He was released by the SBU the next day.

27/28 March: Slema, Cherkasy region. A priest is filmed being forcibly taken away by a detachment of “territorial defense” ultra-nationalists (Teroborona), along with parishioners who try to protect him. His whereabouts are not known.

Solely judging by the list as outlined in this article, it is just a little indication of the broader situation where there are hundreds of detainees in Ukraine, their circumstances and status hasn’t warranted the attention to make their disappearance / arrest on social media, their whereabouts are not known at all.  As the conflict continues, the repression continues to build up against a wide-ranging category of people.

While this is all happening, the Western authorities and corporate MSM are completely indifferent to the situation and turmoil.   The MSM are indeed complicit in whitewashing these abominable events.   As expected, the West organisations are all too eager to publicise any crackdown of dissenting voices in Russia. Yet, they have no time or inclination whatsoever to do likewise for those critical of Zelensky’s government, state- repression that is innumerably and unrelentingly cruel, harsher, and significantly deadlier.

Graphical user interface, text, application Description automatically generated

The long list of human rights abuses and ill-treatments by the SBU has been amply catalogued in the past, along with the assistance of ultra-nationalist groups, who are tacitly permitted to act indiscriminately against anyone they deem as an “enemy of Ukraine”.

The fate of at least a dozen well-known opposition activists, political analysts, journalists, politicians, and bloggers remains unclear. All this taking place with a cold indifference of well-known Western human right organisations and more strikingly, the Western corporate MSM, all under the auspices of the supposedly ‘enlightened’, ‘civilised’ Europe and North America. No one is raising a voice against these actions.

———-

* 2016 OSCE-report “War crimes of the armed forces and security forces of Ukraine: torture and inhumane treatment”.

[2] https://www.defenddemocracy.press/killing-and-terrorizing-journalists-in-ukraine/

Against the background of rampant corruption, by the end of 2021, Ukraine fell to 122nd place out of 180 countries in the Transparency International Corruption Perceptions Index (Transparency International, 2021).

Palestine’s Land Day: In 2018 mass protests, in 2022 armed struggle

March 30 2022

Source: Al Mayadeen Net

Robert Inlakesh 

This 30th of March may more symbolically represent something very different for the youths of Palestine today than it did for those of past generations.

Land Day, first started in the 1948 territories of occupied Palestine, was revived again in 2018 and has shaped the way Palestinian youths are today opposing the occupation of their lands. Whilst mass demonstrations were used a few years ago, today we see a shift towards the use of armed struggle in order to oppose “Israel’s” settler colonialism.

In 1976 Palestinian demonstrations erupted in the Galilee, in addition to areas such as Wadi Ara and al-Naqab (the Negev). The protests inside the 1948 territories of Palestine came as a reaction to the Zionist entity’s expropriation of thousands of dunams of Palestinian land, resulting in Zionist forces killing 6 Palestinians and injuring of hundreds of others. Every year since, Palestinians have marked Land Day on the 30th of March, in order to remember the resistance of their people to “Israel’s” settler-colonial regime.

The 30th of March, however, may more symbolically represent something very different for the youths of Palestine today, than it did for those of past generations. This is also the date on which the ‘Great Return March’ was launched in 2018, where hundreds of thousands of Palestinian demonstrators in the Gaza Strip protested against the separation fence/wall between them and their lands from which over 70% of the population are originally from and are forbidden to return to. The Palestinian refugees and native Gazans hoisted up banners calling for the implementation of United Nations General Assembly resolution 194, which demanded the Palestinian right of return to their homelands. 

The Great Return March continued for over a year, it was overwhelmingly non-violent and resulted in no deaths of Israeli soldiers or settlers. Many international observers thought that this was it, the international community was finally going to be forced to break its silence and the blockade on Gaza would be put to an end. They were unfortunately wrong. The nonviolent protest movement, one of the largest in history – in terms of the percentage of the population in question – only gave Israeli snipers the opportunity for mass murder. Over 300 Palestinian civilians were massacred, more than 30,000 were injured. The international community remained silent, the Western media and governments defended “Israel”, barely even paying attention to the suffering of Gaza’s demonstrators. Women, children, infants, medical workers, journalists, disabled persons, and elderly were amongst the dead and injured, overwhelming Gaza’s already brittle health sector. 

The world sat by and did nothing as the Palestinian people did exactly what is always asked of them, nonviolent resistance, quoting international law, and asking for their rights. Not only did the world media sit by and underreport the demonstrations, when they did touch on the subject they described them as “clashes” and “border riots”. This was despite the fact that no such “border” exists between Gaza and “Israel”. As for the allegation that there were clashes; if so, where are the dead Israelis? Where are the injured Israelis? What really occurred is that a heavily militarized force sat behind mounds of dirt or military towers, behind layers of barbed wire, on top of militarized fences/walls, and shot at defenseless Palestinians like fish in a barrel, often with banned explosive bullets. This was not just the likes of Fox News that reported on the demonstrations like this, it was the BBCCNNThe New York Times, and just about every other mainstream Western news outlet you could think of.

Land Day in 2018 should have been, according to the liberal pundits who preach nonviolence for the Palestinians – but not for Ukrainians against Russia’s military of course – that ended all their oppression. Instead, it was the beginning of a massacre, a catastrophe. 

On this Land Day, the Palestinian people prepare for the month of Ramadan ahead of them, where fascist Israeli settler mobs threaten to raid Al-Aqsa Mosque, they do so in a very different environment than the one we saw in 2018. The world lied to the Palestinians when they told them they could take back their rights through nonviolent resistance, and saw last May, that the only time they can extract a win against their occupiers is through armed struggle. The younger generations are tired of the lies and a Palestinian Authority that collaborates with the Zionist occupier through security coordination, they see that there is no hope in waiting on the Oslo process. The armed struggle is now rising inside the 1948 territories, the West Bank, Al-Quds, and is no longer isolated to the ‘Joint Room’ of resistance factions in the Gaza Strip. 

The Palestinian armed struggle is undergoing a new revival and this time it will take more than empty promises to stop it. A United Nations Human Rights Council (UNHRC) report, Amnesty International, Human Rights Watch (HRW), B’Tselem, and many more have declared “Israel” an Apartheid regime and this system of injustice will be confronted by any means necessary.

The opinions mentioned in this article do not necessarily reflect the opinion of Al mayadeen, but rather express the opinion of its writer exclusively.

Related Photos (Al-manar)

South Front

Related Videos

Special coverage | Have Palestinian individual operations become the face of the new conflict?
Palestine from the Negev Summit to Bnei Brak operation

MORE ON THIS TOPIC:

Palestinians are fighting battles through their phones

23 Mar 2022

Source: Al Mayadeen

By Aya Youssef 

Despite their battles on the ground and in the virtual world, Palestinians are still able to go viral.

Palestinians are fighting battles on their phones

“You are stealing my house!” yelled the Palestinian woman facing the illegal Israeli settler in Sheikh Jarrah Neighborhood, in occupied Al-Quds. 

“If I don’t steal it someone else is gonna steal it,” the settler replied with no hesitation. 

Comment, retweet, share, like, repost, and download. The outcome?

 Palestine has gone viral. 

Starting from the inside

Raw video footage of Israeli occupation forces storming Al-Aqsa Mosque during Ramadan in 2021 started to circulate all over social media platforms. The videos were showing Israeli soldiers storming through screaming crowds throwing grenades and shooting rubber bullets into them. 

European states, US lawmakers, and prominent figures started to condemn such brutal acts on their social media platforms, and it didn’t take months for this footage to become viral; it took seconds.

Israeli brutality has gone viral. 

Palestinians are fighting battles through their phones


Salhiyya family’s home

Mahmoud Salhiyya stood up against the Israeli forces and threatened to set himself on fire as a last resort to prevent them from taking his and his sister’s home. Palestinian activists held their phones and live-streamed, took photos, and published with the click of a button.

At dawn, Israeli occupation forces bulldozed Salhiyya family home, but Palestinians were wide awake to live stream, hashtag, take pictures, and tweet.

Israeli occupation authorities have been trying everything to uproot Sheikh Jarrah residents, from sending aleatory and unlawful court-mandated eviction orders to allowing settlers to attack Palestinians living in the neighborhood. 

But guess what? Israeli crimes have gone viral, too. 

Save Al-Naqab

The Israeli occupation forces arrested a 12-year-old Palestinian girl named Julian Al-Atrash. While she was being dragged and handcuffed, she didn’t hesitate to smile.

That smile made it through social media platforms. Pro-Palestine activists started to draw, illustrate, and post the moment that girl smiled. 

Occupation forces started to storm Al-Naqab villages to bulldoze the area as a part of a plan led by the “Jewish National Fund” to confiscate Palestinian lands. 

There are more than 30 villages in Al-Naqab dubbed as “unrecognized” villages under the Israeli occupation government, so there are no means of transportation, no roads, and no schools in the area. 

Despite all of this, during the Israeli storming, Al-Naqab was being recognized more than ever online, with people retweeting and sharing “#SaveNaqab”.

The greenwashing of Israeli crimes has gone viral.

What’s going on in Al-Naqab in Palestine?

Palestine is going viral from the outside

Palestinian refugees who were forcibly displaced from their lands have been facing the Israeli occupation every single day. They have been fighting battles on their own. 

Shahd Abusalma’s case

Shahd is a Palestinian refugee and a lecturer living in the UK. Sheffield Hallam University suspended her teaching duties due to anti-Semitic claims and decided to investigate her. Shahd has done nothing but retweeting, liking, and commenting on videos showing the Israeli occupation’s brutality.

Solidarity campaigns started to go viral, websites started to write about Shahd’s case, and “#InSupportOfShahd” started to circulate all over Twitter. 

How did all this start? As soon as Shahd announced that she was subject to these campaigns on her Twitter account, retweets skyrocketed. 

The university restrained Shahd’s teaching duties without dropping the investigations regarding her case. Shahd didn’t stop there because guess what? 

Shahd’s case has gone viral.

Shahd has walked her followers through her journey regarding any new update on her case. 

A few days later, the university dropped all of the investigations that were made against Shahd and offered her a more secure contract that will afford her employee status.

Rasmy Hassouna’s case

A Palestinian-American citizen who was about to renew his contract with the government before he noticed a legal clause that forbids him and his company A&R Engineering and Testing, Inc, from ever protesting “Israel” and its products.

Rasmy filed a lawsuit against the Texas state law, which bans government contractors from boycotting the Israeli occupation and won the case.

US District Court Judge blocked Texas from imposing its anti-boycott, divestment, and sanctions (BDS) law against Hassouna because boycotting, any kind of boycott, was protected by the First Amendment, which is the right to participate in economic boycotts as a form of protest.

“It’s great, isn’t it?” Rasmy said to Al Mayadeen English as he received the news.   

Determined as ever, Rasmy said “Stand up for your rights, as expatriates, I believe we can do a lot for Palestine.” 

His victory made it through websites and social media platforms. 

And guess what? Rasmy’s victory has gone viral. 

Palestinians are fighting battles on their phones

Don’t let tech giants fool you: Al-Kurd siblings as an example 

23-year-old Palestinians had nothing to defend their land with except their phones. They had no idea that anyone would care enough to watch illegal Israeli settlers storming their house or brutally assaulting young Palestinians. They didn’t know that anyone would care enough about a neighborhood in occupied Palestine. 

With every video or live-streaming posted, their followers were piling up by day, people started to refer to their accounts for news or updates regarding Sheikh Jarrah Neighborhood. 

And now? Muna Al Kurd has over 1.5 million followers on Instagram while her brother, Mohammad al Kurd, has +7K followers on the platform. 

“Instagram is preventing me from going live!” 

Mona Al-Kurd was one of many live-streaming the ongoing events in Sheikh Jarrah when her streaming cut off suddenly. Al Kurd explained that her live-streaming feature was blocked while she was documenting the moment Al Salhiyya’s family home was demolished.

This has exposed Instagram’s complicity and censorship of Palestinian content. 

Censorship of Palestinian content is not new to some of the giant tech companies. Toward the end of last year, activists and journalists have started a campaign against Meta’s policies, which have been targeting Palestinian content and the Palestinian narrative. 

It is important not to forget Human Rights Watch’s report that highlighted Facebook’s policy, and how the tech giant has wrongfully removed and suppressed content by Palestinians and their supporters, including content regarding human rights abuses committed by “Israel” against Palestinians during its 11 days aggression on Gaza in 2021.

The Next Step in Palestine’s Anti-Apartheid Struggle is the Most Difficult

February 23, 2022

Israel’s Apartheid Wall. (Photo: Dickelbers, via Wikimedia Commons)

By Ramzy Baroud

When Nelson Mandela was freed from his Robben Island prison on February 11, 1991, my family, friends and neighbors followed the event with keen interest as they gathered in the living room of my old home in the Nuseirat Refugee Camp in the Gaza Strip. 

This emotional event took place years before Mandela uttered his famous quote “our freedom is incomplete without the freedom of the Palestinians”.  For us Palestinians, Mandela did not need to reaffirm the South African people’s solidarity with Palestine by using these words or any other combination of words. We already knew. Emotions ran high on that day; tears were shed; supplications were made to Allah that Palestine, too, would be free soon. “Inshallah,” God willing, everyone in the room murmured with unprecedented optimism. 

Though three decades have passed without that coveted freedom, something is finally changing as far as the Palestine liberation movement is concerned. A whole generation of Palestinian activists, who either grew up or were even born after Mandela’s release, was influenced by that significant moment: Mandela’s release and the start of the official dismantling of the racist, apartheid regime of South Africa. 

Even the signing of the Oslo Accords in 1993 between Israel and some in the Palestinian leadership of the PLO – which served as a major disruption of the grassroots, people-oriented liberation movement in Palestine – did not completely end what eventually became a decided anti-Israeli apartheid struggle in Palestine. Oslo, the so-called ‘peace process’ – and the disastrous ‘security coordination’ between the Palestinian leadership, exemplified in the Palestinian Authority (PA), and Israel – resulted in derailed Palestinian energies, wasted time, deepened existing factional divides, and confused Palestinian supporters everywhere. However, it did not – though it tried – occupy every political space available for Palestinian expression and mobilization. 

With time and, in fact, soon after its formation in 1994, Palestinians began realizing that the PA was not a platform for liberation, but a hindrance to it. A new generation of Palestinians is now attempting to articulate, or refashion, a new discourse for liberation that is based on inclusiveness, grassroots, community-based activism that is backed by a growing global solidarity movement. 

The May events of last year – the mass protests throughout occupied Palestine and the subsequent Israeli war on Gaza – highlighted the role of Palestine’s youth who, through elaborate coordination, incessant campaigning and utilizing of social media platforms, managed to present the Palestinian struggle in a new light – bereft of the archaic language of the PA and its aging leaders. It also surpassed, in its collective thinking, the stifling and self-defeating emphasis on factions and self-serving ideologies. 

And the world responded in kind. Despite a powerful Israeli propaganda machine, expensive hasbara campaigns and near-total support for Israel by the western government and mainstream media alike, sympathy for Palestinians has reached an all-time high. For example, a major public opinion poll published by Gallup on May 28, 2021, revealed that “… the percentages of Americans viewing (Palestine) favorably and saying they sympathize more with the Palestinians than the Israelis in the conflict inched up to all-time highs this year.”

Moreover, major international human rights organizations, including Israelis, began to finally recognize what their Palestinian colleagues have argued for decades: 

“The Israeli regime implements laws, practices and state violence designed to cement the supremacy of one group – Jews – over another – Palestinians,” said B’tselem in January 2021.

“Laws, policies and statements by leading Israeli officials make plain that the objective of maintaining Jewish Israeli control over demographics, political power and land has long guided government policy,” said Human Rights Watch in April 2021.

“This system of apartheid has been built and maintained over decades by successive Israeli governments across all territories they have controlled, regardless of the political party in power at the time,” said Amnesty International on February 1, 2022.

Now that the human rights and legal foundation of recognizing Israeli apartheid is finally falling into place, it is a matter of time before a critical mass of popular support for Palestine’s own anti-apartheid movement follows, pushing politicians everywhere, but especially in the West, to pressure Israel into ending its system of racial discrimination. 

However, this is where the South Africa and Palestine models begin to differ. Though western colonialism has plagued South Africa as early as the 17th century, apartheid in that country only became official in 1948, the very year that Israel was established on the ruins of historic Palestine. 

While South African resistance to colonialism and apartheid has gone through numerous and overwhelming challenges, there was an element of unity that made it nearly impossible for the apartheid regime to conquer all political forces in that country, even after the banning, in 1960, of the African National Congress (ANC) and the subsequent imprisonment of Mandela in 1962. While South Africans continued to rally behind the ANC, another front of popular resistance, the United Democratic Front, emerged, in the early 1980s to fulfill several important roles, amongst them the building of international solidarity around the country’s anti-apartheid struggle. 

The blood of 176 protesters at the Soweto township and thousands more was the fuel that made freedom, the dismantling of apartheid and the freedom of Mandela and his comrades possible. 

For Palestinians, however, the reality is quite different. While Palestinians are embarking on a new stage of their anti-apartheid struggle, it must be said that the PA, which has openly collaborated with Israel, cannot possibly be a vehicle for liberation. Palestinians, especially the youth, who have not been corrupted by the decades-long system of nepotism and favoritism enshrined by the PA, must know this well. 

Rationally, Palestinians cannot stage a sustained anti-apartheid campaign when the PA is allowed to serve the role of being Palestine’s representative, while still benefiting from the perks and financial rewards associated with the Israeli occupation. 

Meanwhile, it is also not possible for Palestinians to mount a popular movement in complete independence from the PA, Palestine’s largest employer, whose US-trained security forces keep watch on every street corner that falls within the PA-administered areas in the West Bank. 

As they move forward, Palestinians must truly study the South African experience, not merely in terms of historical parallels and symbolism, but to deeply probe its successes, shortcomings and fault lines. Most importantly, Palestinians must also reflect on the unavoidable truth – that those who have normalized and profited from the Israeli occupation and apartheid cannot possibly be the ones who will bring freedom and justice to Palestine.

– Ramzy Baroud is a journalist and the Editor of The Palestine Chronicle. He is the author of six books. His latest book, co-edited with Ilan Pappé, is “Our Vision for Liberation: Engaged Palestinian Leaders and Intellectuals Speak out”. Dr. Baroud is a Non-resident Senior Research Fellow at the Center for Islam and Global Affairs (CIGA). His website is www.ramzybaroud.net

Bahrain Crackdown: Six Teens Held in Detention, HRW Warns

February 9, 2022

By Staff, Agencies

The Bahraini regime has been holding six boys in detention for several weeks, the rights group Human Rights Watch said.

It said the Manama regime has presented no justification for their detention.

In a joint report with the Bahrain Institute for Rights and Democracy [BIRD], HRW noted that the six teenagers are aged 14 to 15.

The boys, from the Sitra area, are being held on the orders of the public prosecutor’s office at the Beit Batelco facility in Seef district, which a government website describes as an “institution … for children of unknown parentage, orphans and children of broken families up to the age of 15.” The children’s alleged offenses appear to have occurred in December 2020 or January 2021, when they were 13 and 14, based on the boys’ recollections of their interrogations. A statement by the Office of the Public Prosecution alleges they threw Molotov cocktails that damaged a car near a police station.

“Last year Bahrain touted its legal reforms for children, but locking up children in an orphanage instead of a jail is hardly an improvement when their detention is arbitrary in the first place,” said Bill Van Esveld, associate children’s rights director at Human Rights Watch. “The treatment of these boys is a test of Bahrain’s respect for children’s rights, and so far the authorities are failing.”

Their family’s request for attending interrogation sessions has been rejected by the authorities, according to the report.

Rights groups slammed the ruling Al Khalifa regime for failing to respect the rights of children, adding that keeping kids in child care centers instead of prisons does not justify their arbitrary detention.

Ever since 2011, Bahraini people have been holding peaceful protest rallies on an almost daily basis, demanding that the Al Khalifa family relinquish power and let a just system representing all Bahrainis be established.

Manama has responded to the protests with lethal force, drawing international criticism. In March 2011, troops from Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates were also deployed to assist Bahrain in its crackdown.

Why “Israel” is really threatened by Amnesty’s apartheid report

Feb 04 2022

Why “Israel” is really threatened by Amnesty’s apartheid report

Source: Al Mayadeen Net

Robert Inlakesh

Once again, when “Israel” is accused of something, it rushes to accuse others of “anti-Semitism”.

Prior to the release of Amnesty International’s near-300 page report supporting its position that “Israel” is committing the crime of Apartheid, the Israeli regime had already lashed out in order to delegitimize it as “anti-Semitic”. The reason for this is that “Israel’s” Jewish nature is now called into question.

Amnesty International’s lengthy report, which according to its Secretary-General, Agnes Callamard, was 4 years in the making, concludes that “massive seizures of Palestinian land and property, unlawful killings, forcible transfer, drastic movement restrictions, and the denial of nationality and citizenship to Palestinians are all components of a system which amounts to apartheid under international law. This system is maintained by violations which Amnesty International found to constitute apartheid as a crime against humanity, as defined in the Rome Statute and Apartheid Convention.”

Without addressing any of the report’s findings, Israeli Foreign Minister, Yair Lapid, claimed that “instead of seeking facts, Amnesty quotes lies spread by terrorist organizations”, labeling Amnesty as “just another radical organization.” The Israeli Foreign Ministry itself directly accused Amnesty of anti-Semitism, as did pro-“Israel” organizations such as the ADL, AIPAC, and others, all claiming that the only reason for the report was because “Israel” is Jewish. What’s interesting is that the lengthy Amnesty report is directly citing the laws implemented by the Israeli regime and begins with quoting its former Prime Minister, Benjamin Netanyahu, who said “Israel is not a state of all its citizens…[but rather] the nation-state of the Jewish people and only them.”

What’s interesting is that not a single Zionist organization, nor the Zionist regime itself, has attempted to go through the report and refute it, instead of attempting to obfuscate and mislead people into thinking that the world’s largest – renowned as liberal and moderate – human rights organization is in fact filled with anti-semitic terrorists. Yet, nobody is buying this, especially due to the fact that Amnesty is not alone in its conclusions.

Human Rights Watch (HRW), the second most influential human rights group, also released a 200 page report last year, entitled ‘A Threshold Crossed’, in which they concluded “Israel” was committing the crime of Apartheid. Additionally “Israel’s” top human rights group, B’Tselem, also released a position paper in which they accused “Tel Aviv” of operating “a regime of Jewish supremacy from the Jordan River to the Mediterranean Sea.” Israeli human rights group Yesh Din also released a legal conclusion that the occupation of the West Bank is Apartheid. On top of this, the accusation of Apartheid being practiced by the Zionist regime has been argued by the likes of the late anti-apartheid icon, Desmond Tutu, as well as Palestinian groups. Palestinians have argued that Apartheid is what they are suffering from for decades, way pre-dating any human rights groups taking the position they do today.

So with such consensus from leading human rights groups internationally, that “Israel” is an Apartheid regime, there is now a major issue for “Israel” that has to be well understood in its context. “Israel” has always been a regime of Jewish supremacy, of Apartheid, it was built around the understanding that this is to be the case and continues to implement its policies until this day. For long, “Israel” has been able to shield itself from the accusation that it is fundamentally a racist regime. With the fall of the Soviet Union, no superpower emerged willing to take up the banner of the Palestinian cause, and the United States maintained complete domination over dealing with the Palestine-“Israel” conflict. When things got tough for “Israel” during the first Intifada, they ended that problem with the Oslo Agreement, and since 1993, were able to get away with presenting the illusion of peace whilst continuing to ethnically cleanse and colonize Palestine. However, the so-called two-state solution and “peace process” were essentially destroyed during the Trump administration once and for all, meaning that the internationally agreed-upon consensus for ending the conflict had fallen flat and the US was not even pushing for that anymore. 

The Arab reactionary regimes began normalizing ties with “Israel”, making no pre-condition of a Palestinian State before doing so, whilst the international community sat back and allowed the situation to play out as Palestinians fought against Trump’s “Deal of the Century” plan to rob them of the final 20% of their land. In this period, two very key things happened, one was that the final nail had been hammered into the two-state solution coffin, the other was that the Palestinian youth underwent a pivotal transformation and prepared themselves for waging resistance in order to liberate all of their lands. The latter mentioned point had of course progressed over a greater peroid of time, but with the Trump administrations recognition of the Golan Heights, East Jerusalem, and illegal settlements as belonging to “Israel”, it contributed greatly to the mindset of the Palestinian youth today.

Being in Palestine to witness the reaction to Donald Trump’s “deal of the century”, I saw the desperation, interviewed countless Palestinians, and spoke to friends on their feelings toward how to proceed with their struggle for national liberation. I recall speaking to Palestinian friends of mine in the occupied West Bank who had been lifelong proponents of nonviolent struggle, one of which told me, “I don’t believe in non-violence anymore, we need to take our land back by force.” At that time however, most people felt desperate, even depressed, and did not see a light at the end of the tunnel. Following the uprising, leading to 11-days of war, last May, the energy and hope is now alive and well, especially in the Palestinian youth.

All of this must be kept in mind now, because if the two-state solution is now dead, then what comes next? The human rights organizations have just paved the way for the very next step, “Israel’s” entire system is now the target, not just its occupation of the West Bank, Gaza, and East Jerusalem. The reports by Amnesty, HRW, and B’Tselem all demand that the Israeli regime drop its discriminatory policies everywhere in historic Palestine. If “Israel” is forced to do this, there can be no Jewish state, because in order for there to be one, “Israel” has to systematically oppress the Palestinian people.

This means that the only solutions left are the following; “Israel” kills every single Palestinian in a mass genocide, “Israel” is completely destroyed to be replaced by a new state structure, or the country is transformed into a democratic state under which the majority would be Palestinian and all citizens are treated equally. “Israel” knows that the latter two options mean the end of the Zionist dream and hence are not willing to accept any report telling it that it must change its racist settler colonial system. “Israel” has always been a racist endeavor, so to corrupt this is seen by its supporters as an existential threat. They know it’s Apartheid and that’s just the way they like it, but what they don’t like is being told they can no longer run an Apartheid regime.

The opinions mentioned in this article do not necessarily reflect the opinion of Al mayadeen, but rather express the opinion of its writer exclusively.

Apartheid unwelcomed in Africa: “Israel” could lose observer status in AU

Feb 1 2022

Net Source: Israeli media

By Al Mayadeen

The African Union’s Executive Council will take a vote this week on whether or not to grant the Israeli regime observer status, which requires a majority vote.

The African Union’s executive council will convene in Ethiopia on Wednesday

Israeli Prime Minister Naftali Bennett and Foreign Minister Yair Lapid are spearheading an Israeli diplomatic push to ensure that “Israel” does not lose observer status in the African Union, according to The Jerusalem Post.

Following opposition by some African countries to the African Union chairman’s unilateral decision to grant “Israel” observer status, the AU’s Executive Council will convene in Addis Ababa for a vote to revoke its status.

Bennett has spoken with the President of Senegal on the matter, and Lapid with his counterpart in Togo and Burundi, among others, in order to gain their support.

In order for the motion to revoke “Israel’s” status to be revoked, two-thirds of the 54  AU member states would have to vote for it. It is possible that the vote may not pass, or be postponed indefinitely, according to the Israeli daily.

Read more: International Lawyers Challenge The African Union To Revoke “Israel’s” Observer Status

The African Union was founded in 2002, and “Israel” was granted observer status with its inception, but was ousted in 2003 following a campaign by Libya.

South AfricaSudanAlgeria, Zimbabwe, Namibia and Botswana were among the countries that opposed “Israel” gaining observer status, whereas Morocco and Chad established diplomatic relations with “Israel” in recent years.

Algeria: Granting “Israel” Observer status could lead to AU’s division

Algerian Foreign Minister Ramtane Lamamra had rejected in August the statements of African Union Commission Chairperson Moussa Faki Mahamat, who insisted on granting “Israel” observer status to the pan-African organization.

Lamamra stated that Mahamat’s statement is an attempt to defend his move without recognizing the repercussions, pointing out that such a stance may lead to the African Union’s division.

A group of international lawyers and researchers have launched a legal complaint with the African Commission on Human and People’s rights in September, in order to have “Israel’s” observer status in the African Union (AU) revoked. The complaint was filed on the grounds that the Israeli government is guilty of war crimes, crimes against humanity, and apartheid.

Read more: Prominent Israeli Author: Apartheid more befitting term for “Israel”
 

The document was provided 133 pages of evidence against “Israel”, which utilized witness testimonies from victims of “Israel’s” latest military operation waged against the Gaza Strip. As a result of the 11-days of aggression on Gaza in May, roughly 270 Palestinians were killed, most of them civilians according to Human Rights Watch.

On par with Saudi Arabia: Manama launches an attack on Lebanon

22 Dec 2021

On par with Saudi Arabia: Manama launches an attack on Lebanon

Source: Al Mayadeen

Sondoss Al Asaad

Manama is accused by International organizations of committing torture against political prisoners. Not only does it revoke citizenship from its citizens, now it continues to chase them in their exile.

During a press conference held in Beirut on Thursday, Dec, 9th, Bahrain’s top opposition bloc, Al-Wefaq, launched its annual report monitoring the alarming human rights situation in the country, entitled ‘The Epidemic of Violations’. The report accused the Bahraini government of arbitrarily arresting thousands, including hundreds of women and children, issuing hundreds of politicized sentences, and torturing hundreds of political detainees.

Meanwhile, Bahrain’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs submitted a strongly worded protest to the Lebanese government, labeling the Al-Wefaq’s activists as “hostile personnel designated on supporting and sponsoring terrorism lists, with the purpose of broadcasting and promoting abusive and malicious allegations against the Kingdom of Bahrain”.

The statement considered that hosting the press conference is an “unacceptable act, which is a flagrant violation of the principles of respect for the sovereignty of states and non-interference in their internal affairs, in contravention of international charters and the charter of the League of Arab States”.

A court in Bahrain arbitrarily dissolved Al-Wefaq in July 2016, accusing it of helping to foster violence and “terrorism” in the island kingdom. The ruling came amid the escalating crackdown on the peaceful opposition in the aftermath of the 2011 pro-democracy protests. Then, the UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon deplored the dissolution,  dubbing it “the latest in a series of restrictions of the rights to peaceful assembly, freedom of association, and freedom of expression in Bahrain”.

Bahraini Human rights activist Sayed Youssef Al-Mohafada  tweeted that the Ministry of Foreign Affairs’ statement was marred by inaccuracies, saying, “No person participated in the human rights conference is, internationally or locally, classified on the terrorism lists,” adding that “holding conferences does not violate international conventions, as the statement claims.” Sayed Al-Mohafada noted that “those who wrote the statement are not familiar with international law, human rights law, humanitarian law, and Lebanon’s domestic laws that guarantee freedom of expression”.

Al-Wefaq’s report states that it has observed 20,068 arbitrary arrests of citizens between the onset of the popular movement in February 2011 and mid-2021 this year, among them 1,716 children and more than 300 women. It adds that 1941 politicized judicial rulings were issued during the past two years, including 198 life imprisonment sentences and 309 cases of citizenship revocation, while the number of violations of detainees has reached 1,320, most notably medical negligence, torture, electric shocks, or enforced disappearance.

Returning to Beirut, Lebanese Prime Minister Najib Mikati’s media office issued a  statement requesting an immediate investigation. The Prime Minister “affirms his refusal that Lebanon be used as a platform to offend and insult the Kingdom of Bahrain”, stressing his “keenness on maintaining the strong historical relations”.

Activists on social media got frustrated with Mikati’s statement saying he has given up Lebanon’s minimum level of sovereignty making it a vassal of the monarchies of oppression, injustice, and dictatorship. It once again highlights one of Bahrain’s most blatant systemic policy of citizen revocation, which coincides with the systematic policy of political naturalization, which has led into serious political, social and economic implications in the country.

Bahraini opponent Ali Al-Fayez tweeted, “The [Bahraini] opposition has held tens or even hundreds of press conferences, seminars, and vigils (including the ongoing strike of Ali Mushaima in front of the [UK] embassy in London), and it has political relations in the eastern and western world. This media intimidation against Lebanon is based only on a cheap failed policy led by Saudi Arabia.”

Bouthayna Ollaik, the Lebanese Radio talk-show host, commented, “Some people in Lebanon want to be leaders of a farm, not of a state, and they invented the saying ‘Lebanon’s strength is in its weakness,’ so that they would not bear the responsibility of protecting and defending it, and to remain subject to the foreign tutelage”.

Since 2011, the Bahraini authorities have revoked the citizenship of at least 700 nationals, 232 in 2018 alone, in a process that lacks adequate legal safeguards. This includes many human rights defenders, political activists, journalists, and religious scholars, etc. leaving many stateless, and some have been deported.

In his book “Stateless”, a book about his citizenship revocation in Bahrain, Dr. Ali Ahmed Al-Dairi, a Bahraini critic, academic, and researcher specializing in speech analysis, states that “the state of revoking your nationality plunges you into an existential ordeal that has no treatment or cure”.

“Bahrain seems intent on earning the dubious honor of leading the region in stripping citizenship,” said Eric Goldstein, deputy Middle East director at Human Rights Watch. “While authorities claim that these acts are linked to national security, they are in fact punishing many people merely for peacefully voicing dissent”.

Last May, SALAM for Democracy and Human Rights, an independent Bahraini NGO that endeavors to preserve universal principles of dignity and respect by shielding democracy, launched during a webinar, a  report entitled ‘Arbitrary Revocation of Nationality in Bahrain: a Tool of Oppression.’ According to SALAM, “This arbitrary practice affects not only the victims, but also their families and future generations. Bahrain should reinstate full citizenship to those who were impacted, provide them with an effective remedy and reparation, and dismantle the arbitrary laws which enable citizenship revocations.”

Just today, Human Rights Watch (HRW) has called on Manama to release its political prisoners ahead of the National Day celebrations. HRW urged the regime “to free everyone imprisoned for exercising their right to freedom of association, peaceful assembly, and expression, including rights defenders, opposition activists, and journalists.” HRW said those who remain confined to “degrading prison conditions, are in part because Bahrain’s powerful allies, like the United States and the United Kingdom, do not speak out against Bahrain’s serious human rights violations”. HRW’s Michael Page noted that Bahrain has one of the highest incarceration rates per capita in the Middle East, adding that the authorities arrested and prosecuted 58 online activists between June 2020 and May 2021 alone. 

Beirut, indeed, has always been a safe refuge for a large gathering of Arab opponents, revolutionaries, and nationalists. Of course, a human rights conference like Al-Wefaq’s was and will not be the first nor the last for the Bahraini opposition in an Arab capital, which has once warmly hosted Ghassan Kanafani, Nasser Al-Saeed, George Habash, and others.

Consequently, we ask: Are the Lebanese officials, the servants of the reactionary Gulf regimes, aware that, by their shameful statements, are compromising Lebanon’s sovereignty and making it a subjugated vassal of their tyranny? Have they ever heard that these activists have been forcibly exiled by Manama after they were unjustly and aggressively deported to be placed by terrorist mercenaries? Then, how has the concept of freedom of expression got to have double standards? What about the shameful Syrian opposition conferences, which have been held in Beirut for years, to ward off blasphemy, terrorism, and systematic atrocities against the Syrian people? Shall Beirut turn into a new ward of the notorious Jaw prison, in which Manama commits the most heinous human rights violations as documented by major international human rights organizations?

The opinions mentioned in this article do not necessarily reflect the opinion of Al mayadeen, but rather express the opinion of its writer exclusively.

International Day of Solidarity with Palestinian People Celebrated in Climate of Betrayal, Harrowing Violence

Dec 3, 2021

Since the General Assembly adopted resolution 181 (II) to partition Palestine into two separate

Source: Al Mayadeen

Hana Saada

After 74 years of the unjust division of the Palestinian land, the UNGA and the UNSC continue to refrain from taking any solid actions in the interest of the Palestinian people and their cause, on that regard, the declaration of the International Day of Solidarity with Palestine appears to be a mere voice act that does not contribute to improving the situation of this people.

The International Day of Solidarity with the Palestinian People was celebrated, on Monday, in a context marked by harrowing crimes committed by the Zionist regime, the intensification of the Zionist settlement operations in Palestine, and the persistent blockage of the peace process, exacerbated by the normalization of relations between the Zionist entity and some Arab countries, dubbed as a betrayal to the Palestinian cause.

Monday, 29 November 2021 marks the 44th observance of the United Nations (UN) International Day of Solidarity with the Palestinian People. In 1977, the United Nations selected the date of November 29 for the celebration of the “International Day of Solidarity with the Palestinian People”. This date, given its significance and importance to the Palestinian people, is based on the UN General Assembly’s call for the annual celebration of the resolution on the partition of Palestine.

Adopted on November 29, 1947, this resolution is intended to create Arab and Jewish states in this ‘disputed territory’. Since then, the Palestinian people continue to lose territory to the Zionists, while the living conditions of the Palestinians have deteriorated more and more amid poverty, denial of fundamental freedoms through the systemic discrimination and subjugation, forcible evictions, and demolition orders of Palestinian property in the neighborhoods of Sheik Jarrah and Silwan. This culminated, more recently, in spurring violence that claimed the lives of innocent women, children, and the elderly during the 11-day offensive on the Gaza Strip that began on May 10, amounting to war crimes. There was a deliberate intention by the Zionist occupation forces to inflict more casualties among the civilians to push the Palestinian people to accept the existence of the Zionist Entity.

A total of 243 Palestinians, including 66 children and 39 women, were killed during the Zionist attacks on the besieged Gaza Strip on May 10. Clashes erupted, on May 13, across the occupied territories because of the Zionists’ attacks and restrictions on Palestinians in the Eastern part of Al-Quds, Al-Aqsa Mosque, as well as a Zionist court’s decision to evict 12 Palestinian families from their homes in favor of Zionist settlers.

The decision on the forced displacement is itself, a war crime and aggression against humanity, transforming the Zionist judiciary into a barbaric tool to pass racist Zionist expansion agendas to the detriment of the Palestinian civilians.

The tension moved to Gaza on May 10, leading to a military confrontation between the Zionist forces and the Palestinian resistance groups, where the Zionist warplanes have caused an unprecedented scale of destruction in the Palestinian homes and infrastructure.

Palestinians are also victims of repeated military attacks, claiming the lives of several innocent civilians (men, women, and children), especially in the Gaza strip, which has been under a strict blockade for 15 years.

The Zionists are committing violations against worshipers in Al-Quds “Jerusalem” by preventing them from accessing places of worship, at the top of which, Al-Aqsa Mosque, the world’s third-holiest site for Muslims, resorting to an excessive force against them in a way that threatens their lives and most likely leads to death. In the holy month of Ramadan, at least 305 people sustained varying injuries as the Zionists stormed the Esplanade of Mosques in East Jerusalem and attacked Palestinians who were on guard to prevent raids by Jewish settlers.

The Zionist Entity is committing crimes of apartheid and persecution against Arabs in the occupied territories, with a view to maintaining the domination by Jewish Zionists over Palestinians.

The Zionist regime has become the sole governing power alongside extremely-limited Palestinian self-rule, where the Zionists are methodically highly-privileged, while Palestinians have been dispossessed, confined, forcibly separated, and subjugated by virtue of their identity to varying degrees of intensity. In certain areas… these deprivations are so severe that they amount to the crimes against humanity of apartheid and persecution.

Noting that the Apartheid system was a policy of racial segregation and discrimination enforced by the white minority government against the black majority in South Africa from 1948 until 1991.

The 1973 International Convention on the Suppression and Punishment of the Crime of Apartheid defines apartheid as “inhuman acts committed for the purpose of establishing and maintaining domination by one racial group of persons over any other racial group and systematically oppressing them”. The 1998 Rome Statute to the International Criminal Court (ICC) adopts a similar definition.

For its part, Human Rights Watch’s 213-page report, entitled: “A Threshold Crossed,” states that Palestinians are suffering from the Apartheid; 

“Denying millions of Palestinians their fundamental rights, without any legitimate security justification and solely because they are Palestinian and not Jewish is not simply a matter of an abusive occupation,” said Kenneth Roth, Human Rights Watch’s executive director.

“These policies, which grant Jewish Israelis the same rights and privileges wherever they live and discriminate against Palestinians to varying degrees wherever they live, reflect a policy to privilege one people at the expense of another.”

The International Day of Solidarity with the Palestinian People marks the recognition of historic injustice suffered by the valiant Palestinian people in their legitimate struggle to recover their stolen rights. It has traditionally constituted an opportunity to recall the Palestinian cause that has not yet been resolved, as well as the sufferings of the Palestinian people who have not yet recovered their inalienable and immutable rights as defined by the General Assembly (GA), namely; the right to independence and national sovereignty, and the right of Palestinians to return to their homes and recover their properties.

This year, the Day of Solidarity with the Palestinian People comes at a time when the Palestinian cause has experienced a dangerous slippage, marked by the signing, at the end of 2020, of “normalization agreements” between the Zionist entity and four Arab countries.

The Palestinian cause taken hostage:

In 2020, a watershed year for the Zionists’ diplomatic integration into the Arab world, the United Arab Emirates, Bahrain, Sudan, and Morocco have normalized their relations with the Zionist entity, within the framework of the “Abraham Accords”.

This is a political error, a betrayal of Al-Quds, al-Aqsa mosque and the Palestinian cause, and a stab in the back of the Palestinians. For the latter, such normalization with the Zionist Entity encourages the occupation forces to commit more violations against the Palestinian people, paving the way for more aggressive war and the expansion of Zionism, Judaization, and colonization of Palestinian land.


It is in this wake that a vast outpouring of international solidarity with the Palestinian people was launched, in particular, in countries that have normalized their relations with the Zionist entity through demonstrations, sit-ins, and protests against these agreements.

Morocco and Palestine

Morocco, whose king is the Chairman of the El-Quds Committee, normalized its relations with the Zionist Entity on December 10, 2020, in exchange for the recognition by former US President Donald Trump of the kingdom’s alleged “sovereignty” over Western Sahara.

This barter was condemned, in the strongest term, throughout the world and especially by Algeria and the Moroccan people who took to the streets for several days to express their rejection of this agreement, organizing demonstrations often repressed by the regime in place.

More recently, the Makhzen regime and the Zionist entity inked a framework agreement aimed at strengthening the security cooperation between the Moroccan and the Zionist intelligence services, nearly one year after the normalization of their relations, amidst broad popular disagreement. A move dubbed as shameful and disgraceful by Algerian President Abdelmadjid Tebboune.

Algeria and Palestine

President Tebboune urged, in a speech delivered on the sidelines of the celebration, in Algeria, of this International Day, the international community to assume its historic responsibilities towards the practices of Zionist occupation aimed at undermining the building of the sovereign Palestinian state, while reiterating Algeria’s unwavering and firm support for the struggle of Palestinian people to recover their stolen rights. He stressed, once again, with a well-articulated position, his rejection of all forms of normalization with the Zionist Entity, deploring the four Arab countries’ scrambling to normalize relations.

“We have noticed a kind of scramble (a mad rush) towards normalization. This is something we will never participate in, nor bless. Palestine’s cause is sacred, and we will not give it up,” the Algerian President said.

He repeatedly expressed the country’s preparedness to invite all Palestinian groups to a comprehensive meeting in Algeria. Tebboune’s words were applauded by Palestinians and Algerians alike, who have a long history of intertwined solidarity.

Palestinian factions praised President Tebboune for his government’s strong opposition to any bids aimed at establishing ties with the Zionist Entity, calling on Arab rulers to follow suit and reject all forms of normalization. 

There is no doubt that when Algerian President Tebboune called the Palestinian cause “sacred”, he was truly speaking on behalf of the Algerian people whose history is marked by resistance against colonial powers. Algerians remain stick to their pro-Palestine stance, considering the Palestinian cause the mother of all causes. Their beliefs about national sovereignty and the right for countries to determine their own destiny are central, firmly committed to the principles of a sovereigntist governing ideology, based on their national pride, far away from any quid pro quo deals, capable of exercising foreign pressure on their country. 

In 1988, noteworthy, when Palestine declared its independence, Algeria was the very first country worldwide to officially recognize its statehood. This decision further contributed to the deeply-rooted Algerian-Palestinian relations. Even when other Arab states, notably those which signed the “Abraham Accords” last year, dropped their pan-Arab commitments to the Palestinian struggle, Algeria has stood by the cause.

For its part, the Palestinian resistance movement Hamas hailed Algeria’s principled positions, describing the signing, by the Moroccan regime, of several agreements, particularly in the security and military spheres, with the Zionist enemy as an unjustified act whatever the pretext or the objective.

For the Hamas movement, the normalization and signing of agreements between Rabat and the Zionist Entity “would lead the Zionists to commit more crimes against the Palestinian Arab people and to the violation of their legitimate rights to freedom, independence and return “.

Gantz in Rabat

The agreement was inked in a visit to Rabat by the Zionist Minister of Defense Benny Gantz, received by Morocco’s Minister Delegate to the Head of Government in charge of the National Defense Administration Abdellatif Loudiyi. The two sides signed a memorandum of understanding which launches officially the security cooperation in all its aspects (operational planning, procurement, research, and development) between Morocco and the Zionist entity, according to media close to the Moroccan military circles.

It should be noted that demonstrations against normalization were scheduled in Morocco on the occasion of the International Day of Solidarity with the Palestinian People. The Moroccan Action Group for Palestine organized a popular sit-in, Sunday, in front of the parliament headquarters in the Moroccan capital, Rabat, in solidarity with the Palestinian defenseless people and confronting the agendas of Zionist penetration in the region.

The group said, in a statement, posted on Saturday, that the popular sit-in, organized under the slogan “With the resistance against normalization with the Zionists,” comes on the occasion of the International Day of Solidarity with the Palestinian People, and within the framework of the continuous popular mobilization in support of the Palestinian struggle under the slogan “The Moroccan people: Palestine is a national issue.”

The sit-in, added the same source, “confirms the established historical positions in confronting the Zionist occupation and all its tools, and facing the Zionist intrusion agendas to sabotage the region.”

However, Moroccan security forces prevented the popular sit-in. The president of the Moroccan Observatory against Normalization with the Zionist Entity, Ahmed Ouihmane indicated, in a statement to the Algerian news agency, that the Moroccan security forces prevented, by force, this popular sit-in.

Different protests were organized in Morocco coinciding with the afore-mentioned visit of the Zionist war criminal to create official channels between the intelligence and security services for the two parties. Protesters assured their full adherence and attachment to the support of the Palestinian people and the overthrow of all forms of normalization.

The protests were subject to dispersal using force, under a heavy security siege, amid the participation of human rights defenders, supporters of the Palestinian cause, and the presence of the media. 

This year celebrations constitute a new opportunity for many free countries and brave peoples to express their unwavering and coherent support for the Palestinian people, calling on the international community to translate its words into actions in the face of the dangerous escalation in the Palestinian territories and the UN to honor its commitments.

Epilogue

To this end, the whole world is also called upon to exert real pressure on the Zionist Entity… the enemy of humanity with a view to putting an end to its systematic violation of human rights and enforcement of discrimination against the Palestinian people. Besides, the UN and its member states should take appropriate actions as 74 years since the General Assembly adopted resolution 181 (II) to partition Palestine into two separate states, no concrete actions have been taken so far. 

Instead, the hope of achieving sustainable political settlements is fading away with an entity blatantly showing disdain for international human rights law, including two key international human rights instruments, the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR) and the International Convention on Socioeconomic and Cultural Rights (ICESCR), both of which have as their first Article, the Right to Self-Determination, as well as a continuous disrespect of internationally adopted provisions and principles in this direction.

The UN should be held accountable for its evident lack of action in recent years. It lost its credibility for non-abide by the adopted resolutions and turning a blind eye to the Zionists who blatantly flout the relevant UN resolutions, laws of international legitimacy, and international terms of reference, and deny agreements in an attempt to impose the status quo policy, and hamper the building of the sovereign Palestinian state.

This organization is called to honor its commitments to defend international law and order, work to hold the Zionist occupation accountable for the overruns and violations committed, ensure international protection, and stave off attacks and violations against the Palestinian people and their sanctities.

The international community, on the other hand, should re-evaluate its relationship with the Zionist Entity, establish a commission of inquiry to investigate systematic discrimination and repression in Palestine, transcend rhetoric, deploy further efforts in defense of the Palestinians inalienable rights and bring Zionists into compliance with international law.

Palestinian leaders should put on the shelf their domestic rifts, creating a united front aimed at addressing the onus fallen on their shoulders. A favorable atmosphere should be created to address the catastrophic ordeal the Palestinians are passing through. Palestinian national unity stands to be the only basis for achieving the hopes and legitimate aspirations of the Palestinian people in defeating and thwarting the Zionist schemes that hide behind the titles and slogans of normalization, as well as its perfidious policies aimed at displacing the Palestinian people through creeping Judaization and illegal settlement and forcefully altering the Palestinian religious and historical landmarks.

Finally, addressing ourselves, our collective conscience should react to concrete and permanent actions, not momentary reactions as events unfold!The opinions mentioned in this article do not necessarily reflect the opinion of Al mayadeen, but rather express the opinion of its writer exclusively.

Banning of Palestinian NGOs: How Israel Tries to Silence Human Rights Defenders

November 22, 2021

By Ramzy Baroud & Romana Rubeo

On October 21, Israeli Defense Minister Benny Gantz announced the issuance of a military order designating six prominent Palestinian human rights groups as ‘terrorist organizations’. Gantz claimed that they are secretly linked to the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine (PFLP), a socialist political group that Israel considers, along with most Palestinian political parties, ‘a terrorist organization.’

The Palestinian organizations included in the Israeli order are Addameer Prisoner Support and Human Rights, Al-Haq, the Bisan Center for Research and Development, Defense for Children Palestine, Union of Agricultural Work Committees (UAWC) and the Union of Palestinian Women’s Committees.

Considering the significance of these organizations in Palestine and their global networks among like-minded civil society organizations, the Israeli decision provoked a public outcry. One of the many statements of condemnation was a joint statement by rights groups, Amnesty International (AI) and Human Rights Watch (HRW), in which they called Gantz’s move an “appalling and unjust decision”, which represents “an attack by the Israeli government on the international human rights movement.”

Strong Words, but No Actions

AI and HRW, which have documented Israeli human rights violations of Palestinians for many years, fully understand that the ‘terrorist’ designation is consistent with a long trajectory of such unlawful moves:

“For decades, Israeli authorities have systematically sought to muzzle human rights monitoring and punish those who criticize its repressive rule over Palestinians. While staff members of our organizations have faced deportation and travel bans, Palestinian human rights defenders have always borne the brunt of the repression. This decision is an alarming escalation that threatens to shut down the work of Palestine’s most prominent civil society organizations.”

Equally important in the world’s leading rights groups’ statement is that it did not fail to highlight that the “decades-long failure of the international community to challenge grave Israeli human rights abuses and impose meaningful consequences for them has emboldened Israeli authorities to act in this brazen manner.”

True to form, the international community did react to Gantz’s decision, albeit it was the kind of ineffectual reaction, which persisted in the realm of rhetoric that is rarely followed by substantive action.

A joint statement by UN experts called the Israeli decision “a frontal attack on the Palestinian human rights movement, and on human rights everywhere”.

Michelle Bachelet, United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights, criticized the “arbitrary” decision by Israel and warned of the “far-reaching consequences as a result,” in terms of work, funding and support for the targeted organizations.

Many governments around the world also condemned the Israeli move and echoed the sentiment conveyed by UN experts. Even the US expressed its ‘concern’, though, using the same typically cautious and non-committal language.

US State Department spokesman, Ned Price, told reporters on October 23, in Washington, that his country “believe(s) respect for human rights, fundamental freedoms and a strong civil society are critically important to responsible and responsive governance.” Instead of an outright condemnation, however, Price said that the US will “be engaging our Israeli partners for more information regarding the basis for these designations.”

However, like other governments, and certainly unlike AI and HRW, Price made no link between the Israeli decision of October 21 and numerous other past practices targeting human rights and civil society groups in Palestine and, more recently, in Israel as well. Also worth noting is that the supposed link between such organizations and the socialist PFLP is not new.

The following are a few examples of how Israel has attempted to silence some of these organizations, which, eventually were declared to be ‘terrorist.’

Raids, Arrests and Death Threats

Addameer – In December 2012, the Israeli army raided the headquarters of Addamer in Ramallah, confiscating laptops and a video camera. The offices of the Union of Palestinian Women Committees were also raided by Israeli occupation forces on the same day. The organization is one of the six now designated by Israel as ‘terrorist.’

In September 2019, Addameer’s offices were raided, once again. The Israeli military raid at the time, however, did not generate as much attention or outrage, despite the accompanying violence, let alone the blatant violation of human rights. Then, Al-Haq – also one of the other six effectively banned Palestinian groups – issued a statement warning that “the private property of human rights organizations in occupied territory is especially protected under Article 46 of the Hague Regulations (1907).”

Expectedly, such legal constraints mattered little to Israel.

Al-Haq – Al-Haq’s staff have faced many restrictions throughout the years. Shawan Jabarin, the General Director of Al-Haq, has been banned from travel on various occasions, starting in 2006.

In March 2009, Jabarin was prevented by Israel from traveling to the Netherlands to receive an award on behalf of his organization. Again, in November 2011, this time, Jabarin was now allowed to travel to Denmark.

The Israeli obstacles began taking even more sinister turns when, in March 2016, Jabarin began receiving death threats over the phone. These anonymous calls began arriving “in the context of increasing harassment of Al-Haq and its members, amid their recent work at the International Criminal Court (ICC) seeking justice for human rights violations being committed in the Occupied Palestinian Territories,” the Front Line Defenders website reported.

Defense for Children International-Palestine – In July, and again August 2021, Israeli forces raided Defense for Children International – Palestine (DCIP) offices in Al-Bireh, in the occupied West Bank. They seized computers, hard drives and other material, alleging a link between the organization and the PFLP.

This allegation had already been advanced in 2018, when UK Lawyers for Israel (UKLFI) persuaded Citibank and the Arab Bank PLC to stop providing banking services to DCIP, providing what they defined as “evidence of the close ties” to the PFLP.

While it is true that the recent Israeli measures against Palestinian NGOs are a continuation of an old policy, there are fundamental differences between the growing perception of Israel, now, as an apartheid state and the misconstrued perception of the past, namely Israel as an oasis of democracy.

Even international entities and groups that are yet to brand Israel an apartheid state are becoming familiar with the Israeli government’s undemocratic nature.

A ‘Tectonic Shift’

In December 2019, and after years of haggling, the ICC resolved that “there is a reasonable basis to proceed with an investigation into the situation in Palestine, pursuant to Article 53(1) of the (Rome) Statute.” Despite intense Israeli and western pressure, the last hurdle in the way of the investigation was removed last February, as the ICC has finally approved the Prosecutor’s request to open legal proceedings regarding war crimes in the occupied Palestinian territories, including Gaza.

This legal milestone was cemented by major declarations, one made by Israel’s own rights group, B’tselem, in January, and another by HRW in April, both slamming Israeli policies in Palestine – not just the occupied territories – as ‘apartheid’.

This critical change in the international legal position regarding Israel’s new, unflattering status, was boosted by Israel’s own violent actions in East Jerusalem, Gaza and throughout Palestine in May. Unlike previous wars, the May events have shifted sympathy mostly towards Palestinians, who are fighting for their freedom, homes and other basic human rights.

The change was also notable within the US government itself, which is unprecedented by any account. An increasing number of US lawmakers are now openly critical of the State of Israel, due to a radical change in the US public opinion and, again, unprecedently, they are not paying a heavy price for it as was often the case in the past due to the great influence of the Zionist lobby in Washington.

“The shift is dramatic; it’s tectonic,” the BBC, on May 21, quoted US pollster, John Zogby, as saying. “In particular, younger generations are considerably more sympathetic to the Palestinians – and that age gap has been on full display with the Democratic Party,” the BBC noted.

Israel’s losses are not just sentimental or political, but economic as well. Last July, the international ice cream giant Ben & Jerry’s decided to stop selling its products in illegal Jewish settlements while pinpointedly condemning Israeli occupation, a move that was described by Amnesty as “legitimate and necessary”. A few months later, the sports clothing manufacturer, Nike, followed suit, announcing that it will end the sale of its products in Israeli stores starting May 2022, although it did not justify its decision based on political reasoning.

While Israel continues to lash out at its critics, it no longer seems to behave according to a centralized strategy.

Lacking a strong leadership after the dethroning of former Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and the formation of a diverse ‘unity government’, the new Israeli government does not seem capable of holding back international criticism of its conduct in occupied Palestine. The notion that everything that Israel does is justifiable as a form of ‘self-defense’ is simply no longer a strong selling point. The May war is the perfect example of this assertion.

In the case of the banned NGOs, for example, aside from sending a representative from the Israeli intelligence agency, Shin Bet, and another from the Israeli Foreign Ministry to Washington on October 25 with “relevant intelligence” to justify its decision, Tel Aviv continued to carry out the same policies that further exposes its apartheid in the eyes of the international community.

Indeed, on October 27, Israel announced the construction of thousands of new housing units in illegal Jewish settlements, in its first such move during the presidency of Joe Biden.

A perfect illustration of the frantic nature of the Israeli response came on October 29, when the Israeli envoy to the United Nations, Gilad Erdan, during his speech at the General Assembly, tore into pieces a report issued by the UN Human Rights Council illustrating Israeli ongoing violations of international law.

“The Human Rights Council attacked and condemned Israel in 95 resolutions compared to 142 resolutions against the rest of the world,” Erdan said. “This distorted and one-sided report’s place is in the dustbin of anti-Semitism,” he ranted.

Branding Israeli Apartheid

We may be at the cusp of a fundamental change in terms of Israel’s relationship with the international community. While Tel Aviv continues to heavily invest in its apartheid infrastructure, the international community is slowly, but clearly, becoming aware that Israel’s apartheid status is a permanent one. The successive statements by B’Tselem, HRW, the joint HRW-Amnesty statement condemning the de facto outlawing of the Palestinian NGOs and, again, the ICC investigation are all indicative of this growing awareness.

The question remains – will Israel be able to use its power, influence and leverage in Western societies to force the world to accept and co-exist with a full-fledged apartheid regime in Palestine? And if yes, then, for how long?

The South African apartheid example showed that, despite decades of apartheid and initial acceptance, if not support, by western societies of legalized racial separation in South Africa, the pendulum eventually turned. Even before the formal end of apartheid in that country in 1994, it was becoming clear that the days of the racist regime of Pretoria were numbered. That realization was possible because of the growing international awareness, especially at grassroot, civil society level, of the evil of apartheid.

A similar scenario seems to be evolving in the case of Israeli apartheid in Palestine as well. A critical mass of support for Palestinian rights is being constructed around the world, thanks to the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) movement and hundreds of pro-Palestine civil society groups all around the globe.

For years, Israel seemed keen on countering the influence of Palestine’s solidarity around the world using a centralized strategy. Large sums of money were dedicated, or pledged, towards that end, and a partly government-controlled company was even established, in 2017, to guide the Israeli global campaign. Much of this has amounted to very little, however, as BDS continues to grow, and the conversation on Palestine and Israel is gradually changing from that of a political ‘conflict’ into recognition of Israeli racism, apartheid and utter disregard of international law.

Of course, it will take more time, more decided effort and, certainly, more sacrifices on the part of Palestinians and their supporters to expose Israeli apartheid to the rest of the world. Now that Israel seems to have accepted that there is little it can do to reverse this brand, it is accelerating its colonial efforts, while hunkering down for a long fight ahead.

The onus is now on the international community to force Israel into dismantling its apartheid regime. Though it is ultimately the people who liberate themselves, international solidarity is essential to the process of national liberation. This was the case in South Africa, and will surely be the case in Palestine, as well.

– Ramzy Baroud is a journalist and the Editor of The Palestine Chronicle. He is the author of five books. His latest is “These Chains Will Be Broken: Palestinian Stories of Struggle and Defiance in Israeli Prisons” (Clarity Press). Dr. Baroud is a Non-resident Senior Research Fellow at the Center for Islam and Global Affairs (CIGA) and also at the Afro-Middle East Center (AMEC). His website is www.ramzybaroud.net

– Romana Rubeo is an Italian writer and the managing editor of The Palestine Chronicle. Her articles appeared in many online newspapers and academic journals. She holds a Master’s Degree in Foreign Languages and Literature and specializes in audio-visual and journalism translation.

An Open Letter from Palestine to Miss South Africa

November 14, 2021

Lalela Mswane, Miss South Africa 2021. (Photo: video grab)

By Haidar Eid

Dear Ms. Lalela Mswane,

We don’t know each other. I only know that you are Miss South Africa and just heard of your name two days ago when the media reported that you will represent South Africa at the Miss Universe pageant on the ruins of the ethnically cleansed village of Um Al-Rashrash in apartheid Israel. I assume you don’t know enough about the suffering of the Palestinian people as a result of Israel’s occupation colonization and apartheid in Palestine. I myself spent six years in South Africa where I got my Ph.D. degree and even citizenship.

Even before the end of the apartheid system in 1994, we, Palestinians, wholeheartedly supported the struggle in South Africa and played a role in the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) movement that formed one of the major pillars of the struggle to bring apartheid down. Nelson Mandela made it absolutely clear on more than one occasion that without the support of the Palestine liberation organization, among other national liberation movements, the end of the racist regime would have been delayed.

I live in the Gaza concentration camp which has been under a medieval siege imposed by apartheid Israel since 2007. But even before that, Israel had occupied it since 1967. As a result of Israel’s racist policies, our children suffer from malnutrition; the 2 million people living in the strip do not have access to electricity, clean water, medicine, and hundreds of other items that Israel does not allow. Over the last decade, the country you are visiting has launched four massive wars on Gaza killing more than 4000 civilians, including hundreds of women and children, and destroying hundreds of buildings, factories, roads, and schools.

A UN fact-finding mission, headed by none other than your own Richard Goldstone, has labeled these massacres “war crimes and possible crimes against humanity.” And anti-apartheid activists, including the likes of Desmond Tutu and Ronnie Kasrils, have told us that what we are going through in Palestine is “far far worse than apartheid.” Moreover, two mainstream human rights organizations, Human Rights Watch and Israel’s most respected human rights organization, Btselem, issued two damning reports last year calling Israel an apartheid state that discriminates not only against the residents of Gaza and the West Bank but also against its own third-class Palestinian citizens.

Ms. Mswane, allow me to ask you this question. How would you have felt if a Palestinian woman decided to join a similar contest in South Africa in the 70s and ’80s of the last century? How would you have responded if a similar contest was held in Sofia town, for example? And how would the South African people have reacted to the participation of Palestinians in concerts and sports games in apartheid South Africa?

You must have heard of the tens of beautiful women incarcerated in Israeli dungeons without charge or trial, simply for the mere reason of speaking out against occupation and apartheid. Our women, like South African women before them, are at the receiving end of a multi-tiered system of oppression and expect solidarity from their Black sisters.

I am an associate professor of literature;  I teach hundreds of female students who come from refugee camps and whose parents and grandparents are also refugees. My students have one message when I told them that a South African woman is coming to apartheid Israel; they asked me to write this message and appeal to you to refrain from violating our BDS guidelines and stand on the right side of history. I am certain you will not disappoint them.

Nelson Mandela’s much-quoted sentiment that “(South African) freedom is incomplete without the freedom of the Palestinians” is decorating the walls of refugee camps in the Gaza Strip where millions of refugees are waiting for the day of their return to the towns and villages which were ethnically cleansed in 1948 by racist gangs ruling the country you are visiting. We are only asking you to make the right decision that thousands of artists, writers and cultural figures–including Miss Malaysia and Miss Indonesia– have made – to stand against apartheid Israel.

Sincerely Yours,

Haidar Eid

Besieged Gaza, Occupied Palestine

The Bell Tolls for Israel

November 8, 2021  

About me

Posted by Lawrence Davidson

Six Human Rights Groups Shuttered and Still the Bell Tolls for Israe

Part I—Six Human Rights Groups Shuttered

On 19 October 2021, the Israeli Defense Ministry officially labeled six well known Palestinian human rights associations as “terrorist organizations.” Israel uses a definition of “terrorism” that is unreasonably broad. Just about any criticism as well as non-violent resistance to its evolving apartheid regime can and often is deemed “terrorism.” As this instance shows, this arrangement allows Israeli authorities to themselves terrorize groups that most sane people would recognize as having nothing to do with terrorism.

The six organizational victims of this strategy are Addameer, al-Haq, Defense for Children Palestine, the Union of Agricultural Work Committees, Bisan Center for Research and Development, and the Union of Palestinian Women Committees. Applying the terrorist tag “authorizes Israeli authorities to close their offices, seize their assets and arrest and jail their staff members, and it prohibits funding or even publicly expressing support for their activities.”

There are only two classes of people who would fall for this deceit: (1) those embedded in the Zionist thought collective—the world of Israel “über alles” (my use of this specific term is explained below); and (2) those politicians and bureaucrats so firmly tied (financially or otherwise) to the various Zionist lobbies that they would be compelled to forgo reason and agree to anything the Zionists say. Much of the Washington power structure falls into this category.

Beyond those categories, people capable of independent thought and in knowledgable positions condemned the Israeli action:

 The Israeli news magazine +972, which has obtained copies of the classified testimony providing “evidence” against the six groups, has characterized the charges as unproven. +972 describes it as a “political attack under the guise of security.” In their estimate the entire case is a hodgepodge of innuendo and assumption, some of it obtained by Israel’s security service, Shin Bet, by threatening witnesses and their families.

Human Rights Watch and Amnesty International, both of which have long interacted with many of the charged groups, condemned the Israeli action in harsh terms:

“This appalling and unjust decision is an attack by the Israeli government on the international human rights movement. For decades, Israeli authorities have systematically sought to muzzle human rights monitoring and punish those who criticize its repressive rule over Palestinians. … Palestinian human rights defenders have always borne the brunt of the repression. … The decades-long failure of the international community to challenge grave Israeli human rights abuses and impose meaningful consequences for them has emboldened Israeli authorities to act in this brazen manner.”

The often clear-sighted Israeli newspaper Haaretz also took exception to the government action. 

“The government’s declaration of civil society organizations in the West Bank as terrorist organizations is a destructive folly that tarnishes all of the parties in the coalition and the state itself. The outlawing of human rights groups and persecution of humanitarian activists are quintessential characteristics of military regimes, in which democracy in its deepest sense is a dead letter.”

Besides its habitual and often sadistic persecution of Palestinians, Israel had immediate reasons to silence these six organizations. An analysis given by Open Democracy noted that on 5 February 2021 the Pre-Trial Chamber of the International Criminal Court  (ICC) ruled that the ICC had jurisdiction over events occurring in Israel’s Occupied Territories. Then, on 3 March the court opened up a criminal investigation into Israeli practices and policies in this area. Open Democracy then explained:

“All six banned organizations have for decades been critically involved in the documentation and monitoring of alleged Israeli human rights violations, war crimes and Apartheid in the OPT [Occupied Palestinian Territories]. … All of this work has been a major evidential basis for the demand to open criminal investigations by the International Criminal Court (ICC).”

In other words, Israel’s “terrorist” canard is, at least in part, the Zionists seeking to obstruct justice. Like most organized groups of law-breakers they prioritize their own interests above those of the community—in this case the international community. In doing so they undermine inter-community standards of ethics and values enshrined in international law. Ultimately, they see such law as an obstacle to their ideologically driven goal of national expansion and Jewish (that is, the Zionist version of Judaism) supremacy.  

Part II—Yet the Bell Still Tolls for Israel

None of this is new. The Zionists have always been this way. Driven by an ethnic-centered, settler nationalism, their incapacity to deal fairly with the Palestinians was recognized even before the Balfour Declaration was announced in 1917. Below are some of the earlier, prescient warnings of the danger to Judaism inherent in a Zionist state ideology.

Ahad Ha-am (the pen name of the famous Jewish moralist Asher Ginzberg) noted as early as 1891 that Zionist settlers in Palestine have “an inclination to despotism. They treat the Arabs with hostility and cruelty, deprive them of their rights, offend them without cause, and even boast of these deeds.” He warned that such behavior stemmed from the political orientation of the Zionist movement which could only end up “morally corrupting” the Jewish people.

Unlike the Zionist leader Chaim Weizmann, who famously desired that the Jews become a nation like all other nations, Ha-am believed that the return to Zion was worthwhile only if the Jews did not become like other nations. By 1913, Ha-am knew this was not to be, and he rejected the nature of Zionism as it was evolving. “If this be the Messiah,” he wrote, “I do not wish to see his coming.”

 As the issuance of the Balfour Declaration drew nearer, other Jews voiced their worries. In the United States, a letter representative of the Jewish opposition to Zionism was sent by Henry Moskowitz to the New York Times on 10 June, 1917. Moskowitz was an Jewish activist and cofounder of the NAACP. He wrote the following: “What are the serious moral dangers in this nationalistic point of view from the standpoint of the Jewish soul? First, it is apt to breed racial egotism.”

In a 1945 essay, Hannah Arendt, one of the most insightful Jewish political philosophers of the 20th century, described the Zionist movement as a “German-inspired nationalism” (thus my use of “über alles” above). That is, as an ideology that holds “the nation to be an eternal organic body, the product of inevitable natural growth of inherent qualities; and it explains peoples, not in terms of political organizations, but in terms of biological superhuman personalities.”

In 1948, Arendt and 27 other prominent Jews living in the United States—including Albert Einstein—wrote a letter to the New York Times condemning the growth of rightwing political influences in the newly founded Israeli state. Citing the appearance of the “Freedom Party” (Tnuat Haherut) led by Menachem Begin, they warned that it was a “political party closely akin in its organization, methods, political philosophy, and social appeal to the Nazi and Fascist parties.” Begin would go on to become one of Israel’s prime ministers. The contemporary Israeli party Likud is a successor of the “Freedom Party.”

Albert Einstein was also a person of moral sensitivity. As such, he turned down an offer to become Israel’s president and distanced himself from both Zionism and the Israeli state. The Zionist treatment of the Arabs had alienated him. In 1938, he observed, “I would much rather see reasonable agreement with the Arabs on the basis of living together in peace than the creation of a Jewish state. I am afraid of the inner damage Judaism will sustain–especially from the development of a narrow nationalism within our ranks.”

In August 2002, as a consequence of aggressive Israeli behavior in the occupied West Bank, England’s chief rabbi, Jonathan Sacks, warned that Zionist state policies, as they manifest themselves in the colonization process and the associated persecution of the Palestinians, are perverting “the deepest ideals” of Judaism.

Today, the American organization Jewish Voice for Peace (JVP); the British organization, Jews for Justice for Palestinians (JFJFP); and Jews for a Just Peace (JJP), a federation of groups in ten European countries, all keep up this tradition of admonition and critical analysis while promoting the “human, civil, and political rights” of the Palestinians.

Part III—Conclusion

Toward the end of his life, Albert Einstein warned that “the attitude we adopt toward the Arab minority will provide the real test of our moral standards as a people.” The conclusions drawn by every human rights organization that has examined Israeli behavior toward the Palestinians over the last 70 years, including Amnesty International, Human Rights Watch, Israel’s own B’Tselem, and the Palestinian Human Rights Organization (PHRO), leave no doubt that the Zionists have failed Einstein’s test. 

Yet that conclusion is just what the Zionists have never been able to face. Thus, any reminder of the movement’s failure in the form of contemporary critiques and documentation are not only denied, but condemned as anti-Semitic. Jews who express such concerns are systematically denigrated as “self-hating.” The U.S. media, still bound by the mythology of Israel as a democratic, modern, secular state that shares America’s pioneering tradition, have traditionally ignored or downplayed critics of Zionism. This leaves most in the West ignorant of Israel’s actual policies and practices.

Today, Judaism is now on the cusp of ethical collapse. The vehicle for this collapse is the purposeful transformation of the religion into an arm of Zionist-Israeli state ideology. Simply put, Ahad Ha-am, Henry Moskowitz, Hannah Arendt, Albert Einstein, Jonathan Sacks, JVP, JFJFP, and JJP were and are correct in their criticism of Zionism and Israel. Thus, we confront an ironic situation. The survival of the Jewish people as a civilized group with a collective sense of ethical standards is not in the hands of the State of Israel, but in the hands of those Jews who oppose that state and support the humanity and rights of Palestinians. 

Lebanese fascist group fires on peaceful protest, sparks wider conflict

Oct 15, 2021

Interview with Rania Khalek from Breakthrough News

HRW Criticizes Facebook Censorship of Palestinians, Demands Investigation

October 8, 2021

By Palestine Chronicle Staff

Facebook has “wrongfully removed” content by Palestinians and pro-Palestine activists, Human Rights Watch said in a report released on Friday.

According to the New York-based international NGO, Facebook unfairly removed posts describing human rights abuses carried out during the May 2021 Israeli aggression.

“Facebook has suppressed content posted by Palestinians and their supporters speaking out about human rights issues in Israel and Palestine,” said Deborah Brown, senior digital rights researcher and advocate at HRW. “With the space for such advocacy under threat in many parts of the world, Facebook censorship threatens to restrict a critical platform for learning and engaging on these issues.”

According to the HRW report, several posts were also removed by Instagram, the American photo and video sharing social networking service that was recently acquired by Facebook.  

“In one instance, Instagram removed a screenshot of headlines and photos from three New York Times opinion articles for which the Instagram user added commentary that urged Palestinians to ‘never concede’ their rights,” the report reads.

HRW also condemned Facebook policy to designate certain organizations as ‘dangerous’, thus limiting the freedom of expression.

“Facebook relies on the list of organizations that the US has designated as a ‘foreign terrorist organization,’ among other lists,” HRW report said. “That list includes political movements that also have armed wings, such as the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine and Hamas.” 

“By deferring to the broad and sweeping US designations, Facebook prohibits leaders, founders, or prominent members of major Palestinian political movements from using its platform. It does this even though, as far as is publicly known, US law does not prohibit groups on the list from using free and freely available platforms like Facebook.”

In its report, HRW called for an “independent audit .. (to) evaluate Facebook’s relationship with the Israeli government’s Cyber Unit, which creates a parallel enforcement system for the government to seek to censor content without official legal orders.”

The California-based social media giant did not provide exhaustive explanations to justify its behavior, according to HRW. 

“Facebook has acknowledged several issues affecting Palestinians and their content, some of which it attributed to ‘technical glitches’and human error. However, these explanations do not explain the range of restrictions and suppression of content observed.”

The NGO ultimately asked for an independent investigation and urged Facebook to ensure “that investigators closely consult with civil society at the outset of the investigation, so that (it) reflects the most pressing human rights concerns from those affected by its policies.”

Last April, HRW issued a report, titled ‘A Threshold Crossed: Israeli Authorities and the Crimes of Apartheid and Persecution’, concluding that Israel is committing the crime of “apartheid” by seeking to maintain Jewish “domination” over Palestinians and its own Arab population.

(The Palestine Chronicle)

Beirut Blast Anniversary: The Dust has yet to Settle

4-8-2020

Source: Al Mayadeen

By Rasha Reslan

Residents of Beirut are still traumatized by the Beirut port blast. The shocking scenes of the devastated waterfront set a new standard for the horror the blast caused at the time with no answers provided so far.

On August 4, 2020, one of the largest non-nuclear explosions in the history of mankind ground Beirut’s Port and damaged more than half of the city. Tonnes of ammonium nitrate, a combustible chemical compound commonly used in agriculture as a high nitrate fertilizer, caused the explosion.

A year full of scars

Ahead of the one-year anniversary of the blast, the marks of the explosion, which led to the martyrdom of around 217 people, injury of more than 7,000, and the displacement of over 300,000 remain engraved in the city, as the Lebanese people still await the truth.

Dr. Sam Rigby, Senior Lecturer in Blast and Impact Engineering at the University of Sheffield, said, “The disaster that hit Beirut was devastating and we hope that nothing like that ever happens again. This was an unprecedented event because never before has such a large explosion been so well documented.”

Official investigation: No answers yet

In a country that has witnessed assassinations and bombings over the last two decades, none of which have been solved, except in rare cases, and with none of the perpetrators being held accountable, the Lebanese are still waiting for answers to determine who is to blame and what caused the tragedy.

Today, the Lebanese capital remains a ghost town, with little progress made in determining who is to blame for the disaster. Furthermore, the official investigation is battling to hold those responsible accountable as a result of decades of inefficiency, corruption, and political influence.

The investigation has been referred to Lebanon’s judicial council. So far, it has ordered the arrest of 25 people, including the Port’s Director and the Head of Lebanon’s Customs Authority, and has taken more than 50 witness statements.

Beirut blast probe targets officials 

Reviewed government documents showed that many Lebanese officials were well aware of the dangers posed by the large chemical stockpile long before last year, as reported by The Washington Post

According to the documents, responsibility for the ammonium nitrate was passed around for years among various public and private entities, including the Ministry of Public Works and Transport, the judiciary, the army, and even a private explosives company.

On December 10, 2020, Lebanese Judge Fadi Sawan, the first investigative judge appointed, charged some former Lebanese MPs with “criminal negligence”, according to Amnesty International.

Simultaneously, Judge Sawan halted the investigation for nearly two months on December 17, 2020. Soon after, on February 18, 2021, Lebanon’s Court of Cassation dismissed Judge Sawan.

On July 2, 2021, the new judge assigned to the case, Judge Tarek Bitar, submitted a request to the parliament to lift the parliamentary immunity of three MPs who once held ministerial positions. Bitar also requested permission to prosecute security service leaders, including the former Army Chief, Jean Kahwagi.

According to the state-run National News Agency, Bitar decided to summon a number of powerful politicians and security officials for questioning as suspects, which could result in charges against them related to the blast.

“In July 2021, investigative judge Tarek Bitar demanded permission to investigate MPs and high-level security officials, including MP and former Finance Minister Ali Hasan Khalil, MP and former Public Works Minister Ghazi Zeaiter, and MP and former Interior Minister Nouhad Machnouk, as well as the Head of General Security Directorate Major General Abbas Ibrahim, and the Head of State Security Major General Tony Saliba, over the explosion,” according to Amnesty International.

In an interview for Al Mayadeen, former minister Ali Hassan Khalil said that the charges and criticism leveled against him were not justified, even though he was aware of the presence of hazardous material in the port, arguing that this was only aimed at diverting the course of the investigations.

Moreover, a recent investigation published by the Human Rights Watch (HRW) says that the investigation is hindered and has been marked by “obstruction, evasion, and delay”, including “flagrant political interference”.

“Official conduct, in a context of longstanding corruption and mismanagement at the Port, allowed for tonnes of ammonium nitrate, a potentially explosive chemical compound, to be haphazardly and unsafely stored there for nearly six years,” the same report added.

Furthermore, official documentation strongly suggests that some government officials anticipated and “accepted the risks of death posed by the presence of ammonium nitrate in the port”, according to the same report.

Public rage: Justice shall be served

A year after the Beirut blast, public anger in Lebanon is mounting, owing to a stalled investigation, a devastating economic crisis, and political paralysis. 

🇱🇧 A year ago today. Still nobody has been held accountable. #BeirutBlast pic.twitter.com/vQy34TQrWG— PiQ (@PriapusIQ) August 4, 2021

The victims’ families have called for marches at 3:30 (12:30 GMT) toward the port, where prayers will be made. The names of the victims of the explosion will be read between six and seven minutes after the explosion.

During a press conference on Monday, the victims’ families set a 30-hour deadline for officials to lift the immunity of officials summoned to appear before the judiciary by the investigative judge.

The families of the victims of the port explosion and activists call for accountability, launching viral campaigns on social media with the hashtags “#Justice for the victims of Beirut Port explosion,” or urging demonstrations, with various hashtags such as #we are all victims, and “#we Will Not Forget”.

Beirut Blast in Numbers

Related Videos

Related Articles

%d bloggers like this: