Empires and their puppets including Israel will eventually fall: “Free Gaza Movement” co-founder Greta Berlin

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June 8, 2020 – 12:45
Berlin likens the situation in the occupied Palestinian lands to South Africa under the apartheid regime which will finally be a country for all citizens including Jews, Christians, and Muslims.
 “This kind of situation, like its predecessor in South Africa, will eventually fall apart, and the country will end up being a country for all citizens, Jews/Christians/Muslims,” Berlin, an author and activist, tells the Tehran Times in an exclusive interview:  
This is the text of the interview:
1: Madame Greta Berlin, please tell us what Israel has achieved after 72 years since its establishment. Has it succeeded to win legitimacy?
 A: Israel has achieved what all white/colonial/racist entities have achieved; subjugating, terrorizing, marginalizing, and stealing from the indigenous population to make an illicit country. It’s no different than the U.S. or Canada or South Africa or Australia. 
Israel has the biggest gorilla in the room on its side and that’s the U.S.It’s gotten its legitimacy from the very countries who have done the same thing to a population that was already there and perceived as, somehow, being “less human” than the invaders. After 72 years, it’s only legitimate claim to the land of Palestine has been through force, and all empires and their puppets eventually fall. Israel will as well.  
2: How do you analyze the situation inside Israel?
 A: There are three strata inside Israel; Ashkenazi Jews, the white Jews from Europe/Russia, and the U.S. who control power, politics, and money. The second tier is the Sephardic or Arab Jews who were often forced to immigrate to Israel immediately after Israel was founded on the backs of the Palestinians. Once the European Jews drove out 750,000 Palestinians, they needed workers to come and settle in the land they stole. What better place to find them than the Arab Jews of the Middle East and North Africa? If they didn’t want to come peacefully, Mossad made sure they changed their minds. 
After arriving in Israel, they even made up a name for themselves… Mizrahi… so they didn’t have to be called Arab Jews. They are becoming the largest segment of the population, but they have little power. You’ll often see them as members of the IOF, subjugating the third tier in Israel; the Palestinians, who have no power whether they are Israeli citizens or living in the Bantustans of the occupied West Bank and Gaza. 
Americans are beginning to wake up to the terrorism of the Israeli occupation This kind of situation, like its predecessor in South Africa, will eventually fall apart, and the country will end up being a country for all citizens, Jews/Christians/Muslims. 
 3: Israel plans to annex parts of the West Bank, and Netanyahu and opposition leader Benny Gantz are unanimous in this move. Netanyahu has confidently said that annexation will take place within “a few months,” or before the American presidential election in November. What has made Israel behave so unashamedly and intransigently? Don’t you think that an impotent international community or inaction by international bodies have made Tel Aviv so emboldened?
 A: Israel has the biggest gorilla in the room on its side and that’s the U.S. It makes no difference who is President in the U.S., Israel controls Congress, and most politicians will bow to its demands. However, watching what is happening in the U.S., everything is going to change over the next few years, as China emerges triumphant and the U.S. becomes another failed empire like Britain and France. 
Personally, I’m all for a one-state solution and have been for decades. And the sooner, the better for everyone living there. Palestinians already outnumber Jews, and those demographics are only going to improve for Palestinians, both Christian and Muslim.  
 4: You are internationally famous for advocating “justice” for Palestinians since early 1960. What prompted you to highlight the sufferings of the Palestinians?
 A: While in graduate school in 1963, I met and married a Palestinian and had two Palestinian/American children who couldn’t return to Safad, the city where their father was raised, while a Jew from New York City could immigrate there with no other credentials except religion. 
That sense of injustice has challenged me since then. The most outspoken advocate for the rights of marginalized people like Palestinians are often the people who learned the truth after being lied to as children. Like many Americans, I grew up thinking Israel was the victim and Jews had the right to settle in the Holy Land. When I met my husband, and he began telling me the truth of the violent takeover of his land by European terrorist Jews, I became an advocate for justice in Palestine for life.  
 5: You were a co-founder of the Free Gaza Movement and among those brave persons who broke the Gaza siege. Can you please explain your experiences and reactions?
 A: This is such a long story, encompassing two years of planning, buying the boats, sailing to Gaza and so much pain, laughter and delight at finally getting there. It’s a book and a movie and a webinar already. The best way of describing our journey to Gaza is to provide people with these three links.
 6: The U.S. has been blindly defending the illegal behavior of Israel toward Palestinians over the past seven decades. How can such support be justified by a country which proclaims leadership of the free world and defender of democracy and human rights?
 A: The U.S. has never been a defender of democracy and human rights. The country was founded on the genocide of the native population and got rich on the back of slavery. It has had, however, one of the most brilliant PR campaigns of any country in the world. Israel tries to emulate it with many of the same catchphrases such as, “the only democracy in the Middle East.” That’s as big a lie as the U.S. saying it stands for human rights.
However, there is a difference between government propaganda and the citizens of the U.S. Americans, once they wake up, are among the most outstanding advocates for justice for people seeking equal rights, and have put their lives on the line, from the martyrs of the civil rights movement, https://www.splcenter.org/what-we-do/civil-rights-memorial/civil-rights-martyrs
to Rachel Corrie in Palestine. They are the one bright and hopeful beacons of light in the U.S., especially this younger generation. I have great hopes they will become like many of us out of the 1960s, advocates for a better world. 
 7: How is it possible that successive Congresses and to a lesser extent administrations remain so biased in favor of Israel? Does it show that the American people who vote for their representatives are indifferent or ignorant toward the situation of the Palestinians?
A: Bribery, Blackmail, and Benjamins. 
It is true, however, that Americans are beginning to wake up to the terrorism of the Israeli occupation. But to be honest, Americans can barely make it from one paycheck to the next and are overwhelmed with problems in their own back yards. 
And the country is huge, with 331 million people, only 20% who even own a passport. Very few of us travel outside the Northern Hemisphere. America and much of its population are isolated and not very well-educated about other countries.  
 8: And, why anybody who opposes the stealing of the Palestinian lands or criticizes suppression of Palestinians is easily being accused of ant-Semite?
 A: It’s become a badge of honor to be called anti-Semitic. Nelson Mandela, Desmond Tutu, Jimmy Carter, Stephen Hawking, Roger Waters have all been called anti-Semites. I’m proud to be in their company.

Israel’s War Crimes Have Killed Americans

If the president loves to honor the military, start with the U.S.S. Liberty

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PHILIP GIRALDI 

MAY 5, 2020

Imagine if you will a ship from a nation not at war with anyone sailing in international waters on a quiet June day being suddenly attacked by unidentified warplanes and torpedo boats, their markings covered up to conceal their country of origin. The vessel under attack had little with which to defend itself, but its crew heroically made sure that a large national flag was hoisted to demonstrate that it was not a belligerent in anyone’s conflict. The attackers noted the nationality of the vessel, but persisted in their aggression in a clear attempt to sink the ship and kill all its crew. The officers on the ship radioed that they were under attack and asked for help, but even though friendly fighter aircraft were within striking distance and were automatically dispatched, they were then mysteriously recalled. The attacks lasted for two hours, longer than the Pearl Harbor attack that brought about American entry into World War 2, killing and wounding more than two hundred of the crew. Life rafts lowered into the water as the vessel seemed to be sinking were machine gunned by the attacking aircraft and torpedo boats to make escape or evacuation of the wounded impossible but the captain and survivors worked heroically, and successfully, to keep the ship afloat. When the vessel finally made it back to port, the officers and crew were sworn to silence by their own government and a cover-up was initiated that has persisted to this day. Many of the ship’s survivors have died since that day 53 years ago, and the attempts of the remainder to see justice before they are also gone have been ignored.

I am, of course, referring to the Israeli attack on the U.S.S. Liberty, which took place on June 8, 1967, nearly 53 years ago. The anniversary of the attack is coming up in a month and the remaining officers and crew will hold a ceremony at the Navy memorial in Washington D.C. to honor the memory of their thirty-four shipmates killed and the 172 who were wounded. Seventy per cent of the crew were casualties, the highest percentage of casualties on any ship that remained afloat in the history of the U.S. Navy. The lightly armed intelligence gathering vessel Liberty and its heroic crew emerged from the near destruction as the most decorated ship for valor in a single action in the United States Navy.

Israeli willingness to attack and kill Americans unnecessarily, apparently to send a message, has been noted before. There is the case of Rachel Corrie run over by an Israeli bulldozer and of Furkan Dogan, a Turkish-American who was, like the crew of the Liberty, killed in international waters when he sailed on the Gaza relief vessel Mavi Marmara. But in spite of that, the deliberate attempt to destroy the Liberty, which, according to former U.S. Secretary of State Dean Rusk, was clearly approved at the highest level of the Jewish state’s government, still has shock value.

Israel’s apologists, a virtual fixture at all levels in the U.S. government as well as in academia and the media, have long been making the argument that the attack on the Liberty was some kind of “friendly fire” accident. But the relatively recent discovery that a Navy spy plane intercepted and recorded Israeli both helicopter and fighter pilots mentioning the American flag displayed by the ship during the attack suggests otherwise. Other recordings made of the Israeli communications revealed that some of the pilots did not want to attack. One pilot said, “This is an American ship. I can see the flag. Do you still want us to attack?” Israeli ground control responded, “Yes, follow orders. Hit it!” before admonishing the pilots to “finish the job.”

But while one expects the Israelis to behave abominably, based on any assessment of the years of war crimes committed in places like Lebanon and what remains of Palestine, the greatest crime against the Liberty crew was committed by the United States government itself. President Lyndon B. Johnson (LBJ) and Secretary of Defense Robert McNamara reportedly were informed of the attack shortly after it began and it was Johnson who twice personally ordered the recall of the U.S. fighter planes going to rescue the Liberty. Admiral Lawrence Geis, commander of the carrier group in the Mediterranean that the planes had launched from, objected and McNamara responded testily that “President Johnson is not going to go to war or embarrass an American ally over a few sailors.” It was McNamara, again acting on LBJ’s orders, who had the crew sequestered after the ship made it to Malta, issuing a “gag-order” over the incident with the understanding that anyone who spoke up would be secretly court martialed and imprisoned.

To maintain the cover-up, Captain William McGonagle, who was awarded the Congressional Medal of Honor for his role in saving the ship, had his medal awarded without any publicity in a private ceremony at the Washington Naval Yard rather than at the White House as was otherwise normal. The President of the United States did not make the award, yet another dismissal of the valor of the Liberty crew.

Normally an attack on a U.S. Navy vessel would have mandated an official Court of Inquiry, but in the case of the Liberty an improvised team consisting of Admiral Isaac Kidd and Chief Counsel Ward Boston was pulled together in the Mediterranean under orders from Admiral John S. McCain, father of Senator John McCain, who was based in London. The Navy’s official ‘Court of Inquiry’ therefore consisted in reality of just Kidd and Boston making a quick visit to the Liberty at sea and then rushing back to Washington via London, where McCain endorsed the 700 page draft document without reading it. The hastily prepared report bypassed all ordinary fact-finding and legal review procedures and no one knows what channels the ‘Findings of the Court of Inquiry’ followed in Washington.

Acting under orders from the White House, the inquiry had been given only a week to prepare its report, a procedure that normally requires six months. The result was also predetermined by McNamara acting for LBJ, who ordered that the conclusion would be that the attack on the Liberty had been a “case of mistaken identity.”

No crewmen from the Liberty were even allowed to provide formal testimony during the inquiry proceedings. Nevertheless, the inquiry’s chief counsel Ward Boston subsequently confirmed in a sworn affidavit that he and Kidd had strongly disagreed with the coerced findings, believing instead that Israel had staged an unprovoked attack intending to sink the ship and kill all the crew. Admiral Kidd referred to the Israelis as “murderous bastards.” Boston also observed that the transcript of the court of inquiry that was subsequently released had been altered, presumably by someone acting on behalf of the White House, to delete and change testimony damaging to Israel.

As is often the case, there is a back story to what happened to the Liberty. In the years prior to the attack on the Liberty, President John F. Kennedy was concerned over powerful and wealthy American Jews attempting to hijack U.S. foreign policy to favor Israel. He also took steps to prevent Israeli development of nuclear weapons. After he was assassinated, his successor as president Lyndon B. Johnson, who has been described as having a political career “interwoven with Jews,” saw things quite differently. He turned a blind eye over the Israeli nuclear program and surrounded himself with Jewish friends and advisors who were actively engaged in promoting the Zionist agenda, some of them plausibly as actual agents of Mossad.

Most prominent among that group were the Krims, Arthur and Mathilde, he a leading media lawyer and studio head who was a Democratic Party fundraiser and she a geneticist, a Swiss born convert to Judaism who had lived in British Mandate Palestine with her first husband, an Irgun terrorist. Jewish terror was a cause which she actively supported. The Krims were regular companions of LBJ throughout his presidency, with a reserved room in the White House and a house near his ranch in Stonewall Texas when he was on vacation there. Johnson also stayed at their mansion in New York.

At the time of the Six Day War when the Liberty was attacked, the Krims were constantly at the side of LBJ and it is generally accepted that they were both working on behalf of the Israeli government to cultivate a decisive presidential tilt towards Israel. Johnson, in fact, was informed of the Israeli intention to go to war against its neighbors in advance and gave the green light, even agreeing to come to the aid of the Jewish state if things went wrong. To seal the deal, Mathilde was even having an affair with LBJ, a situation well known to White House staff and to the Secret Service.

Since 1967, there have been a number of documentaries, books and unofficial inquiries regarding the attack on the Liberty, but resistance from the usual suspects has meant that the story has not become better known. Meanwhile Congress, the Pentagon and the White House have refused to authorize fair and impartial formal hearings that would recognize the deficiencies in the 1967 inquiry and which would include testimony from the remaining Liberty survivors. Senator John McCain was notorious for his offhand treatment of entreaties from the survivors as was then congressman and now governor Ron DeSantis of Florida, a former Navy Seal. DeSantis now calls himself the most pro-Israel governor in the United States.

The most serious unofficial inquiries have involved former military officers. In 2003, Admiral Thomas Moorer, former Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, formed an independent commission of inquiry to look into the attack. It produced Loss of Liberty, a documentary that included actual interviews with survivors. The commission, which included Rear Admiral Merlin Staring, Marine General Ray Davis, and Ambassador James Akins, reviewed all documentary evidence in the case and interviewed both survivors and other naval officers who were involved indirectly. They learned that the Liberty had been surveilled by the Israelis for at least eight hours prior to the attack and that the ship was both clearly marked as American and was unmistakable as a uniquely configured and immediately recognizable intelligence collection vessel, not even close to the profile of an Egyptian horse transporter as Israel subsequently claimed. During the carefully planned attack, Israeli used radio jamming in an attempt to prevent the Liberty from radioing its predicament.

Moorer’s commission concluded that Israel had deliberately attacked the Liberty and sought to sink it and kill its entire crew. The crewmen who were killed were “murdered” by Israel while the U.S. should have regarded the attack as an act of war and responded appropriately. The cover-up of what had taken place was ordered by the White House and the fact that the truth about the incident continues to be hidden is a “national disgrace.” In an op-ed Moorer wrote in 2004, he concluded by asking “Did our government put Israel’s interest ahead of our own? If so, why?”

In October 2003 the Moorer commission presented its report on Capitol Hill, though its audience was often limited to congressional staffers rather than the understandably fearful members. One year later Representative John Conyers of Michigan overcame considerable resistance to have the report and some accompanying information entered into the Congressional Record. Moorer and Admiral Staring, a former Judge Advocate General of the Navy, who had been the legal officer in the McCain office in London who had not been allowed to carefully review the Court of Inquiry report, continued to advocate for an honest investigation of the attack on the Liberty until they died in 2004 and 2013 respectively.

Which leads us to the present and the question of justice for the U.S.S. Libertysurvivors who will be gathering next month. The tale of the Liberty demonstrates that even fifty-three years ago the United States government was betraying its own people out of deference to Jewish power and to the state of Israel. If anything, as horrific as the killing of 34 personnel on board of the Liberty was, the situation has gotten even worse as Washington sends billions of dollars to the Jewish state annually while also giving its kleptocratic government a green light to commit war crimes and other aggressions that will ultimately draw in the United States, and could plausibly bring about our ruination. It is unpleasant to say the least to watch an unrestrained and unprincipled client state do terrible damage to a much larger patron enabled by the machinations of a dual-loyalty fifth column, but that is what we are seeing.

And the actual rot really began with the attack on the U.S.S. Liberty, when patriotic Americans died at the whim of a feckless president who loved a foreign country more than his own. One hopes he is rotting in hell. Today few Americans even know about the Liberty even though they are now facing an election in which two presidential candidates will seek to outdo each other in expressing their love for Israel. Trump and Biden should instead take pause and first demand as a sine qua non justice for the survivors of the U.S.S. Liberty.

Philip M. Giraldi, Ph.D., is Executive Director of the Council for the National Interest, a 501(c)3 tax deductible educational foundation (Federal ID Number #52-1739023) that seeks a more interests-based U.S. foreign policy in the Middle East. Website is councilforthenationalinterest.org, address is P.O. Box 2157, Purcellville VA 20134 and its email is inform@cnionline.org.

Israeli Justice… a Futile Chase

caged but undaunted

Israeli Justice… a Futile Chase

 

“Doctrine of Futility”

Seventeen years ago, 23 year old Rachel Corrie (a Washington State volunteer with the International Solidarity Movement) was crushed to death by an armored military bulldozer as she stood on top of a mound of dirt trying to prevent the dozer from destroying a civilian home in the Southern Gaza Strip village of Rafa. Wearing a bright orange vest and shouting out at the bulldozer through a megaphone, Corrie was murdered for the temerity of her unarmed act of peaceful defiance. More than a dozen years later the Israeli Supreme Court rejected her parents’ suit to hold Israel’s military accountable for her death. In finding that an “explicit statutory provision of the Knesset overrides the provisions of international law”, the Israeli High Court sacrificed well more than a century…

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Meet Ten Corporate Giants Helping Israel Massacre Gaza Protesters

“The Israeli military relies on a network of international companies, supplying everything from sniper rifles to tear gas, to carry out its massacres of protesters in Gaza. These companies are knowingly supporting war crimes, and are complicit in state-orchestrated murder.” — Tom Anderson, researcher for Corporate Occupation

By Joe Carton
Source

NEW YORK — As Israeli soldiers gun down unarmed Palestinian demonstrators in the Great March of Return, their lethal operations depend on an array of contractors and suppliers, many of them companies based outside Israel.

“The Israeli military relies on a network of international companies, supplying everything from sniper rifles to tear gas, to carry out its massacres of protesters in Gaza,” Tom Anderson, a researcher for Corporate Occupation, told MintPress News. “These companies are knowingly supporting war crimes, and are complicit in state-orchestrated murder.”

Since the mobilization began on March 30, Israeli forces have killed 205 Palestinians in the Gaza Strip, the United Nations’ Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs in the Occupied Palestinian Territory reported on October 4.

There have been 21,288 injured, including 5,345 from live ammunition, resulting in 11,180 hospitalizations. Thirty-eight of the dead and 4,250 of the wounded were children.

A press release accompanying a September 25 report by the World Bank warned, “The economy in Gaza is collapsing,” adding that “the decade-long blockade is the core issue.”

Corporate Occupation and the American Friends Service Committee, the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) Movement, and Who Profits maintain comprehensive lists of corporations enabling Israel’s crimes against Palestinians.

Here are a few of them:

Caterpillar, Inc.

Caterpillar is known internationally for Israel’s use of its bulldozers to demolish Palestinian homes in the occupied West Bank and inside Israel itself, as well as for its role in the killing of Rachel Corrie, an International Solidarity Movement activist from the United States, who was crushed to death by one of the company’s Israel-operated machines in the southern Gaza Strip on March 16, 2003. In Gaza, Caterpillar is notorious for Israel’s deployment of its equipment to reinforce a military barrier around the Strip, as well as to level Palestinian farmland inside it. These leveling operations both destroy Palestinian agriculture, keeping Gaza a captive market for Israeli producers, and maintain a clear line of fire for Israeli soldiers to shoot Palestinians.

AP_04112409088_edited-1145x643.jpgChildren run for cover as Israeli army D-9 Caterpillar bulldozers as they demolish homes in the Rafah refugee camp in the southern Gaza, May 23, 2004. Lefteris Pitarakis | AP

Combined Systems, Inc.

Combined Systems — a Jamestown, Pennsylvania-based manufacturer owned by Point Lookout Capital and the Carlyle Group — supplies light weaponry and security equipment, such as tear gas and flash grenades, to repressive governments worldwide. In May, Corporate Occupation researchers spotted an Israeli vehicle, with police markings but obviously intended for military use, equipped with the company’s ‘Venom’ tear gas launcher next to the Gaza barrier.

Ford Motor Company

While other manufacturers, like General Motors, also provide vehicles used by the Israeli army to deploy its soldiers along the Gaza barrier, Ford’s are distinctive for their creative use. In 2003, Israeli vehicle manufacturer Hatehof began retrofitting Ford F550 trucks as armored personnel carriers. By 2016, Israel had moved on to F350s, modified by Israeli military electronics company Elbit Systems as autonomous unmanned vehicles capable of remotely controlled fire.

ford_-_mizpe_yair_september_2012_-_guy_edited-1145x594.jpgA modified Ford vehicle belonging to Israeli police blocks Palestinian shepherds from accessing their land near a Jewish settlement in Hebron. Photo | Ta’ayush

Monsanto

Along with herbicides from the Dow Chemical Company and ADAMA Agricultural Solutions, an Israeli unit of China’s state-owned National Chemical Corporation (ChemChina), Israel sprays Bayer subsidiary Monsanto’s notorious Glyphosate (marketed as Roundup), a known human carcinogen, on Palestinian fields across its military barrier with Gaza several times annually. As does its deployment of Caterpillar bulldozers to level the same fields, the aerial application, conducted by two civilian Israeli companies under contract to the army, serves both Israeli economic and military interests — preventing Palestinian self-sufficiency in agriculture, while allowing its forces to easily detect and fire upon Palestinian farmers and other civilians using their own land.

G4S plc

Formerly one of Israel’s biggest occupation contractors, G4S sold its major Israeli subsidiary, G4S Israel, in 2016, but kept a stake in the construction and operation of Policity, Israel’s privatized national police academy. Israel claims that its police enjoy civilian status, but routinely deploys them in military operations against Palestinians in both the West Bank and the Gaza Strip, including their use of both Combined System’s ‘Venon’ tear-gas launcher and weaponized drones to repress the Great March of Return.

G4S-1_edited-1145x753.jpgA protest against G4S’ support of Israeli human rights abuses. Photo | Hilary Aked

Hewlett Packard

Now three companies with interlocking operations — HP Inc., Hewlett Packard Enterprise (HPE), and DXC Technology — HP equips the Israeli military with computers and has undertaken contracts to “virtualize” IDF operations, starting in 2007 with a pilot program for the Israeli navy, which enforces the blockade of Gaza.

HSBC Bank plc

HSBC provides extensive financing to some of the most notorious military manufacturers in the world, several of them Israeli.

“HSBC holds over £800m worth of shares in, and is involved in syndicated loans worth over £19b to, companies that sell weapons and military equipment to the Israeli government,” Huda Ammori, campaigns officer for the Palestine Solidarity Campaign, told MintPress. “These investments include Elbit Systems, Israel’s largest private security firm, which markets its weapons as ‘field-tested,’ due to them being tested on Palestinian civilians in Gaza.”

A leading drone manufacturer, Elbit has played a key role in aerial attacks on the Great March of Return.

Motorola Solutions Inc.

Motorola provides the encrypted smartphones the Israeli military uses to deploy soldiers, as well as radio and communications services for the Israeli police.

Remington

Among casualties of the Great March of Return, Amnesty International reports, some “wounds bear the hallmarks of U.S.-manufactured M24 Remington sniper rifles shooting 7.62mm hunting ammunition, which expand and mushroom inside the body,” along with others indicative of Israel Weapon Industries’ Tavor rifles. “In the United States this is sold as a hunting rifle to kill deer,” Brian Castner, a weapons specialist for the human-rights organization, said in April.

AP_18094634140289.jpgProtesters wave Palestinians flags in front of Israeli snipers on Gaza’s border with Israel, April 4, 2018. Adel Hana | AP

Sabra Dipping Company, LLC

The White Plains, New York-based food manufacturer, co-owned by PepsiCo and Israeli foodmaker Strauss, has donated food packages to the Israeli Army’s Golani Brigade, notorious for its human-rights abuses in both Gaza and the West Bank.

“We must channel our rage”

As the Great March of Return, now in its 29th week, continues, participants and supporters say targeting firms complicit in its repression is one of the most effective means of solidarity.

“We must channel our rage at Israel’s atrocities into effective actions to hold Israel accountable,” the BDS National Committee said in a statement on April 12. “Together, we can escalate Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) campaigns.”

“Israel is meeting the Palestinian protesters with live fire, massacring over 190 Palestinians to date,” Ammori told MintPress. “Israel’s racist discrimination and brutal violence is evident, and the campaign to end complicity is vital.”

In Solidarity with Palestine: Occupation Unacceptable, Palestine is destined to Liberation

 

14-03-2018 | 15:45

The Global Campaign to Return to Palestine held its fourth annual convention in the Lebanese capital city of Beirut, entitled the Fourth Global Convention for Solidarity with Palestine: Entire al-Quds the Capital of Entire Palestine.
 
Palestine

The gathering, which took place between March 11 and March 14, 2018, hosted a group of prominent activists from all over the world, most of whom were honored for their activism for the sake of the Palestinian cause.


Speakers voiced great support for Palestine and the Palestinian people, especially amid US President Donald Trump’s decision to move the US embassy from Tel Aviv to the “Israeli”-occupied holy city of al-Quds.


In this regard, Rabbi Yisroel Dovid Weiss, an activist and spokesman for a minority branch of Neturei Karta, an anti-Zionist group stated that:

“Since the beginning of Zionism, Torah Jews living in the holy land have been viciously beaten, arrested and murdered for simply voicing their opposition to the Zionist “Israel”. They are likewise arrested and beaten for refusing to serve in the “Israeli” army.”

He further stressed that:
“Our hearts cry with all the victims, the Jews and Palestinians, all of us are suffering together under this satanic Zionist “Israel”.”
“Let the world know, this is not a conflict between religions, Zionist “Israel” is not a Jewish state! It is only Zionist and should never be referred to as a Jewish state,” Weiss added.
“The occupation of Palestine is simply an unacceptable occupation. We plead with the world bodies to rethink the justice in establishing a state against the will of its inhabitants, the original Muslims, the original Christians and the original Jewish community. We plead with the world leaders and those bodies to free Palestine and end its unjust occupation.”
He further expressed sympathy saying
“Our hearts are with al-Quds, our hearts are with Palestine.” 
On the sidelines of the convention, al-Ahed news website team interviewed prominent participating foreign figures among them the parents of martyred hero Rachel Corrie, the American activist who was massacred by an “Israeli” occupation forces armored bulldozer in a combat zone in Rafah, Palestine.
 
Corries

Mrs. Cindy and Mr. Craig Corrie stressed that:
“For all of us that care so much about these issues, care about the Palestinian people, and care about people everywhere, it is important to connect. It is so exciting to connect with people all around the world, who are finding ways to respond to the needs that are here. It is very heartening to come together and see and hear directly from the people who are most affected by this, to hear what most on their minds at this moment, that helps us go home and share with people there where we need to focus.”
They further considered that the Lebanese people are committed to helping the people of Palestine.
“We all need to go back to our different places and of course those of us from the United States have an incredible another work to do on this issue and so many others. And having met people in solidarity with the people of Palestine, I think it is much easier to do it, and Inshallah (God’s willing) we will make a change.”

“There are steps that would come out of here (the conference). They may take time to see what those accomplish, and we may not realize when we are doing those steps what we are accomplishing. One thing we’ve learned with the 15 years since we’ve been working on this issue is that you don’t know where the ripples will go.
 We certainly realize what our daughter Rachel has done and we hear that reflected back to us, and 15 years later from all over the world there’s pretty amazing this young woman could have some impact like that. So, we try, we do what we can, and Inshallah we will help.”

Commenting on Trump’s decision regarding al-Quds, the Corries considered that only a little has been said about the decision.
“We will hear more about that. We of course feel such great responsibility for that and discouragement about it, we object it strongly.”

One thing we want the Palestinian people to know is that there are many organizations that support them. One of the heartening things to us here is to see people from all over the world. We just want them to know that support is there. There is much work to be done, they added.

“If there is any sort of good side to this is that it is clear and manifests to the world that the US is not any sort of broker for any deal between “Israel” and Palestine. Palestinians have known that for the entire time,” Mrs. and Mr. Corrie stressed.

They further considered that the liberation of Palestine is inevitable. It has taken too long, and it may take a considerable time. It is clear that we have to work to our justice, and that will be to the benefit of all of us.
Gilad
Meanwhile, in another interview, Gilad Atzmon, a British musician and an author, originally from the “Israeli” entity after renouncing his citizenship, he stressed that although he is not a Trump supporter,
“I think that this is the best thing America has done for very many year, because it brought to light that America is not a negotiator, it is rather a side on the conflict. I’m not talking as a Trump supporter, but I think that everything Trump is doing somehow leads to very positive developments, it brings light to this conflict. We people have to take positions, and this is positive.”
 
Elsewhere, he said that
Palestine will be liberated, there is no question about that. Though there are few questions that remain open. “I don’t have any doubt that “Israel” can’t any longer sustain its existence. Some “Israelis” have been brave enough to stand up and to admit that “Israel” has never been founded.”
For his part, Jimbo Simmons, an Indian American member of the Choctaw Nation and of the Governing Council of the American Indian Movement expressed that the Indian people’s solidarity goes way back to the 1970s as the American Indian Movement when we received a solidarity message from the Palestinian people during our struggles.
 
Jimbo

“For me, I still long to learn more how we as native people and indigenous peoples in North America could support the Palestinians in their struggle more effectively. That’s why I’m here to learn more in this respect,” he said.

“I like for the Palestinians to know that Trump doesn’t represent Indian people and Indian nations, he only represents his own self-interest. So, what he’s doing will not end support and will never end support of America,” Simmons noted.

Sometime, all of us will be liberated in the future, but we have to struggle. Some of us won’t see the enemy’s up, but at the end it is a generation struggle, so it continues and continues’ and my children, as well as the Palestinians’ children will live to see that accomplishment in their lifetime, Simmons said when asked about any hope of Palestine being liberated.

For her part, Ms. Emily Hurndall, mother of Tom Hurndall, a British volunteer for the International Solidarity Movement, and an activist against the “Israeli” occupation of Palestine who was shot in the head in the Gaza Strip by a Zionist soldier, said:
 
Emily

“I’ve come to understand that so many people over the world are operating, agencies, campaigners and people from different sort of disciplines. Everybody is working separately and everybody is using their skills and knowledge to support the Palestinians in their human rights, but if we can find a way to disseminate, unite and work together even better in a concentrated way, because it takes so much effort and time to overcome Zionist lies and “Israelis'” lies… so much time is wasted. If we can find a way to cut through all that, and just work more effectively to use our time better….”

 

To the Palestinians, Mrs. Hurndall expressed anger on their behalf “because it could not be more designed to provoke, it cuts to the quick of everything that means to be Palestinian; that their identity is wrapped up with al-Quds, it is just the center of their identity, and therefore it is deep-rooted and it says everything about Trump.”
Trump has total ignorance and lack of awareness, and lack of empathy to everything that means to be Palestinian, she said.

“Given the steps the Palestinians have made, I know it is incredibly slow, but given the steps of these last years, and given social media, there is no going back now.
 This is not an issue that people want to let go. There is no question of people letting it go. And the messages are spreading internationally, we are getting much better spreading the message. And therefore, there is no way it is going to succeed without horrendous battle or real struggle. Freeing Palestine is going to happen, but the more people know about it we can’t let it go,” the lady concluded.
Amid hopes to see the occupied lands liberated from the Zionist settlers, there is no doubt that a very hard work needs to be done on different levels until this ultimate goal is achieved when the sun of freedom rises over every grain of the entire Palestinian soil.
Source: Al-Ahed
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Parallel Worlds: Gaza and Israel

Originally published December 29. 2017 in

Parallel Worlds: Gaza and Israel

History is inexplicable.  It has a way of seizing the chosen few to deliver a commanding message that transcends the tapered, often rote, confines of time, place and journey.

Like the mystery of magic, defining moments seem to find powerful launch through the flash of a sudden second and echo through the voice of those destined to become iconic well beyond the rhyme of powerful lyric alone.

To them, theirs is a journey of the ages. For those fortunate enough to witness such passage it is a transcendent reminder that greatness is measured not through acquired wealth or power but by the prompt of the principle, courage and sacrifice of the few.

Who can forget Faris Odeh, 15 years old when he stared down a tank with little more than a stone in his hand, murdered by Israel in Gaza?  Or 23 year old Rachel Corrie, on that mist covered morning, armed with a bullhorn as she faced off against a bulldozer to save a home, murdered by Israel in Gaza.

Ibrahim Abu Thuraya3

And now legend has taken 29 year old Ibrahim Abu Thuraya from us.  Disabled but not disarmed, he had the boldness to stand his ground clutching his weapon, the flag he loved… murdered by Israel in Gaza.

What is there about a tiny enclave known as Gaza that so offends, so alarms, so intimidates Israel? It would be far too easy to say nothing and simply reduce it to Tel Aviv’s voracious chase of its off-shore gas reserves or its potential as a Mediterranean tourist coastline …once cleansed of its native population and the destruction which bears the marked Star of David.

No. Gaza terrorizes Israel not by force of arms but through the endless resound of its resilience and the muscle of its inspiration.

To millions of Palestinians under siege in Palestine, or those forcibly exiled by a Diaspora now 70 years of age, and to its chorus of supporters worldwide, Gaza stands as a shining beacon of resistance and hope.  Yet, to romanticize Gaza is to lend excuse to Israel and no such apologia will be offered here.

50 miles from the destruction that is Gaza sits Tel Aviv… as so much a marker of grotesque Israeli indifference.

Indeed, not a day passes without a new tease from the “third hottest city” in the world and “party capitol of the middle east” whether it’s the pristine Mediterranean seashore, cosmopolitan restaurants, coffeehouses, and galleries or hip after hour dance and bar scene of the “City that Never Sleeps.”

Ranked as the 25th most important financial center in the world, Tel Aviv has the third-largest economy of any city in the Middle East and draws well over a million international visitors annually to its numerous upscale hotels. Home to Israel’s only stock exchange, it has some 70 skyscrapers as tall as an American football field and includes one with 80 floors topped by a spire 150 feet in height.

Described as a “miniature Los Angeles,” Tel Aviv has been called one of the 10 most technologically influential cities in the world. Serving as home to numerous venture-capital firms and scientific research institutes, it has hundreds of startup companies, textile plants and food manufacturers.

Israel’s second largest municipality, Tel Aviv never wants for “culture” and entertainment. Its population of almost half a million, with an unemployment rate of approximately 4% and income 20% above the national average, can choose from eighteen of Israel’s 35 major centers for the performing arts. The Tel Aviv Performing Arts Center is home of the Israeli Opera and the Cameri Theatre. The Heichal HaTarbut is Tel Aviv’s largest theatre and home to the Israel Philharmonic Orchestra.

But an hour’s drive, yet worlds away, sits Gaza; home to two million Palestinians.

Once known, in polite social circles, as the earth’s largest open air prison, it long ago moved on from jail to Israeli administered death camp. Whether by embargo or bombs, it is simply impossible to watch the life and death of the coastal enclave without seeing Israel’s criminal plan unfold.

With the first blush of sunrise, the streets of Gaza City fill rapidly with those who’ve survived its ritual night of darkness illuminated solely by bursts of another Israeli bombing run.  For them, with each passing hour, the taste of daylight portends a constant race against what little time remains to shop at empty markets, rush for medicines long gone, or dangerously dated, search for missing bottled water, or attend to the needs of family too paralyzed or ill to join the chase.

While Tel Aviv remains a constant tease of new ventures, glorious dining and enrapt theater going, Gaza lives a repetition of bare survival… at least for the lucky.

For others, it’s an endless wail of mourn as infants are laid to rest with lungs once barely filled with the breath of life. Alongside them sleep the young who, traumatized by the unbearable pain of living, tragically surrendered to the calm of willing death. Next to them lie the “elderly” who grew old and ill far too soon while their generation is coming of age and power everywhere else.

By now, it seems some have grown inured, indeed, comfortable with the visible suffer that is uniquely Gaza. Unlike an explosive genocide that unfolds overnight, impossible for many to ignore, Gaza has long simmered out of sight…out of mind.

Entering its second decade of complete isolation and embargo, Gaza periodically, inevitably, explodes from mindless rage in which Israel seeks to “mow the lawn” for little more than the embattled enclave’s determined resilience.

In late 2008 through early 2009, Israel unleashed an all out military attack on the defenseless population of Gaza. When the toxic white phosphorous cleared, some 1,417, mostly civilians, lay dead along with 13 Israeli soldiers… 4 from friendly fire.

In 2014, Israel undertook a 50 day all-out assault on Gaza as it once again targeted the entire enclave with massive disproportionate force.

Although some debate continues over the exact results, according to most estimates up to 2,310 were killed of whom 1,492 were civilians, including 551 children and 299 women. Another 10,895 were wounded including 3,374 children of whom 1,000 were left permanently disabled. 

Among the infrastructure leveled were 220 factories, dairy farms with livestock and the orange groves of Beit Hanoun.  138 schools and 26 health facilities were damaged and thousands of homes totally destroyed or severely damaged. The lone power station in Gaza and its transmission lines was targeted and severely damaged.  Sewage pumps and a major sewage pipe serving 500,000 inhabitants were destroyed. 10 out of 26 hospitals were damaged or destroyed along with several TV stations. 203 mosques were damaged, with 73 destroyed … along with two of Gaza’s three Christian churches.

Israel lost 66 soldiers and 5 civilians, including one child. 469 Israeli soldiers and 261 civilians were injured.

Four years later, conditions have only worsened in Gaza. Where once the UN announced it would be uninhabitable by 2020, for all intents and purposes, that day has come and gone. Yet the determination of its people continues on.

Gaza Today

Today, years of Israeli attacks and siege, have left Gaza reeling from an absence of a basic infrastructure capable of meeting even the minimal needs of its two million people.

Whether its electricity, clean water, healthcare, or sewage treatment and waste management, Gaza is undergoing a very public humanitarian crisis now entering its second decade.

In Gaza, abject poverty is rampant. At 41.1 percent, the unemployment rate is the highest in the world. Its youth unemployment is 64 percent. Currently there are 50,000 young women and men with university and graduate degrees unable to find work in their chosen fields… or any other. That figure grows each year by some 17,000 to 18,000. While once the industrial and production sectors offered more than 120,000 job opportunities per year, now less than 7,000 such positions become available.

Although thousands of homes damaged or destroyed during Israel’s attack in 2014 are still in need of repair, the construction sector is practically idle and essentially out of business. It used to contribute to about 22 percent of local production and offered some 70,000 job opportunities.

Sixty per cent of Gaza lives under the poverty line. Over a fifth of it lives in “deep poverty.” According to the U.N. Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees in the Near East (UNRWA), “over 80 percent of the people in Gaza depend on humanitarian assistance.”

Another report by UNOCHA found that over 80 percent of its displaced families have borrowed money to get by in the past year, over 85 percent purchased most of their food on credit, and over 40 percent have decreased their consumption of food.

According to UNICEF a third of Gaza’s children suffer from chronic malnutrition and micronutrient deficiencies that can stunt development and affect overall health.

In other, less visible, ways, the residual impact of years of Israeli attacks and a decade long siege have produced a palpable and deleterious psychological impact on the people in Gaza.

In the immediate aftermath of the attack OCHA estimated that at least 373,000 children required psychosocial support. Today the UNRWA Community Mental Health Programme has found that Gazans are experiencing increasingly higher levels of stress and distress. The World Health Organization (WHO) has found Post Traumatic Stress Disorder to be widespread with studies indicating that upwards of 54% of Gaza’s children, teens and adults either symptomatic, or suffering from its full-on effects.

According to WHO between 10 and 20 percent of the population suffer from severe mental illness. Because of isolation, community pressure or lack of treatment opportunities the figure is likely much higher. Once unheard of, suicide has now becoming a familiar occurrence in Gaza clearly suggesting that the coping skills of Palestinians are being exhausted. Euro-Mediterranean Human Rights Monitor reported at least 95 people tried to commit suicide in the Gaza Strip in the first quarter of 2016, a nearly 40 percent increase from previous years.

Life in Darkness

For nearly a decade, Tel Aviv has held a yearly blackout in support of Earth Hour. Meanwhile, millions of nearby Palestinians struggle to eke out a life of bare existence with twenty-one hours of darkness each and every day.

Indeed, while Tel Aviv has converted an idle power station named “Gan HaHashmal” (Electricity Park) into a public park, recently OCHA published new data that shows electricity for Gaza has dropped to a total of just three hours daily and at times that vary from day to day. Lacking any advance notice as to when the electricity will go on, or off, the most rudimentary of life’s work is left largely to little more than blind wish leaving familial, educational, employment and health tasks either undone or incomplete.

According to the WHO, power cuts and fuel shortages have created constant crises for Gaza’s 14 public hospitals; threatening the closure of essential health services leaving thousands of people without access to life-saving medical care.

In Shifa hospital, tiny premature babies, some with multiple infections or congenital diseases, lie crammed in incubators fighting for life as lights sputter. With electricity virtually cut off, their life support is entirely powered by a generator with unpredictable current.

At any given time, power loss threatens the lives of hundreds of the new-born and adults in neonatal and intensive care units and some 658 patients requiring bi-weekly haemodialysis, including 23 children. Refrigeration systems for blood and vaccine storage are also at risk.

With adversity often the mother of invention, many in Gaza have struggled to keep pace with the needs of energy through use of poorly vented generator systems and candle light when available. According to Al Mezan, 29 people including 24 children have died since 2010 from fire or suffocation incidents related to attempts to overcome power outage. In one such tragedy, three siblings were killed after their home caught fire from the candles being used during the power outage.

Water Crises in Gaza

While Tel Aviv holds a yearly contest with an award of free parking to the family that has consumed the least amount of water, in Gaza it would be a competition without a challenge.

As a result of repeated attacks that have targeted Gaza’s water infrastructure… and a 10 year embargo on materials necessary for its repair, a crises in the making has now reached one of epic proportions unmatched anywhere else in the world.

For two million people, it is estimated that 3% of the water of Gaza remains fit for human consumption. In particular, it poses grave risks to its children.

As a result of untreated sewage dumped into the Mediterranean Sea, agricultural chemicals and unfiltered seawater, the rest of Gaza’s water is dangerous; 68% of it biologically contaminated during storage or transportation to Gaza’s households. Indeed, recent studies have shown Gaza’s water contains a large concentration of chloride… as well, nitrate rates two to eight times higher than the WHO recommends.

Recently the UN warned its underground water aquifer, upon which the territory is almost entirely dependent, will soon be completely contaminated; stripping Gaza of access to all its water.

With the shortage of clean water comes the well based fear of a deadly cholera epidemic… particularly in a community with an unusually young population.  This is all the more likely where signs of acute malnutrition and severe wasting are an increasing phenomenon among the young children in Gaza.

Healthcare Dying

Cancer rates are exploding in Gaza. A decade of Israeli wars has poisoned its soil and water, leaving depleted uranium in their wake. Daily spray of insecticides used by Israel to clear border areas, have exacerbated what is becoming a deadly environmental disaster to a community long under siege through every means possible.

According to the head of oncology at Shifa Hospital, today Gaza produces 90 cases of cancer per 100,000 people compared with 65 in 2010. These statistics are particularly ominous given the unusually young population of Gaza with 60% of its residents under 25. Due to a lack of early diagnosis and treatment options in Gaza, women with breast cancer are dying at rates two to three times those receiving first world care.

On top of its energy crises, Gaza suffers from a chronic shortage of hospital beds, medical equipment and specialist physicians.

Treatment for an estimated 6,000 cerebral palsy patients is particularly problematic with many families unable to cover the cost of its specialized care. Ashraf al-Qidra, a spokesman for Gaza’s Health Ministry notes:

The poor financial conditions of families (means they) cannot take responsibility for their children who suffer from cerebral palsy or provide them with medical care such as physiotherapy, speech therapy, occupational therapy.

According to the World Bank, 56 % of all Palestinians have no access to “reasonable and customary” healthcare. For those few, in Gaza, with the financial ability to obtain necessary health care, a lack of embargoed “sensitive” medications has created a “very very dangerous” situation with dozens of drugs unavailable… including antibiotic skin ointment and medicines to treat infants born with hypoglycemia and to counteract venomous snake bites. The UN reports that 34% of essential life preserving drugs at the Central Drug Store in Gaza are completely out of stock.

According to Physicians for Human Rights-Israel  (PHRI), the public health system is not able to provide specialized treatments for complex medical problems in a variety of fields including neonatal care, cardiology, orthopedics and oncology. Moreover, nearly 50 percent of Gaza’s medical equipment is outdated and the average wait for spare parts is approximately six months. With few functioning mammography machines and the unavailability of radiation treatment, lumpectomies and plastic surgery, women with breast cancer routinely receive mastectomies as the only option.

The energy crisis has shed light on the huge rise in babies born with congenital, and other, disabilities who are waiting to leave Gaza for specialist treatment in Israel or elsewhere. For many, the wait for the much sought after exit permit can prove too long to survive.

Recently, three seriously ill babies died after permits to grant the children treatment in Israel were denied by the Palestinian Authority.  Earlier this year, a 5 year old girl with cerebral palsy died while waiting permission from Israel to leave for external treatment.  Not long thereafter, another 5 year old boy and 22 year old man died waiting permission to obtain treatment outside of Gaza.

Ka’enat Mustafa Ja’arour, 42, died of uterine cancer while awaiting a response to her permit request for treatment at a hospital in Jerusalem.  In May, 52-year-old Talat Mahmoud Sulaiman al-Shawi, a resident of Rafah, died after being denied entry to Israel to treat a kidney tumor. In August, Fatin Nader Ahmed, 26, died in hospital, while awaiting a travel permit for treatment for her brain cancer.

So far this year, 20 patients have died after their exit permits were either denied or not granted in time. Physicians report that another 10 who, in July, died of cancer but could have been saved if they had been transferred elsewhere for treatment.

A short distance from Gaza, Israeli patients receive the benefit of complex medical treatment from some of the finest and most specialized hospital and emergency care centers in the world.

The Tel Aviv Sourasky Medical Center has been selected as one of the world’s top 10 medical destinations specializes in adult and pediatric neurosurgery, orthopedic and surgical oncology, kidney-pancreas transplants, liver transplants, micro neurosurgery and trauma.

The Assuta Hospital, in Tel Aviv, is part of Israel’s largest private medical service and offers surgeries and diagnostic procedures in all fields of medicine; including cardiology, oncology, gynecology and urology.

The Wolfson Medical Center, on the southern border of Tel Aviv, addresses a wide range of health conditions from malaria to diabetes and heart conditions and specialty care in ENT, orthopedics, infectious diseases, pediatrics, OB/GYN, family medicine and psychiatry.

Meanwhile, back in Gaza, Yara Bakheet, age 4, and Aya Abu Mutalq, age 5, are laid to rest… denied access to basic medical treatment that would have saved their lives but for Israel’s delay in granting an exit visa for treatment.

Gaza Lives

In the light of this nightmare, some wonder what can drive hundreds, at times, thousands of young women and men to the edge of steel barricades and barbed wire that make their home a prison built of walls but not of silence.  Yet they struggle on as they toss stones at soldiers hundreds of yards away and ignite fires that pose no threat but speak loudly of freedom.

Ultimately, it’s the indefatigable spirit of these 140 square miles of self-determination that threatens the myth, indeed, puts the lie to the grand sale of an all powerful and democratic Israel.

What little mark Israel has built and, ultimately, will leave behind in the assembled home it seized has been erected not by the call of principled purpose but the drive to become but another mini-empire in a region long known for despots that have placed economic and political profit before people.

At day’s end, it’s a legacy that knows no home, or welcome, but that of brute force.

For empires large and small, real or sham, history is but a predictable march of gaudy pretense.  Gilded shacks built of shallow stilts and tattered shrines, theirs is homage to little more than empty tease. It’s who and what they are… it’s what they do… at least until they crash. And sooner or later they all crash.

Be assured, Israel will not be the exception.

Yes, empires come and go like so much a cheap, but deadly, chase for a call in eternity that welcomes no such guest.  For the learned, it’s a lesson of history acquired not by 140 characters but by keen informed observation. For far too many, empty sound bites have, today, become a defining vision without a view.

Yet, there are crossroads in history where an image, a single glance, depicts more powerfully than the finest of poetic verse, a statement of principle, determination and sacrifice which inspires the winds of time for evermore.

Somewhere, right now Faris Odeh, Rachel Corrie and Ibrahim Abu Thuraya smile down upon us as history’s hope and eternity’s message.

REMEMBERING RACHEL CORRIE

The Ugly Truth

Israel blames Rachel Corrie for her own death

Brian Hazel

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Today marks the 13th anniversary of the death of American peace activist Rachel Corrie, who was fatally crushed by a Caterpillar D9R bulldozer (paid for with US taxes) while participating in a demonstration in Gaza with 7 other International Solidarity Movement  activists who were attempting to halt the demolition of innocent Palestinian families homes and the expansion of Israeli settlements. For those of you who are new to this topic, Israeli settlements are residential areas built by Israel in occupied Palestinian territory, with security often provided by the IDF. These settlements are illegal under international law and violate the 4th Geneva Convention, which outlines protection for civilians in the midst of war and conflict, and strictly forbids states from transferring citizens from their states to occupied land. Despite this, Israel has been taking this exact course of action for decades since occupying the West Bank in The 1967 War. On Sunday, March 16th 2003, Rachel and her comrades confronted the drivers of two bulldozers who were in the process of demolishing a family’s home. Rachel’s presence was made abundantly clear, as she was wearing a bright orange fluorescent jacket and holding a megaphone. Eye-witness and fellow ISM activist Joseph Smith states the following:

Still wearing her fluorescent jacket, she knelt down at least 15 meters in front of the bulldozer, and began waving her arms and shouting, just as activists had successfully done dozens of times that day…. When it got so close that it was moving the earth beneath her, she climbed onto the pile of rubble being pushed by the bulldozer…. Her head and upper torso were above the bulldozer’s blade, and the bulldozer operator and co-operator could clearly see her. Despite this, the operator continued forward, which caused her to fall back, out of view of the driver. He continued forward, and she tried to scoot back, but was quickly pulled underneath the bulldozer. We ran towards him, and waved our arms and shouted; one activist with the megaphone. But the bulldozer operator continued forward, until Corrie was all the way underneath the central section of the bulldozer.”

ISM STATEMENT

 

Below are some excerpts from the International Solidarity Movement’s official statement on the incident. Read the full statement here.

Rachel was in Rafah volunteering for the International Solidarity Movement (ISM), a Palestinian-led movement of both Palestinians and internationals working together for an end to the Israeli occupation of Palestinian territory. Rachel and the ISM have chosen nonviolent, direct-action methods and principles to resist the daily brutality of Israel’s 36-year-old military occupation and its ongoing and illegal land confiscation and settlement of the West Bank and Gaza Strip.”

“In its attempts to sweep responsibility for the incident under the carpet, the Israeli government has undertaken efforts to discredit Rachel, and to blame her and her colleagues for her death. Reports from the other seven ISM volunteers who witnessed the event and what is plainly obvious from photographs taken at the scene — before and after — make it incredible to assert that Rachel’s death was an “accident”. Following her crushing by the bulldozer, an Israeli tank came near the fallen activist and her friends, and then backed off. At no point did the Israeli forces offer any assistance. The Israeli government typically blames its victims for their fate. In the pages of the international media Palestinians whose homes are destroyed or who die trying to protect them are reflexively called “terrorists” or “terrorist supporters”. Rachel was not Palestinian and therefore was hard to label a “terrorist”, but nevertheless, Rachel was blamed for her own death. In addition, Rachel was accused of “protecting terrorists”, even though the home she died protecting was that of a Palestinian medical doctor.”

“When she was killed, Rachel was engaging in what is typically a relatively low-risk action, serving as an international monitor to an ongoing, blatant abuse of international human rights law and confronting a soldier in the process of committing an act of violence against an unarmed, nonviolent Palestinian family.”

 

PHOTOS


The Electric Intifada 
provides us with this photo timeline breakdown of the incident:

Picture taken between 3:00-4:00PM, 16 March 2003, Rafah, Occupied Gaza. Rachel Corrie (L) and Nick (R) oppose the potential destruction of this home (to the west of the Doctor’s home where Rachel was killed). In the instance pictured, the bulldozer did not stop and Rachel was pinned between the scooped earth and the fence behind her. On this occasion, the driver stopped before seriously injuring her. Photo by Joseph Smith (ISM Handout).

Picture taken between 3:00-4:00PM on 16 March 2003, Rafah, Occupied Gaza. A clearly marked Rachel Corrie, holding a megaphone, confronts the driver of one of two Israeli bulldozers in the area that were attempting to demolish a Palestinian homes. She was confronting the bulldozer in order to disrupt its work, and prevent it from threatening any homes. Photo by Joseph Smith. (ISM Handout).

Picture taken at 4:45PM on 16 March 2003, Rafah, Occupied Gaza. Other peace activists tend to Rachel after she was fatally injured by the driver of the Israeli bulldozer (in background). This photo was taken seconds after the bulldozer driver dragged his blade over her for the second time while reversingback over her body. He lifted the blade as seen in the photo only after he had dragged it back over Rachel’s body. This image clearly shows that had he lifted his blade at any time he may have avoided killing her, as the bottom section of the bulldozer is raised off the ground. Photo by Richard Purssell. (ISM Handout)

Picture taken at 4:47PM on 16 March 2003, Rafah, Occupied Gaza. Rachel Corrie lies on the ground fatally injured by the Israeli bulldozer driver. Rachel’s fellow activists have dug her a little out of the sand and are trying to keep her neck straight due to spinal injury. Photo by Joseph Smith. (ISM Handout)

Rachel in Najjar hostpital, Rafah, Occupied Gaza. Rachel arrived in the emergency room at 5:05PM and doctors scrambled to save her. By 5:20PM, she was gone. Ha’aretz newspaper reported that Dr. Ali Musa, a doctor at Al-Najjar, stated that the cause of death was “skull and chest fractures”. (Mohammad Al-Moghair)

 

HER EARLY LIFE

 

It would seem that Rachel Corrie has always had a compassionate heart, with strong will and desire to change the world. Shared below is a direct quote and video from an elementary school press conference which Rachel Corrie attended and prepared a speech for at only 10 years of age in the fifth grade.

 

“I’m here for other children.
I’m here because I care.
I’m here because children everywhere are suffering and because forty thousand people die each day from hunger.
I’m here because those people are mostly children.
We have got to understand that the poor are all around us and we are ignoring them.
We have got to understand that these deaths are preventable.
We have got to understand that people in third world countries think and care and smile and cry just like us.
We have got to understand that they dream our dreams and we dream theirs.
We have got to understand that they are us. We are them.
My dream is to stop hunger by the year 2000.
My dream is to give the poor a chance.
My dream is to save the 40,000 people who die each day.
My dream can and will come true if we all look into the future and see the light that shines there.
If we ignore hunger, that light will go out.
If we all help and work together, it will grow and burn free with the potential of tomorrow.”

 

HER E-MAILS

 

It is clear that Rachel had a genuine passion for peace and justice. She never gave up, and she lived her life to the fullest. And though she died young, her death was not in vain. As someone who was willing to sacrifice her own life in order to draw attention to the suffering of others, she has impacted the hearts and minds of activists worldwide. The last thing that I would like to share with you is one of the five e-mails recovered that Rachel sent out to her friends and family during her time in Palestine. I would encourage you to read all of them in full,  you can do so here.

February 7th, 2003

Hi friends and family, and others,

I have been in Palestine for two weeks and one hour now, and I still have very few words to describe what I see. It is most difficult for me to think about what’s going on here when I sit down to write back to the United States. Something about the virtual portal into luxury. I don’t know if many of the children here have ever existed without tank-shell holes in their walls and the towers of an occupying army surveying them constantly from the near horizons. I think, although I’m not entirely sure, that even the smallest of these children understand that life is not like this everywhere. An eight-year-old was shot and killed by an Israeli tank two days before I got here, and many of the children murmur his name to me – Ali – or point at the posters of him on the walls. The children also love to get me to practice my limited Arabic by asking me, “Kaif Sharon?” “Kaif Bush?” and they laugh when I say, “Bush Majnoon”, “Sharon Majnoon” back in my limited arabic. (How is Sharon? How is Bush? Bush is crazy. Sharon is crazy.) Of course this isn’t quite what I believe, and some of the adults who have the English correct me: “Bush mish Majnoon” … Bush is a businessman. Today I tried to learn to say, “Bush is a tool,” but I don’t think it translated quite right. But anyway, there are eight-year-olds here much more aware of the workings of the global power structure than I was just a few years ago.

Nevertheless, no amount of reading, attendance at conferences, documentary viewing and word of mouth could have prepared me for the reality of the situation here. You just can’t imagine it unless you see it – and even then you are always well aware that your experience of it is not at all the reality: what with the difficulties the Israeli army would face if they shot an unarmed US citizen, and with the fact that I have money to buy water when the army destroys wells, and the fact, of course, that I have the option of leaving. Nobody in my family has been shot, driving in their car, by a rocket launcher from a tower at the end of a major street in my hometown. I have a home. I am allowed to go see the ocean. Ostensibly it is still quite difficult for me to be held for months or years on end without a trial (this because I am a white US citizen, as opposed to so many others). When I leave for school or work I can be relatively certain that there will not be a heavily armed soldier waiting halfway between Mud Bay and downtown Olympia at a checkpoint with the power to decide whether I can go about my business, and whether I can get home again when I’m done. So, if I feel outrage at arriving and entering briefly and incompletely into the world in which these children exist, I wonder conversely about how it would be for them to arrive in my world.

They know that children in the United States don’t usually have their parents shot and they know they sometimes get to see the ocean. But once you have seen the ocean and lived in a silent place, where water is taken for granted and not stolen in the night by bulldozers, and once you have spent an evening when you haven’t wondered if the walls of your home might suddenly fall inward waking you from your sleep, and once you’ve met people who have never lost anyone˜once you have experienced the reality of a world that isn’t surrounded by murderous towers, tanks, armed “settlements” and now a giant metal wall, I wonder if you can forgive the world for all the years of your childhood spent existing—just existing—in resistance to the constant stranglehold of the world‚s fourth largest military—backed by the world’s only superpower—in it‚s attempt to erase you from your home. That is something I wonder about these children. I wonder what would happen if they really knew. As an afterthought to all this rambling, I am in Rafah: a city of about 140,000 people, approximately 60% of whom are refugees – many of whom are twice or three times refugees. Rafah existed prior to 1948, but most of the people here are themselves or are descendants of people who were relocated here from their homes in historic Palestine—now Israel. Rafah was split in half when the Sinai returned to Egypt.

Currently, the Israeli army is building a fourteen-meter-high wall between Rafah in Palestine and the border, carving a no-mans land from the houses along the border. Six hundred and two homes have been completely bulldozed according to the Rafah Popular Refugee Committee. The number of homes that have been partially destroyed is greater. Rafah existed prior to 1948, but most of the people here are themselves or are descendants of people who were relocated here from their homes in historic Palestine—now Israel. Rafah was split in half when the Sinai returned to Egypt.

Currently, the Israeli army is building a fourteen-meter-high wall between Rafah in Palestine and the border, carving a no-mans land from the houses along the border. Six hundred and two homes have been completely bulldozed according to the Rafah Popular Refugee Committee. The number of homes that have been partially destroyed is greater. Today, as I walked on top of the rubble where homes once stood, Egyptian soldiers called to me from the other side of the border, “Go! Go!” because a tank was coming. And then waving and “What’s your name?”. Something disturbing about this friendly curiosity. It reminded me of how much, to some degree, we are all kids curious about other kids. Egyptian kids shouting at strange women wandering into the path of tanks. Palestinian kids shot from the tanks when they peak out from behind walls to see what’s going on. International kids standing in front of tanks with banners. Israeli kids in the tanks anonymously – occasionally shouting and also occasionally waving – many forced to be here, many just agressive – shooting into the houses as we wander away.

In addition to the constant presence of tanks along the border and in the western region between Rafah and settlements along the coast, there are more IDF towers here than I can count—along the horizon, at the end of streets. Some just army green metal. Others these strange spiral staircases draped in some kind of netting to make the activity within anonymous. Some hidden, just beneath the horizon of buildings. A new one went up the other day in the time it took us to do laundry and to cross town twice to hang banners.
Despite the fact that some of the areas nearest the border are the original Rafah with families who have lived on this land for at least a century, only the 1948 camps in the center of the city are Palestinian controlled areas under Oslo. But as far as I can tell, there are few if any places that are not within the sights of some tower or another. Certainly there is no place invulnerable to apache helicopters or to the cameras of invisible drones we hear buzzing over the city for hours at a time.

I’ve been having trouble accessing news about the outside world here, but I hear an escalation of war on Iraq is inevitable. There is a great deal of concern here about the “reoccupation of Gaza”. Gaza is reoccupied every day to various extents but I think the fear is that the tanks will enter all the streets and remain here instead of entering some of the streets and then withdrawing after some hours or days to observe and shoot from the edges of the communities. If people aren’t already thinking about the consequences of this war for the people of the entire region then I hope you will start. I also hope you‚ll come here. We’ve been wavering between five and six internationals. The neighborhoods that have asked us for some form of presence are Yibna, Tel El Sultan, Hi Salam, Brazil, Block J, Zorob, and Block O. There is also need for constant nighttime presence at a well on the outskirts of Rafah since the Israeli army destroyed the two largest wells.

According to the municipal water office the wells destroyed last week provided half of Rafah’s water supply. Many of the communities have requested internationals to be present at night to attempt to shield houses from further demolition. After about ten p.m. it is very difficult to move at night because the Israeli army treats anyone in the streets as resistance and shoots at them. So clearly we are too few.

I continue to believe that my home, Olympia, could gain a lot and offer a lot by deciding to make a commitment to Rafah in the form of a sister-community relationship. Some teachers and children’s groups have expressed interest in e-mail exchanges, but this is only the tip of the iceberg of solidarity work that might be done.

Many people want their voices to be heard, and I think we need to use some of our privilege as internationals to get those voices heard directly in the US, rather than through the filter of well-meaning internationals such as myself. I am just beginning to learn, from what I expect to be a very intense tutelage, about the ability of people to organize against all odds, and to resist against all odds.

Thanks for the news I’ve been getting from friends in the US. I just read a report back from a friend who organized a peace group in Shelton, Washington, and was able to be part of a delegation to the large January 18th protest in Washington DC.

People here watch the media, and they told me again today that there have been large protests in the United States and “problems for the government” in the UK. So thanks for allowing me to not feel like a complete Polyanna when I tentatively tell people here that many people in the United States do not support the policies of our government, and that we are learning from global examples how to resist.

My love to everyone. My love to my mom. My love to smooch. My love to fg and barnhair and sesamees and Lincoln School. My love to Olympia.

Rachel

13th Anniversary of Rachel Corrie’s Death

c24ac-rachelcorrie

An email from Rachel to her parents, dated Feb. 27, 2003…

(To her mother)

Love you. Really miss you. I have bad nightmares about tanks and bulldozers outside our house and you and me inside. Sometimes the adrenaline acts as an anesthetic for weeks and then in the evening or at night it just hits me again – a little bit of the reality of the situation. I am really scared for the people here. Yesterday, I watched a father lead his two tiny children, holding his hands, out into the sight of tanks and a sniper tower and bulldozers and Jeeps because he thought his house was going to be exploded. Jenny and I stayed in the house with several women and two small babies. It was our mistake in translation that caused him to think it was his house that was being exploded. In fact, the Israeli army was in the process of detonating an explosive in the ground nearby – one that appears to have been planted by Palestinian resistance.

This is in the area where Sunday about 150 men were rounded up and contained outside the settlement with gunfire over their heads and around them, while tanks and bulldozers destroyed 25 greenhouses – the livelihoods for 300 people. The explosive was right in front of the greenhouses – right in the point of entry for tanks that might come back again. I was terrified to think that this man felt it was less of a risk to walk out in view of the tanks with his kids than to stay in his house. I was really scared that they were all going to be shot and I tried to stand between them and the tank. This happens every day, but just this father walking out with his two little kids just looking very sad, just happened to get my attention more at this particular moment, probably because I felt it was our translation problems that made him leave.

I thought a lot about what you said on the phone about Palestinian violence not helping the situation. Sixty thousand workers from Rafah worked in Israel two years ago. Now only 600 can go to Israel for jobs. Of these 600, many have moved, because the three checkpoints between here and Ashkelon (the closest city in Israel) make what used to be a 40-minute drive, now a 12-hour or impassible journey. In addition, what Rafah identified in 1999 as sources of economic growth are all completely destroyed – the Gaza international airport (runways demolished, totally closed); the border for trade with Egypt (now with a giant Israeli sniper tower in the middle of the crossing); access to the ocean (completely cut off in the last two years by a checkpoint and the Gush Katif settlement). The count of homes destroyed in Rafah since the beginning of this intifada is up around 600, by and large people with no connection to the resistance but who happen to live along the border. I think it is maybe official now that Rafah is the poorest place in the world. There used to be a middle class here – recently. We also get reports that in the past, Gazan flower shipments to Europe were delayed for two weeks at the Erez crossing for security inspections. You can imagine the value of two-week-old cut flowers in the European market, so that market dried up. And then the bulldozers come and take out people’s vegetable farms and gardens. What is left for people? Tell me if you can think of anything. I can’t.

If any of us had our lives and welfare completely strangled, lived with children in a shrinking place where we knew, because of previous experience, that soldiers and tanks and bulldozers could come for us at any moment and destroy all the greenhouses that we had been cultivating for however long, and did this while some of us were beaten and held captive with 149 other people for several hours – do you think we might try to use somewhat violent means to protect whatever fragments remained? I think about this especially when I see orchards and greenhouses and fruit trees destroyed – just years of care and cultivation. I think about you and how long it takes to make things grow and what a labour of love it is. I really think, in a similar situation, most people would defend themselves as best they could. I think Uncle Craig would. I think probably Grandma would. I think I would.

You asked me about non-violent resistance.

When that explosive detonated yesterday it broke all the windows in the family’s house. I was in the process of being served tea and playing with the two small babies. I’m having a hard time right now. Just feel sick to my stomach a lot from being doted on all the time, very sweetly, by people who are facing doom. I know that from the United States, it all sounds like hyperbole. Honestly, a lot of the time the sheer kindness of the people here, coupled with the overwhelming evidence of the wilful destruction of their lives, makes it seem unreal to me. I really can’t believe that something like this can happen in the world without a bigger outcry about it. It really hurts me, again, like it has hurt me in the past, to witness how awful we can allow the world to be. I felt after talking to you that maybe you didn’t completely believe me. I think it’s actually good if you don’t, because I do believe pretty much above all else in the importance of independent critical thinking. And I also realise that with you I’m much less careful than usual about trying to source every assertion that I make. A lot of the reason for that is I know that you actually do go and do your own research. But it makes me worry about the job I’m doing. All of the situation that I tried to enumerate above – and a lot of other things – constitutes a somewhat gradual – often hidden, but nevertheless massive – removal and destruction of the ability of a particular group of people to survive. This is what I am seeing here. The assassinations, rocket attacks and shooting of children are atrocities – but in focusing on them I’m terrified of missing their context. The vast majority of people here – even if they had the economic means to escape, even if they actually wanted to give up resisting on their land and just leave (which appears to be maybe the less nefarious of Sharon’s possible goals), can’t leave. Because they can’t even get into Israel to apply for visas, and because their destination countries won’t let them in (both our country and Arab countries). So I think when all means of survival is cut off in a pen (Gaza) which people can’t get out of, I think that qualifies as genocide. Even if they could get out, I think it would still qualify as genocide. Maybe you could look up the definition of genocide according to international law. I don’t remember it right now. I’m going to get better at illustrating this, hopefully. I don’t like to use those charged words. I think you know this about me. I really value words. I really try to illustrate and let people draw their own conclusions.

Anyway, I’m rambling. Just want to write to my Mom and tell her that I’m witnessing this chronic, insidious genocide and I’m really scared, and questioning my fundamental belief in the goodness of human nature. This has to stop. I think it is a good idea for us all to drop everything and devote our lives to making this stop. I don’t think it’s an extremist thing to do anymore. I still really want to dance around to Pat Benatar and have boyfriends and make comics for my coworkers. But I also want this to stop. Disbelief and horror is what I feel. Disappointment. I am disappointed that this is the base reality of our world and that we, in fact, participate in it. This is not at all what I asked for when I came into this world. This is not at all what the people here asked for when they came into this world. This is not the world you and Dad wanted me to come into when you decided to have me. This is not what I meant when I looked at Capital Lake and said: “This is the wide world and I’m coming to it.” I did not mean that I was coming into a world where I could live a comfortable life and possibly, with no effort at all, exist in complete unawareness of my participation in genocide. More big explosions somewhere in the distance outside.

When I come back from Palestine, I probably will have nightmares and constantly feel guilty for not being here, but I can channel that into more work. Coming here is one of the better things I’ve ever done. So when I sound crazy, or if the Israeli military should break with their racist tendency not to injure white people, please pin the reason squarely on the fact that I am in the midst of a genocide which I am also indirectly supporting, and for which my government is largely responsible.

I love you and Dad. Sorry for the diatribe. OK, some strange men next to me just gave me some peas, so I need to eat and thank them.

Rachel

Invasion of the Body Snatchers: Israel’s Refusal to Turn Over the Bodies of Palestinian Dead

Posted on 

A Palestinian father waits for the body of his 13-year-old son, Abdelrahman Obeidallah, the day after he was killed by Israeli forces.

Below you’ll find some information I’ve gathered about a policy the Israelis have of holding onto the remains of some Palestinians, refusing to return the bodies to their families for proper burial.

BETHLEHEM (Ma’an) — Israel’s treatment of the Palestinian dead, and its impact on the living, is being questioned once again as the government continues to withhold the bodies of 22 Palestinians killed following attacks on Israelis during the month of October.

The refusal to turn over the dead to their families — a policy that Israeli authorities supposedly halted near the end of the Second Intifada — has provoked controversy among Israeli officials and led tomass protests in the occupied West Bank.

And see also:

Here is an excerpt:

Meanwhile, the Palestinian Authority representative at the United Nations claimed that other bodies which had been transferred to them “were returned with organs missing, after the occupying forces harvested organs from the Palestinian victims.”…

Palestinian Permanent Observer to the UN Riyad Mansour submitted a formal complaint against Israel on Wednesday, alleging that it had returned terrorists’ bodies with organs missing.

“A medical examination conducted on bodies of Palestinians returned after they were killed by the occupying power found that they were missing organs,” Mansour claimed in the letter.

Israel’s UN ambassador accused Mansour of “blood libel.” It is actually not a “libel” at all:

Did Hiss harvest organs from the body of Rachel Corrie? The answer appears to be yes:

On March 14, during the first round of hearings in the Corries’ civil suit, Hiss admitted under oath that he had lied about the presence of an American official during the autopsy of Rachel Corrie. He also conceded to taking “samples” from Corrie’s body for “histological testing” without informing her family. Just which parts of Corrie’s body Hiss took remains unclear; despite Hiss’s claim that he “buried” the samples, her family has not confirmed the whereabouts of her missing body parts.

“It’s so hard to know that Rachel’s body wasn’t respected,” Rachel’s sister, Sarah, told me. “Doctor Hiss and the Israeli government knew what our family’s wishes were. The fact that our wishes were disregarded and a judge hasn’t done anything is absolutely horrifying.”

Israel and its supporters would do well to drop the accusations of “blood libel” in the current climate, especially if the Jewish state plans to continue its policy of withholding the bodies of Palestinians.

 

Israel: Lying abroad for your country

April 04, 2015  /  Gilad Atzmon

By: Karl Sabbagh 

Comment: By failing to analyse and understand the rationale behind Israel’s propaganda, Western media is complicit in its lies.

The 16th and 17th century English author and diplomat Henry Wotton described an ambassador as someone “sent abroad to lie for his country”.

Nowadays, the principle of “lying abroad” enables Israel to hammer home its message and drown out that of the Palestinians throughout Western media.

It is not surprising that nations use propaganda to cover up their sins. What is surprising is that so-called intelligent, informed journalists report Israel’s fabricated stories time and again, and rarely dig deeper.

Even worse, when the truth becomes known weeks, months or years later, it is buried in NGO reports or academic papers and rarely gets reported at all.

It may seem naive to complain about this – surely no government tells the truth?

Well, there is a difference between not telling the whole truth and telling blatant lies. Blatant “black is white” lies by a British or US spokesperson would be quickly revealed for what they are by a free and assiduous press.

But look at how long it took the parents of Rachel Corrie or Tom Hurndall to establish how their children were murdered, in the face of institutional denials by Israelis at every level.

One tiny recent example from the Guardian, not the worst offender by any means, was a headline to a recent news story which read: “Confrontation looms after Hizballah missile strikes kill two Israeli soldiers.”

“Here we go again,” the reader is led to think, “those dreadful Arabs attacking Israel.” In fact, the headline failed to reflect the fact that ten days earlier, Israel had attacked a Syrian town and killed two senior military figures, and Hizballah was retaliating.

There is an all-pervasive willingness to accept Israel’s own excuses for even the most criminal and inhuman acts.
Every justification Israel has given for its successive wars on Gaza, widely repeated in the Western media, has later turned out to be fabricated to appear as if Hamas triggered them.

By taking at face value anything said by Israeli politicians or spokespeople without independent corroboration, the press is presenting Israel in the best possible light, a stated aim of Israel and Zionism.

Yitzhak Shamir, the seventh prime minister of Israel famously said: “It is permissible to lie for the sake of the Land of Israel.”

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said: “Irrespective of whether you’re right or not, you must always present your side as right.”

Akiva Eldar, an Israeli journalist, also wrote: “In Israel, lying has become the norm among the army, the legal establishment and the diplomatic corps. Lying has become a way of life for commanders and soldiers, lawyers and clerks, most of whose views are far from being right-wing, and who loathe the occupation.”

British journalists are among the best and most sceptical in the world. Why then, with a few honourable exceptions, do they fail to be sceptical when it comes to Israel?

There is an all-pervasive willingness to accept Israel’s own excuses for even the most criminal and inhuman acts. This extends beyond journalists to the establishment as a whole.

In the recent debate over Palestine in Britain’s House of Commons there was a dramatic volte-face by Richard Ottaway, a Conservative MP who had been a staunch supporter of Israel. The MP finally withdrew his support because of the 2014 Gaza war.

While this is encouraging, what is more surprising is that, for decades, Israel’s crimes and atrocities have been a regular occurrence in the West Bank and Gaza. However, during that time Ottaway – and many MPs who are members of the three Friends of Israel groups in the Commons – have given unqualified public support to Israel.

Like the media, these people all fail to spot – or choose to ignore – that all of Israel’s accounts of its actions aim to deceive. It is trying to pull the wool over the eyes of anyone who might otherwise believe the Palestinian arguments for justice, freedom and an end to persecution.

– See more at: http://www.alaraby.co.uk/english/comment/2015/4/3/israel-lying-abroad-for-your-country#sthash.lyT8spLc.dpuf

WHY DOES ISRAEL HATE RACHEL CORRIE?

Why does Israel hate Rachel Corrie?
In March 2003, Rachel Corrie, a young American woman who had traveled to Gaza to try to prevent the Israelis from destroying Palestinian homes, stood in front of an Israeli Caterpillar bulldozer to force the driver to stop.
But he drove over her. And then drove over her. When her friends ran to her help, she said: ‘My back is broken.’ And she died. Robert Fisk

Rachel Corrie’s Stance with Justice:

A reflective safety Vest. A loudspeaker. Blonde hair and white skin. And an American accent. Nothing could have prevented Rachel Corrie from being murdered by the Israeli bulldozer. For the Israeli soldier, Rachel was standing with the wrong people, for the wrong cause. And thus she deserved to be killed.

Rachel came to Palestine with a message of peace. She was not suicidal. She never thought that that would be her end. She was only trying to defend Palestinian houses from being destroyed and hundreds of Palestinians from being displaced. Rachel Corrie came to talk to the Israeli soldiers, to make them change their minds. None of her pleas found attentive ears. On the contrary, her very presence was provocative. Rachel’s stance with the oppressed seems to have driven the soldiers crazy.

The Israeli driver of the Caterpillar bulldozer drove over Rachel’s fragile body. And he drove over her again in a style that showed that the crime was premeditated. None of the soldiers present seemed to care. It was like they finally vented their spite on the pro-Palestinian American activist.

Killing with impunity:

There is a culture of impunity in the Israeli army. No one has seen or experienced this like the occupied Palestinian people. We have seen in so many occasions, crimes and massacres perpetrated by the Israeli army. The death of Rachel and the deaths of thousands of Palestinians remain uninvestigated. And on the very few occasions a case is brought to the Israeli military court, the verdict is usually worse than the crime itself. Laughably worse.

In 2004, for example, schoolgirl Iman Al-Hams, 13, from Rafahwas shot 17 times. When the case was investigated, the Israeli soldier who murdered Iman expressed no regret over his crime and emphatically said he would have done the same even if the girl was a 3-year-old.

Later a military tribunal acquitted the murderer, named as Captain R., clearing him of all the charges against him AND later he was promoted and compensated for the cost of his defense and time spent in jail.

Broken Legal System:

The Corries, Craig and Cindy, filed a case in 2005 to hold Israel responsible for the killing of Rachel. Expectedly, the Israeli court panel advocated the “combat activities exception” principle that states Israeli forces cannot be held liable for damages of activities occurring in a war zone.

The judge found no fault in the military investigation that cleared the Israeli army of responsibility for Rachel’s death, claiming the driver did not see or hear her. Rachel Corrie was fully visible, her voice over the loudspeaker clearly audible. The bulldozer’s driver meant to crush her. The appeal was dismissed.

The court ruling came as no shock to anyone. The family affirmed the judge ignored contradictory evidence by key state witnesses, adding: “Regretfully, when reading the ruling, one gets the impression that the court of first instance set for itself the final goal of rejecting the lawsuit.”

“Our family’s legal options in Israel are nearly exhausted, but our search for justice for Rachel goes forward,” stated the Corrie family.

Accusing Israel’s legal system of complicity, Rachel’s parents reiterated their insistence on justice on the 12th anniversary of Rachel’s death:

“The facts uncovered in our legal effort in Israel, and the clear evidence of the Israeli court’s complicity with the occupation revealed in the outcome, lay important legal groundwork for the future.”

The same old story:

The Corries’ remarks are reminiscent of Tom Hurndall’s mother Jocelyn Hurndall,

“It seems that life is cheap in the occupied territories. Different value attached to life depends on whether the victim happens to be Israeli, international or Palestinian.”

Tom Hurndall was also murdered by the Israeli army.

Demonizing Rachel Corrie:

Israel’s racially prejudiced justice system is always helped by organized and systematic campaigns to demonize whoever they mark as Anti-Semite aka Pro-Palestinian. Israelis and pro-Israelis have waged a war against Rachel Corrie describing her as “terrorist, fool, idiot, suicidal, Hamas” … among many other things.

A simple preview of Pro-Israel’s twitter accounts can reveal the extent to which Israel is willing to go to slander anyone who stands with Palestine:

Ben Af Rothenberg‏ @RisingRedStorm
next time put #RachelCorrie in front of 1. She got what she deserved

Ben Af Rothenberg‏@RisingRedStorm

#RachelCorrie was 1 foolish chick. Who jumps in front of a bulldozer. She had mental issues & why USA won’t back her & her fam up

Ben Af Rothenberg‏@RisingRedStorm

funny how USA agrees their citizen #RachelCorrie was helping Hamas MB. 2 bad. Good riddance.

ASoldiersMother‏@ASoldiersMother

If you walk in front of a bulldozer and the driver can’t see you, you are probably going to get hurt #IDIOT #RACHELCORRIE

Ora Levitt‏@IDFsoldiergirl

#rachelcorrie was an idiot bitch who shouldn’t have interfered with Israel s affairs. Human shields are idiots! #flotilla #Israel

Ora Levitt‏@IDFsoldiergirl

dumb bitch. #Israel #rachelcorrie defending a human shield for Hamas

This smearing campaign intends to wash the blood off Israel’s blood-soaked hands and present Rachel as a guilty terrorist who deserved to die. If Rachel’s death was an accident, we still have to ask why this hate from Israel’s supporters, the majority of whom are paid social media activists?

For Israel, if you stand with Justice, you deserve death:

We have seen that inhumanely appalling behavior even with American activist Kayla Mueller, who was held by and died in ISIS captivity. The Electronic Intifada reported that “supporters of Israel are expressing joy over the death of 26-year-old humanitarian aid worker and sometime Palestine solidarity activist Kayla Mueller.”

Rania Khaled concluded her Electronic Intifada investigation saying:

Between the Zionist backlash against Mueller, the outlets erasing her Palestine activism and those using her death to advance their own agendas, there is one constant: Mueller’s support for Palestinians against Israeli oppression is a taboo that must be ignored, obscured or ridiculed.

Palestine remembers:

For Palestinians, however, Rachel Corrie will always remain an icon of love, peace and humanity. Her name is frequently remembered among Palestinians. And every year on March, 16th, Palestinians and pro-Palestinians all over the world mark the untimely and tragic death of a fine lady whose only crime was calling for an end to oppression and injustice. Justice for Rachel is a must that we Palestinians will always aspire to.

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The views expressed in this article are the sole responsibility of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of the Blog!

Rachel Corrie’s Family Protests Israeli Court’s Absolution of IOF Responsibility

Sarah, Craig and Cindy (R) Corrie, sister and parents of US peace activist Rachel Corrie who was killed by an Israeli army bulldozer during a demonstration in Gaza in 2003, leave the Haifa District Court in the Israeli coastal city of Haifa on 28 August 2012. (Photo: AFP – Jack Guez)

Published Friday, February 13, 2015

The family of US activist Rachel Corrie, who was crushed to death by an Israeli army bulldozer while protesting in 2003, have condemned the Israeli Supreme Court ruling that the Israeli Occupation Forces (IOF) were not responsible, accusing Israel of shielding its military from blame.

“It will take some time before we have the ability to read the decision in English and to process all the court has said,” Corrie’s parents and sister wrote in a statement published Friday.

“Nevertheless, it is clear that this decision, affirming the August 2012 lower court finding, amounts to judicial sanction of immunity for Israeli military forces when they commit injustices and human rights violations,” they added.

The Israeli Supreme Court on Thursday rejected an appeal against the 2012 Haifa district court ruling rejecting a civil suit filed by the family.

It accepted the Haifa court’s finding that the site of the fatal incident, in Rafah in the southern Gaza Strip, was a combat zone at the time.

“The ground-clearing actions during which Rachel was hit answer all criteria to categorize it as an action during wartime,” read a passage from the ruling, written in Hebrew by Justice Esther Hayut.

“The state is not liable for damages over an act committed by the Israeli Defense Forces [sic] during warfare,” the ruling stated.

According to eyewitness accounts, Corrie, 23, was killed while acting as a human shield with a group of activists from the pro-Palestinian International Solidarity Movement to prevent troops from demolishing a Palestinian home.

The IOF report claimed “Rachel Corrie was not run over by an engineering vehicle but rather was struck by a hard object, most probably a slab of concrete which was moved or slid down while the mound of earth which she was standing behind was moved.”

The family first brought the case up in 2005, accusing Israel of intentionally and unlawfully killing their daughter. A military investigation absolved the IOF of responsibility, leading the family to launch a civil case in Haifa which ruled the murder as an accident.

“Rachel’s case provides yet another example of how the Israeli justice system is failing to provide accountability,” the family statement said.

“We urge the international community, and not least the US government, to stand with victims of human rights violations and against impunity, and to uphold fundamental tenets of international justice.”

An internal investigation by the Israeli military in 2003 was concluded just four weeks after her death and cleared troops of any responsibility, saying the bulldozer crew did not see Corrie.

Corrie’s killing came at the height of the Second Intifada, which began late 2000 as a reaction to Israeli policies and international law violations. It was triggered by Ariel Sharon’s visit to the al-Aqsa mosque, accompanied by around 1,000 police officers, during which he shouted “the Temple Mount is in our hands,” a phrase that was broadcast during 1967 war, when the Israeli army seized East Jerusalem. Palestinians reacted quickly to what they considered a threat to al-Aqsa, declaring the start of the uprising.

During the five-year Intifada, Israeli forces killed at least 4,973 Palestinian civilians. Among them were 1,262 children and 32 medical personnel attempting to administer aid to injured civilians. More than 10,000 children were wounded during the five years of violence, according to the Palestinian Center for Human Rights.

(Reuters, Al-Akhbar)

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“Lest We Forget” The Day Rachel Corrie Died

24 Feb 2014
Rachel Corrie was killed March 16, 2003, by an Israeli soldier who crushed her to death with an American-built Caterpillar bulldozer.
Eleven years later, March 16, 2014, on the anniversary of her death, Rachel Corrie (right) will be remembered by her family and friends.
She will also be remembered on this anniversary, by those who celebrate and cherish a young American woman who said no to Israel’s occupation and no to the constant attacks on Palestinians and the destruction of Palestinian homes.

What happened when an American citizen was killed by an Israeli soldier driving an American-built bull dozer? Mother Jones had Israel’s official reaction in 2003:
“The Israeli government, which rarely acknowledges the deaths of Palestinian civilians killed during its military operations, went into damage-control mode. Prime Minister Ariel Sharon promised President Bush a “thorough, credible, and transparent investigation.” Later Israel declared the killing a “regrettable accident” and blamed it on overzealous Corrie and the other activists working as human shields.”
Subsequent calls for Congress to investigate Rachel Corrie’s death were ignored. A civil lawsuit brought by her family against the Israeli military, was introduced in Israeli courts, March 15, 2005. The Israeli justice system responded slowly.
Seven years after the suit was filed, and nine years after Rachel Corrie’s death, an Israeli court reached a final verdict. Robert Mackey, a New York Times blogger reported:
As my colleagues Jodi Rudoren and Danielle Ziri report, an Israeli judge ruled on Tuesday that the state bore no responsibility for the death of Rachel Corrie, an American activist who was crushed to death by a military bulldozer in 2003 as she tried to block the demolition of a Palestinian home in Gaza.
Ms. Corrie, who was a student at the Evergreen State College in Olympia, Wash., joined the pro-Palestinian International Solidarity Movement in January 2003, and was killed two months later in the Gazan town of Rafah, which straddles the border with Egypt.
Photographs published by The Electronic Intifada on March 16, 2003, the day she died, showed that Ms. Corrie confronted heavily armored bulldozers that day wearing a bright orange vest and, until a few minutes before her death, using a bullhorn to amplify her voice. The same Web site also published sworn affidavits recorded within days of the deadly incident by three other international activists who were present when Ms. Corrie was killed.International Solidarity Movement AP.Cjpg
One of those witnesses, a Briton named Tom Dale, sent the following statement to The Lede on Tuesday from Cairo, where he now works as a journalist:
“The verdict in Rachel’s case is saddening for all those who knew Rachel, and for all who believe in what she stood for. It should be disappointing for all those who want to see justice done in Israel and Palestine.
On March 16, 2003, Rachel could not have been more visible: standing, on a clear day, in the open ground, wearing a high visibility vest. On that day, she had been in the presence of the Caterpillar D9 bulldozers used by the Israeli army for some hours.
She was standing in front of the home of a young family which was under threat of demolition by a bulldozer. Many homes were demolished in such a way at that time, and Rachel was seeking to protect her friends, with whom she had lived.”
In the picture at right above, shocked friends from the International Solidarity Movement try to revive a dying colleague. The blue bull dozer continues on its mission to destroy a Palestinian family home.
The juxtaposition of the anniversary of Rachel Corrie’s death and AIPAC’s annual Policy Conference, March 1-4, is repeated each year in Washington, DC. It is a coincidence of timing that epitomizes our nation’s shame.
American media rarely takes note of the March 16 anniversary of Rachel Corrie’s death. But it will provide ample coverage of AIPAC’s annual celebration of the long time love affair between Israel and the U.S. Congress.
Over 400 members of Congress are expected to attend this year’s conference. Some of the representatives and senators will be granted the honor of gaining additional media exposure when speaking to the assembled AIPAC members..
In return for their unswerving obsequiousness, these members of Congress pocket campaign cash contributions and perhaps more importantly, they take home a guaranteed AIPAC PPP (political protection plan).
The plan protects incumbents against primary opponents. The plan also guarantees campaign strategists who comb an opponent’s record for the slightest action or statement available to reshape and brand with the deadly anti-semitic designation.
Religious groups, like the Presbyterian Church USA’s Israel Palestine Mission Network (IPMN), operate without the protection of AIPAC’s political protection plan. So it was that when the IPMN produced an excellent and well-researched study guide (complete with DVD), appropriately named Zionism Unsettled, a storm of protest rose against them.
Modern Israel’s claim to the lands of Judea and Samaria is rooted in a political ideology called Zionism, a political movement formed in the late 19th century. It is not a biblical promise from the time of Jesus.
The  Zionism Unsettled study guide has both Christian and Jewish Zionists “unsettled”.
ZU-cover_DVD cChris Leighton, Executive Director of the Institute for Christian and Jewish Studies, produced an “open letter” on February 6, attacking his fellow Presbyterians for not uniting Zionism and Judaism..
He begins:
The Israel Palestine Mission Network (IPMN) and their allies have once again mounted initiatives that advance an extremist posture with respect to the Palestinian-Israeli impasse. Their agenda threatens to polarize our community, betray relationships with our Jewish colleagues, and ultimately undermine our credibility as “peacemakers.”
Brant Rosen, a congregational rabbi from Evanston, IL, began his response to Leighton on Rosen’s blog, Shalom Rav:
I believe your characterization of my sacred tradition is incorrect – and dangerously so. It is prejudicial in the extreme to equate Zionism with Judaism itself.
Zionism – that is, the movement to create a Jewish nation-state in historic Palestine – is in fact a political movement that was born in 19th century Europe.
As such, it was a conscious and radical break with centuries of Jewish tradition that strongly cautioned against the establishment of an independent Jewish state in the land.
While it is certainly true, as you write, that the yearning for a “return to Zion” is suffused throughout Jewish tradition, it is important to note that this yearning was pointedly directed toward a far off messianic future.
Rabbi Rosen closed his blog posting:
At the very least, there is a growing desire to allow non-Zionist voices to be part of the Jewish communal debate once more.
One notable bellwether of this phenomenon may be found in the Swarthmore Hillel student board’s recent unanimous decision to defy the guidelines of Hillel International and declare itself an “Open Hillel.” In a statement accompanying their resolution, these Jewish students noted:
“All are welcome to walk through our doors and speak with our name and under our roof, be they Zionist, anti-Zionist, post-Zionist, or non-Zionist. We are an institution that seeks to foster spirited debate, constructive dialogue, and a safe space for all, in keeping with the Jewish tradition.”
I trust you would never suggest that these Jewish students are driven by “anti-Semitism.” On the contrary, they are clearly motivated by sacred Jewish values and a courageous refusal to reduce Jewish identity to one political ideology.
The usually cautious J Street, which wants to be a friendly version of AIPAC, also weighed in against IPMN’s study guide. Ali Abunimah covered J Street’s surprisingly unfriendly reaction to Zionism Unsettled.
The Israel lobby group J Street has launched a blistering attack on the Presbyterian Church USA over its new study guide Zionism Unsettled, claiming that the publication promotes “polarization” and “intolerance.”
Zionism Unsettled, published last month by the church’s Israel/Palestine Mission Network (IPMN), is a 74-page study guide examining the role Zionism and Christian Zionism have played in shaping attitudes and events in Palestine and its region.
It is intended to help church congregations and others to learn and talk about Zionism and the devastating impact the practice of the ideology has had on Palestinians, as The Electronic Intifada previously reported.
In a statement yesterday, J Street said it was “deeply offended” by Zionism Unsettled, asserting that “one has to question the IPMN’s motives in publishing this ‘resource.’”
J Street claimed the guide’s authors “had no intention of encouraging thoughtful reflection on Zionism, the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, or Jewish perspectives on Israel. Instead, reductive and divisive thinking of this kind exacerbates polarization and intolerance, both of which are not in short supply in this conflict.”
When even the usually cautious J Street feels the need to vilify a highly respected Christian group like IPMN, it becomes obvious that the false linkage of Zionism, a political ideology, with classical religious Judaism, is a sagging reed on which the Zionists now attempt to lean.
Zionism Unsettled explains why that sagging reed will no longer bear the weight Zionists put upon it.
Rudyard Kipling wrote his poem, Recessional, on the occasion of Queen Victoria’s Diamond Jubilee in 1897.
Wikipedia reminds us that “The poem defied the celebratory mood of the time, offering instead a reminder of the transient nature of British Imperial power.
In the poem, Kipling argues that boasting and jingoism, faults of which he was often accused, were inappropriate and vain in light of the permanence of God.”
The first four verses of the poem repeat the line, “Lest we forget, Lest we forget”. The poem is often sung as a hymn in Christian churches.
Rachel Corrie was defying an American/Israeli empire when she stood against the destruction of a Palestinian home on March 16, 2003.
Here is verse three from Kipling’s Recessiona:
Far-called, our navies melt away;
On dune and headland sinks the fire:
Lo, all our pomp of yesterday
Is one with Nineveh and Tyre!
Judge of the Nations, spare us yet,
Lest we forget—lest we forget!
Rachel Corrie, “lest we forget, lest we forget”.
The picture of Rachel Corrie at top is a Getty Image. The picture of Rachel Corrie lying on the field after she was struck by the bull dozer, is from the Palestinian Solidarity Movement. 

So when will international justice save Palestine from Israeli War Crimes?

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“If you commit war crimes, crimes against humanity or genocide you will not be able to rest easily in your bed: the reach of international justice is long and patient…. There is no expiry date for these crimes….” (William Hague, British foreign secretary) 

 by Stuart Littlewood  

s216_William_HagueEighteen months ago UK foreign secretary William Hague delivered an important speech at the Hague, home of the International Criminal Court . He was saying all the right things, for example:

“The rule of law is critical to the preservation of the rights of individuals and the protection of the interests of all states.”

“You cannot have lasting peace without justice and accountability.”

“International laws and agreements are the only durable framework to address problems without borders.”

“Such agreements – if they are upheld – are a unifying force in a divided world.”

He spoke of a growing reliance on a rules-based international system. “We depend more and more on other countries abiding by international laws…. We need to strengthen the international awareness and observance of laws and rules….”

Some emerging powers, he said, didn’t agree with us about how to act when human rights are violated on a colossal scale, while others didn’t subscribe to the basic values and principles of human rights in the first place. He was talking about Syria although many in the audience must have had Israel in mind.

“The international community came together in an unprecedented way to address the crisis in Libya last year,” said Hague. “The Arab League, the UN Security Council, the UN Human Rights Council, the European Union, NATO and the International Criminal Court all stepped forward and played their part to protect a civilian population.”

Yeah. Funny how they have never come together for crisis-torn Palestine these last 65 years.

We pledge to fight impunity for grave international crimes wherever they occur’

Hague, positively overflowing with fine words and sentiments, chuntered on.

“We have to ensure that when we are trying to build peace, we don’t overlook the need for justice…. Our coalition Government is firmly of the view that leaders who are responsible for atrocities should be held to account…. Institutions of international justice are not foreign policy tools to be switched on and off at will.”

He said referring leaders in Libya and Sudan to the ICC showed that not signing up to the Rome Statute was no guarantee for escaping accountability. “If you commit war crimes, crimes against humanity or genocide you will not be able to rest easily in your bed: the reach of international justice is long and patient…. There is no expiry date for these crimes….”

Woweee! Had he told Netanyahu this? Was this tough talking really from the man who watered down Britain’s laws of Universal Jurisdiction to protect Israel’s war criminals from arrest while shopping in London’s Bond Street? Israel and the US, after signing up to the Rome Statute, had second thoughts and ‘unsigned’ in order to escape the long reach of international justice.  At last it was beginning to sound like bad news for TelAviv’s and Washington’s thugs.

At the time of the Libya fiasco Hague announced he had signed a directive revoking Gaddafi’s diplomatic immunity and also that of his sons, his family and entire household. He bragged how the UK “drove” through a Security Council resolution referring what was happening in Libya to the ICC Prosecutor, saying it “sends a clear message to all involved, in the regime and any other groups that if they commit crimes and atrocities there will be a day of reckoning for them.”

Bravo! What a splendidly high-principled chap Hague suddenly seemed to be. And how swiftly he managed to get the International Criminal Court’s attention when he wanted to. But we didn’t hear Hague and his friends call for a reckoning with the psychopaths of the Israeli regime when they committed mega-atrocities against Gaza’s civilians just two years earlier. Instead they tinkered with our laws of universal jurisdiction to enable suspected war criminals to walk free. Gaddafi wasn’t welcome in London but the Foreign Office happily rolled out the red carpet for Livni, Lieberman, Barak and Netanyahu, while Hague conducted the brass band.

Our foreign secretary rounded off his speech by saying:

“There is no doubt where Britain stands: we are with those who say that international law is universal and that all nations are accountable to it…. We are a country that believes in and upholds the Responsibility to Protect, and that is prepared to act to save lives – including through military action as a last resort. We actively support a rules-based international system…. We pledge to recommit to the importance of fighting impunity for grave international crimes wherever they occur…. We will be a robust supporter of the International Criminal Court in its investigations.”

Trampled Palestinians dispossessed by a brutal military occupier and sitting among the smoking ruins of their homes, or eking out a squalid existence in their refugee camp, must have been impressed.

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UK support for ICC ‘unswerving’

A year after Hague’s splendidly robust performance a policy paper issued by the Foreign & Commonwealth Office, dated July 2013, https://www.gov.uk/government/uploads/system/uploads/attachment_data/file/223702/ICC_Strategy_Final.pdf  hammered home the points he had made with these ‘key messages’:

  • Our support for international criminal justice and accountability is a fundamental element of our foreign policy.
  • Our support for the ICC as a court of last resort and the importance of its role when national courts have been unwilling or unable to deliver justice is unswerving.The document also promised that the UK government would be “a powerful advocate of the ICC in all our diplomatic relations” and “encourage more states to ratify and accede to the Rome Statute…. Widening the reach of the Court beyond the current 122 States Parties will increase accountability and help challenge impunity.”And if nations didn’t play ball, the British government would consider mechanisms “to enforce cooperation and to take effective action against those who fail to cooperate”.What, including Israel?Heavens, no. Although the Foreign Office says: “Our support for the ICC is unswerving,” Agent Cameron, Britain’s PM, has said: “Our support for Israel… is unshakable.”  The two opposing positions, unshakable and unswerving, are hopelessly incompatible. And in this case unshakable trumps unswerving.  Sorry folks, international justice automatically switches off when it comes to Israel’s war crimes.

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  • Every state should join the ICC… except Palestine?In a masterly critique, analyst Dr David Morrison exposes Hague’s dishonesty http://david-morrison.org.uk/palestine/icc-except-palestine.htm . The Occupying Power in Palestine – Israel – has long been committing acts that Britain regards as illegal. “Our position on Israeli settlements in the Occupied Palestinian Territories is clear: they are illegal under international law, an obstacle to peace and make a two-state solution harder to achieve,” states the FCO’s website.Not just illegal, settlement building is actually a war crime under the Rome Statute. “It involves the Occupying Power transferring some of its own civilian population to the territory it occupies,” explains Dr Morrison.  “And under Article 8.2(b)(viii) of the Rome Statute the transfer, directly or indirectly, by the Occupying Power of parts of its own civilian population into the territory it occupies is a war crime.”

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  • Since Israel has transferred well over 500,000 Israeli civilians into territory it occupies, and is still doing so, there is a prima facie case that Israelis responsible for the settlement programme, including the present Prime Minister Benyamin Netanyahu, are guilty of war crimes.  Americans and others who fund settlement projects may be guilty of aiding and abetting war crimes.As we’ve seen, the FCO’s strategy paper talks about extending the ICC’s jurisdiction so that it can more easily challenge impunity. But, says Morrison, eagerness to challenge Israeli impunity was conspicuously absent when Hague spoke in the House of Commons a few months later on 28 November 2012.  Then, he offered UK support for a UN General Assembly resolution granting Palestine statehood on condition that Palestinian leaders promised they would not become party to the Rome Statute. Hague told MPs that if the Palestinians pursued ICC jurisdiction over the Occupied Territories at this stage, it could make a return to negotiations impossible.”Believe it or believe it not” says Dr Morrison, “it is British policy to extend the jurisdiction of the ICC to every corner of the earth, except the Palestinian territories occupied by Israel since 1967.  There it is apparently inappropriate for Britain to challenge impunity.”Two days later, Israel retaliated against the UN granting statehood to Palestine by announcing plans for yet more settlement building in the West Bank and East Jerusalem. Hague’s response was the same old mantra: “Israeli settlements are illegal under international law and undermine trust between the parties.” If settlements are illegal under international law, then those responsible should be tried in an international court and, if found guilty, punished appropriately. “Dare I suggest,” asks Dr Morrison, “that, to this end, Palestine should be encouraged to accept the jurisdiction of the ICC?”A state can grant jurisdiction to the Court by becoming a Party to the Rome Statute (Article 12(1)) or by making an ad hoc declaration accepting the Court’s jurisdiction (Article 12(3)). The Palestinian Authority in January 2009 tried to grant the ICC jurisdiction over the Occupied Territories by making an ad hoc declaration, so that Israelis could be prosecuted for atrocities against Gaza during Operation Cast Lead. But the ICC Prosecutor took more than three years to decide that the Court couldn’t accept the jurisdiction. Whether or not Palestine was a “state” within the meaning of Article 12(3) was a question for the UN Secretary General who, in case of doubt, would defer to the guidance of General Assembly.The UN General Assembly shortly afterwards passed resolution A/RES/67/19 accepting Palestine as a state, apparently settling the question. However, the ICC Presecutor Fatou Bensouda has said, reportedly, that she doesn’t think retrospective claims could be considered going all the way back to the founding of the Court in 2002. The earliest would most likely be 29 November 2012, the date when the UN recognised Palestine as a state.

    Nearly 14 months have gone by and the Palestinians still haven’t joined the ICC because they’ve come under fierce pressure, especially from the US, not to do so.  They promised the US not apply for membership of any of the UN’s bodies until April 2014 when the present round of US-brokered ‘negotiations’ with Israel is due to end.

    “It is absolutely outrageous,” says Dr Morrison, “that the US, with the support of Britain and others, has pressurised Palestinians into forgoing a possible legal means of redress against the illegal actions by the power that has held them under military occupation for almost 50 years.”

    Stuart Littlewood

Israeli Soldiers Make Fun of American Girl They Bulldozed to Death

Local Editor
Zionist entity: Rachel Corrie PancakesThe Zionist soldiers soldiers had a “fun” time last week making what they called “Rachel Corrie pancakes,” the Electronic Intifada website reported.

Photos of the event were posted on the Facebook page of the “Heritage House,” a settlement in occupied East Jerusalem that houses so-called “lone soldiers,” men recruited from overseas to join the Zionist occupation forces.

Above the photos of young men, some in Zionist army fatigues or apparently carrying guns, is the caption “Afternoon of ‘rachel corrie’ Pancakes and fun!”

Rachel Corrie is the young American woman murdered by a Zionist soldier who crushed her to death with a bulldozer as she tried to prevent the demolition of a Palestinian family home in the occupied Gaza Strip on 16 March 2003.

The depraved joke that these men were presumably making is a play on the English idiom “flat as a pancake.” Their celebration and joking about Rachel Corrie’s death reflects the culture of dehumanization inculcated into the Zionist military members.

BBC defends false claims about Rachel Corrie

BBC defends false claims linking Rachel Corrie to killings of Israeli soldiers

 
3 April 2013

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Rachel Corrie and another international activist defending a Palestinian home shortly before Corrie was killed by the Israeli army bulldozer. (International Solidarity Movement)
The extent to which the BBC is prepared to misreport on the Israeli occupation has been made clear once again. A new ruling by the BBC Trust has defended the corporation’s coverage of the Rachel Corrie case, even though it falsely implied that the unarmed activist was in some way responsible for the deaths of Israeli soldiers.
The facts of what happened to Corrie seem pretty clear cut — she was a young American who was crushed to death in Gaza by an Israeli bulldozer in 2003 as she stood in front of a Palestinian home, attempting to stop its destruction by that same bulldozer.
For the BBC, apparently, this was too clear cut. Corrie was unarmed, she was not attacking Israeli soldiers, no Israelis were injured or killed in the incident and she was the only victim — a victim of Israeli violence.
The BBC appeared to be unable to report on these simple facts, which contained no Israeli victims, without adding a few it made up itself — fabricated facts which muddied the situation by implying (wrongly) that Corrie’s actions were violently linked to Israeli deaths.

Fabricated claims

On 28 August last year, during a report on the Israeli court ruling of the same day that Corrie had been responsible for her own death, the BBC’s Martha Kearney was interviewing Israeli government spokesperson Mark Regev on Radio 4’s World at One.
During the course of the interview, Kearney said to Regev: “Clearly Rachel Corrie was one of the casualties of what happened that day, and I know Israeli soldiers died too.”
She concluded her sentence with a question: “But has this meant there’s a re-think of the policy of what was happening at that time — bulldozing Palestinian houses?”
What Kearney claimed to “know” was entirely fabricated. While Palestinians had been killed that day — 16 March 2003 — by Israeli forces in Gaza, there had been no Israeli deaths.
The UK-based Palestine Solidarity Campaign (PSC) and many others put in formal complaints to the BBC. What followed over the next seven months, leading to the final ruling, has been quite extraordinary.
It has revealed the BBC’s determination to obfuscate the reality of the occupation for its audiences, even at the expense of making itself appear ridiculous.

Inventing Israeli deaths

If, during the course of her World at One interview, Kearney had said to Regev: “Clearly Rachel Corrie was one of the casualties of what happened that day, and I know Palestinians died too,” that would have been truthful. But such a statement would have given BBC radio listeners far too much knowledge of what was going on inside Gaza — that Palestinians as well as international activists were being killed by Israeli forces.
The Palestinian Centre for Human Rights reported that 27 Palestinians, including children, were killed by Israeli forces in Gaza in the same week as Corrie was killed (“Weekly report on Israeli human rights violations in the occupied territories,” 19 March 2003).
Kearney chose not to mention these Palestinian fatalities at all — instead, she decided to invent some Israeli army deaths.
By doing so, she altered the actual reality and created a false impression for her audience that Corrie’s actions had resulted in the deaths of Israeli soldiers. How those deaths might have occurred was a question left hanging in listeners’ minds, but any notion that Corrie had been engaged in unarmed, peaceful solidarity had been successfully removed from their heads by Kearney.
This is not how the BBC saw the effects of her fabrication. While the Trust acknowledged in its ruling, published on the BBC website, that Kearney had not been “duly accurate,” it defended her inaccuracy (“Editorial standards findings,” March 2013 [PDF]).
The ruling stated: “… there was no evidence to support the assertion [made by complainants] that the audience were knowingly misled.”
As such, the Trust deemed that the BBC’s Editorial Guidelines on Accuracy had not been breached by Kearney’s false claim. The guidelines state: “The BBC must not knowingly and materially mislead its audiences. We should not distort known facts, present invented material as fact or otherwise undermine our audiences’ trust in our content” (“Guidelines, Section 3: Accuracy”).

Warped view of news

Kearney’s distortion of facts, and her insertion of invented material into her interview with Regev, was defended by the BBC. Its veteran presenter had been right to refer to non-existent Israeli fatalities “that day,” because, it said, there had been Israeli deaths on other days.
On 12 October 2012, the Palestine Solidarity Campaign received a letter from Fraser Steel, head of editorial complaints at the BBC, which said: “While no Israeli soldiers were killed on that particular day, there had been Israeli fatalities in the Rafah Strip [sic] prior to that day which provided the context for the incident where Ms. Corrie was killed.”
He added: “I therefore do not see that listeners would have been misled as to the overall situation.”
Steel’s last sentence requires an examination of what “the overall situation” was at the time of Corrie’s death.
In 2003, the Israeli army was in Gaza demolishing Palestinian homes as part of an occupation recognized as illegal under international law. This is what Corrie was protesting against, attempting that day to stop the bulldozing of the family home she had been staying in, and this is the context in which she was killed.
Yet, according to Steel, the context for Corrie’s death was the completely unrelated killing of unspecified numbers of Israeli soldiers, in an unspecified timeframe, for which Corrie had absolutely no responsibility whatsoever. As such, in the BBC’s warped view of news, Kearney was absolutely correct to link her death with the deaths of Israeli soldiers.
The presenter portrayed the situation in which Corrie was killed as one in which Israeli soldiers had been under attack, rather than one in which Palestinian families were watching Israeli bulldozers bear down on their homes.
Steel’s defence of Kearney reveals that the BBC does not see the occupation and the ways it is implemented and inflicted on the Palestinian people as being “the overall situation.” If it did, then Kearney’s falsehood, and the picture it painted, would immediately have been recognised as something that would mislead listeners.

Bizarre explanation

However, because the Israeli-centric BBC regards the “overall situation” as being one in which Israeli soldiers are defending their lives from unarmed protesters and Palestinians, who have no rationale for their actions, Steel can feel justified in saying that the World at One audience would not have been misled if it, too, came away with this impression after listening to Kearney’s fabrication.
Even when the BBC issued an online response in September 2012 as a result of the pressure it was under over the Kearney affair, it could not bring itself to say that Kearney was wrong or that editorial guidelines had been breached.
Instead, it gave this bizarre explanation for her words: “By referring in her question to the deaths of Israeli soldiers, Martha Kearney was trying to keep the interview focused on the central point of her question — the destruction of Palestinian homes rather than allow the interview to move on to the issue of wider violence” (“The World at One, 28 August, 2012”).
How did making up information about Israeli army fatalities keep the interview focused on the demolition of Palestinian homes? The BBC failed to explain. And Kearney’s introduction of the issue of wider violence provided the perfect cue for Regev.
He was immediately able to reinforce the lie, stepping into the interview to say: “This is an active area of terrorist activity. As you say Israelis were killed there.”
Incredibly, in order to defend Kearney, the BBC’s online response regurgitated the corporation’s disingenuous stance of linking Corrie and her actions with the violent deaths of Israeli soldiers, stating: “Two Israeli soldiers were killed in the previous week.”

Hypocrisy

That both those deaths occurred in the West Bank, not Gaza, and had nothing to do with Corrie, house demolitions, or the incident in which she was killed, seemed to be neither here nor there for the BBC. Hardly surprising when you consider the poor grasp it has on the importance of accuracy in responsible journalism.
The Palestine Solidarity Campaign wrote again to the BBC to ask why, while fabricating Israeli deaths, Kearney had not seen fit to mention the Palestinians, including a 17-year-old boy, who had actually been killed by Israeli soldiers on the same day as Corrie.
Fraser Steel’s response was: “The fact that other [Palestinian] deaths occurred on the same day as hers is incidental to that topic.”
This is the same BBC manager who defended Kearney’s manufactured facts on the grounds that the deaths of Israeli soldiers “provided the context for the incident where Ms. Corrie was killed.”
The hypocrisy and double-standards is breathtaking. But it is not surprising. An earlier piece that I wrote for The Electronic Intifada details how the BBC’s news bulletins over the course of 28 August 2012 took on a greater and greater pro-Israeli perspective as the day progressed until, by the end, house demolitions were not being mentioned at all. And Regev was being allowed to say, unchallenged, that the whole scenario was about terrorism.
The BBC Trust’s ruling shows only too clearly that this kind of misreporting and misinforming by BBC journalists, which favors the Israeli perspective, will be backed up all the way by BBC management and executive — even if the excuses they have to come up with to justify it verge on the nonsensical.
Amena Saleem is active with the Palestine Solidarity Campaign in the UK and keeps a close eye on the media’s coverage of Palestine as part of her brief. She has twice driven on convoys to Gaza for PSC. More information on PSC is available at www.palestinecampaign.org.
 

River to Sea Uprooted Palestinian  
The views expressed in this article are the sole responsibility of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of this Blog!

Of Hope and Pain: Rachel Corrie’s Rafah Legacy

“Hi Papa .. Don’t worry about me too much, right now I am most concerned that we are not being effective. I still don’t feel particularly at risk. Rafah has seemed calmer lately,” Rachel Corrie wrote to her father, Craig, from Rafah, a town located at the southern end of the Gaza Strip.
‘Rachel’s last email’ was not dated on the Rachel Corrie Foundation website. It must have been written soon after her last email to her mother, Cindy, on February 28. She was killed by an Israeli bulldozer on March 16, 2003.

Immediately after her painful death, crushed beneath an Israeli army bulldozer, Rafah embraced her legacy as another ‘martyr’ for Palestine. It was a befitting tribute to Rachel, who was born to a progressive family in the town of Olympia, itself a hub for anti-war and social justice activism. But Olympia is also the capital of Washington State. Politicians here can be as callous, morally flexible and pro-Israel as any other seats of government in the US, where sharply dressed men and women jockey for power and influence. Ten years after Rachel’s death, the US government is yet to hold Israel to account. Neither is justice expected anytime soon.

Bordering Egyptian and Israeli fences, and ringed by some of the poorest refugee camps anywhere, Rafah has never ceased being a news topic in years. The town’s gallantry of the First Palestinian Uprising (Intifada) in 1987 was the stuff of legends among other resisting towns, villages and refugee camps in Gaza and the rest of Palestine. The Israeli army used Rafah as a testing ground for a lesson to be taught to the rest of Palestinians. Thus, its list of ‘martyrs’ is one of the longest, and it is unlikely to stop growing anytime soon. Many of Rafah’s finest perished digging tunnels into Egypt to break the Israeli economic blockade that followed Palestine’s democratic elections in 2006. Buried under heaps of mud, drowning in Egyptian sewage water, or pulverized by Israeli missiles, some of Rafah’s men are yet to be located for proper burial.

Rafah agonized for many years, not least because it was partially encircled by a cluster of illegal Jewish settlements – Slav, Atzmona, Pe’at Sadeh, Gan Or and others. The residents of Rafah were deprived of security, freedom, and even for extended periods of time, access to the adjacent sea, so that the illegal colonies could enjoy security, freedom and private beaches. Even when the settlements were dismantled in 2005, Rafah became largely entrapped between the Israeli military border, incursions, Egyptian restrictions and an unforgiving siege. True to form, Rafah continues to resist.

Rachel and her International Solidarity Movement (ISM) friends must have appreciated the challenge at hand and the brutality by which the Israeli army conducted its business. Reporting for the British Independent newspaper from Rafah, Justin Huggler wrote on December 23, 2003: “Stories of civilians being killed pour out of Rafah, turning up on the news wires in Jerusalem almost every week. The latest, an 11-year-old girl shot as she walked home from school on Saturday.” His article was entitled: “In Rafah, the children have grown so used to the sound of gunfire they can’t sleep without it.” He too “fell asleep to the sound of the guns.”

Rafah was affiliated with other ominous realities, one being house demolitions. In its report, Razing Rafah, published October 18, 2004, Human Rights Watch mentioned some very disturbing numbers. Of the 2,500 houses demolished by Israel in Gaza between 2000-04, “nearly two-thirds of these homes were in Rafah… Sixteen thousand people, more than ten percent of Rafah’s population, have lost their homes, most of them refugees, many of whom were dispossessed for a second or third time.” Much of the destructions occurred so that alleyways could be widened to secure Israeli army operations. Israel’s weapon of choice was the Caterpillar D9 bulldozer, which often arrived late at night.

Rachel Corrie was also crushed by the same type of US manufactured and supplied bulldozer that terrorized Rafah for years. It is no wonder that Rachel’s photos and various graffiti paintings adorn many walls of Rafah streets. Commemorating Rachel’s death anniversary for the tenth time, activists in Rafah gathered on March 16. They spoke passionately of the American girl who challenged an Israeli bulldozer so that a Rafah home could remain standing. A 12-year-old girl thanked Rachel for her courage and asked the US government to stop supplying Israel with weapons that are often used against civilians.

While Rafah carried much of the occupation brunt and the vengeance of the Israeli army, its story and that of Rachel’s was merely symbolic of the greater tragedy which has been unfolding in Palestine for many years. Here is a quick summary of the house demolition practice of recent years, according to the Israeli Committee against House Demolitions, also published in Al Jazeera August 2012:
The Israeli government destroyed 22 homes in East Jerusalem and 222 homes in West Bank in 2011, leaving nearly 1,200 people homeless. During the war on Gaza (December 2008 – January 2009), it destroyed 4,455 homes, leaving 20,000 Palestinians displaced and unable to rebuild due to the restrictions imposed by the siege. (Other reports give much higher estimates.) Since 1967, the Israeli government destroyed 25,000 homes in the occupied territories, rendered 160,000 Palestinians homeless. Numbers can be even grimmer if one is to take into account those who were killed and wounded during clashes linked to the destructions of these homes.

So, when Rachel Corrie stood with a megaphone and an orange high-visibility jacket trying to dissuade an Israeli bulldozer driver from demolishing yet another Palestinian home, the stakes were already high. And despite the inhumane caricaturing of her act by pro-Israeli US and other western media, and the expected Israeli court ruling last August, Rachel’s brave act and her subsequent murder stand at the heart of the Palestinian-Israeli conflict. It highlighted the ruthlessness of the Israeli army, put to shame Tel Aviv’s judicial system, confronted the international community with its utter failure to provide protection for Palestinian civilians and raised the bar even higher for the international solidarity movement.

The Israel court verdict last August was particularly sobering and should bring to an end any wishful thinking that Israel’s self-tailored judicial system is capable of achieving justice, neither for a Palestinian, nor an American. “I reached the conclusion that there was no negligence on the part of the bulldozer driver,” Judge Oded Gershon said as he read out his verdict in a Haifa District Court in northern Israel. Rachel’s parents had filed a law suit, requesting a symbolic $1 in damages and legal expenses. Gershon rejected the suit, delineated that Rachel was not a ‘reasonable person’ and, once more blamed the victim, as has been the case with thousands of Palestinians for many years. “Her death is the result of an accident she brought upon herself,” he said. It all sounded that demolishing homes as a form of collective punishment was just another ‘reasonable’ act, deserving of legal protection. In fact, per Israeli occupation rules, it is.

Rachel’s legacy will survive even Gershon’s charade court proceeding and much more. Her sacrifice is now etched into a much larger landscape of Palestinian heroism and pain.

“I think freedom for Palestine could be an incredible source of hope to people struggling all over the world,” she wrote to her mother nearly two weeks before her death. “I think it could also be an incredible inspiration to Arab people in the Middle East, who are struggling under undemocratic regimes which the US supports.”

Ramzy Baroud is an author and a journalist. His latest volume is The Second Palestinian Intifada: A Chronicle of a People’s Struggle (Pluto Press, London). He can be reached at ramzybaroud@hotmail.com. Read other articles by Ramzy.

River to Sea Uprooted Palestinian  
The views expressed in this article are the sole responsibility of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of this Blog!

Pose a Threat to Israel’s Security! Plant a Tree in Rachel’s Memory!


Today, March 16, 2013, marks the tenth anniversary of the death of Rachel Corrie. One wonders: what can be said about her or her tragic death that hasn’t been said before? Well, how about that planting a tree in her memory poses a threat to Israel’s security? Really? you might ask. Indeed, this is what a group of Palestinians found out the other day.
It seems that Palestinians from the West Bank village of Asira al-Qiblya, in recognition of the approaching anniversary of Rachel’s death, set about planting some olive trees in her honor. This took place just a few days ago, on Tuesday, March 12. Despite the fact that the trees were being planted on land actually owned by one of the Palestinians, the act was deemed objectionable, threatening, etc., and not only by Israeli soldiers, but by settlers from a nearby settlement as well. Apparently trees, in some cases, are now viewed as an existential threat to the state of Israel.

Israeli soldiers immediately went into attack mode, and masked settlers from the settlement of Yizhar (One wonders where they get these names. Are they referred to as “Yizharites”?) began pouring into the area as well. A report on the incident is found here, and includes the following:
 Farmers attacked by Israel army and settlers, preventing them from planting olive trees in memory of Rachel Corrie

By Lisa Marchant

Farmers peacefully planting olive trees in the land of Asira al Qiblya were today disrupted by Israeli soldiers who halted the planting. The presence of Palestinians on their own land also attracted the attention of illegal settlers from the nearby settlement of Yizhar, leading to them attacking Palestinians farmers and volunteers, throwing and catapulting stones. The army moved immediately to protect the attackers, shooting tear gas and rubber bullets at Palestinians.

The olive trees were being planted in the vicinity of an Israeli military tower, recently built on a hill above Asira al Qiblya. Because of this, soldiers hassled farmers throughout the day, with an escalation of hostility mid-morning, when around 20 soldiers approached and demanded that farmers should stop planting trees and leave the land, despite the fact that the Palestinian owner of the land notified them that he wished to continue farming. The commander advised that the village should contact the Israeli district coordination office (DCO) to request permission – if permission was granted, he intimated, then the farmers would be allowed to access their land unhindered.

However, the villagers of Asira al Qiblya know this not to be the case. Just last week, access was requested and granted for three days through the DCO – despite this, a shepherd grazing his herd on the land during this “permitted time” was ordered to leave the land and was severely beaten by soldiers. It is clear that the outcome for villagers is the same whether permission is granted by Israel or not.

After a long confrontation with soldiers, farmers moved further down the hill to continue planting in an area arbitrarily deemed acceptable by the Israeli commander. At this point, around twenty masked settlers from Yizhar arrived and proceeded to attack the farmers from their vantage point higher up the hill – throwing stones by hand and with slingshots. Yizhar settlement is widely considered one of the most violent settlements in the West Bank, and all villages in its vicinity face regular attacks.

Yizharites descend down the mountain to thwart the tree-planting
 
Palestinian youths moved to fend off the settler attack, but the Israeli army intervened on behalf of the attackers, shooting tear gas and rubber bullets at the villagers of Asira, until both the Palestinian villagers and settlers left the area. No injuries or arrests were reported.

At the end of the day only around ten olive trees had been planted due to interruptions from the army and settlers – farmers were also not optimistic that the young trees would be allowed to remain on their land and suspected that either the army or settlers would destroy them. However, they refuse to relinquish access to their land despite these setbacks and will continue planting trees in the area.

The olive trees planted today were donated by the International Solidarity Movement to replace Palestinian trees destroyed by Israeli forces and settlers during previous years – a common occurrence throughout the year. They were planted in memory of ISM activist Rachel Corrie as the tenth anniversary of her death approaches. She was crushed to death with an Israeli army bulldozer in Gaza in 2003 whilst protesting non-violently in solidarity with the Palestinian people.


Note that the army “intervened on behalf of the attackers.” This is typical behavior on the part of the Israeli army. The Yizharites could have set off a small nuclear device, and doubtless it would have been interpreted as an act of aggression on the part of the tree-planters. I’m often struck by what seems to be a bottomless well of courage exhibited by some Palestinians in resisting their occupiers, and invariably wonder whether, should the ground ever become slightly more leveled, the latter could come close to exhibiting the same. Or put another way, would the gangsterish, masked Yizharites be so keen on throwing rocks at people if they didn’t have the Israeli army to protect them?

But let’s get back to Rachel Corrie and the threat to Israel’s security posed by planting trees in her name. For indeed, there may actually be such a threat. A bright, young idealistic girl goes to Palestine and gives her life in the cause of freedom—this is what people often will inevitably think of when they think of Rachel. But at the same time, so much more goes through their minds even than that.

On March 16, 2003, Corrie was in Gaza, along with other ISMers, non-violently defending a Palestinian family and trying to prevent the demolition of their home. When the bulldozer approached, young Rachel, wearing a fluorescent orange vest and speaking through a bullhorn, stood in its way and shouted for the driver to stop. But as we all know, he didn’t stop. Instead, he ran over her.

No criminal charges ever were filed against the Israeli soldier operating the bulldozer, and for seven years, the Corrie family fought a legal battle in the Israeli courts, trying to win some measure of justice in a civil suit. Their legal efforts came to an end on August 28 last year, when the Haifa District Court ruled against them. The judge in the case, Oded Gershon, asserted that “the accident was caused by the deceased”—this of course despite testimony from eyewitnesses that the running-over of Rachel had been no accident, much less that the “accident” had been caused by the activist herself.

And so all of this, like a stirring of some tall grass, is what passes through people’s minds when the name Rachel Corrie is spoken. In response to the judicial action, Cindy Corrie, Rachel’s mother, issued a statement to the media, calling it a “bad day for humanity.” It was a true and accurate statement, made all the more so by the enormous power wielded by Israeli lobbies in Western countries, for such-like as these have been responsible for unleashing quite a number of “bad days for humanity”—in Iraq, Libya, Syria, and perhaps soon Iran as well. And this too hitches itself to the name Rachel Corrie.

Following the court verdict, the cartoonist, Carlos Latuff, issued the following cartoon…





And like the statement by Cindy Corrie, it also speaks volumes. Volumes because the death of Rachel Corrie, and the heinous ruling by Judge Oded Gershon, are small but significant parts of the history of Israel’s growing and irreversible “delegitimizing.” One cannot escape certain things in life, and this seems to be the one thing from which Israel cannot escape. “Delegitimization,” in fact, has become the one thing Israel’s leaders and supporters fear, perhaps more so than anything else. And if planting a tree in Rachel’s memory furthers this process along, and thereby represents a threat to the Jewish state’s security, then I say let’s go out and plant trees. Lots of them!

I would also like to pose a theory here—that the soldiers and the Yizharites were acting out of gut fear when they attacked the tree planters. They are afraid that the love Rachel Corrie showed the Palestinians in particular, and oppressed people in general, will grow into a mighty oak tree whose branches will spread throughout the world, a gurgling brook whose life-giving waters will cool and neutralize the debilitating fevers of greed and deception. And there is good reason for their fear.

“A notable aspect of Rachel Corrie’s legacy is the sheer volume of art her life and sacrificed evoked,” one commenter observed recently. “Between March 19th 2003 and April 24th 2004, I collected over 160 poems written in the young woman’s honor, and posted on the web, in the English language.”

Thus, the Israeli soldiers who attacked the Palestinians planting trees in Rachel’s memory were not merely afraid—they were terrified. They were terrified the day will come that mountain chains will be named “The Rachel Corrie Mountains,” that parks, schools, roads and hospitals will bear her name as well, that lovers will one day walk through such places as “Rachel Corrie Cove,” holding hands, perhaps sharing a kiss.

Rachel Corrie picked a flower, placed it in a vase, and it grew into Palestine—this too they fear—the Rachel Corrie call of the wild, the ringing of the Rachel Corrie freedom bells, and, perhaps most of all, the Rachel Corrie moon rising in the hearts of poet, visionaries, for whom the idea of “world peace” is a warm zephyr in the soft, fragrant night.

So please, go out and plant some trees today!


Following are a couple of videos that seem especially apropos on this tenth anniversary. The first features Alice Walker reading Rachel, while in the second Rachel’s parents, Craig and Cindy Corrie, comment on the tenth anniversary of their daughter’s death.




See also:

Rachel Corrie and Daniel Pearl—A Curious Comparison

No Right To Exist: The Corrie Verdict and the Jewish State’s Belligerence

 

River to Sea Uprooted Palestinian   The views expressed in this article are the sole responsibility of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of this Blog!

On the killing of Vik Vittorio Arrigoni


*(photo from 2011) monument to “Vik” Vittorio Arrigoni, Italian justice and peace activist. Jaber and Leila, farmers Vik worked with in the border region east of Khan Younis, were also close friends. They erected the monument as a humble tribute to him
Although he was killed a year and a half ago, in April 2011, only recently has the verdict been issued in the trial for the killers of “Vik” (Vittorio) Arrigoni, an Italian long-time justice and peace activist.
After his murder last year, I wrote about my friend and colleague Vik, as did an overwhelming number of Palestinians from Gaza, from all over occupied Palestine, and friends and supporters around the world.

Adie, who attended the trial on September 17, 2012 in Gaza City, wrote:

We waited for 2 hours outside the court, some of that time filled with our stories of Vittorio, the fond memories and a laugh or two.

Then finally the judge Ata Mansour called everybody in for the sentence for at least some of the people who conspired to kill Vittorio. Life imprisonment (25 years) and 10 years hard labour for Salfiti Mahmoud (b 1988) and Hasasna Tamer (b 1966) – guilty of kidnap and murder. 10 years hard labour for Jrem Khader (b 1984) found guilty of participating in the kidnapping. Ahmed abu Ghoula was given one year sentence already served for helping the murderers to escape and find refuge in his house in Nuseirat. Abdel Rahman Breizat the leader who had entered from Jordan a year before and Bilal El Omari were killed by the security forces during the pursuit soon after Vittorio’s death.
We still will not get the full story of Breizat’s origins and intentions.

The sentences are probably just, the mother of Vittorio sent a letter asking to not give the death sentence because Vittorio did not believe in it. Vittorio only believed in doing as much as he can to raise the lives of people who’ve had it rough, and fight with courage against those brutally denying people the most basic of freedoms, most recently here in the Gaza Strip.

Although some closure has come, these prison sentences will not bring back the person we know and love.

But the power of his message, the humanity of his actions, the strength of his heart and that huge great spirit and warmth will live on and on inside all of us lucky enough to have come into contact and been great friends with him.

Stay Human

Khalil Shaheen, from the Palestinian Centre for Human Rights, spoke of the verdict:

PCHR press release on the court verdict here:

On Monday morning, 17 September 2012, the Permanent Military Court is Gaza issued its judgment in the case of Italian activist Vittorio Arrigoni’s murder. The Court convicted the first defendant (M.S.) and second defendant (T.H.) of premeditated killing and kidnapping for the purpose of killing. They were each sentenced to life imprisonment with hard labor and 10 years of imprisonment with hard labor; the more severe of the two punishments will be applied.

The court also sentenced the third defendant (K.E.) to 10 years of imprisonment with hard labor, after convicting him of kidnapping for the purpose of killing. The fourth defendant (A.G.) was convicted of harboring fugitives and sentenced to one year of imprisonment.
PCHR lawyers attended today’s hearing in their capacity as the legal representatives of the Arrigoni family. They have also attended all hearings for the case since the court began considerations on 11 August 2011. PCHR has also followed all of the developments of the case and provided the court’s panel with letters from the Arrigoni family.

The Italian activist, Vittorio Arrigoni, was killed,after being kidnapped in the evening of 14 April 2011, by a group that called itself the “A-Hammam Mohammed Bin Maslama Group.” The Palestinian police found his body 15 April 2011 in a house in the ‘Amer housing project west of Jabalya, located in the northern part of the Gaza Strip.

In light of the judgment issued in the case of Arrigoni’s murder, PCHR would like to draw attention to the following:

– 3 of the persons who were involved in kidnapping and murdering the Italian activist were subsequently killed in armed clashes between them and Palestinian security forces that besieged the house where they werehiding in al-Nussairat refugee camp in the central part of the Gaza Strip.
–PCHR officially demanded the court’s panel, in writing, to abstain from applying the death penalty to the defendants if they are convicted, based on its position rejecting the death penalty and in response to the Arrigoni family’s wish, which they expressed in a letter dated 16 December 2011. The family wanted a fair trial for the defendants in accordance with the requirements of the international law and called for the death penalty to not be applied against the defendants if they were convicted.
–PCHR, like the Arrigoni family, is satisfied by the sentences issued by the Court, which can be described, under the circumstances surrounding the case, as fair and legitimate, and considers that the murderers of Arrigoni have been effectively tried.
–PCHR has followed this case in honor of Vittorio Arrigoni’s soul and out of its moral commitment towards international solidarity activists, who may lose their lives because of their support for the rights of Palestinian people, like what happened to Arrigoni and the American activist Rachel Corrie.

Al Akhbar news reported on the verdict, highlighting the secrecy and unknown origins and funding of Salafis in Gaza:

Jihadi Salafi groups, linked to the international networks led by al-Qaeda, and calling for an Islamic caliphate and jihad against pagans, only emerged in Gaza a few years ago. Their number is unknown. Some Gazans believe there are dozens of such groups, though there are probably far fewer. Their members are mostly former members of Hamas, Islamic Jihad, or the Salaheddin Brigades. While not numerous, their activities are shrouded in secrecy. Nobody knows where their funding comes from, the names of their leaders, or where they train their fighters.
Hamas has had a frequently fraught relationship with the Salafis since it took over in the Gaza Strip. After it assumed control in 2007, jihadi Salafi leader Abdul-Latif Moussa proclaimed from Rafah the establishment of an Islamic state. Armed clashes ensued between Hamas security forces and Moussa’s supporters, leading to his death along with a number of his followers inside the mosque where he preached.
Hamas later launched an extensive campaign of arrests targeting Salafis, declaring it would not tolerate illegal activities in the name of religion.
Tensions flared again in April 2011 when an Italian solidarity activist, Vittorio Arrigoni, was kidnapped and murdered by a group of Salafis demanding the release of their leader from detention by Hamas security forces. This triggered a fresh showdown, which ended three days later after Hamas located and raided the kidnappers’ hideout, leading to the death of one and the suicide of another before he could be captured.

Tributes to Vik:
Various tributes and reports on Vik here
Ramzy Baroud’s tribute here
Palestinian youth from Gaza tribute here


*Jaber and Leila’s tribute to Vik


*graffiti for Vik found throughout Gaza

River to Sea Uprooted Palestinian
The views expressed in this article are the sole responsibility of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of this Blog!

I Killed Rachel Corrie…

I Killed Rachel Corrie…

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I Killed Rachel Corrie

On March 16, 2003, after Rachel Corrie, 23, was crushed by an Israeli army bulldozer in the southern Gaza Strip town of Rafah, fellow activists from the International Solidarity Movement tried in vain to save her life.

by Anonymous
Source: http://othersite.org/anonymous-i-killed-rachel-corrie/

I killed Rachel Corrie.
I never heard of her
but I paid my taxes,
so I killed Rachel Corrie.

I built the bulldozer
and trained the driver
and gave the orders
that took her life,
so I killed Rachel Corrie.

I went to watch my team play a big game
and to have a few drinks with them afterwards
instead of reading what Rachel wrote
and hearing what she said,
so I killed Rachel Corrie.

I go to church on Sunday
and attend Friday prayers
and keep Shabbat holy
but mustn’t upset my community
with painful questions,
so I killed Rachel Corrie.

I attend dialog groups
and hear both sides
and give them equal weight
as did my forefathers
to the Japanese and the Ainu
the Roman and the Gaul
the European and the Choctaw
the White and the Black
the Nazi and the Jew
and the Israeli and the Palestinian,
so I killed Rachel Corrie.

I write letters
to newspapers and elected officials
and I demonstrate outside their offices
and I donate to human rights groups
and to send humanitarian aid
and I support nonviolence
and I boycott and divest and sanction,
so I killed Rachel Corrie.

I travel to Gaza
in freedom marches
and convoys
and flotillas
and I attend conferences in Bil’in
and fly to Tel Aviv
and march to Jerusalem
and I’ve been beaten
and shot
and jailed
and expelled,
so I killed Rachel Corrie.

I resist with arms
and launch Qassams
and strap explosives to myself
and drop bombs and napalm
and white phosphorous and DIME weapons
and I kill as many as I can
of those who are the enemy
and I torture and terrify them
and their families and children
so that they know they are never safe,
so I killed Rachel Corrie.

I killed Rachel Corrie because it was not enough;
I killed Rachel Corrie because I did not drop everything and devote my life to making this stop;
I killed Rachel Corrie because I did not change the base reality of our world and I, in fact, participated in it;
I killed Rachel Corrie because I cared too much for my career and my comfort and my hobbies and my obligations and my conferences and my projects and my causes and my campaigns and my coalitions and my ideologies and my letters and my articles and my poetry;
I killed Rachel Corrie because I still really want to dance around to Pat Benatar and have boyfriends and make comics for my coworkers;
I killed Rachel Corrie because I could have been one of millions choosing to give up everything and walk in step so that our feet causes the earth to shake and the rivers to change course and the mountains to crumble and the mighty to tremble and bow to our voices as we say, “Al-Sha’ab yureed,” “Si, se puede,” “Never again,” and it will no longer matter whether we are Jews, Muslims or Christians, Arabs, Kurds, Armenians or Hebrews, immigrants or indigenous, men or women, because we are united in ending the injustice and in preventing and reversing the ethnic cleansing of one people in order to pay for the ethnic cleansing of another.

But I am not one of those millions united for justice.

So I killed Rachel Corrie.

The wandering who- Gilad Atzmon

River to Sea Uprooted Palestinian  
The views expressed in this article are the sole responsibility of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of this Blog!

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