Wednesday, March 31, 2010

Ten reasons why East Jerusalem does not belong to 6srael

Israeli hawks say that Jerusalem is theirs because of a long, romantic national history there. Too bad it's made up!

For more from Juan Cole, visit his blog Informed Comment.

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu told the American Israel Public Affairs Council on Monday that "Jerusalem is not a settlement." He continued that the historical connection between the Jewish people and the land of Israel cannot be denied. He added that neither could the historical connection between the Jewish people and Jerusalem. He insisted, "The Jewish people were building Jerusalem 3,000 years ago and the Jewish people are building Jerusalem today." He said, "Jerusalem is not a settlement. It is our capital." He told his applauding audience of 7,500 that he was simply following the policies of all Israeli governments since the 1967 conquest of Jerusalem in the Six Day War.

Netanyahu mixed together romantic, nationalist cliches with a series of historically false assertions. But even more important was everything he left out of the history, and his citation of his warped and inaccurate history instead of considering laws, rights or common human decency toward others not of his ethnic group.

So here are the reasons that Netanyahu is profoundly wrong, and East Jerusalem does not belong to him.

1. In international law, East Jerusalem is occupied territory, as are the parts of the West Bank that Israel unilaterally annexed to its district of Jerusalem. The Fourth Geneva Convention of 1949 and the Hague Regulations of 1907 forbid occupying powers to alter the lifeways of civilians who are occupied, and forbid the settling of people from the occupiers' country in the occupied territory. Israel's expulsion of Palestinians from their homes in East Jerusalem, its usurpation of Palestinian property there, and its settling of Israelis on Palestinian land are all gross violations of international law. Israeli claims that they are not occupying Palestinians because the Palestinians have no state are cruel and tautological. Israeli claims that they are building on empty territory are laughable. My back yard is empty, but that does not give Netanyahu the right to put up an apartment complex on it.

2. Israeli governments have not in fact been united or consistent about what to do with East Jerusalem and the West Bank, contrary to what Netanyahu says. The Galili Plan for settlements in the West Bank was adopted only in 1973. Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin gave undertakings as part of the Oslo Peace Process to withdraw from Palestinian territory and grant Palestinians a state, promises for which he was assassinated by the Israeli far right (elements of which are now supporting Netanyahu's government). As late as 2000, then-Prime Minister Ehud Barak claimed that he gave oral assurances that Palestinians could have almost all of the West Bank and could have some arrangement by which East Jerusalem could be its capital. Netanyahu tried to give the impression that far right Likud policy on East Jerusalem and the West Bank has been shared by all previous Israeli governments, but this is simply not true.

3. Romantic nationalism imagines a "people" as eternal and as having an eternal connection with a specific piece of land. This way of thinking is fantastic and mythological. Peoples are formed and change and sometimes cease to be, though they might have descendants who abandoned that religion or ethnicity or language. Human beings have moved all around and are not directly tied to any territory in an exclusive way, since many groups have lived on most pieces of land. Jerusalem was not founded by Jews, i.e. adherents of the Jewish religion. It was founded between 3000 BCE and 2600 BCE by a West Semitic people or possibly the Canaanites, the common ancestors of Palestinians, Lebanese, many Syrians and Jordanians, and many Jews. But when it was founded Jews did not exist.

4. Jerusalem was founded in honor of the ancient god Shalem. It does not mean City of Peace but rather "built-up place of Shalem."

5. The "Jewish people" were not building Jerusalem 3000 years ago, i.e. 1000 BCE. First of all, it is not clear when exactly Judaism took firm shape, as a religion centered on the worship of the one God. It appears to have been a late development since no evidence of worship of anything but ordinary Canaanite deities has been found in archeological sites through 1000 BCE. There was no invasion of geographical Palestine from Egypt by former slaves in the 1200s BCE. The pyramids had been built much earlier and had not used slave labor. The chronicle of the events of the reign of Ramses II on the wall in Luxor does not tell about any major slave revolts or flights by same into the Sinai peninsula. Egyptian sources never heard of Moses or the 12 plagues. Jews and Judaism emerged from a certain social class of Canaanites over a period of centuries inside Palestine.

6. Jerusalem not only was not being built by the likely then non-existent "Jewish people" in 1000 BCE, but Jerusalem probably was not even inhabited at that point in history. Jerusalem appears to have been abandoned between 1000 BCE and 900 BCE, the traditional dates for the united kingdom under David and Solomon. So Jerusalem was likely not "the city of David," since there was no city when he is said to have lived. No sign of magnificent palaces or great states has been found in the archeology of this period, and the Assyrian tablets, which recorded even minor events throughout the Middle East, such as the actions of Arab queens, don't know about any great kingdom of David and Solomon in geographical Palestine.

7. Since archeology does not show the existence of a Jewish kingdom or kingdoms in the so-called First Temple Period, it is not clear when exactly the Jewish people would have ruled Jerusalem except for the Hasmonean Kingdom. The Assyrians conquered Jerusalem in 722. The Babylonians took it in 597 and ruled it until they were themselves conquered in 539 BCE by the Achaemenids of ancient Iran, who ruled Jerusalem until Alexander the Great took the Levant in the 330s BCE. Alexander's descendants, the Ptolemies ruled Jerusalem until 198 when Alexander's other descendants, the Seleucids, took the city. With the Maccabean Revolt in 168 BCE, the Jewish Hasmonean kingdom did rule Jerusalem until 37 BCE, though Antigonus II Mattathias, the last Hasmonean, only took over Jerusalem with the help of the Parthian dynasty in 40 BCE. Herod ruled 37 BCE until the Romans conquered what they called Palestine in 6 CE (CE means "Common Era" or what Christians call AD). The Romans and then the Eastern Roman Empire of Byzantium ruled Jerusalem from 6 CE until 614 CE, when the Iranian Sassanian Empire conquered it, ruling until 629 CE when the Byzantines took it back.

The Muslims conquered Jerusalem in 638 and ruled it until 1099 when the Crusaders conquered it. The Crusaders killed or expelled Jews and Muslims from the city. The Muslims under Saladin took it back in 1187 CE and allowed Jews to return, and Muslims ruled it until the end of World War I, or altogether for about 1192 years.

Adherents of Judaism did not found Jerusalem. It existed for perhaps 2700 years before anything we might recognize as Judaism arose. Jewish rule may have been no longer than 170 years or so, i.e., the kingdom of the Hasmoneans.

8. Therefore if the historical building of Jerusalem and historical connection with Jerusalem establishes sovereignty over it as Netanyahu claims, here are the groups that have the greatest claim to the city:

A. The Muslims, who ruled it and built it over 1191 years.

B. The Egyptians, who ruled it as a vassal state for several hundred years in the second millennium BCE.

C. The Italians, who ruled it about 444 years until the fall of the Roman Empire in 450 CE.

D. The Iranians, who ruled it for 205 years under the Achaemenids, for three years under the Parthians (insofar as the last Hasmonean was actually their vassal), and for 15 years under the Sasanids.

E. The Greeks, who ruled it for over 160 years if we count the Ptolemys and Seleucids as Greek. If we count them as Egyptians and Syrians, that would increase the Egyptian claim and introduce a Syrian one.

F. The successor states to the Byzantines, which could be either Greece or Turkey, who ruled it 188 years, though if we consider the heir to be Greece and add in the time the Hellenistic Greek dynasties ruled it, that would give Greece nearly 350 years as ruler of Jerusalem.

G. There is an Iraqi claim to Jerusalem based on the Assyrian and Babylonian conquests, as well as perhaps the rule of the Ayyubids (Saladin's dynasty), who were Kurds from Iraq.

9. Of course, Jews are historically connected to Jerusalem by the Temple, whenever that connection is dated to. But that link mostly was pursued when Jews were not in political control of the city, under Iranian, Greek and Roman rule. It cannot therefore be deployed to make a demand for political control of the whole city.

10. The Jews of Jerusalem and the rest of Palestine did not for the most part leave after the failure of the Bar Kochba revolt against the Romans in 136 CE. They continued to live there and to farm in Palestine under Roman rule and then Byzantine. They gradually converted to Christianity. After 638 CE all but 10 percent gradually converted to Islam. The present-day Palestinians are the descendants of the ancient Jews and have every right to live where their ancestors have lived for centuries.

Russian archaeologists find long-lost Jewish capital

Netenyahu's Ring and the Legitimacy of Zionism

  Tuesday, March 30, 2010

6srael's blood diamonds

Seán Clinton, The Electronic Intifada, 29 March 2010

Every year, consumers the world over unwittingly spend billions of dollars on diamonds crafted in Israel, thereby helping to fund one of the world's most protracted and contentious conflicts. Most people are unaware that Israel is one of the world's leading producers of cut and polished diamonds. As diamonds are normally not hallmarked, consumers cannot distinguish an Israeli diamond from one crafted in India, Belgium, South Africa or elsewhere. The global diamond industry and aligned governments, including the EU, have hoodwinked consumers into believing the diamond trade has been cleansed of diamonds that fund human rights abuses, but the facts are startlingly different.

Israel -- which stands accused of war crimes, crimes against humanity, ethnic cleansing, genocide, the crime of apartheid, extrajudicial executions within and outside the territory it controls and persistent serious breaches of the Geneva Conventions -- is the world's leading exporter of diamonds (see Figure 1 below). Israeli companies import rough diamonds for cutting and polishing, adding significantly to their value, and export them globally via distribution hubs in Antwerp, London, Hong Kong, New York and Mumbai.

Figure 1

In July 2000, the global diamond industry set up the World Diamond Council (WDC). The WDC was established as a response to public outrage about the use of diamonds to fund bloody conflicts in western African countries and it includes representatives from the World Federation of Diamond Bourses and the International Diamond Manufacturers Association. The council's ultimate mandate is "the development, implementation and oversight of a tracking system for the export and import of rough diamonds to prevent the exploitation of diamonds for illicit purposes such as war and inhumane acts." Significantly, the WDC limits its concern about human rights violations to those funded by rough diamonds only.

In 2003, the WDC introduced a system of self-regulation called the Kimberly Process Certification Scheme to stem the flow of "conflict" or "blood diamonds." In keeping with the limited concerns of the WDC the UN-mandated Kimberly Process adopted a very narrow definition of what constitutes a conflict or blood diamond: "rough diamonds used by rebel movements or their allies to finance conflict aimed at undermining legitimate governments." As a result of this tight ring-fencing, the much more lucrative trade in cut and polished diamonds avoids the human rights strictures applying to rough diamonds, provided the industry uses only Kimberly Process-compliant rough diamonds. Regardless of the human rights violations and atrocities funded by revenue from the Israeli diamond industry, governments and other vested interests party to the Kimberly Process facilitate the unrestricted access of diamonds crafted in Israel to the multi-billion dollar global diamond market.

The WDC created a web site called to promote the virtues of the industry. It lists 24 facts extolling the benefits of the diamond industry -- primarily to India and countries in Africa. Some of the benefits include that an estimated 5 million people have access to appropriate healthcare globally thanks to revenues from diamonds; diamond revenues enable every child in Botswana to receive free education up to the age of 13; the revenue from diamonds is instrumental in the fight against the HIV/AIDS pandemic.

While these facts are laudable the list makes no mention of other less savory facts, including the fact that revenue from the diamond industry in Israel helps fund atrocities and human rights abuses such as the killing, maiming and terrorizing of thousands of innocent men, women and children in Palestine and Lebanon -- the sort of atrocities the Kimberly Process is supposed to prevent being funded by revenue from diamonds.

The list of "Diamond Facts" paints a one-sided, positive image of the industry. It implies that the greatest benefits are being felt in some of the poorest nations of the world. But Israel, one of the wealthiest nations, towers over all other countries in terms of the net benefit derived from the diamond industry. The added value to the Israeli economy from the export of diamonds was nearly $10 billion in 2008 (see Figure 2 below).

Figure 2

The WDC website is equally selective when it comes to providing information about which countries are most dependent on diamonds. It explains that Namibia, one of the minor diamond exporting countries in monetary terms, derives 40 percent (<$1 billion) of its annual export earnings from diamonds and that 33 percent ($3 billion) of the GDP of Botswana, another minor player, is derived from diamond exports. The WDC fails to mention that the much more lucrative, high-value end of the diamond industry is the main artery of the Israeli economy, accounting for more than 30 percent of Israel's total manufacturing exports worth nearly $20 billion in 2008 ("Trade Performance HS: Exports of Israel" accessed 25 March 2010) (See Figures 3 and 4). By comparison, the budget for Israel's Ministry of Defense was $16 billion in 2008.

Figure 3

Figure 4

Revenue from the diamond industry helps fund Israel's illegal occupation of the Palestinian territories, its brutal subjugation of the Palestinian people and its international network of saboteurs, spies and assassins. None of this is alluded to in the WDC's "Diamond Facts."

Contrary to claims by the diamond industry and jewelers that all diamonds are now conflict free, they are not. Israel's dominant position in the industry means that diamonds crafted in Israel are interspersed globally with diamonds crafted in other countries. Consumers who purchase diamonds that are not laser-inscribed to identify where they were crafted run a significant risk of purchasing a diamond crafted in Israel, thereby helping to fund gross human rights violations. The Kimberly Process Certification Scheme strictures only apply to rough diamonds, thus allowing diamonds crafted in Israel to freely enter the market regardless of the criminal actions of the Israeli government and armed forces. The Kimberly Process is seriously flawed and is being used by the diamond industry and jewelers to pull the wool over consumers' eyes by telling them that all diamonds are now "conflict free" without explaining the limitations and exactly what that means.

All this is hardly surprising given Israel's dominant position in the diamond industry. Israel currently chairs the Kimberly Process. The notion of self-regulation by any industry that is intrinsically linked to the violations it purports to want to eliminate is something that neither governments nor the general public should tolerate. It is impossible for the public to have confidence in the diamond industry's attempt to self-regulate as long as it facilitates the trade in diamonds crafted in Israel, which, if the Kimberly Process applied the same standards to all diamonds, would rightly be classified as blood diamonds and treated accordingly.

Given the failure of Western governments to hold Israel to account for numerous breaches of international law including international humanitarian law, breaches of the UN Charter, its failure to abide by more than 30 binding UN Security Council Resolutions, breaches of EU Agreements and disregard for the 2004 advisory opinion of the International Court of Justice, they are unlikely to insist that the diamond industry broaden the definition of a conflict diamond to include cut and polished diamonds that fund human rights abuses.

Consumers should have the right to know where a diamond was crafted and consequently the right to choose an Israel-free diamond. These rights are not available to consumers today.

In 2005, Palestinian civil society called for an international campaign of boycott, divestment and sanctions (BDS) against Israel similar to that which helped bring an end to the apartheid regime in South Africa. The international BDS campaign has to date focused much of its boycott activities on the most easily targeted Israeli products including fruit, vegetable, cosmetics and some plastic products. Targeting these products helps to increase public awareness of Israeli crimes and to some extent satisfies the public's desire to register disapproval of Israel's actions. However, these products account for only a small fraction of Israel's total manufacturing exports. Even if the boycott of these products was totally successful it would not make a significant difference to the Israeli economy or to Israel's ability to further its expansionist goals.

Figure 5

The diamond industry is a major pillar of the Israeli economy (see Figure 5 above). No other developed country is so heavily dependent on a single luxury commodity and the goodwill of individual consumers globally. Anything that threatens the carefully-nurtured image of diamonds as objects of desire, romance and purity could have serious consequences for the Israel diamond industry and the country's ability to continue funding its illegal occupation of the Palestinian territories, the construction of illegal colonies and other associated criminal activities that render it the pariah of the modern age.

The international BDS campaign needs to focus global attention on the diamond trade that facilitates Israel's ongoing crimes against the Palestinian people and its neighbors in the region.

Seán Clinton is the chairperson of the Limerick branch of the Ireland Palestine Solidarity Campaign and a former Boycott Officer on the National Committee of the Ireland Palestine Solidarity Campaign.

'Palestinian Life is Cheap'


(IPS) - In early February, 41-year-old Fayez Ahmed Faraj, a father of nine from the city of Hebron, 30 miles south of Jerusalem, in the southern West Bank, was shot dead in his home town by Israeli soldiers after he allegedly tried to stab one of them.

After a preliminary investigation the Israeli military authorities stated that the soldiers had acted in self-defence and had used the necessary force.

The media subsequently reported that the Israeli Defence Forces (IDF) soldier who shot Faraj dead had acted within reason.

But further investigation by Palestinian and Israeli human rights organisations, and eye-witness reports, dispute the official version of events.

Questions have been raised and doubts expressed about the circumstances surrounding the shooting.

"This is not the first time that Israeli security forces have shot to kill when their lives have been in no danger. We have recorded many such incidents," says Shawan Jabarin from the Palestinian human rights organisation Al Haq in Ramallah.

"There seems to be a deliberate policy often to kill following the smallest provocation. Palestinian life is cheap for the Israelis," Jabarin told IPS.

According to eye-witnesses and paramedics following a possible verbal altercation with the soldiers Faraj was shot seven times in the course of an hour even as he lay on the ground seriously wounded and barely able to move.

The witnesses further claim that not only did the Israeli soldiers fail to arrest Faraj but they deliberately framed him by taking a knife from a nearby military jeep and threw it on the ground next to the dying man after they had shot him. They then took photographs for "evidence".

Paramedics from the Palestine Red Crescent (PRC) also state that when they tried to evacuate the critically injured man to hospital they were held up at gunpoint by Israeli soldiers.

The hospital the paramedics were trying to reach was only a few hundred metres away from where the shooting took place. Time was of the essence as Faraj had lost copious amounts of blood.

One of the paramedics, Eid Abu Munshar, told Israeli human rights group B’tselem that one of the Israeli soldiers entered the ambulance and pulled the intravenous drip from Fayez’s arm.

Later an IDF officer ordered Faraj to be transferred to an IDF jeep. He was then placed in an intensive care ambulance where he waited another critical half an hour.

None of these subsequent details made media headlines with the exception of the investigative journalist Gideon Levy from the Israeli daily 'Haaretz’ who decided to investigate further.

Further complicating the issue was the fact that several weeks earlier a Palestinian policeman had stabbed an Israeli soldier to death in the West Bank and many believed this to be a copy-cat killing.

Levy’s report raised several other questions regarding the murky circumstances and confusion surrounding Faraj’s death.

After speaking to Faraj’s employers and family he established that Faraj had little motivation to carry out a stabbing attack.

He was one of the few Palestinians in possession of a security permit to both enter Israel and sleep overnight something that a Palestinian deemed a security risk by the IDF would never have.

Faraj had been employed by the same Israeli company for 15 years in Tel Aviv where he worked as a shoemaker and was described as a happy guy. He had Israeli friends, spoke Hebrew fluently and was economically well off.

He was not an Islamic ideologue and as his brother explained to Levy if Faraj had wanted to attack Israelis he had plenty of chances to do so in Tel Aviv.

B’tselem, too, was not satisfied with the previous conclusions drawn and wrote to Israel’s Judge Attorney General asking that the case be thoroughly investigated

"The circumstances of the incident, as they appear from B'Tselem’s investigation, contradict the announcements issued by the army," said the group’s website.

Al Haq, meanwhile, raised the following issues. Fayez was unarmed; the soldiers opened fire on him on three separate occasions; and in the aftermath of the shooting, an Israeli soldier took a knife from his own pocket and threw it down beside the victim.

A military investigation is currently underway. However, Jabarin is sceptical of the results.

"What is particularly problematic for us is that when the Israeli military or settlers attack Palestinians under dubious circumstances and these cases are brought to the attention of the relevant Israeli authorities very few are opened and even fewer lead to a conviction," Jabarin told IPS.

Lior Yavne from the Israeli human rights organisation Yesh Din which helps Palestinians to lay charges against Israeli attackers in the West Bank concurs. "Less than eight percent of cases opened result in any conviction."

"In many instances the police allegedly either 'lose the paper work’ or 'can’t identify the perpetrators’. This is not a problem they seem to have when investigating Palestinians accused of crimes against Israelis," Yavne told IPS.

Stuck between a wall and an occupation

Nora Barrows-Friedman writing from Aida Refugee Camp, Bethlehem, Live from Palestine, 29 March 2010

Bilal Jadou standing atop a home in the Aida refugee camp. His house,
on the other side of the wall, can be seen off in the distance.

When Bilal Jadou's grandmother was sick last year, and in need of immediate medical care, the family called the Jerusalem emergency service and requested an ambulance -- only to hear on the other end of the line that no Israeli ambulances would be permitted to reach the house without permission from the Israeli military. "Try the Bethlehem ambulance service," the emergency dispatcher told Jadou. When he called the Bethlehem ambulance, they told him to have his grandmother meet them at the other side of the main Bethlehem-Jerusalem checkpoint because they weren't allowed to cross. Jadou's house is on the other side of the sprawling apartheid wall, separated from his community and the West Bank, and in a permanent state of oppressive bureaucratic and administrative limbo as nearby settlements are intended to spread onto his land.

The Electronic Intifada correspondent Nora Barrows-Friedman interviewed Jadou, 26 years old, about his situation. They spoke inside Aida refugee camp, in Bethlehem.

Nora Barrows-Friedman: Tell us about your situation and why this story is so important in the context of what's happening here in the Bethlehem area, especially in Aida camp, which is right up against the wall, cutting the land of families here in half.

Bilal Jadou: My family is separated from each other. We used to live in the refugee camp here and in our other house that used to be within five minutes walking distance from here. Since the wall was built, we can't communicate as a family. Some of us live in this house in Aida, and the others live in our other house on the other side of the wall.

I have six brothers and three sisters. Two of the brothers, including me, and one of our sisters, are allowed by Israel to live in the house on the other side of the wall. No one else is allowed to be there. Now it sometimes takes two hours to cross the checkpoint in Bethlehem to see our family in Aida camp. Other times, the Israelis close the checkpoint entirely and we can't see each other at all.

NBF: How did the Israelis choose who was able to live in the house on the other side of the wall?

BJ: They said it was purely because of "security reasons," and we still don't know why some got permission and some didn't. Also, we can't add anything to the house; we can't build onto the house. At any time, they can come and take my permission and say it's for "security reasons."

NBF: Do you have a special ID card now? Such as a Jerusalem residency card? How are you identified as someone who lives on the other side of the wall?

BJ: I still have a West Bank Palestinian ID, with a special permission slip for just the Tantur area [where the house is]. If Israeli police catch me anywhere else other than at my house, or if they catch me working inside Jerusalem, they will take my permission away. I can just be inside the house, and nothing more.

The Israeli wall runs along the Aida refugee camp.

NBF: So, if you want to buy groceries, or go to the bank, or get gasoline for your car, or get to the hospital, what do you do?

BJ: We can't do any of these things. I can't even drive a car inside the area near the house. We're not allowed. We can't even take a taxi to the checkpoint. We have to walk. If we want to buy groceries, we can only buy them inside the Palestinian territories. But we are not allowed to bring anything from inside the Palestinian territories to my house. So the only way I can get food and supplies to my house is to have friends inside Jerusalem buy our groceries, or whatever we need, and bring them to us.

We have no services except water and electricity, which come from the Palestinian side of the wall. Israel won't allow us to have anything else. It's a way to push us to leave this area and go to the other side of the wall. This is the only reason they're doing this to us.

My grandmother got sick and we called the Israeli ambulance. They told us to coordinate with the Israeli soldiers, who then refused to allow the ambulance to reach us. The Palestinian ambulance told us that since they couldn't cross the checkpoint, we had to bring my grandmother to the checkpoint and they would take her to the hospital in Bethlehem. Since we couldn't use a car to bring her to the checkpoint, we put her on a donkey and walked her over there. But before we reached the checkpoint, my grandmother died.

NBF: On the other side of the wall, there is a lot of land that was cultivated by families in Beit Jala and Aida camp until the wall was completed in 2004. And then you have Gilo and Har Gilo settlements, right next to your house on the other side. Talk more about this policy of taking land, using the wall to separate communities, and forcing Palestinians to stay inside these ghettos in the West Bank.

BJ: There is a lot of land near our house owned by Palestinians. But we're the last family who are allowed to stay there. Just a few months ago, we tried to expand our house a little bit; we built a shed that was only two meters squared. The Israeli police came and told us that we had to stop building. If we want to fix the house, the police come. If we paint our house, the police ask us to remove the paint. But then you look across the street, and you see Gilo settlement with their cranes and bulldozers and construction teams building all the time, expanding all day long.

NBF: The police come often to check to see if you have put paint on the walls. But what about the treatment you receive by settlers?

BJ: The settlers attacked us once. They built a fence around our house and told us to leave. But we went to the court to prove that this was our house, with deeds and documents since the Ottoman period. The court gave us back our land and the permission to stay on our land. Most of the time, though, we get the most terrible treatment from the Israeli soldiers. They come and attack us. Once, they came and took all of our furniture from inside the house and threw it outside. They told us, "find another place to live!" They sometimes come at 2:00 in the morning, taking us outside of the house, and searching to make sure we haven't built anything or fixed anything inside the house.

I was once told by a soldier, after he took my ID card one night, to go to the checkpoint to retrieve it. I got to the checkpoint, and the soldier called me on my mobile phone, telling me that he was outside of the house, and I should come back to get it. I went back to the house, and then he called and said that he was at the checkpoint. This went on until 6:00 in the morning. Sometimes they take my ID card to other checkpoints so I'm forced to travel a long distance to retrieve it. They're trying to put a lot of pressure on us so that we leave the area and they can expand the settlement.

NBF: Tell me about your family's history. We're sitting inside your home in the refugee camp. Where was your family from, originally, before they were expelled in 1948?

BJ: Originally, we're refugees from al-Malha. It's just one kilometer away, five minutes away by car. Some of my family fled in 1948 and came here. Even part of the refugee camp is on al-Malha land, inside the West Bank borders. When the Israelis invaded and occupied the West Bank in 1967, some of the family decided to go back to the house in al-Malha, inside the so-called Israeli area. So now we're separated into three parts -- my family in Aida camp, my brothers and sisters inside the house on the other side of the wall, and the rest in al-Malha. We haven't been together as a family -- we haven't all sat down to dinner together -- for six years.

Sometimes, if something is happening inside the camp, like a wedding for a friend or neighbor, we have to leave our house at nine in the morning to be sure we're at the wedding by three in the afternoon. We're affected a lot by the separation.

NBF: It used to take you five minutes to get to the camp from the house before the wall was built.

BJ: Yes, five minutes, not more. Sometimes, if I walk quickly, it used to take three minutes. Now, it's half an hour just to walk to the checkpoint. Then I spend sometimes two, three hours inside the checkpoint.

NBF: What do you think about the next generation of Palestinians who are facing similar situations? When you get married and have children, what do you want for them?

BJ: I hope everything changes. The situation is extremely difficult, and I hope that the new generation can live in peace without any conflicts. Actually, when you mentioned marriage, this is a very depressing issue for me. I tried to get married recently. But I can't, because I'm living in this area. If I marry a girl from Bethlehem, I can't live with her in Bethlehem because then I'd have to move to the city and lose my land and my house. If I want to marry a girl from Jerusalem, she'd refuse. I don't have an Israeli ID and I can't go anywhere inside Jerusalem. This is no way to make a family. So I'm stuck.

I think I'll never get married, because I need to protect my house. Maybe there'll be a solution soon, and things will change.

All images by Nora Barrows-Friedman.

Nora Barrows-Friedman is the co-host and Senior Producer of
Flashpoints, a daily investigative newsmagazine on Pacifica Radio. She is also a correspondent for Inter Press Service. She regularly reports from Palestine, where she also runs media workshops for youth in the Dheisheh refugee camp in the occupied West Bank.

  Monday, March 29, 2010

6srael to build 50,000 new housing units
in occupied East Jerusalem

20,000 Palestinian homes under demolition threat

6srael to triple West Bank settlements

6srael's 'No Renting to Arabs' Policy

West Bank settlements built on 12 million sq. metres have cost israel (US really) $17 billion

6sraeli minister threatens to re-occupy Gaza

Bethlehem - Ma'an/Agencies - Israel will eventually have to reoccupy Gaza to topple Hamas, a top Israeli official warned Sunday.

Yuval Steinitz, a member of the right-wing Israeli movement Likud and Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu's finance minister, told Israel Radio that "Israel won't allow Hamas to arm with long-range missiles," the Israeli daily Haaretz reported.

Steinitz's remarks came a day after an Israeli military incursion into the southern Gaza Strip left one dead and 13 injured, the latest in a string of clashes that officials have called the bloodiest violence since Israel's Operation Cast Lead, which ended in January 2009.

The funeral procession for Haitham Abed Al-Hakim Arafat, 23, a civilian who was killed in an overnight airstrike, was held in Khuza'a, a village that locals said was "devastated" by Israel's operation into the border town, east of Khan Younis. Residents said Israeli tanks and armored bulldozers withdrew from the town after partially destroying the home of Hashem Ad-Dughmah 200 meters from Israel's border.

"It was the only home left in that area," one local resident told Ma'an.

The violence followed an incursion that left two Palestinian fighters and two Israeli soldiers dead a day earlier. Hamas' armed wing, the Qassam Brigades, said its forces opened fire only after Israeli soldiers crossed 500 meters into the besieged enclave. Four Palestinians and two Israeli soldiers were also reported injured in Friday's violence, among them a 10-year-old boy who sustained serious wounds.

6sraeli minister talks of new war on Gaza

Samson and the Second Nakba -
A Short Study of the Jewish Hercules

As much as many of us enjoyed watching the humiliation of Israel and PM Netanyahu in Washington this week, I am reluctant to suggest that the emerging crisis between America and Israel may also be a red light warning for all of us. The current crisis may lead to some devastating consequences as far as Palestine, Iran and the Middle East are concerned.

“Netanyahu and Obama are at a point of no return” claims Haaretz writer Akiva Eldar. “As far as President Barack Obama and his senior advisers are concerned, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu is to blame for nothing less than damaging the standing of the U.S. in the Middle East and the Muslim world.”

It may be possible that the Americans have started to gather that there is no partner for peace in Israel. America clearly has had to shun its ‘kosher ally’. The American military and political elite already admitted this week that Israel is a strategic burden on the U.S. Seemingly, the only people who genuinely believe in the American Israel strategic bond are AIPAC and its list of obedient ‘Sabbath Congressmen Goyim’. But unfortunately, this is just one side of the story.

A deeper reading of recent events would suggest that the latest American Israeli rift is actually led by Netanyahu’s political partners. Interestingly enough, as much as America reveals growing disapproval of Israeli policy, the anti American attitude, demonstrated by Netanyahu’s allies at home, is overwhelming. It doesn’t take a genius to grasp that some of Netanyahu’s cabinet members are doing everything in their power to fire up a storm between Israel and its ‘closest ally’.

Interior Minister Eli Yishai, the man behind decisions that sparked the recent diplomatic crisis, said this week ‘Israelis voted for this government’s path, according to which, there will be no compromises on (the) Jerusalem issue’. He also used the opportunity to thank his creator for giving him “the right to be the minister who approves the construction of thousands of housing units in Jerusalem”. Along with his latest disastrous visit to Washington, PM Netanyahu found time to consult with his Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman. According to Ynet, Lieberman advised his PM “not to capitulate in face of American pressure”.

I guess that most political analysts fail to understand the depth of the Israeli right wing expansionist and racist conviction. Unlike Sharon, Peres, Livni, Rabin, Olmert, Barak and even Netanyahu himself, who along the years, paid a limited respect to the West and the US in particular, Netanyahu’s cabinet is dominated by right wing Zionist hawks. They follow David Ben Gurion’s old mantra: “It doesn’t matter what the Goyim (Gentiles) say, the only thing that matters is what the Jews do”. Netanyahu’s political partners are not willing to compromise or acquiesce to American conditions.

Netanyahu’s political allies are convinced that at least momentarily they will do better without Uncle Sam. They realise that the days of the ‘Jew-only state’ are numbered unless some radical moves are put into action. They grasp that unless the Jewish state implements measures that would push the entire Palestinian population out of Israel, the Zionist dream will come to its end and pretty soon.

Those hawks also realise that once Iran gets a hold of a nuclear capacity, Israel’s ability to maintain its status as a ‘regional terror-inflicting power’, would disappear overnight. Netanyahu’s cabinet members grasp that if Israel wants to survive as a Jewish ethnocracy and a regional super power, Israel must confront Iran soon and ethnically cleanse Palestine of its indigenous population, in an act that will complete the objectives of the 1948 Nakba. Israeli hawks who currently dominate Netanyahu’s government and Israeli politics realise that a bond with America can only restrict and even jeopardize their sinister plans for the region.

It is obviously hard to predict Israel’s next move. However it is crucial to remember that at the heart of the Zionist collective narrative we find Biblical stories like that of Samson, a tale of a suicidal genocidal character. Samson is the Jewish Hercules. He was granted some tremendous strength by God to combat the Jew’s enemies and to perform some ‘heroic’ feats unachievable by ordinary humans. He wrestles a lion, he slays an entire army with only a donkey’s jawbone and eventually when the time is ripe, he commits mass murder. Single-handedly he crushes a Philistine temple killing thousands, including the elderly, women, children and himself.

I do not know whether Lieberman regards himself to be the new Samson. Looking at his recent picture, he is probably not fit enough to fight a lion. However, the genocidal tendency together with suicidal inclination is absolutely there.

Gilad Atzmon was born in Israel and served in the Israeli military. He lives in London and is the author of two novels: A Guide to the Perplexed and the recently released My One and Only Love. Atzmon is also one of the most accomplished jazz saxophonists in Europe. He can be reached at: Read other articles by Gilad.

  Sunday, March 28, 2010

The US' choreographed "outrage" at 6srael

US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton at the AIPAC conference in Washington, DC, 22 March 2010. (Nicholas Kamm/AFP)

The speeches at AIPAC, the pro-Israel lobby group, on Monday by Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton and Netanyahu's subsequent meeting with US President Barack Obama are widely seen as drawing to a close what Israeli ambassador to the US Michael Oren called the "most severe crisis in US-Israel relations" in decades. This rapprochement comes on the heels of a series of seemingly angry statements top members of the Obama Administration released, after Israel announced construction of 1,600 new illegal housing units in occupied East Jerusalem while US Vice President Joe Biden was in the country.

In fact, the basis for the Obama Administration's criticisms of the settlement announcement -- as well as the significance of the crisis itself -- has been widely misconstrued by both supporters and critics of Israel. AIPAC and the Anti-Defamation League (ADL) were "shocked and stunned" that Biden and Clinton called the Israeli announcement "insulting." AIPAC urged the administration to "take immediate steps to defuse the tension with the Jewish state" and "move away from public demands and unilateral deadlines directed at Israel." Meanwhile, the ADL mused, "One can only wonder how far the US is prepared go in distancing itself from Israel."

Voices more critical of Israel, such as Richard Dreyfuss of The Nation, suggested that "this is not just the reaction to an insulting announcement during the visit of Vice President Biden," but rather "the Obama Administration is beginning to realize that Israeli intransigence ... is a major obstacle to US policy in the region." Dreyfuss predicted that this "might turn into the most significant confrontation between the United States and Israel" since the 1956 Suez War.

Contrary to both of these positions, the Obama Administration merely reacted to a diplomatic affront it was dealt by the Israeli government. Israel's announcement came on the same day that Biden had arrived in the country to proudly confirm the US' "absolute, total and unvarnished" commitment to its ally, and commence indirect talks with the Palestinians. Following the announcement, protests and violent clashes broke out in Jerusalem and elsewhere throughout the Occupied Palestinian Territories. Responding to this pressure, the Arab League threatened to cancel its endorsement of the indirect negotiations, with Secretary Amr Moussa even announcing that the Ramallah-based Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas had decided not to participate in the talks. As the endorsement was the only political cover Abbas had to re-enter negotiations, the US administration took careful notice of these events as pressure on Abbas to abandon talks from within the territories mounted. With the Arab world outraged and Biden humiliated due to the degree of US complicity that the timing of the announcement revealed, the Obama Administration was forced to react.

Clinton said the timing of the announcement was "insulting," while top aide David Axelrod called it an "affront" that "seemed calculated" to undermine the peace talks. The Obama Administration hopes that this PR display will allow the US to fortify its farcical claim to be an "honest broker" in the peace process, provide Abbas the political cover to re-enter negotiations, and send a message to the Israeli government that American leaders are to be treated with respect. As CNN reported, Netanyahu has now set up a team to investigate why the settlement construction announcement was made during Biden's visit.

Netanyahu may well have been telling the truth when he claimed to be "surprised" by the public criticisms by the US government. The day before, one day after US envoy George Mitchell arrived to broker newly-announced "proximity talks," the State Department explicitly approved Israel's construction of 112 new apartments in an illegal settlement outside Bethlehem. The assent came despite Netanyahu's declaration of a "moratorium" on settlement building, which he has insisted cannot include such illegal construction in Israeli-occupied East Jerusalem, a position the US has accepted.

UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon has also chastised Israel for its "provocative actions," including record-high rates of stripping Palestinians from Jerusalem their residency rights and infringements on Palestinian religious sites that are clearly designed to incite a Palestinian response or otherwise make it impossible for Abbas to return to the negotiating table. Yet even when the administration was at its most critical of Israel, following Obama's speech in Cairo last year, Israel was reassured that the actions taken by the US would be "largely symbolic." Indeed, Obama unconditionally re-authorized the loan guarantees program and massive US aid -- conservatively estimated at $7 million per day -- has continued without threat of reduction.

Obviously, the Obama Administration is hardly concerned about Israeli violations of international law, previous agreements it has signed, or the human rights of the Palestinians. The implication throughout is that had the announcement come a week before Biden visited (or even a day before, as the Bethlehem announcement did) there would have been no problem. Indeed, just one week later, after the Israeli government announced construction on an additional 426 East Jerusalem settlement homes, Clinton "bolstered her support for the Jewish state," according to The Washington Post. The Israeli army then opened fire on peaceful protestors in Gaza twice in two days, and carried out air strikes on targets in Gaza, while Clinton issued another statement saying that the steps offered by the Israeli government to resolve the dispute were "useful and productive."

The escalating repression continued Sunday, when the Israeli army shot and killed four Palestinian youths in 24 hours in the West Bank, two aged 18 and two 16. Simultaneously, Netanyahu issued a statement proclaiming that Israel would never cease building illegally in East Jerusalem as Ban Ki-moon arrived in Israel. Clearly, recent condemnations of these projects as "illegal" by Ban and the European Union did not stop Obama from welcoming Netanyahu to Washington on Monday with a private meeting, nor Clinton from proudly sharing the stage with him at the AIPAC conference to reaffirm the US commitment to support Israel's rejection of the international consensus for resolving the conflict. Though she did say the settlements "undermine mutual trust," she did not acknowledge their illegality and mostly stressed the threat that US support for them poses to its "credibility" as an "honest broker," thus urging Israel to refrain from such flagrantly provocative behavior while reinforcing that the US-Israel relationship is "rock solid."

The US hopes that this pretended outrage will lend its role as "honest broker" enough credibility to keep the "peace process" moving, itself merely a PR facade that shields Israeli crimes from public scrutiny. If it does not, the US will undoubtedly pay little mind to the harsh words spoken this week and do as it has done before: blame the Palestinians for its failure and support Israeli repression.

Stephen Maher is an MA candidate at American University School of International Service who has lived in the West Bank, and is currently writing his masters' thesis, "The New Nakba: Oslo and the End of Palestine," on the Israel-Palestine conflict. His work has been appeared in Extra!, ZNet and other publications. His blog is

UK expels 6sraeli 'diplomat' over Dubai terror

Iudea declares War on Obama

by Gilad Atzmon

Last week we read about AIPAC’s assault against President Obama. It was reported that the Jewish Lobby in America took its gloves off. In the open, AIPAC decided to mount pressure on the American leadership and President Obama in particular.

"The Obama administration's recent statements regarding the U.S. relationship with Israel is a matter of serious concern," AIPAC said in its statement. AIPAC’s reaction came after a weekend of U.S. recriminations and demands, following Israel’s provocative announcement that it had given preliminary approval for the construction of 1,600 more apartments for Jewish settlers in a Palestinian neighborhood of eastern occupied Jerusalem. Unlike President Obama, who seems to be prioritizing issues like the health care reform bill and United States economic recovery, AIPAC claims to know what America’s ‘real’ interests are and how to achieve them. "The administration should make a conscious effort to move away from public demands and unilateral deadlines directed at Israel, with whom the United States shares basic, fundamental, and strategic interests". AIPAC also suggested that the American leadership should concentrate on a confrontation with Iran. "The escalated rhetoric of recent days only serves as a distraction from the substantive work that needs to be done with regard to the urgent issue of Iran's rapid pursuit of nuclear weapons”.

Jewish lobbies certainly do not hold back when it comes to pressuring states, world leaders and even super powers. AIPAC’s behavior last week reminded me of the Jewish declaration of war against Nazi Germany in 1933.

Not many people are aware that in March 1933, long before Hitler became the undisputed leader of Germany and began restricting the rights of German Jews, the American Jewish Congress announced a massive protest at Madison Square Gardens and called for an American boycott of German goods.

I obviously do not think that Obama has anything in common with Hitler. There is not much the two leaders share in terms of their philosophy, their attitude to humanism or their view of world peace.(1) However, it is hard to turn a blind eye to the similarity between AIPAC’s behaviour last week and the Jewish American Congress’ conduct in 1933.

On March 24, 1933, The Daily Express (London) published an article announcing that the Jews had already launched their boycott against Germany and threatened a forthcoming "holy war". The Express urged Jews everywhere to boycott German goods and demonstrate actively against German economic interests.

The Express said that Germany was "now confronted with an international boycott of its trade, its finances, and its London, New York, Paris and Warsaw, Jewish businessmen are united to go on an economic crusade."

Jewish texts tend to glaze over the fact that Hitler's March 28 1933, ordering a boycott against Jewish stores and goods, was an escalation in direct response to the declaration of war on Germany by the worldwide Jewish leadership. In fact the only Jewish enclave that is willing to admit the historical order of events that led to the destruction of European Jewry, is the anti Zionist Jewish Orthodox sect known as the Torah Jews. I assume that, similarly, once things turn sour between America and its Jewish lobbies, Jewish tribal ideologists will be the first to forget that it was the Jewish American establishment that worked so hard to nourish the inevitable animosity.

If you wonder why Jewish politicians repeat exactly the same mistakes time after time, the answer is easy. Jews do not know their Jewish history for there is no Jewish history.

As it happens, Jewish history is a set of fables tied clumsily together to portray a false image of a victorious narrative. Jewish history is a set of blind spots bundled together by myth, fantasies and lies, in order to present the illusion of a coherent past narrative and a vague semblance of chronology. Israeli professor Shlomo Sand taught us that the Zionists, and to a certain extent their Bundist rivals, were far from being shy of “inventing” the history of their Jewish nationhood. But it goes further, even the holocaust, which could be a major illuminating corner in Jewish reflection, was transformed into a rigid chapter that perpetuated blindness. As a vision of the past, it is there to hide and to disguise, rather than to reveal and inform. In a Jewish history book, you won’t read about ‘Judea’s declaration of war against Nazi Germany’. In Jewish history texts chronology always launches when Jewish suffering begins. Jewish history transcends itself beyond the notion of causality. It persuades us that persecution of Jews occurs out of nowhere. The Jewish historical text avoids the necessary questions as to why hostility evolves time after time, why do Jews buy so many enemies and so easily?

AIPAC leaders are clearly repeating the grave mistakes of their forebearers: the American Jewish Congress. They do not learn from their history, for there is not a single Jewish history text to learn from. Instead of a history text, Jews have the Holocaust, an event that matured into a religion.

The holocaust religion is obviously Judeo-centric to the bone. It defines the Jewish Raison d'être. For the Jews it signifies a total fatigue of the Diaspora, it regards the Goy as a potential ‘irrational’ murderer. The new Jewish religion preaches revenge. It even establishes a new Jewish God. Instead of old Yehova, the new Jewish God is ‘the Jew’ himself: the brave and witty being, the one who survived the ultimate and most sinister genocide, the one who came out of the ashes and stepped forward into a new beginning.

To a certain extent the Holocaust religion signals the Jewish departure from monotheism, for every Jew is a potential little God or Goddess. Gilad Shalit is the God ‘innocence’, Abe Foxman is the God anti Semitism, Maddof is the God of swindling, Greenspan is the God of ‘good economy’, Lord Goldsmith is the God of the ‘green light’, Lord Levy is the God of fundraising, Wolfowitz is the God of new American expansionism and AIPAC is the American Olympus where American elected human beings come to ask for mercy and forgiveness for being Goyim and for daring to occasionally tell the truth about Israel.

The holocaust religion is the conclusive stage in the Jewish dialectic; it is the end of Jewish history for it is the deepest and most sincere form of ‘self love’. Rather than inventing an abstract God who prefers the Jews to be the chosen people, in the holocaust religion the Jews cut out the divine middle substance. The Jew just chooses oneself. This is why Jewish identity politics transcends itself beyond the notion of history. God is the master of ceremony. And the new Jewish God cannot be subject to humanly contingent occurrences. The new Jewish God, i.e. ‘the Jew’, just re-writes fables that serve the tribe at any given time. This may explain why the Holocaust religion is protected by laws, while every other historical chapter and narrative is debated openly by historians, intellectuals and ordinary people

As one may guess, with such a self-centered intensive world-view, not much room is left for humanity, grace or universalism. It is far from being clear whether Jews can collectively recover from their new religion. However, it is crucial that every humanist stands up against the holocaust religion that can only spread misery, death and carnage.

(1) Unlike President Obama who postponed his Far East trip just to meet Israeli PM and sent his Secretary of State to appease his Jewish opponents promising more confrontation with Iran, Hitler actually reacted furiously to Jewish pressure.


  Friday, March 26, 2010

Netenyahu's Ring and the Legitimacy of Zionism

By Ahmed Amr

You can’t make this stuff up. It was a Monday, the first day of spring in 2010, a time usually reserved for a little fresh air. Alas, the Prime Minister of Israel was dispensing noxious fumes in a speech to AIPAC, the pro-Israeli lobbying conglomerate that is considered the single most effective arm-twisting organization in Washington. Did I forget to mention the Prime Minister’s name? It’s Benjamin Netanyahu. The significance of that factoid will become apparent as we move along.

Here’s part of what Netanyahu had to say to the AIPAC faithful and the drooling congressmen and senators who came to pay homage to the prince of Israel. “The attempt by many to describe the Jews as foreign colonialists in their own homeland is one of the great lies of modern times. In my office, I have on display a signet ring that was loaned to me by Israel's Department of Antiquities. The ring was found next to the Western wall, but it dates back some 2,800 years ago, two hundred years after King David turned Jerusalem into our capital city. The ring is a seal of a Jewish official, and inscribed on it in Hebrew is his name: Netanyahu. His name was Netanyahu Ben-Yoash. My first name, Benjamin, dates back 1,000 years earlier to Benjamin, the son of Jacob. One of Benjamin's brothers was named Shimon, which also happens to be the first name of my good friend, Shimon Peres, the President of Israel. Nearly 4,000 years ago, Benjamin, Shimon and their ten brothers roamed the hills of Judea. Ladies and Gentlemen, the connection between the Jewish people and the Land of Israel cannot be denied. The connection between the Jewish people and Jerusalem cannot be denied. The Jewish people were building Jerusalem 3,000 year ago and the Jewish people are building Jerusalem today. Jerusalem is not a settlement. It is our capital.”

There you have it folks. If your name is Benjamin Netanyahu, what more justification do you need to expropriate land from the native Palestinians? What’s all this fuss about international law and the indigenous rights of the native inhabitants of Palestine? When will the Palestinians stop ranting about their bonds to the land of their ancestors?

What the Israeli bashers don’t seem to grasp is that Israel’s Prime Minister is named Benjamin and Israel’s president is named Shimon. Not only that, Benjamin has a very old ring that he found in a pawn shop next to the Western Wall. And here’s the kicker, it was the seal of a Jewish official who used to work for the East Jerusalem Water Company 2,800 years ago and, you won’t believe this, his name was also Netanyahu. An interesting factoid that the Prime Minister omitted from his speech is that this very same ancient Jewish official took early retirement and opened a falafel stand to supplement his pension. That’s why the ancient name of Netanyahu is still legend in the Holy Land.

Now apparently some people can’t handle the facts - especially Palestinian people. But the rest of the world knows the indisputable truth - Jacob had a dozen kids and one of them was named Benjamin and another one was named Shimon. I can’t remember the name of the other ten - but it doesn’t really matter because they used to play together in a nursery in the Judean hills and they graduated with honors in roaming. That’s what they did in nurseries back in Ye Olde Holy Land - they made the kids roam.

If Palestinians had a lick of sense, they would at least have had the vision to name their kids Shimon or Benjamin or Avraham. With names like Simon, Michael, Ahmed and Ibrahim, how can they possibly make audacious claims to their ‘right’ to remain on their ancestral lands? I bet none of them have rings like Netanyahu? Every time you talk to one of these Palestinian agitators - all they can come up with is the keys to their homes and land deeds going back hundreds of years? If they were serious about peace, they’d start shopping around for seals at pawn shops. But you know the Palestinians - they never miss a chance to buy a ring and they have a stubborn militant streak about what to call their little darlings.

There is only one little problem with Netanyahu’s rationale. Benjamin’s father, Ben-Zion Netanyahu, used to have a different name. Before Bibi’s daddy immigrated to Palestine from Lithuania, the family name was Milikovsky. See, this is where I get a little bit confused. Wouldn’t the Prime Minister have a better claim for encroaching on Palestinian land if he found a 2,800 year old ring from an ancient Jewish official named Milikovsky?

To his credit, Benjamin Milikovsky (aka Bibi Netanyahu) is a chip off the old block. His father, the senior Milikovsky, was considered a right wing radical even by Menachem Begin. He famously said "The two states solution doesn't exist. There are no two people here. There is a Jewish people and an Arab population. There are no Palestinian people. So you don't create a nation for an imaginary people. They only call themselves a people to fight the Jews."

See, the ten million imaginary Palestinians will stop at nothing. They insist on calling themselves a people. What kind of indistinguishable peace loving ‘population’ would do a thing like that? You’re obviously spoiling for a fight if you start calling yourself a people. Would it kill them to name their kids Benjamin or Shimon? Zionist colonial settlers, like Bibi Milikovsky’s Lithuanian daddy, had the sense to change their family names. In the name of peace, why can’t the Palestinians do the same?

As a sign of their commitment to a peaceful two state solution, the United States must insist that the Palestinians rename their children and dig up some old rings. A good place to start is near that shish kebab stall that stood by the Western Wall 2,800 years ago. Just ask Bibi Milikovsky for a treasure hunting map.

Of course, an alternative solution is for Netanyahu to reclaim his Lithuanian heritage and start addressing us as Bibi Milikovsky - son of a Zionist colonial settler. That might make him a little more flexible on Jerusalem.

This name thing is all so very confusing. I think somebody is messing with my head and trying to propagate one of the ‘great lies of modern times.’ You know the one about how a Milikovsky who becomes a Netanyahu gets to strut around like he’s a native of the Holy Land and brag about how his ancestors built Jerusalem.

- Ahmed Amr is an Arab-American commentator and the former editor of He is the Author of “The Sheep and the Guardians - Diary of a SEC Sanctioned Swindle.” He contributed this article to

Who is Killing Whom in Palestine?

By Sonja Karkar

One man dead in Israel and the whole world knows. He actually was not Israeli, but an unfortunate immigrant worker from Thailand.

We have been told who killed him too: not by name, but by some shadowy nom de guerre, used by jihadist groups some claim to be loosely affiliated with al-Qaeda in Iraq and elsewhere. The unknown group in Gaza, Ansar al-Sunna, claimed responsibility for the rocket fired into Israel that caused the man’s death by shrapnel.

The Hamas government has had its own problems with such groups, which have challenged its rule in Gaza. But, that is neither here nor there for Israel.

Israel has already said that its response will be strong. And sure enough, Israeli bombers have pounded the southern-most part of Gaza, so far killing and wounding some fourteen Palestinian civilians including children, three of them critically.

The proportionality of the response is totally unbalanced, but more outrageous is that Israel should resort to such measures at all. Israel’s recent provocations have been like a red rag to a bleeding bull and these cannot be discounted in understanding the cycle of violence.

The targeted assassination of a Palestinian Hamas leader in a foreign country by agents using stolen identities and forged passports turned the spotlight on Israel, which neither denied nor admitted to the crime, while all the evidence clearly incriminated it. Briefly, the world was shocked, not so much that a state would sanction a killing in the first place, but that the killers would violate the sovereignty and security of other countries to carry out such a plan.

That modus operandi is common practice for Israel whether it perpetrated this particular killing or not. Of course, its victims are always “terrorists” as the Palestinians know only too well. Even their children are fair game.

In Nablus two sixteen-year-old cousins were shot in the heart and the head for throwing stones. One is dead, the other critically injured. Similar incidents occur without any international outcries throughout the West Bank where protests by Palestinians against Israeli oppression, discrimination and expansionism continue with a courageous steadfastness. No people would willingly give up their birthright and land.

As the bulldozers move in to tear down houses and rip up olive groves, stones against these military machines are the only weapons these angry youths have to defend their family homes and livelihoods. However, the consequences for stone-throwers and their families alike are devastating with death, injury, imprisonment, torture and expulsion just some of the punishments meted out.

In Hebron, repeated settler violence has led to the shooting and beating of Palestinian civilians in the Old City and nearby neighbourhoods. Protests against these continual violations to their lives have only invited more attacks on the Palestinians from Israeli soldiers claiming to quell the protests. Tear gas and rubber-coated bullets have recently injured some 47 residents, in response, says Israel’s military, to stones thrown, although there is no way of knowing who fired the first shot or threw the first stone.

In East Jerusalem, the Israeli government announces almost every other day new plans to construct Jewish-only housing units on land illegally seized from the Palestinians. Families have been evicted from homes they have lived in for decades while Jewish settlers are indecently moved in before their very eyes. Palestinian houses are demolished in Palestinian neighbourhoods to make way for encroaching Jewish ones or to replace them with Jewish neighbourhoods. The latest are the 1,600 illegal units announced while the US vice-president Joe Biden was in Israel seeking to re-start peace negotiations on the understanding that settlement building would cease.

Not only is Palestinian land being stolen and lives destroyed, but Palestinian religious sites of centuries are being desecrated. Christians and Muslims alike are struggling to stop Israel’s Judaisation of their cities, and Jerusalem particularly, has always been part of this creeping takeover, but never as intensely as now.

Israeli excavations in and around Islam’s third most holy site in Jerusalem, the Haram al Sharif compound which houses two famous mosques, are seriously threatening its integrity and are in breach of the Fourth Geneva Convention which prohibits the destruction of a World Heritage site. Just 50 metres away, a Jewish synagogue is being built in the Muslim quarter while one of the city’s oldest Muslim cemeteries is the site selected for Israel’s Museum of Tolerance. Not only that, Israel has periodically set up military checkpoints to prevent Palestinian men from attending the Al Aqsa mosque for Friday prayers, a prelude no doubt to barring Palestinians from entering the city at all.

The whole Arab and Muslim world knows that Israel wants to turn Jerusalem into an exclusively Jewish city and expand its territory from the Mediterranean to the Jordan River, if not further. Up till now, that did not seem to bother the US government, but after Israel insulted Vice-President Biden, this administration might just be realising that its indulged acolyte can no longer be controlled and threatens its own interests in the region.

Netanyahu’s conciliatory message to US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton offered the removal of some of the 500 plus military checkpoints that have caught Palestinian civilians in an impossible grid of shuffle-through turnstiles and lockdowns inside the West Bank. It is not the first time that checkpoints have been dismantled only to have new ones erected elsewhere. He also suggested the possibility of transferring more land to the control of the Palestinian Authority. That is a sham we have seen repeated all too often - talking peace and making a few paltry concessions while creating facts on the ground, which make any viable state impossible. But it is the Palestinians we should be worried about.

Aside from the walls and laws that imprison the Palestinians already, Israeli leaders, academics and military experts, and backed by Zionist supporters, have spoken of transfer, curbing Palestinian births and putting them on a “diet”. The most chilling proposal was put by a former chief rabbi in May 2007 when he advocated carpet bombing Gaza. His son who is also a chief rabbi elaborated: "If they don't stop after we kill 100, then we must kill a thousand, and if they do not stop after 1,000 then we must kill 10,000. If they still don't stop we must kill 100,000, even a 1,000,000. Whatever it takes to make them stop."

Such remarks and actions by a state drunk on its own ill-gotten power are plainly genocidal and no peace talks are going to stop Israel in its tracks. There is, however, one sure remedy – the enforcement of international law by whatever legal means necessary, even if that requires UN-backed sanctions or the cutting of billions of US aid to Israel to force Israel to comply. Anything less will soon answer the question of who is killing whom for those too blind to see the truth already being played out in full view of the whole world.

- Sonja Karkar is the founder of Women for Palestine and one of the founders and co-convener of Australians for Palestine in Melbourne, Australia. She is also the editor of and contributes articles on Palestine regularly to various publications. She contributed this article to Contact her at:

Water Day Doesn't Quench Growing Thirst of Gazans

By Dr. Mona El-Farra - Gaza

Toni Morrison wrote, "All water has a perfect memory and is forever trying to get back to where it was."

I feel it is the same for Palestinian refugees, who have struggled for decades for their right to return home. I thought of this connection between water and refugees during a recent meeting about the Middle East Children's Alliance's (MECA) Maia Project with Mr. Aidan O'Leary, Deputy Director of UNRWA Operations in Gaza. UNRWA provides assistance, protection and advocacy for 4.7 million Palestinian refugees in the West Bank, the Gaza Strip, Jordan, Lebanon, and Syria. We are working with UNRWA to install locally-made water purification and desalination units in their schools. Mr. Oeley expressed his total appreciation for the Maia Project and stressed that providing clean drinking water to children is among the highest priorities and needs for Gaza schools. Mr. John Ging, UNRWA's Director of Operations in Gaza, also expressed his admiration for the Maia Project.

The situation in Gaza continues to deteriorate under Israeli military occupation and siege. The refugees are often the hardest hit by rising unemployment and poverty. Access to clean water is one of the many basic needs that UNRWA is no longer able to meet. A recent UNRWA report states that the most common infectious diseases affecting Palestinian refugees in Gaza--who make up more than three-quarters of the population--are directly related to inadequate supplies of safe water and poor sanitation: diarrhea, acute bloody diarrhea and viral hepatitis.

Creating a positive impact on children's health is the main goal of the Maia Project, and working on water access when you live in Gaza is self-explanatory. The reality is that tap water in Gaza is undrinkable due to its bad quality and contamination. At best, when you have access to a running tap, the water is not clean and is very salty. Our daily water consumption averages around 78 liters a day per person, while Israelis average over 300 liters each, more than four times as much. Israel is under increasing scrutiny by international organizations including Amnesty International for "denying Palestinians the right to access adequate water by maintaining total control over the shared water resources and pursuing discriminatory policies."

We move to help the children as quickly as we can. Children in Gaza will have the chance to drink clean and soft water, but only at the rate in which we can implement the Maia Project. And we race against time. The UN estimates that Gaza will have no drinking water in the next 15 years.

Water is life, but here in Gaza, it can also bring death. Numerous military attacks on the Gaza Strip have devastated Gaza’s water infrastructure. The twenty-two day assault in January 2009 destroyed or rendered unusable an estimated 800 of Gaza’s 2,000 wells, and caused $5.97 million in damage to our water and wastewater treatment facilities. Since January 2009, the Gaza health ministry and the World Health Organization have issued drinking, seafood and swimming advisories.

We yearn for our water and our freedoms to return to us. We roll up our sleeves and hope for rain, the kind of rain that floods the hearts and minds of those who hunger and thirst for justice.

Here in Gaza, we are still thirsty.

- Dr. Mona El Farra & MECA invite you to sign their petition to provide "Clean Water for the Children of Palestine," and become further involved in the Maia Project, which works to provide clean drinking water to Palestinian children by installing water purification and desalination units at schools and kindergartens in Gaza. This article was contributed to

  Tuesday, March 23, 2010

6srael to triple West Bank settlements

zionite parasite
The leader of Israeli settlers' council has said the regime plans to triple Jewish settlements in the occupied West Bank despite international pressures to halt settlement expansions on Palestinian lands.

"It's totally viable to envisage a million Jews living in Judea and Samaria," said Naftali Bennett on Tuesday.

Bennett criticized the Tel Aviv regime for enforcing a temporary halt to construction in the West Bank, claiming, "We're doing everything in our power to unfreeze the freeze."

In November, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu announced a 10-month ban on construction of new settlement units in a move aimed at restarting long-stalled peace talks with the Palestinians after months of US pressure.

"It would be a great mistake to continue this freeze," Bennett declared, adding that "Jews can build in New York, Moscow and Paris, but in our own land we can't build? That's nuts," he told Reuters.

In an address to an annual conference of Israel's pressure group, AIPAC, in Washington, Netanyahu rejected calls for halting settlement activities in Jerusalem al-Quds, claiming the city as "part of Israel in any peace settlement" and the regime's capital.

The Tel Aviv regime has so far rejected international demands for a permanent halt to illegal settlement construction - a key issue in efforts to restart Middle East peace talks with the Palestinians.

Last week, the Israeli interior ministry gave a green light to the construction of 1,600 new settlement units in Ramat Shlomo neighborhood in the mainly Arab East al-Quds during a visit by US Vice President Joe Biden, supposedly to revive the so-called peace process.

Prominent American daily The New York Times described Israel's decision to authorize the new settlement expansion in East al-Quds as "a new record for diplomatic stupidity."

The settlement construction on occupied Palestinian land is in violation of the United Nations Security Council Resolutions 446, 452 and 465.


The "I-Word" Hillary Didn't Use - Still Not in the U. S. Vocabulary

UK expels 6sraeli 'diplomat' over Dubai terror

The United Kingdom has ordered the expulsion of a senior Israeli diplomat over the use of fake British passports in the terrorist murder of a Hamas commander in Dubai.

"I have asked that a member of the embassy of Israel be withdrawn from the UK as a result of this affair, and this is taking place," Foreign Secretary David Miliband said Tuesday.

The expelled Israeli 'diplomat' is widely reported to be a Mossad operative in the regime's embassy in London.

Miliband said the Tel Aviv regime is to blame for misuse of British passports in the terror operation.

Miliband told the parliament there were compelling reasons to believe Israel was responsible for the misuse of British passports in the assassination of Mahmud al-Mabhuh, who was drugged and suffocated in his hotel room in a terrorist operation in Dubai on January 19.

Tel Aviv's spy agency Mossad is widely reported to have masterminded the terror scheme. Israeli officials have not denied involvement in the terrorist operation. Moreover, Israeli media have been boasting Mossad's expert operational planning in the terror of al-Mabhuh and other prior operations.

The operation carried out by a terror squad comprised of twelve British, six Irish, four French, three Australian and a German passport holder that are believed to have been Mossad agents, according to Dubai police.

Israeli and European media have reported that Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu had authorized the terror operation against the Hamas commander in a meeting with Mossad's chief Mier Dagan in early January in Tel Aviv.


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UK Expels Israeli Diplomat over Dubai Hit; Israel 'Disappointed'

Israeli MP likens British to "dogs" for Israeli expulsion

US Department of Justice Asked to Regulate AIPAC as a Foreign Agent of the 6sraeli Government

WASHINGTON, March 17 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- The US Department of Justice has been formally asked to begin regulating the American Israel Public Affairs Committee (AIPAC) as the foreign agent of the Israeli Ministry of Foreign Affairs. A 392 page legal filing presented by a four person IRmep delegation in a two hour meeting with top officials of the Internal Security Section substantiated the following case for AIPAC's immediate registration:

  1. AIPAC is a spinoff of an organization already ordered by the DOJ to register as an Israeli foreign agent. In November of 1962 the American Zionist Council was ordered by the Attorney General to begin filing disclosures as an Israeli foreign agent under the 1938 Foreign Agents Registration Act. Six weeks later, former AZC employees incorporated the American Israel Public Affairs Committee in Washington, DC, taking over the AZC's lobbying activities. AIPAC did not register as a foreign agent.
  2. AIPAC's founder Isaiah L. Kenen was the chief information officer for the Israeli Ministry of Foreign Affairs in New York and for a time duly registered in that role. The Justice Department ordered Kenen to personally re-register after he formally left the Israeli Ministry of Foreign Affairs to head up private lobbying and publicity for the Israeli government at the nonprofit American Zionist Council. Kenen never complied with the order.
  3. Espionage related FBI investigations in 1984 and 2005 reveal AIPAC's ongoing stealth foreign agency activities. Declassified FBI files released on the Internet last week reveal that in 1984 AIPAC and the Israeli Ministry of Economics were investigated for jointly obtaining and circulating classified US economic data to obtain favorable trade benefits for Israel. In 2005 Pentagon Colonel Lawrence Franklin pled guilty and two AIPAC employees were indicted for obtaining and circulating classified US national defense information to Israeli government officials allegedly in the interest of fomenting US action against Iran.
  4. AIPAC's executive committee consists of the original member organizations of the AZC in addition to newer members. The Conference of Presidents of Major Jewish Organizations, the umbrella group of AIPAC's executive committee, is housed in the same New York office as the World Zionist Organization – American Section, a registered foreign agent that is heavily involved in illegal settlement expansion according to Israeli prosecutor Thalia Sasson.

According to Grant F. Smith, director of IRmep, the case for reregulating AIPAC as a foreign agent immediately is compelling. "AIPAC was designed to supplant the American Zionist Council as the arm of the Israeli Ministry of Foreign Affairs in the United States after the DOJ ordered the AZC to register as a foreign agent. As such, Americans should have full public access to biannual FARA registrations detailing AIPAC's publicity campaigns, lobbying expenditures, funding flows, activities of its offices in Israel and internal consultations with its foreign principals - particularly over such controversial issues as illegal settlements and US foreign aid."

Concerned organizations and individuals who wish to supplement the Department of Justice filing or participate in future negotiations with law enforcement officials should contact the Institute for Research: Middle Eastern Policy, Inc. at or 202-342-7325. IRmep is a private nonprofit that studies how warranted law enforcement and civil action can improve U.S. Middle East policy.

SOURCE Institute for Research: Middle Eastern Policy

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