Getting Away With Murder

Gaza

Gaza

YOU’VE got to hand it to the Israeli public relations flacks: only they could convince you that killing children was an act of self-defence.

As the recent bombing of Gaza began, Israeli Foreign Minister Tzipi Livni gave instructions for the Foreign Ministry to take “emergency measures to adapt Israel’s public relations to the ongoing escalation in the Gaza Strip”. Livni went on to call for foreign language speakers to put Israel’s case to the world.

In Australia, the ABC relies for “independent” comment on the smooth Mark Regev, an official spokesman for the Israeli Government, and Martin Indyk, a former official of the American Israel Public Affairs Committee.

It’s the oldest trick in the book: if they look and sound like us, we are more likely to be sympathetic towards them. Anyone putting an alternative view is immediately cast as anti-Semitic. Our media glibly accept the excuses of the Israeli public relations machine and ignore the horrific realities of Israel’s barbaric behaviour in Gaza.

It’s the same in most Western countries – the groundwork has been laid and the responses of world leaders are predictable. When the Israeli attacks began, right on cue Western leaders regretted the killing of children but in the same breath condemned Palestinians for firing rockets from their walled ghetto into Israel.

While French President Nicolas Sarkozy called for an immediate ceasefire by both sides, US President George Bush and British Prime Minister Gordon Brown called only for Hamas to halt rockets fired from Gaza. They did not call for Israel to halt its bombing.

There was a lot of handwringing by world leaders but no tough talk when it came to the bombing of the Islamic University of Gaza or the killing of 40 civilians in a United Nations school. We saw the same during the 2006 Israeli war against Lebanon.

It all reminds me of an old story from the days of the Roman Empire. The Emperor Nero was upset that his prized lions were being distressed by Christians who ran away from them in the Colosseum. Nero ordered that at the next circus a Christian was to be buried up to his neck in the sand to make things easier for the lions. When the lions entered the ring, the biggest and meanest saw the hapless condemned, swaggered over and stood astride the Christian’s head, roaring for approval from the crowd. At that moment, the Christian craned his neck and bit off the lion’s testicles. The crowd was shocked. “Fight fair! Fight fair!” they yelled.

It seems that no matter what injustice Palestinians have suffered in the past 60 years, they should be grateful for the privilege of being able to live under the jackboot of Israeli occupation.

For three years since daring to democratically elect a government not favoured by Israel or the US, the people of Gaza have been subjected to a starvation blockade. Yet the civilised world has barely raised a note of concern. Is this the standard by which we judge the behaviour of nations? We talk about Darfur and Zimbabwe but say little of the gross abuse of human rights that occurs daily in the illegally occupied territories of the West Bank and Gaza. Our double standards have made a mockery of the doctrine of humanitarian intervention.

Our failure to condemn the totally disproportionate, not to say illegal, attacks by the Israeli Defence Force has changed the way conflict is regarded around the world. Last August, Russia employed the same tactics in its attack on Georgia as Israel did against Lebanon.

Neither Russia nor China sought UN Security Council emergency meetings in response to the Israeli attacks on Gaza. What happens in the Middle East today sets the standard for the world. And that applies to weapons as well as tactics.

Using cluster bombs or phosphorus bombs against civilian targets is perfectly legal if you can believe the Israeli Defence Force.

Assassinating Hamas leaders during a ceasefire does not constitute a breach. Collective punishments against communities, obstructing medical and humanitarian relief – all part of Israel’s tactics – could now be considered acceptable behaviour in national and international conflict.

How can we criticise brutal regimes elsewhere in the world when we condone worse atrocities when they are committed by Israel? The Security Council has become a laughing stock. The Secretary-General is a pathetic figure reduced to faint pleas for a ceasefire while UN personnel are murdered on the ground in Gaza. And who will pick up the pieces when the bloodshed has finally stopped? The rest of the world will, of course. Through the world’s contributions to the UN, its largest budget item is the UN Relief and Works Agency. With an annual $700 million budget going to support Palestinian refugees, the biggest component is being spent on Gaza.

Even before the Israeli bombing and invasion of Gaza, the UN Human Rights Council Special Rapporteur responsible for reporting on conditions in the occupied territories, Richard Falk, was denied entry to Gaza.

Last month, Falk called for an International Criminal Court investigation to determine whether the Israeli civilian leaders and military commanders responsible for the Gaza siege should be indicted and prosecuted for violations of international criminal law.

To that long list of war crimes and crimes against humanity we can now add the atrocities committed in this recent invasion. But, with its superior public relations forces, Israel can easily deflect concern about its barbaric assault.

And will the world call Israel’s leaders to account for their crimes? Not likely. Western leaders – including Australia’s – will merely call on Palestinians to fight fair.
Insight-info

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The Tantura Massacre one month after the Dair Yasin Massacre

Palestinian history in the 60 years of occupation is full of murders which have been carried out by Israel against this nation. But, according to some Arab and Jewish historians, the Tantura Massacre was the most brutal massacre that the Zionists carried out against the Palestinian nation.

 

During the same time of the 60th anniversary of the occupation of Palestine and the Tantura Massacre the news station Al-Jazeera held a conversation between some historians researching Palestinian massacres in this region.

 

The Israeli army on the 23rd of May, 1948 massacred the residents of the Tantura village after occupying Haifa. After this they started exiling people from the West Bank to Jordan, Syria, and Iraq.

 

Mustafa Kibha, an Arab historian, stated in regards to the Tantura Massacre: “The Israel army decided to attack Tantura, which was comprised of 1500 families, because it was the weakest area south of Haifa and because of its special location next to the Mediterranean Sea. It was much easier to reach than the other villages near it.

 

Kibha added: “The Israeli army attacked this village on the 22nd of May, 1948 from the sea before the ground.”

 

This historian clearly stated: “The Israeli army attacked that village because they would send weapons and military equipment to Palestinians.”

 

Full article: www.insight-info.com

Challenging Ignorance on Islam

I have faith in the American people – I know they can come out of this ignorance and know Islam for what it really is.

 

crescent star

 

 

* “We should invade [Muslim] countries, kill their leaders and convert them to Christianity.”
Columnist Ann Coulter,
National Review Online, Sept. 13, 2001

* “Just turn [the sheriff] loose and have him arrest every Muslim that crosses the state line.”
Rep. C. Saxby Chambliss (R-GA),
chairman of the House Subcommittee on Terrorism and Homeland security and Senate candidate, to Georgia law officers, November 2001

* “Islam is a religion in which God requires you to send your son to die for him. Christianity is a faith where God sent his Son to die for you.”
Attorney General John Ashcroft,
interview on Cal Thomas radio, November 2001

* “(Islam) is a very evil and wicked religion wicked, violent and not of the same god (as Christianity).”
Rev. Franklin Graham, head of the Billy Graham Evangelistic Association, November 2001.

* “Islam is Evil,Christ is King.”
Allegedly written in marker by law enforcement agents on a Muslim prayer calendar in the home of a Muslim being investigated by police in Dearborn, Michigan, July 2002.
___________________

People with power and influence in the U.S. have been saying some very stupid things about Islam and about Muslims since September 11.

Some of it is rooted in conscious malice, and ethnic prejudice that spills over into religious bigotry. But some is rooted in sheer historical and geographical ignorance. This is a country, after all, in which only a small minority of high school students can readily locate Afghanistan on the map, or are aware that Iranians and Pakistanis are not Arabs. As an educator, in Asian Studies, at a fairly elite university, I am painfully aware of this ignorance. But I realize it serves a purpose. It is highly useful to a power
structure that banks on knee-jerk popular support whenever it embarks on a new military venture, at some far-off venue, on false pretexts immediately discernable to the better educated, but lost on the
general public.

The generally malleable mainstream press takes care of the rest.

When offered the honor of becoming President of Israel, Albert Einstien replied, “No thanks, I’d rather win the Nobel Peace prize, I have no interest in Israel.”

“Suppose you were an idiot. And suppose you were a member of Congress. But I repeat myself.”
— Mark Twain

“Our enemies are innovative and resourceful, and so are we. They never stop thinking about new ways to harm our country and our people, and neither do we.”
–George W. Bush

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Cheerleading Genocide

With spectacular fanfare and a plethora of highlighted events, Israel celebrated its 60th birthday on 18 May 2008.

israel 60

According to an Israeli government website called Israelfestival.com, the festival included “non-stop entertainment, [a] fashion show, a variety of ethnic food for sale, Israeli folk dancing, arts and
crafts, Israeli and Jewish cultural and heritage pavilions and art exhibits”.

The centrepiece ceremony takes place in West Jerusalem and be attended by Israel’s political and military leaders as well as foreign dignitaries. Among those expected are US President George W Bush,
French President Nicolas Sarkozy and German Chancellor Angela Merkel.

Israeli media and non-governmental organisations have already begun celebrations in earnest. For example, Israeli television has begun airing a new series called Shishim (meaning “60”), which looks back at the six decades since Israel was created in May 1948. The series, which began 31 March, is divided into six episodes, each devoted to one of the decades following the founding of the state.

Israel hopes that the high-pitched celebrations will serve as an opportunity to promote Israel and enhance its questionable standing abroad. “It is an opportunity to celebrate our achievements, our
successes, our national being,” boasted Israeli Foreign Minister Tzipi Livni, who was not yet born in 1948.

From the Zionist viewpoint, Israel is a story of success. Today, Israel is a political and military force to be reckoned with, even if its power is based on the patronage of foreign entities. A country of
no more than seven million people, including nearly 1.5 million non-Jews (mainly Palestinians), Israel more or less directs the politics and policies of world’s only superpower, the United States, thanks mainly to powerful Jewish lobbies in Washington.

The power of the Jewish lobby largely explains how massive American financial and military support is to Israel, which is measured in hundreds of billions of dollars. Were it not for this nearly unlimited
financial, economic, technological, political and military backing, Israel would never have been able to survive, especially given its predator tactics.

Israel, which has been mounting a vitriolic incitement campaign against Iran for its acquisition of nuclear technology, is a nuclear power on par with other established nuclear powers, and its military
supremacy — at least until summer of 2006 — has covered the vast bulk of the Middle East from Turkey to Iran and from North Africa to east and central Africa.

Economically, Israel is also a regional economic superpower, with a GNP bordering on $0.5 trillion. In fact, Israel is among a few pioneering states in the field of electronics and the development of
new generations of medicine, with Israeli pharmaceutical firms’ share of the world market reaching billions of dollars.

Notwithstanding all its success and achievements, Israel remains a state based on racism, apartheid and criminality against the Palestinian people whose homeland it seized and whom it is trying to
obliterate to this day. To be sure, Israel has failed. Palestinians remain, both as a human entity and as a national entity.

Israel, in order to achieve its goals, always sought to acquire, by hook or by crook, as much Palestinian land as possible while taking in as few Palestinian people as possible. The policies and tactics employed by Israel to achieve this goal are both blunt and insidious and amount to ethnic cleansing and the international crime of genocide. Israel has institutionalised racism, bulldozed hundreds of Palestinian towns and villages, shamelessly confiscated Palestinian land and property, including private homes, and recently built the so-called “Separation Wall” in the West Bank, aimed first and foremost at annexing to Israel as much Palestinian land as possible.

On top of all of this, Israel has perfected the practice of state-sponsored mass terror; a deliberate policy aimed at making Palestinian life as unbearable as possible with the ultimate goal of forcing Palestinians to leave their homes and land altogether. This is done in broad daylight; in full view of key world powers, such as the US, EU, Russia and China, which either keep silent or issue a few terse and innocuous words about the need to stick to a peace process that has form but very little substance.

Today, as Israel is getting ready to celebrate its 60th birthday, the massive theft of Palestinian land in the West Bank, especially in East Jerusalem and its surroundings, continues unabated. Against all odds, the Palestinian people have survived. Indeed, Palestinian resilience to Israeli oppression is legendary — a trait that continues to baffle and frustrate Israeli strategists. Perhaps it is this resilience that is encouraging influential Israeli political, military and religious leaders to openly call for genocide of the Palestinians.

Recently, Israel’s Deputy Defence Minister Matan Vilnai threatened to “inflict a greater holocaust” on Palestinians. Similarly, a growing number of rabbis associated with the two largest religious camps in
Israel, the Haredi ultra-Orthodox religious sector and the national Zionist religious sector, issuing one edict after the other, permitting soldiers to murder at will Palestinian civilians, including children, on the grounds that in war all among the enemy population ought to be treated as combatants, including children.

One might imagine that this is exaggerated, but it is not. Recently Rabbi Yisrael Rosen, director of the Tsomet Institute, a religious seminary attended by Israeli settlers in the West Bank, declared: “All
of the Palestinians must be killed; men, women, infants, and even their beasts.” And the chief rabbi of the City of Safad, Shmuel Eliyahu, urged the state and the army recently to hang the children of
a Palestinian fighter who last month attacked the Merkaz Haarav Centre, run for Jewish settlers in West Jerusalem, killing eight pre-military Talmudic students in retaliation for the killing by the Israeli army of more than 130 Palestinians, most of them innocent civilians, in the Gaza Strip.

The mushrooming of fascist impulses is not confined to the religious sector. In March, the Israeli media quoted Knesset members and former cabinet ministers as threatening to extend discriminatory laws against non-Jews in ways reminiscent of Nuremberg Laws passed in Nazi Germany. One Israeli Knesset member reportedly told his Arab colleague: “the day will come when we will kick you out of this house.”

Such instances raise no eyebrows in a country where some rabbis, like David Batsri, openly teach that non-Jews are animals and donkeys. A recent opinion survey published this week showed that as many as 75 per cent of Israeli Jews support ethnic cleansing of Arabs from mandate Palestine — Israel proper and the occupied Palestinian territories of the West Bank, East Jerusalem and the Gaza Strip.
Understandably, the poll drew angry reactions from the Israeli Arab community. Jamal Zahalqa, an Israeli Arab Knesset member, suggested that Arabs are being treated in ways similar to the way Jews were treated in the Third Reich ahead of World War II.

“The hateful smell of racism and fascism is wafting everywhere in this country. You must know that we didn’t come to Israel from abroad… On the contrary; it was Israel that invaded us. We are the indigenous people of the land, and we receive our legitimacy from our belonging to this land, not from having Israeli citizenship,” he said.

Zahalqa described the poll as “additional evidence underscoring the growing rampancy of racism and fascism in Israel as a result of the ongoing waves of hate against everything and anything Arab.”

The fears of Zahalqa and other Israeli Arabs are real. Recently, hundreds of Arab residents from Jaffa, Lod and Ramleh took to the streets to protest against the planned eviction by the state of thousands of Arab residents from Jaffa. Authorities had issued warrants for the evacuation and destruction of hundreds of homes, claiming infringements on building regulations. The state also claimed that, “the families [had] lost the right to continue living in their homes, since these homes belonged to their parents … ”

“We are here and we won’t leave. We will either live on this land or die on this land. We will not let you touch our lands or our holy places,” said Sheikh Raed Salah, leader of the Arab movement in Israel. “All your rulings belong in the trashcan. We are not afraid of you. We will continue to live in our homeland,” he added.

Last year, Richard Falk, a renowned American Jewish professor of international law and practice, wrote an article entitled “Slouching toward a Palestinian holocaust,” in which he warned that Israel was moving towards the perpetration of a holocaust against the Palestinians. “Is it an irresponsible overstatement to associate the treatment of Palestinians with this criminalised Nazi record of collective atrocity? I think not,” said Falk.

Justifying the Israel-equals-Nazi analogy, Falk argued that developments in Gaza (the blockade against its estimated 1.5 million inhabitants), were especially disturbing because they expressed
vividly a deliberate intention on the part of Israel and its backers to subject an entire human community to life- endangering conditions of maximal cruelty. “The suggestion that this pattern of conduct is a holocaust-in-the-making represents a rather desperate appeal to the governments of the world and to international public opinion to act urgently to prevent these current genocidal tendencies from culminating into a collective tragedy,” Falk wrote.

In sum, from the standpoint of fascism, Israel has much to celebrate in terms of political and military achievements. But in terms of justice, morality and humanity, one struggles to name a country on
earth that so openly practices oppression and racism. As such Israel, on its 60th birthday, remains what it was when born six decades ago: a state built on blood, murder, theft and lies.

Is Israel about to change its ways? Don’t hold your breath, Israeli leaders might say. Unless, that is, you’re Palestinian.

in Ramallah

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“Liberal” Israelis: Still Crying And Shooting After All These Years

Interesting take on the situation by Lawernce of Cyberia:

anti-zionism

“Crying and shooting” is the term used in Israeli political discourse to describe those Israelis who agonize over what they are doing to the Palestinians, but carry on doing it anyway. It’s a way for Israelis to feel better about themselves, by reasserting their liberal, progressive and humanitarian values, even as they carry out illiberal, regressive and murderous actions.

There was a wonderful example of the phenomenon last week in a column written for Ha’aretz by Bradley Burston. He wrote an agonized column – Our Defense Forces, our war crimes, our terrorism – about the disproportionate number of civilians among the Palestinians killed by the IDF, and specifically about Israeli’s collective refusal to acknowledge their responsibility for the killings.

But his column is like one of those non-apologies you make when you know you should apologize for something, but you’re not really sorry. When instead of saying “I’m sorry for what I did”, you say “I’m sorry if you were offended”, as if it’s the offended feelings that are the problem, not the fact that you said something offensive in the first place.

incident that set off Burston’s “soul-searching” was the killing of Myassar Abu Mu’attaq, and her four children – Rudayna (6) Hana (3), Saleh (4) and Mousad (15 months), photo left by Mohammed Abed for AFP – whose home was destroyed by an Israeli shell as the family sat down to breakfast.

(The IDF initially acknowledged the family had been killed by one of their tank shells which had gone off course, but subsequently claimed that they weren’t really responsible because although they had fired the shell, it had not really hit the house, but had struck instead two nearby Palestinian gunmen who were carrying large amounts of explosives that were detonated by the Israeli shell and indirectly
blew up the Abu Mu’attaq house. This is a variant of the “Ghalia Defence” that the IDF came up with when it shelled a Gaza beach in June 2006, but denied any responsibility for the deaths of the Ghalia
family who had been having a picnic there, claiming that although they fired six shells at the beach – one of which they could not account for – the errant shell could not have killed the Ghalia family who
must have been killed instead by Palestinian munitions hidden under the sand that might have been inadvertantly detonated by the Israeli bombardment. That’s a close echo of what the IDF claims about the Abu Mu’attaq killings: the IDF knows it fired the shells, knows the civilians at the receiving end are dead, but subsequently introduces some intermediate mechanism – mines under the beach, exploding backpacks – that deflects responsibility to an intermediate agent, and allows the army that fires the shells to maintain the pretense that even when it kills civilians its intentions are pure. There’s probably a technical name in medical literature for this phenomenon of shifting blame for guilty actions to an intermediate party).

Full article