We salute you

22/08/2008

By Khalid Amayreh in al-Khalil (Hebron)

As I write these words, two boats with some 46 peace
activists from many nationalities onboard are sailing from
Cyprus to the Gaza Strip in a symbolic effort to break
Israel’s cruel blockade of the coastal Palestinian
territory.

The Free Gaza Movement, the organizer of the bold mission,
includes people from various religious and cultural
backgrounds who are united in their dedication to the cause
of freedom for the estimated 1.5 million Gazans, thoroughly
tormented by a nearly hermetic blockade that has
effectively reduced the originally impoverished enclave to
a virtual concentration camp.

Among the people taking part in this brave endeavor are an
81-year-old Catholic nun and the sister of former British
Prime Minister Tony Blair as well as Muslim, Jewish and
Christian activists.

If all goes well, the two boats, “SS Liberty” and “ SS Free
Gaza” will deliver urgently-needed medicine and other
humanitarian aid to the children of Gaza.

Hundreds of Gaza children and other civilians have died due
to the acute shortage of medicine and food resulting from
the year-long siege.

Israel, which is obviously embarrassed by the publicity
surrounding the humanitarian mission, has threatened to
violently prevent the two boats from reaching Gaza.

Some Israeli officials have even hinted at the possibility
of using violence against the two boats.

Israel has not stopped telling the world that it no longer
occupies Gaza. However, this claim is obviously a
scandalous lie since the Israeli occupation continues to
exercise tight control over the Gaza Strip’s sea, air and
border crossings.

There is no doubt that the continuation of the Gaza siege
is a stigma of shame on the conscience of humanity as a
whole.

It is a stigma of shame upon the United States which
shamelessly conspires with Israel to savage and torment
these innocent Palestinians whose only “crime” is their
audacity to elect a government that rulers of Tel Aviv and
Washington don’t like.

It is also a stigma of shame upon the states of Europe who
are watching passively a predator state gang up on helpless
civilians very much like the Nazi Third Reich did nearly
seven decades ago.

But the greatest shame falls upon Arab countries,
especially Egypt, which is effectively complementing the
Israeli siege of the shut-in Gazans by refusing to open the
Rafah border crossing to allow them to buy food and
medicine as well as travel abroad.

I really can’t understand how we, Arabs and Muslims, can
blame Israel, a cruel and criminal state that would like to
see Palestinians wiped off from the face of earth, while a
so-called brotherly Arab country is closing the borders in
the face of thousands of desperate Palestinians seeking
urgently needed health care.

Indeed, I want to ask the Egyptian leadership how many
Palestinians must die before Egypt will listen to the
helpless cries of the starving and dying Gazans?. Shame on
you.

We salute you

To these brave men and women onboard ‘SS Liberty’ and ‘Free
Gaza’, I would like to say the following.

I salute you for your courage, humanness and
self-abnegation. You undoubtedly represent a point of light
in a world overwhelmed by darkness. Your selfless efforts
on behalf of the oppressed men, women and children of Gaza
show that there are still brave men and women in this world
who wouldn’t give in to brut power.

I salute that elderly nun, Anne Montgomery, of the
religious Order of the Sacred Heart, for her brave
determination to take part in this challenging and
dangerous mission, despite her old age.

I salute broadcaster and journalist Lauren Booth for
demonstrating that journalism is not a “morally neutral
job” and that true journalists must also be true human
beings who should take a pro-active stance for justice.

I salute Jeff Halper the Professor of Anthropology and
Coordinator of the Israeli Committee Against House
Demolitions (ICHAD) who by taking part in this sublime
endeavor is making an important statement, namely that
there are Jews in this world who don’t support Israel’s
Nazi-like repression of the Palestinian people and that
starving and savaging innocent civilians for political
reasons is incompatible with true Jewish morality.

I salute Greek MP Tasos Kourakis who has voiced a
determination “to break the wall of silence surrounding
Gaza” by exposing the scandalous siege of a people Israel
is trying to crush for wanting to be free.

I salute Dr. Paul Larudee, a co-founder of the Free Gaza
mission for his fearless, unflinching determination to
carry out this daunting task despite all the threats and
intimidation coming from Israel.

I salute Yvonne Ridley, TV Presenter, author and peace
activist, for her tireless dedication to the cause of
justice in Palestine, Afghanistan and around the world.

I salute all of you, one by one, for your moral commitment
on behalf of humanity.

May God bless you all.

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Deepening chasm

Continued moves by Fatah against Islamic charities and
institutions in the West Bank are testament that
reconciliation is a pipe dream, writes Khaled Amayreh in
Ramallah

Despite laborious efforts by Egypt, Qatar and other
Palestinian factions to reconcile Fatah and Hamas,
divisions between the two largest Palestinian factions are
getting deeper and wider.

This week, five Palestinian factions in the Gaza Strip
agreed in principle that resolving the enduring crisis
between Fatah and Hamas would have to be based on the
formation of a national reconciliation government that
would prepare for national elections as well as the
rebuilding of security agencies on professional rather than
factional foundations.

However, the agreement, to which Hamas was not party, is
likely to fall into irrelevance with true reconciliation
appearing more remote than ever.

In the West Bank, the Palestinian Authority (PA) Minister
of Interior Abdul-Razzaq Al-Yehia ordered security forces
to take over all Islamic institutions, including charities,
boarding schools, orphanages as well as youth and sports
clubs. The stringent measure is widely believed to be aimed
at eradicating “Hamas’s institutional existence” in the
West Bank, as long demanded by Israel and the United
States.

In the Hebron region, PA security personnel on Monday 18
August summoned the head of the Islamic Charitable Society,
Abdul-Jalil Katalo, informing him that he and the rest of
the charity’s governing board had been sacked and that a
new governing board made up exclusively of Fatah members
would run the charity and the affiliated orphanage and
boarding school.

It is not clear what will be the fate of hundreds of
orphans who receive schooling and lodging free of charge.

Earlier, the PA Interior Ministry effectively took over
Al-Ahli Hospital in Hebron by appointing unelected Fatah
members to the governing board running the hospital. The
hospital was built nearly 20 years ago by the local branch
of the Muslim Brotherhood and has ever since become one of
the best medical facilities in the occupied Palestinian
territories.

Similarly, Islamic or Islamic-oriented institutions all
over the West Bank have either been closed down or taken
over by the Interior Ministry. The manifestly unlawful
measures are carried out quietly with PA security barring
PA media from reporting these events.

Meanwhile, the Fatah-dominated security agencies continued
to round up an average of 10-20 suspected Islamic activists
on any given day. The detainees are interrogated, often
harshly, on their relationships with Hamas. Some of them
are reportedly beaten savagely, with at least one elderly
person from Nablus, identified as Marwan Al-Khalili, 67,
suffering a brain haemorrhage as a result of torture.

Moreover, several journalists and cameramen are still being
detained in PA jails for being “over critical” of the PA
and “tarnishing” its image. In recent days, the PA security
agencies went to unprecedented extents in suppressing
freedom of speech and expression.

In Hebron, for example, a man, identified as Walid
Suleiman, was summoned for interrogation at the local
Preventive Security Forces office this week. There a young
officer interrogated him in connection with an article
written by a relative and published by the pro-Fatah Maan
news agency. Suleiman told the interrogator that he had
nothing to do with the article and that the author had his
name printed above the article. However, the young Fatah
officer told Suleiman that he was aware that he was not the
author of the article, saying that he only suspected that
“the ideas” of the article was his, not the author’s.

“How am I supposed to reason with people like this?”
Suleiman asked Al-Ahram Weekly.

The attempted eradication of Hamas’s civilian
infrastructure in the West Bank is officially justified as
a response to Hamas’s clampdown on Fatah in the Gaza Strip.
However, it is amply clear that Fatah’s efforts to
eradicate Hamas’s political influence in the West Bank are
more systematic than anything done by Hamas against Fatah
in the Gaza Strip.

Palestinian journalist and columnist Hani Al-Masri believes
that the draconian measures taken by each side against the
other are bound to deepen the national rift and might even
make it irreversible. “The psychological scars resulting
from this situation would be very difficult to heal. There
is a lot of vengeance and vindictiveness, and Israel is of
course the ultimate beneficiary,” Al-Masri said.

He added the Hamas-Fatah crisis was more than just a
“bilateral issue”. “It is becoming increasingly clear that
the persistence of crisis is an integral part of the
regional order, especially the overall Israeli-Palestinian
scene. Israel will do all it can to maintain or at least
prolong the conflict between the two Palestinian camps.”

This week, the Israeli government agreed to release as many
as 200 Palestinian prisoners as a gesture of goodwill
towards PA leader Mahmoud Abbas. Israeli leaders said they
hoped the gesture would strengthen Abbas vis-à-vis Hamas
and show the Palestinians that “moderation pays”.

Abbas had bitterly complained to the Bush administration
that Israel was rewarding “the extremists” like Hizbullah,
by freeing Lebanese prisoners, and Hamas by agreeing to a
ceasefire with the militant group in the Gaza Strip, while
effectively discrediting him in the eyes of his own people
by refusing to free Palestinian prisoners.

The prisoners, including two long-serving inmates with
“Jewish blood on their hands” (each serving nearly 30 years
in jail) are expected to be freed later this week or early
next week to coincide with the arrival in the region of US
Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice. According to Israeli
and Palestinian sources, Rice will urge Israel and the PA
to reach a general draft agreement on final status issues
before the end of 2008.

The conclusion of such an agreement before George W Bush
exits the White House, however, appears out of the
question. This week, Sari Nuseibeh, president of Al-Quds
University and one of the PLO’s most dovish figures,
pointed out in an interview with the Israeli Haaretz
newspaper that the two-state solution was becoming
increasingly impossible in light of unmitigated Israeli
settlement expansion.

“I still favour the two-state solution and will continue to
do so, but to the extent that you discover it’s not
practical anymore, or that it’s not going to happen, you
start to think about what the alternatives are. I think
that the feeling is that there are two courses taking place
that are opposed to one another. On the one hand, there is
what people are saying and thinking, on both sides. There
is the sense that we are running out of time; that if we
want a two-state solution, we need to implement it quickly.
But on the other hand, if we are looking at what is
happening on the ground, in Israel and the occupied
territories, you see things happening in the opposite
direction, as if they are not connected to reality. Thought
is running in one direction, reality in the other.”

Nuseibeh said the Palestinians would eventually “fight for
equal rights, rights of existence, return and equality,”
and that “slowly over the years there could be a peaceful
movement like in South Africa.” He further suggested that
the PA might be rendered irrelevant if a final and
comprehensive peace agreement with Israel was not reached
within a few months.

Earlier, PA negotiator Ahmed Qurei warned that the PA would
switch to the one-state solution if Israel continued to
obstruct the two-state solution. Israel, which vehemently
opposes any thought of the one-state solution, doesn’t
believe that PA officials mean what they say since the PA’s
very existence and survival depends on the continued
relevance of the vision of a two-state solution.

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Muzzling press freedom in Occupied Palestine

21/08/2008

By Khalid Amayreh in the Occupied Palestinian
territories

To begin with, I would like to point out that I am writing
this article at the risk of being arrested for “incitement”
and “tarnishing” the Palestinian Authority (PA) image.

However, the cause of press freedom in Occupied Palestine
is too paramount to be compromised by fears for one’s
safety.

Hence, journalists and free-minded citizens must not allow
themselves to be intimidated by a police-state apparatus
that views itself as God’s vicegerent on earth.

In recent weeks and months, the American-backed and
Israeli-favored regime in Ramallah has been systematically
violating the human rights and civil liberties of the
Palestinian people in ways unseen since the start of the
Israeli occupation of the West Bank and Gaza Strip in 1967.

This is done in utter violation of the rule of law and is
mainly aimed at consolidating Fatah’s domination in the
region. In short, it seems that the PA, not Hamas, is
enforcing a ruthless regime whereby all forms of dissent
are suppressed by brute force.

To be sure, not only press freedom is suffering under the
fear-inspiring regime being imposed on the Palestinian
masses in the West Bank, thanks to American, Israeli and
European bullying. The PA has been arresting people and
closing down or taking over academic, health and charitable
institutions ever since Hamas’s counter-coup in Gaza more
than 14 months ago.

However, press freedom always serves as an accurate
barometer reflecting the status of human rights and civil
liberties in any given country.

Today press freedom in the West Bank is coming under attack
by the PA. In recent weeks, Palestinian security agencies
stepped up efforts to muzzle press freedom and intimidate
non-conformist journalists who criticize the PA or voice
views deemed antithetical to PA policies and political
goals.

Many journalists, especially cameramen, have been beaten
and injured at the hands of security men and no real
measures are taken to prevent the recurrence of this
worrying phenomenon.

PA leaders readily make statements denouncing assaults on
journalists. However, these assaults continue unabated,
even assuming added ferocity, which suggests that the PA
leadership is either losing control over the security
agencies or that it is not really sincere about protecting
journalists from the truncheons of PA policemen.

Two weeks ago, the PA Preventive Security Force (PSF)
arrested Awadh Rajoub from his office in the town of Dura
in the Hebron region. Rajoub works for the Arabic service
of al-Jazeera.net and writes irregular reports for a number
of Arabic publications based in the occupied territories
and abroad.

According to his relatives, Rajoub has been accused of
spreading “incitement against the Palestinian Authority”
and of “endangering national unity,” a tacit reference to
criticisms of the Ramallah-based regime, especially its
clampdown on civil society.

Rajoub, 30, has been harshly interrogated in connection
with his work and threatened to be tried by a military
court. The PA is not a state, it is not even a semi state
or state-in-the-making since it has no authority or
sovereignty of its own.

Indeed, should this kind of treatment by the PA of its own
citizens be a harbinger for the future, I am sure the
Palestinians, or most of them, would want to remain under
Israel’s nefarious occupation until the prospect for real
freedom and true liberation is in sight.

Mustafa Sabri, a journalist from the northern West Bank
town of Qalqilya, has also been languishing in PA custody
for several weeks in connection with his writings, deemed
“not inline with” with “national interest”

Sabri, too, is accused of writing “tendentious material”
that could undermine Palestinian regime’s public image.
However, it is widely believed that his political
orientation is the real reason behind his arrest and
continued incarceration. Last week, Sabri was transferred
to the custody of the “military intelligence” where
concocted charges were leveled against him, including
“assaulting a police officer.”

His lawyer told this writer that “there is no legal basis
for keeping my client behind bars; his arrest is in
violation of all Palestinian laws.”

Undoubtedly, the arrest of journalists constitutes a
flagrant breach of press freedom and a clear violation of
Palestinian press laws.

The Palestinian press law states that “no security agency
has the right to question, interrogate or detain a
Palestinian journalist on matters pertaining to his or her
work.”

Hence, it is clear that the PA is violating its own laws
with regard to press freedom.

The PA might think that arresting and harassing journalists
would force them to exercise “self-censorship.” This might
be partially true, especially with young journalists
struggling to build a professional career from scratch.

However, in the long run, this stupid policy is
self-defeating since hiding the truth from citizens and the
world at large is an impossible task in the age of the
internet. Hence, it is only fragile and insecure regimes
that adopt a hostile attitude to press freedom.

More to the point, the PA security agencies have lately
begun to interfere with the editorial policies of some
local news agencies for the purpose of making sure they
don’t deviate from “the official line.”

Unfortunately, some of these news agencies have effectively
succumbed to this intimidation.

A few days ago, this writer sought in vain to post an
Arabic article on the webpage of a European-funded news
agency. The article highlighted the plight of thousands of
Palestinian school teachers who haven’t received regular
salaries for close to two years because of doubts about
their loyalty to the PA regime.

Some of these teachers, who teach “nationalist education”
in morning classes are forced to work in Jewish settlements
in the West Bank in the afternoon in order to make ends
meet.

Unfortunately, the editor-in-chief of the that news agency,
bruited abroad as a free and independent news outlet,
refused to post the article without any explanation.

Meanwhile, PA security agencies are trying even to suppress
people’s thoughts and ideas.

This week, Palestinian security officials summoned for
questioning a former journalist from the southern part of
the West Bank in connection with an internet article
written by a distant relative.

The man told the interrogating “officer” that he had
nothing to do with the article and that he had stopped
writing a long time ago.

However, the condescending officer told the man that he
realized that he didn’t write the article himself, and that
he only suspected that the ideas contained in the article
were inline with his way of thinking.!!!!

There are those who would cite press freedom violations by
the Hamas government in the Gaza Strip to justify or at
least extenuate the gravity of what is happening in the
West Bank. However, it is amply clear that whatever is
happening in Gaza can’t be compared in terms of
proportionality and gravity to what is happening in the
West Bank.

As an independent-minded and free-thinking journalist who
has withstood and continues to withstand Israeli repression
and harassment, I unhesitatingly denounce in the strongest
terms all violations of press freedom, regardless of the
political identity and ideological affiliation of the
victim and the perpetrator.

Earlier this week, I contacted my friend Saleh al Naami, a
journalist of impeccable credentials, and asked him if
Fatah-affiliated journalists were being detained by the
Gaza Authorities.

Al-Naami said the following: “I don’t know of any
journalist being arrested in Gaza. A journalist working for
a German Television network was detained recently for a few
days in connection with the violence that struck the Gaza
beach in June, but he has been released.”

In any case, both the Palestinian Authority in Ramallah and
the Hamas government in Gaza are strongly urged to
immediately put an end to all forms of press freedom
violations. This is the right thing to do, and Palestine is
too tired and too exhausted to be dragged into another
internal strife which could only debilitate and exhaust us
further.

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Qurei’s pathetic warnings

17/08/2008

By Khalid Amayreh in the West Bank

Ahmed Qurei’, the leading Palestinian Authority (PA)
negotiator, is behaving very much like Alice in Wonderland.
Last week, he warned for the umpteenth time that the
“Palestinian leadership” would switch to the “one-state
solution” if Israel continued to obstruct the two-state
solution.

Speaking before Fatah delegates in Ramallah, Qurei’
reiterated the mantra that the PA would never settle for
anything less than a viable state on all the Palestinian
territories occupied by Israel in 1967, with “al-Quds al
Sharif” or “Noble Jerusalem” as its capital.

Qurei’ and some other PA leaders have been voicing similar
warnings for years. These leaders, however, seem to utterly
lack the will and real inclination to abandon the defunct
Oslo process. The reasons for that apparently have more to
do with personal and partisan expediency and less with true
Palestinian national considerations.

This is why Qurei’s remarks shouldn’t be taken seriously.
After all, the very survival of the PA depends, almost
completely, on its subservience to Israel.

In recent months, this ignominious subservience assumed
more brazen manifestations, including joint raids of
Palestinian homes, businesses, charities and educational
institutions. Today, PA security cadets are taught that the
enemy is Hamas, not Israel.

PA leaders, including the American-favored Palestinian
Prime Minister Salam Fayad, might think that “working with
Israel “ in the West Bank would eventually convince the
Zionist regime to withdraw from the occupied territory and
allow PA “forces” to assume full security responsibility
and maintain law and order.!!!

Well, it is because of this strikingly ignorant and
shockingly morbid thinking that the PA has effectively
become the biggest obstacle impeding the Palestinian
struggle for freedom from the Nazi-like Israeli occupation.

Israel, after all, has always viewed the PA as a quisling
entity. This is the reason the terrorist state has allowed
and continues to allow the US and some Arab states, which
are at America’s beck and call, to supply military
equipment to the Ramallah regime. Does anyone in his or her
right mind think that Israel would allow the transfer of
military gear to the PA if it had the slightest doubt that
these weapons would be used against Israel one day?

There is no doubt that Israel has effectively killed the
two-state solution, thanks to the intensive proliferation
of Jewish-only settlements, Jewish-only roads and
Jewish-only facilities throughout the West Bank. One
doesn’t have to be a great expert in the Zionist enterprise
to appreciate reality.

Actually, the matter goes far beyond merely “impeding” the
realization of the two-state solution. We all know,
Israelis and Palestinians alike as well as well-informed
people around the world that no prospective Zionist
government would ever agree to dismantle all these huge
settlements dotting the map of the West Bank from Dahiriya
in the south to Jenin in the north and from Jerusalem in
the west to Jericho in the east.

We also know that East Jerusalem, the contemplated capital
of the contemplated Palestinian entity has been reduced to
a small ghetto surrounded by Jewish-only colonies such as
Ma’ali Adomim, Pisgat Ze’ev, Har Homma Efrata, and Gush
Itzion, just to mention a few.

So why did PA leaders refuse to open their eyes and deal
with reality all these years? Were they drunk? Were they
asleep? Were they mesmerized by the false luster of
authority, an authority whose borders end with the nearest
Israeli tank or armored vehicle which is only a few meters
away ? Or perhaps they were busy self-congratulating
themselves on having been granted empty but grand-sounding
titles such “minister of this or minister of that!!” when
in fact the lowest-ranking Israeli soldier would stop and
humiliate them at the nearest roadblock in full view of
Palestinian travelers?

The truth of the matter is that the PA and its leaders lack
the ability to challenge Israel. Israel represents the
lifeline of their political and especially financial
survival.

Without Israel, and especially without this pathetic peace
process which has the smell of conspiracy, PA leaders and
officials wouldn’t be riding ostentatiously in brand new
limousines and having chummy chats with the likes of Tony
Blair who privately tells his European and American
interlocutors that all that Palestinians need to shut their
mouths up is some brand new cars, grand titles, bloated
salaries and invitations to Paris, London and Washington
where they can have memorial photo-ops with western leaders
for self-gratification, this is while their own people are
savaged by Nazi-like Israeli soldiers and Jewish settlers
all over the West Bank.

Needless to say, Israel will never ever take PA warnings
and threats seriously, as long as the PA prefers the
legitimacy that comes from Israeli and American acceptance
more than that which comes from the Palestinian people’s
acceptance.

More to the point, Israel will never show the slightest
respect for an authority that doesn’t hesitate to break its
own laws, by arresting, torturing and even killing
Palestinians in order appease Israel.

This is why Israel and probably the rest of the world as
well have not paid much attention to Qurei’s warnings..

Indeed, in order for any warning to be meaningful, it would
have to be genuine, and those issuing it would have to be
willing and ready to act on it when challenged.

But, unfortunately, the PA neither behaves nor thinks in
this way. This is simply not its character. It is an entity
whose leaders would protest an Israeli decision to build
more settlements in on stolen Palestinian land by traveling
to West Jerusalem the next morning to exchange ostensibly
cordial kisses with Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert, the
very person who took that decision to build more
settlements.

Is this the way to gain the respect of our enemy? Is this
the way to convince the world that we are serious about
wanting to extricate our usurped land and arrogated rights
from the cruel hands of Zionism?

Moreover, how many times are we supposed to let the
murderous liars of Washington bamboozle us in matters
pertaining to our very national survival?

How many more “peace conferences” and “peace initiatives”
must we watch come and go before we realize that Israel
doesn’t want peace and that the United States, Israel’s
ultimate guardian ally, is unwilling and probably unable to
pressure Israel to give up the spoils of the 1967 war?

Indeed, the fact that we continue to walk rather blindly
and gullibly in the American path may well have convinced
the Americans and the rest of the world that we are really
fools who would go for anything?

Are we fools? Are we stupid? Otherwise, why do we continue
to hold seemingly endless talks with Israel despite our
deep convictions that Israel doesn’t want peace? Why have
we failed to demand a total stoppage of Jewish settlement
expansion as a precondition for the continuation of the
so-called “peace talks”? We do have a huge army of
“advisors” and “experts” and “consultants” who receive
hefty salaries at the expense of hundreds of thousands of
impoverished Palestinians who can hardly make ends meet.
Can’t these people offer the PA leadership a decent advice
with regard to this game of make believe, otherwise known
as “peace talks.”

Does a peace-loving state build hundreds of settlements on
stolen land? Does a peace- loving state behave like Israel
has been behaving, both in Gaza and the West Bank?

Why do we continue to deceive and cheat our people by
stating after every meeting with Israeli war criminals,
such Olmert and Barak, that “the talks were positive and
constructive?

Today, Seri Nuseiba, one of the most dovish PLO operatives
in east Jerusalem, told the Israeli newspaper Ha’aretz that
the two-states solution was becoming unrealistic and
virtually impossible, in light of facts on the ground.

So, why is the PA refusing to see reality on the ground as
it is? Or are we, Palestinians, supposed to continue to
give this discredited leadership the benefit of the doubt
until Israel destroys the last vestige of our national
immunity in the face of Zionism?

(end)

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The West is helping PA torment Palestinians

By Khalid Amayreh in Ramallah

14/08/2008

Western governments are telling their respective citizens
that the financial support they give to the Palestinian
Authority (PA) is used to foster security and promote
democracy, human rights and the rule of law in the occupied
territories.

These governments might also be deluding themselves into
thinking that the often harsh repression meted out by the
PA to its own people, long tormented by Israel, would be
conducive to promoting peace between Israel and the
Palestinians.

But the west is wrong on both accounts.

Today, much of the western “financial aid” provided to the
Ramallah-based regime is being utilized to consolidate a
police- state structure, actually a police state without a
state since the Israeli occupation army continues to
tightly control all parts of the occupied territories,
including the vicinity of Mahmoud Abbas’s own headquarters.

According to reliable sources, more than one third of the
PA budget, which is based on “donations” from western and
oil-rich Arab donors, goes to the security agencies which
operate with virtually no legal or moral restrictions.

In comparison, less than one percent of the budget goes to
agriculture in both Gaza and the West Bank. This is the
sector upon which more than 50% of Palestinians depend for
their livelihood.

We all know that the Raison d’être behind the very
existence of the PA security apparatus is to repress
Palestinian resistance to the Israeli occupation.

Otherwise, Israel wouldn’t have allowed the US and other
countries to bankroll, train, and arm these “Palestinian
forces.”

Today, the way these so-called forces function seriously
undermines the rule of law, civil liberties and human
rights in the occupied territories.

They are arresting, maltreating and torturing innocent
people. They are imprisoning journalists who are carrying
out their duties as journalists. They are closing down and
vandalizing social, cultural, academic and other
institutions in utter violation of the rule of law.

In short, there is a reign of terror being fostered all
over the West Bank under the pretext of “fighting Hamas.”

The PA claims its heavy-handed tactics are necessary to
prevent Hamas from carrying out a coup in the West Bank.

This claim, however, is ridiculous and mendacious. The
reason is that in order for Hamas to be able to carry out a
“coup” in the West Bank, it would have to be militarily
stronger than both Israel and the PA combined, which is a
far-fetched prospect, to say the least.

In truth, the real reason behind the reign of repression
and flagrant human rights violations in the West Bank is an
overwhelming desire for revenge for the ousting by Hamas of
Fatah militias from Gaza more than a year ago.

A few weeks ago, the PA arrested three journalists in the
West Bank on manifestly frivolous charges such as
“endangering national security” and “creating divisions
within the people.”

These journalists, including Awadh Rajoub, a correspondent
for the Arabic service of the al-Jazeera.net, are still
languishing in PA lockups and jails.

Rajoub’s relatives said he was likely to be prosecuted by a
military tribunal.!! Yes, a military trial of an innocent
Palestinian journalist by an authority that has no
authority or sovereignty, and whose very survival and
existence depend nearly completely on the good-will of
Israel, the Palestinian people’s ultimate tormentor and
oppressor.

Moreover, dozens of community leaders, religious officials,
elected mayors, as well as college students are being
jailed and probably tortured by security interrogators.

A few weeks ago, a visitor to the local government hospital
in Hebron intimated to this writer that he saw a
badly-beaten young man tied with iron chains to his
hospital bed, with three armed security guards posted at
the entrance to his room.

Last week, PA crack policemen beat savagely two teachers
who were tutoring high-school students at the Anwar
Academic Center in Dura, 10 miles south West of Hebron. The
two teachers were identified as Naim Talahmeh and Salem al
Hureibat.

Earlier this month, PA Chairman Mahmoud Abbas said he
ordered the security agencies to release all political
prisoners rounded up following recent Gaza events.

However, two weeks have passed and 95 per cent of the
political detainees are still languishing in PA lockups and
jails.

Indeed, PA security forces continue to arrest innocent
people and close down businesses and charities on a daily
basis without any regard for the rule of law.

In recent days, the PA security forces even began arresting
lawyers defending illegally-held detainees. Human rights
sources in the West Bank have reported that Advocates
Muhammed Farrah from Hebron and Fadel Bushnaq from the
northern West Bank are languishing in PA jails.

The reign of repression being carried out by the PA against
its own people can’t be justified by whatever unacceptable
conduct by Hamas in the Gaza Strip, including the unlawful
arrest of political figures affiliated with Fatah.

Persecuting people perceived as Hamas supporters as a
reprisal for the arrest by Hamas of Fatah activists, or
vice versa, is an unethical act fitting gagsters and street
thugs.

To be sure, Hamas has released the vast bulk of Fatah’s
political leaders, including Zakaria al Agha, the group’s
most prominent leader in the strip. So why is the
Fatah-dominated PA continuing to violate the human rights
and civil liberties of the Palestinian people?

The West is wrong in thinking that beating and tormenting
Palestinians by the PA will produce security for Israel.

The PA had carried out a lot of repression of its own
people during the so-called Oslo era (1994-2000).

That ugly episode of repression, we all remember,
eventually produced two things: The al Aqsa Intifada and
Hamas’s electoral victory in 2006

It is therefore very likely that the Western-sponsored
repression by the PA of the very people it claims to serve
and whose interests it claims to be protecting and
safeguarding will boomerang on both the West and its
increasingly ruthless child.

The West is thus advised to create a clear linkage between
its financial aid to the PA and its human rights records.
That would be compatible with its declared ideals and
policies, and would also serve the interest of peace in
Palestine.

In the final analysis, the last thing the Palestinians need
is another tormentor augmenting Israel’s genocidal terror
against our people.

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Beyond Chutzpah

by Khalid Amayreh

09/08/2008

Israel is very much behaving like a whore who urges her
town’s folks to erect a great memorial plaque to celebrate
and glorify her chastity.

This week, some Zionist pundits both in Israel and North
America have urged the Israeli government to boycott the
Olympic Games in China to protest that country’s dismal
human rights record.

These self-righteous Zionists claimed that a country that
rose from the ashes of the holocaust shouldn’t have normal
relations with a country that systematically violates human
rights and civil liberties.

There is no doubt that China is a prominent violator of
human rights (Is the US any better)!!! But the more
important question in this context is really whether
Israel, a state that has been murdering, enslaving and
tormenting another people for the past sixty years, is in a
position to lecture or criticize China or any other country
on the subject of human rights.

One can argue with little exaggeration that Israel itself
is a crime against humanity since its very creation in
Palestine in 1948 entailed the extirpation and dispersion
of 90% of Palestine’s indigenous inhabitants.

In fact, the systematic ethnic cleansing from
Palestine-Israel of non-Jews, who constituted more than 80%
of the total population, is still an ongoing process.
Moreover, the nearly daily demolition of Palestinian homes
in the Negev desert and the West Bank, along with the
unceasing theft of Arab land, show that Israel is far worse
than China with regard to observance of human rights and
the rule of international law.

And while China does indulge in serious violations of human
rights, especially in the Tibet region and against certain
religious minorities, Israel routinely commits serious war
crimes and crimes against humanity against the Palestinians
and other peoples of the Middle East.

These crimes include, inter alia, deliberate and calculated
murder of innocent civilians, blockading civilian
population and denying it access to food and fuel and
health care, bombing apartment buildings and crowded
streets, vandalizing and ransacking civilian institutions
such as orphanages, schools, hospitals and sports
facilities and encouraging Nazi-like Jewish settlers to
terrorize and murder Palestinian civilians for the purpose
of driving them away from their land.

Israel also has been burying nuclear wastes in the vicinity
of Arab communities, such as in the southern Hebron region,
which is causing a dramatic increase in the occurrence of
cancer.

Two years ago, the Israeli air force dropped millions of
cluster-bomblets on Lebanon, enough to kill millions of
people.

In short, it is really very difficult to imagine a crime
that Israel has not committed. True, Israel, unlike China,
enjoys the benefit of world-wide hasbara (propaganda)
machine extending from Los Angels to Sydney which
celebrates Israeli “democracy” and “liberty.” However, the
truth, the naked truth, is that Israel remains a murderer,
thief and liar.

Israel may very well have been successful in hiding its
evil nature from the eyes of many people, especially in the
West. However, this evil will eventually corrode Israel
from within and bring its demise.

The brazen depravity of Zionist thinking had another morbid
expression this week. The Israeli government reportedly
protested to Turkey a planed visit to Ankara by Iranian
President Ahmadinejad.

Israeli officials have called on Turkish leaders to cancel
the visit to protest the Iranian nuclear program and
Ahmadinejad’s rejection of Zionism.

Again, the odor of hypocrisy is wafting all over the place.

First of all, Israel has no right to dictate to Turkey, a
nation of 75 million people, which foreign statesman to
invite and which not to invite. Turkey, after all, is a
sovereign state that is mature enough to decide for itself.
Turkey will not view favorably any foreign interference in
its internal affairs especially if such interference comes
from a state that is more sinful than sin itself.

Second, a country that possess hundreds of nuclear heads,
many of them are probably directed at Muslim cities in the
Middle East, have no right to protest Iran’s nuclear
program.

Indeed, if Israel, India, Pakistan, U.S., Russia, China,
France Britain and other countries have the right to
develop nuclear technology and even nuclear weapons, why
can’t Iran, a country that had a prosperous civilization
thousands of years before the discovery of America.

Moreover, with such a holier- than- thou attitude, Israel
is really not morally fit to protest Ahmadinejad’s
anti-Zionist remarks.

Israel today spearheads a worldwide venomous campaign of
hatred and incitement against Islam and Muslims. Israeli
and Zionist leaders, officials, diplomats, writers and
spokespersons routinely incite against nearly one quarter
of humanity.

Six decades ago, Nazi leaders in Europe spread the message
“kill the Jews, don’t let them take over Europe, don’t let
them destroy Christianity, don’t let them destroy mother
Germany.”! Today the chorus of hate from Jerusalem to New
York to Sydney is spreading a similar message: “Islam is
taking over Europe!!, kill the Muslims, kill the
terrorists, wipe Islam off from the face of earth.!!”

Just read the hateful Zionist press such as the Jerusalem
Post, the New York Post, Commentary, the New Republic, Wall
Street Journal, Washington Post, the International Herald
Tribune, to mention just a few example, and you will see
how the “Nazi mind” is still very much alive and kicking 63
years after the demise of the Third Reich.

Today, Israel is waging a dirty war against Islam under the
pretext of fighting Hamas and other Palestinian resistance
organizations.

Israel is destroying Palestinian schools, closing down
Palestinian orphanages, and, probably in collusion with the
quisling-like Palestinian Authority, terrorizing Islamic
institutions that predated the appearance of Hamas by many
decades.

Israel is arresting and torturing young men and women for
the pettiest Islamic activity. Israel is really very much
like Nazi Germany prior to the outbreak of the Second World
War in 1939.

Needless to say, such a state has no right to preach
righteousness to the world.

In fact, with such a manifestly diabolical behavior, Israel
is not only an abomination upon humanity, it is also a
cancer upon the collective conscience of the Jewish people.
(end)

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Noam Shalit is wrong

07/08/08

By Khalid Amayreh

In a brief article published on the front-page of the East
Jerusalem-based Arabic daily, al Quds, 5 August, Noam
Shalit claimed that Israel’s criminal blockade of the Gaza
Strip was primarily imputed to the capture by Palestinian
resistance fighters of his son, Israeli occupation army
soldier Gilaad Shalit, more than two years ago.

Shalit also claimed that his son’s “captivity” is one of
the main reasons why Israel can’t release thousands of
Palestinian political and resistance prisoners languishing
in Israeli detention camps.

Well, I think that Shalit, a French citizen who had
immigrated to occupied Palestine to arrogate land and
property that belong to another people, is insulting
people’s intelligence.

He should realize that indulging in prevarication, lies and
half truths can’t be an authentic substitute for an honest
approach to his son’s “plight” which is really very
negligible when compared to the enduring nightmare of more
than 10,000 Palestinian prisoners imprisoned in Israel.

In fact, Shalit’s condescending approach to Palestinian
prisoners epitomizes the overall Zionist perception of
non-Jews in general and Palestinians in particular, namely
that they are lesser people, with lesser rights, including
the right to life.

In truth, there is a weak linkage between the criminal
blockade of Gaza and the Shalit affair.

After all, Israel has been murdering, tormenting, starving
and blockading Palestinians for ages. There are tens of
thousands of Palestinians in the West Bank who are barred
from traveling or seeking work.

This has nothing to do with the Shalit affair, but has
everything to do with Israel’s strategic goal of
annihilating the Palestinians as a people and seizing what
has remained of their homeland.

Indeed, claiming that the capture by Palestinian fighters
of an Israeli occupation soldier, who may well have a lot
of innocent blood on his hands, is the reason for Israel’s
Nazi-like policies in the West Bank and Gaza, is a flagrant
expression of ignorance or malicious mendacity.

Are we to believe that the cold-blooded murder of Ahmad
Mousa in Nilin a few days ago was motivated by the
imprisonment of Gila’ad Shalit? Are we to believe that the
systematic demolition of Arab homes in East Jerusalem is
attributed to the Shalit affair? Is the Gestapo-like reign
of terror by Jewish settlers against innocent Palestinian
shepherds and peasants in various parts of the West Bank
connected with the same issue?

More to the point, it is also absolutely untrue that Israel
would have been more willing to release Palestinian
prisoners had it not been for the Shalit affair. In fact,
only fools and ignoramuses would give Israel the benefit of
the doubt in this regard. Israel was holding many thousands
of Palestinians, many without charge or trial, long before
the “abduction” of Shalit.

The late Palestinian leader Yasser Arafat did everything he
could, often obsequiously, to gain the release of
Palestinian prisoners from Israeli dungeons, but to no
avail.

He revoked the Palestinian National Charter, he imprisoned
and tortured opponents of the Oslo Accords to please and
appease Israel, he built a casino in Jericho to accommodate
Israeli gamblers, he even traveled to Tel Aviv to kiss the
head of Lea Rabin, the woman whose husband ordered the
Israeli army to break the bones of Palestinian children
during the first Intifada, the man who didn’t hesitate to
reveal his wish to see Gaza, with its 1.5 million people,
drown in the Mediterranean.

The same thing occurred with regard to Jordanian prisoners
who are still languishing in Israeli jails despite the
signing of the peace treaty and the exemplary relations
between Israel and the Hashemite kingdom.

And how about Palestinian Authority Chairman Abu Mazen’s
supplications for the release of Fatah and other prisoners,
some of whom, like Said al Ataba and Abu Ali Yatta, have
been in Israeli jails for more than three decades?

Have all his begging and pleading succeeded in getting
Israel to release those prisoners?

Yes, Israel does occasionally release some prisoners to
help prop up Abu Mazen’s public standing. However, we all
know that most of the prisoners released in the context of
these “gestures of good will” are people whose jail terms
have already expired or about to expire.

Besides, it is well known that in return for each
Palestinian released, the Israeli Shin Beth (the chief
domestic security agency) rounds at least five
Palestinians.

This consistently arrogant Israeli behavior toward
Palestinian prisoners, which is contrasted by a
scandalously liberal approach toward Israeli terrorists and
criminals, has convinced millions of Palestinians, Arabs
and Muslims that the only way of getting their sons,
daughters and beloved ones released from the Israeli hell
is Hezbullah’s and Hamas’s way. Israel has only itself to
blame.

In his article, Shalit also claims that the often
open-ended imprisonment of Palestinian activists in Israeli
jails is an inevitable outcome of previous
Israeli-Palestinian wars! What wars is he talking about?
The Palestinian people have been on the receiving end of
Israeli barbarianism, savagery and ethnic cleansing for
ages. The Palestinians never waged war on Israel? The
Palestinians are victims of Israeli Nazism. How can a
people who are surviving by dying on a daily basis at the
hands of Zionism’s indifferent hands wage war on a country
that possesses hundreds of nuclear weapons and is in tight
control of American politics and policies? How can the
victims of barbaric aggression and ethnic cleansing be
initiators of war?

Finally, Shalit claims that the closure by Israel of the
Rafah border crossing is related to his son’s affair.

This is not true. We all know that Israel kept the Rafah
crossing and other border crossings closed, nearly
completely, long before the capture of his son.

Interestingly, Shalit argued that it was his son’s
captivity that was holding thousands of Palestinian
civilians hostage, people who he said were “uninvolved” and
suffering from abject poverty and acute shortage of basic
consumer goods.

Well, thank you Mr. Shalit for recognizing the innocence of
your state’s victims. Thank you for admitting, though
indirectly and probably inadvertently, that Israel is a
terrorist state that murders, starves and torments innocent
civilians for political reasons.

But if they are innocent people, and they indeed are, then
why don’t you tell your leaders that blockading, harming
and starving innocent people is wrong and incompatible with
moral and religious ethics? Do Jewish ethics condone
tormenting innocent people who committed no wrong?

One may really sympathize with Noam Shalit especially at
the personal level. However, Mr. Shalit should also try,
even for a brief moment, to put himself in the shoes of the
fathers, mothers and relatives of 10,000 Palestinian
prisoners who, unlike him, don’t enjoy the benefit of a
potent world-wide media machine that has effectively made
his son the most famous prisoner in the entire world.

Isn’t that fair enough?

(end)

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