Monthly Archives: July 2008

Shalit saga continues

24 July, 2008

With Hizbullah scoring a victory in its prisoner exchange
deal with Israel, pressure is building on Hamas to do even
better, writes Khaled Amayreh in the West Bank

The recent “spectacular” prisoner swap deal between Israel
and Hizbullah, which plunged Israel into a state national
confusion while feelings of triumph spread in Lebanon and
throughout the Arab world, is already impacting on efforts
to resolve the Shalit affair.

Hamas, like all other Palestinian factions, welcomed
wholeheartedly the prisoner swap, arguing that it proved
that Israel would be willing to release prisoners “who have
blood on their hands” in return for the release of Israeli
prisoners, dead or living.

“If they are willing release ‘prisoners with blood on their
hands’ for dead Israelis, then they should be even more
willing to release similar prisoners in exchange for
Shalit, who is alive and well,” said Mushir Al-Masri, a
Hamas lawmaker.

Al-Masri was alluding to the release by Israel last week of
Lebanese prisoner Samir Al-Kantar who killed three Israelis
during a guerrilla operation nearly three decades ago.

Until recently, Israeli leaders routinely invoked the
mantra that Arab prisoners who killed Israelis, even
soldiers and paramilitary settlers, won’t be released from
Israeli jails under any circumstances.

The release, however, of Al-Kantar seems to have annulled
that mantra. (Jews who murder innocent Palestinians
knowingly and deliberately don’t serve lengthy prison
sentences and are usually pardoned by presidential
decrees).

There are more than 10,000 Palestinian prisoners
languishing in Israeli jails and detention camps, many of
them political activists, politicians, lawmakers and
cabinet ministers held indefinitely without charge or
trial.

There are also hundreds of other prisoners, who are serving
life imprisonment sentences for killing Israeli soldiers
and settlers in the course of resisting, according to their
legal right under international law, the Israeli military
occupation.

For those, the only reasonable hope of freedom is a
“successful” prisoner swap deal between Israel and Hamas.

Hamas, a Sunni resistance movement, is under tremendous
public pressure to emulate Shia Hizbullah in terms of
resilience, patience and determination to get as many
Palestinian prisoners as possible released from Israeli
jails in exchange for Gilad Shalit, an Israeli soldier
captured two years ago.

This week, Ismail Haniyeh, prime minister of the Gaza-based
government, sought to assure the Palestinian people —
especially the families and relatives of prisoners — that
Hamas wouldn’t compromise on its basic demands, namely that
Israel would have to release 1,000 Palestinian prisoners,
including 450 imprisoned for life.

Hamas leaders made similar statements at home and in the
Diaspora, all promising “an honorable swap deal” with
Israel.

Nonetheless, Hamas recognises the fundamental differences
between the Lebanese and Palestinian situations. After all,
Israel occupies the Palestinian territories and can and
does arrest as many Palestinians as it pleases. Indeed, not
a day passes without Israeli occupation troops raiding
Palestinian towns and villages to arrest suspected
activists and public figures.

This week, the Israeli army raided the city of Nablus for
the fourth time in less than four weeks. The invading
troops arrested several civic leaders and politicians
including Mona Mansur, an Islamic lawmaker.

Mansur’s husband, Jamal Mansur, a politician who had no
connections to violent resistance against Israel, was
brutally murdered by an Israeli death squad while sitting
in his office in the centre of the city a few years ago.

Moreover, Hamas knows that Israel can always renege on any
prisoner swap agreement by re-arresting some or all of the
prisoners the Israeli government might be obliged to
release to get Hamas to free Shalit.

Hence, Hamas is aware of the limitations on its ability to
emulate Hizbullah. This is why Hamas is likely to insist on
third party — probably Egyptian — guarantees against foul
play by Israel.

For its part, and despite its advantage vis-à-vis the
Palestinians, both in terms of the occupation itself and
the vast number of Palestinian prisoners it holds, Israel
is also facing a dilemma in trying to get Shalit freed from
Palestinian captivity.

Israel exhausted all intelligence efforts to discern the
whereabouts of Shalit in the hope of liberating him,
possibly in a commando operation. However, nearly all
Israeli military and intelligence officials have reached
the conclusion that even if Shalit’s whereabouts were
discovered, any rescue operation would almost certainly end
up in him being killed.

Moreover, and despite the certainty of Shalit being alive
(unlike the two soldiers release by Hizbullah), Israel
knows that the precedent of releasing Al-Kantar in exchange
for “two black coffins” weakens the Israeli negotiating
position vis-à-vis Hamas.

Added to that is growing public pressure on the weak
government of Ehud Olmert to get Shalit released as soon as
possible, irrespective of the price. Proponents argue that
Israel should be willing to pay a greater price for the
release of an Israeli soldier who is alive than the price
already paid for the remains of two soldiers captured by
Hizbullah.

Further, the Israeli government and security establishment,
and particularly the Shin Bet domestic intelligence agency,
is worried that the release of so many Palestinian leaders
would significantly strengthen Hamas and weaken US-backed
Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas.

On Sunday, the Israeli cabinet devoted its weekly session
to discuss the best approach to resume indirect
negotiations with Hamas over Shalit. Following extended
discussions, the cabinet decided to dispatch Ofer Dekel,
who is in charge of the Shalit file, to Cairo for
additional talks with Egyptian General Intelligence Chief
Omar Suleiman.

The Israeli newspaper Haaretz quoted ministers who took
part in the session as calling for “greater flexibility in
negotiations with Hamas” in order to free Shalit. The paper
also quoted “security and political sources” as saying that
“the restrictions on the prisoner criteria must be relaxed
in order to achieve progress on the talks.”

Meanwhile, former US president Jimmy Carter is reported to
be trying to reach a breakthrough in a possible prisoner
swap between Hamas and Israel. Carter reportedly urged
Israel to release dozens of Hamas politicians and lawmakers
abducted by the Israeli army two years ago in order to
bully Hamas to release Shalit.

Last week, Robert Pastor, a senior advisor to the former US
president, visited the region and met with Israeli,
Egyptian and Syrian officials in an effort to expedite a
“balanced deal” between the parties.

Under his initiative, Israel would release several dozen
Palestinian political hostages, including Hamas lawmakers
and former cabinet ministers. In return, Shalit would be
brought to Egypt, where his family would be able to visit
him. Afterwards, negotiations for the release of more
Palestinian prisoners would continue.

A high-ranking Hamas official in Gaza told Al-Ahram Weekly
that the movement would never accept such a deal, which he
termed a “clear Israeli trap”.

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Obama, Israel and Palestine

By Khalid Amayreh in occupied East Jerusalem – 24/07/08
Barack Obama has finally made his long-awaited pilgrimage
to Israel, a rite of passage that no aspiring American
politician, let alone a presidential candidate, can afford
to miss or ignore.

There (or rather here), Obama uttered all the
politically-correct words that Israeli leaders and
especially Israel-firsters back home would want to hear.

He called the creation of Israel in Palestine in 1948 a
“miracle,” utterly ignoring the near obliteration of
Palestine and expulsion to the four corners of the world of
the vast bulk of its indigenous Christian and Muslim
inhabitants.

The presidential hopeful told Israeli Prime Minister Ehud
Olmert that “I have come to communicate to you my fervent
support for Israel.”

In Sderot, in southern Israel, Obama was quoted as saying
the following: “If somebody was sending rockets into my
house where my two daughters sleep at night, I would do
everything in my power to stop that, and would expect
Israelis to do the same thing.”

Of course, he mentioned absolutely nothing about the
Israeli campaign of murder and terror against Gaza,
particularly the year-long harsh blockade of the coastal
enclave’s estimated 1.5 million inhabitants, which has
killed and maimed thousands of innocent men, women and
children whose only “crime” is that they had dared elect a
government the Bush administration and Israel didn’t like.

Predictably, Obama lashed out at Iran, saying that “a
situation in which Iran was capable of making nuclear
weapons would be “game-changing” and would have
repercussions across the world.

Again, he utterly and totally ignored Israel’s estimated
300 nuclear warheads, as if even alluding to this
well-known fact was an earth-shaking taboo.

Obama is not ignorant of the facts in the Middle East. He
is well-aware of the evil nature of the Israeli occupation
of Palestine and the equally criminal treatment meted out
to the Palestinian people.

He also knows well that true and just peace with the
Palestinians is the last item on Israel’s agenda as
evidenced from the unmitigated Jewish settlement expansion
in the West Bank, especially in occupied Arab East
Jerusalem.

Non the less, Obama is also meticulously conscious of the
whoring theatre of American politics where political
correctness always exceeds and overrides moral rightness.

He knows that the nearly complete Jewish domination of the
“media discourse” in America leaves him with only two
choices: Either he be conscientious, in which case he would
most probably lose; or play the political prostitution game
quite skillfully, and have a fair chance of winning. Obama
has obviously opted to adopt the later choice.

It is of course true that the sole reason behind Obama’s
visit to Israel, a country that got the US involved in two
wars in the Middle East and is now hell-bent trying to get
the Bush Administration to wage a third war, this time on
Iran, has more to do with his efforts to impress American
Jewish voters, especially American Zionist leaders, than
with showing solidarity with “Sderot” or underscoring his
commitment to peace in the Middle East.

But this is only partially true. There are far more
Hispanic voters in the US than Jewish voters, but Obama has
made no pilgrimage to Mexico as he has to Israel.

Similarly, there are probably at least as many American
Muslim voters as there are Jewish voters, who unlike the
Jews are expected to overwhelmingly vote for Obama, given
their conspicuously nightmarish experience with the Bush
administration, especially its witch-hunting campaign
against American Muslims.

Yet we have seen Obama display a virtually phobic reaction
toward everything and anything Islamic, from refusing to be
photographed with two hejab-wearing supporters recently to
him completely disavowing his childhood Islamic heritage as
if the religion of Islam, which gave the world so much in
terms of civilization and culture, were something to be
ashamed of.

This probably explains why Obama has carefully avoided
visiting the Haram al Sharif esplanade in East Jerusalem,
one of the world’s most splendid sites, lest he be caught
inadvertently showing signs of respect to the holy place or
shaking hands with a Muslim scholar.

Then his political opponents back home would rather
enthusiastically seize “the golden opportunity” of having
finally found the ultimate “proof” that Obama is in fact a
“crypto-follower of Osama bin Laden.” After all, Obama’s
last name and Osama’s first have 80% similarity.!!!

Well, anything could work in a country that can be so
easily mesmerized by spin doctors and misled to the abyss
by organized mendacity.

Yes, it is the spin doctors, the professional liars, that
Obama is worried about, I would say much more than he is
about Jewish voters. This is why he probably doesn’t want
to give them any chances, even at the expense of whatever
moral credentials he might have.

I know that the hardcore Jewish leadership in America
doesn’t really like or trust Obama, mainly because in the
tone of his voice they detect a propensity to refuse total
submission to Jewish power. This is the reason that their
support of the black candidate is shrouded with more than a
thin façade of hypocrisy and disingenuousness.

But why would the “omnipotent lobby” not unmask its doubts
and lack of certitude about Obama and switch support to
Senator McCain, who is with Israel, heart and soul?

Well, because they are worried that in case Obama won the
race, they lobby would probably fall out of favor with the
next master of the White House. And that would be very bad
for Israel. Hence, their uttered slogan is “we must not
allow this Negro to outsmart or outmaneuver us.”

Surely, American Zionism and its powerful lobby, which
effectively controls American politics and policies, is
fond of Obama’s tongue. But they are not so sure about
Obama’s mind and heart.

So, far Obama has done a remarkable job hiding whatever
discrepancy there might be between his tongue and his
conscience. This is what irks Israel’s firsters most.

Well, let us hope that Obama will be the next President of
the United States. At least if he can’t stand up to Israel
, whose former Prime Minister Ariel Sharon was rumored to
have said “We, the Jews, control America and the Americans
know it,” he, at the very least, would be the lesser of the
two evils, since a McCain’s presidency would mean another
four years of George W. Bush’s policies.

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While Nablus is raided: Gordon Brown, another false prophet

21/07/08

By Khalid Amayreh

As British Prime Minister Gordon Brown was having an
audience with Palestinian Authority (PA) Chairman Mahmoud
Abbas in Bethlehem, the Israeli occupation army was raping
anew the Palestinian town of Nablus, rounding up and
humiliating innocent people, violating homes and
vandalizing businesses.

On Sunday and early Monday, the so-called Israeli Defense
Forces raided the northern city, for the fourth time in
less than three weeks, as thousands of CIA-trained
Palestinian security personnel were watching from their
comfortable headquarters nearby.

The invading forces arrested dozens of innocent people,
including a lawmaker named Muna Mansur, the wife of an
Islamic political leader who was murdered by a Jewish death
squad while sitting in his office in downtown Nablus
several years ago.

The detainees, who are likely to be dumped in an Israeli
concentration camp for lengthy periods of time, have
committed no felony or even misdemeanor. Their only “guilt”
seems to be their conscientious opposition to the Nazi-like
Israeli occupation of their country.

Two weeks ago, the same Jewish forces, acting like the
German Gestapo, ransacked the main commercial center of
Nablus, raiding commercial malls, beauty salons, a major
medical center and numerous other institutions, crushing
furniture, smashing equipments and vandalizing public and
private property.

These acts of rape passed quietly as the governments of
Europe and North America, thoroughly absorbed in their
pornographic hypocrisy toward the Palestinian plight, kept
silent. After all, the victims are Palestinian, they are
Arabs, they are Muslims.

These are the same governments that have been demanding
rather shamelessly the prompt and unconditional release of
an Israeli combat soldier who was taken prisoner by
Palestinian fighters near the Gaza Strip more than two
years ago, while utterly ignoring the fate of more than
10,000 Palestinian detainees languishing in Israeli
dungeons and detention camps.

This pattern of moral whoredom on the part of European and
North American leaders is echoed ad nauseam every time a
European or American or Canadian official sets foot on the
soil of occupied Palestine, a holy land made unholy by the
overwhelming obscenity of Israel’s oppression of a people
whose only guilt is its enduring determination to survive
and be free.

There, these officials and statesmen utter a few empty
words about the “glory of Israeli democracy” before
returning home, hoping to have succeeded in impressing the
international Zionist cartel which effectively controls the
policies, politics and governments of most western
countries.

Gordon is no exception. He is just another carbon copy of
the typical hypocritical, double-faced, and morally
bankrupt western leader who tries to blur his dishonest
discourse with diplomatic niceties and nice-sounding
statements.

In fact, not only did Gordon keep his mouth shut regarding
Israeli oppression of the Palestinians, apparently fearing
upsetting his arrogant Zionist hosts, but he also
reiterated the same mantra western leaders like to utter
whenever they visit Europe’s ugly brat in the Middle East.

Brown, whose country gave birth to ugly Zionist entity,
vowed that Britain would “back Israel’s right to exist,” a
euphemism for backing Israel’s settlement expansion and
territorial aggrandizement at the expense of the
Palestinian people.

Indeed, this is how Israel understands such statements from
western leaders because if a given western country doesn’t
fully support Israel’s genocidal campaign against the
Palestinians, then the government of that country must be
advocating the destruction of Israel and the extermination
of the Jewish people!!

In short, from the Israeli perspective, Europe and America
have two choices vis-à-vis Israel, either they support the
liquidation of Palestine and its native people, the
Palestinians, or get themselves ready for vociferous Jewish
accusations of being Nazis, anti-Semites and “Hamas
lovers”!!!

I don’t know why western leaders, such as Gordon, keep
talking about Israel’s right to exist while rarely alluding
to the Palestinian people’s right to exist. Do they think
that Palestinians are unimportant? Do they consider the
rights of the “Chosenites” to be superior to and override
the rights and lives of the non-Chosenites?

Besides, one might really wonder how a country that
possesses more than 300 nuclear warheads and is also in
tight control of the American government and Congress has
its “right to exist” threatened by a people who spend half
of their time stranded at Israeli roadblocks and
checkpoints and the other half struggling to make ends
meet?

What is the problem with these European and American
leaders who keep parroting these illogical formulas about
Israel and its miraculous achievements? Are they drunk? Are
they ignorant? Are they irremediably dishonest?

In addition to his shooting from the hip about Israel,
Brown had the audacity to claim that Palestinian economic
prosperity was the key to foster and consolidate peace. He
went as far as saying that he planned to implement an
“economic roadmap” in occupied Palestine in an effort to
develop and stabilize the region.

But, undoubtedly, these are manifestly stupid remarks since
no economic prosperity can be achieved in a jungle of
roadblocks and checkpoints and hundreds of other physical
barriers that reduce the West Bank to an archipelago of
miserable Bantustans and townships, cut off from each other
and virtually isolated from the rest of the world.

Shouldn’t Brown have consulted with his predecessor, Tony
Blair, and asked him about the feasibility of effecting
economic prosperity in the West Bank under a Nazi-like
military occupation regime that is hell-bent on making the
Palestinians’ daily life an unbearable hell so that they
would eventually leave their homeland.

Blair, who had harbored wild hopes about reviving the
Palestinian economy, mainly in order to induce Palestinians
to be flexible on such paramount issues as the “right of
return” and “Jerusalem” has lately come to recognize the
impossibility of any serious economic revival in the West
Bank due to the ubiquitous presence of the Israeli
occupation.

Nonetheless, the often criminal western collusion with
Israel against the Palestinians and against justice
wouldn’t have had a conspicuously sinister impact had it
not been for the presence of a perfidious “Palestinian”
authority that is very much at America’s, and therefore
Israel’s beck and call.

Well, what is the point of having a “Palestinian Authority”
in whose presence and under whose rubric the Israeli
occupation army rapes our population centers every day and
every hour and every minute?

What is the point of having flamboyant PA leaders having
photo ops and “friendly and constructive and positive”
meetings with western leaders when all these encounters
can’t even save a Palestinian home from the claws of one
Israeli bulldozer?

Surely, no one is demanding that the PA militarily
confronts brutal Israeli barbarianism.

However, playing the role of a Palestinian Judenrat
vis-à-vis Israel represents the ultimate act of national
treason. That is the message that Palestinians everywhere
ought to communicate to the American-backed junta in
Ramallah.

(end)

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Met with silence

Recent Israeli army aggressions against Palestinian
charities, beauty salons and shops show unequivocally that
Israel is morally lost, writes Khaled Amayreh in Nablus

If you still think there are red lines that Israel has not
crossed with regard to its treatment of Palestinians, don’t
be too sure. In recent days and weeks, the Israeli army has
been vandalising, ransacking and confiscating Palestinian
civilian institutions in the West Bank’s largest towns and
cities, including Ramallah, the seat of the so-called
Palestinian government.

Frustrated eyewitnesses and tearful victims spoke of
“unprecedented brutality” and “Gestapo-like behaviour” as
Israeli occupation forces moved throughout the central and
northern West Bank to destroy what was left of the
Palestinian charity sector upon which thousands of
impoverished Palestinian families depend for their
livelihood.

Israel had been targeting orphanages and boarding schools
as well as soup kitchens and sewing workshops serving
orphans in the Hebron region. The campaign of terror, with
many hair- raising scenes of cruelty and moral callousness,
has seriously raised the level of hostility and hatred for
Israel.

Palestinian livelihood, like Palestinian lives, appears
irrelevant to Israel. It is, after all, the tormentor,
murderer, and perpetual oppressor of the Palestinian
people.

The latest savagery occurred last week when dozens of
Israeli army vehicles, including armoured personnel
carriers, stormed the main business district in Nablus, 90
kilometres north of Jerusalem. Nablus is one of the cities
the Palestinian Authority (PA) had declared “sovereign”,
especially after the deployment of hundreds of US-trained
and well armed “security forces”.

When Israeli soldiers violated the city last week,
Palestinian security forces were nowhere to be seen. The
invading Israeli troops stormed schools, commercial malls,
sports clubs, cultural centres, a key medical centre, a TV
station, beauty salons as well as numerous NGO offices,
ransacking and destroying equipment. In one instance,
educational aides — including human skeletons, microscopes
and school furniture — were smashed and thrown into the
street.

Moreover, soldiers stole computers and many electrical and
electronic appliances from the targeted buildings, all
declared “property of the Israeli” army. At the Afaq TV
station in downtown Nablus, the Israeli army confiscated
all its equipment and furniture, “then they left on the
front door a military order of its closure for one year,”
said station owner and director Issa Abul-Ezz in a
statement sent to Al-Ahram Weekly.

The most draconian barbarity, however, targeted a
commercial mall consisting of dozens of shops. The Israeli
army closed the premises, warning that any Palestinian
entering the multi-storey building would be arrested and
imprisoned for five years.

In Ramallah, Israeli soldiers stormed the municipal council
building of Al-Bireh, Ramallah’s twin-town, located a few
hundred metres from the headquarters of PA President
Mahmoud Abbas and the office of his Prime Minister Salam
Fayyad. The Israeli soldiers, with sledgehammers and
welding equipment, forced open offices, confiscating
computers and destroyed furniture.

Again, PA forces remained confined to their barracks “in
honour of agreements and understandings” with Israel. PA
officials, including Prime Minister Fayyad, have argued
forcefully that all social, cultural, educational, athletic
and commercial institutions targeted by Israel functioned
according to the law and were involved in nothing of
concern to Israel whatsoever.

“These are legitimate Palestinian institutions, and
targeting them is aimed at weakening and humiliating the
Palestinian Authority,” said Fayyad while inspecting the
targeted buildings. He added that he would complain to the
United States as well as to Tony Blair, the Quartet’s envoy
to the Palestinian-Israeli peace process. Neither has
uttered a word criticising the latest Israeli savagery.

The Israeli occupation authorities claimed the targeted
institutions were owned or run by religious individuals who
might be sympathetic to Hamas, the Palestinian Islamic
resistance movement. However, the Israeli army, and its
intelligence arm, Shin Bet, failed to produce any evidence
whatsoever linking the institutions to acts of violence.

Ironically, it is provocative actions like these that
seriously weaken the image of the PA while strengthening
Hamas. Fayyad said the Israeli onslaught on Palestinian
charities and other institutions would radicalise
Palestinian society and deepen hatred for Israel. It is
evident, however, that Israel is indifferent to the
long-term effects of its vindictive actions against
Palestinians. Drawing satisfaction at seeing Palestinians
suffer seems to be the main Israeli motive.

The harsh onslaught on the city of Nablus, and the
embarrassment this onslaught has caused to Israel’s peace
partner, the PA, has drawn few reactions from an
international community that appears to have lost hope of
restraining Israel’s wild savagery against virtually
helpless Palestinian victims.

The most outspoken response came from Louisa Morgantini,
vice- president of the European Union, who called the
Israeli raids “a clear violation of international law”.

“The ongoing raids, closures, and confiscations by the
Israeli army against institutions, associations and evens
schools in Nablus are illegal actions, representing not
only a clear violation of international law and more
suffering and injustice against the Palestinian population,
but also a direct attack on the Palestinian Prime Minister
Salam Fayyad’s government.

“Incursions, arrests, closures, sound bombs exploding
during nightly invasions, and now also the order to close
the Nablus mall, including 50 shops and offices,
threatening anyone who enters the mall to be imprisoned for
five years: these orders by the Israeli military are
illegal and invalid.”

On 10 July, Fayyad toured Nablus and urged shopkeepers and
residents to reopen their stores and to resist
non-violently. The Israeli army responded to Fayyad’s
“defiant posture” by re-entering Nablus and sealing
additional premises and by renewing warnings that violators
of Israeli military orders would be imprisoned and have
their homes blown up.

Fayyad, infuriated and clearly embarrassed by the audacity
of the Israeli raids, called on Hamas to work towards the
formation of a national unity government, because “this is
the only way to present a united Palestinian front in the
face of the Israeli aggression.”

Israeli society, which has been drifting stridently towards
Talmudic fundamentalism and jingoistic fascism, generally
ignored its army’s shameful behaviour in the West Bank.
There were two exceptions. First, the small but noted
Israeli peace group, Gush Shalom, published a statement in
the Israeli newspaper Haaretz entitled “Orphans and
widows”.

The statement read as follows: “As part of the actions
against Hamas, the Olmert government is destroying
orphanages, schools and charities in the West Bank. There
are no other institutions to take their place. Orphans,
widows and poor people will be thrown into the street. Will
this isolate Hamas? On the contrary.”

The other exception was an article written by the
non-conformist columnist Gideon Levy, also published in
Haaretz. Levy spoke of the horrific oppression the Israeli
army is meting out to the Palestinians. “Thus the
occupation proves once again that there is no place in
Palestinian lives that it cannot reach, and that it has no
boundaries.”

“An army that closes a school, library, bakery and boarding
school; soldiers who raid a licensed commercial television
station, confiscating its equipment and threatening its
closure, as happened recently at the Afaq TV station in
Nablus… These operations broadcast a message loud and
clear: the occupation has lost all moral inhibitions and
any shred of wisdom.”

“How wretched is an army,” Levy continued, “that empties
storerooms of food and clothing for the needy; how
ridiculous that the army signs orders to close hairdressing
salons; how pathetic is a military raid on bakeries and how
cruel is an occupation that shuts down clinics on any
pretexts.”

It is important to keep in mind that these views in no way
reflect the collective conscience of Israel’s overtly
racist society. Therein, the dominant response to the
occupation’s atrocities is silence.

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Israeli Apartheid wall: Still illegal

Still illegal Four years on, Palestinians still demand that
the World Court’s ruling on Israel’s apartheid wall be
implemented, writes Khaled Amayreh in the West Bank

On 9 July 2004, the International Court of Justice (ICJ) in
The Hague ruled as illegal the so- called “separation wall”
— the gigantic barrier Israel had been building in the
West Bank.

The wall has not yet been completed, mainly due to
procedural and financial problems. But when completed, it
would devour nearly 46 per cent of the West Bank, 10 per
cent of which would be isolated on the “Israeli” side of
the barrier. This almost certainly means annexation.

This is added to East Jerusalem and surrounding Arab
villages, which constitutes four per cent of the occupied
West Bank. Israel has already cordoned East Jerusalem, with
its estimated quarter of a million Palestinians, with an
eight- metre high barrier, cutting them off from the rest
of the West Bank.

The landmark ruling by the ICJ stated that the gigantic
barrier, built mostly on confiscated Arab land occupied by
Israel in 1967, was in violation of international law and
should be torn down. The ruling also reaffirmed that all
Jewish colonies built in the West Bank, East Jerusalem and
the Gaza Strip since 1967 were likewise illegal under
international law and ought to be dismantled.

Palestinians suffering losses as a result of the wall, the
ICJ ruled, would have to be compensated by Israel. Israel,
emboldened by its guardian-ally, the United States,
rejected the ruling defiantly, arguing that its viewpoint
was not taken into consideration by ICJ judges.

In fact, far from paying the slightest attention to the ICJ
ruling, Israel actually accelerated its seizing of
Palestinian land, with the Israeli High Court of Justice
acting as a rubber stamp in the hands of the Israeli
occupation army to give the huge land-grab a façade of
legality it cannot have.

Palestinians in general viewed the ruling as an important
victory for their cause. However, few Palestinians had any
illusions as to the realistic prospects of getting the
US-dominated “international community” to ensure
implementation of the ICJ ruling on the ground. After all,
numerous other resolutions by the UN and its Security
Council declaring Israeli actions illegal and null and void
remained mere “ink on paper”.

In recent days, Palestinians all over the West Bank have
been marking the fourth anniversary of the ICJ ruling with
renewed determination to end the 41-year-old Israeli
occupation of their homeland. Indeed, the construction of
the ugly barrier, which many also call “the wall of shame”
is but a symptom of the Israeli occupation, just as is the
proliferation of Jewish-only colonies and Jewish-only roads
throughout the occupied territories.

Last week, eight protests were held in the West Bank, from
Jenin in the north to Bethlehem in the south. The
protesters, who also included foreign peace activists,
carried aloft Palestinian flags as well as signs calling
for the demolition of the wall.

In Deir Al-Ghusun near Tulkarem (in the northern West
Bank), protesters marched to the wall that isolated their
orchards and farms. One protester called the seizure of his
land by the Israeli army “an act of rape”. He accused
Israel of “deceiving and lying to the world”.

“First they said the wall was a security structure, not a
political border. However, we have seen that all Israeli
policies and actions indicate that Israel deals with the
wall as constituting political boundaries,” said the
middle-aged man.

Soon, however, the protest was suppressed by Israeli
occupation troops invading the village via military gates
built into the wall. The purpose of these gates is to allow
the Israeli army easy access to adjacent Palestinian
villages, thus facilitating control over the local
populace.

On 11 July, Palestinian villagers and foreign peace
activists marched to the wall at the villages of Jayyous,
Niilin, Billin and Al-Khadr where they clashed with Israeli
troops defending the wall. Villagers spoke bitterly of
Israeli military bulldozers decimating and pulverising
their centuries-old olive groves and ancestral farms, upon
which much of their livelihood depends.

For their part, Israeli occupation soldiers were in no mood
to allow the victims of Israeli apartheid policy and ethnic
cleansing to even peacefully communicate their grievances
to the outside world. Even before protesters arrived at the
site of the decimated groves, occupation soldiers showered
them with rubber-coated bullets, sound bombs and tear gas.
One villager was seriously injured, and as many as 50 olive
trees were set on fire by exploding bombs and tear gas
shells.

Undoubtedly, the wall has inflicted incalculable losses of
national proportions on Palestinians in the West Bank,
covering all aspects of their existence and survival.
According to Abdul-Hadi Hantash, a cartographer and expert
on Jewish settlements, the wall has a length of 786
kilometres and is built along the main water reservoir
basins in the West Bank, which produce 460 million cubic
metres of mostly fresh water per year. Of this amount,
around five per cent goes to the Palestinians while Israel
grabs the rest.

Hantash said the wall had already isolated more than 70
Palestinian villages and hamlets with a total population of
223,000 people. It also resulted in the uprooting or
destruction of 108,000 full-grown trees, including 84,000
olive trees.

Hantash said the Palestinian Authority (PA) should not take
the wall as a separate issue. “This sinister wall is an
integral part of the Jewish settlement policy. It is a
symptom of the occupation, and as we all know symptoms
can’t be eradicated without treating the root cause first.”

Hantash was speaking on 11 July during a symposium held in
Dura, near Hebron, marking the passage of four years since
the adoption by the ICJ of the landmark ruling against the
wall.

Talab Al-Sanie, a Palestinian member of the Israeli
parliament, who also took part in the symposium, pointed
out that the construction of the wall was motivated by an
overwhelming Israeli desire to unilaterally impose
political boundaries between Israel and a prospective
Palestinian state.

Al-Sanie, however, argued that the ICJ ruling proved that
the wall was “an illegitimate phenomenon stemming from
another equally illegitimate phenomenon, namely the Israeli
occupation of Arab land”. He pointed out that Israel was
simply trying to resolve its demographic problems and fears
at the expense of the Palestinian people.

“Jews ought to realise that this hateful military
occupation will not give them security. They should also
understand that their enemy is not the Palestinian people,
but the occupation, the termination of which would put an
end to the conflict in the region.”

To his chagrin, most Israelis, especially their government
and the military establishment, denounce Al-Sanie’s views,
explaining the continued expansion of Jewish settlements
all over the West Bank and on both sides of the
“separation” wall.

Caption: Palestinian demonstrators gather at the apartheid
wall during a protest marking the fourth anniversary since
the International Court of Justice called for partial
demolition of the wall in the East Jerusalem neighbourhood
of Beit Hanin

C a p t i o n 2: Palestinian demonstrators gather at the
apartheid wall during a protest marking the fourth
anniversary since the International Court of Justice called
for partial demolition of the wall in the East Jerusalem
neighbourhood of Beit Hanin

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Israel crosses all red lines in West Bank

11/07/2008
By Khalid Amayreh in Ramallah

Until a few years ago, most of the Israeli army activities
in the occupied territories were aimed primarily at forcing
Palestinians to come to terms with their status as
perpetual slaves tightly controlled by Jewish masters.

The occupation army would demolish homes, seal college
campuses and arrest suspected activists for prolonged
periods of time.

The message was clear: Don’t you ever dream of freedom, for
whatever you do wouldn’t help you, the world won’t help you
because we control America and America controls the world;
we are the master race.

Now the Israeli army is targeting the Palestinian society
as a whole. It is directly targeting educational, social,
economic and even medical institutions.

Interestingly, this is taking place under the scandalous
rubric of “peace talks” between the Zionist state and the
American-backed Palestinian Authority (PA) which is
supposed to protect Palestinians and their national
interests from Israel’s nefarious conduct.

In doing so, Israel is effectively crossing all erstwhile
red lines, violating all conceivable considerations
mandated by human decency. It is a no-holds-barred policy
intended to impoverish and debilitate the Palestinian
community by forcing Palestinians to devote most of their
time and energy to hankering after their immediate daily
needs.

This week, the Israeli army vandalized and ransacked civil
institutions, including a school, a medical center and a
commercial department store in the heart of Nablus, the
second largest city in the West Bank. The vandalized and
ransacked institutions happen to be in an area under the
control of the PA, pursuant to the hapless Oslo Accords.

Reporters and ordinary citizens were shocked by the scenes
of basic educational materials trashed and crushed by an
army that Israelis claim ad nauseam that it is the most
moral army in the world.

Well, it is a “moral army” that orders its soldiers to
storm orphanages, boarding schools and soup kitchens and
crush food about to be served to poor children, many of
them have lost their parents to Israeli bullets.

Morality afterall is a relative matter. The Nazis, too, had
thought their armies were the most moral of all armies.
Apparently, Zionist Jews are walking in the same path and
making the same arguments.

A few months ago, the Israeli army carried out a
“holocaust”, using the words of a Christian peace activist,
against Islamic charitable institutions in the Hebron
region. The “army of the Jews” targeted schools,
businesses, orphanages and soup kitchens. troops, acting
like gangsters and common criminals, went as far as raiding
and vandalizing sewing machines and clothes stores. Even
children sport shoes and underwear were confiscated and
later dumped at sewage streams outside the city. Yes, this
happens in a state that claims to be a light upon the
nations and the only democracy in the Middle East.

Israel, a country whose very existence is based on murder,
mendacity and theft, claims that its “actions” are
necessary to combat terror, a reference to Palestinian
resistance to Israel’s sinister occupation, including
non-violent resistance.

However, it is more than obvious that the targeted
institutions have absolutely no connections with any
political organization, including Hamas, the mantra whose
invocation Israel thinks justifies every conceivable crime
against the helpless Palestinians, their dignity and
property.

Moreover, one is inescapably compelled to ask how
destroying classrooms and trashing educational aids as well
as crushing soup kitchens and storming gynecology wards in
hospitals contribute to fighting “terror.”?

Does the Israeli army, government and Jews in general think
that they endear Palestinian children to peaceful
coexistence by destroying their classrooms, by crushing
their educational aids, and by tying up Palestinian
teachers to power poles and beating them savagely?

In fact, Israel is punishing the Palestinians for their
very survival, for their very existence and for refusing to
die and disappear, just as the Nazis fought Jews for their
very existence, survival and refusal to disappear.

Israel would want the Palestinians to die and vanish from
the face of earth without showing resistance and as quietly
as possible.

This mental sickness on the part of Israelis explains the
utter evilness and insidiousness of their despicable
treatment of ordinary Palestinians. The collective mindset
of Israel simply expects her Palestinian victims to behave
and act like Nazism’s victims, to surrender to their
ineluctable fate without making a big noise.

Unfortunately, the world at large seems to be colluding
with Israel in crucifying the Palestinian people.

Even the Palestinian Authority (PA) of Ramallah, which
claims to be defending and safeguarding Palestinian
national interests, is acquiescing to genocidal Israeli
terrorism, so much that Israel itself has come to view the
PA as a sort of Palestinian Judenrat.

One would have thought that Mahmoud Abbas, the chief of the
PA, would take a meaningful stand against Israeli crimes in
Nablus and Hebron.

However, his deafening silence in the face of these
abominable crimes is confirming and the man’s utter
inadequacy for leading the Palestinians.

But, then, what can we realistically expect from an
authority that has no authority, an entity whose very
existence and survival depends on handouts from foreign
powers which themselves happen to be at Israel’s beck and
call?

As to the west, the matter is even more scandalous. Western
governments, which keep an army of informers, NGO
representatives, diplomats, and monitors in the West Bank,
know perfectly well the extent of Israeli barbarianism and
terror against the helpless Palestinians.

A few weeks ago, a European diplomat intimated to this
writer that “we brief our governments on every aspect of
Israeli repression of Palestinians.”

However, when asked why the governments don’t act on the
information provided, the diplomat, expressing a whiff of
embarrassment, said “Well, that is a different matter. Our
governments have other considerations. They can’t always do
what should be done. They can’t upset certain pressure
groups both inside and outside.”

We are talking about mostly morally-bankrupt governments
whose leaders, when they come on a visit to occupied
Palestine, don’t stop babbling about “human rights,
democracy and civil liberties.”

Well, we have heard these stories too much and for too
long, so much that most of our people have already lost
faith in western democracy, a big lie that only spells
hypocrisy and conspiracy.

What else explains the disgraceful western silence toward
the Nazi-like Israeli onslaught on the Palestinian people’s
very existence.

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Israel’s collective psychosis: The denial syndrome

20/07/2008
By Khalid Amayreh

This week, Israel sank in an avalanche of national
lethargy, hypocrisy and self-righteousness.

Seeking to cope with Hezbullah’s success in getting Israel
to release all Lebanese prisoners, dead and living, in
exchange for the remains of two Israeli soldiers, Israeli
leaders, media and shapers of public opinion have been
indulging in sanctimonious self-glorification while
denouncing the other side as “hateful, uncivilized and
representing an inferior culture.”

This is a characteristic Israeli behavior. It perfectly
characterizes a society that has been living in a state of
denial ever since Zionist gangs, aided by western powers,
succeeded in uprooting the bulk of native Palestinians from
Palestine, their ancestral homeland, and implanting therein
Israel, a state based on racism, terror, ethnic cleansing
and falsification of history.

The orgy of lying, especially the shocking amenability of
most Zionist Jews to take the obscene lies at face value
caricatures a people that dreads knowing the truth, let
alone coping with it. And when the truth eventually manages
to penetrate the “iron wall” of Zionist lies, the
custodians of the big lie, which is Zionism, resort to a
whole set of defense mechanisms to protect the collective
mental sanity of a state whose very existence constitutes a
crime against humanity.

Thus, according to this depraved and psychotic mindset,
Israel doesn’t murder children and innocent civilians, It
is only the victims that bring death upon themselves. And
Israelis don’t steal the land and property of Palestinians,
since the entire world was created for the sake of the
“chosen people.”

And even when Jews do commit “certain mistakes” and
“abominable sins,” they are not really to blame for that
since it is the victims that always force Jews to make
these mistakes.

Hence, the proverbial Palestinian victim of Israeli
savagery is always responsible for the demolition of his
own home, the murder of his own children and the
destruction of his own farm, grove and orchard by Israeli
bulldozer!!

Eventually, the entire Palestinian Nakba is a
self-inflicted calamity which the Palestinians brought upon
themselves because they refused to succumb to the will of
the “chosen people.” More to the point, if the Palestinians
don’t come to terms with the Nakba and the occupation, a
greater Nakba, or holocaust, would be inflicted upon them.

Interestingly, the wave of self-righteous overindulgence in
Israel has been led by the establishment people, figures
that know too well that Israel doesn’t really represent the
culture of peace, but rather the culture of war and
aggression; they know that Israel is inculcated with a
criminal and murderous mentality that differs very little
from the Nazi mentality.

Yes, they do know all of this, but like all murderers,
thieves and liars, they dread facing the truth. The truth
would simply make them lose their raison d’etre. This is
why they always try to turn the black into white, the white
into black and the big lie into a “truth” glorified by
millions of “beneficiaries” at home and ignorant “fans”
abroad.

It may be particularly difficult to convince the
“beneficiaries” of their sinfulness, namely the fact that
they are living in homes that belong to other people and
living on land that belongs to another people.

However, for the sake of the ignorant or naïve fans in
Europe and north America as well as the rest of the world,
it is imperative that they be delivered from the grip of
Zionist lies.

Yes, westerners must be allowed to know the naked truth
about this sick and sickening state that deceptively claims
to be the sole true inheritor of Judaism while its
ideology, behavior and actions are antithetical to all
religious and moral values that stress universal justice
and human equality.

Let us remember some of the “glorious expressions” of the
Zionist culture of love and self-abnegation in recent
years.

Chris Hedges is a prominent journalist and author
specialized in American and Middle Eastern politics. He
worked for a number of publications including the Christian
Science Monitor, the Dallas Morning News and the New York
Times where he spent 15 years.

In his recent book, War is a Force that Gives Us Meaning,
Hedges tells a chilling story from his trip to the Gaza
Strip in the heydays of the intifada, or the second
Palestinian uprising against the Israeli occupation.

Hedges watched, ten- and eleven-year-old Palestinian
children being lured to their neighborhood’s perimeter
fence by taunts from a loudspeaker on the Israeli side.
“Where are all the dogs of Khan Younis? Come! Come! The
Israeli voice barked insults at the boys’ mothers. The boys
responded by hurling their rocks at the jeep with the
loudspeaker. The Israelis shot at them with M-16s fitted
with silencers. Hedges found the victims in the hospital,
children with their stomachs ripped out, and with gaping
holes in their limbs.

Writing for “Harper’s Magazine” (see The Nation, March 11,
2002), Hedges wrote: “ Children have been shot in other
conflicts I have covered. Death squads gunned them down in
El Salvador and Guatemala, mothers with infants were lined
up and massacred in Algeria, and Serb snipers put children
in their sights in Sarajevo, but I have never before
watched soldiers entice children like mice into a trap and
murder them for sport.”

Here is another “expression of love:” In November, 2001, an
undercover unit of the Israeli army buried a landmine in
the sand that flows around Abdullah Siyam Primary School in
Khan Younis in southern Gaza.

A few hours later, as Palestinian children headed to
school, the mine exploded. Five school kids were instantly
reduced to broken flesh. The youngest was six. All the
victims came from the same extended family: Akram Naim
Astal, 6, and his brother Mohammed, 13; Omar Idris Astal,
12, and his brother Anis, 10; and their cousin Muhamemd
Sultan Astal, 12. Their young bodies were mutilated beyond
recognition. The limbs of one child were found 50 meters
away. Some of the kids could only be identified by their
school bags, brightly colored and spattered with blood,
still dangling from their butchered bodies.

Hasbara doctors in Israel might seek to extenuate the
gravity or even whitewash these crimes by claiming that
these were “individual acts” that didn’t reflect the
overall policy of the Israeli government and army.

However, this is a big lie. In 2001, the noted Israeli
award-wining journalist Amira Hass interviewed an Israeli
sniper in which the soldier described the commands he
received from his superiors:

“Twelve and up, you are allowed to shoot. That is what they
tell us,” the soldier said. “So,” responded the reporter,
“according to the IDF, the appropriate minimum age group at
which to shoot is 12.” The soldier replied: “this is
according to what the IDF says to its soldiers. I don’t
know if this is what the IDF says to the media.”

A further “expression of love and humanity of Israeli
culture” manifested itself, also in Gaza, in 2004, when an
Israeli occupation army soldier, dubbed Captain-R, shot a
Palestinian girl, Iman al Hums, who was on her way to
school. However, the soldier was not sure whether the
13-year-girl died or not. Hence, he walked to the bleeding
child, and instead of trying to save her life, he shot here
25 times, emptying his entire magazine of bullets into her
tender body. He did what he did in order “ to verify the
kill,” a standard Israeli army practice in such
circumstances

Now, the reader might be prompted to think that the
bloodthirsty murderer was arrested and made to stand trial
for his hair-raising crime. Well, the opposite happened.
The soldier not only was innocent of any wrongdoing but was
also awarded tens of thousands of dollars for being “hurt
and libeled by unfavorable media coverage.”

In truth, it is not only Israeli army soldiers and officers
who willfully indulge in such Nazi behavior. Zionist rabbis
routinely issue religious edicts that would allow Israeli
troops to murder non-Jewish children knowingly and
deliberately without having to worry about any
ramifications, moral or otherwise.

In May 2007, shortly before Israeli occupation soldiers
murdered two Gaza children who apparently were searching
for scrap metal to sell for a few cents in order help feed
their impoverished families, the former Israeli Chief
rabbi, Mordechai Elyahu, petitioned the Israeli government
to carry out a series of carpet bombing of Gaza population
centers.

Elyahu argued that a ground invasion of the world’s most
crowded spot would endanger Israeli soldiers. He said “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 million, whatever it takes to make them stop.”

Earlier, Elyahu, a prominent Talmudic sage, called on the
Israeli occupation army not to refrain from killing
Palestinian children if that means saving the lives of
Israeli soldiers.

The above-mentioned are only sporadic examples of the
barbarian spirit inculcated in Israelis, especially
soldiers dispatched to the occupied Palestinian territories
to guard the occupation and enforce apartheid.

It is this barbarian mindset that makes Israeli soldiers
abduct Palestinian school children and take them to nearby
Jewish settlements where they are used as “training
objects” by Jewish youngsters. It is this barbarian
mentality that makes Jewish soldiers force helpless
Palestinian laborers do certain depraved acts such as
drinking soldiers’ urine and singing, individually or in
unison, “wahad Hommas, wahad fool, Allah Iyhay-yee Mishmar
Gvul” (one ‘dish’ hummus, one broad beans, may Allah greet
the Border Police)!!!

There are of course thousands, even tens of thousands, of
examples which one could easily and readily cite to
underscore Israeli barbarianism.

To be sure, this disgraceful reality is known to many
Israelis. In 2001, Shulamit Aloni, a former minister of
education, wrote in the Israeli newspaper Ma’ariv that “we
have become a barbarian people.”

So, what makes a leftist, liberal woman see in Israel what
the vast bulk of Israelis, including the country’s
intelligentsia, wouldn’t see, or more correctly, wouldn’t
want to see.

Well, it is Israel’s collective psychosis, the denial
syndrome?

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