The Jewish settler pogrom against Palestinians must be stopped now

06/08/2008

By Khalid Amayreh

Nazi-like Jewish settlers have of late stepped up their
indiscriminate attacks on Palestinian civilians and their
property throughout the West Bank.

In some areas, like in the Hebron region, settler attacks
have assumed pogrom-like proportions. What is particularly
outrageous is that most of these attacks take place in full
view of Israeli soldiers who watch passively as heavily
armed settlers gang up on helpless Palestinian civilians.

The latest acts of savagery included an assault on a
Palestinian wedding party and the attempted lynching of an
Arab boy near Hebron, an attack on a civilian car near
Nablus that caused a massive brain hemorrhage to a
6-year-old girl who is now fighting for her life, beating
up and stoning Arab children near Tuwwani in the southern
West Bank and setting fire to Palestinian groves and fields
in several parts of the occupied territories.

A Christian Peace-making Team (CPT) member was also
assaulted and badly injured by Jewish settlers in southern
Hebron hills last week.

“We were driving from our home in Ramallah to a cousin’s
wedding in Jenin, with our three daughters sitting in the
back. We had to turn around because of engine trouble, and
as we passed the Yitzhar settlement junction, we saw four
people on the road. My wife said, ‘watch out!’ But it was
too late, a large slab had been thrown through our
windshield,” said Hazem Ma’ali, father of the injured girl.

“He (the settler) dropped it right on us. My wife made a
sound and began bleeding. I stopped and then decided to
continue to Hiwwara checkpoint outside of Nablus. As I
opened the car doors, my daughter fell out, injured. The
slab had made it all the way to the back windscreens.” He
added.

A few weeks ago, settler thugs attacked and badly injured
several Palestinian peasants and shepherds in the Yatta
region. In one instance, settlers beat up a Palestinian man
and tied him up to a power pole outside their settlement
outpost.

These are not isolated incidents, nor do they represent ‘a
few rotten tomatoes’ as Israeli government spokespersons
would claim.

These are deliberate and well-planned acts of terror
carried out by settlers who are following general
instructions from their rabbis and community leaders. The
settlers, who claim to be religious Jews, think they are
doing a ‘mitzvah’ or a good religious deed, when they
murder or lynch an Arab child or shepherd or when they burn
down or destroy Arab property.

And there is no doubt that the vast bulk of these criminal
activities are approved and encouraged by so-called
‘Talmudic sages’ who inculcate these criminals with the
hateful ideology of religious Zionism according to which
all means, including genocide, ought to be adopted in order
to ethnically cleanse the ‘Land of Israel’ of all goyim.

This is not a matter of speculation or prognostication.
Prominent rabbis from the Merkaz Harav Talmudic college in
West Jerusalem(the Central Nervous System of religious
Zionism in Israel) have repeatedly issued edicts, or
religious rulings, permitting settlers to murder innocent
Palestinians and steal or destroy their property. The
Israeli press has published numerous reports on prominent
religious leaders who call on Jews to adopt a
‘no-holds-barred approach’ toward the Palestinians. (This
is the same approach that the Nazis adopted toward Jews
prior and during WWII).

Nonetheless, the Zionist-religious camp is by no means the
sole villain in this episode of terror and murder.

The Israeli state and army often connive and conspire with
the settlers against the virtually completely unprotected
Palestinian civilians, especially in the so-called area C
where the army is supposed to provide protection for all
inhabitants, including Palestinian inhabitants.

Unfortunately, the Israeli occupation army itself has
become very much an army of the settlers, for the settlers,
and by the settlers. There are two main expressions of this
criminal collusion: first, the army itself deploys
settler-soldiers to patrol the vicinity of Arab hamlets and
villages. These ‘soldiers’, who serve as informers and
spies for the settlers, regularly brief settler thugs on
army patrol movement so that when the army leaves a given
area, the settlers attack the nearby Arab community and
then flee back to their respective settlements without
being noticed by the soldiers

And when Palestinian victims submit a complaint to the
Israeli authorities, they are asked to produce impossible
evidence concerning the perpetrators such as their names,
descriptions and even their photographs.

Second, settler-soldiers serving in the occupation army
themselves indulge in acts of murder against innocent
Palestinians such as shooting and killing innocent
Palestinian demonstrators, often against specific army
instructions.

A few days ago, an Israeli settler soldier shot and killed
a 10-year-old Palestinian boy who was among a group of boys
watching Israeli bulldozers crush Palestinian orchards near
Ni’ilin in the West Bank.

Mousa Ahmed Mousa was murdered in cold blood when the
soldier shot him in the forehead at close range.

Unfortunately, the murderer was questioned for five minutes
before he was released to house arrest.

In light of past experience, however, it is unlikely that
he will be punished for his crime.

Today, the settlers, who really have the mindset of the
Gestapo, feel they have a free rein to terrorize, torment
and murder Palestinians and vandalize their property with
virtual impunity.

The settlers also know that there are powerful politicians,
ministers and even army commanders that would get them
released in case they were arrested or imprisoned for their
crimes.

This explains why the Israeli army and police refrain from
carrying out court orders with regard to the settlers, such
as forcing them to leave an Arab property they had seized
by force.

Protection

The settler reign of terror, along with the Israeli
government’s apparent connivance with these criminals,
poses a challenge to those concerned about the increasingly
diabolical treatment meted out to the Palestinians by the
Israeli state.

I believe that in order to prevent settler terror from
reaching unthinkable levels, thousands of international
observers, including conscientious Jews, would have to be
permanently stationed all over the West Bank in order to
demonstrate to these thugs and those who stand behind them
that the Palestinians are not alone.

The presence of international observers may not succeed in
stopping all settler crimes; but it can succeed in
deterring and discouraging the perpetration of some of the
uglier crimes against innocent Palestinians.

The forces of peace from around the world should also
provide Palestinians, especially in remote areas, with
high-resolution cameras to film and document settler
attacks and savagery.

This particular method has been proven effective in
exposing the criminal behavior of Israeli settlers and
soldiers against innocent Palestinians in recent weeks.

We all know that had it not been for that young girl who
filmed an Israeli soldier shooting a handcuffed and
blindfolded Palestinian near Nil’iln a few weeks ago, we
probably wouldn’t have heard about that incident.

In the end, we must leave no stone unturned until we
isolate these thugs who think they are carrying God’s
instructions by murdering and terrorizing innocent people.

They must not be allowed to win. Because if they do, the
entire humanity will lose.

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Rabbis who bring shame to Judaism

05/08/08

By Khalid Amayreh in the West Bank

Religious extremism is very dangerous. It means that every
thinkable vice under the sun can be committed, “sanctioned”
and “justified” in the name of the Almighty.

In Israel, rabbis with hundreds of thousands of followers,
many of whom serve in the Gestapo-like Israeli occupation
army, openly teach that non-Jews are only human in form but
animals in substance.

These racist teachings can’t be dismissed as “innocuous” or
“esoteric.” Very often, they constitute “a manual for
action” for many Jewish settlers roaming the hills of the
West Bank, fetching for an Arab prey to kill, or attack or
tie up to a power pole.

The teachings also serve as a direct inspiration to
numerous Israeli soldiers operating in the West Bank who,
thanks to the racist indoctrination they receive from their
rabbis, have come to view the estimated 3.7 million
Palestinians living under Israel’s military rule, not as
real human beings, but rather as animals walking on two
feet. The often barbaric treatment meted out to the
Palestinians in the occupied territories testifies to the
rampantly racist indoctrination soldiers and settlers
receive at the hands of religious Zionist rabbis.

Last year, a Jewish immigrant from France, who murdered an
Arab taxi driver after luring him to his home north of Tel
Aviv, told police interrogators that he didn’t kill a human
being; he only killed an animal.

“Merkaz Harav”

Merkaz Harav (the Rabbi’s Center) is the ideological and
theological central nervous system of religious Zionism in
Israel. Established in honor of Rabbi Abraham Kook,
Israel’s first Chief Rabbi, the center, which is actually a
religious college, teaches students that God Almighty
created the entire universe for the sake of “the Jew,” and
that all non-Jews ought to be slaves laboring for the
“chosen people.”

As to the Palestinians, Merkaz Harav teaches that “non-Jews
living under Jewish law in Eretz Yisrael (Land of Israel)
must either be enslaved as water carriers and wood hewers,
or banished, or exterminated.”

Some rabbinic authorities associated with Merkaz Harav have
been preaching the view that Palestinians are descendants
of the Amalek, or Amalekites, whom the Bible says must be
totally exterminated.

Such hateful views are actually espoused by hundreds of
thousands of Jewish settlers in the West Bank. This is the
religious doctrine of religious Zionism. This is the
theology taught in hundreds of Yeshivot (religious schools)
throughout Israel and the occupied Palestinian territories.
Settlers as well as the increasingly Settler-dominated
Israeli army may very well act on these doctrines in a more
wanton manner if the world goes into a slumber. They are
only awaiting the opportune time to do it.

According to Rabbi Kook, “The difference between a Jewish
soul and souls of non-Jews-all of them in all different
levels-is greater and deeper than the difference between a
human soul and the soul of cattle.”

The late Israeli philosopher, Yisrael Shahak, pointed out
that the teachings of Kook were based on the Lurianic
Cabala, one of whose basic tenets is the absolute
superiority of the Jewish soul and body over the non-Jewish
soul and body “so much so that the world was created solely
for the sake of Jews.”

In 2003, Rabbi Saadya Grama, an alumnus of Beth Medrash
Govoha, the renowned Yeshiva in Lakewood, N.J., wrote a
book titled “Romemut Yisrael Ufarashat Hagalut,” which can
be translated as “the Majesty of Israel and the Question of
the Diaspora,” in which he argued that non-Jews were
“completely evil” and that Jews constituted a separate,
genetically superior species.

The book was condemned by many reform and conservative
rabbis in the US as manifestly racist and incompatible with
normative Jewish religious thinking. However, major Jewish
organizations in Israel and North America, such as Agudat
Yisrael, refused to condemn the book.

In Israel, numerous Orthodox Zionist rabbis, many of them
graduates of and lecturers at Merkaz Harav, continue to
teach the theologically dubious concept that the ten
commandments don’t apply to non-Jews and that, therefore,
the Biblical commandments against committing murder, theft,
and lying don’t cover non-Jews.

For example, Rabbi Dov Lior, Chairman of the Jewish
Rabbinic Council, teaches that “there is no such thing as
enemy civilians in war time”

“The law of our Torah is to have mercy on our soldiers and
to save them. This is the real moral behind Israel’s Torah
and we must not feel guilty due to foreign morals,” he was
quoted as saying by the Hebrew newspaper Ma’ariv in 2004.

“A thousand non-Jewish lives are not worth a Jew’s
fingernail.”

Lior is not a marginal figure in the Zionist religious
establishment.

I asked Rabbi Menachem Froman, who himself has taught at
Merkaz Harav, about Lior’s religious credentials and he
told me that the man “is considered among the most learned
sages of the Torah.”

Earlier this year, Rabbi David Batsri told followers that
“it is impossible to mix the pure with the impure. They
(the Arabs) are a blight, a devil, a disaster. The Arabs
are donkeys, and we have to ask ourselves why God didn’t
create them to walk on all four. Well, the answer is that
they are needed to build and clean. They don’t have any
place in our school.”

In May, 2007, Mordechai Elyahu, a former Chief Rabbi of
Israel, issued an edict that would permit the Israeli army
to murder hundreds of thousands of Palestinians .

“If they don’t stop after we kill 100, then we must kill a
thousand. And if they don’t 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.”

I don’t believe that this repulsive extremism represents
true Judaism, the Judaism that is based on the Ten
Commandments.

Jewish traditions relate the story of a heathen who came to
Shammai with the request to be accepted as a convert on
condition that he was taught the whole Torah while he stood
on one foot. Shammai drove him away with the yard-stick he
was holding. Then the man went to Hillel with the same
request. Hillel told the man “what is hateful to yourself
don’t do to your fellow human being. That is the whole of
the Torah and the rest is commentary.”

Unfortunately, the rabbis of religious Zionism, including
the so-called Chabadim who have effectively replaced the
Torah with a notoriously racist manual called “Hatanya,”
pay no attention to such traditions. And when they are
reminded of them, they arrogantly claim that words such as
“man” or “human being” refer solely and exclusively to the
“Jew.”

Besides, it is obvious that these fanatics only select the
most racist and most hateful texts from a huge body of
scriptures, Biblical and Talmudic, while utterly ignoring
and shunning authentic texts, including biblical texts,
that urge Jews to treat kindly and justly non-Jews who live
in their midst.

In addition, one wonders if these so-called religious
leaders and “holy men” understand what it means to rule
that in wartime all holds are barred and there is no such a
thing as enemy civilians.

Well, Adolph Hitler could have made the same argument to
justify his genocidal onslaught against Jews and non-Jews
in Europe?

Finally, I hope that moderate Jewish religious authorities
will move to challenge these extremist rabbis who I am
convinced misrepresent Judaism by presenting it as a
religion of fire and blood and hate. God-fearing rabbis
should make it abundantly clear to Jews in Israel-Palestine
that harming innocent people is wrong.

This is a paramount issue because if the ideology and
theology of Merkaz Harav are allowed to prevail, then
Judaism itself will suffer immensely.

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PA torments Palestinians on Israel’s behalf

31/07/08

By Khalid Amayreh in the West Bank

In recent days, the American-backed Palestinian Authority
(PA) carried out a shameful crackdown against
non-conformist Palestinian intellectuals, journalists as
well as civic and religious leaders all over the West Bank.

PA security agencies have also violently suppressed
peaceful rallies by the pan-Islamic Liberation party
commemorating the downfall of the Ottoman Caliphate.
Eyewitnesses said undisciplined policemen beat participants
using plastic truncheons.

In Beit Jala, PA men beat four camera men who were filming
police cars. And in Hebron, a Reuter cameraman, Yosri al
Jamal, was assaulted and his camera broken.

The latest acts of violence took place under the watchful
eyes of the Israeli occupation army without whose consent
the PA can hardly function.

In Nablus and neighboring towns and villages, US-trained
security personnel raided private homes, municipal
buildings and public institutions, elected mayors, public
figures, college professors, student leaders and prominent
religious figures.

One of the people arrested was Professor Abdul al Sattar
Qassem, a well-known author and political activist.

A former presidential candidate, Qassem is not affiliated
with Hamas or any other political organization, but his
daring writings seem to have proven too unbearable for a
self-proclaimed “national” authority that claims to
represent Palestinian aspirations for freedom and
liberation.

In Dura, near Hebron in the southern West Bank, PA security
forces arrested Awadh Rajoub, the West Bank correspondent
of the Arabic service of al-Jazeera.net after raiding and
thoroughly searching his press office and confiscating his
PC.

Rajoub is still being detained at the Preventive Security
headquarters in Hebron where he has been interrogated in
connection with a report he had written on the mistreatment
of prisoners in PA jails and lockups.

Four other journalists have also been arrested by the PA
police recently, including Muhammed Halayka and Alaa al
Titi of Hebron, Ausayd Amareneh of Bethlehem and Mustafa
Sabri of Qalqilya.

PA spokespeople claim that the arrests are carried out in
accordance with the rule of law.

However, it is amply clear that such claims carry very
little weight if only because the “rule of law” doesn’t
really exist in a police state (without a state), whose
very existence and survival depend almost completely on the
extent to which this entity meets the needs, obey the
instructions and serves the interests of the Israeli
occupation.

These are conspicuous facts that every Palestinian man,
woman and child is aware of. Hence, it would be foolhardy
to try to hide the obvious from one of the most politicized
people on earth.

Interestingly, the stepped-up clampdown on freedom of
expression by the PA coincides with the ghoulish escalation
of Israeli criminality and ethnic cleansing throughout the
West Bank.

During the past few days, trigger-happy Israeli soldiers
murdered in cold blood two Palestinian minors, including a
10-year-old boy who was taking part in a peaceful protest
against Israeli schemes to grab more Palestinian land under
the pretext of building the so-called “separation wall.”
(the Israeli Chief of Staff Gabi Ashkenazi this week
admitted that the route of the wall was decided by
political, rather than security considerations as Israeli
officials have been claiming)

Similarly, Israel has been demolishing Arab homes,
including a multi-story building in East Jerusalem as
Nazi-like Jewish settlers are given a free rein to take
over Arab property and terrorize and savage Palestinian
children in the southern Hebron hills for the purpose of
driving their families away form their homes.

So, as if Zionist ethnic cleansing were not enough, the PA
is finding it necessary to complement Israeli criminality
by arresting, humiliating and tormenting patriotic
Palestinians for criticizing the Ramallah regime for
compromising Palestinian national interests and for
throwing itself squarely into the lap of the Bush
administration which itself is at Israel’s beck and call.

It is really difficult to make any sense of what is
happening except that the PA is effectively becoming
another layer of the Israeli occupation.

Otherwise, one is prompted to ask what national purpose
does this wave of repression of Palestinians by
Palestinians serve?

Does it strengthen Palestinian steadfastness in the face of
the Israeli occupation?

Does it enhance the Palestinian ability to liberate the
usurped homeland from the criminal Zionist hands?

There is no doubt that in light of its shameful behavior
against the Palestinian people, the PA has effectively
become a serious liability undermining the enduring
Palestinian struggle for freedom and justice.

Indeed, a situation where Palestinians have to keep
guessing if their children will be abducted by “the
(Palestinian) authority” or “the (Israeli occupation)
authorities” is unbearable, to say the least.

It is a stigma of shame that a time has come when
Palestinian homes have to be raided in the quiet hours
before dawn by Palestinian policemen in order to arrest
young Palestinians activists.

Today, the PA has proven itself a moral, political,
economic and security disaster for the Palestinians and
their enduring just cause.

The Palestinian people had been dreaming of a “free
authority” that would heal their wounds, sooth their
afflictions and strengthen their steadfastness in the face
of the Nazis of our time.

They never dreamt of a ‘Judenrat’ of quislings and
collaborators that would arrest, torment, torture and even
murder Palestinians in order to receive a certificate of
good conduct from the occupiers of our country and their
guardian-allies in Washington.

Hence, it is paramount, for the sake of our future and the
future of our children that this outrageous PA apparatus,
where pseudo-nationalists, money-grabbing careerists,
hangers-on, opportunists and probably foreign agents as
well hold sway, be dismantled as soon as possible.

In fact, one can go as far as saying that the dissolution
of the PA is now a sine qua non for a successful
Palestinian struggle for freedom from diabolical Zionism.

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Hamas & Fatah back to square one again

01/08/08

A horrific beach bombing takes Hamas and Fatah back to the
edge of open strife, writes Khaled Amayreh in the West Bank

The enduring strife between Hamas and Fatah took a turn for
the worse this week when an explosive device went off
beneath a car parked at a Gaza beach, killing five Hamas
military personnel as well as a six-year-old girl. The
incident occurred Friday 25 July, as thousands of Gazans
flocked to the sea, fleeing the unusually severe heat of
summer.

The victims, who were also vacationing at the beach,
included prominent figures in Hamas’s military wing, the
Ezzeddin Al-Qassam Brigades, including the son-in-law of
Khalil Al-Hayya, a key Hamas leader. Hamas held “the
treasonous trend” within Fatah — an allusion to the
US-backed group led by former Gaza strongman Mohamed Dahlan
— responsible for the bombing, vowing to capture the
perpetrators and punish them severely.

Dahlan and his forces fled Gaza last year after Hamas
carried out a pre-emptive coup to foil a planned US-backed
coup by Fatah security forces that Hamas says was aimed at
eradicating the legitimate Hamas government in the Gaza
Strip.

Fatah, which initially displayed signs of satisfaction,
denied any involvement in the incident. But in a clear
provocation to Hamas, Fatah as well as the Fatah-dominated
Palestinian Authority (PA) suggested that the bombing was
an internal Hamas matter, which independent Palestinian
observers dismiss as a remote possibility.

Seeking to identify and arrest the perpetrators, Hamas
security forces in Gaza carried out a widespread campaign
of arrests targeting Fatah activists. According to human
rights groups, as many as 150 Fatah activists were
arrested, many of them released a few hours after their
detention.

In the West Bank, the PA, which functions in coordination
with the Israeli army, launched a vitriolic wave of
incitement against Hamas, accusing the Islamist movement of
waging a witchhunt campaign against Fatah. Fatah and PA
leaders were careful to deny involvement in the murder of
the five Ezzeddin Al-Qassam officers, accusing Hamas of
using the incident to justify its crackdown on Fatah.

Seeking to spite Hamas, Fatah’s mukhabarat (general
intelligence) raided the homes of suspected opposition
figures in the northern West Bank, arresting as many as 100
people. The detainees included elected officials of the
Nablus municipal council, judges, professors, students,
civic and religious leaders, many of whom unaffiliated with
Hamas.

One of the detainees is professor Abdul-Sattar Qassem, a
former presidential candidate and outspoken critic of the
PA who has nothing to do with Hamas. Qassem, who was
released Tuesday night, told Al-Ahram Weekly that he didn’t
know why he was arrested.

“They were generally polite with me, but one officer
briefly questioned me about articles I write which he
considered strongly-worded.” Qassem said he would propose
to both Hamas and Fatah to “authorise independent,
nationalist Palestinian intellectuals to look into the
internal Palestinian crisis and try to find a solution.”

The Weekly sought to ask Nablus Governor Jamal Muhesen why
he allowed the arrests despite their being groundless.
Muhesen refused to speak, but his personal secretary said:
“The arrests were carried out without the governor’s
knowledge. The decision came from Ramallah, The governor
has nothing to do with it.”

Meanwhile, PA President Mahmoud Abbas, who had described
the Gaza bombing and Hamas’s subsequent crackdown on Fatah
as “regrettable”, spoke of an impending Egyptian- mediated
effort to restart national reconciliation talks between
Fatah and Hamas.

Hamas rejected Abbas’s remarks, calling them an “exposed
attempt to divert attention from the Gaza beach bombing.”
Moussa Abu Marzouq, deputy chairman of Hamas’s political
bureau dismissed Abbas’s call for dialogue as “meaningless
and not serious in light of what his security apparatuses
are doing in the West Bank.”

Abu Marzouq described the arrest of Hamas’s cadres in the
West Bank as “rabid”, accusing the PA of colluding with
Israel in targeting Hamas. He also refuted claims that the
arrest of Hamas supporters in the West Bank were in
response to the arrests of Fatah activists in the Gaza
Strip.

“The arrest of some Fatah elements in Gaza took place in
the context of an investigation into a murderous crime that
killed six innocent people. But Fatah’s arrests of Hamas
supporters and other Palestinian citizens were politically
motivated and meant to serve the interests of the Israeli
occupation.”

The extent of the repercussions of the Gaza bombing on the
prospects of Palestinian reconciliation is not clear. What
is clear is that the conflict between Fatah and Hamas is
assuming an increasingly tribal nature.

On Tuesday, a high-ranking Hamas delegation left for Cairo
for talks with Egyptian officials, including General
Intelligence Chief Omar Suleiman, on strengthening the
tahdia, or ceasefire, with Israel. According to Hamas
officials, the delegation will press Egypt to reopen the
Rafah border crossing in honour of earlier Egyptian
undertakings in this regard.

The arrival of Hamas delegation in Cairo coincides with the
arrival in the Egyptian capital of an Israeli official in
charge of the so-called “Shalit file” — the case of an
Israeli soldier captured by resistance fighters two years
ago. Israeli media Tuesday reported that beleaguered
Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert had agreed to relax
criteria for the release of Palestinian prisoners in an
exchange deal.

According to Israeli press sources, the “flexibility”
Israel is showing would have to be reciprocated by Hamas.
Yet in this context the Israeli occupation army continues
to indiscriminately torment and savage Palestinian society.
On Monday, the Israeli army burned down a furniture factory
in downtown Nablus, causing losses estimated at more than
$3 million.

This ostensibly deliberate crime comes at a time when
Western donors are trying desperately to revive the
Palestinian economy in order to enhance prospects of peace
between Israel and the Palestinians. Sabri Hindiyyeh, a
proprietor of Qaser Hindiyyeh Furniture, told Maan, “the
Israeli army fired light and smoke bombs into the store at
2am on Tuesday turning everything in the shop to ashes.”

Earlier, the Israeli army destroyed a multi- storey
building in Beit Hanina in East Jerusalem under the pretext
that the building had been built without a valid licence.

Caption: Palestinian mourners carry the bodies of killed
Hamas militants through the streets of Gaza Saturday after
an overnight bomb blast killed five senior Palestinian
militants and a five-year-old girl; Palestinian President
Abbas speaks to the press after meeting with President
Mubarak in Cairo Sunday; Palestinians inspect the destroyed
house of Hamas member Shihab Al-Natche, 25, following an
Israeli army operation in the occupied West Bank city of
Hebron Sunday. Israeli soldiers arrested three other men in
the raid

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Abbas threatens to dissolve PA if Israel frees prisoners

30/07/2008

From Khalid Amayreh in Ramallah

Palestinian Authority (PA) Chairman Mahmoud Abbas last week
warned that he would dissolve the PA entirely if Israel
released from its jails Palestinian parliamentarians
affiliated with the Islamic Resistance Movement, Hamas, the
Israeli press reported Wednesday.

Israel is detaining more than 45 Palestinian lawmakers in
captivity to force Hamas to release an Israeli occupation
soldier Palestinian fighters captured during a cross-border
operation near Gaza more than two years ago.

According to the Israeli newspaper Ha’aretz, Abbas
delivered the warning to the chief Israeli military
commander in the West Bank, Gen. Gadi Chamni, via Hussein
al Sheikh, head of the PA’s Civil affairs Department.

Al-Sheikh, a former security chief, is responsible for
coordinating with Israel on matters involving the occupied
Palestinian territories.

Ha’aretz termed Abbas’s warning as “a personal message,”
adding that the PA leader stressed to Shamni that he “did
not speak merely of resigning but of dismantling the PA.”

Al-Sheikh vehemently denied the Ha’aretz report, describing
it as “fabricated.”

“I am not going to dignify this by commenting on it,” said
al Sheikh, adding that he would sue Ha’aretz for Libel.

According to reliable sources in Ramallah, Abbas believes
freeing Palestinian lawmakers incarcerated in Israeli jails
would reactivate the Hamas-dominated Palestinian
Legislative Council which could then initiate a vote of
no-confidence against the American-backed government of
Salam Fayyadh.

The Palestinian legislative council is now effectively
paralyzed due to the Fatah-Hamas rift and the collective
detention by Israel of the vast majority of Hamas’s West
Bank lawmakers.

The PA Chairman, Ha’aretz said, feared that the release of
senior Hamas politicians from Israeli custody in exchange
for the imprisoned Israeli soldier, Gilad Shalit, would
strengthen Hamas at Fatah’s expense.

The PA has been carrying out a crackdown, ostensibly in
coordination with Israel, against Islamic and semi-Islamic
civilian institutions throughout the West Bank.

The targets included schools, orphanages, charities,
businesses, health and financial institutions as well as
numerous NGOs.

Moreover, PA security agencies, financed and armed by the
United States, have arrested hundreds of
religiously-oriented figures suspected of sympathizing with
Hamas. The detainees include college professors, students,
religious leaders, and intellectuals.

PA-controlled media has generally ignored the Ha’aretz
report which is liable to embarrass and discredit Abbas and
his regime in the eyes of the Palestinian masses.

Israel favors Fatah over Hamas, thinking that the former
would be willing to make far-reaching concessions to the
Jewish state in matters pertaining to the final-status
issues such as Jerusalem, borders and especially the
paramount right of return for millions of Palestinians
uprooted from their homeland when Israel was created more
than sixty years ago.

Israel holds in its jails and detention camps more than
10,000 Palestinian prisoners, hundreds of them are
incarcerated in harsh conditions without charge or trial.

Some of the most prominent Palestinian leaders imprisoned
in Israel include Fatah leader Marwan Barghouthi, Popular
Front for the Liberation of Palestine (PFLP) leader Ahmed
Sa’dat and Speaker of the Palestinian parliament Abdul Aziz
Duweik.

Hamas is demanding that Israel free a thousand Palestinian
prisoners, including all arrested politicians, in exchange
for Shalit.

However, Israel is worried that meeting Hamas’s demands
would bolster the status of the Islamic movement throughout
the occupied territories, especially in the West Bank where
the PA “government” is functioning under the Israeli
military occupation.

Palestinians in general are very sensitive with regard to
the prisoner issue since numerous Palestinian families are
directly affected by the lengthy arrest of their beloved
ones which leaves a heavy psychological and economic impact
on these families.

(end)

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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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