Titel Category

This category

Categorie archief Opinion others

Memo to Israel: Lebanon is not Hezbollah, Gaza is not Hamas

Israel has tried to bury inconvenient facts about Lebanon and Gaza

A Lebanese flag is seen as mourners bury 29 Lebanese victims - mostly women and children - of an Israeli attack in the Lebanese village of Qana, on August 18, 2006 [AP Photo/Lefteris Pitarakis]

A Lebanese flag is seen as mourners bury 29 Lebanese victims – mostly women and children – of an Israeli attack in the Lebanese village of Qana, on August 18, 2006

Israeli public relations efforts to turn attention away from inconvenient realities and distract public opinion rest in large part on promoting simplified, dumbed-down messages.

Those are easily parroted by complicit media outlets, think-tanks, pundits,  and by some journalists who prefer the sensationalism of “Iranian mullahs”, “Hezbollah plots” and “Hamas terrorists” to the more complicated dynamics of the region and individual countries. Of course, in some situations, this is a good way to avoid an uncomfortable discussion about apartheid and occupation for fear of being labelled anti-semitic.

One clear example of such dumbed-down messages is Israeli education minister Naftali Bennett’s “Lebanon = Hezbollah” tweet after Lebanon’s parliamentary elections on May 6. “Israel will not differentiate between the sovereign State of Lebanon and Hezbollah, and will view Lebanon as responsible for any action from within its territory”, he said in the tweet.

It was Bennett again who in mid-May said that unarmed Palestinians protesting near the border fence in Gaza should be treated as “terrorists”. By then, the government he is part of had framed the Palestinians’ Great March of Return as a “Hamas ploy”.

What Israel aims to achieve by promoting this type of rhetoric is to turn both Lebanon and Gaza into legitimate targets for its aggression in any conflict that might take place in the future.

Lebanon is not Hezbollah

For those familiar with Israeli policies in Lebanon and the history of the conflict, this is “nothing new under the sun”. Israeli officials have made it a habit to regularly threaten the entire population of Lebanon (and not only Hezbollah) with destruction, annihilation and blowing it back to the Stone Ages.

This inflammatory language, in fact, describes war crimes, which Israel has repeatedly committed on Lebanese territory. In the 2006 war, the Israeli army killed 1,000 civilians, and the Israeli government tried to blame it solely on Hezbollah.

But as a Human Rights Watch report investigating war crimes committed during that conflict pointed out: “Responsibility for the high civilian death toll of the war in Lebanon lies squarely with Israeli policies and targeting decisions in the conduct of its military operations.”

OPINION

Lebanon re-elects its political status quo

Lina Khatib
by Lina Khatib

This year, it was not only Israel who chose to read the May 6 elections from the prism of “Lebanon = Hezbollah”. International (and some Arab) media were quick to dub the electoral results an outright Hezbollah victory.

This prompted local media and analysts to respond by pointing out that “Hezbollah’s electoral domination” is a myth and a reductionist, inaccurate way of understanding what happened on May 6. There are many levels when it comes to reading the results of the Lebanese elections, and framing them as a “Lebanon = Hezbollah” outcome does not capture the complexity of what is happening in Lebanon today.

This is absolutely not to say that Hezbollah is not a powerful political and military force in Lebanon, or that the party does not pose a very serious challenge and obstacle to the emergence of a strong state. Hezbollah’s weapons also play a role in Lebanese politics, as we saw in the organisation’s May 2008 armed takeover of Beirut and also in its decision to get involved in Syria, without consulting with the government or parliament.

Indeed, one has to be very naive to claim that Hezbollah is merely a resistance movement and that its arsenal has no bearing on internal affairs or elections (both parliamentary and presidential).

But claims that Lebanon is now “hostage” to Hezbollah (and Iran) are exaggerated. They are music to the ears of Israel which promotes this line to justify whatever war crimes its army will commit in any future conflict in the name of “self-defence” and “war on terrorism”.

Gaza is not Hamas

Similarly, in Palestine, we have seen an attempt to paint the recent protests in Gaza as Hamas-led and inspired, despite the fact that the organisers come from multiple Palestinian political and civil society groups.

Israel resorts to the “Gaza = Hamas” equation to justify the killing of 114 unarmed protesters and the injuring of thousands who were simply marching for their right to return to their home and for an end to the occupation of Palestinian lands.

WATCH

Israel-Palestine: Split screens and dissonant narratives

This line was repeated immediately by some Western governments and media. The Washington Post, for example, published a disgraceful editorial claiming that the protests were Hamas’ way of launching a war and “an attempt to breach the border fence, in the calculation that many would be killed”.

As in the case of Hezbollah, Hamas is not an innocent actor. It has been implicated in human rights violations in Gaza and breaches to international humanitarian law during armed conflicts. However, it takes a special kind of moral and intellectual bankruptcy to deny the facts on the ground – facts that are attested to by various United Nations and rights organisations.

Indeed, the dehumanisation of Palestinians has reached such an extent that even the human right to protest inhumane and unjust political and humanitarian conditions is denied them. As pro-Israeli commentator wrote, trying to justify the use of lethal force against protestors: all Israel wants from Gaza is “peace and quiet”, but instead, its people decide to protest – as if, in 2018, protest is a crime punishable by death.

The ‘post-truth’ logic

When Vassily Nebenzia, Russia’s permanent representative to the UN, described the humanitarian outcry over Eastern Ghouta last February as “mass psychosis”, I wrote about his statement in a column for Al Jazeera, calling it an example of the “post-truth” logic.

Unsurprisingly, the White House’s Deputy Spokesperson Raj Shah and the US Permanent Representative to the UN Nikki Haley fit in perfectly, along with their Israeli allies, within such “post-truth” reasoning.

In response to the Gaza massacre and the cold-blooded shooting of Palestinians by Israeli snipers, Shah called the protest an “unfortunate propaganda attempt”, whereas Haley did not have the moral courage to face her Palestinian counterpart at the Security Council, and instead walked out of the meeting room.

Indeed, “post-truth” logic can’t handle the truth. The reality of what happened in Gaza does not reflect the dumbed-down talking points we have been hearing from pro-Israeli pundits and officials on television and in the press.

The truth of the matter is that, as the UN Human Rights Commissioner put it,  “this was not ‘a PR victory for Hamas’… it was a tragedy for thousands of families [and] the stark contrast in casualties on both sides is also suggestive of a wholly disproportionate response…”

Israel’s occupation and apartheid regime must end in order to reach a just peace, both for the sake of Palestinians and Israelis. This is what the Gaza protests were essentially about.

And any attempt to frame them as a declaration of war, or simply as a “Hamas ploy” or a “PR victory”, misses the point and is a transparent attempt to distort reality and maintain the status quo in favour of Israel.

(Source / 21.05.2018)

It took 116 dead Palestinians for Egypt to ease its siege on Gaza for a month

Palestinians wait in line to cross to Egypt following the opening of Rafah border gate in Khan Yunis, Gaza

Yesterday Egyptian military strongman Abdel Fattah Al-Sisi announced on Twitter that the Rafah border crossing to Gaza would remain open throughout the entire month of Ramadan.

Al-Sisi’s tweet came at the end of a long and bloody week for Palestinians. On Monday, as Ivanka Trump and Jared Kushner inaugurated the American embassy in Jerusalem, Israeli forces massacred 62 Palestinians and injured over 3,000. The youngest victim was an eight-month-old baby girl, Layla Al-Ghandoor.

Al-Sisi’s goodwill promise to “alleviate the burdens of our brothers in Gaza” during the Muslim holy month will be believed by few who see his actions against Palestinians living in the Gaza Strip as less than brotherly.

Since Israel imposed the 2007 siege on Gaza Egypt has collaborated with Tel Aviv to keep entry and exit points under lock and key. Despite the cautious optimism inspired by the Arab Spring, when Palestinians hoped that with Mubarak’s collapse restrictions on Gaza would crumble, under Al-Sisi relations with the Strip have become progressively worse.

This has been done with his full knowledge that the Rafah crossing is a vital lifeline for Palestinians in Gaza – the only other crossing, Erez, is manned by the Israeli army and only Palestinians with special permits and internationals are allowed to pass through.

Read: Welcome to Sinai, where soldiers shoot children then boast on Facebook

In October 2014 Egypt accused Hamas of a string of deadly terror attacks aimed at Egyptian security forces in the Sinai Peninsula and used this as a pretext to tighten its noose. This was sealed with the designation of Hamas as a terrorist organisation, regular accusations that they are carrying out attacks through the tunnels and a pledge to arrest any member found in the country.

Al-Sisi has framed this within the context of his “war on terror”. Since his rise to power he has been on a mission to stamp out terrorism in the impoverished Sinai region which borders Gaza, and in the process armed forces have killed hundreds of civilians, razed their homes and farms to the ground and extrajudicially executed children then framed them as terrorists.

Palestinians in Gaza have felt this collective punishment acutely. In 2015 the crossing was open for 32 days in total; in 2016 for 41 days and in 2017 – the worst year for people living on the Strip – for just 29 days. As a result thousands of people seeking medical care, students who have been granted places at universities abroad and families trying to reunite wait endlessly for permission to leave.

As the dead and wounded poured into Shifa hospital on Monday, health services in Gaza already suffering from a lack of equipment and essential medicine struggled to cope. The Palestinian Ministry of Health appealed to “sister Egypt” to supply hospitals in Gaza with medicine and send through surgeons and medical crews specialising in vascular surgery and anaesthesia and transfer the wounded to hospitals in Egypt.

Read: Justifying Gaza massacre, Israel minister calls Palestinians ‘Nazis’

It was Turkey who responded to this call, but when the aircraft arrived to transport the injured, Egyptian authorities blocked them from landing in their airports. Such is their utter disdain for Palestinian lives.

It’s not the first time Egypt has flexed its muscles to stop medical care and workers entering the Strip. Dr. Tarek Loubani was trying to stop the bleeding of wounded protesters, marked clearly as a doctor, on Monday when he was shot in both legs by Israeli forces. In 2013 Loubani was on his way to Gaza from Egypt when he was arrested and detained for 53 days after treating a wounded protester, along with filmmaker John Greyson.

On Wednesday, in his first public comments on the Nakba Day deaths, Al-Sisi issued a bland statement urging Israelis to “understand” the reactions of the Palestinians and to “take care” of Palestinian lives.

A wounded Palestinian demonstrator is carried by health team members after getting injured on intervention of Israeli occupation forces during a demonstration within the "Great March of Return" in Khan Yunis, Gaza on 11 May 2018. [Mustafa Hassona/Anadolu Agency]

He added: “On the move of the US Embassy, we have said this issue will have negative repercussions on Arab and Islamic public opinion and leads to a kind of dissatisfaction and some instability, and will have repercussions on the Palestinian cause.”

His comments stand in stark contrast with other world leaders who have condemned the atrocities, such as Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn who described the deaths as “slaughter” and Desmond Tutu as a “massacre”. Bolivian Ambassador to the UN Sacha Sergio Llorenty Soliz asked Palestine for forgiveness for the international body’s failure to end the 11-year inhumane blockade on Gaza and the UN Rapporteur on Palestine described the killing of demonstratorsas a “war crime”.

As Palestinians mourned their dead the day after the massacre, a number of Israeli newspapers gave credit to Egypt for persuading Hamas to scale down the protests in return for easing the blockade during a meeting on Sunday between a Palestinian delegation and top Egyptian security officials. Member of Hamas’ Political Bureau Mahmoud Al-Zahar has denied that there is any such agreement and reiterated that these newspaper reports are an attempt to break the confidence between the leadership in Gaza and its people.

#USEmbassyMove

Egypt has traditionally played the role of mediator in conflicts between Israel and Palestine, but Al-Sisi’s proximity to the Israeli government and the actions he has taken against Palestinians in Gaza means he is neither a credible nor an honest broker.

Since the Great March of Return protests began on 30 March 116 Palestinians have been killed by live fire – it has taken the tragic deaths of an immense number of men, women and children to get a promise from Egypt to loosen the blockade for just a month. If Al-Sisi fulfils his pledge it will be the longest, consecutive period of time the crossing has stayed open in years. But Palestinians in Gaza are not holding their breath for a man who has delivered nothing but broken promises and misery.

(Source / 19.05.2018)

Abbas’s speech was only the latest example of anti-Semitism by Israel’s supporters

Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas seen at the 34th session of the UN Human Rights Council on February 27, 2017 [Mustafa Yalçın / Anadolu Agency]

Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas seen at the 34th session of the UN Human Rights Council on February 27, 2017

By Asa Winstanley

Too many people within the Labour Party, and even some within Britain’s Palestine solidarity movement, either fundamentally misunderstand or refuse to see the true nature of the Palestinian Authority. The PA is not the “Palestinian government” and neither is it the leader of the Palestinian struggle. Indeed, the “authority” was established with precisely the opposite intention: to liquidate the Palestine Liberation Organisation as the leader of the struggle.

This scheme, hatched by the forces of US imperialism in alliance with the Israeli occupation regime, was largely successful, despite occasional tensions. The PA was thus established as a puppet regime to give a Palestinian fig leaf to the Israeli occupation of the West Bank and Gaza Strip; it is an unelected, unaccountable, wannabe dictatorship which answers to nobody except Israel and its sponsors in the US and EU. The Ramallah-led Palestinian security services and secret police do everything in their power to prop up this dictatorship and to shield Israeli soldiers and illegal settlers from Palestinian resistance, both armed and unarmed.

“President” Mahmoud Abbas last won an election 13 years ago and his mandate – such as it was – expired almost a decade ago. He essentially inherited the PA as a family business after Yasser Arafat passed away in 2004. Much like a mob boss, he has bitterly and brutally held onto his trappings of power, even at the cost of toppling previous close allies, most notably the notorious former torturer of Gaza, Mohammed Dahlan.

Despite much hollow noise by the US and Israel against Abbas, the fact that the PA is a tool of US imperialism in the region had been made clear time and time again. In September 2016, for example, the Obama administration even directly intervened in the US court system to prevent what could have been the financial collapse of the PA and its “security force” thugs. An Israeli-government-linked organisation sought $1 billion in damages against the PA, but the federal appeal court threw the case out after the President intervened.

The formation of the PA was the culmination of decades of failed Israeli schemes to impose puppet Palestinian regimes to control the indigenous population through divide and rule, a strategy common to every settler-colonial project, such as the “Bantustans” in Apartheid South Africa. Probably the most notorious of these efforts were the “Village Leagues” of the 1980s. When these attempt to invent a new collaborationist regime in the West Bank failed, attention was turned to instead co-opting the PLO. This strategy was ultimately successful from 1993 onwards.

Thus, empty noises made by the Israeli government against the PA are just that, because the regime in Tel Aviv knows that it ultimately needs Ramallah as a loyal instrument of its occupation of the West Bank. The latest raucous fury came this week when the Israeli government condemned the content of an Abbas speech.

Israel’s condemnation, though, was both hollow and hypocritical. Its incongruity aside, the strange and rambling speech did in fact include a hideously anti-Semitic statement. Abbas claimed, disgracefully, that the Nazi Holocaust was provoked by the “social function” of Europe’s Jews and their supposed domination of “usury and banking”. This is a classically anti-Semitic trope, and it was disavowed swiftly by leading Palestinian voices the world over.

Ben Jamal@BenJamalpsc

The Palestinian cause is rooted in antiracism. Any comments or actions that depart from that foundation, no matter who from, do that cause a disservice. https://twitter.com/PSCupdates/status/991737933727191040 

Ali Abunimah

@AliAbunimah

As @asadabukhalil notes, quisling PA “president” Mahmoud Abbas was always a Holocaust denier. But that didn’t matter to his Israeli masters and Zionist groups as long as they thought he was useful to sign away the rights of the Palestinian people. http://angryarab.blogspot.com/2018/04/mahmoud-abbas-anti-semite.html 

Dima Sarsour ديمة@YasminWaQahwa

The remarks made by are deplorable. We’ve been saying this for 20 yrs: Abbas and the PA do not represent the Palestinian community.

That being said. Everyone threw the puppet under the bus instantly despite doing everything to work against interest and will of

Diana Alghoul 🇵🇸@SuperKnafeh

One must remember that Abbas has a record of working against Palestinian interest – from facilitating the Israeli occupation, to financially blackmailing civilians and sustaining a dictatorship. It’s clear he doesn’t represent Palestine and his remarks don’t represent our cause.

The Palestinians have always had a national consensus that their struggle is emphatically not against Jews as people or Judaism as a religion, but against the political, settler-colonial ideology of Zionism. Although there is much of what he said and did to criticise legitimately, to his credit previous PLO leader Yasser Arafat always made this distinction clear.

Ironically, what was probably Abbas’s most clearly anti-Semitic statement to date came only a year after Hamas revoked its previous charter, a document written by a lone activist around the time of the movement’s foundation in the late 1980s, which contained some anti-Semitic passages. Instead, the movement now has a new, widely adopted document which affirms what its leaders had been saying for a decade or more; the “conflict is with the Zionist project not with the Jews because of their religion. Hamas does not wage a struggle against the Jews because they are Jewish but wages a struggle against the Zionists who occupy Palestine.”

Moreover, Israel’s condemnation of Abbas was entirely hypocritical, because he has a long pedigree of anti-Semitism which does not seem to have bothered the Israelis and their supporters before. He wrote a PhD thesis in Moscow decades ago, which reportedly included Holocaust denial.

The fact is that Israel has no problem working with anti-Semites, as long as they are pro-Israel anti-Semites. As the Lebanese-American Professor As’ad AbuKhalil has noted, Abbas has been a Holocaust denier since he was young, and he is part of a trend of Israel’s dictatorial allies in the region. One former Israeli military intelligence officer has even admitted that there was an actual policy of encouraging anti-Semitic conspiracy theories among their dictatorial allies such as the Shah of Iran so as to give the false impression that they were all-powerful.

Yossi Alpher reportedly said of his book Periphery that, “We knew that the issue of the [notorious anti-Semitic Tsarist forgery the] Protocols of the Elders of Zion plays a very important role for them. To a certain degree even, we played that card, so they’d think we have immense influence over the world, and could manipulate US policy in their favour in particular. The Moroccans, the Iranians, the Turks, Idi Amin – they were all sure that one word from us would change Washington’s position towards them.” (Emphasis added.)

This pattern continues today, with Israel’s open embrace of anti-Semites like former Trump advisor Steve Bannon and influential Christian Zionist pastor John Hagee.

All of this demonstrates the vacuity of Israel’s condemnation of Mahmoud Abbas’s vile speech. He too is an anti-Semite, but he is also pro-Israel, so we should ignore the self-righteous cant of Benjamin Netanyahu and his cronies. They need Abbas as much as he needs them.

(Source / 06.05.2018)

The new Palestinian and the hope of return

Great March of Return in the Gaza Strip on April 2018 [Motasem A Dalloul/Middle East Monitor]

Great March of Return in the Gaza Strip on April 2018

By Jamal Haj Ali

The first generation that witnessed the Nakba in 1948 shouldered the burden of return for many years. They took their house key and a few things in a hurry, thinking they wouldn’t be gone for long. They thought they’d be gone for a few days or weeks.

The courageous Arab forces were determined to destroy the occupier and crush it within hours. The valiant Arab forces believed they would be gone for a few days and then return triumphant and victorious after crushing the invaders and sending them away defeated.

The refugee tents were put up and a year later, they turned into buildings with tin roofs and assigned names. These camps spread in Palestine and the Levant. At that point, a drug was injected into the bodies of displaced Palestinians and they began to see the story for what it really is. They realised the conspiracy and began to take the reins and join the ranks of the Palestinian resistance, in all of its forms and names. The conspiracy went on and the nearest and dearest began to abandon support for the nation’s cause one day after the other.

The entire world has worked to tame and control the Palestinians. They aim to force the Palestinians to surrender with a false promise of a Palestinian state on the 1967 borders on the outside. Yet the new Palestinians have found themselves to be accused of being devious and left alone helpless without any support or power.

Read: Thousands trapped in Gaza as Egypt closes the Rafah crossing again

The hypocritical world that sponsored the peace process is actually concerned with suppressing the Palestinians. These institutions have, time and time again, failed to implement their promises or achieve anything that serves this justice.

However, the March of Return in the Gaza Strip carries meanings and connotations that differ from all previous forms of Palestinian struggle and resistance. This is because for the first time in decades, the main title of the act of popular resistance is the return to the Palestinian land occupied in 1948 and the arena for this act are the direct borders of the territories occupied in 1948.

Those observing the history of the Palestinian cause believe that the most important effect of this popular movement is the revival of the Palestinian memory of the old and new generations of Palestinians. They also believe that such popular action points the finger of blame directly at the occupation and considers the occupation the direct cause for everything the Palestinians are suffering due to the occupation of their land and the resulting effects of the occupation.

The popular movement also tells all of the countries that sponsored the peace process that the deception and deceit they practiced over the past years has been exposed. The movement also says that the concession of the Palestinians’ historical rights was a mistake that must be reversed because the world does not give any importance to the Palestinian intentions, that at some point wanted to achieve an agreement and historical reconciliation. None of the countries of the world managed to stand in the face of the biased sponsor of the peace process and therefore all attempts to revive the dead peace process, whether the attempts were made by Europeans, Arabs, or others.

This peaceful movement has shown the image of the new Palestinian, who is committed to all of their rights, rooted in their land, and innovative in their forms of resistance that have not been used by the old or new world. Despite the simplicity of this resistance, it has disrupted the occupation’s calculations, and it is constantly looking for a way to end this popular movement before May 15th, the 70th anniversary of the Palestinian Nakba.

(Source / 03.05.2018)

Palestinians skeptical about Arab League support for Jerusalem

ARTICLE SUMMARY
The Saudi king declared the April 15 Arab League Summit held in the city of Dhahran in eastern Saudi Arabia to be the “Jerusalem Summit,” yet many Palestinians doubt this show of support will lead to lasting change.

When the Saudi leadership decided to move the annual Arab League Summit from the Saudi capital of Riyadh to the eastern Saudi city of Dhahran, it appeared that the April 15 summit would be called by the name of the city it was being held in, or at least another city within the kingdom. The last summit, held on the shores of the Dead Sea in Jordan in March 2017, was called the Amman Summit.

But midway through the public opening statements and as he was introducing Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas, Saudi King Salman bin Abdul-Aziz Al Saud announced a change. “This summit will be called the Jerusalem Summit,” the king told the 15 other heads of state and six other representatives of the Arab League.

He also announced a number of donations, including $150 million for the maintenance of the Islamic endowment in Jerusalem and $50 million to help cover the annual budget of the United Nations Relief and Works Agency (UNRWA) for Palestinian refugees after the United States cut its aid to the agency earlier this year.

The United States had suspended in January 2018 a $65 million portion of its aid to UNRWA in protest of the Palestinian government’s boycott of US officials following Donald Trump’s declaration on Jerusalem.

It is not clear exactly what made the Saudi monarch decide to raise the profile of Jerusalem. The king’s son, Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman — who is also the kingdom’s defense minister — had just concluded a wide-ranging tour in the United States between March 19-22 that included a visit to the White House.

Throughout his tour, Mohammed made little mention of Jerusalem. In fact, in one interview with The Atlantic, he appeared to be moving closer than ever before to unilaterally recognizing the state of Israel in an exchange that drew a striking headline.

The Atlantic’s editor-in-chief, Jeffrey Goldberg, asked, “Do you believe the Jewish people have a right to a nation-state in at least part of their ancestral homeland?” Mohammed answered, “I believe that each people, anywhere, have a right to live in their peaceful nation. I believe the Palestinians and the Israelis have the right to have their own land.”

But The Atlantic’s April 2 version of the interview played up the statement by removing reference to Palestinians, with the subhead, “In a wide-ranging conversation, Prince Mohammed bin Salman also recognized the Jewish people’s right to ‘their own land.’”

Hussein al-Sheikh, who was a member of the Palestinian delegation to the Arab Summit, told Al-Monitor that the issue of Jerusalem is always a priority for Arabs; therefore, the change of the name is not out of the ordinary for the Saudi monarch.

Hanna Issa, secretary-general of the Islamic Christian Commission in support of Jerusalem and the holy sites, told Al-Monitor that the decision by the Saudi monarch came as a direct result of a Palestinian request. “President Mahmoud Abbas personally made the request from King Salman in order to make it clear to everyone that Arabs are united in their support for the Palestinian position on Jerusalem,” he said.

The Arab Summit’s final communique April 2 also echoed the same theme of support for the Palestinian position. “We affirm the illegality of the American decision to recognize Jerusalem as the capital of Israel, as we categorically refuse to recognize Jerusalem (Al-Quds) as the capital of Israel, where East Al-Quds will remain the capital State of Palestine. We warn against taking any action that would change the current legal and political status of Al-Quds,” the communique read.

Yet, a number of individuals and local leaders in Jerusalem were skeptical about the name change, the donation and the clear Arab position on Jerusalem in the final communique. Khaleel Assali, editor of the East Jerusalem-centric website Akhbar al-Balad, told Al-Monitor, “Jerusalem has become a word that everyone uses to show patriotism. We have heard so much of these words in the past and also millions have been committed in previous summits for Jerusalem, but we have not seen on the ground any changes as a result of these so-called donations.”

On the Akhbar al-Balad website, an unsigned report and undated editorial about the Saudi donation at the Arab Summit said Jerusalemites welcomed the generous gift but expressed skepticism as to whether it will differ from earlier pledges. The article stated, “We estimate that about $3 billion has been pledged to Jerusalem as a total of what has been publicly stated in previous summits, yet only tens of millions have actually reached Jerusalem — and even these amounts were not seen as having made any change in the city.”

The money earmarked for the Islamic endowment in Jerusalem was made by King Salman while introducing President Abbas. This left a mystery as to how exactly the money will reach Jerusalem. Jordan is the custodian of the holy places in Jerusalem, and the Jordanian Ministry of Waqf runs the Islamic endowment in Jerusalem.

A report on Al-Jazeera’s website April 18 asked whether the Saudis are planning to channel this aid via Jordan or if they have other plans. Akhbar al-Balad, in the aforementioned editorial, also asked whether or not the money will be channeled by way of the Jordanian Waqf. Meanwhile, Issa assured Al-Monitor that the money will be transferred to the Jordanian Waqf to be spent in Jerusalem.

The name change, the donation and the communique certainly were welcomed by Palestinians and their supporters, thus cutting off the potential of Washington trying to keep East Jerusalem away from any “ultimate deal” that the White House is trying to produce.

Many Palestinians hope that this strong Arab support for Jerusalem will close off any chance that the United States will try to take the holy city “off the table,” a reference to what Trump had boasted about. But having seen this charade before, few if any are confident that this Arab position will not erode and compromises on this essential Arab demand will not be made.

(Source / 21.04.2018)

Gaza children suffer under Israeli siege

By Wafa al-Udaini
GAZA, PALESTINOW.COM — Child labor is one of the international cortical obstacles that put the life and the rights if children in danger. Looking to this challenge in the Palestinian context widen its reasons’ scale to include the Israeli Siege on Gaza. While the global number of children in the work force (246 million) has fallen dramatically since 2000, child labour in Gaza has risen. Also, although child labour is a large-scale problem in the occupied Palestine , little action is being taken by humanitarian groups.

The Palestinian Bureau of Statistics reports that 28.5 per cent of the children who don’t attend school are engaged in child labour. Furthermore, the number of children less than 18 years old mid 2016 is about 2,207,535 children in Palestine. It said 2,900 of those children are below the legal employment age of 15. According to the Defense for Children, 4 .5% of the total number of children aged 10-17 years were working with or without pay in 2015 is 2.8% in Gaza Strip.

The Israeli occupation with its continues siege including 3 devastating attacks against the Palestinians in Gaza plays a significant role in increasing the number of working children. Ali, is a 12 years old child from Al Shajaia whom I always see setting behind the University gate. I was curious to know why he is not going to school like the other children at his age. At the beginning, he was hesitant to open but then he gradually started to answer me. He said that he is the oldest son to his parents and his father was injured at the last Zionist attack in 2014. His father has turned to be disabled and he no longer can work. Ali completed that his family economic condition started to get worst and worst especially that his mother gave birth to a twin. His parents used to value education and encourage him to get high marks. However, this changed and the major aim of the family now is to survive from the ghost of poverty. About his dreams, “I want to have some time to play with the children in my age. I want to complete my education and be an engineer.”

Child labor is not only threatening the child education but also his physical and mental health. Children may face serious heath illnesses while doing exhausting works for long hours especially in the very cold or hot weather. Another child whose name is Mohammed said that oneday, while he was selling chocolates and walking among the cars in the street, he suddenly found himself in front of a large car which hit him in an accident where he was about to lose his leg. He said; ” I was frightened to death after that accident and asked my mother to let me stop working. After I thought of it a bit, I realized that my mother and my siblings depend a lot on my work. I couldn’t help it. I continued. ” Another one who is selling seige in the market said to me that many other vendors and people abuse him verbally but he continues to sell because he has no choice.

In brief, child labor as work that is mentally, physically, socially or morally dangerous and harmful to children; and interferes with their schooling. Moreover, one can clearly notice that the barbaric actions of the Zionist entity including imposing the siege for more than 11 years, closing the borders, and targeting the factories, farmers, and fishermen lead to serious problems such as poverty and unemployment which in their turn lead to child labor. Therefore, what a Palestinian can do when the international law itself is helpless?

How many Palestinians should die for the world to stop Israel’s crimes

By Abir Kopty

The sickening video of an Israeli sniper apparently filming himself gunning down a Palestinian protester across the fence in Gaza then rejoicing and praising his “success” with other soldiers has been widely spread and condemned. A week before, another video documented the shooting of another Palestinian protester in the back. This video has also received wide condemnation.

We must transfer all our rage and disgust into joining a growing movement that works beyond a machinery of words and short-term clicktivism to stop Israel’s crimes.

However, for Palestinians what is most worrying about these videos from the recent Gaza Great Return March is that while these horrible scenes will trigger a wave of rage, it will only last for a short period until the next crime happens.

The world has forgotten Gaza and the decade-long blockade imposed by Israel on its people. It takes the killing of 31 Palestinians to remind the international community of the biggest open-air prison in the world that has become Gaza.

Distant and forgotten
While these videos present a potential archival material for human rights organisations and the International community, it is important that they, as well as hundreds of others, should not be just an “archive”.

The commercial-digitalised world which we live in ensures that such videos get lost and buried under the heaps of information we consume every day. We are shocked by a video until we get used to such images and get prepared for more shocking images.

Moreover, people’s struggles, resistance and sacrifices are often tailored for consumption, victims turn into trendy images and solidarity becomes a click through a keyboard. Distant and forgotten, Gaza has now become trendy again, only to receive another wave of short-term empathy.

It is also frightening that we know already by heart the arsenal of terms that is used each time Israel commits a crime against the Palestinians. The media equates between the victim and the attacker, calling it “clashes” and “confrontation”; the international community calls for “restraint”, they express their “concern” and if they can afford to be harsher, they call for an “inquiry”. This would probably be inquiry number one thousand, to join all those before it in a cold dark basement somewhere.

The root causes of violence
This is especially annoying when the world has lectured Palestinians for so long on how they should resist and, in other words, “be nice to their oppressors”. Instead of pointing to the root cause of violence, the Palestinians are the ones put behind bars and ordered to prove to the world how “non-violent” they are.

This attitude is not only patronising, but also disregards the rich Palestinian culture of resistance, past and present, and their right to decide for themselves. Since the Zionist colonisation started in Palestine, there has been resistance, and it will continue as long as the colonisation continues.

Gaza protests are just a continuation of a long Palestinian history of popular protest. Not only in Gaza, but in other Palestinian cities and areas, popular resistance has been happening on a daily basis and in so many ways, through direct actions, culture, art, BDS, campaigning, creating independent economical project and so on.

Many Palestinian villages have been protesting weekly and facing the same brutality. No mainstream media attention, support or protection have been given to those taking part in the protests. Ahed Tamimi, for example, had to lose her childhood innocence so the world could take note of the struggle of a small Palestinian village, Nabi Saleh, where Tamimi hailed from, that paid a heavy price for demanding freedom and justice.

Israel, again, knows it will get away with its crimes, and therefore it keeps on committing them. We have the responsibility first to know where to point our fingers – it is certainly not against Palestinians in the Gaza Strip which, according to a UN report, will not be livable by 2020 – and second to transfer all our rage and disgust into joining a growing movement that works beyond a machinery of words and short-term clicktivism to stop Israel’s crimes.

(Source / 15.04.2018)

ISRAEL BOMBED SYRIA TO DISTRACT THE MEDIA FROM ITS OWN WAR CRIMES IN GAZA

Netanyahu-Protest

By Darius Shahtahmasebi

(ANTIMEDIA Op-ed)  The United States, France, and Britain have agreed to respond to an alleged Syrian gas attack that took place in Douma, reportedly killing dozens of people. This is despite the fact that Reuters already reported that U.S. government sources told the news outlet that the U.S. government had “not yet conclusively determined whether the attack was carried out by President Bashar al-Assad’s Syrian government forces.”

The media has already jumped at this opportunity to plunge western powers into yet another conflict in the Middle East, one that has no legal basis (especially if there is no evidence of Assad’s culpability). The Guardian is asking for Trump to destroy Syria’s air force. This is the same U.K.-based newspaper that deemed Trump’s election in 2016 to be a “dark day for the world.” His desire to strike Syrian territory would actually be a dark day for the Syrian people, but let’s not allow the facts get in the way of a great narrative.

Whether or not we should brace ourselves for an extensive response from these three major world powers, there is at least one thing recent reports on Syria have successfully done to the current geopolitical narrative.

Prior to the media hype over Syria the past few days, Israel was beginning to make headlines across the world for its criminal activities in Gaza. The U.N. even called for an inquiry into the violence in Gaza that saw IDF snipers kill at least 17 unarmed protesters and injure over 1,400 more. Even prominent pro-establishment outlets such as the Washington Post and Haaretz featured articles critical of what Israel was doing. The International Criminal Court (ICC) has said Israel’s actions may amount to war crimes.

While this was going on, IDF snipers and their fellow troops were caught cheering – an allegation they publicly admitted was true. Soviet-born Defense Minister Avigdor Lieberman told reporters he also celebrated the shootings, stating that “[t]he Gaza sniper deserves a decoration, and the photographer a demerit.”

The IDF also shot down a journalist in cold blood, even as he donned a big vest marked “PRESS.”

The thing is, however, that Israel doesn’t just simply need a distraction to stop people from talking about what it has already done the past few weeks (a complete deal-breaker for Israel) — it wants to keep on doing it.

“What’s all the fuss about?” asked Oren Hazan, a member of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s Likud party. “Anyone who approaches the fence, armed or not, is gonna get it. As it should be!”

It is no surprise, therefore, that immediately in response to this alleged chemical weapons attack in Syria, it wasn’t the U.S. that struck Syrian government forces straight away – it was Israel.

Israel doesn’t want the media to talk negatively or critically about what it is doing to the Palestinian people. It should be noted that this current conflict has been going on for quite some time. Israel has deprived two million residents in the Gaza Strip of access to basic clean water (97 percent is contaminated by sewage and salt). Israel reduced Gaza’s electricity intake to that of roughly 2-4 hours per day over the course of the past year. Since then, it has openly stepped up lethal air strikes on Palestinian territory,  including multiple strikes over the course of this year, and the mainstream media has asked close to zero basic questions about these practices.

Gaza has no air force and no air defenses. The people are protesting for the right to return to their land, and they are being shot down even on their side of the boundary. It is important to remember this because the U.S. and Israel want us to believe they are concerned about the human rights situation in Syria. What better place to start than Gaza if the goal is actually to promote human rights and democratic institutions?

Further, U.S. ally Saudi Arabia has been quietly raiding a Shiite area known as al-Awamiyah, which they all but turned into a war zone like Aleppo or Mosul last year. A Saudi soldier was even killed in its latest raid, though this has not been deemed newsworthy.

As long as Syria dominates headlines, expect these issues to remain on the sidelines of acceptable discussion and for life for Palestinians and political dissidents in Saudi Arabia to continue as hellishly unabated as before. Perhaps this is why the U.S. is taking its time to respond — to maximize the potential of this distraction.

Of course, knowing our luck, the current trajectory we are on may be used to kill two birds with one stone by not only putting the media focus back on Syria but also lethally ramping up the pressure on Syria, Russia, and Iran to disallow them from claiming what was quickly becoming a widespread victory for the Syrian government.

(Source / 14.04.2018)

We need to challenge the ICC statement about Israel

Ramona Wadi

By Ramona Wadi

The International Criminal Court (ICC) is back on the scene, with more evidence that it gives Israel the benefit of the doubt. ICC Chief Prosecutor Fatou Bensouda’s statement last Sunday indicated that her office has monitored the demonstrations in Gaza which have resulted in Israel killing 29 Palestinians and wounding more than 1,600 others.

However, Bensouda’s cautious tone was obvious: “Violence against civilians – in a situation such as the one prevailing in Gaza – could constitute crimes under the Rome Statute of the International Criminal Court.” Giving Israel the benefit of the doubt, she added that the preliminary examination being conducted by her office “is not an investigation” and emphasised that the ICC will “continue to closely watch the situation and will record any instance of incitement or resort to unlawful force.”

There is little doubt that the ICC, like other international institutions, is competent in recording human rights violations. This is, after all, their lifeline. What happens with the evidence is another story, though, and one that has been repeated to the point of perfection. Besides Israel’s refusal to allow proper investigations to take place, there is also the context of the organisations themselves and their dependence upon the violation of human rights, which has created a vile cycle of abuse to the point of rendering humanity subjugated to the organisations’ bestowal of impunity upon the perpetrators.

On Monday, Likud Spokesman Eli Hazan declared on a television programme that all 30,000 Palestinians demonstrating are legitimate targets for Israeli snipers on the borders. The statement is evidence of premeditated intent to murder and injure Palestinians who are within their right to reclaim their return to historic Palestine. According to the Jerusalem Post, Israeli Defence Minister Avigdor Lieberman has also called for human rights group B’Tselem to be investigated for calling upon soldiers to disobey illegal government orders to fire on Palestinian protestors.

Like other shows of violence which put Israel under the spotlight and trigger a wave of support for Palestinians — that usually dwindles until the next planned aggression — the Great Return March’s intent has been obscured by Israel’s appropriation of terminology to legitimise its theft of Palestinian territory. Hence, the emphasis upon “borders”, which in turn elicits rhetoric such as “both sides” in official comments; both examples are used as foundations for mainstream media misinformation about purported clashes in which Palestinians simply die, rather than “have been killed by Israeli snipers”.

Taking such wilfully inaccurate simplifications further, there is another discrepancy which provides Israel with the impunity it needs to sustain its colonial existence and violence. The reliance upon “context” is becoming a dangerous precedent for Palestinians as the larger framework of colonialism is eliminated from the context of the violence meted out by Israel. All the ICC referred to, for example, was the “violence and deteriorating situation in the Gaza Strip.”

The Great Return March is a direct result of the context in which Palestinians find themselves, which started with the colonisation of Palestine back in 1948 and even earlier. For convenience, as well as the perpetual perpetration of human rights violations, international institutions have enshrined their preference for ignoring and obliterating the core of the context — the creation of Israel on Palestinian territory — and influenced the world to think in the same terms. This has gone as far as a rethinking of support for Palestine, which at times fragments the struggle, with a corresponding negative effect on the ultimate aim of fulfilling the legitimate right of return. The current Israeli violence is but a part of a long colonial process which has created its own shameful history of such atrocities. That is the real context of the “violence and deteriorating situation in the Gaza Strip.” We need to challenge the ICC on this.

(Source / 13.04.2018)

Everyone was united under one motto: We have a right to return to our historic homeland

By Rana Subhair

rana.subhair.daughter

Rana Shubair (R) with her daughter Huda Shubair at the Great March of Return in the Gaza Strip on Friday March 30, 2018

On Land Day, March 30, I set out with my three-year old and 12-year-old children, husband and other family members to join an estimated 30,000 other Gazan Palestinians for the first day of the Great Return March to the border with occupied Palestine [Israel]. Every day until May 15, the anniversary of the Nakba [“catastrophe” when more than 750,000 Palestinians were forced from their homeland during Israel’s creation] we will camp by the border to remind the world that we have a right to return home.

It took me 45 minutes to get to the eastern border of Gaza City. We passed through the densely populated neighborhood of Shejaiya, where a terrible massacre took place during the 2014 Israeli war on Gaza. The streets were congested with Friday morning vendors whose faces reflected the miseries and toils of Gaza life. Mule and horse-pulled carts dominated al-Mansoura Street as I rode in the car; I realized I had actually never been to that part of the city before!

When we reached the Israeli border area, tents and seating areas places where people were to sit were placed about 700 meters from the fence that separates Gaza from the rest of occupied Palestine. My eyes beheld a heavenly scene of a vast, green area on the other side of my country. (The area now known as Israel has plenty of water, unlike Gaza!) My heart raced and pounded in the same way it had when I went to Jerusalem in 2000 and visited al-Aqsa Mosque. I wanted to run to that oasis and touch the isolated and prohibited area of my homeland. A sudden rush of adrenaline filled my body.

Families sat on the ground with their kids, who wore the national Palestinian dress or camouflage uniforms. When I asked them to pose for a picture, each kid held up the name of the town his/her family originally came from and a sign that read, “We will return.” For a fanciful moment, I imagined that today was actually the day of return. All of the people gathered there greeted each other with, “Inshallah, we will all return.” Gaza happens to be my native homeland, but I was envious, so I said to my friends there: “I’m going back, too. All of Palestine is my country.”

I pointed to the closed border area, where the barbed fence and armed watchtowers were located, and said to my kids with a half-cracked voice, “See, that is Palestine. See how beautiful it is.” As the sirens of ambulances intermingled with the vociferous speeches and national songs, I realized there would always be martyrs. As long as Palestine is not free, and as long as we are locked up in the big cage that is Gaza and denied the right to live like other ordinary humans around the world, there will always be young people willing to sacrifice their lives for the sake of the sacred soil of Palestine.

At that moment, we were all one. Everyone there was united under one flag and one motto: We have a right to return to Palestinians’ historic homeland. This overwhelming feeling of unity long has been missing, especially in Gaza. As I pondered the faces of my people there with me, one fact was clear to me more than ever: None of us had anything more valuable to lose than what we already had—our home.

The fearless ones, mostly young men, ventured close to the border even though they were not armed—they couldn’t resist getting a closer glimpse of their occupied homeland. They were as vulnerable as us women and posed no threat. Yet as they had threatened, Israeli snipers were positioned to kill these dreamers. The Israeli occupation forces also fired teargas canisters at the crowds.

The toll at the end of the day was 16 martyrs and more than 1,500 wounded. But being a Palestinian and standing up for our rights has meant sacrifice since our first displacement in 1948. My family and I will not back down.

(Source / 04.04.2018)