The disaster known as Netanyahu

Rather than apologising for Israel’s killing of nine Turkish activists, the prime minister dug in he heels.

Well-handled, Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu. Rather than apologise to the Turkish government for the deaths of nine of its nationals on the Mavi Marmara, you dug in and now your ambassador to Ankara has been expelled. At this rate, the once critical Israeli-Turkish relationship will soon be finished, leaving Israel with no friends in the region except shaky Jordan.

The peace treaty with Egypt is holding, but just barely and Egypt can hardly be considered a friend anymore. Its people despise
Israel and identify it with former President Mubarak, the one Egyptian relationship Israel bothered cultivating. Israel’s de facto friendship with Syria will end when President Bashar al-Assad goes. He is no Zionist, but he has been a force for stability on Syria’s border with Israel, and Lebanon’s, too.

Once he’s gone, the north will almost surely heat up, especially now that Hezbollah plays a dominant role in the Lebanese
government. As for the Palestinians, Netanyahu says that if they dare to take their case to the United Nations later this month, he may declare the Oslo agreement null and void. In other words, the Palestinians will be deemed enemies of Israel. Again.

In short, Binyamin Netanyahu is very close to bringing Israel back to where it was before the Oslo agreement of 1993. There is
even the strong possibility that he will take it back to where it was before the Camp David peace treaty with Egypt — with the added disaster that the relationship with Turkey (established in 1948) will also be gone.

In a normal country, a record of disastrous failures like those would lead to Netanyahu’s departure from office. But not in Israel. Despite all the damage he has done to the country’s security and to its economy (note the massive protests against Netanyahu’s Tea Party economics), he remains in office because the right supports him and Israel is governed by an entirely right-wing coalition.

The worst part is that nearly all of Israel’s problems with its neighbors could be resolved by ending the occupation. Even the
economy would benefit if the Israeli government was not wasting so much money on the settlers and their exorbitant demands.

New realities

Israel’s propaganda machine would have it otherwise. It insists that the Palestinians, and the Arabs and Muslims throughout the world who support them, don’t really care about the occupation. Their goal, we are constantly told, is to destroy Israel itself. As proof, they insist that “the Palestinians have never recognised Israel’s right to statehood.”

This is the kind of thing that used to be called the “big lie.” The Palestinians have repeatedly recognised Israel’s right to statehood and security within the 1967 borders.

For those who have forgotten, that is what President Clinton, Prime Minister Rabin and PLO Chairman Yasir Arafat agreed to on the White House lawn that day in 1993. Israel recognised Palestinian rights and the Palestinians recognised Israel. In the years since, neither side has threatened to revoke that recognition until last month when Netanyahu began saying that Oslo could be revoked if the Palestinians go to the United Nations.

But why?

The Palestinian turn to the United Nations offers the solution to virtually all of Israel’s problems. President Mahmoud Abbas says
that once Palestine is recognised by the international body, he will resume negotiations with Israel over all the issues that divide the two sides. The only difference will be that negotiations will be between two states, not one powerful state and one supplicant hoping a few crumbs fall off the table.

Netanyahu is terrified of a UN vote. He and his emissaries are going around the world demanding that the statehood resolution be
voted down. And the combined forces of Netanyahu and the lobby here have cajoled the Obama administration to join Netanyahu in demanding a “no” vote.

It is clear that Netanyahu wants to preserve the status quo, even if it means that Israel reverts to a position where every one of its neighbors is an actual or potential enemy, even if it means that its strategic relationship with Turkey is over, even if it means that it has no one in the region to help prevent war with Iran.

Wrong priorities

It sounds crazy, but only because it is. Netanyahu’s highest priority is to maintain the occupation. The settlers and the religious fanatics are his people; the Israelis of Tel Aviv and Haifa are not. It’s not that Israel’s security does not matter to Netanyahu. It does. But for him, Ariel and the crazed settlers of Hebron matter every bit as much as the state itself. To him, there is no difference. (On that score, Netanyahu is much like Palestinian extremists who view all of Israel as occupied territory. Netanyahu makes no distinctions either.)

Netanyahu is bringing Israel to the brink and no one is doing anything about it. Both the president and Congress go along with
Netanyahu because the lobby tells them that the only way to support Israel (and, in turn, be supported by its “friends”) is to approve of everything done by the Israeli prime minister. That is why the Palestinians have to go to the UN. They cannot expect anything from the United States or even the Europeans (who are being pressured heavily on Netanyahu’s behalf by the US).

The UN vote is expected to occur on September 20. It is too much to hope that America will do what it knows is the right thing and
vote “yes” or be an honest broker and abstain. The best we can hope for is that the United States and Israel are part of a very small minority voting “no.” That kind of vote will strengthen the Palestinians and perhaps frighten Netanyahu into negotiating in good faith.

But even if not, the UN will have stated that the Palestinians are people, too; people with rights, including the right to full
sovereignty in the West Bank, Gaza, and East Jerusalem. At that point, the writing will be on the wall. The occupation is ending, hopefully before Netanyahu does too much more damage … to Israel.

( / 02.09.2011)

The Forgotten Palestinians – Book Review

By Khalil Nakhleh

(The Forgotten Palestinians: A History of the Palestinians in Israel. Ilan Pappe. New Haven and London: Yale University Press, 2011)

No doubt, hundreds if not thousands of articles, reports and books have been written about the Palestinians in Israel, “the forgotten Palestinians”, in Arabic, English and Hebrew, during the last sixty some years.  To my knowledge, this is the first time a major, mainstream, US academic university press publishes a comprehensive and sympathetic narrative of the Palestinians in
Israel, with a focus on their evolving Palestinianhood, by a well respected anti-Zionist, Israeli Jewish historian.

Is this a notable change, where after sixty-three years of the destruction and decimation of their society and identity, and official insistence that they should be relegated to a hybrid, artificial, and rootless group of people,  dubbed as “Arabs in Israel”, or “non-Jewish minorities”, there is, seemingly, a Western academic cognizance and affirmation of their Palestinian genealogy and
identity? Basically, yes. In part, I believe, this has to do with the erudite scholarship and credible academic record of Ilan Pappe (the author of this book).  But, in large part, it has to do with the relentless and cumulative academic, intellectual and political challenge mounted, particularly over the last 20-30 years, by Palestinian intellectuals and activists citizens of Israel (1), which rendered dubious Israel’s historical and cultural claims, as they re-affirmed, simultaneously, in no uncertain terms, the Palestinian identity of this minority—their self-identity, and its historical and cultural connectivity to the larger Palestinian body.

This is an important book about the nearly 1.4 million “forgotten Palestinians” who are the remnants of the indigenous Palestinians who lived in the land of Palestine until it was decimated by the Zionist settler-colonial onslaught in 1947/1948, and who continue to live today within the artificially-created Jewish-Zionist state of Israel.

This is not a traditional book review.  It is an interactive reading of Ilan’s book, where I deliberated virtually with him about the overall subject, during my careful reading of the book, which I utilize now as a stepping stone.  However critical certain aspects of this reading may appear, it must be kept in mind that it’s coming from a friendly (not hostile) corner.  I focus here only on few aspects.

The Book and the Author

Ilan writes as an astute and knowledgeable observer, and as a sympathetic occasional participant in some of the developments he narrates. Thus his narrative of the evolving Palestinian identity in Israel over the past sixty some years, emerges considerate, sensitive, honest, and anti-Zionist, written in total solidarity with Palestinian dilemmas, and with deep understanding of these
dilemmas. Furthermore, it is a gentle narrative reflecting, in my view, Ilan’s personality, as I know it.

He focuses not only on official policies, but on the complexity of the daily life of the Palestinians, and how they struggle and manage to live it, in a hegemonic Jewish Zionist state that insists with recurring persistence on not seeing them.  By its nature, Ilan states, “this book aims to present a people’s history as far as possible and therefore the magnifying glass is cast more on
the Palestinians than on those who formulated and executed the policies towards them” (p.13).  At times, however, I felt an inadvertent inclination on Ilan’s part, to grant those “who formulated and executed the policies …”, i.e., the Israeli Jewish Zionist structure, and the ideology that propelled them into control (e.g., Zionism, p.266), an unnecessary charitable and humane

Be this as it may, this is, nevertheless, a painful narrative of the evolution of my people’s persistent dispossession and unrelenting attempts at their exclusion and elimination.  And how they learned to survive under an oppressive system of control that always maneuvered to expel them from their homeland, or, temporarily, forcing them to co-exist as unequal under its hegemony.

At the same time, it is an Israeli Jew narrating painfully about the sins that his state and consecutive governments committed, and persist in committing, against the indigenous Palestinian inhabitants of the land.  In contrast, if I, as a Palestinian Arab member of that community, were to write such a narrative it would have emerged more furious and less tolerant narrative of the Jewish
Zionist majority that has been in direct oppressive control of my people for well over half a century!

The Oslo Accords and Their Impact

Ilan described correctly the impact of the Oslo Accords on the Palestinian minority in Israel in the following words:

“What emerged was not that the community was unique in comparison to other Palestinian groups but rather that it had a unique problem.  Zionism was the exceptional factor, not being a Palestinian in Palestine, or what used to be Palestine.  The strong affirmation of the connection to the country and not to the state was the end product of a long internal Palestinian analysis of the
predicament, crisis and nature of the community, which was followed by a prognosis and a kind of action plan for how to deal with the crisis being a national indigenous minority within the Jewish state. … [T]he community went from a very hopeful and assertive period, 1995 to 2000, into a very precarious and dangerous existential period after 2000 and until today … (pp.195-196;
emphasis added).”

I assert, however, that the concerns of the “forgotten Palestinians” in terms of the “predicament” and the identity of the community, as “a national indigenous minority within the Jewish state”, started being driven home with the events culminating in the eruption of “Land Day” in 1976.  Clearly, those concerns were not formulated with the same clarity then, as it became post the
“2000 earthquake” (P.229 ff).  Nevertheless, although the book presents a fairly detailed discussion of the circumstances leading to “Land Day”, the connection was not made as strongly, or as organically, as it should have been made with what has been termed “hubbet October” in 2000, and all the evolving events following that.  I would have liked to see a deeper analysis about this

If my claim is valid, and since I can say with certainty that Ilan recognizes this connection between the mid-seventies and today, why then was more focus placed on the “2000 earthquake”? Largely, I believe, it’s an issue of the availability of public and academically credible analyses and articulation of these concerns and predicaments post 2000, which were made available in English and Hebrew, primarily.  The emergence of a substantial group of political and educated elites among the Palestinians in Israel over the last thirty some years made this feasible.

Although I agree with the generalization that:

“The political and educated elites of the Palestinians in Israel lost all beliefs in ‘coexistence’, liberal Zionist discourse or a future of change within the present parameters of the Jewish state (p.240).”

I maintain that this was abundantly and inherently felt in the aftermath of the savage Zionist attack on the indigenous lands in Galilee by official “security” apparatuses of the Jewish state, twenty-five years earlier, although not publically articulated in academic language.  It was very clear then that “[t]he police legitimized in its own eyes and in the eyes of the public the
killing of demonstrators [Palestinian citizens] as part of its response” (p. 239).  Furthermore, it was very obvious, then, “the full support the Israeli media gave the police and the lack of any sympathy or solidarity with the victims and their families” (p. 239).

In addition to the issue of the availability of ‘public articulation’, mentioned above, there is the concomitant rise of academic, activists, human rights defenders, etc, NGOs that were allowed legally to register following the Madrid Peace Conference in the early nineties, and which were responsible, largely, for the ‘public articulation’ literature.  These NGOs became legitimate
funding targets by transnational funding agencies, including NGOs, governments, corporate companies, etc.  This phenomenon, in itself, begs deeper analysis, which, I maintain, it did not receive in this book, and when it did (e.g., p. 217 ff), the analysis was very accommodating and uncritical.

The ‘Vision Documents’

I agree with Ilan that the ‘Vision Documents’, which were produced over a period of 3-4 years at the beginning of the twenty-first century, by the Palestinian political and intellectual elite in Israel, were ground breaking documents, and that “the Palestinian community had taken the initiative itself and adopted the language of the indigenous people versus the settler state” (p. 254). I maintain, however, that the Palestinian community in Israel was positing in these documents a more fundamental position, in which they were reaffirming their Palestinianhood and rejecting Zionist hegemony over their land and lives, with some degree of variance from one document to another.(2)   This explains why these documents were declared by the entire spectrum of Israeli public opinion as “a statement of war” (p. 253).

Conclusions of the Book

It is extremely important to refocus our attention, strategically, to the core and important conclusions of the book.  In the concluding chapter—the Epilogue, under the title “the Oppressive State”, Ilan stressed that:

1. [T]he worst aspect of the minority’s existence is that its daily and future fate is in the hands of the Israel secret-service apparatuses (P.265);
2. It seems that in the last few years … the Jewish state has given up on the charade of democracy … and … has escalated its oppression of the minority in an unprecedented manner (P.266);
3. [W]e expect either escalating state violence against the Palestinians, wherever they are, or further oppressive legislation (P. 274; emphasis added);
4. [T]he history of this community, despite the endless Israeli efforts to fragment the Palestinian people and existence, was still an organic part of the history of the Palestinian people (P. 200; emphasis added).

A note that can never be final …

My conclusion from the above is crystal clear: the lesson that we should learn is to actively resist all attempts by the enemies of the Palestinian people, including the current Palestinian ruling elite structure, to fragment the Palestinian people and existence, and to re-institute and revive our struggle for a FREE, JUST, EQUAL, and DEMOCRATIC Homeland.

All Palestinians must read this book.  All Jews—Zionists and anti-Zionists alike, who express concern about justice and human rights for the Palestinians, must read this book.

– Dr. Khalil Nakhleh, a Palestinian anthropologist, independent researcher and writer, who for the last three decades has sought to generate People-Centered Liberationist Development in Palestine. He is working on a book, Development Ltd: The Role of Capital in Impeding People-Centered Liberationist Development, expected to be ready for publication in 2011. He contributed this article to Contact him at:


(1) A cursory look at the “bibliography” section provides ample support to this statement, keeping in mind, however, that numerous sources are omitted here, as well as all the relevant sources in Arabic.
(2) Please refer to my book, The Future of the Palestinian Minority in Israel, Ramallah: MADAR, the Palestinian Center for Israeli Studies , 2008, (Arabic).

( / 02.09.2011)

ICCO negeert Uri rosenthal en zet omstreden beleid voort!

De gesubsidieerde ontwikkelingshulpclub ICCO is niet van plan haar beleid te wijzigen, ondanks een oproep daartoe van minister Uri Rosenthal (Buitenlandse Zaken). De VVD’er had donderdag een ‘pittig gesprek’ met de organisatie.

Rosenthal wil dat ICCO stopt met haar anti-Israëlische acties

* Minister Rosenthal heeft genoeg van ‘Israël-bashing’

* Rosenthal boos over geldsteun ICCO aan anti-Israëlclub

Rosenthal is boos dat de interkerkelijke hulporganisatie financiële steun geeft aan de anti-Israëlische website Electronic Intifada, die oproept tot een boycot van de Joodse staat.

Volgens de minister is dit in strijd met het regeringsbeleid, aangezien het kabinet-Rutte juist wil investeren in de band met Israël.


ICCO stelt dat het internationaal recht de belangrijkste leidraad is voor haar werk en dat ze daarom niet van plan is de steun stop te zetten.

De hulporganisatie ontvangt jaarlijks 75 miljoen euro subsidie, maar stelt dat het geld voor de anti-Israëlische website uit particuliere donaties komt en dus niet door de overheid wordt betaald.

Rosenthal noemt dit een ‘vestzak-broekzak-redenering’. Kritisch zijn mag, maar ‘rechtstreeks tegenwerken niet’, aldus de VVD-minister in een verklaring.


ICCO voelt zich gesteund door het Internationaal Gerechtshof in Den Haag, dat in 2004 oordeelde dat de door Israël gebouwde muur rond Palestijns grondgebied illegaal is, net als de bouw van nederzettingen.

Toen de Verenigde Naties deze uitspraak bevestigden, heeft Nederland daar vóór gestemd, aldus ICCO.

Uri Rosenthal waar ligt jouw prioriteit? In Israel of Nederland? en lever dat Israelische paspoort maar gauw in,volgens mij mag dit niet van je vriendje Wilders!

(Facebook / J. Jansen / 02.09.2011)

Lessons from Norway

What do the tragic events in Utoya and Oslo tell us about the status of far-right, anti-immigrant or Islamophobic politics in Norway, Scandinavia and the rest of Europe? Commentators and “security experts” — many of whom were initially convinced of the Islamic nature of the attacks — have spent the past month speculating.

What were the perpetrator’s motives? Was he radicalised by his time in the anti-immigrant Progress Party or through his links with the English Defence League? Did his extreme views on the nature of Islam and mainstream politics lead directly to scores of people losing their lives? Should Europe brace itself for future attacks inspired by the far right?

It is comforting to look for meaning behind individual acts of murderous violence. It is far more difficult to accept that there is no proven path to radicalisation that inevitably leads to violent extremism. “Security experts” should take note that there is not necessarily a direct link between a person holding “radical” political views and a willingness to commit violent acts.

Variations of the anti-establishment, virulently Islamophobic views attributed to Anders Behring Breivik are held by significant sections of European publics. They frequently emerge from the mouths of elected representatives of anti-immigrant populist parties in national and European parliaments. They are celebrated in the comment pages of distinguished publications across the world. Popular figureheads occasionally inform me of the impending Islamic takeover of Europe, backed up by dubious statistics regarding birthrates and migration patterns.

These “radical” views are not the sole preserve of a disparate violent fringe — they are becoming legitimised as part of the political discourse. The “one long scream of resentment”, in the words of the late historian Tony Judt, “at immigrants, at unemployment, at crime and insecurity, at ‘-’ and in general at ‘-’ who have brought it all about” is being heard by more people than ever before. Yet there is a danger of reading too much into these opinions as the catalyst for an individual atrocity.

Those who feel that these events offer up the opportunity to diminish the power of far right, anti-immigrant or Islamophobic populist parties may also be disappointed: many of their supporters are horrified by these events too. Norway’s anti-immigrant FrP party leader, Siv Jensen, stated, soon after the attacks, that “an extremist” conducted these “repulsive” attacks and that “we stand together in this tragedy”. So events like this can actually play a role in mainstreaming these parties. It allows them to say: “We are not the extremists — they are the extremists. We abhor violence. We are a legitimate part of the democratic mainstream.”

Anti-immigrant populism is gaining momentum across Europe, taking advantage of sizable economic and social fears, a growing anti-elite sentiment and the creeping legitimisation of Islamophobia. These parties should be opposed not because they may have tangentially “inspired” individual acts of symbolic violence, but because their programme is dehumanising, sectarian and threatens the basis of a stable, cohesive society.

( / 02.09.2011)


the anniversary of Concealment of the truth 9/11

soon it´s 10 years since the Terror act of 9/11, what i find very strange is that to our day this is unresolved, Why??? can´t they, or they dont want to resolve , I guess that the majority of us know the answer.

We have a another anniversary also the 10th it is the start of Bombing Afghanistan on the 7th Oktober, soon will be the Iraq War anniversary.

Those 2 Wars were started with the excuse to fight the Terror, I guess to fight the Terror they should start in the White House.

This area was always intressting the powerfull Goverments of this World, dont forget that Afghanistan has its border with Iran and its a Gate to China and Russia, and the resources of Afghanistan

That´s why they had to get a reason to JUSTIFY a war, on the 11/9 Bush said its a Terror act, the next day the statement was changed that it is an armed attack, and so the USA had the right to defend its self.

Defend???? yes so they call it when they want to Attack a country, they want want to get their emire bigger and stronger on the cost of such countries, special Islamic countries.

As they started to make propagande that the people in Europe and the US start to hate the Islam so it will be easy to have a defined enemy.

I have some nummbers and would like to know does this justify the politic, the American people who think that their goverment is helping in any country shloud read this;

9/11 have been killed 3000 person, 10 years bombing Afghanistan as an estimation have been killed at least 60 to 70 tausend most civilian and children.

the Usa claims because of the women rights in Afghanistan (Burka) but the rate of Hunger icreased since the US Occupation from 36%to 39%, the unemployed youth icreased from 22%to 47% .

so tell me what you think.?

Don´t forget its simillar in Egypt Sirya Yemen Tunis Libya, they are only supporting the dictators who protect their interest

no where, not even one place they have got it became better and will never be better not even humanity, so when will the USA and its gang go out and let the people in peace

(Raef El-Ghamri / Facebbok / 02.09.2011)

Israeli official to Clinton: Declare Turkey a terror-supporting state

A hawkish Israeli politician reportedly wrote a letter to US Secretary  of State Hillary Clinton on Thursday, asking the US to declare Turkey a  terror-supporting state, the Jerusalem Post reported early on Friday.
Danny Danon, who is also deputy Knesset speaker, wrote a letter to Clinton after Foreign Minister Ahmet Davutoğlu warned Israel to apologize until the UN releases its report in which he called on Washington to impose sanctions on Turkey and call it a terror-supporting state.

“Turkey has gotten closer to Iran and constitutes a direct continuation of the axis of evil. The government in Washington must answer the Turkish problem before it is too late,” Danon wrote, the Jerusalem Post reported.

The Israeli official called for economic and diplomatic sanctions against Turkey until Ankara changes its ways and abandons what he said “the way of terror.”

“The Turks have crossed the line. They supported the flotilla, they support terror and they dare to ask Israel to apologize to them,” Danon said.

( / 02.09.2011)

EU-beraad over erkenning Palestijnse staat

SOPOT (ANP) – De ministers van Buitenlandse Zaken van de Europese Unie zoeken vrijdag in de Poolse badplaats Sopot naar een compromis over de erkenning van een Palestijnse staat.

Onder meer Nederland, Duitsland en Denemarken wijzen een zelfstandig Palestina op dit moment af. Frankrijk, Groot-Brittannië en andere landen daarentegen tonen zich voorstanders. EU-buitenlandchef Catherine Ashton zou als compromis voorstellen om de staat weliswaar te erkennen, maar die bij de Verenigde Naties slechts de status van waarnemer te geven, net zoals het Vaticaan.

Het beraad in Sopot komt 3 weken voordat de Palestijnen de Verenigde Naties willen laten stemmen over de opname van een Palestijnse staat als volwaardig lid. De Verenigde Staten kondigden al aan een erkenning van Palestina te blokkeren.

( / 02.09.2011)

Secret files: Gaddafi had spies in rebel camp

London, (Pal Telegraph) – Double agents worked the highest levels of the rebel movement, according to intelligence documents found by Al Jazeera.

Deposed Libyan leader Muammar Gaddafi had spies at the highest levels of the rebel movement at least until the fall of Tripoli, according to a top-secret document that appears to be a briefing for Libyan intelligence mastermind Abdullah Senussi.

The briefings, found by Al Jazeera in a sealed envelope on Senussi’s abandoned desk at the Libyan intelligence service’s headquarters, detail key weapons sites across the Western Mountains, with a focus on the pivotal town of Azzawiya, which proved to be the rebels’ gateway into the capital.

One of the spies appears to have provided Gaddafi’s forces with maps and identified National Transitional Council (NTC) commanders who were to lead the attack on Ghazaya and Azzawiya, together with the forces and vehicles the rebel leaders
had available.

The documents also suggest that the Libyan rebel fighters were using refugee camps on the Libyan border set up by Qatar, the United Arab Emirates and Kuwait to smuggle in weapons and pick up trucks.

Gaddafi’s spies (whose names Al Jazeera has redacted) suggested that the rebels had the permission of the Tunisian prime minister and his army chief to use the camps as a base.

“There are 4×4 vehicles in the Qatar, Kuwaiti and UAE camps, equipped with automatic weapons and hidden under tents,” reads one document. The agent who wrote the briefing also singled out the names of NTC leaders, suggesting they be targeted for assassination.

“I have drawn up a plan of which rebel commanders and NTC leaders should be killed. This will strike fear within their ranks and cause disunity between them,” reads the document.

Spies around the world

In return for this information, the double agent expected the Libyan government to meet his three demands – by providing a luxurious car, preferably a white BMW; paying out an ‘exceptional’ amount of cash; and supplying him with a Thuraya satellite phone to use for ‘sensitive’ phone calls.

Gaddafi’s spying was not limited to double agents, however. His spy network was also able to intercept highly sensitive
emails, including those from NTC chief Mahmoud Jibrail.

One such email appears to be from the foreign ministry of Cyprus to leaders in Benghazi, outlining a planned visit by their foreign minister to the NTC’s stronghold.

Other documents found in the Intelligence Headquarters suggested that Gaddafi’s secret services were not limited to Libyan

Government officials all over the world – in Libyan embassies – were used to spy on expatriates supporting the opposition from

One document, provided by the embassy in Malta, suggests that a number of Libyans who allegedly met with Goma Gomati (now the ambassador to London) should be kidnapped.

Now thousands of secret documents are in the hands of rebels — and some of them could incriminate the rebel leaders

( / /02.09.2011)


Why the Palmer-Uribe report on Israel’s flotilla attack is worthless

Turkey has imposed sanctions on Israel following Turkey’s rejection of a UN report on Israel’s attack on the Gaza flotilla last year.

In the latest developments on Friday morning, Turkish Foreign Minister Ahmet Davutoğlu rejected the findings of the report and announced unprecedented sanctions on Israel saying “it’s time for Israel to pay a price.”

From 7 September, diplomatic ties will be reduced to the lowest level, all Turkish-Israeli military agreements will be canceled, and Turkey will support victims of the Israeli attack on the flotilla to pursue justice through legal cases.

Crucially, Davutoğlu affirmed that Turkey does not recognize the blockade of Gaza which the Palmer report attempted to justify, and which a UN Human Rights Council official fact-finding mission had already ruled to be illegal. Turkey will also challenge the Israeli siege of Gaza through international legal channels.

Palmer report attempts to whitewash attack on flotilla, justify Israeli siege

A leaked copy of the Palmer report into Israel’s attack on the Gaza Freedom Flotilla in May 2010 was published by the New York Times on Thursday, a day before its expected official release by the UN Secretary General.

On 31 May 2010, Israel attacked the largest ship in the Gaza Freedom Flotilla, the Mavi Marmara, killing 9 people on board.

Publication of the report had been delayed several times as Turkey and Israel attempted to negotiate a settlement. Turkey demanded an apology for the attack, compensation for victims and an end to the siege of Gaza. In his statement today Davutoğlu said Israel had passed up many opportunities to resolve the issue.

The four-member committee that wrote the Palmer report was appointed by UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon and was chaired by former New Zealand prime minister Geoffrey Palmer and vice-chaired by former president of Colombia Alvaro Uribe.

This panel is in addition to an official UN Human Rights Council fact-finding mission which reported last September that Israel’s attack on the ships was illegal.

According to the The New York Times article on the Palmer report, the Palmer panel:

has found that Israel’s naval blockade of Gaza is both legal and appropriate. But it said that the way Israeli forces boarded the vessels trying to break that blockade 15 months ago was excessive and unreasonable.

The report, expected to be released Friday, also found that when Israeli commandos boarded the main ship, they faced “organized and violent resistance from a group of passengers” and were therefore required to use force for their own protection. But the report called the force “excessive and unreasonable,” saying that the loss of life was unacceptable and that the Israeli military’s later treatment of passengers was abusive.

An initial examination of the report indicates that these many of findings are not credible on their face for a number of reasons including the composition of the panel, its reliance on Israel which has controlled and withheld most of the evidence, and a skewed and politicized perspective which ignores the realities of Israel’s decades-long violent occupation of Gaza.

Palmer panel was stacked for Israel and includes notorious human rights abuser

As Jose Antonio Gutierrez and David Landy explained on The Electronic Intifada in August 2010, the panel was selected almost entirely according to Israel’s dictates:

The commission is composed of four persons, one chosen by Turkey, one chosen by Israel and two chosen from a list provided by Israel. The latter two are former Prime Minister of New Zealand Geoffrey Palmer, who will be the chair, and Uribe, who will serve as vice-chair. While Palmer, an expert in international law, is an uncontroversial choice, the appointment of Uribe is as perplexing as it is shocking. It appears that “balance” in this commission involves balance between someone versed in international and human rights law and someone who is adamantly opposed to it. This notion of balance fatally weakens this commission even before it has started, and tarnishes the process of international law.

Uribe himself has a long and notorious history of violating human rights on a massive scale, attacking human rights defenders and organizations, and expressing contempt for any notion of law that restrains states from engaging in almost any kind of violence they desire.

Gutierrez and Landy on Uribe’s record in Colombia:

In June 2010 an international human rights mission investigated the biggest mass grave in the western hemisphere — containing some 2,000 execution victims who had been dumped there since 2004 — which had just been discovered in the Colombian town of La Macarena. At the same time Uribe travelled to that very locality but not to pay his condolences to the victims’ families, or guarantee that an investigation would determine what happened there. Instead, he went to visit the local military base — exactly the same people that, according to victims’ reports, filled that mass grave with its grisly contents — to praise them for their work.

On Uribe’s attacks on human rights defenders, Gutierrez and Landy write:

Uribe’s scorn for human right defenders is notorious. According to Human Rights First, “President Uribe and other administration officials have branded [human rights defenders] as terrorist sympathizers and have insinuated that illicit connections exist between human rights NGOs [nongovernmental organizations] and illegal armed groups. Irresponsible comments by government officials in Colombia put the lives of human rights defenders at even greater risk and threaten to undermine the value and credibility of their work” (“Human Rights Defencers in Colombia”).

In September 2009 Colombia was visited by Margaret Sekaggya, special rapporteur on the situation of human rights defenders from the UN Human Rights Commission. Sekaggya found that constant problems faced by human rights defenders in Colombia include “Stigmatization [of human rights defenders] by public officials and non-State actors; their illegal surveillance by State intelligence services; their arbitrary arrest and detention, and their judicial harassment; and raids of nongovernmental organizations’ (NGOs) premises and theft of information” (“Report of the Special Rapporteur …,” 4 March 2010, pp. 13-18 [PDF]).  Public officials in Colombia constantly attack human rights defenders and members of the political and social opposition as aides of “terrorists,” that is, left-wing guerrillas.

Uribe has led these attacks, calling human rights defenders “rent-a-mobs at terrorism’s service who cowardly wave the human rights flag,” “human rights traffickers,” “charlatans of human rights,” “bandits’ [ie. guerrillas] colleagues,” “intellectual front of the FARC [the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia]” and he has stated that “Every time terrorists and their supporters feel they will be defeated, they resort to denouncing human rights violations.

This is just a small selection of Uribe’s verbal attacks on human rights organizations in his own country, but he has also referred to Amnesty International and Human Rights Watch as “rats.”

Uribe’s alliance with Israel

During Uribe’s term, Colombia, which is one of the top three recipients of US military aid along with Israel and Egypt, developed a close military alliance with Israel, as Gutierrez and Landy explain:

In recent years, according to news reports, Israel has become Colombia’s number one weapon supplier, with arms worth tens of millions of dollars, “including Kfir aircraft, drones, weapons and intelligence systems” being used against opponents of the Colombian regime (“Report: Israelis fighting guerillas in Colombia,” Ynet, 10 August 2007). According to a senior Israeli defense official, “Israel’s methods of fighting terror have been duplicated in Colombia” (“Colombia’s FM: We share your resilience,” 30 April 2010).

There is a reason that Latin Americans often refer to Colombia as the “Israel of Latin America,” and indeed why Colombian President-elect Juan Manuel Santos, ex-Minister of Defence and right hand of Uribe, expressed his pride at such a comparison (“Santos, orgulloso de que a Colombia lo comparen con Israel,” El Espectador, 6 June 2010).

As Gutierrez and Landy also point out, top officials in Uribe’s administration, including the president himself, frequently expressed full support for Israel’s fight against what it terms “terrorism.”

Israel withheld and manipulated evidence

The Palmer panel cannot be described in any sense as an independent investigation. As the report states:

The Panel received and reviewed reports of the detailed national investigations conducted by both Turkey and Israel. Turkey established a National Commission of Inquiry to examine the facts of the incident and its legal consequences, which provided an interim and final report to the Panel along with annexes and related material. Israel provided the report of the independent Public Commission that it had established to review whether the actions taken by the State of Israel had been compatible with international law.

The Panel reviewed these reports and further information and clarifications it received in written form and through direct meetings with Points of Contact appointed by each government.

The report adds:

In particular, the Panel’s means of obtaining information were through diplomatic channels. The Panel enjoyed no coercive powers to compel witnesses to provide evidence. It could not conduct criminal investigations. The Panel was required to obtain its information from the two nations primarily involved in its inquiry, Turkey and Israel, and other affected States.

The panel therefore interviewed no survivors or witnesses. Only Israel controlled most key physical evidence – the ship itself and the belongings and recordings of all the passengers and the weapons Israel used in carrying out the attack. The panel did not have uncensored access to the massive amounts of evidence in the form of photo and video from passengers on board that Israel has stolen, hidden and refused to release or return. As a consequence, of these crippling limitations, the report states:

It means that the Panel cannot make definitive findings either of fact or law. But it can give its view.

The panel also implies that its own independence is further in question because:

It will be clear from the above that the essential logic of the Panel’s inquiry is that it is dependent upon the investigations conducted by Israel and Turkey.

In contrast, the UN Human Rights Council fact-finding mission report published last September went much beyond merely commenting on information provided by governments. That fact-finding mission:

conducted interviews with more than 100 witnesses in Geneva, London, Istanbul and Amman.

And in addition to information provided by governments, the Human Rights Council also relied on information

including the evidence of eyewitnesses, forensic reports and interviews with medical and forensic personnel in Turkey, as well as written statements, video film footage and other photographic material relating to the incident.

Perhaps because of its thoroughness, Israel refused to cooperate with the Human Rights Council fact-finding mission, just as it refused to cooperate with the Goldstone report.

Accusations of “violent resistance”

The Palmer panel report claims:

Israeli Defense Forces personnel faced significant, organized and violent resistance from a group of passengers when they boarded the Mavi Marmara requiring them to use force for their own protection. Three soldiers were captured, mistreated, and placed at risk by those passengers. Several others were wounded.

Given the fact that Palmer panel did not gather any evidence of its own, its conclusion that the Israeli military attackers who  boarded the Mavi Marmara under cover of dark in international waters, faced “organized and violent resistance” can be given no more credibility than any common or garden Israeli military press release.

While Israel has repeatedly made such claims, it never produced independent evidence of it and – as noted – is still concealing evidence.

Nevertheless, the video footage that did escape Israeli confiscation showed:

Even the deeply flawed Palmer report is forced to admit:

The loss of life and injuries resulting from the use of force by Israeli forces during the take-over of the Mavi Marmara was unacceptable. Nine passengers were killed and many others seriously wounded by Israeli forces. No satisfactory explanation has been provided to the Panel by Israel for any of the nine deaths. Forensic evidence showing that most of the deceased were shot multiple times, including in the back, or at close range has not been adequately accounted for in the material presented by Israel.

Moreover, the propagandistic Israeli claims that their soldiers were mistreated were belied by photographs that showed passengers giving aid and protection to Israeli attackers who had been disarmed.

It is possible of course that passengers defended themselves against a terrifying Israeli assault in dead of night with a full military arsenal that included assault helicopters and elite commandos against a civilian ship.

Indeed, footage shows terrified passengers hiding and attempting to fend off indiscriminate fire with sticks in a blood-stained stairwell. But to equate any of this to “organized and violent resistance” that could in any way justify Israel’s execution-style killings is completely absurd.

The blockade is “legal”

The Palmer report’s assertion that the Israeli naval blockade of Gaza is legal and necessary for “security” echoes the other aspects of the report that accept Israeli military propaganda as given.

By privileging the security of Israel, the occupying power, the report also ignores the rights and needs for security of the Palestinian people in Gaza who are being collectively punished and who have been subjected to decades of indiscriminate Israeli military attacks in which thousands of civilians have been killed and injured.

Yet this opinion of the Panel is, as the report states, not binding in any legal sense. But more importantly, it has no bearing at all on the assault on the Mavi Marmara, which Israel attacked in international waters as it was moving away from the Gaza Strip and the Israeli-controlled coast of Palestine.

Israel’s claim that it needs to blockade people it is violently victimizing in order to prevent them obtaining any means means whatsoever to defend themselves can only be made by wholly ignoring the context of Israel’s violent occupation of Gaza and decades of well-documented war crimes.

Israel is not in a defensive position in which it can claim a “security” need to impose a blockade. Israel is the military aggressor which for decades from 1967 until 2005 violently colonized the Gaza Strip, placing settlers there in blatant violation of international law. Since 2005, Israel has continued to occupy besiege, harass, attack and kill civilians in Gaza with almost no respite culminating in the indiscriminate killing of hundreds of civilians during the 2008-2009 “Operation Cast Lead.”

A perfect example of Israel’s wanton violence was its unprovoked series of attacks on the Gaza Strip last month which killed more than two dozen people, including children.

Human Rights Council fact-finding mission and legality of Israeli blockade

The UN Human Rights Council had already concluded that Israel’s interception of the flotilla was illegal because the blockade was unjustified:

In evaluating the evidence submitted to the Mission, including by OCHA oPt [Office for the Coordination of Human Affairs in the occupied Palestinian territories), confirming the severe humanitarian situation in Gaza, the destruction of the economy and the prevention of reconstruction (as detailed above), the Mission is satisfied that the blockade was inflicting disproportionate damage upon the civilian population in the Gaza strip and that as such the interception could not be justified and therefore has to be considered illegal.

It also concludes:

The Mission considers that one of the principal motives behind the imposition of the blockade was a desire to punish the people of the Gaza Strip for having elected Hamas. The combination of this motive and the effect of the restrictions on the Gaza Strip leave no doubt that Israel’s actions and policies amount to collective punishment as defined by international law.

and that:

the blockade amounts to collective punishment in violation of Israel’s obligations under international humanitarian law.

Palmer panel went against international consensus on blockade

Moreover, the Turkish appointee on the Palmer panel, Süleyman Özdem Sanberk, noted in a dissenting statement rejecting large parts of the report:

On the legal aspect of the blockade, Turkey and Israel have submitted two opposing arguments. International legal authorities are divided on the matter since it is unprecedented, highly complex and the legal framework lacks codification. However, the Chairmanship and its report fully associated itself with Israel and categorically dismissed the views of the other, despite the fact that the legal arguments presented by Turkey have been supported by the vast majority of the international community. Common sense and conscience dictate that the blockade is unlawful.

  • Also the UN Human Rights Council concluded that the blockade was unlawful. The Report of the Human Rights Council Fact Finding Mission received widespread approval from the member states.
  • Freedom and safety of navigation on the high seas is a universally accepted rule of international law. There can be no exception from this long-standing principle unless there is a universal convergence of views.
  • The intentions of the participants in the international humanitarian convoy were humanitarian, reflecting the concerns of the vast majority of the international community. They came under attack in international waters. They resisted for their own protection. Nine civilians were killed and many others were injured by the Israeli soldiers. One of the victims is still in a coma. The evidence confirms that at least some of the victims had been killed deliberately.
  • The wording in the report is not satisfactory in describing the actual extent of the atrocities that the victims have been subjected to. This includes the scope of the maltreatment suffered by the passengers in the hands of Israeli soldiers and officials.

After Goldstone, protecting Israel

Based on what was known before its report became public, and now that we have read the report, it is clear that the Palmer panel was no more than political exercise by the UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon to whitewash Israel’s attack on the flotilla and protect it from any real accountability.

After Israel and the United States’s all out war on the Goldstone report detailing Israeli war crimes in Gaza, it appears that international officials are unwilling to repeat the experience.

Indeed, an exclusive report on The Electronic Intifada in June 2010 revealed intense diplomatic efforts to undermine Turkey’s push for an independent UN investigation into Israel’s flotilla attack.

The Palmer panel was stacked from the start to ensure Israeli impunity, not to provide truth for the victims and survivors of the Mavi Marmara.

(Ali Abunimah / / 02.09.2011)

Turkey Expels Israeli Ambassador

Turkey, (Pal Telegraph) – Turkey said Friday that it was suspending all military agreements with Israel and would expel its ambassador from Ankara, blaming the Israeli government for the collapse of a once-strategic alliance.

The comments from Foreign Minister Ahment Davutoglu came as a United Nations panel was due to release its report on last year’s clash off the coast of Gaza, in which Israeli commandoes killed eight Turkish citizens and one American of Turkish descent while blocking an aid flotilla.

Mr. Davutoglu said Turkey was taking action due to Israel’s failure to apologize for the deaths. “Israel’s government is responsible for the point that we have reached today. Unless necessary steps are taken, it won’t be possible to return from this point,” Mr. Davutoglu said in a televised statement.

“Relations between Turkey and Israel will be downgraded to second-secretary level. All officials over the level of second secretary, primarily the ambassador, will turn back to their country at the latest on Wednesday.”

Turkey and Israel signed a number of military agreements in the 1990s that led to a close, military-led alliance. At its peak, the relationship had Israeli pilots training over Turkish airspace and Israel supplying Turkey with high-end technology such as unmanned aerial vehicles, or UAVs. A foreign-ministry official said “all” agreements would be suspended, but didn’t elaborate.

The rapprochement between two countries that hadn’t always been close came at a time when Turkey was isolated from many of its neighbors. In the 1990s, Turkey came close to war with both Greece and Syria, while its relations with Iraq and Iran were strained. Turkey’s military at the same time was engaged in a vicious conflict with ethnic Kurdish militants and needed Israeli expertise.

Since then, however, Turkey’s situation has changed dramatically, in part due to Mr. Davutoglu’s foreign policy of “zero problems with neighbors.” Its defense industry has also become significantly more sophisticated. As Turkey has opened up to the Muslim Middle East, its need for alliance with Israel has declined, analysts say.

Indeed, it wasn’t immediately clear Friday what impact the downgrading of relations Mr. Davutoglu announced would have. Turkey has been freezing joint military exercises since 2009, while there have been few high-level political contacts. Turkey withdrew its own ambassador from Israel more than a year ago.

The conclusions of the U.N. panel, headed by former New Zealand Prime Minister Sir Geoffrey Palmer and Alvaro Uribe, Colombia’s former president, have come as a disappointment to Turkish officials. An earlier report from the U.N.’s human-rights commission was considerably more supportive of the Turkish account of events.

The Palmer report supports Israel’s right to enforce a naval blockade of Gaza, even in international waters, a right that Ankara has strongly contested. The report, a copy of which was posted on the website of The New York Times, also described the Mavi Marmara’s attempt to breach the blockade as “reckless.”

The report found that at least some of the Turkish activists on board had prepared for a fight and didn’t confirm the Turkish claim that Israeli soldiers fired live ammunition against the Mavi Marmara’s passengers even before boarding the ship.

At the same time, the report found the force that Israel used in stopping the flotilla to be “excessive and unreasonable.” It also cast doubt over Israel’s exoneration of its soldiers’ conduct, saying that Israel had failed to explain the fact that several of the dead had been shot in the head from behind, while lying down wounded, or in one case with a single shot to the head while armed
only with a hose pipe.

( / 02.09.2011)