Posts Tagged ‘Palestine’

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Israeli soldiers involved in the attacks on Gaza at the start of this year claim that they were ordered to fire, regardless of the risk to civilians. Israel banned journalists from its invasion of Gaza in December and January, making it hard to verify allegations of indiscriminate firing, the use of phosphorous bombs, and forcing Palestinians to be human shields. Now an Israeli human rights group has produced a disturbing account of what it says happened in Gaza, as told by soldiers.

This Channel 4 clip is already a few days old but it’s good to get a reminder of how the anti-Semitic Nazi State of Israel operates (even though I find it hard to cope with having to listen to Mark Regev).

Noam Chomsky’s ZSpace Page / ZSpace

chomskyJune 2009 was marked by a number of significant events, including two elections in the Middle East: in Lebanon, then Iran. The events are significant, and the reactions to them, highly instructive.

The election in Lebanon was greeted with euphoria. New York Times columnist Thomas Friedman gushed that he is “a sucker for free and fair elections,” so “it warms my heart to watch” what happened in Lebanon in an election that “was indeed free and fair — not like the pretend election you are about to see in Iran, where only candidates approved by the Supreme Leader can run. No, in Lebanon it was the real deal, and the results were fascinating: President Barack Obama defeated President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad of Iran.” Crucially, “a solid majority of all Lebanese — Muslims, Christians and Druse — voted for the March 14 coalition led by Saad Hariri,” the US-backed candidate and son of the murdered ex-Prime Minister Rafik Hariri, so that “to the extent that anyone came out of this election with the moral authority to lead the next government, it was the coalition that wants Lebanon to be run by and for the Lebanese — not for Iran, not for Syria and not for fighting Israel.” We must give credit where it is due for this triumph of free elections (and of Washington): “Without George Bush standing up to the Syrians in 2005 — and forcing them to get out of Lebanon after the Hariri killing — this free election would not have happened. Mr. Bush helped create the space. Power matters. Mr. Obama helped stir the hope. Words also matter.”

Two days later Friedman’s views were echoed by Eliott Abrams, a senior fellow at the Council on Foreign relations, formerly a high official of the Reagan and Bush I administrations. Under the heading “Lebanon’s Triumph, Iran’s Travesty,” Abrams compared these “twin tests of [US] efforts to spread democracy to the Muslim world.” The lesson is clear: “What the United States should be promoting is not elections, but free elections, and the voting in Lebanon passed any realistic test….the majority of Lebanese have rejected Hezbollah’s claim that it is not a terrorist group but a `national resistance’…The Lebanese had a chance to vote against Hezbollah, and took the opportunity.”

Reactions were similar throughout the mainstream. There are, however, a few flies in the ointment.



Interview with Caoimhe Butterly, an Irish solidarity activist, conducted by Melinda Tuhus



On June 30, an unarmed boat, named “Spirit of Humanity,” carrying 21 international peace activists was seized in international waters by the Israeli Navy, as it attempted to sail from Cypress to Gaza with relief supplies and messages of solidarity for Palestinians living in Gaza. Israel says the boat had been boarded for security reasons in the area of the blockade, after it had entered into Gaza’s coastal waters. According to an International Committee of the Red Cross report released June 29, the Palestinians living in Gaza are “trapped in despair.” Thousands of Gazans whose homes were destroyed during Israel’s December/January invasion and air attacks are still without shelter despite pledges of almost $4.5 billion in international aid, because Israel refuses to allow cement and other building materials into Gaza. The report also notes that hospitals are struggling to meet the needs of their patients due to Israel’s disruption of medical supplies.

Since August 2008, the Free Gaza Movement has organized eight sea missions, successfully landing in Gaza on five separate occasions. On two earlier voyages, Israeli Occupation Forces used violence to stop the ships, physically ramming and almost sinking the boat named “Dignity,” in December 2008, and threatening to fire on and kill unarmed passengers in January.

Between The Lines’ Melinda Tuhus spoke with Caoimhe Butterly, an Irish solidarity activist who was on board one of the boats last fall that arrived successfully in Gaza. She spent most of the next several months there, and was in Gaza during part of the Israeli winter offensive and served on the support team from Cypress for this most recent voyage of the Spirit of Humanity, whose passengers included former U.S. Congresswoman Cynthia McKinney and Nobel Peace Laureate Mairead Maguire. Butterly explains exactly what happened in the June 30 seizure.

CAOIMHE BUTTERLY: Probably at 12 today it was clear that what had been sort of quite general threats made by the Israeli navy over the course of the whole morning were becoming much more serious. At about 3 o’clock, the boat was boarded by Israeli navy commandos. They took possession of the boat, looks like confiscated the phones of those on board, and proceeded to tow the boat to Ashdod, and the activists who were on the boat were split off into different groups and taken on navy vessels to Ashdod as well.

The boarding of the boat was done in international waters. The boat was blocked in international waters and the navigation system — radios, etc. — of the Spirit of Humanity had been jammed for hours, which is extremely dangerous, to jam the navigation system of a boat obviously places it in a very vulnerable position. But the activists — we got a text from them — are okay, they’re safe. They’re obviously very frustrated, but they’re okay and they’re presently being interrogated in four different police stations around Ashdod and Ashkelon, and it looks like they’ll be deported tonight or in coming days, some of them out through Allenby Bridge out across Jordan and others through Ben Gurion airport.

BETWEEN THE LINES: And what about the boat?

CAOIMHE BUTTERLY: The boat — it looks like there’s a possibility the captain and crew might be able to sail it, probably with military — I’m not sure if escort is the right word – but yes, out to Cypress. The activists will be deported, it looks like, back to their home countries. And we’re hoping we’ll manage to get the boat back quite quickly. The Lebanese boat that was attacked in January is still being impounded by the Israelis, so we’re hopeful we can get the boat back sooner rather than later, and obviously that everybody who was on board from the 11 different countries who came to participate in this siege-breaking initiative, returned safely to their families. Among those participating was quite a large delegation from Bahrain of different women from different humanitarian organizations. There were folks from the States, Britain, Ireland, Scotland, Jamaica, Palestine, etc., so it was quite a diverse group of people from diverse backgrounds, but completely united in the mission and the belief that the time for demonstrations and petitions and perhaps the more traditional ways we have to resist this occupation, they’re not over, but it’s really necessary to up the ante. And we feel that taking direct action in resisting these policies of collective punishment and the hermetic closure of the Gaza Strip — these sort of actions and activities need to spread and more people need to get involved. I know there’s a North American initiative coming up in a few days –Viva Palestina — U.S. convoy, and, again, that’s a great embodiment and symbol, I think, of the outrage and solidarity and dissent that so many people in the world feel, watching the daily oppression and brutalization of the Palestinian people.

BETWEEN THE LINES: Caoimhe Butterly, the Israeli military seized the boat in international waters, but did they give any explanation? Did they claim the boat was in their territorial waters?

CAOIMHE BUTTERLY: All three attacks that happened on a variety of boats — the Lebanese boat, the Dignity in January, and now the Spirit of Humanity — have happened in international waters. Generally, the Israelis only pretext for this is either that we were told we were entering a closed military zone. They said they had a duty and a responsibility to stop us, that we had given them false information, that we were going somewhere else and then tried to enter Gaza, etc. Regardless of the very well publicized pullout of settlers from the Gaza Strip, the Gaza Strip remains — and I think it’s a semantic question of whether it’s occupation or siege — but whatever it is, it results in the collective punishment and humiliation and degradation of a captive population, so the Israelis control not only the sea, but the air space, the borders, etc. And Gaza is completely locked down, and it’s in that context that the responsibility we have to act is pretty big. I think a lot of us feel as Westerners that we come from countries that finance this occupation. We come from countries where multinationals and our own governments profit off of the blood of the Palestinian people. In that context, it’s so important, I think, that we embody an alternative face of the West — one of compassion and solidarity and humanity. And one of action. It’s really, really time to act.

Interview with Caoimhe Butterly, an Irish solidarity activist, conducted by Melinda Tuhus

For more information, and ways to contact Israeli officials responsible for the boat seizure, visit the group’s website at


Melinda Tuhus is a producer of Between The Lines, which can be heard on more than 45 radio stations and in RealAudio and MP3 on our website at This interview excerpt was featured on the award-winning, syndicated weekly radio newsmagazine, Between The Lines for the week ending July 10, 2009. This Between The Lines Q&A was compiled by Anna Manzo and Scott Harris.

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Israeli settlement construction, including “natural growth” makes an advancement of two-state solutionimpossible, and Israel knows that – which is why they continue with the settlments’ expansion. So far they already have annexed 50% of the Westbank; their aim therefore can only be to incorporate the whole of this Palestinian land into Israel and ‘cleanse’ it of its Palestinian population. And the US does what she always does: pay lip service to the rights of the Palestinian people.

Via theREALnews network

“Make the lie big, make it simple, keep saying it and eventually you will believe it” …

The Israeli Regime has been selling nothing but lies and delusions, and after decades of repeating them, the world has stopped questioning. Intelligence, wisdom, justice and compassion have been almost muted by the deafening propaganda and brutal violence by a shameless, deluded, fascist people.

Via Never Before Campaign

A truly moving video by the ‘Never Before Campaign’: in the midst of the struggle, and the dust of battle, many people still don’t realize what this is all about … it is not only about land and rights …


There was nothing new in Netanyahu’s speech, as many commentators have pointed out. When Netanyahu talks about ‘two free people’ he means the kind of racist homeland model that South Africa had under its apartheid regime. It was just a reheating of the same old disgustingly tasting soup, disgusting to those naively hoping for peace, equality, justice and the end of human rights abuses in Palestine and Israel itself. It is the same hope people have when they hear Obama talking, but the chances that any beneficial change for the Palestinians will emerge under his administration are highly unlikely too.

Let’s be realistic: militarily, the US is already up to its neck mired in the war fields of Afghanistan and still Iraq. In addition it depends on the Arab states for oil. Both factors make it necessary to appease the Arab community, to maintain the split between pro-Western and less Western friendly countries and therefore to appear as if America is genuinely concerned about Palestine’s destiny (ie a two-state solution) – especially with Iran growing its regional influence and using the Palestinian people’s plight as a political football.

At the same time America’s political class is culturally, financially and religiously deeply linked to the Jewish elite at home and abroad; that’s why we hear those constant pledges from both sides of US politics and have heard them ever since and even before the State of Israel was established on Palestinian land. Therefore little will change, whatever might be said by whoever is whenever the Israeli prime minister or the US president.

Bennis Phyllis is a bit more hopeful when she sees the ball being in Obama’s court; read her excellent and thorough analysis on the settlements, the terms ‘Palestinian State’ and ‘State of the Jewish people’ and on the Israel/Iran/Us relationship triangle:


… and therefore support illegal land grabs, racism, oppression, murder and ethnic cleansing. And all in the name of their god and his supposed son, who in theory loved all people. If Christians actually would live up to their beliefs, they would support the Palestinians – just as Jesus is said to have taken sides with the aggrieved and persecuted. Blinded though by their own corrupted beliefs though, they sponsor the Jews who in turn are blighted with the same fanaticism, hubris and megalomania that the Nazis displayed when they persecuted the Jews. Religions are as dangerous as their surrogates.

Southern California Public Radio reports on the Christian money flows into the occupied Palestinian territories.

illegal jewish settlement

President Obama has called on Israel to stop expanding Jewish settlements in the West Bank. But U.S. evangelical Christian groups continue to raise millions of dollars for the communities, which many others see as an obstacle to peace between Israel and the Palestinians.

As President Obama calls on Israel to stop expanding Jewish settlements in the West Bank, support for the settlers remains strong among evangelical Christian groups across America. They are raising millions of dollars for the settlements, which critics view as a major obstacle to peace between Israel and the Palestinians.

On a recent afternoon in a Jewish settlement in the heart of the West Bank city of Hebron, a group of visiting American Christians peruses a display case of olive wood crosses amid the blaring music of Jewish Bible verses set to song. Several of the visitors wear pins of interlocking Israeli and American flags. It’s a sign, they say, of their commitment to the Jewish state.

Christian support — through tourism and donations — brings in millions of dollars, leading anti-occupation groups to accuse the U.S. of sending mixed signals. While successive U.S. administrations have called Jewish settlements a stumbling block to peace, the American government allows U.S. citizens to directly fund them.

David Wilder, a spokesman for the Jewish settlers in Hebron, says the support is important.

“There are many people who are not Jewish, who very much love the state of Israel, they love the land of Israel, they understand the necessity for the Jews to be here, and they express that love in different ways. One of those is financially,” he says.

Grass-Roots Support Among U.S. Christians

Much of the support comes from fundamentalist Christians, who believe in biblical prophecies that Jews will inherit the land of Israel. Ardent followers also embrace literal interpretations of the Bible that a thriving state of Israel is a prerequisite for an apocalyptic end-time and the return of Jesus to earth. Often led by the charismatic leaders of megachurches, these grass-roots groups across the U.S. raise millions of dollars each year.

An estimated 250,000 Jewish settlers are living on territory captured by Israel in 1967. They claim they have a right to be on the land, while Palestinians consider the West Bank part of a future Palestinian state.

Sondra Oster Baras is the director of Israel’s branch of the Christian Friends of Israeli Communities — a liaison office for donors wanting to give to the settlements. At her office in the Karnei Shomron settlement, she sits amid posters and pamphlets that call for Jews to settle Judea and Samaria, the biblical name for the West Bank.

She estimates that more than half of the Jewish settlements in the West Bank receive direct or indirect funding from Christian communities.

Baras says donors can choose among several programs, including one called “adopt a settler,” in which money goes toward the daily needs of the settlers: helping build new schools, health facilities and synagogues.

“Our major donors are themselves organizations or ministries or churches. They themselves have raised those monies in small amounts — $5, $20 from a line of people — and put it together, so it’s very much grass-roots,” she says.

The Palestinian Perspective

Palestinians in Hebron say that they are outraged by the support these American groups give.

Because 650 Jewish settlers live in the heart of Hebron, Israel has erected checkpoints and closed off roads to the thousands of Palestinians in the city.

Huda Abar Khud has watched Christians pass by her Hebron neighborhood as they make their way to the Jewish settlers.

“If they knew the impact and how it affects people’s lives here, innocent people’s lives here, I think they might change the way they support these settlements,” she says.

Settler: Jewish Communities Will Remain

For their part, settler organizations are now worried that the money could begin to dry up.

Wilder says he fears Obama’s strong stance against the settlement movement will affect fundraising.

“I know that there are many people that I know, friends that I have who are not Jewish, are very, very, very concerned about Obama’s policies, and we’re all in the same boat. People are very concerned about it,” he says.

Wilder says the Obama administration knows what is happening and could make it more difficult for Christians to directly fund Jewish settlements.

“Today, there are no secrets,” he says. “In the United States, the people in the administrations there know who is helping whom, and how much money is coming over, and what kind of support is being given here and there and everywhere else. The question is, what is the counter to that?”

But no one in the settlements has begun pinching pennies yet. And no matter what happens, Wilder says, the settlements will remain — and he hopes so will Christian support of them.

“Administrations come and administrations go, and the evangelists stay. There have been presidents that have come and gone, and prime ministers that have come and gone, and Hebron is still here. And Hebron is going to stay here,” Wilder says.

Image: The Age

Smile On The Face Of The Tiger

Jun 11, 2009 By John Pilger
John Pilger’s ZSpace PageZSpace

At 7.30 in the morning on 3 June, a seven-month-old baby died in the intensive care unit of the European Gaza Hospital in the Gaza Strip. His name was Zein Ad-Din Mohammed Zu’rob, and he was suffering from a lung infection which was treatable.

Denied basic equipment, the doctors in Gaza could do nothing. For weeks, the child’s parents had sought a permit from the Israelis to allow them to take him to a hospital in Jerusalem, where he would have been saved. Like many desperately sick people who apply for these permits, the parents were told they had never applied. Even if they had arrived at the Erez Crossing with an Israeli document in their hands, the odds are that they would have been turned back for refusing the demands of officials to spy or collaborate in some way. “Is it an irresponsible overstatement,” asked Richard Falk, the United Nations special rapporteur for human rights in the occupied Palestinian territories and emeritus professor of international law at Princeton University, who is Jewish, “to associate the treatment of Palestinians with [the] criminalised Nazi record of collective atrocity? I think not.”

Falk was describing Israel’s massacre in December and January of hundreds of helpless civilians in Gaza, many of them children. Reporters called this a “war”. Since then, normality has returned to Gaza. Most children are malnourished and sick, and almost all exhibit the symptoms of psychiatric disturbance, such as horrific nightmares, depression and incontinence. There is a long list of items that Israel bans from Gaza. This includes equipment to clean up the toxic detritus of Israel’s US munitions, which is the suspected cause of rising cancer rates. Toys and playground equipment, such as slides and swings, are also banned. I saw the ruins of a fun fair, riddled with bullet holes, which Israeli “settlers” had used as a sniping target.

The day after Baby Zu’rob died in Gaza, President Barack Obama made his “historic” speech in Cairo, “reaching out to the Muslim world”, reported the BBC. “Just as it devastates Palestinian families, the continuing humanitarian crisis in Gaza,” said Obama, “does not serve Israel’s security.” That was all. The killing of 1,300 people in what is now a concentration camp merited 17 words, cast as concern for the “security” of the killers. This was understandable. During the January massacre, Seymour Hersh reported that “the Obama team let it be known that it would not object to the planned resupply of ‘smart bombs’ and other hi-tech ordnance that was already flowing to Israel” for use in Gaza.

Obama’s one criticism of Israel was that “the United States does not accept the legitimacy of continued Israeli settlements . . . It is time for these settlements to stop.” These fortresses on Palestinian land, manned by religious fanatics from America and elsewhere, have been outlawed by the UN Security Council and the International Court of Justice. Pointedly, Obama made no mention of the settlements that already honeycomb the occupied territories and make an independent Palestinian state impossible, which is their purpose.

Obama demanded that the “cycle of suspicion and discord must end”. Every year, for more than a generation, the UN has called on Israel to end its illegal and violent occupation of post-1967 Palestine and has voted for “the right of the Palestinian people to self-determination”. Every year, those voting against these resolutions have been the governments of Israel and the United States and one or two of America’s Pacific dependencies; last year Robert Mugabe’s Zimbabwe joined them.

Such is the true “cycle” in the Middle East, which is rarely reported as the relentless rejection of the rule of law by Israel and the United States: a law in whose name the wrath of Washington came down on Saddam Hussein when he invaded Kuwait, a law which, if upheld and honoured, would bring peace and security to both Palestine and Israel.

Instead, Obama spoke in Cairo as if his and previous White House administrations were neutral, almost divine brokers of peace, instead of rapacious backers and suppliers of the invader (along with Britain). This Orwellian illogic remains the standard for what western journalists call the “Israel-Palestine conflict”, which is almost never reported in terms of the law, of right and wrong, of justice and injustice – Darfur, yes, Zimbabwe, yes, but never Palestine. Orwell’s ghost again stirred when Obama denounced “violent extremists in Afghanistan and now Pakistan [who are] determined to kill as many Americans as they possibly can”. America’s invasion and slaughter in these countries went unmentioned. It, too, is divine.

Naturally, unlike George W Bush, Obama did not say that “you’re either with us or against us”. He smiled the smile and uttered “many eloquent mood-music paragraphs and a smattering of quotations from the Holy Quran”, noted the American international lawyer John Whitbeck. Beyond this, Obama offered no change, no plan, only a “tired, morally bankrupt American mantra [which] essentially argues that only the rich, the strong, the oppressors and the enforcers of injustice (notably the Americans and Israelis) have the right to use violence, while the poor, the weak, the oppressed and the victims of oppression must . . . submit to their fate and accept whatever crumbs their betters may magnanimously deign suitable to let fall from their table”. And he offered not the slightest recognition that the world’s most numerous victims of terrorism are people of Muslim faith – a terrorism of western origin that dares not speak its name.

In his “reaching out” in Cairo, as in his “anti-nuclear” speech in Berlin, as in the “hope” he spun at his inauguration, this clever young politician is playing the part for which he was drafted and promoted. This is to present a benign, seductive, even celebrity face to American power, which can then proceed towards its strategic goal of dominance, regardless of the wishes of the rest of humanity and the rights and lives of our children.

Quite a shocking video. It demonstrates the insanity sometimes embedded in religious books and the deadly effects it can have when believers deal with so-called non-believers. And while at first sight it seems hard to believe that there actually are Jews who would follow such inhumane and barbaric teachings, the small scene of  of orthodox settlers confronting non-believers clearly demonstrates that the Talmud still creates reality.

And let’s not forget: Israel as a state has its origins in the Zionist movement which, like today, was violent, racist and embarked on ethnic cleansing. Like today it stole the land of Palestinians, like today it committed massacres, and like today it justified its actions with the belief in retaking the land that was promised to Jews by their god. The video is on the right track.