Palestine

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Re: Palestine

Postby seemslikeadream » Mon Sep 05, 2016 10:31 am

AUGUST 29, 2016 11:01PM EDT
Palestine: Crackdown on Journalists, Activists
Chilling Effect on Free Expression
(Ramallah) – The Palestinian authorities in the West Bank and Gaza are arresting, abusing, and criminally charging journalists and activists who express peaceful criticism of the authorities. The crackdown directly violates obligations that Palestine recently assumed in ratifying international treaties protecting free speech.

“Both Palestinian governments, operating independently, have apparently arrived at similar methods of harassment, intimidation and physical abuse of anyone who dares criticize them,” said Sari Bashi, Israel and Palestine country director at Human Rights Watch. “The Palestinian people fought hard to gain the protections that accompany membership in the international community, and their leaders should take their treaty obligations seriously.”


The Palestinian authorities in the West Bank and Gaza are arresting, abusing, and criminally charging journalists and activists who express peaceful criticism of the authorities.
Human Rights Watch documented five cases – two in the West Bank and three in Gaza – in which security forces arrested or questioned journalists, a political activist, and two rap musicians based on their peaceful criticism of the authorities. Four of those arrested, two in Gaza and two in the West Bank, say that security forces physically abused or tortured them. The authorities in Gaza denied the allegations, and in the West Bank the authorities said they could not investigate the allegations in the absence of a formal complaint. These crackdowns follow a pattern of violations of the right to free speech and due process that Human Rights Watch has documented in the past five years, most recently in May 2015. In the West Bank, some progress has been made in protecting the rights of those arrested.

In Gaza, Hamas authorities detained and intimidated an activist who criticized the government for failing to protect a man with a mental disability; a journalist who posted a photograph of a woman looking for food in a garbage bin; and a journalist who alleged medical malpractice at a public hospital after a newborn baby died. In the West Bank, the Palestinian Authority (PA) arrested and charged activists and musicians who ridiculed Palestinian security forces for cooperating with Israel and accused the government of corruption. The offending statements were allegedly made in Facebook postings, graffiti, and rap songs.

In the abuse cases, activists and journalists said that security officers beat or kicked them, deprived them of sleep and proper food, hosed them with cold and then hot water, and made them maintain uncomfortable positions for long hours. In Gaza, two detainees said security officials made them sign commitments not to criticize the authorities without proper evidence. In the West Bank, both men arrested faced criminal charges, including defamation and insulting a public official.

These crackdowns on free speech and the use of torture violate the legal commitments that the PA assumed in 2014, when it ratified the International Convention on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR) and the Convention Against Torture. They also violate provisions of the Palestinian Basic Law protecting speech. At a time when many Palestinians are critical of their leaders, the crackdowns have a chilling effect on public debate in the traditional news media, and on social media. These leaders have remained in power for a decade with no elections planned following a split that left Hamas controlling Gaza and the Fatah-dominated PA controlling the West Bank.

In 2011, Human Rights Watch issued a report on violations of media freedoms by the PA and Hamas. The report cited the work of Palestinian watchdog groups like the statutorily created Independent Commission for Human Rights (ICHR) and the Palestinian Center for Development and Media Freedoms (MADA) and criticized the PA for using military proceedings to detain civilian journalists or detaining civilians with no judicial process, in violation of Palestinian law.

MENA Palestine Free Speech 1
EXPAND Graffiti of the word Intifada, or “uprising,” on a wall in Ramallah, May 16, 2016.
© 2016 Human Rights Watch
Since then, the PA has stopped trying civilians in military courts, an important step toward protecting their rights. However, the ICHR told Human Rights Watch that the PA stepped up its use of the civilian public prosecution to bring formal changes against journalists for so-called crimes such as libel or “insulting a higher authority,” a relic from the pre-1967 penal code enforced in Gaza and the West Bank by Egypt and Jordan respectively.

Lawyers and those arrested say that in the West Bank, authorities use court proceedings as harassment. Prosecution witnesses routinely fail to appear, and judges grant multiple adjournments, requiring the accused to return to court repeatedly, at the expense of their work and studies. While the increasing use of the judicial process to address alleged criminal violations is an important sign of progress, the PA’s reliance on archaic laws punishing speech is a source of concern, Human Rights Watch said.

The media freedom group MADA documented 192 incidents in 2015 in which Palestinian authorities infringed on journalists’ right to free expression through summoning and interrogation, arrests, physical assault, detention, and, in Gaza, forbidding journalists from reporting on certain issues or stories. That was a 68 percent increase over 2014. The pattern of abuse that MADA reported, including beatings, torture, warnings to stop criticizing the government, and seizing passwords to search social media accounts, is consistent with the cases Human Rights Watch documented.

Since 2007, Palestinian journalists have often reflected the split between Fatah and Hamas. MADA said: “The internal Palestinian division continues to be one of the key reasons behind the Palestinian violations against media freedoms … especially when it comes to the freedom of media outlets affiliated to a certain party.”

The Independent Commission for Human Rights reported that 24 people in the West Bank and 21 in Gaza were arrested in 2015 for criticizing Palestinian authorities, including on Facebook, or covering topics deemed forbidden.

Palestinian journalists also face abuse and harassment from Israeli soldiers, who have beaten them at demonstrations, closed media offices, and arrested journalists for posing unspecified security risks. During escalations of violence, Israel has assassinated journalists affiliated with armed groups in Gaza, alleging that their affiliation makes them a legitimate target.

Representatives of the Hamas government in Gaza denied the allegations of physical abuse and told Human Rights Watch that security forces do not arrest people based on their opinions, but rather only if they break laws against defamation or incitement to violence.

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EXPAND Graffiti that the rappers were accused of spraying on a wall in Ramallah: “The Intifada [uprising] continues,” May 31, 2016.
© 2016 Human Rights Watch
Palestinian Authority officials in the West Bank said that they were working to comply with Palestine’s new international commitments, but that the transition was not complete. They did not address allegations of misuse of prosecutorial discretion and abuse by security forces in the cases that Human Rights Watch documented.

The international rights standards Palestine adopted bar criminal defamation. The UN Human Rights Committee, which interprets the ICCPR, has stated that freedom of expression standards require that public officials should be subject to greater criticism than others.

The Palestinian penal code should be revised to eliminate criminal defamation, and any provisions that criminalize insulting public officials, Human Rights Watch said. Pending those revisions, security officers and prosecutors should refrain from enforcing criminal defamation laws and stop arresting people based on their speech and writing. Authorities in Gaza and the West Bank should take measures to prevent abuse by security forces and should investigate and prosecute those responsible.

“In the absence of elections, Palestinians are stuck with the same leaders who took power a decade ago,” Bashi said. “At the very least, those leaders should listen to criticism, not punish it.”

Methodology:

Human Rights Watch interviewed five journalists, activists, and musicians, three in Gaza and two in the West Bank, who said security officers arrested and interrogated them about their criticisms of the authorities. Human Rights Watch spoke to the lawyers representing the two individuals in the West Bank in criminal cases brought against them and reviewed court documents. In Gaza, Human Rights Watch reviewed police summons and posts that those arrested had published on social media. Human Rights Watch also interviewed the head of the ICHR and reviewed its reports and those of MADA. Human Rights Watch conducted telephone interviews with representatives of the authorities in Gaza and in-person meetings with the authorities in the West Bank. Human Rights Watch also re-interviewed two students whose arrest it documented in May 2015, spoke to their lawyers and reviewed court documents in their cases.

Gaza

Ayman al-Aloul

Ayman al-Aloul worked as a journalist for Iraqi and Gulf-based television stations and is also a civil servant, receiving a salary from the Fatah-controlled Palestinian Authority (PA), the Hamas rival. Al-Aloul said that on the evening of January 3, 2016, men who identified themselves as security officials arrested him at his home in Gaza City, confiscated his cell phone and two laptop computers, and took him to Gaza’s Ansar prison. Interrogators ordered him to reveal the passwords for his social media accounts and cell phone, which they searched.

Referring to his postings, they accused him of distorting Hamas’s image, he said. They also asked him about a photograph he posted on Facebook showing a woman looking through a garbage bin for food and a post critical of Hamas for failing to stop a man from walking into Egypt for medical treatment after he failed to receive permission to leave Gaza, whose borders are mostly closed. Egyptian soldiers shot and killed him. Al-Aloul also said the interrogators asked him about an interview he gave to al-Aqsa Television, affiliated with Hamas, in which he responded to allegations that the PA is paying him to criticize Hamas. In response, he had said sarcastically, “If any one of you (Hamas) pays me, I promise to shut my mouth. How could I shut up without anyone paying me a shekel?!” Referring to that comment, his interrogators accused him of extortion.

He said that interrogators blindfolded him and made him sit for hours in a child’s chair, in a cold room, without proper clothing or food, then repeatedly slapped him on the back of his neck and accused him of being a foreign agent. On the second day of his interrogation, they transferred him to the military prosecution, where security officers told him he could ask for a lawyer but that it was not necessary. Al-Aloul said he agreed not to request a lawyer. They held him for eight days, allowing visits on the last day from the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) and local Palestinian human rights organizations.

Security officers released him on January 11, after making him sign a commitment not to deviate from custom, tradition, and Islamic law, to be respectful, and to conform to behavioral norms. They did not give al-Aloul a copy.

Security officials apparently continued to monitor his writings and speech, he said, and sent him warnings to stop working as a journalist. Al-Aloul said that a colleague at an office from which he had worked told him that someone who identified himself as representing the internal security service called him and told him not to allow al-Aloul to continue working out of his office space. Another friend of al-Aloul, Nihad Nashwan, who has professional dealings with Gaza’s Internal Security service, told Human Rights Watch that, at a meeting unrelated to al-Aloul’s case, after al-Aloul’s release, Abu Khaled Oda, the head of internal security, told him to tell al-Aloul to stop working as a journalist.

Al-Aloul said that since his detention, he has moderated his criticism of Hamas but continues to comment on Facebook. He said he received warnings from people he did not know, in response to Facebook postings critical of Hamas, and that he assumed those warnings, some of which referred to his detention, came from the security forces. After posting a comment on February 25, referring to an internal dispute between Hamas’s military and political branches, he received a comment that he “seems to be itching for another injury.” On April 18, after a post in which he criticized the government for compensating the families of those killed by Israel but not supporting ordinary people in need, he received a comment on Facebook, also from someone he does not know, saying, “Mr. Ayman! Won’t you stop talking about such issues? Did you forget your commitment before being released from Ansar Prison?”

Ramzi Herzallah

Ramzi Herzallah is a 28-year-old employee of a currency exchange business who belonged to Hamas’s armed wing until 2011, when he ended his Hamas affiliation. On January 1, 2016, officials at the public prosecutor’s office summoned him and told him that the Interior Ministry had filed a complaint, alleging that he had slandered ministry officials over Facebook. The offending post was a video in which Herzallah criticized Hamas authorities for the case that al-Aloul had discussed, in which security officers failed to prevent a man from crossing the Gaza-Egypt border without permission. After a few hours, officials released Herzallah.

Two days later, at about 6 p.m., five uniformed men arrived at his house in Gaza City and identified themselves as members of the internal security apparatus, he said. They produced search and arrest warrants and searched his house. They confiscated two of his computers and a cellphone, blindfolded him, and took him to Ansar Prison, refusing to give the reason for his arrest. Men he could not identify then repeatedly slapped his face, until security officers removed his blindfold and took him to a room to await interrogation.

At 4 a.m., masked interrogators arrived and accused him of collaborating with the rival Fatah faction and Egyptian intelligence. The interrogators demanded his social media passwords, then told him they were deactivating his Facebook account to prevent discussion of his arrest there. They ordered him to unlock his cell phone.

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EXPAND Mutaz Abu Lihi at a recording studio in Ramallah, May 31, 2016.
© 2016 Human Rights Watch
Herzallah said that they also made him sit in a child’s chair, where he spent three days with only brief bathroom breaks. They gave him food, but if he fell asleep, interrogators would slap him awake. Interrogators accused him of a pro-Fatah bias, opened his laptop, asked him about the source of some of his Facebook posts, and slapped him and pushed his head against a wall when he argued with them over his writing.

Herzallah said they permitted him to request a lawyer but he declined, saying that he was defending the population of Gaza by writing critically about issues and that he could defend himself, too. He said that initially authorities refused to allow human rights organizations to visit him, but on the seventh day, he received visits from the ICRC and the ICHR. They permitted his family to visit him the following day.

They released him on January 11, telling him that while he could express criticism, he could not insult the government, and had to report back to internal security in two weeks.

For the next week, he said, he refrained from making public statements or postings of a political nature. He reported back to internal security about two weeks after his release, together with Ayman al-Aloul with whom he is friendly, and at the meeting security officials warned him that they are monitoring his Facebook account.

Herzallah said he was told to sign two documents during his detention: a confirmation that officials were charging him with “harming revolutionary unity” and a commitment, upon his release, not to insult government officials. He did not receive copies of either document, and has not been approached by security forces since.

Mousheera al-Haj

Mousheera al-Haj is a Palestinian journalist who until recently edited the news website Bawabet Alhadaf, which is affiliated with the Palestinian faction the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine. On April 14, 2014, she posted on her Facebook page a response to an incident in which a newborn baby died at a public hospital in Gaza. In the post, she blamed the doctors for the baby’s death, writing, “of what guilt was she killed, you son of dogs!” Nearly a year later, on March 28, 2015, she wrote an article on the website criticizing the Health Ministry for setting a qualifying exam for dentistry graduates that most failed.

Two weeks later, on April 9, her husband was summoned to the Sheikh Redwan police station. The summons, which Human Rights Watch viewed, did not specify the reason. She said that when her husband arrived at the police station, officials there told him that the prosecutor wanted to question her about the post she had written on Facebook in 2014. She went to the police station that same day and was questioned for about an hour about the Facebook post.

Ten days later, security officials called her husband again and told him that she should report to the police station. The interrogator told her to apologize to the Health Ministry and that she was being questioned on the charge of “insult and defamation.” Al-Haj said she refused to apologize.

On August 5, interrogators called her husband and told him she must again report to the police station. Al-Haj said interrogators questioned her briefly and then asked her to publicly apologize for the post. When she refused, security officers took her to Ansar Prison, where they conducted a body-search and detained her for about four hours. She said they allowed her to receive visitors from local human rights organizations and the ICHR.

Al-Haj said she eventually told interrogators she would apologize “in my way”, and they released her in the afternoon. That same day she wrote on Facebook to thank those who supported her during her detention and to say that her shock, as a mother, at the baby’s death, led her to write harshly about the hospital incident.

West Bank

Mutaz Abu Lihi

Mutaz Abu Lihi is a 21-year-old media student at Al Quds University in the West Bank and a former member of the rap group Min al-Alef Lal Ya (“From A to Z”). On the morning of November 21, 2014, he said, Palestinian security officials took him from his home to intelligence agency headquarters. They asked him questions about his political affiliation and personal habits and accused him of writing graffiti against Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas. Abu Lihi said that an interrogator tied his hands, made him sit under a desk and threatened him with a gun. Security officials hit him with a wooden stick and a plastic pipe. An interrogator who identified himself as Husam Abu Saif, offered to release Abu Lihi if he would agree to collect intelligence information, but he refused, he said, and was released later that day.

He said that after his release he received multiple phone calls from Abu Saif, and that intelligence officials came to his house. He went into hiding for four days and then surrendered at intelligence headquarters on November 25. Security officers held him there for two days, during which they beat and kicked him in his groin area, despite a pre-existing medical condition there, punched him, and cursed him. They asked him why he writes against the Palestinian president and told him that if he confessed to spray-painting the word, intifada (uprising), they would release him. He signed a confession and was allowed to leave.

Security forces arrested Abu Lihi a third time on January 12, 2015, and held him for 24 days, taking him, on January 19, before a judge, who approved extending his detention. Abu Lihi said that security officers accused him of writing graffiti, including slogans such as “Abbas Leave,” “Down with Oslo,” a reference to the interim peace accords that created the PA, “Gaza is closer than Paris,” a reference to the separation between the two parts of the Palestinian territory, and pro-Hamas slogans. Abu Lihi said his interrogators told him they would not release him unless he confessed or implicated his friends.

He said that four or five officers made him remove his clothing, then opened the windows to the winter air, and beat him with their hands and a fire extinguisher pipe. They broke his teeth, doused him with cold water and then hot water, and beat him in his groin. They did not give him adequate food and beat him again on February 5, the day they released him.

An additional member of the rap group, Izza al-Deen Abu Rahmeh, whom security forces also arrested on January 12 and held with Abu Lihi for four or five days, corroborated the physical abuse in a separate interview: “On one of the days, they made us take off all of our clothing except boxers [underwear], and they beat us and threw cold water on us. It was freezing cold; it was the end of January. Mutaz got hit in the face and body, and his teeth were broken.”

Abu Lihi’s teeth were visibly broken in an interview in April 2016, and he said he could not afford to have them fixed.

According to court documents reviewed by Human Rights Watch, the Palestinian prosecution charged Abu Lihi and his fellow rappers with creating strife, under Article 150 of the penal code, and criticizing a higher authority, under Article 195. The prosecution said that Abu Lihi and others sprayed outdoor graffiti whose content was “defamatory sentences that include insults … directed personally against the president of the State of Palestine and against the authorities.” Since his release, Abu Lihi said, he has attended multiple court hearings related to the charges, with the next one scheduled for September.

“I have been going to one court hearing after another, but the witnesses never come,” Abu Lihi said. “Every time they hold a court hearing, I have to miss classes and work.” He said that he had missed final exams due to his 2015 detention and had to repeat the semester. He has stopped making music.

“I don’t want to get in trouble like the rest of my friends who sang about freedom,” Abu Lihi said.

Majd Khawaja

Majd Khawaja, 22, had been a member of the rap group Min al-Alef Lal Ya together with Abu Lihi. On November 19, 2014, security forces arrested and held him for three days, he said. They interrogated him at intelligence headquarters and accused him of painting the word, intifada (uprising) on a wall. He said that one of his interrogators kicked him in his left leg, the site of a bullet wound injury from 2013, causing nerve damage and difficulty moving his leg. He was limping at his interview. Human Rights Watch reviewed a medical report that referred to the pre-existing injury. Khawaja said security officials informed his parents of his arrest but did not allow him to see a lawyer.

Khawaja said that following his arrest, an intelligence officer ordered him to return to intelligence headquarters. After hiding out for a few days, he surrendered on January 18, 2015. Interrogators accused him of having weapons and planning to smuggle people into Jordan. Interrogators also asked him about a song about corruption he had recorded, which was written by his friend Wasim. The words include: “Dear President, I wish you could understand these words. A third intifada while you are sleeping and dreaming.” The interrogators told him that singing against the PA is considered to be a criminal offense.

Security officers took him to court to extend his detention, he said. At the court hearing the prosecution produced signed confessions that Khawaja said were forged. They also charged him with insulting a higher authority and creating internal strife, related to alleged graffiti criticizing President Abbas. He was released on February 1, 2015, and is being tried together with Abu Lihi.

MENA Palestine Free Speech 4
EXPAND Mutaz Abu Lihi in the recording studio in Ramallah, May 31, 2016.
© 2016 Human Rights Watch
Khawaja said he lost his job as a security guard after missing work during his detention and that he has trouble standing because of the leg injury. Since his release, he has received calls from unidentified people warning him to stop releasing songs. He said that someone hacked the group’s YouTube account and deleted its songs. The other members of the group no longer rap out of fear, but he continues to sing and record in his own name.

“We had a song, fasad, (corruption), in 2013, before we got arrested,” Khawaja said. “It was on my personal page. It was deleted while I was in prison. We don’t know who deleted it on YouTube. It did not have bad words or target specific people. It was about corruption by the PA in general.”

Khawaja said he and others are now self-censoring, trying to communicate using hints or code words to avoid further arrests:

“I still rap politics, but I am more conscious about the choice of words, and I sometimes publish things under different names,” he said.

Prosecution as a Form of Harassment in the West Bank

Lawyers, activists, and watchdog groups have expressed concern that the PA is harassing its critics and intimidating them into self-censorship by charging them with crimes based on their peaceful speech and then dragging them through protracted judicial proceedings that require them to hire lawyers, lose wages from lost work, and miss classes and exams.

In 2015, Human Rights Watch documented the arrest and alleged abuse of two students, Ayman Mahariq, a journalism student at Al Quds University in Abu Dis, and Bara al-Qadi, a media student at Birzeit University near Ramallah. According to court documents that Human Rights Watch reviewed, prosecutors charged both men with slandering a public official under Section 191 of the penal code, which carries a maximum of two years in prison. A magistrate court acquitted Mahariq on September 2, 2015, but the prosecution appealed, and the appellate court convicted him and sentenced him to three months in prison. His lawyer, Anas Barghouti, said that the trial was unfair, because security officials called as witnesses did not show up. Al-Qadi, who was charged in September 2014, is still on trial. His lawyer, Muhanad Karaja, said that prosecution witnesses have repeatedly failed to show up, causing at least seven postponements.

“The goal behind this is to punish people,” Karaja said. His client, Al-Qadi “might lose his university placement, going back and forth to court … It proves that the security forces are above the law.” He criticized the court for granting repeated continuances when security officials failed to appear.

A case against the director of Bethlehem Radio 2000, George Kanawati, finally ended in acquittal in 2015. MADA reported that Kanawati’s trial for slander, after he criticized the Health Ministry in Bethlehem, lasted four years and included 27 court hearings, which Kanawati was required to attend.

Response from Palestinian Authorities

Human Rights Watch interviewed by telephone a Hamas spokesman, Ghazi Hamad, and Brigadier-General Mohammad Lafi, an inspector at the Interior Ministry in Gaza. Hamad offered to meet with Human Rights Watch in person to discuss the case, but for several years Israel has refused to allow Human Rights Watch staff to enter Gaza, and Egypt keeps its border with Gaza mostly closed and has refused Human Rights Watch’s request to cross it.

Hamad denied that security officials torture detainees or made anyone sign commitments to refrain from publishing insults or other criticism of government or military officials. He said that they allow the ICRC, the ICHR, and local human rights groups to visit prisons and monitor treatment, and that in light of complaints from such groups, the authorities have imposed stricter regulations on the security forces. He said that the authorities in Gaza do not arrest people based on political activity:

“We arrest people for criminal offenses,” Hamad said. “People have the freedom to believe and support whoever they want. We make the arrests if they try to use force against society.”

Lafi, of the Interior Ministry, said that authorities respect the right to freedom of speech, and that they follow the rule of law in cases in which people insult others or “libelously attack people in order to instigate public strife.” He said that the political split between Fatah and Hamas and the movement restrictions imposed by Israel “create a unique situation where public disorder and political disagreements and strife can have a detrimental impact on the people.”

He also said that security officials are trained in international humanitarian law by the ICRC, and are trained in human rights, and that all security units are inspected by the Interior Ministry.

“We have very strict regulations,” he said. “We refuse any form of verbal or physical violence. As an inspector, I regularly make unannounced visits; we receive complaints and investigate them; and we have human rights organizations visiting the detention centers.”

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EXPAND Graffiti the rappers are accused of spraying in Ramallah: “Gaza land of dignity,” May 31, 2016.
© 2016 Human Rights Watch
Lafi said that the ministry receives about two complaints per month about breaches of regulations, usually by the narcotics department, and where serious violations are found, security officers responsible are arrested. He confirmed that when security officers arrest people for speech-related charges, the officers ask the detainees to sign a commitment that they will provide evidence to support their claims and that “they will not defame or insult people without evidence.” He said he would provide Human Rights Watch with a copy of the document but did not provide it.

Hamad and Lafi also addressed the arrests of al-Aloul, Herzallah and al-Haj.

Regarding al-Aloul’s arrest, Hamad said that he writes statements that are disrespectful and untrue, and that security officers had warned him in the past: “He makes unfounded allegations and does not have any proof for the information he posts as facts.” Hamad said that Gaza’s prosecution could have charged him with defamation, but because the authorities are “sensitive to the arrest of journalists,” they detained him only briefly, and “it was solved in a friendly, socially acceptable manner.

Lafi said that security forces held al-Aloul for only three days and denied that they insulted or beat him. He said that al-Aloul is not a “true” journalist but rather a former member of the security forces who refused to continue to work after Hamas took over internal control of Gaza in 2007.

Regarding Herzallah, Lafi said that security forces arrested him under a military prosecution decision to charge him with insulting the government and public employees under Article 144 of the penal code. He said that security forces did not insult or beat him, and that they have strict orders not to insult or beat anyone. Lafi said that after representatives from some of the political parties in Gaza intervened and after Herzallah signed a pledge “not to defame or spread lies during his work and to provide evidence for his claims,” the Interior Ministry agreed to release him

Regarding al-Haj’s questioning, Hamad said that she wrote false statements and could have been arrested and charged with defamation, but that officials instead released her.

Human Rights Watch also met with PA officials in the West Bank, including the Palestinian attorney general, the chief military prosecutor, and the foreign minister. Human Rights Watch provided information about the two rappers arrested in advance of the meetings and again afterward, but none of the officials responded to requests for specific information about the arrests.

Speaking generally, all three officials noted the progress the PA has made, no longer trying civilians in military courts, since 2011, including for speech-related crimes.

Attorney General Ahmed Barrak said that he tries to minimize prosecutions for insulting a higher authority or public official, and that his office closes hundreds of complaints without filling charges. Some of those complaints, Barrak said, come from security officials who accuse others of defaming or insulting them. He said he uses his discretion to prosecute only the most “serious” cases but would not say what his criteria are.

He acknowledged the significance of Palestine’s ratification of the ICCPR but said that as attorney general he remains subject to and is required to enforce existing domestic law and its criminalization of certain kinds of speech, until those legal provisions are repealed. When asked why he does not use his discretion to avoid prosecuting people for insulting officials, he said, “I am forced to apply those laws until they are changed.” He added that limitations on free speech are necessary in any country, “otherwise there will be anarchy.”

Major General Ismail Faraj, the chief military prosecutor, said that his office has been working to modernize the Palestinian security forces and that any violations of the law are the acts of individuals rather than part of a policy. “We are not perfect,” he said, but “any member of the security force who does not obey the law is prosecuted.” Faraj said that his office encourages members of the public to submit complaints in cases of abuse and takes measures to reassure them that they will not be subject to retaliation. When asked, however, about cases like that of the rappers, who said they will not issue a complaint out of fear, he said that in the absence of a complaint his office cannot investigate. He agreed to look into the allegations against security forces presented to him by Human Rights Watch informally, but he did not subsequently provide additional information.

In response to a question about whether security forces monitor social media, the spokesman for the security forces, Major General Adnan Damiri, said they do, to monitor “terrorist” activity.

Foreign Minister Riyad al-Malaki said that Palestine was in a state of transition, after ratifying nearly all the major international human rights treaties within the last two years. He said that the government was working to bring practices into conformity with Palestine’s international commitments: “I am not proud to hear about these rappers and the way they were treated,” he said.

Palestinian and International Law

The Palestinian Basic Law of 2005 protects the right to freedom of expression. The ICCPR, which Palestine ratified in 2014, holds that “everyone shall have the right to freedom of expression ... to seek, receive and impart information and ideas of all kinds.”

In 2011, the United Nations Human Rights Committee issued guidance to state parties on their free speech obligations under article 19 that emphasized the high value the treaty places upon uninhibited expression “in circumstances of public debate concerning public figures in the political domain and public institutions.” It said, “State parties should not prohibit criticism of institutions, such as the army or the administration.” It also warned, “The mere fact that forms of expression are considered to be insulting to a public figure is not sufficient to justify the imposition of penalties.” Defamation should in principle be treated as a civil, not a criminal, issue and never punished with a prison term, the Human Rights Committee said.

As the repeal of criminal defamation laws in an increasing number of countries shows, Human Rights Watch said, such laws are not necessary to protect reputations, and civil remedies, which already exist in Palestinian law, should be adequate.

Yet the Palestinian penal code includes a provision, dating back to when the Ottoman Empire ruled Palestine, that criminalizes insulting a “higher authority” or government. The Palestinian Press and Publications Law (1995) prohibits publishing material that contradicts the principles of freedom, national responsibility, human rights, respect of truth, or national unity. In December 2015, President Abbas passed, by presidential decree, the Higher Media Council Law, to increase executive control over journalists. Publication of the law, which would bring it into force, was suspended in light of strong opposition.

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EXPAND Facebook posting of a woman looking through a garbage bin in Gaza City, June 2015, posted by Ayman al-Aloul.
© 2015 Ayman al-Aloul
These prohibitions are so vague that they could chill freedom of the press, allow for arbitrary interpretations that violate rights, and violate accused people’s right to defend themselves, as it is impossible to know what types of information, if published, would constitute a crime, Human Rights Watch said.

Human Rights Watch said that to further the goal of bringing their practices into conformity with its international law obligations, the Palestinian penal code should be revised to remove provisions that criminalize defamation, including article 144 on insulting a public official; article 189 on libel in print; article 191 on slandering a public official; and article 195 on insulting a higher authority. Palestine should also rescind Article 150 of its penal code, a vaguely worded provision criminalizing creating “sectarian strife,” which can be easily used to punish dissent.

The Palestinian legislature has not had a quorum since 2007, when the Hamas and Fatah factions broke with each other. Until the penal code can be revised, prosecutors and security officials should refrain from enforcing these laws, which are inconsistent with Palestinian basic laws protecting free speech and the international conventions that Palestine ratified in 2014. Security officials should stop arresting, detaining and charging people for their writing; as long as it does not cross the line to incitement to violence. Judges should interpret the law in light of the international standards for protecting speech that Palestine has adopted.

While government officials and those involved in public affairs are entitled to protection of their reputation, including protection against defamation, as individuals who have sought to play a role in public affairs they should tolerate a greater degree of scrutiny and criticism than ordinary citizens. This distinction serves the public interest by making it harder for those in positions of power to use the law to deter or penalize those who seek to expose official wrongdoing, and it facilitates public debate about issues of governance and common concern. Public officials should avoid suing for defamation, but rather should respond to criticism they feel is unfair through the many avenues of public discussion open to them.

In addition, West Bank security officials should refrain from interrogating people at the headquarters of the intelligence services and instead conduct any necessary questioning at interrogation facilities equipped with cameras. In Gaza, to deter abuse, authorities should install cameras at facilities where interrogations take place. Authorities in both places should investigate persistent allegations of abuse by security officials, regardless of whether complaints are filed, and punish those responsible.
https://www.hrw.org/news/2016/08/29/pal ... -activists
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Re: Palestine

Postby seemslikeadream » Sat Nov 05, 2016 10:35 am

Britain, Balfour, and 100 years of cultural repression of Palestinians (Part I)
By contributors | Nov. 5, 2016 |

By Aimee Shalan | Al-Shabaka | (Ma’an News Agency) | – –
If Palestinian poet Dareen Tatour passes over the perimeter of her home’s driveway in her village of Reineh in the Galilee, an alarm will sound at the British multinational security firm G4S and the Israeli authorities will be alerted. Israeli police arrested Tatour in the early hours of Oct. 11, 2015 for her poem, “Qawem ya sha‘abi qawemhum” (Resist My People, Resist Them), which was posted to her YouTube account earlier that month. On Nov. 2, Israel charged her with incitement to violence and support for a terrorist organization.
In January, after three months in prison, Tatour was placed under house arrest near Tel Aviv, far from her village. After a lengthy struggle, the prosecution conceded in July that she could be held in her family’s home. While Tatour’s trial proceeds, she will remain under house arrest and will continue to be monitored by G4S as a “threat” to Israel’s security.
Such British complicity in the cultural repression of Palestinians is not a recent phenomenon. One can argue that it has its roots in the Balfour Declaration of 1917, which, by calling for the establishment of a nation for the Jewish people while all but disregarding the existence of the Palestinians inhabiting the land in question, set in motion the process of dispossession, exile, and social and cultural fragmentation that continues to the present day. And this was but the beginning of a British approach to the Palestinian people that has suppressed their culture and history.
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Indeed, today, as Israel funnels substantial financial resources into promoting its cultural output internationally, the United Kingdom (UK) is taking measures to censor Palestinian cultural expression and creativity. From the involvement of private companies such as G4S in the house arrest of Tatour to ministerial moves to block the cultural boycott and stifle academic debate, while UK visas are frequently denied to Palestinian artists and educators, Britain’s repressive actions are aiding Israel by supporting its one-sided narrative — a narrative that helps Israel continue its occupation of Palestinian territory and deepen its apartheid regime.
There will likely be much scholarly and policy analysis of the fallout from the Balfour Declaration for Palestine and the surrounding countries over the past 100 years (including by think tanks such as Al-Shabaka.) This commentary makes the case for a focus on the cultural dimension and provides the background and arguments for such a focus by examining the British role, then and now.
Balfour and the Origins of Cultural Repression
Despite its devastating impact on Palestinians, the Balfour Declaration means little to most people in Britain. If you were to ask the average person on a UK street what it was, they would most likely know next to nothing about the document.
However, the British government is planning to commemorate the centenary of the declaration in November 2017. Earlier this year, former British Prime Minister David Cameron said he wanted the UK government to mark the anniversary together with the Jewish community “in the most appropriate way.” At the time, it was not altogether clear what he meant by “appropriate.” Today, we are none the wiser, but plans to mark the occasion are nonetheless still rumored to be in the pipeline, though now under the auspices of Britain’s controversial new foreign secretary, Boris Johnson.
In his brief but fateful 1917 declaration, then Foreign Secretary Arthur Balfour proclaimed the British government would “use their best endeavors” to facilitate “the establishment of a national home for the Jewish people.” Thus, even before the British Mandate had officially begun, Balfour promised Palestine to the Zionist Federation without the consent of its Palestinian inhabitants. His concise erasure of Palestinian culture and history is found within the very vocabulary he used, referring to the indigenous, majority population only as “non-Jewish.”
Though Balfour did acknowledge Palestine’s inhabitants two years later, he assigned their lives less value than the Jewish people who would take possession of the land. He announced in a memorandum, “Zionism be it right or wrong, good or bad, is rooted in an age-long tradition, in present needs, in future hopes, of far profounder import than the desires of the 700,000 Arabs who now inhabit that ancient land.”
The logical outcome of this denial of Palestinian culture and history was the eventual dispossession and dispersal of the Palestinian population in 1948, followed by the demolition or Judaization of towns and villages emptied of their inhabitants.
The prejudicial sentiment expressed by Balfour underscores the UK’s relations with Israel to this day. It therefore comes as little surprise that the government did not consult with the UK’s Palestinian community before announcing its intention to mark the centenary.
Nevertheless, Palestinians are already mobilizing to take action against the UK for its historic role in the purloining of Palestine. Last year, Egypt’s “Popular Palestinian Campaign to sue the United Kingdom” initiated a case to “restore the right of the Palestinian people to their land.” In addition, Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas recently announced that he intends to sue the UK government over the Balfour Declaration. He also accused Britain of supporting “Israeli crimes” since the end of its mandate over Palestine and called on the Arab League to help the Palestinian Authority launch its lawsuit.
The legacy of Balfour and the British Mandate includes a long history of Israel repressing Palestinian expression, from the plundering of Palestinian libraries and the imprisonment of Palestinian writers to the banning of Palestinian cultural activities and the obliteration of cultural sites and schools in Gaza.
Immediately after the establishment of the Israeli state in 1948, Palestinians who remained within the borders of what then became “Israel” were forbidden to study their cultural inheritance or to remember their immediate past.
An obituary of Mahmoud Darwish in 2008 recalled how, when he was eight years old, the young poet recited a poem at his school’s annual celebration of Israel’s birth about the inequality he noticed between the lives of Arab boys and Jewish boys. Afterward, the Israeli military governor summoned him. “If you go on writing such poetry” he said, “I’ll stop your father working in the quarry.” The utterance of the simplest of truths by a Palestinian child clearly frightened the Israeli military governor enough to threaten the livelihood of his family.
Then, as now, the Israeli authorities could not countenance the cultural expression of a Palestinian consciousness. Darwish went on to be imprisoned five times by the Israeli authorities, mostly charged with reciting poetry thought to be seditious and detrimental to Israel’s status and stability.
Attempts to stifle Darwish’s voice have continued beyond his death. In July 2016, Israel’s defense minister, Avigdor Lieberman, went so far as to equate the poet’s work to Mein Kampf after Israeli army radio unexpectedly broadcast Darwish’s poem, “ID Card.” Lieberman’s comments came after the Israeli culture minister, Miri Regev, called on him to stop funding the radio station on the grounds that it had “gone off the rails” and was providing a platform for the Palestinian narrative.
It would thus seem that very little has changed since the early days of Israel’s establishment. And recent moves by the UK to block the cultural boycott and stifle academic debate show a significant rise in the extent to which Britain has become openly involved in the censorship of those speaking out against Israel.
Originally published in full on Al-Shabaka’s website on October 26, 2016.
The views expressed in this article are the authors’ and do not necessarily reflect Ma’an News Agency’s or Informed Comment’s editorial policy.
Al-Shabaka is an independent non-profit organization whose mission is to educate and foster public debate on Palestinian human rights and self-determination within the framework of international law.
In this Al-Shabaka policy brief, Aimee Shalan analyzes the legacy of the Balfour Declaration on Palestinian-British relations in the occupied Palestinian territory and the United Kingdom, particularly regarding the repressing of Palestinian cultural voices. The second part of this brief will be published on Saturday.
http://www.juancole.com/2016/11/cultura ... nians.html
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Re: Palestine

Postby seemslikeadream » Fri Dec 09, 2016 1:15 pm

Did Trump’s Son-In-Law Finance Israeli Extremists and Illegal Settlements?
By contributors | Dec. 6, 2016 |

TeleSur | – –
Trump has said that Kushner, who is a married to Ivanka Trump and is an Orthodox Jew, would be “very good” as his Middle East envoy.
Jared Kushner, the son-in-law and confidant of U.S. President-elect Donald Trump, is a director and board member at the Kushner Foundation which has given money to illegal Israeli settlements in the West Bank as well as extremist Jewish groups connected to violent attacks against Palestinians, Israeli newspaper Haaretz reported Monday.
The findings are based on tax records from Kushner’s parents for the years 2010-2014, which show that the Charles and Seryl Kushner Foundation gave almost US$60,000 to settlement projects and organizations in Israel, which Washington deems publically as illegal, yet finds covert ways of funding.
Trump has said that Kushner, who is a married to Ivanka Trump and is an Orthodox Jew, would be “very good” as his Middle East envoy to broker a deal between the Palestinians and Israelis.
The Kushner Foundation gave US$20,000 to the group American Friends in Beit El Yeshive, an organization that supports projects in the ultra-conservative settlement of Beit El.
Beit El was built on private Palestinian land without Israeli government approval, according to Haaretz and human rights groups.
More shocking is that the president of that group is David Friedman, who advised Trump on foreign policy in Israel and Palestine and is his real estate lawyer who told AFP in October that in his view settlements are not illegal and that he believed Trump agrees with him.
To top it all off, the Kushner foundation has given money to one of the most extreme groups within the settler community. The foundation gave funds to the radical “Od Yosef Chai” group in the settlement of Yitzhar.
“This particular yeshiva has served as a base for launching violent attacks against nearby Palestinians villages and Israeli security forces, as well; as a result, it no longer receives funding from the Israeli government,” Haaretz reported Monday.
This settlement is also seen as the leader of the settler movement’s so-called “price tag” policy, which calls for attacks against Palestinians in retaliation for actions of the Israeli government against West Bank settlements.
The Washington Post, which confirmed the Haaretz report on Kushner’s foundation, said this year’s Republican platform’s position on Israel was changed to what Trump called the most pro-Israeli stance “of all time.” It does not explicitly call for a two-state solution and rejects the “false notion” that Israel is occupying the West Bank, the U.S. newspaper said.
Although the U.S. is the number one sponsor of Israel financially, militarily and politically, Trump’s staunch right-wing position will most likely translate into even more suffering and repression for the Palestinian people.
Via TeleSur


https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2Ufxugsw33w
http://www.juancole.com/2016/12/israeli ... ments.html
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Re: Palestine

Postby seemslikeadream » Sat Dec 17, 2016 7:25 am

Opinion The Grotesque anti-Semitic Turn of David Friedman, Trump’s Pick for Israel Ambassador
You don’t even have to be a J Street fan to consider calling them 'Kapos,' as David Friedman has done, as disqualifying for such a symbolic post for the U.S. Jewish community.

David Schraub Dec 16, 2016 12:57 PM


U.S. President-elect Donald Trump. LUCAS JACKSON/REUTERS
From dismay to jubilation, Trump's pick of David Friedman as Israel envoy splits Jewish response
Exclusive David Friedman: Trump would support Israeli annexation of parts of West Bank
Analysis David Friedman, Trump's radical-right ambassador, makes Netanyahu look like a J Street lefty
Early in the Trump transition phase, it looked as if Mike Huckabee would be appointed ambassador to Israel. Huckabee had recently accused Jews of plotting false flag hate crime hoaxes to frame Donald Trump supporters; he also has a bit of a history of tossing out casual Holocaust comparisons and then getting really angry when Jews cry foul.

But Huckabee will not be our ambassador. Instead, Trump has tapped close adviser David Friedman for the role. Friedman has called Barack Obama an "anti-Semite" and contended that J Streeters are "far worse than Kapos." He also asserted, in the course of advocating "allegiance" standards for Israel's Muslim citizens, that "In the United States, advocating to overthrow the government by force or violence can get you life in prison" (No, it can't). And of course, he's an opponent of the two-state solution.
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It's a little unnerving that the thing Trump looks for in an Israel ambassador is a propensity to frivolously toss out Nazi comparisons. It's almost like he won't actually be a real friend in the White House. Imagine that.

So let's go back to that little bit where Friedman unfavorably compared a significant swath of the Jewish community to Nazi collaborators. Remember last week, when the Senate passed the Anti-Semitism Awareness Act 97-0 (it was really controversial)? The ASAA incorporates a definition of anti-Semitism which, among other things, considers Israel/Nazi comparisons anti-Semitic. Surely, the spirit of the law also includes other comparisons of Jewish institutions to Nazis or their collaborators, yes?
The ASAA does not contain an "unless you're a right-winger" carve out. Once again, there's an opportunity for Jewish organizations to demonstrate that they're unafraid to call out anti-Semitic rhetoric when it emerges from the right. One does not have to be a J Street member or even a fan to think that comparing them to "Kapos" is grotesque and marginalizing, and should be (what's the word I'm looking for? Help me out, ADL) disqualifying for any administration post – much less one deeply symbolic for America's Jewish population.
In fact, I hereby pledge to donate to the first Senator who announces their opposition to Friedman by citing their vote for the Senate’s ASAA bill. I am 100% serious. It does absolutely no good for the Senate to announce it takes anti-Semitism seriously, then immediately confirm someone who flouts the spirit of the standard they just articulated. Just as Democrats have an obligation to tackle anti-Semitism among their allies, it's time that Republicans take seriously anti-Semitism within their own ranks.
David Schraub is a Lecturer in Law and Senior Research Fellow at the California Constitution Center, University of California-Berkeley Law School. He blogs regularly at The Debate Link. Follow him on Twitter: http://www.haaretz.com/opinion/1.759473
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Re: Palestine

Postby seemslikeadream » Thu Feb 09, 2017 11:45 pm

Ireland Set to Recognize Palestine as a State

Published 9 February 2017 (11 hours 9 minutes ago)

Ireland has long been a supporter of Palestine and may soon become one of the few Western European countries to recognize it as a state.
On the back of the new Israeli decision to legalize settlements on Palestinian land, the Republic of Ireland appears poised to recognize Palestine as a legitimate state in the near future, Middle Eastern media reported Thursday.

According to Haaretz, Israeli Ambassador to Ireland Zeev Boker warned Jerusalem that Dublin likely will soon recognize Palestinian statehood.

Booker is reportedly planning to ask Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu to call Ireland Prime Minister Enda Kenny to smooth out the issue and ask Donald Trump’s fresh U.S. administration to pressure Dublin away from Palestinian recognition.

While Ireland’s view on the situation has been known for some time, it has been bolstered by the fact that Israel passed a law on Monday to retroactively legalize around 4,000 settler homes built on privately-owned Palestinian territory in the occupied West Bank.


Palestinians are fearful that the legalization of the outpost settlements will crush any hopes of a future Palestinian state by eroding the basis of a two-state solution. Activists and human rights groups have called for an end to the illegal settlements, a view supported by last year’s U.N. Security Council resolution vote. All Israeli settlements in the occupied territories are illegal under international law.

In Western Europe, a number of countries have called for the recognition of Palestine, and following Israel’s latest approval of the settler homes, the European Union postponed a summit meeting with Israeli authorities, scheduled for the end of this month in Brussels.

While the majority of U.N. member states recognize Palestine, the U.S. and most of Western Europe remain notable exceptions. If Ireland goes ahead with the move, it will join Sweden, Iceland and the Vatican City as the only other Western states to recognize Palestine.

Throughout history, Irish people have shown solidarity with Palestine, where many view their struggle as similar to the colonization of Irish land and suppression of Catholics by British occupation authorities, particularly in Northern Ireland.
http://www.telesurtv.net/english/news/I ... content=16
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Re: Palestine

Postby seemslikeadream » Sat Feb 18, 2017 1:21 pm

Image

Meet the U.S. Nonprofit That Funds the Israeli Guards Who Terrorize Palestinians
SPECIAL INVESTIGATION
BY ALEX KANE

Israeli settlements in the West Bank are illegal—but donations to the U.S. nonprofits that support them are tax-deductible. Our investigation found that one such nonprofit, the One Israel Fund, subsidizes guards who constrict the movement of Palestinians and harm their economic livelihood.

MARCH ISSUE | FEBRUARY 15, 2017

THE MONEY TRAIL TO ISRAELI SETTLEMENTS BEGINS on a main thoroughfare in the quiet New York suburb of Cedarhurst. Inside a brownish-red building next to a Judaica gift shop, up the stairs to the second floor, and behind the glass doors of Suite 210 are the offices of the One Israel Fund.

This unassuming office on Long Island is where donors send their checks before the One Israel Fund directs the money 6,000 miles across the ocean, to Israel, to help “brave pioneers establish and maintain a safe and secure life in our Biblical Heartland.”

The bulk of the money goes to aid Israeli settlements in the occupied West Bank. These settlements, located on Palestinian land conquered by Israel in the 1967 war, are considered by most of the world to be illegal under international law, as the Geneva Conventions prohibit settling conquered lands.

Between 2001 and 2014 (the years for which records are available), the One Israel Fund raised at least $26 million from donors across the United States, making it one of the wealthiest pro-settlement nonprofits in the country. Scott Feltman, the One Israel Fund’s executive vice-president, says the organization is “strictly humanitarian.” Most of the money goes to initiatives that fortify the settlements: hospitals, religious schools, playgrounds and senior centers.

“Our goal,” Feltman says, “is to make sure that the people who are living there … have what they need in order to remain secure and to live normal lives and flourish as they would anywhere else in the country.”

But not all of the One Israel Fund’s spending fits the typical definition of “humanitarian.” According to its tax records, the organization has given at least $960,000 to security personnel in Israel and the occupied West Bank. The money has gone toward armored vests, security vehicles, guard trainings and surveillance equipment.

Each settlement typically has a security director, known as a ravshatz, who is a civilian employed by the settlement but armed and specially trained by the Israeli military. (The word ravshatz—plural ravshatzim—is an acronym for the Hebrew words rakaz bitahon shotef tzahali, meaning coordinator of security with the army.) There are about 265 such security guards living in Israeli settlements in the West Bank and East Jerusalem and along Israel’s borders with the Gaza Strip and Lebanon. The ravshatzim are considered the settlements’ first line of defense against Palestinian militant attacks.

“We’re dealing with a situation of a constant enemy … looking to cause harm,” says Feltman. “We just try our best to fill in whatever gaps there may be to enable the communities to prevent potential attacks.”

But some of these guards harass and threaten Palestinians, according to human rights advocates and residents of Palestinian villages. Ravshatzim have opened fire upon and shot tear gas at Palestinians, and blocked Palestinians from working their farms.

The One Israel Fund says that between December 2014 and 2016, it delivered armored vests to every security guard in the occupied West Bank. Human rights groups have documented a number of alleged abuses by ravshatzim in that time period. When In These Times showed the One Israel Fund’s public social media posts to Palestinians living near settlements, they pointed to guards receiving equipment and identified them as routine harassers.

Because the One Israel Fund is a registered nonprofit, the donors who underwrite the equipment receive tax write-offs from the U.S. government. American taxpayers are effectively subsidizing settlers in the West Bank who constrict Palestinian movement and harm their economic livelihood.


From the March 2017 Issue

This reporting was made possible by a grant from the Leonard C. Goodman Institute for Investigative Reporting.


A THREAT FROM THE HILLTOP

Ravshatzim are armed by the state and fall under the authority of the Israel Defense Forces (IDF). But they are paid by the settlement where they reside. This places them in a dual role. They are participants in an ideologically driven settlement process that displaces Palestinians, and they are under the command of a force meant to, at least on paper, prevent friction between settlers and Palestinians (though many critics of the occupation say that soldiers often see West Bank settlers as their partners in maintaining Israeli rule).

According to an Israeli army spokesperson, ravshatzim help maintain “the safety and security of Israeli communities” and have “been able to thwart terrorist attacks.”

While some settlement guards stick to securing their communities, others seem to spend much of their time patrolling outside the settlement. Shabtay Bendet is a former ravshatz from Yitzhar and Rechelim, and he is now a journalist for the Israeli news outlet Walla News. He tells In These Times that when he was a guard in Rechelim, he patrolled outside the settlement to “frighten” neighboring Palestinians so they would move away. Driving Palestinians off their land clears the path for settlement expansion, he explains—and expansion is a primary goal of Israel’s West Bank settlers. And by handing over equipment to guards in order to “thwart terrorist attacks,” the One Israel Fund is arguably helping to intimidate and push out Palestinians.

The Israeli settlement of Yitzhar lies deep in the northern West Bank, about an hour’s drive from Jerusalem through topsy-turvy roads. Like many Israeli settlements, it sits on a hill overlooking Palestinian villages, part of what the Israeli scholar Eyal Weizman calls the “architecture of Israeli occupation,” in which settlers on hilltops can peer down and keep a close eye on Palestinian movement.

About 1,300 settlers live in Yitzhar’s squat, one-story homes. Most are deep believers in the ideology of the Israeli settlement project, which since 1967 has grown to include a population of about 600,000 Jews. The settlers believe this is the Jews’ biblical homeland, and that they have a right to be here. Yitzhar is expanding: On hills below the main hilltop, mobile homes sprawl across the land. These are Israeli “outposts”—settlements built without government permission.

Yitzhar, which has received at least $12,900 in security equipment from the One Israel Fund, has a particular reputation for violence and extremism. The bus stop on the way out is plastered with posters declaring “Kahane was right”—a reference to Rabbi Meir Kahane, an ultra-right Israeli politician who advocated the expulsion of Palestinians from Israel and the occupied territories. Israeli human-rights groups such as B’Tselem and Rabbis for Human Rights routinely document Yitzhar settlers descending from their hilltop into the Palestinian villages below to throw rocks at farmers and set fire to olive trees.

The nearby Palestinian village of Burin, visible from the road out of the settlement, is a frequent target. According to residents of Burin, their harassers include Yitzhar’s ravshatz, Yitzhak Levy.

In August 2014, the human rights group Yesh Din helped file a criminal complaint against Levy for driving over plants on a plot of land owned by a Burin villager. According to Yesh Din, the police closed the case the following year, saying the offender was “unknown”—a common reason given when complaints against settlers are dismissed.

Yesh Din subsequently documented three separate incidents in which Levy kicked Palestinians off their land. Twice, it says, Levy reportedly threatened to kill villagers by cocking his rifle and drawing his finger across his throat. He also threatened to bring other settlers to chop down trees in Burin—no idle threat, as settlers routinely cut down trees in the village.

Several Burin residents interviewed by In These Times described the ravshatz as a singularly menacing presence. Munir Qadus, a villager, says that, according to an eyewitness he spoke with, Levy shot tear gas into a schoolyard in Burin in February 2014. Village youth responded by throwing stones. The army intervened, shooting more tear gas canisters, blanketing the schoolyard in the acrid, choking gas.

Another villager, who asked not to be named because he fears retaliation, says he has had repeated run-ins with Levy over the last two years. He says the guard has threatened to destroy his olive grove or shoot him if he returns to it. The farmer was too frightened to plow the land in fall 2015, leading to a diminished harvest the next year.

When In These Times contacted Levy to ask about these allegations his relationship with the One Israel Fund, he was unwilling to talk.

But the One Israel Fund’s Facebook page boasts of lavish donations to Yitzhar’s security operations, which its ravshatz directs. In a photo album from October 2012 titled “Itzhar - Keeping It Real,” two armed men look straight into the camera, assault rifles slung to the side, as they stand next to a thermal surveillance camera—a $10,000 tool—delivered to them by the One Israel Fund. Other photos, taken in October 2015 and in February 2016, show Marc Provisor, director of the One Israel Fund’s security projects, personally giving one of these men two armored vests, which cost $1,450 apiece. An ex-ravshatz who lives in the settlement of Shilo, Provisor travels across the West Bank handing out equipment to guards.

None of the recipients in the photos are identified. Yitzhak Levy does not have an online presence, so In These Times was unable to determine conclusively whether he appeared in the photos. However, when shown the Facebook albums, multiple Burin villagers identified the red-bearded man receiving equipment as “the ravshatz.”

Presented with claims that Levy harassed villagers and asked about its vetting process for recipients, One Israel Fund did not respond.

A Palestinian farmer surveys an olive grove destroyed by Yitzhar settlers in 2013. (Photo by Jaffar Ashtiyeh/AFP/Getty Images)


LIFE UNDER SIEGE

Three hours south of Burin is Kiryat Arba, an urban settlement of about 7,000. It is surrounded by a barbed wire fence and is close enough to the Palestinian city of Hebron that the Islamic call to prayer can be heard.

The One Israel Fund has provided significant support to Kiryat Arba’s security guards, subsidizing a new security vehicle and a high-tech surveillance system to monitor the perimeter.

Abd al-Kareem al-Jabari, a 59-year-old Palestinian ironworker, lives sandwiched between Kiryat Arba and the neighboring settlement of Givat Ha’avot, on land that has been in his family for generations. Since building his house in 1998, he says, his family has endured repeated attacks. Israeli settlers, he says, have thrown stones at them, burned their trees, stabbed his 10-year-old son in the stomach and beaten his 11-year-old son in the face, damaging his eye.

But it’s not only ordinary settlers who harass the family. Jabari says that Kiryat Arba guards have blocked his access to his farmland on more than one occasion. “They say, ‘It’s our land and go away,’ ” he says. “It’s just harassment.”

They’ve also come to his home, he says. In 2007, Jabari says, he was constructing a wall beside his house when two settler guards ran toward him and opened fire with their guns. While Jabari was not hurt by the gunshots, the incident shook his family.

Twenty-five members of Jabari’s family live crowded into one house, so in spring 2016, he began building another house on his property. When bulldozers came to break ground, Jabari says, a guard drove up and parked, walked onto the property and told the bulldozer driver to stop working. He then called the branch of the local military that handles matters of zoning and construction, Jabari says. The military told the guard that Jabari had the right to build.

Jabari identified this guard in a photograph on the One Israel Fund’s Facebook page. The guard is leaning on a truck with a smile; the caption reads “One Israel Fund was proud to aid in the purchase of a new security vehicle in Kiryat Arba.”

Image
A photograph on One Israel’s Fund’s Facebook page shows Yitzhar security personnel receiving a $10,000 surveillance camera. (Facebook)

In These Times reached out to the guard for comment but was told by a Kiryat Arba security employee that he could not answer questions. The other guard identified by Jabari did not respond to requests for comment.

Human rights advocates say that no one holds the ravshatzim accountable for their actions. An Israeli army representative told In These Times that the army examines all allegations against guards and, following press reports of settler guard abuse, has taken preventative measurse, “including internal inquiries and efforts to refresh and reinforce rules and regulations for all Civilian Security Coordinators.” The spokesperson added that “a Civilian Security Coordinator indicted for committing an offense in the line of duty will be dismissed from his position.”

Getting that indictment, though, is difficult. Yesh Din has helped file 23 criminal complaints with the Israeli police against settler security guards. But the group has never secured a criminal indictment. A Yesh Din report published in 2015 found that, over the past decade, 91 percent of cases of settler violence against Palestinians or their property were closed without an indictment.

“What we typically find is that the ravshatz will say, ‘That just didn’t happen, that’s not the case,’ and then nothing comes out of the complaint,” says Yesh Din lawyer Emily Schaeffer Omer-Man. “The testimony of settlers, including ravshatzim, is given more credence than that of Palestinians.”

CHARITABLE ACTS

The One Israel Fund is part of a network of pro-settlement charities in the United States that collectively raise millions of dollars from the most ardent supporters of Israel. The nonprofits draw from a small pool of right-wing donors, such as the bingo magnate Irving Moskowitz (who died last year) and the hedge funder Henry Swieca. Between 2009 and 2013, 50 pro-settlement groups raised over $220 million in the United States, according to an investigation by the Israeli daily Haaretz.

In recent years, groups such as the American-Arab Anti-Discrimination Committee have sought to revoke pro-settlement groups’ status as 501(c)3s, which allows donations to be tax-deductible, by filing administrative complaints with the IRS.

Lawyers have also filed civil lawsuits against pro-settlement groups on behalf of Palestinians. In May 2013, the law firm Melito & Adolfsen P.C. sued the One Israel Fund and other pro-settler groups, charging that they violate U.S. laws by funding terrorism against Palestinians. Their claims rested on allegations that settlers carried out Molotov cocktail attacks, stonings and beatings targeting the Palestinian plaintiffs.

Image
Palestinian ironworker Abd al-Kareem al-Jabari (R) and his family live sandwiched between two Israeli settlements. (Photo by Mati Milstein)

But so far, pro-settlement groups have prevailed. The lawsuit against the One Israel Fund was dismissed in May 2014. The judge ruled that the suit did not prove the groups knowingly fund terrorism, and that there was no relationship between the money given to settlements and terrorist acts. Nor has the IRS publicly responded to the challenges to the groups’ nonprofit status.

It’s a striking fact of U.S. tax policy. For decades, donors to settlement nonprofits have received tax breaks from the U.S. government, while presidents from both parties have spoken out against Israeli settlements.

But with President Donald Trump, it’s unclear whether this contrast will remain. During his presidential campaign, Trump said that he has no problem with West Bank settlement building. In fact, in 2003, Trump donated $10,000 to American Friends of the Beit El Yeshiva Center, a group that raises money for Beit El’s ravshatz, in addition to funding schools at the settlement. Trump has selected the nonprofit’s president, David Friedman, as his ambassador to Israel. But in early February, the White House said new settlement expansion may not be helpful in achieving an Israeli-Palestinian peace deal.

Mitchell Plitnick, the vice president of the anti-settlement Foundation for Middle East Peace, said that it’s important to bring “to light how much funding from settlements is coming from the United States, so that there’s a discussion within the Jewish community. People just don’t talk about it.”

Meanwhile, Palestinians are left to wonder at the fact that U.S. nonprofits are funding their tormentors.

“The settlement guards [incite] the settlers and the army to harass people more,” said Hakem, a resident of Iraq Burin who says he was harassed by a One Israel Fund-supported guard. “It’s very strange to hear about a nonprofit supporting settler violence.” 

This story was supported by the Leonard C. Goodman Institute for Investigative Reporting.
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Re: Palestine

Postby seemslikeadream » Thu Mar 16, 2017 11:44 am

Israel lashes out at Palestine activists

Charlotte Silver Activism and BDS Beat 15 March 2017


Hugh Lanning, chair of the UK’s Palestine Solidarity Campaign, was denied entry by Israel. (Palestine Solidarity Campaign)
Less than a week after Israel’s parliament passed a law barring entry to supporters of the boycott, divestment and sanctions (BDS) movement, Israel has sought to make an example of a prominent UK activist.

Hugh Lanning, chair of the Palestine Solidarity Campaign, told The Electronic Intifada that he was planning a four-day visit in occupied East Jerusalem.

But he was denied entry when he flew into Israel’s main airport near Tel Aviv on Sunday.

A few days earlier, Israeli police detained anti-occupation activist Jeff Halper, on suspicion of “incitement.” Police said they had been informed that Halper, co-founder of the Israeli Committee Against House Demolitions, was distributing “materials related to BDS.” They released him after concluding he had committed no violations.

A 2011 Israeli law allows advocates of boycott to be sued for damages.

Israel’s crackdown on critics is escalating just as a landmark UN report has found that Israel is guilty of the international crime of apartheid. The report calls on governments around the world to support BDS.

Israel is also showing its anger against the government of South Africa. It is reportedly planning to summon Pretoria’s ambassador for a dressing down over comments made by South African officials likening Israel’s treatment of Palestinians to apartheid.

“Hostile to Israel”
After being held for over seven hours, the Palestine Solidarity Campaign’s Lanning was told he would be denied entry because his activities were “hostile to Israel.”

No further explanation was provided to Lanning at the time he was expelled, but before he returned to London the following morning, Israel’s immigration authority and the ministry of strategic affairs had released a statement saying Lanning was deported because of his efforts to advance the boycott of Israel.

Strategic affairs minister Gilad Erdan, who leads the country’s effort to thwart the Palestine solidarity movement, said he was working with the interior ministry to deny entry to those “acting against Israel.”

“Reality is changing,” Erdan said. “No sane country would permit entry to the main activists calling for its boycott and who work to leave it isolated.”

“They do see us as a threat and I don’t think they know what to do,” Lanning told The Electronic Intifada.

Last month, the Israeli government refused to grant Human Rights Watch’s new Palestine director, Omar Shakir, a work permit, claiming that the decades-old organization was producing “Palestinian propaganda.”

The Israeli ministries called the Palestine Solidarity Campaign a leader in the efforts to “delegitimize Israel” in Europe, adding that its website was “rife with calls to boycott Israel,” the newspaper Haaretz reported.

High-level decision
Lanning said he has travelled to Palestine about a dozen times since he became chair of the Palestine Solidarity Campaign in 2009 but has never experienced any problems.

On Sunday afternoon, however, he was pulled aside as he attempted to go through passport control.

“I’ve never gone through a second round of questioning after passport control, so I assumed a flag came up,” he said.

Lanning said he was questioned by three different officers, each several times. He says the interrogators were repetitive but polite.

An official told Lanning that he had never received so many phone calls from various government officials regarding a single person attempting to enter the country.

“They were seeking guidance,” Lanning observed. “It wasn’t a decision being made by airport people.”

Questioned about politics
Lanning said he was questioned about his political activities and contacts and if he was a BDS activist.

The Israelis were clearly searching the internet for information about him.

At one point, an airport interrogator presented an image from 2012 of Lanning with a delegation entering Gaza from Egypt. The photo showed Lanning speaking at a podium at a reception ceremony that allegedly included representatives of the Hamas government.

The interrogators also asked Lanning to confirm whether an entry on Wikipedia crediting him with “a major role” in building trade union support for Palestine was about him.

The Palestine Solidarity Campaign has been a frequent target for Israel advocates since the Reut Institute, an influential Israeli think tank, identified it as a leading “delegitimizer” of Israel.

In 2015, it was revealed that Israeli military intelligence was collecting information on left-wing organizations that promote the boycott of Israel in other countries.

During his interrogation, Lanning said he remained upbeat, even making sarcastic jokes.

But he told The Electronic Intifada he is deeply sad to be turned away, possibly never to be allowed entry again to a place he has formed friendships and alliances. Lanning was told that if he wants to enter the country in future he would have to apply for permission.

“Israel keeps on saying that they’re a democracy and then proving they’re not,” Lanning said.

“It feels like I have been cut off,” Lanning added. “This is what happens to Palestinians every day. You can’t be a democracy while you keep millions of people under siege and military occupation.”
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Re: Palestine

Postby seemslikeadream » Sun Mar 19, 2017 2:15 pm

seemslikeadream » Sat Jan 02, 2010 11:04 pm wrote:Image

The Ethnic Cleansing of Palestine

An Interview with Ilan Pappe

By FATMA ELSHHATI, MIHO SEKI and ANTHONY LÖWSTEDT

Israeli historian Ilan Pappe’s groundbreaking book, The Ethnic Cleansing of Palestine (Engl. orig. 2006), on the events in 1947-49 that led to the formation of the state of Israel, had just been published in German translation, and he was in Austria to promote it. A few weeks prior to the outbreak of the Gaza war (2008-2009), Pappe answered our questions in such a way that all his points are still as relevant today as they were a year ago. Gaza is still suffocating under a heavy Israeli blockade, East Jerusalem and the West Bank still being invaded by illegal Jewish settlers. It is clearer than ever before that Israel is not defending itself; it is extending itself. The remaining Palestinian pockets of land look like 20th-century South African Bantustans, and worse, like the shrinking and disappearing American Indian reservations of the 19th century.

The ethnic cleansing of Palestine is still ongoing today, according to Pappe, and it is an intentional policy by the state of Israel. The international community, unfortunately, is doing next to nothing to stop Israel’s illegal expansion. But Pappe lit up the evening for the roughly hundred-strong audience. He illustrated with concrete examples and vivid testimony how everybody and anybody can do something to contribute to justice and peace in the Middle East. His research and findings, as well as his ideals, have been viewed in a negative light by Israelis, and their reactions have led to his exile from his home in Haifa. The distinguished researcher and dedicated activist is currently Chair of the History Department at Exeter University in the UK, and he continues to research events and issues that many Israelis would rather leave buried and forgotten. He also spreads awareness of the injustices suffered by the Palestinian people through giving lectures around the world and publishing journalistic work.

What are the responses to your book from the scientific community?

The Israeli scientific community would say the facts are right but my interpretation is wrong. That I don’t understand that Israel had the right to do what it did. But I think, around the world, most of the scientific community accepts the findings of my book, and accepts that this is now an integral part of history, to be taught in schools and universities and so forth.

How has your book been treated by the mass media?

I think unfortunately in the West, mainstream media tended to ignore the book, though not in England, where the book was well received. I think the book was more received by the alternative media, the ones on the Internet and so on. It was difficult to get the book reviewed and discussed, especially on the main television channels. The newspapers were a bit better. So I don’t think the mainstream media are ready, yet, to hear this version of events, especially in the US. Even Germany is better. Die Zeit reviewed the book and I did two interviews on major German TV channels. But in America it is very difficult.

What are you researching now?

I’m working on 1967. There is some new material. And I would like to show how the Israeli policies in the occupied territories were actually shaped in 1967. And they haven’t really changed since then. The Israelis made up their minds about the territories back in 1967. And nothing that happened after that has changed those policies. I want to go back to the core of the Israeli vision: that most of Palestine belongs to them and they don’t see any place for Palestinians in Palestine.

How can Palestinians be rehabilitated and restored to their rightful place within the human community?

I think there are three things that they have to go through before things will get better again. I think Israel and the West have to acknowledge the ethnic cleansing of 1948, and the ethnic cleansing since then. I think Israel should also be held accountable. This would open the way for Palestinian normal life. And I think only then can you ask the Palestinians to accept the Israelis. I think there are similar events in history where people have gone through this process: First acknowledge something happened, and then take responsibility. This is the Israeli part of the deal. And then the other side forgives and accepts the new life.

Ultimately, how do you see the future of the Palestinian people? Do you really think a solution can be reached or the Palestinian refugees may one day return to their country?

Yes, I’m optimistic. I think there is a chance that eventually these rights will be granted to the Palestinians. I’m afraid it’s a long-term prospect. My great worry is the near future. There is a great danger that it will become worse before it becomes better.

What would you advise young people do to raise consciousness about the gross human rights violations taking place in Israel and Palestine, and what steps can they take to help stop them from occurring?

I think people like you should become VIPs. You should Visit, Inform, and Protest. It’s not easy, I know, but you should try to see with your own eyes, and not just rely on others. And when you know what’s happening: to tell other people. And then protest in a non-violent way, to change things. But it’s also important not to forget Israeli society, to engage, to understand its fears and problems, to have a comprehensive picture. I think this will help push the peace process forwards.

Could you please add any comments on the more general context, more specifically on the international community including the EU and Austria?

There is an international context to this question. And without addressing this context you will never have a solution. So many people who are now oppressed, or who feel oppressed, are Muslims. And they feel there is a connection between the way Muslims are mistreated in Palestine and they way they are mistreated elsewhere. And there is this connection. There is a feeling that America and Britain and the West are treating Israel in a very extraordinary way. This raises the question why this attitude was never granted to anyone who is not Israeli, in the Middle East, in Asia, in Africa, in Latin America. So that is one international context.

There is also a specific German and Austrian context. It has to do with the fact that so much that Israel does is justified by what was done to Jews in these countries. And I think it is up to the Germans and the Austrians to face courageously what they have done so they can tell Israelis to face courageously what they have done. All these things are part of the solution.

(The interview took place on December 6, 2008 at Amtshaus Währing in Vienna, Austria)



A Review of Ilan Pappe

Ilan Pappe is an Israeli historian and senior lecturer at Haifa University. He's also Academic Director of the Research Institute for Peace at Givat Haviva and Chair of the Emil Touma Institute for Palestinian Studies. Pappe is an expert on Israel and Zionism and the Palestinians' Right of Return to their homeland, is considered "an honourable academic with integrity and conscience," and is a member of the Advisory Board of the Council for Palestinian Restitution and Repatriation (CPRR), an organization declaring that "every Palestinian has a legitimate, individual right to return to his or her original home and to absolute restitution of his or her property."

Pappe is also one of Israel's "new historians" whose scholarship and writings are based on access to material now available from British Mandate period and Israeli archives that provide the most accurate and authentic documented history of Israel before and after it became a state and which now serve to debunk the myths about the years leading up to the Jewish State's founding and those following it to this day.

Pappe has also authored, contributed to or edited nine books. His latest is the one this review covers in detail so readers will know about its powerful and shocking content, unknown to most in the West and in Israel, that hopefully will arouse them enough to get the book and learn in full detail what Pappe documented. He proves from official records how the Israeli state came into being with blood on its hands from lands forcibly seized from its Palestinian inhabitants who'd lived on it for hundreds of years previously. Since the 1940s, they were ethnically cleansed and slaughtered without mercy so their homeland would become one for Jews alone.

The shameful result is that Palestinians then and today have almost no rights including being able to live in peace and security on their own land in their own state that no longer exists. Survivors then and their offspring either live in Israel as unwanted Arab citizens with few rights or in the Occupied Palestinians Territories (OPT) where their lives are suspended in limbo in an occupied country in which they're subjected to daily institutionalized and codified racism and persecution. They have no power over their daily lives and live in a constant state of fear with good reason. They face economic strangulation; collective punishment for any reason; loss of free movement; enclosures by separation walls, electric fences and border closings; regular curfews, roadblocks, checkpoints, loss of their homes by bulldozings and crops and orchards by wanton destruction and seizure; arrest without cause, and routine subjection to torture while in custody.

They're targeted for extra-judicial assassination and indiscriminate killing; taxed punitively and denied basic services essential to life and well-being including health care, education, employment and even enough food and water at the whim of Israeli authorities in a deliberate effort to destroy their will to resist and eliminate those who won't by expulsion or extermination. Palestinians have no power to end these appalling abuses and crimes against humanity or receive any redress for them in Israeli, the West or through the International Criminal Court Israel ignores when it rules against its interests.

How can they as Muslims in a racist Jewish state where Israelis oppressive them with impunity, the US goes along with huge financing and supplying of the most modern and destructive weapons of war, and the West and most Arab states are indifferent preferring to ally with Israel and the US for benefits received while writing off Palestinians as a small price worth paying. It created state of appalling human misery and desperation severely aggravated by crushing economic sanctions for the past year imposed for the first time ever on an occupied people. They're responsible for poverty and unemployment levels of 80% or more and increasing instances of starvation and unreported deaths from all causes because Israel controls everything and everyone allowed in and out of the territories. Those inside them suffer painfully as a result. Others with power to help, don't care and do nothing.

Pappe documents how it all began in 12 chapters with a short epilogue plus 18 graphic pictures needing no explanation. He calls the book his "J'Accuse against the politicians who devised the plan and the generals who carried out the ethnic cleansing" naming the guilty, the villages and urban areas destroyed, and the cruelest crimes committed against defenseless people only wanting to live in peace on their own land and were willing to do it with Jews as neighbors but not as overlords or oppressors.

This review is lengthy so readers will know in detail what Israeli authorities successfully suppressed for decades. Pappe courageously revealed it in a book begging to be read and discussed by all people of conscience and good faith. They need to take the lead building a groundswell consensus to stand up to this long-festering injustice against defenseless people fighting for their rights and existence against overwhelming odds.

Pappe provides them help with his extensive documentation and other suggested reading on the origins of Zionist ideology leading to the ethnic cleansing in the 1940s and thereafter. He particularly mentions two of Nur Masalha's important books - Expulsion of the Palestinians: The Concept of Transfer in Zionist Political Thought, 1882 - 1948 and The Politics of Denial: Israel and the Palestinian Refugee Problem. Readers are encouraged to explore this issue further with these and other books exposing ugly truths long suppressed in the West and needing to be freely aired.

The Beginning - Initial Planning for Ethnic Cleansing

In his preface, Pappe writes about the "Red House" in Tel-Aviv that became headquarters for the Hagana, the dominant Zionist underground paramilitary militia during the British Mandate period in Palestine between 1920 and 1948 when the Jewish state came into being. He details how David Ben-Gurion, Israel's first prime minister, met with leading Zionists and young Jewish military officers on March 10, 1948 to finalize plans to ethnically cleanse Palestine that unfolded in the months that followed including "large-scale (deadly serious)intimidation; laying siege to and bombarding villages and population centres; setting fire to homes, properties and goods; expulsion; demolition; and finally, planting mines among the rubble to prevent any of the expelled inhabitants from returning."

The final master plan was called Plan D (Dalet in Hebrew) following plans A, B, and C preceding it. It was to be a war without mercy complying with what Ben-Gurion said in June, 1938 to the Jewish Agency Executive and never wavering from later: "I am for compulsory transfer; I do not see anything immoral in it." Plan D became the way to do it. It included forcible expulsion of hundreds of thousands of unwanted Palestinian Arabs in urban and rural areas accompanied by an unknown number of others mass slaughtered to get it done. The goal was simple and straightforward - to create an exclusive Jewish state without an Arab presence by any means including mass-murder.

Once begun, the whole ugly business took six months to complete. It expelled about 800,000 people, killed many others, and destroyed 531 villages and 11 urban neighborhoods in cities like Tel-Aviv, Haifa and Jerusalem. The action was a clear case of ethnic cleansing that international law today calls a crime against humanity for which convicted Nazis at Nuremberg were hanged. So far Israelis have always remained immune from international law even though names of guilty leaders and those charged with implementing their orders are known as well as the crimes they committed.

They included cold-blooded mass-murder; destruction of homes, villages and crops; rapes; other atrocities; and massacres of defenseless people given no quarter including women and children. The crimes were suppressed and expunged from official accounts as Israeli historiography cooked up the myth that Palestinians left voluntarily fearing harm from invading Arab armies. It was a lie covering up Israeli crimes Palestinians call the Nakba - the catastrophe or disaster that's still a cold, harsh festering unresolved injustice.

Even with British armed presence still in charge of law and order before its Mandate ended, Jewish forces completed the expulsion of about 250,000 Palestinians the Brits did nothing to stop. It continued unabated because when neighboring Arab states finally intervened, they did so without conviction. They came belatedly and with only small, ill-equipped forces, no match for a superior, well-armed Israeli military easily able to prevail as discussed below.

Ethnic Cleansing Defined

Pappe notes that ethnic cleansing is well-defined in international law that calls it a crime against humanity. He cites several definitions including from the Hutchinson encyclopedia saying it's expulsion by force to homogenize the population. The US State Department concurs adding its essence is to eradicate a region's history. The United Nations used a similar definition in 1993 when the UN Commission on Human Rights (UNCHR) characterized it as the desire of a state or regime to impose ethnic rule on a mixed area using expulsion and other violence including separating men and women, detentions, murder of males of all ages who might become combatants, destruction of houses, and repopulating areas with another ethnic group.

In 1948, Zionists waged their "War of Independence" using Plan D to "cleanse" Palestine according to the UN definition. It involved cold-blooded massacres and indiscriminate killing, targeted assassinations and widespread destruction as clear instances of crimes of war and against humanity, later expunged from the country's official history and erased from its collective memory. It was left it to a few courageous historians like Ilan Pappe to resurrect events to preserve the truth too important to let die. His invaluable book provides an historic account of what, in fact, happened. It needs broad exposure but won't get it in the corporate-controlled Israeli, US or Western media overall. It will on this important web site with the courage to publish it.

Zionism's Ideological Roots

Pappe traces the roots of Zionism to the late 1880s in Central and Eastern Europe "as a national revival movement, prompted by the growing pressure on Jews in those regions to assimilate totally or risk continuing persecution." Founded by Theodor Herzl, the movement became international in scope supporting a Jewish homeland in the Land of Israel, or Eretz Israel, even though early on many in the movement were ambivalent about its location. That changed following Herzl's death in 1904 when it was decided the goal was to colonize Palestine because of its biblical connection that happened to be land occupied inappropriately by "strangers" meaning anyone not Jewish having "no right" to be there.

So as justification, the myth was created of "a land without people for a people without a land" even though this "empty land" had a flourishing Palestinian Arab population including a small number of Jews. Zionist leaders wanted a complete dispossession of indigenous Arabs to reestablish the ancient land of Eretz Israel as a Jewish state for Jews alone and got help doing it from the British after Palestine became part of its empire post-WW I. With duplicity, the Brits crafted the 1917 Balfour Declaration supporting the notion of a Jewish homeland in Palestine while simultaneously promising indigenous Arabs their rights would be protected and land would be freed from foreign rule.

Palestinian Arabs saw through the scheme wanting no part of it. It was their land, and they weren't about to give it up without a struggle. They strongly opposed further Jewish immigration but to no avail, as their wishes conflicted with British plans for the territory. It set off decades of conflict leading to the establishment of the Jewish state in 1948 with British help under their Mandate and neighboring Arab state indifference doing little to prevent it. Palestinians lost their homeland, their struggle for justice goes on unresolved, and these beleaguered people are virtually isolated from the West and their Arab neighbors preferring alliance with Israel for their own interests that exclude helping Palestinian people get theirs served including a viable independent state free from Israeli occupation.

Pappe traces the early post-Balfour history when Palestinians comprised 80 - 90% of the population. Even then they fared poorly under British Mandate rule giving Zionist settlers preferential treatment. It led to uprisings in 1929 and 1936, the later one lasting three years before being brutally suppressed. In its wake, Britain expelled Palestinian leaders making their people vulnerable to Jewish forces post-WW II that led to their defeat and subjugation. The sympathetic British Mandate made it possible by helping Jewish settlers transform their 1920 paramilitary organization into the Hagana, a name meaning defense. It then became the military arm of the Jewish Agency or Zionist governing body now called the Israel Defense Forces or IDF.

Planning the Expulsion of the Palestinians

David Ben-Gurion, Israel's first prime minister, led the Zionist movement from the mid-1920s until well into the 1960s. He played a central role and had supreme authority planning the establishment of a Jewish state serving as its "architect" with full control over all security and defense issues in the Jewish community. His goal was Jewish sovereignty over as much of ancient Palestine as possible achieved the only way he thought possible - by forceable removable of Palestinians from their land so Jews could be resettled in it.

To do it, he and other Zionist leaders needed a systematic plan to "cleanse" the land for Jewish habitation only. It began with a detailed registry or inventory of Arab villages the Jewish National Fund (JNF) was assigned to compile. The JNF was founded in 1901 as the main Zionist tool for the colonization of Palestine. Its purpose was to buy land used to settle Jewish immigrants that by the end of the British Mandate in 1948 amounted to 5.8% of Palestine or a small fraction of what Zionists wanted for a Jewish state. Early on, Ben-Gurion and others knew a more aggressive approach was needed for their colonization plan to succeed.

It began with the JNF Arab village inventory that was a blueprint completed by the late 1930s that included the topographic location of each village with detailed information including husbandry, cultivated land, number of trees, quality of fruit, average amount of land per family, number of cars, shop owners, Palestinian clans and their political affiliation, descriptions of village mosques and names of their imams, civil servants and more. The final inventory update was finished in 1947 with lists of "wanted" persons in each village targeted in 1948 for search-and-arrest operations with those seized summarily shot on the spot in cold blood.

The idea was simple - kill the leaders and anyone thought to be a threat the British hadn't already eliminated quelling the 1936-39 uprising. It created a power vacuum neutralizing any effective opposition to Zionists' plans. The only remaining obstacle thereafter was the British presence Ben-Gurion knew was on the way out by 1946 before it finally ended in May, 1948.

Partition, Ethnic Cleansing, War, and Establishment of the State of Israel

Ethnic cleansing began in early December, 1947 when Palestinians comprised two-thirds of the population and Jews, mostly from war-torn Europe, the other third. The British tried dealing with two distinct ethnic entities choosing partition as the way to do it. By 1937, this solution became the centerpiece of Zionist policy, but it proved too hard for the Brits to resolve and be able to satisfy both sides. It instead handed the problem to the newly formed UN to deal with before their Mandate ended.

It put the Palestinians' fate in the hands of a Special Committee for Palestine (UNSCOP) whose members had no prior experience solving conflicts and knew little Palestinian history. It was a recipe for disaster as events unfolded. UNSCOP opted for partition favoring the Jews as compensation for the Nazi holocaust that became General Assembly Resolution 181 on November 29, 1947 giving them a state encompassing 56% the country with one-third of the population while making Jerusalem an international city. Palestinians were justifiably outraged. They were excluded from the decision-making process concluded against their will and at their expense.

From that moment on, the die was cast leading to partition, ethnic cleansing, the first Arab-Israeli war, the others to follow, and decades of disregard for their rights to this day creating their desperate state with no resolution in prospect. Resolution 181 was even worse than an unfair 56 - 44% division of territory as it allotted the most fertile land and almost all urban and rural territory in Palestine to the new Jewish state plus 400 of the over 1000 Palestinian villages their residents lost with no right of appeal.

Pappe explains Ben-Gurion simultaneously accepted and rejected the resolution. He and other Zionist leaders wanted official international recognition of the right of Jews to have their own state in Palestine. He was also determined to make Jerusalem the Jewish capital, intended final borders to remain flexible wanting to include within them as much future territory as possible, and today Israel is the only country in the world without established borders. Ben-Gurion decided borders would "be determined by force and not by partition resolution." He headed the Consultancy or Consultant Committee, an ad-hoc cabal of Zionist leaders created solely to plan the expulsion of Palestinians to cleanse the land for Jewish habitation only.

The process began in early December, 1947 with a series of attacks against Palestinian villages and neighborhoods. They were engaged ineffectively from the start on January 9 by units of the first all-Arab volunteer army. It resulted in forced expulsions beginning in mid-February, 1948. On March 10, final Plan Dalet was adopted with its first targets being Palestinian urban centers that were all occupied by end of April with about 250,000 Palestinians uprooted, displaced or killed including by massacres, the most notorious and remembered being at Deir Yassin even though Tantura may have been the largest.

Deir Yassin was Palestinian land on April 9 when Jewish soldiers burst into the village, machine-gunned houses randomly killing many in them. The remaining villagers were then assembled in one place and murdered in cold blood including children and women first raped and then killed. Recent research puts the number massacred at 93 (including 30 babies), but dozens more were killed in the fighting that ensued making the total number of deaths much higher.

The Arab League finally decided on April 30 to intervene militarily but only after the British Mandate ended on May 15, 1948, the day the Jewish Agency declared the establishment of the state of Israel in Palestine. The US and Soviet Union officially recognized the new state legitimizing it, and on the same day Arab forces entered the territory.

Pappe details the Zionist leadership's plan and steps it followed to gain as much of Palestine as possible with the fewest number of Palestinians remaining in it, irrespective of Resolution 181 it ignored. They wanted over 80% of Mandatory Palestine or over 40% more land than the UN allotted them taken forcibly from the Palestinians. To get it, they colluded tacitly with the Jordanians, effectively neutralizing the strongest Arab army, buying them off with the remaining 20% of the territory.

On the eve of battle in 1948, Jewish fighting forces were around 50,000 (increasing by summer to 80,000). They included a small air force, navy and units of tanks, armored cars and heavy artillery. The army was comprised of the main Hagana force plus elements of the two extremist terrorist groups - the Irgun led by future prime minister and fanatical Arab-hater Menachem Begin and the Stern Gang whose most notorious member was also a future prime minister, Yitzhak Shamir, another extreme racist. It also included special commando Palmach units, founded in 1941 and whose leaders included future Israeli prime minister Yitzhak Rabin and noted general and war hero Moshe Dayan. They faced a hopelessly outmanned and outgunned Palestinian irregular force of about 7000.

Outside Arab intervention only began on May 15, 1948, five and a half months after UN Resolution 181 was adopted and during which time the Palestinians were defenseless against the Zionist ethnic cleansing onslaught against them. Arab states waited because they were indifferent, and when they finally acted they sent an inferior force proving no match for the superior Jewish one it faced to be discussed further below.

Finalizing Plans to De-Arabize Palestine

In December, 1947, the Palestinian population numbered 1.3 million of which one million lived in the territory of the future Jewish state. The Jewish minority stood at 600,000. Zionist leaders needed a way to dispose of this large number of people "cleansing" the land for Jewish habitation only. They weren't planning to do it gently. Instead it became a systematic campaign of state-sponsored terror against a near-defenseless population unable to withstand the horrific onslaught unleashed against it step by step. It included threats and intimidation, villages attacked including while its inhabitants slept, shooting anything that moved, and blowing up homes with their residents inside plus other violent acts sparing no one, especially fighting-age men and boys who might pose a combat or determined resistance threat.

Ben-Gurion exulted in the progress as events unfolded with comments like: "We are told the army had the ability of destroying a whole village and taking out all its inhabitants, let's do it." Another time he explained: "Every attack has to end with occupation, destruction and expulsion." He meant the entire population of a village had to be removed, everything in it leveled to the ground and its history destroyed. In its place, a new Jewish community would be established as part of the new Jewish state he and others in the Consultancy believed wasn't possible without a mass ethnic cleansing transfer and/or extermination of Palestinians living there.

Their plan also included cleansing urban neighborhoods that were attacked beginning with Haifa picked as the first target. It was where 75,000 Palestinians lived in peace and solidarity with their Jewish neighbors until it ended with the outbreak of violence. It moved on to other cities including Jerusalem where initial sporadic attacks later became intense. It was part of an overall initiative of occupation, expulsion and slaughter of anyone resisting or just having the misfortune to live on land Zionists wanted for themselves and intended taking by force.

As ethnic cleansing progressed, it got more vicious as the Consultancy decided to ransack whole villages and massacre large numbers in them including women, children and babies. Shamefully, it began and intensified under Mandate authority with a large British military presence on the ground to maintain order that never did. It chose instead to look the other way and let all horrific events on the ground go on unimpeded. By March, 1948, Plan Dalet became operational as the battle plan to remove the entire Palestinian population from the 78% of the country Zionists established as the state of Israel on May 15 when the Mandate ended.

The campaign included disingenuous rhetoric and propaganda about Jews in Palestine being under threat from a hostile population having to go on the offensive in self-defense. The truth turned that notion on its head because of the military, political and economic imbalance between the two communities. It was so lopsided, the outcome was never in doubt as long as the British stayed out of it. They did, and after the Mandate ended in mid-May it was the UN's problem to deal with. It also failed the test as discussed below.

Plan Dalet began in the rural hills on the western slopes of the Jerusalem mountains half way on the road to Tel-Aviv. It was called Operation Nachshon, and it served as a model for future campaigns. It employed sudden massive expulsions using terror tactics that proved the most effective way to clear an area preparing it for Jewish resettlement to follow. Early on, the plan wasn't to spare a single village, and orders given to carry it out were clear: "the principle objective of the operation is the destruction of Arab villages (and) the eviction of the villagers so that they would become an economic liability for the general Arab forces."

To motivate attacking Israeli forces, Palestinians were dehumanized as sub-humans worthy of no respect or consideration making them legitimate targets for destruction. It's the same tactic US forces used against the Japanese in WW II, in Vietnam and today in Iraq and Afghanistan. In each instance, targets were people of color or others not white enough like Arabs.

Pappe details what he calls the "urbicide of Palestine" that included attacking and cleansing the major urban centers in the country. They included Tiberias, Haifa, Tel-Aviv, Safad and what Pappe calls the "Phantom City of Jerusalem" changed from the "Eternal City" once Jewish troops shelled, attacked and occupied its western Arab neighborhoods in April, 1948. The Brits stood aside shamelessly doing nothing to stop it except in one area, Ahaykh Jarrah, where a local British commander intervened.

It was a rare exception proving how much better Palestinians would have fared if their British "protectors" had actually done their job. They didn't, and the result was anarchy and a state of panic with Israelis having free reign to ravage Northern and Western Jerusalem with heavy shelling, pillaging and destruction while ethnically cleansing the population in eight Palestinian neighborhoods and 39 villages in the greater Jerusalem area transferring them to the Eastern part of the city.

The urbicide continued into May with the occupation of Acre on the coast and Baysan in the East on May 6. On May 13, Jaffa was the last city taken two days before the Mandate ended. The city had 1500 volunteers against 5000 Jewish troops. It survived a three week siege and attack through mid-May, but when it fell its entire population of 50,000 was expelled. With its fall, Jewish occupying forces had emptied and depopulated all the major cities and towns of Palestine, and most of their inhabitants never again got to see their former homes.

Pappe explains this all happened between March 30 and May 15, 1948 "before a single regular Arab soldier had entered Palestine (to help Palestinians which they did ineffectively when they finally came)." His account also undermines the Israeli-concocted myth that Palestinians left voluntarily before or after Arab forces intervened. Nearly half their villages were attacked and destroyed before Arab countries sent in any forces, and another 90 villages were wiped out from May 15 (when the Mandate ended) till June 11 when the first of two short-lived truces took effect.

The UN's partition plan caused the problem, and yet the world body did nothing to remediate a situation that was out of control. Early on it was clear a potential disaster loomed that, in fact, ended up worse than first imagined. Still, the British through May 15, the UN, and neighboring Arab states of Egypt, Syria, Lebanon, Jordan and Iraq procrastinated as long as possible before reluctantly stepping in, and when they did it was too little, too late. Pappe calls Jordan's (Transjordan then) King Abdullah "the odd man out." He had army units inside Palestine, some were willing to protect villagers' homes and lands, but they were restrained by their commanders.

It was because earlier the King and Zionists cut a deal allowing Jordan to annex most of the land the partition allocated to the Palestinians that became the West Bank. In return, Jordanian forces agreed not to engage Jewish troops militarily. To their shame and discredit, the Brits agreed to this scheme effectively sealing the Palestinians' fate. Still, once the British Mandate ended, Jordan had to fight Jewish forces for what it got because Ben-Gurion reneged on his deal. All along, he wanted as much territory as possible for a new Jewish state on more land than the 78% he ended up with. The Jordanian military prevailed, spoiling his plans. It saved 250,000 Palestinians in the West Bank from being ethnically cleansed the way other Palestinians were who weren't as fortunate.

As already explained, after waffling during March and April, the Arab League finally sent regular armies to intervene in Palestine. Ironically at this time, it was learned the US State Department on March 12, 1948 drafted a new proposal to the UN suggesting the partition plan failed and an alternate approach was needed. The proposal was for an international trusteeship over Palestine to last five years during which time the two sides would work out a mutually agreed solution. It concluded partitioning failed and was causing violence and bloodshed. Pappe notes in the long history of Palestine and its relationship to the West, this was the most sensible proposal ever made.

Shamefully it was stillborn because even then a Zionist lobby was influential in Washington, it dealt with Harry Truman in the White House, and it succeeded in derailing the State Department's efforts even though Department Arabists convinced Truman to rethink the partition plan and proposed a three month armistice to both sides to consider it. That also failed as a new Jewish People's Board was created and met on May 12. Ben-Gurion and almost all others present rejected Truman's offer. Three days later they established the state of Israel which the White House recognized almost immediately.

The Phony and Real Wars Over Palestine

As explained above, Jordan's King Abdullah cut a deal with Zionists to get what turned out to be the West Bank in return for not committing troops to the short-lived conflict beginning in May although Abdullah, if fact, had to fight for what he got because of Jewish duplicity. Zionists needed to neutralize Jordan because it had the strongest army in the Arab world and would have been a formidable threat had it become part of the overall Arab force that went to war with the new Jewish state. Their staying out of it was the reason the Arab League's English Commander-in-Chief, Glubb Pasha, called the 1948 war in Palestine the "Phony War." Pasha knew Abdullah cut a deal for his own territorial gain and other Arab armies entering the war planned to do it "pathetically" as some on the Arab interventionist side called their campaign.

Cairo only committed forces the last minute on May 12. It set aside 10,000 troops for the engagement, but half of them were Muslim Brotherhood volunteers opposed to Egyptian collaboration with imperialism, and they'd just been released from prison because of their opposition. They had no training, were likely picked as convenient cannon fodder, and despite their fervor were no match for the Jewish military.

Syrian forces were better trained, their political leaders more committed, but only a small contingent was sent, and they performed so ineffectively the Consultancy considered seizing the Golan Heights later gotten in the 1967 war. Even smaller and less committed were Lebanese units most of which stayed on their side of the border defending adjacent villages. Iraqi troops were also involved but only numbered a few thousand. Their government ordered them not to attack Israel but only to defend the West Bank land allocated to Jordan. Still, they defied orders, became more broadly engaged, and temporarily saved 15 Palestinian villages in Wadi Ara until 1949 when the Jordanian government ceded the area to Israel as part of a bilateral armistice agreement.

Overall, invading Arab forces performed "pathetically." They overstretched their supply lines, ran out of ammunition, used mostly antiquated and malfunctioning arms, and there was no command and control coordination vital for a successful campaign. It showed their lack of commitment to the final outcome although in fairness to them their main British and French suppliers declared an arms embargo on Palestine hamstringing their effort.

In contrast, Jewish forces had a ready source of armaments from the Soviet Union and its Eastern bloc countries like Checkoslovakia. As a result, their weapons easily outgunned the combined Arab force, and its force size outnumbered and outclassed them. Jewish forces were never threatened, and Pappe exposed the Israeli-concocted myth that the very existence of a Jewish state was at stake. It never was, and Ben-Gurion and other Zionist leaders knew it early on.

The war's outcome was never in doubt, and it allowed ethnic cleansing to go on unimpeded. It spared no one from removal, slaughter and loss of their homes and land. They were dynamited, torched, and leveled to the ground to make way for new Jewish settlements and neighborhoods to be built on vacated land. Still Arab forces continued fighting getting Israelis to agree to the first of two brief truces. The first one was declared on June 8 and begun on the 11th. It lasted until July 8, during which time the Israeli army continued its cleansing operation that included mass destruction of emptied villages.

A second truce began on July 18 that was violated immediately. The Israeli leadership was undeterred and continued engaging in widespread ethnic cleansing and seizure of as much land as possible. Truce or no truce, the campaign went on unhindered to conclusion that was mostly completed by October and wrapped up finally in January, 1949 except for some mopping-up operations that continued until summer.

In September, 1948, the war, such as it was, continued but subsided. It finally ended in 1949 when Israel signed separate armistice agreements with its four major warring adversaries. The agreements allotted Israel 78% of British Mandatory Palestine, over 40% more than the UN partition allowed. The cease-fire lines agreed to became known as the "Green Line." Gaza was occupied by Egypt and the West Bank by Jordan. For the victorious Israelis, this was their moment of triumph in their "War of Independence", but for the defeated and displaced Palestinians it became known as "al Nakba" - "The Catastrophe." An unknown number of Palestinians were killed and about 800,000 became refugees. Their lives were destroyed, and they were left to the mercy of neighboring Arab countries and conditions in the camps where they barely got any.

Toward the end of 1948, Israel focused on its anti-repatriation policy pursuing it on two levels. The first was national, introduced in August that year, with the decision taken to destroy all cleansed villages transforming them into new Jewish settlements or "natural" forests. The second level was diplomatic to avoid international pressure to allow Palestinian refugees to return to their homes and villages.

Nonetheless, Palestinians had an ally in the UN Palestine Conciliation Commission (PCC) that spearheaded efforts for refugees to return and called for their unconditional right to do it. Their position became UN Resolution 194 giving Palestinians the unconditional option to return to their homes or be compensated for their losses if they chose not to. This right was also affirmed in Article 13 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights adopted as General Assembly Resolution 217 A (III) on December 10, 1948, the day before it passed Resolution 194. To this day, all Israeli governments have ignored both resolutions and gotten away with it because of support and complicity by the West and indifference by Israel's Arab neighbors preferring strategic alliances for their own benefit and writing off the Palestinians as a small price to pay for it to their shame and disgrace.

The Ugly Face of Occupation

Even at war's end and Israel's ethnic cleansing completed, Palestinians' agony and hardships were only beginning. Throughout 1949, and beginning a precedent continuing to this day, about 8,000 refugees were put in prison camps while many others escaping cleansing were physically abused and harassed under Israeli military rule. The Palestinians lost everything including their homes, fields, places of worship and other holy places, freedom of movement and expression and any hope for just treatment and redress according to the rule of law not applied to them. They were afflicted with such indignities as needing newly-issued identity cards. Not having them on their person at all times meant imprisonment up to 1.5 years and immediate transfer to a pen for "unauthorized" and "suspicious" Arabs. This went on in cities and rural areas as undisguised racism and persecution.

Other kinds of Israeli harshness were also introduced at this time that all Palestinians are still subjected to today in the Occupied Palestinian Territories (OPT). There were roadblocks that now include checkpoints and curfews with violators shot on sight. These conditions were imposed to make life so unbearable, those subjected to them might opt to leave the territories for relief elsewhere.

Worse still in 1949 were labor camps where thousands of Palestinian prisoners were held under military rule for forced labor for all tasks that could strengthen the economy or aid the military. Conditions in them were deplorable and included working in quarries carrying heavy stones, living on one potato in the morning and half a dried fish at noon. Anyone complaining was beaten severely, and others were singled out for summary execution if they were considered a threat.

Life outside prison and labor camps wasn't much better. Red Cross representatives sent their Geneva headquarters reports of collective human rights abuses including finding piles of dead bodies. Overall, Palestinians surviving expulsion and now Israeli citizens gained nothing. They had no rights and were subjected to constant random violence and abuse with no protection from the law applying only to Jews. Their places of worship were profaned and schools vandalized. Those still with homes were robbed with impunity by looters in broad daylight. They took everything they wanted - furniture, clothing, anything useful for Jewish immigrants entering the new Jewish state. Palestinians reported that there wasn't a single home or shop not broken into and ransacked. The authorities did nothing to stop it or prosecute offenders. It was like living under a perpetual "Kristallnacht."

Further, Palestinian areas were "ghettoised" as a way to imprison people other than by putting them behind bars or in camps. In Haifa, for example, they were ordered from their homes and transferred to designated parts of the city, then crammed into confined quarters the way it was done in Wadi Nisnas, one of the city's poorest areas. The UN and Red Cross also reported many cases of rape, confirmed by uncovered Israeli archives and from the oral history of victims and their boasting victimizers.

Finally, with the war over and ethnic cleansing completed, the Israeli government relaxed its harshness and halted the looting and ghettoisation in cities. A new structure was created called The Committee for Arab Affairs that dealt with growing international pressure on Israel to allow for repatriation of the refugees. Israeli officials tried to sidestep efforts by proposing instead refugees be settled in neighboring Arab states like Lebanon, Jordan and Syria. Their efforts succeeded as discussions produced no results nor was there much effort to enforce Resolution 194.

Other issues also remained unresolved including money expropriated from the former 1.3 million Palestinian citizens of Mandatory Palestine as well as their property now in Israeli hands. The first governor of the Israeli national bank estimated it was valued at 100 million British pounds. There was also the question of cultivated land confiscated and lost that amounted to 3.5 million dunum or almost 22,000 square miles. The Israeli government forestalled international indignation by appointing a custodian for the newly acquired properties pending their final disposition. It dealt with the problem by selling them to public and private Jewish groups which it claimed the right to do as the moment confiscated lands came under government custodianship they became property of the state of Israel. That, in turn, meant none of it could be sold to Arabs which is still the law in Israel today.

As this took place, the human geography of Palestine was transformed by design. Its Arab character in cities was erased and with it the history and culture of people who lived there for centuries before Zionists arrived to depopulate their state making it one for Jews alone. They only succeeded partially but managed to transform ancient Palestine into the state of Israel creating insurmountable problems Palestinians now face in it and the OPT. In 1949, about 150,000 Palestinians survived expulsion in the territory of Israel and were now citizens designated by the Committee of Arab Affairs as "Arab Israelis." That designation meant they were denied all rights given Jews.

They were put under military rule, comparable to the Nuremberg Laws under the Nazis and no less harsh. It denied them the basic rights of free expression, movement, organization and equality with the "chosen Jewish people" of the new Jewish state. They still had the right to vote and could be elected to the Israeli Knesset, but with severe restrictions. This regime lasted officially until 1966, but, in fact, never ended to this day and has been especially severe since the democratic election of Hamas in January, 2006 as well as throughout the Second Intifada that began with Ariel Sharon's provocative visit to the al-Aqsa Mosque on September 28, 2000.

The Committee of Arab Affairs continued meeting, and as late as 1956 considered plans for mass removal of all remaining Arabs in Israel. Even though ethnic cleansing formerly ended in 1949, expulsions continued throughout this period until 1953, but never really ended to this day. Palestinians surviving it paid a terrible price with the loss of their possessions, land, history and future still unaddressed with justice so far denied them and ignored.

The theft of their land by ethnic cleansing led to new Jewish settlements in their place and now are built on occupied Palestinian land in the OPT. In 1950, disposition of it was placed in the hands of the Settlement Department of the Jewish National Fund (JNF). The JNF law was passed in 1953 granting the agency independent status as landowner for the Jewish state. That law and others, like the Law of the Land of Israel, stipulated the JNF wasn't allowed to sell or lease land to non-Jews. The Knesset passed a final law in 1967, the Law of Agricultural Settlement, prohibiting the subletting of Jewish-owned land to non-Jews. The law also prohibited water resources from being transferred to non-JNF lands.

After ethnic cleansing completion, Palestinians remaining comprised 17% of the new Israeli state but were was allotted only 2% of the land to live and build on with another 1% for agricultural use only. Today, 1.4 million Palestinian Arabs are Israeli citizens or about 20% of the population. The still have the same 3% total, an intolerable situation for a population this size. The 1.4 million Palestinians in occupied, ghettoized and quarantined Gaza live under even harsher conditions in what's now considered the world's largest open air prison with a population density three times that of Manhattan. The 2.5 million others in the West Bank aren't treated much better living under severe repression from a foreign occupier.

"Memoricide" of the Nakba

Palestinian lands under JNF control also included authority to rename them to destroy centuries of history they signified. The task went to archaeolgists and biblical experts volunteering to serve on an official Naming Committee to "Hebraisize" Palestine's geography. The goal was to de-Arabize the lands, erase their history, and use it for new Jewish colonization and development as well as create European-looking national parks with recreational facilities including picnic sites and children's playgrounds for Jews only. Hidden beneath them were destroyed Palestinian villages erased from the public memory but not from that of people who once lived there who'd never forget or allow their descendents to.

The JNF website features four of the larger, most popular resort parks belying and defiling the long history beneath them - the Birya Forest, Ramat Menashe Forest, Jerusalem Forest and Sataf. They all symbolize Pappe's poignant prose that: "better than any other space today in Israel, (these lands represent) both the Nakba and the denial of the Nakba." Today, descendents of families displaced six decades ago still live in refuge camps and diasporic communities in neighboring Arab countries and elsewhere. Their collective memories won't ever be erased nor will justice be served until they receive redress for the crimes committed against their ancestors and those still living.

Pappe emphasizes what other regional experts like him believe - the key to peace in the Middle East is a just and lasting settlement of the Palestinian refugee problem as well as equity for those living in the OPT and all Palestinian Israeli citizens long denied any rights and forced to live in an Israeli apartheid state under harsh conditions of severe repression.

Pappe believes two main factors deter conflict resolution today - the Zionist ideology of ethnic supremacy and the so-called "peace process" that's always been structured to avoid peace at all costs. The first factor continues denying the Nakba's legitimacy, and the second one always succeeds in foiling an international will to bring justice to the region by maintaining a state of conflict to justify Israel's harsh response to it pretending it's for self-defense. It works because the US supports and funds the Jewish state allowing it to get away with mass-murder, property destruction, land theft and denial of everything Palestinians hold dear including their lives and freedom. Nothing has changed since 1948 because the West goes along as well as do most Arab states for their own political and economic gain. Palestinians have no bargaining power and can do nothing to alleviate their plight.

The UN world body should have aided them but never did. It's flawed partition plan caused the conflict to begin with. It cost Palestinians everything, and nothing happened since to win them redress. Even after its early missteps, the UN might have made a difference but erred again by not involving the International Refugee Organization (IRO) that always recommends repatriation as a refugee entitlement. Instead it backed Israel's wish to avoid IRO involvement by creating a special agency for Palestinian refugees that became UNRWA in 1950 or the UN Relief and Work Agency. UNRWA wasn't committed to the Right of Return and only looked after refugees' daily needs to provide employment and fund permanent camps to house them. Its efforts amounted to little more than putting band-aids on gaping wounds still raw and unaddressed.

It's typical of how the UN still operates today under the thumb of its dominant member country where it's headquartered. It's so-called "peacekeeping" function is a pathetic and disgraceful example as keeping the peace is the one thing Blue Helmets almost never do. Its first ever operation began in 1948 as the United Nations Truce Supervision Organization (UNTSO) mandated to supervise the armistice agreements and earlier uneasy truces between warring Israeli and Arab forces. It's been there ever since, never prevented wars in 1956, 1967 and 1973 nor did it ever succeed in establishing or maintaining peace. The operation is still active, but it's little more than a pathetic presence without purpose observing violations on the ground and doing nothing to stop them or even report them properly to superiors. The IDF controls everything, operates freely, and UN "peacekeepers" keep quiet but no peace.

Out of this mess earlier, Palestinian nationalism emerged as the Palestinian Liberation Organization (PLO) that became the sole legitimate representative of the Palestinian people. It was founded by the Arab League in 1964 and committed to the Right of Return. It also had to confront what Pappe calls "two manifestations of denial" - international peace brokers' denial of Palestinian concerns as part of a future peace arrangement and refusal to deal with Israelis' denial of the Nakba and their unwillingness to be held accountable for it. To this day, refugee issues and Nakba crimes are excluded from the so-called "peace process" assuring there never will be a one unless that changes.

At first, in the spring of 1949, the UN made some conflict resolution effort by organizing a conference in Lausanne, Switzerland. Nothing came from it, however, because prime minister Ben-Gurion and King Abdullah scuttled it to get on with their partition scheme. Two more decades were then lost until after the 1967 war when the US got more involved, began colluding with the Israelis, and couched all new peace efforts within an overall context of a Middle East Pax Americana. It meant from that time till now, an equitable resolution of the conflict and attention to Palestinians' needs and rights were sidelined in favor of addressing Israeli needs and those of its US partner.

In 1967, Israel excluded the 1948 Nakba and Right of Return from any peace discussions. Thenceforth, it based all negotiations on the notion that the conflict began in 1967 when Israel seized and occupied the West Bank and Gaza in the June Six Days' War that year. This was how Israel sought to legitimize its 1948 "War of Independence" and all its crimes it wanted erased from the public memory. No longer were they on the table to be considered in any future conflict resolution negotiation. For Palestinians, the 1948 Nakba is their core issue, and without it being settled equitably there can never be closure or a real lasting peace in the region.

Nonetheless, by the mid-seventies, the PLO softened its stance enough to accept a US-led international consensus favoring a two-state solution. It led to the 1978 Camp David Accords and peace treaty between Israel and Egypt, but it left Palestinians out in the cold by implicitly renouncing their Right of Return and failing to address the issue of an independent state.

The predictable result was festering anger in the OPT that led to the first Intifada in 1987 that, in turn, led to the Madrid peace conference following the 1991 Gulf war. From it, the 1993 Oslo Accords and so-called Declaration of Principles emerged that once again betrayed Palestinian hopes for redress denied them to this day. Israel got an agreement to establish a new Palestinian Authority (PA) to act as its comprador enforcer to control a restive people. All the tough issues were left unaddressed meaning they never would be - an independent Palestinian state, the Right of Return, status of Jerusalem, settlements in the OPT and established borders.

Oslo I led to Oslo II in 1995 and further betrayal. The new agreement divided the West Bank into three zones - Areas A, B, and C plus a fourth area of Israeli occupied East Jerusalem. It established a complicated system of control allowing Israel in Area C to build settlements on the most valuable land with its water resources mostly denied the Palestinians. By 2000, 59% of the West Bank was in Area C. Israel is slowly annexing more of the territory by expanding settlements and building new ones. It's also getting it by its Separation or Apartheid Wall on seized Palestinian land, building new roads for Jews only on more of it, and defining one-third of the West Bank as Greater Jerusalem.

So-called "permanent status" talks began in July, 2000 at Camp David that once again resulted in betrayal. Israelis never made a good faith offer in writing or intended to. They provided no documentation or maps. All Palestinians got was a plan dividing the West Bank into four isolated "Bantustan" cantons surrounded by Israeli settlements and continued occupation with no resolution of their fundamental long-standing problems and core issues.

Predictably it led to the second al-Aqsa Mosque Intifada triggered by Ariel Sharon's provocative visit to the Muslim Noble Sanctuary on September 28, 2000 as explained above. It then spun out of control when Palestinians, fed up with Fatah betrayal, democratically elected a Hamas government in January, 2006 foiling Israeli efforts to assure their complicit allies would again prevail. When they didn't, Israel denounced the results, never accepted Hamas as a peace partner, refused to negotiate with them in good faith, and acted ever since in bad faith to destroy Hamas and punish the Palestinian people for their "wrong" choice. That's how things always work under rules of imperial management practiced by the US and its Israeli partner complicit in their collective attempt to destroy a democratically elected government misportraying them as "terrorists" to get the West to go along and the public to believe it.

Today, Israel is slowly annexing more of the West Bank in a relentless process wanting all useful parts of it for exclusive Jewish habitation only. It made the job easier by defining one-third of it as Greater Jerusalem while expropriating Palestinian land to expand existing settlements, build new ones, add new roads for Jews only, and erect the Separation Wall falsely claimed for security to disguise its real land-grab purpose plus another way to cantonize Palestinians in isolated areas cut off from all others and effectively enclose them in large open-air prisons.

This is part of the appalling daily oppression and persecution ongoing against Palestinians in the OPT and also against Israeli Arab citizens living in Israel. Former US president Jimmy Carter pierced the "last taboo" daring to open a forbidden window on part of it in his new best-selling book Peace Not Apartheid that got him vilified by the Israeli Lobby implying he's anti-semitic. He courageously wrote about a rigid system of segregation in the OPT even though he failed to acknowledge the same injustices go on inside Israel he called a model democratic state which it is not.

Palestinian Israeli citizens living get none of the democratic rights afforded Israeli Jews, and Carter, of course, knows that or should know it. He distanced himself from that consideration that might have been too much truth to reveal at one time. Nonetheless, his bold, if partial, step represents an important breakthrough that may encourage other high-level officials in the US and elsewhere to add their voices to his exposing all Israeli crimes demanding redress. They won't ever be addressed until enough prominent figures step forward to denounce them and finally reveal their extent to an uninformed public.

Redress one day will come just like it did for Jews no longer persecuted as they were for centuries. But it won't happen until the power of the Israeli Lobby is neutralized by forces for truth and justice surpassing it in power and influence. That day is nowhere in sight, but when it arrives, Jews and Arabs will again live in peace the way they once did in pre-Zionist times. It's the way Jews and Christians now easily mix in the US unlike decades ago when anti-semitism was significant enough to deny Jews the kinds of opportunities and rights they now take for granted including achieving positions of high influence in government, business, academia and other prominent public and private institutions in the country. There's no reason Jews and Arabs can't coexist as easily provided there's a will to do it or events intervene.

An Intractable Problem Caused by "Fortress Israel"

Pappe's final chapter deals with what Israel calls its "demographic problem" and need to limit future Palestinian population growth. The problem is an old one understood by early Zionists as the major obstacle in the way of their dream of a homeland for Jews alone. Theodor Herzl wrote his solution in his diary in 1895: "We shall endeavour to expel the poor population across the border unnoticed, procuring employment for it in the transit countries, but denying it any employment in our own country."

n 1947, Ben-Gurion adopted his own version of Herzl's solution with his ethnic cleaning plan that's gone on ever since in various forms under succeeding prime ministers to this day. It's meant continual displacement of Palestinians in the West Bank by new and expanded Israeli settlement developments and Separation Wall land seizures. Pappe explains the "Zionist project (today is trying) to construct and then defend a 'white' (Western) fortress in a 'black' (Arab) world. At the heart of the refusal to
There’s a smell of treason in the air
presidential historian Douglas Brinkley
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