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Thursday, December 29, 2011

Israeli navy attacks international observers, injures Palestinian, on monitoring boat in Gaza waters

Thursday December 29, 2011 06:25 by International Solidarity Movement - press release
At 10:55 am on Wednesday December 28th, an Israeli naval warship attacked the international observers and Palestinian captain of the Civil Peace Service Gaza (CPSGAZA) boat Oliva, injuring its captain in an apparent attempt to capsize it.
Rosa Schiano, Civil Peace Service Gaza (CPSGAZA)
Rosa Schiano, Civil Peace Service Gaza (CPSGAZA)

“The Israeli navy passed near us and the fishermen, and started to go around us, creating waves,” said Rosa Schiano, one of the international observers. “The fishermen escaped, but we couldn’t because of a problem with our engine. We couldn’t move, and they went around us very quickly. The Israelis saw that we couldn’t move, and that the captain was trying to fix the engine, but they didn’t stop. We told them, ‘Please stop! Please stop!’ But they didn’t.”

When the warship was two meters away from the Oliva, one of the waves it had created nearly capsized the small boat, filling it with water and causing the Palestinian captain to fall out, injuring his left leg.

“Their intentions were to do something very bad,” said international observer Daniela Riva. “Coming so close to us was very dangerous, and they obviously knew that.”

After more than twenty minutes, the warship retreated, and the Oliva was rescued by a small Palestinian fishing boat, or hasaka, which threw it a line and towed it toward the shore.

The incident followed similar attacks on the Oliva during previous missions.


Restrictions on the fishing zone are of considerable significance to Palestinian livelihood. Initially 20 nautical miles, it is presently often enforced between 1.5 – 2 nautical miles (PCHR: 2010). The marine ‘buffer zone’ restricts Gazan fishermen from accessing 85% of Gaza’s fishing waters agreed to by Oslo.”

During the Oslo Accords, specifically under the Gaza-Jericho Agreement of 1994, representatives of Palestine agreed to 20 nautical miles for fishing access. In 2002 the UN Secretary General Kofi Annan empowered Catherine Bertini to negotiate with Israel on key issues regarding the humanitarian crisis in the Occupied Palestinian Territories and a 12 nautical mile fishing limit was agreed upon. In June 2006, following the capture of the Israeli soldier Gilad Shalit near the crossing of Kerem Abu Salem (Kerem Shalom), the navy imposed a complete sea blockade for several months. When the complete blockade was finally lifted, Palestinian fishermen found that a 6 nautical mile limit was being enforced. When Hamas gained political control of the Gaza Strip, the limit was reduced to 3 nautical miles. During the massive assault on the Strip in 2008-2009, a complete blockade was again declared. After Operation Cast Lead, the Israeli army began imposing a 1.5 – 2 nautical miles (PCHR: 2010).

The fishing community is often similarly targeted as the farmers in the ‘buffer zone’ and the fishing limit is enforced with comparable aggression, with boats shot at or rammed as near as 2nm to the Gazan coast by Israeli gunboats.

The fishermen have been devastated, directly affecting an estimated 65,000 people and reducing the catch by 90%. The coastal areas are now grossly over-fished and 2/3 of fishermen have left the industry since 2000 (PCHR: 2009). Recent statistics of the General Union of Fishing Workers indicate that the direct losses since the second Intifada in September 2000 were estimated at a million dollars and the indirect losses were estimated at 13.25 million dollars during the same period. The 2009 fishing catch amounted to a total of 1,525 metric tones, only 53 percent of the amount during 2008 (2,845 metric tones) and 41 percent of the amount in 1999 (3,650 metric tones), when the fishermen of Gaza could still fish up to ten nautical miles from the coast.

Current figures indicate that during 2010 the decline in the fishing catch continues. This has caused an absurd arrangement to become standard practice. The fishermen sail out not to fish, but to buy fish off of Egyptian boats and then sell this fish in Gaza. According to the Fishermen’s Union, a monthly average of 105 tons of fish has been entering Gaza through the tunnels since the beginning of 2010 (PCHR 2009).

Video footage of the incident on December 28th:

EU blasts Israel on discrimination

Thu Dec 29, 2011 9:42PM
Thousands of Arabs in Israel attend a demonstration to mark Land Day in the town of Arrabe, near the coastal city of Haifa on March 30, 2011. 
European Union (EU) envoys in Israel have criticized Tel Aviv's maltreatment of Arabs living in Israel, a report on the human rights violations says.

"While the international community is focused predominantly on restarting the Israeli-Palestinian peace process, we should see Israel's treatment of its minorities as a core issue, not second tier to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict," the confidential 27-page study obtained by AFP on Thursday said.

The report says Arabs living in Israel are worse off than non-Arabs in terms of income, education, housing and access to land.

A draft of the report dated November 2011 stated that Israel's “security policies” clearly target Arabs.

The EU often publishes reports on worsening human rights situation in the Israeli-occupied West Bank, but this is its first report on the 1.37 million Arabs that make up more than 20 percent of Israel's population.

The Arabs in Israel are the remainder, or descendants, of Palestinians who did not leave their land after “Israeli Declaration of Independence” in 1948, known as Yawm an-Nakbah, or day of the catastrophe among the Palestinians.

In 1948, the Tel Aviv regime forced 760,000 Palestinians out of their homeland to the West Bank and Gaza Strip, neighboring Arab states as well as to many other countries in the world, and hundreds of Palestinian villages were depopulated and destroyed.


Settlers run rampage in West Bank

by Khalid Amayreh on 12/28/2011

Nazi-like Jewish settlers have continued to attack mosques and churches in the West Bank as part of a seemingly concerted effort to force Palestinians to leave their homes.

A mosque in Qusra village was damaged when settlers threw burning tires into it, damaging its entire first floor. West Bank, Palestine.
A mosque in Qusra village was damaged when settlers threw burning tires into it, damaging its entire first floor. West Bank, Palestine.

The government-backed settlers often describe their frequent attacks on Palestinians and their properties as "price tag" reprisals against the Israeli army for daring to dismantle some isolated Jewish settler outposts.

As to why the settler terrorists choose to target innocent Palestinians, not the army, settler spokespersons argue that attacking Palestinian mosques -- and to a lesser extent churches -- creates headlines, and effectively highlights the settlers' "grievances" in addition to embarrassing the occupation army.

Another reason for the wanton terror has to do with the simple fact that the settlers can do it virtually with impunity. Indeed, despite the fact that as many as 20 mosques and six churches have been targeted of late, not a single settler has been apprehended for the attacks.

This colossal failure, say Jewish commentators, may be attributed to two main reasons. First, lack of political will on the Israeli government's part to harm or collide with the settlers since a confrontation with the settlers would probably bring down the government, or at least make a sizable segment of Israelis lose confidence in it.

The current coalition government includes key fundamentalist Talmudic parties that are largely considered "settler parties". These include the so-called National Union, which advocates ethnic cleansing of non-Jews, Shas, the Haredi ultra-orthodox party representing Middle Eastern Jews, as well as the Likud, which is no less demagogic and racist vis-à-vis the Palestinians.

Second, Israeli settlers and their supporters have infiltrated both the Israeli army itself as well as the justice system, hence the "kid gloves" treatment settlers receive from the political and military establishment as well as the courts.

Israeli leaders, embarrassed by the horrifying regularity of settler attacks on mosques, vowed ad nauseam that they would catch the perpetrators and bring them to justice. However, the persistence of the attacks and the defiance displayed by the settlers suggest that the government is either unable or unwilling to enter into a confrontation with the settlers for the sake of the Palestinians and even if Israel's already tarnished image suffers further harm.

The seemingly coordinated campaign of terror and vandalism continued unabated for the third consecutive week with no sign of a let-up. The latest violence occurred at Al-Sahaba Mosque in the town of Bani Naim near Hebron on Sunday, 18 December, when settlers attempted to torch the holy place. The vigilance of locals forced the would-be arsonists to flee. However, they did so only after they inscribed sacrilegious graffiti on the exterior of the mosque.

At the same time, another gang of young settlers set several Palestinian cars in the village of Tebbin on fire. The Israeli media reported that two settler boys were arrested in connection to this attack. However, according to Israeli law, Jewish minors can't be arrested and the harshest measure that could be taken against them is a brief house arrest, a symbolic and insignificant measure in real terms.

This is in sharp contrast to the stringent and harsh punishments inflicted on Palestinian minors, even as young as eight or nine years old. The use of children and minors by settlers to attack Palestinians is a potentially serious phenomenon.

Last week, two other mosques -- one in Jerusalem and the other in the village of Burqa near Ramallah -- were torched by settler terrorists. The mosques were defaced by racist and sacrilegious Hebrew graffiti. Carpets, chairs, Quranic texts and other items were burned.

The two incidents happened hours after dozens of Talmudic settlers overwhelmed an army camp in protest against intentions to dismantle an isolated settler outpost. One soldier was reportedly injured after a stone hit him on the head.

Observers in the occupied Palestinian territories argue that many if not most of the soldiers serving in the West Bank are themselves settlers answerable their rabbis and Talmudic "sages" rather than to their immediate army superiors.

The settler-soldiers also follow rather meticulously an elaborate regime of instructions, such as proving alibi and other evasive "evidence", aimed at exonerating themselves from possible charges stemming from their involvement in terror and vandalism against Palestinians.

Despite the shocking frequency of settler attacks and what could be a looming religious war in Israel-Palestine, the Israeli government is still refusing to call a spade a spade, even the culpability of settlers is crystal clear.

Earlier this week, Binyamin Netanyahu refused to call the settlers "terrorists" although he wouldn't refrain from using the same epithet against Israel's Palestinian victims. Netanyahu used the innocuous term "troublemakers" to describe settler gangsters, giving the false impression that the settlers are much like small children who are naughty but without direct intention.

Last week, this writer asked a Jewish liberal commentator why the Israeli government refuses to use the authority of the law against settler terrorists in the West Bank. The commentator, who didn't want his name to be mentioned, said the following: "We Jews usually answer a question with another question. Do you think a venomous snake would bite its own tail?"

* Khalid Amayreh a journalist based in the Occupied Palestinian town of Dura. He obtained his MA in journalism from the University of Southern Illinois in 1983.

Israel threatens another Gaza invasion

 The Irish Times - Thursday, December 29, 2011

MARK WEISS in Jerusalem

ISRAELI OFFICIALS are stepping up their rhetoric, warning that another invasion of Gaza is just a matter of time.

Speaking as Israel launched two air strikes on militant targets in the strip, Israel’s top general, chief of staff Lieut Gen Benny Gantz, warned that cracks had emerged in Israel’s deterrence of militant groups and a second round of fighting was no longer a matter of choice for Israel.

“Such a round must be initiated by Israel and must be swift and painful. I do not advise Hamas to test our mettle.”

Militants launched at least four rockets at Israel yesterday after an Islamic Jihad gunman was killed and 10 other people injured in two Israeli air attacks on Tuesday night.

Gen Gantz made his comments on the third anniversary of the Gaza war which he described as “an excellent operation that achieved deterrence for Israel vis-a-vis Hamas”.

The three-week conflict, with the declared aim of stopping militant rocket fire targeting southern Israel, left 1,417 Palestinians and 13 Israelis dead.

Rocket fire from Gaza has lessened since the Gaza war but the militant groups now possess longer-range projectiles that can hit huge areas of southern Israel, bringing more than a million Israelis into rocket range.
Col Tal Hermoni, commander of the army’s Gaza division’s south brigade, said the armed forces are ready for another war.

“The decision really is in the other side’s hands. If they don’t stop the rocket fire and prevent terror cells from leaving to Egypt in order to cross into Israel, we’ll launch a Gaza operation – and it will be a painful one.”

Shaul Mofaz, the chairman of the Knesset parliament’s foreign affairs and defence committee, said that the army needed to act vigorously to destroy militant cells and deter future attacks.

“Israel needed to respond differently to the violence coming from the Strip – not to occupy Gaza but to act in a way that would cause terrorist organisations to think twice before firing long-range missiles.”

Mr Mofaz, who served as defence minister after heading the army, said Israel had no choice but to carry out a military operation in order to defend itself and stressed that there needs to be more comprehensive operations carried out against militant leaders.

In a separate development, the Jerusalem municipality has approved the construction of another 130 homes in the Jerusalem neighbourhood of Gilo, built over the Green Line, on land captured by Israel during the 1967 Six-Day War.

Nabil Abu Rdainah, spokesman of Palestinian president Mahmoud Abbas, condemned the Jerusalem municipality decision.

“The international Quartet must accept responsibility for the fast pace of construction in the settlements, given the fact that they are neither legal nor legitimate,” he said.

He added that peace talks between the Palestinians and Israel will not be renewed before the construction in the settlements is halted.

Netanyahu Rejects Peace After Hamas and Fatah Reconciliation

by Stephen Lendman on 12/28/2011

Sham Israeli peace negotiations were stillborn from inception. Writer Henry Siegman once called them "the most spectacular deception in modern diplomatic history."

Netanyahu once said they're "a waste of time." Previous Israeli officials called occupation and status quo conditions "permanent."

Republican presidential aspirant Newt Gingrich calls Palestinians an "invented" people. Decades ago, former Israeli Prime Minister Golda Meir (a transplanted Ukrainian American) said:
"There is no such thing as a Palestinian people. It is not as if we came and threw them out and took their country. They didn't exist....How can we return the occupied territories? There is nobody to return them to."
No wonder Edward Said once called the occupation an "atrocity" and the peace process "a disheartening bloody reduce the Palestinian actuality to nil, to efface Palestinians as a people with legitimate rights, to render them alien in their own land."

Israeli repression reached new extremes under Netanyahu. His government is Israel's worst ever. He exceeds the worst of Ariel Sharon and previous hard-line leaders.

On December 25, Haaretz writer Barak Ravid headlined, "Netanyahu: Israel will not negotiate with Palestinians should Hamas join government," saying:

Netanyahu vowed no talks if Fatah and Hamas unite for all Palestinians. In a speech at a conference for Israeli ambassadors, he said:
"If Hamas joins the Palestinian government, we will not hold negotiations with the Palestinian Authority....The peace process can only advance while maintaining security arrangements, which is becoming more difficult in light of the current situation in the region."
In April, Hamas and Fatah announced reconciliation and plans for transitional government ahead of presidential and parliamentary elections within a year to produce unity. Currently, they're set for May 2012.

Netanyahu reacted angrily saying, "choose between peace with Israel or peace with Hamas." Reconciliation shows "weakness," he added. "There cannot be peace" if both sides unite. "What Cairo is a tremendous blow to peace and a great victory for terrorism."

Despite reservations on both sides, signing ceremony comments signaled hope. Abbas suggested turning a page, saying:
"Four black years have affected the interests of Palestinians. Now we meet to assert a unified will. Israel is using the Palestinian reconciliation as an excuse to evade (peace. It) must choose between peace and settlement."
Hamas leader Khaled Mashaal said:
"Hamas was ready to pay any price for internal Palestinian reconciliation. The only battle of the Palestinians is against Israel. Our aim is to establish a free and completely sovereign Palestinian state on the West Bank and Gaza strip, whose capital is Jerusalem, without any settlers and without giving up a single inch of land and without giving up on the right of return."
In mid-December, Abbas and Mashaal met again in Cairo after Hamas and Islamic Jihad announced Palestinian Liberation Organization (PLO) membership plans.

They'll form a committee ahead of next May's presidential, parliamentary and Palestinian National Council (PLC) elections. Once held, they'll join the PLO as sole legitimate Palestinian representative.

Russia's Ministry of Foreign Affairs responded supportively, saying "Moscow welcomes the serious talks between the Palestinian factions that aim to end Palestinian division."

According to the Turkish Anatolian news agency, so did Ankara. It also praised Egypt's sponsoring role.
On December 24, French Foreign Ministry spokesman Bernard Valero announced full support, saying:
"This is an important element for the unity of the future State of Palestine, and in that sense, this reconciliation is in Israel's future interests."
He added that reconciliation depends on Israel ending Gaza's siege, as well as both sides denouncing violence and respecting past agreements.

During Bethlehem's Christmas midnight mass, Latin Patriarch Fouad Twal called Palestinian self-determination the main thrust for achieving peace, adding:
"We ask for peace for the Palestinian people and for the Israeli people. We ask for peace, stability and security for the entire Middle East so that our children and their children may live their childhood in innocence, in a healthy environment where they may play together without fear or complex."
Israel and Washington, of course, remain significant obstacles very much unresolved.

Unity Discussions Scheduled to Continue

In late January, unity discussions will continue to select transitional government members until elections. In February, Palestine's parliament will resume operations.

At issue is Israel's response. Elections in Gaza, the West Bank and East Jerusalem depend on cooperation. In 2005, Israel manipulated the process for Abbas.

Leading opposition figure Marwan Barghouti was imprisoned on bogus murder charges. In addition, Mustafa Barghouti's candidacy was sabotaged for "demand(ing) total and complete reform, (ending all) form(s) of corruption, (and) mismanagement, and (working to) consolidate the rule of law."

As a result, Israel arrested him while campaigning, expelled him from East Jerusalem, excluded him from Nablus and Gaza, harassed and intimidated him repeatedly, and effectively rigged the process for Abbas.
In 2012, Israel may either prevent Palestinian elections with Hamas candidates or sabotage them to assure Israeli-friendly officials only gain power.

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Another obstacle involves registering Palestinians worldwide to participate and letting them vote in PLO mission offices. Doing so depends on cooperation from countries where they live.

The PNC will have 350 delegates, 150 from the Territories and 200 diaspora ones. PNC Chairman Salim Zanoun has his hands full. He heads a committee charged with making this possible. Doing so's not easy. Nor is it for millions of occupied Palestinians or diaspora ones prevented from returning home.

According to the Palestinian Central Bureau of Statistics (PCBS), Palestinians worldwide number 11.22 million as of year end 2011. About 4.23 million live in Palestine (including 1.6 million in Gaza), another 1.37 million in Israel, 4.99 million in Arab countries, and around 636,000 in other countries.
PCBS also said 44% of those in Palestine are refugees - 42% in the West Bank and 58% in Gaza. Numerous others live in Arab countries, notably Lebanon, Jordan and Syria.

Ultra-nationalist Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman's extremism is also troubling. Repeatedly he said Israel won't return to 1967 borders. Settlement expansions will continue, and doing so's no obstacle to peace. In fact, they violate international law and obstruct any possibility of resolution.

Targeting Hamas at Israel's Behest

Baseless accusations are Israel's stock in trade. In January 1995, at its behest, the State Department duplicitously declared Hamas a Foreign Terrorist Organization.

Its emergence began after 1967. In the late 1970s, Israel offered financial aid to counterbalance PLO influence. During the first Intifada (1987 - 1993), it gained prominence. Israel remained supportive.

At issue was manipulating both sides to prevent peace. Like America, Israel needs enemies to justify conflict and violence. Hamas was chosen strategically to advance Palestinian divisions.

In Arabic, Hamas means courage and bravery. Since established, it's resisted oppression and occupation. It prefers negotiation and international consensus, not violence.

However, its charter says it'll fight for its rights if Israel prevents peaceful reconciliation. It rejects Zionist intentions to destroy Palestinian society, its values and "wipe out Islam."

It calls itself "a humane movement, which cares for human rights and is committed to the tolerance inherent in Islam as regards attitudes towards other religions. It is only hostile to those who are hostile towards it....
(Under Islam) it is possible for the members of the three religions: Islam, Christianity and Judaism to coexist in safety and security" as long as other religions "desist from struggling against Islam over sovereignty in this region."

It wants peace, equity and justice for all Palestinians. It prefers negotiating on the basis of "hudnah" or temporary truce. It's founder, Sheikh Ahmed Yassin, said Hamas would end its liberating struggle "if the Zionists ended their occupation of Palestinian territories and stopped killing Palestinian women, children and innocent civilians."

It current leaders are willing to recognize Israel in return for self-determination in peace inside pre-1967 borders - 22% of historic Palestine. Moreover, numerous times it agreed to unilateral ceasefires in spite of repeated Israeli violations.

Nonetheless, it responses defensively after continued provocations. Washington and Israel call it "terrorism." Under international law, it's legitimate self-defense.

Besides being Palestine's legitimate government, Hamas provides vital social services, including medical clinics, education, free meals for children, help for orphans, financial and technical assistance for homeless families, aid to refugees, special youth and sports clubs, and more as their resources allow.

It also maintains an elite military wing for self-defense, policing and security, the Izz Al-Din Al-Qassam Brigades.

It wants equitable peace and reconciliation. So do Arabs and Jews. Israel and its Washington paymaster/partner choose violence. That Gordian Knot remains to be cut.

* Stephen Lendman lives in Chicago and can be reached at Also visit his blog site at and listen to cutting-edge discussions with distinguished guests on the Progressive Radio News Hour on the Progressive Radio Network Thursdays at 10AM US Central time and Saturdays and Sundays at noon.

Palestinian pardoned by Israel put back on wanted list

  • Published 18:53 29.12.11 Latest update 18:53 29.12.11

Zakaria Zbeidi, the former commander of the Al-Aqsa Martyrs Brigades in Jenin who now runs the Freedom Theater, says he did not know his pardon was canceled.

By Avi Issacharoff Tags: West Bank Jenin Palestinian Authority

Zakaria Zbeidi, the former commander of the Al-Aqsa Martyrs Brigades in Jenin who was pardoned by Israel two years ago, has been added to Israel's wanted list again.

In recent days, Palestinian security services informed Zbeidi that upon Israel's request, he must remain in the Palestinian Authority's detention facilities during all hours of the day and night, otherwise Israel will arrest him.

Zbeidi - Natasha Mozgovaya - December 2005 Zbeidi in Jenin during the second intifada, December 2009.
Photo by: Natasha Mozgovaya

Zbeidi confirmed the report to Haaretz, yet said he did not know why the pardon was rescinded. Last week, Palestinian security forces arrested one of Zbeidi's brothers, along with one of the workers at Jenin's Freedom Theater, which Zbeidi directs.

In the summer of 2007, Zbeidi was among 200 wanted Fatah militants in the West Bank who turned in their weapons, under an arrangement in which Israel grantedthem effective amnesty as a gesture to PA Chairman Mahmoud Abbas. 

In 2009, actor Juliano Mer Khamis founded the Freedom Theater and appointed Zbeidi as its director. Zbeidi also began working as an official in the Palestinian Authority's prisoners division. The theater's founder, Mer-Khamis, was shot and killed last April. The case has not yet been solved.
33-year-old Zbeidi, one of the symbols of the second intifada, also garnered media attention for his relationship with Israeli left-wing activist Tali Fahima.

Hundreds of ultra-Orthodox protesters riot in flashpoint town of Beit Shemesh

 Published 21:42 29.12.11 Latest update 21:42 29.12.11

Protesters set fire to trash cans and hurl rocks; Police arrive in large numbers and arrest three.

By Oz Rosenberg Tags: Ultra-Orthodox

Hundreds of ultra-Orthodox Jews protested on Thursday evening on a Beit Shemesh street, throwing rocks, blocking the road and burning trash cans. Police arrived in large numbers and have so far arrested three of the rioters.

The incident began as a small local gathering of about 20 people, who waved signs with slogans attacking Zionism. Shmuel Fefenheim, who lives nearby, said that "this group has been coming out every night recently with signs. Today, because of the atmosphere and people under arrest, someone decided to set fire to a large trash can and things spiraled from there."

ultra-Orthodox - Emil Salman - Archive ultra-Orthodox protests in Jerusalem.
Photo by: Emil Salman

Earlier on Thursday, An 8-year-old girl who became the symbol of a recent public struggle against gender segregation and religious extremism returned to school for the first time since a violent incident that sparked a nation-wide protest movement.

Na'ama Margolese turned into a household name last week after Channel 2 broadcasted a segment in which the young girl's described being spat on and accosted by ultra-Orthodox men over what they deemed to be her indecent apparel.

The story soon became a focal point for a rising protest movement against the exclusion of women in the public sphere, with thousands of Israelis amassing in Beit Shemesh to speak out against gender segregation.

The IDF's alcohol plague

Ynetnews special: Alcohol abuse at Israel’s military bases is spiraling out of control
Shosh Mula
Published: 12.29.11, 14:34 / Israel News
According to a recent survey commissioned by Israel’s Anti-Drug Authority, some 9% of IDF soldiers performing their mandatory service said they drink alcoholic beverages at military bases, in violation of army orders. What once was a marginal phenomenon mostly confined to home front bases is spreading across Israel’s military, including among elite units and senior officers.

An IDF General Staff order forbids the drinking of alcoholic beverages at military bases. Moreover, soldiers are not allowed to drink outside their bases ahead of operational activity or while carrying weapons. However, the orders are increasingly violated at bases nationwide, with officers often preferring to deal with the matter internally, rather than seeing troops serving time in military prison.

Drugs in IDF?

'IDF major sold 125 kg of heroin' / Yoav Zitun

Indictment filed against IDF major suspected of heading drug ring. Charges include money laundering, fraud, breach of trust and exceeding authority to the point of compromising state security. Officer meant to pocket NIS 2 million
Full story

One soldier interviewed for the story admitted that drinking on base has become widespread. “Usually we drink vodka, but I personally drink whatever is there, he said, while also revealing that troops drink even when on high alert.

Another soldier, who serves in the elite Golani brigade, said some troops regularly take alcohol into outposts while on guard duty. “They mostly take vodka. It’s a regular procedure,” he said, adding that some commanders at the base are aware of the situation but turn a blind eye to it.

Yet another soldier said troops use a variety of hiding spots for stashing away their alcohol. “We have one guy who has his own private locker. Others put it under their bed…we drink at all sorts of hidden spots. If it’s on Friday we sit at the office or at the emergency warehouse.”

Brawls, sexual abuse  


Several alcohol-related incidents in recent weeks alone shed light on the growing phenomenon. In one case, a female soldier serving at a central Israel base drank alcohol with a fellow soldier, who became intoxicated and apparently resorted to sexual abuse. The soldier is currently facing a trial before a military court. Earlier, three alcohol-related brawls were reported at different IDF facilities, while in three other cases soldiers were tried for drunk driving within their bases.

In another grave incident, a senior officer summoned one of his female subordinates to his office, offered her a drink, and later attempted to approach her sexually. The commander now faces a sexual assault investigation, but in any case has seen his military career draw to an end after violating the ban on alcohol.

In yet another case, an officer serving at a base holding advanced electronic equipment in central Israel was found to have allowed his soldiers to drink alcohol during a military trip, and on the same occasion also “cursed and behaved in a crude manner, while humiliating himself and the soldiers in the presence of civilians.”
The judges did not detail the commander’s actions, but female soldiers who participated in the trip in question said the officer, who was drunk, took off his pants at one point and exposed his rear-end to his stunned soldiers.

Paratroopers caught  


As noted, the phenomenon has also spread to the army’s most elite units. Earlier this year, five paratroopers serving near the Gaza border were found in possession of alcoholic drinks in their outpost. The troops were sent to 20 days in a military jail.

Officially, the IDF Spokesman’s Office claims that it only recorded a few cases a year where soldiers consume alcohol while on duty. However, in practice the army is aware of the issue has boosted its preventative and enforcement activity. Colonel Haim Sasson, commander of the IDF’s Investigative Military Police, says he is aware of the problem and its scope and that his unit performs hundreds of enforcement operations throughout the year.

However, the alcohol plague seems to have spread to the Military Police as well. A recent raid concluded with several bottles being seized in the room of one Military Police soldier, who was tried and sent to prison.

 The IDF Spokesman’s Office issued the following response: “The IDF is a mirror of Israeli society, and as such, regrettably it also experiences cases of alcohol consumption among soldiers. Army orders forbid alcohol consumption during one’s military service, and recently these orders became stricter.”  

 The army added that it undertakes intensive efforts to address the issue in lectures and other activities among soldiers, in order to stress the danger inherent in alcohol abuse.

The full story was originally published by Yedioth Ahronoth,7340,L-4168725,00.html

'IDF major sold 125 kg of heroin'

Indictment filed against IDF major suspected of heading drug ring. Charges include money laundering, fraud, breach of trust and exceeding authority to the point of compromising state security. Officer meant to pocket NIS 2 million
Yoav Zitun
Published: 10.27.11, 18:32 / Israel News

The IDF Operations Directorate officer suspected of heading a major drug ring that sold narcotics smuggled into Israel was indicted on Thursday at the Kastina Military Court.

Serious Affair

IDF major suspected of heading drug ring / Eli Senyor

Cleared for publication – Operations Directorate officer from Southern Command arrested on suspicion of heading drug smuggling network, which sold narcotics seized by security forces on Israel border
Full Story

According to the indictment, the officer, who holds a rank of major, was supposed to have pocketed NIS 2 million but de facto only earned NIS 330,000, a part of which was found in his home while the rest, it was claimed, was laundered at the bank.

The charges against the officer include money laundering, fraud, breach of trust and exceeding authority to the point of compromising state security.

Officer en route to court (Photo: Eliad Levy)

The indictment states that the officer, who was considered a senior official in the Gaza Division's Southern Command's hierarchy, was the leader of a drug ring that was dealing in narcotics smuggled over the Egyptian-Israeli border.

He is suspected of selling 125 kg of heroin and 150 kg of hashish, which have been caught during anti-smuggling operations along the border.

הקצין בבית המשפט. התרברב על הסחורה שברשותו (צילום: אליעד לוי)
Officer in court (Photo: Eliad Levy)

Two other civilians who were the alleged buyers were also charged in the affair. According to the indictment, the officer gave one of them, who was a former subordinate of his, a uniform and officer's ranks so he could enter restricted areas, where the transactions were allegedly carried out.

 The military prosecution is asking the court to extend the officer's remand until the end of legal proceedings against him.  

Prosecutor Lt.-Col. Asher Halperin said, "The transactions were carried out between July and until recently. They were very large in scope. The felonies are especially severe because of the officer's senior position in the division as he was in charge of the operational plans of the division and was responsible for the entire sector once every three weeks.",7340,L-4140407,00.html

Mossad chief: Nuclear Iran not necessarily existential threat to Israel

 Published 01:23 29.12.11 Latest update 01:23 29.12.11

Tamir Pardo says Israel using various means to foil Iran's nuclear program, but if Iran actually obtained nuclear weapons, it would not mean destruction of Israel.

By Barak Ravid

A nuclear-armed Iran wouldn't necessarily constitute a threat to Israel's continued existence, Mossad chief Tamir Pardo reportedly hinted earlier this week.

iran - Reuters - November 17 2011 A Shahab missile. Even a hundred of them wouldn’t bring Israel down, one reckless voice said.
Photo by: Reuters

On Tuesday evening, Pardo addressed an audience of about 100 Israeli ambassadors. According to three ambassadors present at the briefing, the intelligence chief said that Israel was using various means to foil Iran's nuclear program and would continue to do so, but if Iran actually obtained nuclear weapons, it would not mean the destruction of the State of Israel.

"What is the significance of the term existential threat?" the ambassadors quoted Pardo as asking. "Does Iran pose a threat to Israel? Absolutely. But if one said a nuclear bomb in Iranian hands was an existential threat, that would mean that we would have to close up shop and go home. That's not the situation. The term existential threat is used too freely."

The ambassadors said Pardo did not comment on the possibility of an Israeli military assault on Iran.
"But what was clearly implied by his remarks is that he doesn't think a nuclear Iran is an existential threat to Israel," one of the envoys said.

Tamir Pardo Nov. 30, 2010 (Moti Milrod) Tamir Pardo
Photo by: Moti Milrod

Pardo's remarks follow lively a public debate in recent months over a possible Israeli attack on Iran's nuclear facilities. One of the figures at the center of this public debate has been Pardo's predecessor as Mossad chief, Meir Dagan. Dagan has argued that Israel should only resort to military force "when the knife is at its throat and begins to cut into the flesh." He has also criticized Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Defense Minister Ehud Barak, accusing them of pushing for an Israeli attack on Iran, and warned that such an assault would have disastrous consequences.

For the past several years, Netanyahu has characterized a nuclear Iran as an existential threat to Israel. The prime minister has even compared Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad to Adolf Hitler and argued that Iran should be treated as Nazi Germany should have been dealt with in 1938, just before World War II. In contrast, Barak said in April 2010 that Iran "was not an existential threat at the moment," but warned that it could become one in the future.

In the cabinet, Netanyahu and Barak have been the leading proponents of a preemptive strike on Iran's nuclear facilities. So far, however, they have not managed to convince a majority of either the "octet" forum of eight senior ministers or the diplomatic-security cabinet to support their position.

In related news, The Daily Beast website reported yesterday about one aspect of the disagreement between Israel and the United States on the Iranian nuclear issue. It said that Washington and Jerusalem are discussing "red lines" for Iran's nuclear project that, if crossed, would justify a preemptive strike on the nuclear facilities.
The website's defense reporter, Eli Lake, wrote that Israel's ambassador to Washington, Michael Oren, lodged an official protest with the American administration following a speech a few weeks ago by U.S. Defense Secretary Leon Panetta at the Saban Forum, in which the American defense chief warned of the consequences of an attack on Iran. The Daily Beast reported that Panetta's remarks infuriated the Israel government and that Oren was directed to lodge the protest.

A short time later, the White House conveyed a message of reassurance to Israel that the Obama administration has its own red lines for attacking Iran, so there is no need for Israel to act unilaterally. The Israeli protest was also followed by a shift in Panetta's rhetoric: In an interview with the American television network CBS, Panetta said the United States would not take any option off the table with regard to preventing Iran from obtaining nuclear weapons.

The crux of the disagreement between the two countries revolves around the question of to what extent Iran has managed to develop clandestine sites for uranium enrichment. As a result, Israel and the United States are having a hard time settling on common "red lines."

Patrick Clawson of the Washington Institute for Near East Policy told The Daily Beast that "if Iran were found to be sneaking out or breaking out [toward obtaining nuclear weapons], then the president's advisers are firmly persuaded he would authorize the use of military force to stop it." However, he added, "when the occasion comes, we just don't know how the president will react."

A new plot

 Published 01:23 29.12.11 Latest update 01:23 29.12.11

Netanyahu's aides think that the recent massive media coverage of various manifestations of violence and discrimination against women are part of a plot to topple him.

By Yossi Verter  
Self-deprecating humor is the most essential quality for a politician. A politician endowed with this rare characteristic will be less irksome to those around him, do less damage to his voters and himself and make fewer mistakes. When he errs he will hasten to make right. Yesterday, signs of self-deprecating humor were discerned where least expected - in Benjamin Netanyahu. 

At the opening of his speech to the plenum Netanyahu aimed some barbs at his own expense. He referred to the embarrassing incident at the Carmel fire ceremony, at which the narrator made excessively laudatory comments about Netanyahu's handling of the disaster. Many Knesset members, among them, Eitan Cabel, mocked those comments at the plenum meeting held after the ceremony. Paraphrasing Cabel's mock-laudatory speech, Netanyahu said, "Eitan, I was the first to recognize your great talent." 
Kudos. Apparently the prime minister's aides are capable of producing texts that don't turn whoever recites them into a laughingstock. The daily ultra-Orthodox thuggery is no laughing matter, as far as the prime minister's office is concerned. At the end of almost two weeks of massive, not to say obsessive, media coverage of various manifestations of violence and discrimination against women, Netanyahu's aides have concluded, as they did last summer at the height of the social protest, that this is neither accidental nor naive. Large mysterious powers are at work behind this wave, fueling it, bringing up story after story, day after day. They have concluded that the goal, like in the summer, is to topple Netanyahu, to make him look bad and to cause a rupture between him and his ultra-Orthodox coalition partners. All this is geared toward the next goal - preparing the ground for the formation of a secular center party that will rock the political system in the next elections. 

Netanyahu's aides were confident yesterday the conspiracy had been foiled. Netanyahu came out sharply against the attacks on women. The ultra-Orthodox are kicking and screaming (which is good for Netanyahu ), but the coalition is stable, his people say. 

Does he personally believe in this conspiracy theory, or is it just spin? Probably both. Netanyahu and a few of his associates will not let any conspiracy, no matter how vague, formless and unfounded, escape their notice. Suspicion is working overtime in the prime minister's office. It never sleeps or takes a nap. 

These statements also have a unifying political factor. When Likudniks hear that left-wingers or anonymous foreign donors are conspiring against their leader, they immediately rise and rally around him.
For the full commentary see Weeks End in tomorrow's paper. 

Netanyahu - Salman - 2011 Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu.
Photo by: Emil Salman

Fox Latin America apologizes for Facebook poll on whether Jews killed Jesus

  • Published 02:00 30.12.11 Latest update 02:00 30.12.11

Poll asks readers who they think is responsible for the death of Christ: Pontius Pilate, The Jewish People or the High Priests.

By The Associated Press

Fox Latin America has apologized for a poll on whether Jews killed Jesus Christ that one of its staffers put on a Facebook page promoting the National Geographic Channel's Christmas special. 

The poll asked readers who they think is responsible for the death of Christ: Pontius Pilate, The Jewish People or the High Priests. 

crucifix - Reuters - 30122011 A crucifix
Photo by: Reuters  

The Simon Weisenthal Center in Buenos Aires calls it a defamatory reference to Vatican propaganda that "resulted in the persecution and murder of Jews for two millennia." 

The Jewish group says it's outraged that Fox would perpetuate an idea that the Vatican annulled back in 1965. 

Fox Spokeswoman Guadalupe Lucero apologized on behalf of National Geographic, saying the poll was removed immediately and measures have been taken to prevent such incidents in the future.

This Is The Right Moment for Churches To Pay Attention to Israel’s Occupation

Cross posted from The Electronic Intifada
In his book Kairos for PalestineRifat Odeh Kassis deals with a topic that is as fresh as the destruction of a Palestinian home by Israeli-driven, US-built bulldozers, and as ancient as the use of the term kairos, derived from an ancient Greek word which refers to a specific moment in time.

Why does this wanton destruction of private Palestinian homes continue unabated? The answer is simple: Israel controls the narrative that justifies its conduct by reporting the demolition of a Palestinian home as a “necessary step” for the “security” and well-being of Israel. The Israeli narrative keeps the Western world locked into a permanent state of ignorance, following the pattern of previous Western colonial invaders and occupiers.

The Israeli narrative, carefully honed by Israel well before Israel’s 1947-48 war of conquest, has skillfully made the case that Israel is a state whose inhabitants deserve their own state as victims of oppression and genocide. They chose the ancient biblical lands of Judea and Samaria (the West Bank) on the grounds that the land was “given to them” by Yahweh (the Hebrew word for God).

That narrative — mixing ancient biblical beliefs with modern political strategy — has so totally dominated the perspective of the Western world outside the Middle East, that it has emerged as the only view of reality known to the West. It is in this narrative that Israel is the “victim” and the Palestinian people are an enemy that seeks to drive Israelis “into the sea.”

It has been Israel’s goal since it gained UN recognition as a state in 1949 to control this narrative and prevent any contrary narrative from obtaining a hearing. The occupation of the Palestinian people is sold to the West as a necessity. Palestinians in this narrative are perceived as a threat to the well being and security of all Israelis.

The large majority of Americans have accepted this narrative as the only available reality. They permit their government to function as a financial backer of Israel, and to politically support Israel in world forums.

American politicians function within a bipartisan political operation which accepts and promotes the “Israel is a permanent victim” narrative. This narrative obscures the political reality that Israel serves as an important part of the American empire, which seeks to control the people of the Middle East through military power and political deceit.

The invasion of Iraq and Afghanistan and the current role the US plays in Libya and in the agitation for war against Iran, are the most recent examples of this power and deceit.

The Palestinian narrative traces its history through Arab history, from which Palestinians emerged as an important part of the Ottoman Empire. Following Arab support for the Western allies in their war in 1917-18 against Germany and Turkey, Palestinians were assured they would retain their homeland in their corner of the Ottoman Empire.

The Palestinian narrative in the modern era emphasizes the Nakba (catastrophe), the ethnic cleansing that led to Israel’s establishment. That narrative has been denied a part in American discussions of the Middle East.
It is the Israeli narrative that enables Israel to be an important American ally in the Middle East. That narrative saturates American society through the media, the economy, political structures, nongovernmental institutions involved in education and religious groups.

The Zionists were amongst the last of the western colonial invaders to arrive in the Middle East to conquer a land and exploit its population. This invasion was built on military power and deceit, the twin sins that continue to shape the US/Israel alliance in the Middle East.

Kairos for Palestine traces the history of what led to the Palestine Kairos Document that emerged from the situation created by that alliance. It tells the story of the Christian churches’ effort to communicate the suffering imposed by Israel on Palestinians and it does so from a Christian perspective.

The document originated within the Christian churches working inside Israel, the occupied West Bank and Gaza. It is a community-created document written out of the experience of the Palestinians. It calls upon Christians everywhere to wake up to the conditions under which all of the people of Palestine — Christian, Muslim and non-religious — and respond appropriately to gross injustice created by the US/Israel alliance of empire-building through oppression.

The political strategy of boycott, divestment and sanctions (BDS) is a separate project from the Kairos Document. (For more on BDS, see Omar Barghouti.) The Kairos Document and BDS run parallel, however, as two ways in which Palestinians address the outside world, one theological, the other strategic.
BDS is a strategy of nonviolence that advocates economic pressure on Israel to halt its oppressive military occupation. It calls attention to the manner in which outside corporations endorse that occupation and profit from it.

BDS originated as a political movement in July 2005 as a “call from Palestinian civil society.” It was signed and sent out from a large number of civil society groups within the West Bank and Gaza.

It is important to note that, unlike the Kairos Document, BDS is a strategy which the civil society of Palestinians has developed.

Kairos Palestine, which is the primary focus of Kassis’ book, originated in Bethlehem as a statement from Palestinian Christian leaders. The document was released in December 2009. It is a theological document of faith, not a proposal of strategy. Circumstances since the original document was written in 2009 have grown even worse as Kassis explains (9):

Jerusalem is being forcibly de-Arabized and systematically Judaized with unprecedented speed and aggression: Life for Palestinians there becomes less and less bearable as house demolitions, evictions, arbitrary arrests and interrogations, residency revocations, and the imprisonment and house arrests of children all increase. The siege on the Gaza Strip remains and intensifies unabated.

The Israeli government is forgoing its longstanding public relations campaign — its ongoing propaganda as the only ‘democracy’ in the Middle East — and reverting instead to openly racist laws like the one that seeks to criminalize individuals and organizations that call for boycott.

BDS, with its secular origins, is not promoted by the Kairos Document, but BDS has been adopted by some Christian groups as a practical strategy which Palestinians propose the West adopt as a means toward putting economic pressure on Israel to give up its oppressive control of the Palestinian people.

UPDATE: Since this essay initially appeared in The Electronic Intifada, some supporters of the BDS movement have written me to take exception to my statement that the “BDS is not promoted by the Kairos Document”.

I stand by that statement, though I would certainly concede that the Document has called for a positive “response” to sanctions and boycotts.

I did not, however, find in the Document any positive “response” to the strategy of divestment. Furthermore, the Document is a theological statement, not one designed to promote a political strategy.

Perhaps it comes down to how we define “promotion” in a heated, ecclesiastical political environment.  

As we begin a new year, it is important to keep in mind that in the US, the United Methodist Church and the Presbyterian Church, USA, will hold national (international for the Methodists) meetings in the spring and summer of 2012.  

At those meetings, endorsing the strategy of  BDS will be under consideration.  Advance word is that pro-Israel forces will make every effort to defeat or soften those pro-BDS resolutions.

Resistance of American churches to BDS illustrates how effectively the Israeli (“we are the victims under outside threat”) narrative works to prevent Americans from hearing the call of either the Kairos Document, or the economic strategy of BDS.

The modern use of a Kairos statement by an oppressed population dates back to the first edition of a statement from South African Christians in 1985, a document intended, Kassis reports, “to provide an alternative discourse to the dominant theological thinking” of the day.

This South African document confronted the apartheid structures maintained by the minority white population of that society.

Subsequent Kairos documents have emerged in Kenya, Zimbabwe, India and Latin America, each in ways appropriate to the historical moment addressed, all insisting that the Christian faith calls for the oppressors to acknowledge the sinfulness of their oppressive conduct.

The various Kairos documents all pursued the same goal, a prophetic call to those in power to acknowledge that the New Testament commands them to halt their oppressive conduct and identify with the oppressed.
Kassis writes (page 83) that these Kairos documents all emerged from similar contexts: oppression, injustice and the denial of equality and human rights.

They are also “united by their timing, by the kind of moment at which they came into being. They aren’t written at any time; rather they are created when there are no options than true participation in a process of collective change.”

To use a theological term, kairos “speaks to the qualitative, not sequential, form of time; for example, the New Testament defines it as “the appointed time in the purpose of God.”

Kassis adds that this moment is one in which God acts. It is a moment, as well, in political terms, that implies “a crucial time, an appointed time, in which the message of the text is delivered” (83).

Adopting a more modern form of expression, Kassis concludes that “the message of the Kairos is both the SOS signal of a sinking ship and a call for hope in the face of despair.”

The Palestine Kairos Document, Kassis explains, arose from a dialogue within Palestinian Christian communities, in short, not from outsiders, but from those who suffer under occupation, which is to say, oppression and captivity.

The Kairos Document emerged from a Palestinian dialogue among a group of 15 interdenominational Palestinian Christian leaders.

After two years of work, prayer, many meetings and discussions, along with debates and draft, the leaders produced a final draft of the document, which they called “A Moment of Truth: A Word of Faith, Hope and Love from the Heart of Palestinian Suffering.”

The final document was released to the public at an event in Bethlehem on 11 December 2009. Kassis was deeply involved in preparing the final document. With its release, Kassis was selected to serve as the General Coordinator of the Kairos Palestine Group.

The kairos moment places a demand not only on Christians, but on people of other religions or no religions, to pay attention to the message that Israeli occupation is “oppression” in the same way South African apartheid and Latin American economic oppression of the poor were oppressive.

However the reader understands the term kairos, the impossible-to-refute “facts on the ground” in Israel and Palestine, are clear; this is the “right moment” for the world to recognize and acknowledge that Israel’s occupation of Palestine is unjust, immoral, illegal and destructive.

Rifat Kassis’ book does not have an American nor UK publisher. It was originally published by Badalyl Alternatives in Palestine/India. For US readers Amazon does offer a long essay by Kassis on this topic.  Click here. 

The picture at top is from APA images. This posting originally appeared in  a slightly longer version on December 23, 2011, in The Electronic Intifada. It is cross-posted here with the permission of  The Electronic Intifada. The original posting also appears in Intifada Palestine.

Terrorists Fight Terrorism

by Paul J. Balles on 11/02/2011
You can discover what your enemy fears most by observing the means he uses to frighten you. --Eric Hoffer
American terrorists

Former American President Jimmy Carter commented on the kind of state terrorism reflected in American actions in Guantanamo Bay and other places as a disgrace to the U.S.A.:
"I wouldn't say it's the cause of terrorism, but it has given impetus and excuses to potential terrorists to lash out at our country and justify their despicable acts."
"Terrorism" and "terrorists" are the key labels of warmongers working to instil fear into the public to justify military slaughtering. Just about anyone who refuses to comply with the dictates of pre-emptive military states can be targeted.

The amazing part of this charade is that the labels are used by the states to justify outright murders while indulging in the same behaviour under a different name.

A young Palestinian blows himself up as a reaction to his family's deaths by phosphorous bombs. He's a "terrorist".

The bombers are defenders of their security, but not terrorists.

Israel admits that it used phosphorus shells "against military targets in open ground" in south Lebanon.

However, the Lebanese reported the Israelis used them against civilians.

If a family member of a dead civilian retaliates against Israelis, that's "terrorism".

Israel's choice of civilian-killing tools and where they're used is not terrorism but "self-defence".

In Gaza, 67 schools receive bombs from Israel in 22 days of war. That's not terrorism but self-defence. Does Israel argue that those 67 schools would produce future terrorists?

America, NATO and ISAF invade Afghanistan to capture and/or kill Al-Qaeda terrorists. It's done. We're still there terrorising Afghans.

The label "terrorism" instils fear and arouses action. It was used to become engaged in the Iraq war.
A group of Zioncons (Zionist Neocons) including William Kristol, Martin Peretz, Richard Perle, Daniel Pipes, Norman Podhoretz and Robert Kagan wrote a letter to President G.W. Bush using terrorism as the key to arousing fear.

"Mr. President, we urge you to accelerate plans for removing Saddam Hussein from power in Iraq. As you have said, every day that Saddam Hussein remains in power brings closer the day when terrorists will have not just airplanes with which to attack us, but chemical, biological, or nuclear weapons, as well."

In that same letter, they wrote, "It is now common knowledge that Saddam, along with Iran...maintains links to the Al Qaeda network." That comment was a blatant lie, and they knew it.

To further instil fear, the Zioncons wrote, "If we do not move against Saddam Hussein and his regime, the damage our Israeli friends and we have suffered until now may someday appear but a prelude to much greater horrors."

Harvard Law professor Alan Dershowitz reveals the kind of thinking that attempts to extol state terrorism by calling it self- defence.

"I have been defending Israel's right to exist, and to defend itself against terrorism, for many years-on college campuses, in television appearances and in debate."

The same targeting of would-be terrorists, justifying more state terrorism, has been directed toward Iran.
American lawyer/writer Glenn Greenwald observes, " has been one of Obama's highest foreign policy priorities to isolate Iran and sanction it further: as a means of placating Israel and punishing Iran...."

When either the US or Israel indulge in further pre-emptive strikes or assassinations, it will be state terrorism used to defend against fictional terrorists.

Scholar and author Noam Chomsky observed wisely "Everybody's worried about stopping terrorism. Well, there's a really easy way: stop participating in it."

* Paul J. Balles is a retired American university professor and freelance writer who has lived in the Middle East for many years. He's a weekly Op-Ed columnist for the Gulf Daily News. Dr. Balles is also Editorial Consultant for Red House Marketing and a regular contributor to Bahrain This Month.

O Captain My Captain: America’s Aid for Israel’s Political ‘Continuum’

by Clive Hambidge on 12/04/2011

A military conquest
"... We shall use the ultimate force until the Palestinians come crawling to us on all fours ... When we have settled the land, all the Arabs will be able to do will be to scurry round like drugged roaches in a bottle." (Rafeal Eitan)

American aid to Israel

A 'moral articulation' by successive American administrations as to the primary reason for their unilateral support of 0.001% of the world's population, namely Israel, is not standing up to international law or American scrutiny. The perpetuated myth of an Israel surrounded by mortal enemies, battling heroically for its democratic rights against all odds fades as the world of right mindedness recognises in the West Bank, East Jerusalem and the Gaza Strip the daily abuse and horror for Palestinians under illegal occupation in Israel's 'battlefield' to test new weaponry. That abuse, brought into sharp focus by the U.S Department of State in early 2004, is systematic; perpetrated by Israel in 2011 and paid for by U.S tax payers' dollars in the form of indiscriminate, unwise and illegal aid according to America's own laws. The reason? Unquestioning support for Israel's militarised political continuum, where de jure occupation became de facto annexation, and where, according to Special Rapporteur Falk "the unbridled assault upon Palestinian rights" continues.

If one consciously moves in time backward and forward, that is in American/Israeli time, one finds the same pattern no matter the date. There is no change no progress. It is like watching a film, a play no matter where you cut, what montage you see, what curtain is lifted and what scene you view, it is the same film, the same play, the same day, from the same violent script. It is a continuum of brutal actions designed to oppress Palestinians enough to make them leave their own land. Pick a date at random and one finds the paradox of continuum. Israel is waiting for Godot

"Estragon: All the dead voices.
Vladimir: They make a noise like wings."
Matt Bowles, writing for the Washington Report on Middle East Affairs, makes plain the facts: America for decades allowing Israel to place "US aid into its general fund, effectively eliminating any distinction between types of aid. [means] Therefore, U.S. tax-payers are helping to fund an illegal occupation, the expansion of colonial-settlements projects, and gross human rights violations against the Palestinian civilian population." Facts continually denied by Israel, as it ruthlessly pursue 'the doctrine of politics free from law'.

Israel's persistent but illusory claim that its 'international human rights treaty obligations do not apply in the OPT' has been, according to Amnesty International, 'rejected' by the U.N Human Rights Committee, the Committee on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights, the Committee on the Elimination of Racial Discrimination Against Women, the Committee Against Torture, the Committee on the Rights of the Child, the International Court of Justice', and every conscionable citizen on the planet.

So to February 2004, the U.S Department of State in its Country Reports on Human Rights Practices makes clear the egregious human rights violations and status of Israel in the OPT 2003, "The international community does not recognize Israel's Sovereignty over any part of the occupied territories." All accredited missions are to be found rightfully, and legally, in Tel Aviv. "Israel's overall human rights record in the occupied territories remained poor and worsened in the treatment of foreign human rights activists." These abuses came in a fiscal year 2003 where Israel received from the U.S "a foreign military financing grant of $3.1 billion and a $600 million grant for economic security." (Jewish Voice for Peace - JVP); U.S dollars used in the advancing of Israel's policy of 'continuum' namely the illegal colonisation of Palestinian lands, the tormenting of its people and those that would assist them. Lest we forget, it was in March 2003 that Rachel Corrie, an American citizen performing a fundamental rule of law principle by campaigning for human rights in the OPT, lost her life under the tracks of a caterpillar bulldozer: 'Made in the U.S.A'.

The U.S Department of State found in the bloody year of 2003 that amongst other violations of international law:

  • "Israeli soldiers placed civilians in danger by ordering them [Palestinians] to facilitate military operations."
  • "Israeli forces sometimes arbitrarily destroyed, damaged, or looted Palestinian property".
  • "Israeli security forces often impeded the provision of medical assistance to Palestinian civilians."
  • "Israeli security forces harassed and abused Palestinian pedestrians."
  • "Israel conducted mass, arbitrary arrests in the West Bank during military operations, summoning and detaining males between the ages of 15 and 45"
  • "Israel carried out policies of demolitions, strict curfews, and closures that directly punished innocent civilians ... Israel often demolished homes after suspects had already been killed or arrested."
  • Israel "maintained" according to the Department of State "that such punishment of innocents would serve as a deterrent against future terrorist attacks."
These insidious patterns have been sustained by all Israeli administrations and represent a 'continuum': a calculated militaristic policy of intimidation and worse toward the innocent civilians of Palestine. This being so, I must add my concerns to the concerns of the Rachel Corrie Foundation that "the State Departments Country Reports on Human Rights systematically exclude the State Departments own analysis of Israel's failure to perform a credible investigation into the killing of Rachel Corrie," and further concerns that "reports generated by international NGOs such as Human Rights Watch and Amnesty International, which noted a pattern of negligence in Israeli investigations into civilians killed by the IDF, were ignored in the creation of the Country Reports."

In recognition of the illegality of American Aid to Israel, the Rachel Corrie Foundation in its submission to the U.N Universal Periodic Review called upon the U.S to "enforce 22 U.S.C. 2304 (1994), protocol on Human Rights and Security Assistance, and the "Leahy Amendments" to the Foreign Operations Appropriations and Defence Appropriations Acts (e.g. P.L. 105-118 570), which prohibit the provision of security assistance to countries and military units that engage in a pattern of gross violations of human rights." Where, according to JVP, "Massive military aid promotes militarism, which has led to a reliance on military, rather than diplomatic means to work for a solution to this ongoing conflict.". The planned aim of 'continuum'.

The Continuum 

"Zionism is a colonising adventure and therefore it stands or falls by the question of armed force. There is no other ethic" (Jabotinsky)

The U.N Mission Report (UNMR) on the Israeli operation in Gaza between December 27th 2008 and 18th January 2009 highlights that all Israel's operations must be viewed not as isolated moments in history where Israel feels threatened and then responds but, operation[s] that decidedly fit "into a continuum of policies aimed at pursuing Israel's political objectives with regard to Gaza and the Occupied Palestinian Territory as a whole." Reel back, fast forward, press hold, you find 'continuum': "After we become a strong force, as the result of the creation of a State, we shall abolish partition and expand to the whole of Palestine." (Ben Gurion)
"The continuum is evident most immediately with the policy of blockade that preceded the operations [i.e Cast Lead] and that in the Mission's view amounts to collective punishment intentionally inflicted by the Government of Israel on the people of the Gaza Strip." (UNMR). Further, the Mission found "An analysis of the modalities and impact of the December-January military operations [also] sets them, in the Mission's view, in a continuum with a number of other pre-existing Israel Policies with regard to the Occupied Palestinian Territories. The progressive isolation and separation of the Gaza Strip from the West Bank, a policy that began much earlier and which was consolidated in particular with the imposition of tight closures, restrictions on movement and eventually blockade, are among the most apparent." 'The plan that never changed' is the continuum that ever is, until God forbid "There is no more Palestine. Finished . . ." (Moshe Dayan)
Nothing has changed since 2004, nothing has changed since 1948. And nothing has changed in 2011. Pick a date between 1948 and 2011 and one finds systematic abuse, atrocities, and deaths of Palestinian civilians. One might pick Operation 'Defensive Shield' 2002, Operation 'Summer Rains' 2006 or 'Autumn Clouds' November 2006, I have picked December 2008/January 2009 and 'Cast Lead' from Israel's seasonal slaughter. Here's a U.N Report of 2009.

The 2009 Report of the United Nations Fact Finding Mission on the Gaza Conflict concluded, "The Mission found numerous instances of deliberate attacks on civilians and civilian objects (individuals, whole families, houses, mosques) in violation of the fundamental international humanitarian law principle of distinction, resulting in deaths and serious injuries. In these cases the Mission found that the protected status of civilians was not respected and the attacks intentional, in clear violation of customary law reflected in article 51 (2) and 75 of Additional Protocol 1, article 27 of the Four Geneva Convention and articles 6 and 7 of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights. In some cases the Mission additionally concluded that the attack was also launched with the intention of spreading terror among the civilian population."

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In addition, the Mission found all of this was planned meticulously by Israel, "legal opinions and advice were given throughout the planning stages and at certain operational levels during the campaign. There were almost no mistakes according to the Government of Israel. It is in these circumstances that the Mission [concluded] that what occurred in just over three weeks at the end of 2008 and the beginning of 2009 was a deliberately disproportionate attack designed to punish, humiliate and terrorize a civilian population, radically diminish its local economic capacity both to work and to provide for itself, and to force upon it an ever increasing sense of dependency and vulnerability."

One would remind Israel's planners of Article 7 of the Draft Code of Crimes Against the Peace and Security of Mankind (1996), "The official position of an individual who commits a crime against the peace and security of mankind, even if he acted as head of State or Government, does not relieve him of criminal responsibility or mitigate punishment." And of these compassionate words thundering through the centuries from Caliph Abu Bakr to "the first Moslem Arab Army invading Christian Syria:

Do not commit treachery, nor depart from the right path. You must not mutilate, neither kill a child or aged man or woman. Do not destroy a palm tree, nor burn it with fire and do not cut any fruitful tree." (634 A.D)
After Cast Lead, Adalah, The Legal Center for Arab Minority Rights in Israel, reported that "During and after "Operation Cast lead", human rights organizations asked the Attorney General (AG) to open an investigation based on prima-facie evidence of gross-violations of international law; the AG rejected our request. Previous requests to the Military Advocate General (MAG) to open investigations into numerous other cases were also denied." Adalah further found "petitions filed to the Supreme Court against the MAG and AG's policy of not opening criminal investigations into the killing of Palestinians remain pending years later. It also appears that the Supreme Court's inaction has resulted in a brake on the submission of petitions by human rights organizations."

"Israel cannot build a society based on the principles of democracy, human rights, and compliance with international law while brutally occupying another people and their land. The United States is currently paying for that occupation with its annual aid," (JVP, Statement on Peace, U.S Military Aid and Israel, 2004.) and further, "When Palestinian doctors remove bullets from the bodies of Palestinian children, the bullets are typically stamped. Made in the U.S.A." Nevertheless, and, in remorseless fashion the United States defies international opinion, its own law and international law in providing massive military aid to its client state Israel. America supplies the boots that fit the feet that press on the necks of Palestinians.

Massive military aid for continuum

"The Arabs will have to go, but one needs an opportune moment for making it happen, such as war" (Ben Gurion)

The Congressional Research Service Report (CRSR) of 16th September 2010 U.S Foreign Aid to Israel reported, "Almost all U.S. bilateral aid to Israel is in the form of military assistance." The Bush Administration unsurprisingly sanctioned an increase of 6 billion dollars in U.S military assistance to Israel in August 2007. And the Obama Administration, also unsurprisingly, responded to the Bush Neo Con reverberation by requesting $3 billion U.S in Foreign Military Financing (FMF) to Israel for fiscal year of 2011. So, add those figures in your moral mind space to this cumulative 'conservative estimate' given by the U.S organisation 'If Americans Knew' of "total direct aid to Israel [1949 to 2008] of $113. 8554 Billion. Massive by any standards.

Decades of murder and mayhem began with a trade loan in 1949 of $100.000. God only knows when and how it will end. Today the billions of US taxpayers dollars that pour through the 'aid funnel' are used to buy arms and equipment such as caterpillar bulldozers made in the U.S; indeed a stipulation by the U.S is that Israel uses "75% of its military aid from the U.S. It funnels this money to more than 1,000 U.S arms suppliers, which in turn lobby for policies that benefit them at the expense of peace in the Middle East." (JVP).

According to the CRSR, by giving unconditional aid to Israel, America seeks to and "maintains ...[Israel's] qualitative military edge over potential threats, and prevent[s] a shift in the security balance of the region." in fact that aggressive 'military edge' keeps Palestinians locked down in interminable suffering and the region a tinderbox. And make no mistake the 'qualitative military edge' is not for Israel but for The United States of America and its continued hegemonic ambitions through its proxy, Israel.

U.S blood money was/is for "a militarized Israel that will serve the U.S. interest of controlling the Petroleum reserves of the Middle East ... policy debate in elite circles takes for granted, on all sides, the goal of maintaining U.S. control over Middle East petroleum resources and the flow of petrodollars." (Chomsky, Fateful Triangle). If we take a sordid trip down Israel's blood soaked memory lane we find U.S Aid increasing in direct proportion to Israel's military aggression, perceived success therefore usefulness to American interests. Israel's continuum is vital for American control over the oil reserves of the region.

Stephen Zunes, The Strategic Functions of U.S. AID to Israel, shows how U.S Aid shoots up after Israeli military successes and its long term strategic cooperation with America. From the "spectacular victory" in the 1967 war, through the Civil War in Jordan 1970-71 and the countering of 'attacking Arab armies' in 1973, to the "fall of the Shah, election of the right wing Likud, and the ratification of the Camp David Treaty in 1979", through the years 1983-84 "when the United States and Israel signed memoranda of understanding on strategic cooperation and military planning." U.S Aid kept rising 450%, 800%, increasing, sevenfold, quadrupling, as did Israel's aggression. America force feeding Israel with military aid through the 'aid funnel,' whilst Palestinian children can scarcely keep mind, spirit, and body together.

Then came Clinton, Bush, Obama, all maintaining Israel's 'qualitative edge', all maintaining Israel's brutal military occupation. All, letting down the Palestinians' lawful drive for legitimate Statehood. All U.S Aid equated with destruction, acquainted with death. The long suffering Palestinians sold out with 'no objections' from the 'liberal left of America.'

Nixon, Ford, Carter, Reagan, Bush Senior, Clinton, Bush "I'm doing it for my daddy" junior, and Obama, all preserving 'Continuity Of Government' (C.O.G.) indeed, all cogs in the all consuming gas guzzling American machine. It will all end in tears and it won't be Palestinian tears, for they have wept too much and for too long for their lost freedom and their lost children.

O Captain My Captain

"Our American friends offer us money, arms, and advice. We take the money, we take the arms, and we decline the advice." (Moshe Dayan)

Questions are being asked of Captain America from unlikely and likely quarters. Walter Pincus of the Washington Post, "The question for the Obama administration, Congress and, in the end perhaps the American public, is given present economic problems, should the United States supply the money to make up for the reductions the Israelis are making in their own defence budget." A financial question of course. A superior question, because a moral one, is if, the American public, who should be asked first, were informed of the extent, nature and illegality of U.S Aid to Israel, would the American public then sanction any military aid to Israel at all?

As Hassan Fouda of Northern California Friends of Sabeel reminds, "Congress is planning deep cuts in social security, unemployment compensation, educational grants and other programs that help vulnerable Americans. Transferring billions of taxpayer's money to Israel now is immoral. Americans need to speak up and be heard.

Valuing Human Rights 

Special Rapporteur John Duggard stated, "It is pointless for the Special Rapporteur to recommend to the Government of Israel that it show respect for human rights and international humanitarian law ... in these circumstances, the Special Rapporteur can only appeal to the wider international community to concern itself with the plight of the Palestinian people." (2006). After the end of the Israeli military operation Cast Lead 2008-2009 in Gaza, John Ging the UNRWA Director of Operations recalled a discussion that he had with a teacher in Gaza about 'strengthening human rights education in schools'. One would assume that the teacher had for obvious reasons a sceptical view of such an undertaking. In fact, recounts Ging "the teacher unhesitantly supported the resumption of human rights education." She said, "This is a war of values, and we are not going to lose it."

* Clive Hambidge is Human Development Director at Facilitate Global. He can be contacted at: