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The War of Lies: Israeli History Post1967

By: shergald Saturday June 9, 2012 7:30 am

Diary edited by MyFDL editor. Although there is a disclaimer that diarist has permission to post entire article, we at MyFDL cannot actually take that chance so article cut down to stay within fair use and link to original is provided.

From time to time, articles surface about the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, which are so illuminating that they deserve full exposure. This one by Uri Avnery, the founder of Gush Shalom, an Israeli based peace activist group, is such an article. It tells us what was really happening behind the scenes for most of the past 45 years. The last lie is not actually covered: Netanyahu’s claim to support a Palestinian state, but the thinking that went on before is revealed.

THIRTY YEARS ago this week, the Israeli army crossed into Lebanon and started the most stupid war in Israel’s history. It lasted for 18 years. About 1500 Israeli soldiers and untold numbers of Lebanese and Palestinians were killed.

Almost all wars are based on lies. Lies are considered legitimate instruments of war. Lebanon War I (as it was later called) was a glorious example.

From beginning to end (if it has ended yet) it was a war of deceit and deception, falsehoods and fabrications.

THE LIES started with the official name: “Operation Peace in Galilee”.

If one asks Israelis now, 99.99% of them will say with all sincerity: “We had no choice. They launched katyushas at the Galilee from Lebanon every day. We had to stop them.” TV anchormen and anchorwomen, as well as former cabinet ministers have been repeating this throughout the week. Quite sincerely. Even people who were already adults at the time.

…snip… (more at link

The War of Lies

Reprinted by permission.


An Open Letter to the Israeli Jewish Public: Support the Gaza Flotilla

By: shergald Sunday June 26, 2011 9:21 am

by Jeff Halper, founder of the Israeli peace activist org, ICAHD, the Israeli Committee Against House Demolition, reprinted by The Only Democracy.

I always hate the act of reprinting someone else’s writing, but in this case, the writing is so timely that it begs forgiveness. It is about the now controversial Gaza Flotilla about to depart for Gaza, and just what inhumane conditions that flotilla intends to rectify, directly or politically.

If we were not Israeli Jews, if the nine ships bringing 800 peace-makers from 40 countries would be sailing with humanitarian aid to an imprisoned population of a million and a half to, say, Haiti, the flotilla now on its way to Gaza would be hailed as a monumental event. The government of Israel would donate another 50 tons of food and materials and a brigade of army volunteers from the “rescue corps.” But we are Israelis, and the fact that such an operation is being launched against a siege we imposed on a civilian population three years ago – actually, the blockade goes back to the late 1980s – should cause us all to reflect upon how we and our country have arrived at this sorry state – how the “light unto the nations” has become one of the most oppressive states on earth, subject to international protests like this one.

The flotilla is sailing with a number of messages. First and foremost, to the government of Israel: “Lift the siege on Gaza!” The siege is absolutely illegal in international law, and for those of us who believe that the rule of law and human rights is the only recipe for a better world, it is incumbent upon us to join the flotilla’s call to lift the siege. Civilians cannot be the object of military and political attacks, as is the case in Gaza (which the Goldstone Report roundly criticized), nor can they be collectively punished for the policies of their political leaders. The very idea that people can be brought to their knees and forced to accept being permanently controlled and dominated, which is the thrust of Israeli policy, is both unconscionable and counter-productive. As the situation in Gaza shows, it has only stiffened resistance to the Occupation.

And then there is the urgency of the flotilla’s second message, “Addressing the humanitarian situation in Gaza!” In a policy frightening reminiscent of other dark regimes in which Jews suffered from controlled malnutrition, our government has imposed a regime of “counting calories” on the Gaza population – imposing a “minimal dietary regime” on a million and a half people who receive as little as 850 calories a day, less than half the recommended daily intake. (Dov Weisglass, Sharon’s Chief of Staff, made a joke out of this. “It’s like a meeting with a dietitian,” he said. “We need to make the Palestinians lose weight, but not to starve to death.”) Instant coffee, fresh meat, rice, beans, spices, honey, chocolate, jam, bananas, coriander and pasta, among many others, are considered by Israel “luxury foods” for Palestinians. All this might be funny if it weren’t for the fact that, according to the World Health Organization, more than 10% of Gazan children suffer from chronic malnutrition. Two-thirds of the Gazan population face hunger on a daily basis.

Gaza is today an unreconstructed war-zone. Israel long ago destroyed the sewage system, so that people have drowned in periodic floods of sewage that have engulfed whole communities. Raw sewage flowing into the Mediterranean has polluted the only waters in which Palestinians are allowed to fish – the Israeli navy fires on fishermen who attempt to reach cleaner waters more than three miles out. Having destroyed Gaza’s only power station, much of the area suffers from blackouts, and Israel prevents adequate amounts of fuel from entering, with severe effects on hospitals. Gazans also have nowhere to live. More than 2,400 homes were destroyed in the invasion of last year and Israel, by prohibiting the import of raw materials, has prevented their being rebuilt. Thus the flotilla is bringing to Gaza 10,000 tons of humanitarian materials: temporary shelters, playgrounds for children, cement, steel and other construction materials, medical equipment and medicines and school supplies – a drop in the bucket of which is actually needed. The list alone is an indictment of our policies.

We Israeli Jews live in a managed information environment in which reality is carefully framed for us. Our government’s explanation for everything it does is “security,” and we accept that almost without question. But we have to understand a basic fact of life: four million Palestinians live under a cruel Occupation that we have nurtured for the past 43 years and which has deprived them of their fundamental rights (such as electing their own political leaders), robbed them of their land and homes (Israeli governments have demolished some 24,000 Palestinian homes in the Occupied Territories since 1967), reduced them to impoverishment and has led, in the case of Gaza, to their literal imprisonment.

Why do I have to repeat facts that seem so self-evident, that everyone knows? Because, though every informed person abroad knows these things, we Israeli Jews don’t – and we don’t care. Most Israelis know far less about what our government is doing in our name, in Gaza and elsewhere in the Occupied Territories, than the activists on the Free Gaza ships. We seldom if ever use the term “occupation” in our everyday speech (in fact, our government denied the very existence of an occupation), and we minimize the impact that our settlements, our separate roads, the Wall, hundreds of checkpoints and other facets of the Occupation have upon the political process, which we no longer believe in. Living in a prosperous “bubble,” we do not see Palestinian suffering, only ourselves as “victims.” (And so our Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman characterizes the Gaza flotillas as “violent propaganda” against Israel, as if we have nothing to do with conditions of life in Gaza or the very fact of occupation.) But this is not reality. For the Palestinians there is no minimizing their suffering or their yearning for freedom. Why, with our history, is it so difficult for us to understand resistance to oppression?

And so the third message of the flotilla is directed towards us: “Take responsibility for your government’s policies!” When I entered Gaza on the first Free Gaza boats in August, 2008, I issued an appeal to the Israeli public to stand in solidarity with us. I argued that ordinary people have often played key roles in history, particularly in situations like this where world governments, who should end the siege, shirk their responsibilities. We must resist the self-serving and disempowering statements of our political leaders who would have us believe that there is no solution to the conflict with the Palestinians, that there is “no partner for peace,” that we are doomed to perpetual war and, therefore, we must become permanent oppressors. The Palestinians are not our enemies; our own political leaders are. The very fact that I, an Israeli Jew, was welcomed by the people of Gaza makes that very point, and it is the message they asked me to convey to you. But they also insist on their rights: self-determination.

We of the Israeli peace camp refuse to be enemies with our Palestinian neighbors. We recognize that as the infinitely stronger party in the conflict, we Israelis must accept responsibility for our failed and oppressive policies.

In the meantime, the flotilla to Gaza has already succeeded. If the Israeli government allows the ships into Gaza, the power of the will have prevailed once more. If it chooses to stop the flotilla, it will only highlight the existence of the illegal and inhumane siege and bolster international efforts to end it. In both cases Israel loses the battle for legitimacy in the international community. This is the beauty of non-violent direct action. It is only a matter of time before it will be forced to relinquish control over the Palestinians and their lands.

Let us, Israeli Jews who aspire to become an integral part of this region rather than a foreign implant at war with its inhabitants, begin to take our fate in our own hands. We must side with the people of Gaza and the activists on the boats against the unjust and immoral policies of our own government. This is what the good people of the flotilla are trying to tell us, what people all over the world are trying to tell us: unless we take responsibility for our actions and end this terrible conflict with the Palestinians, we will not remain here. And unless we find a way to a just peace rather than stand on the side of occupation, oppression and injustice, we may delay that day by force, but our society will not survive. For our sakes as well as the people of Gaza, let us, the Israeli Jewish public, board the boats to end the siege of Gaza.

By permission.

The Only Democracy in the Middle East

By: shergald Sunday June 12, 2011 5:56 am

In this article, distributed by Jewish Voice for Peace, Bassem Tamimi speaks out in Israeli Court at the beginning of his trial. The occasion was the 44th anniversary of Israel’s Occupation of the West Bank, East Jerusalem, and Gaza, June 5th, 2011. It provides insight into realities within Israel not evident when it claims to be the only democracy in the Middle East.

Tamimi’s full statement in court:

Your Honor,

I hold this speech out of belief in peace, justice, freedom, the right to live in dignity, and out of respect for free thought in the absence of Just Laws.

Every time I am called to appear before your courts, I become nervous and afraid. Eighteen years ago, my sister was killed in a courtroom such as this, by a staff member. In my lifetime, I have been nine times imprisoned for an overall of almost 3 years, though I was never charged or convicted. During my imprisonment, I was paralyzed as a result of torture by your investigators. My wife was detained, my children were wounded, my land was stolen by settlers, and now my house is slated for demolition.

I was born at the same time as the Occupation and have been living under its inherent inhumanity, inequality, racism and lack of freedom ever since. Yet, despite all this, my belief in human values and the need for peace in this land have never been shaken. Suffering and oppression did not fill my heart with hatred for anyone, nor did they kindle feelings of revenge. To the contrary, they reinforced my belief in peace and national standing as an adequate response to the inhumanity of Occupation.

International law guarantees the right of occupied people to resist Occupation. In practicing my right, I have called for and organized peaceful popular demonstrations against the Occupation, settler attacks and the theft of more than half of the land of my village, Nabi Saleh, where the graves of my ancestors have lain since time immemorial.

I organized these peaceful demonstrations in order to defend our land and our people. I do not know if my actions violate your Occupation laws. As far as I am concerned, these laws do not apply to me and are devoid of meaning. Having been enacted by Occupation authorities, I reject them and cannot recognize their validity.

Despite claiming to be the only democracy in the Middle East you are trying me under military laws which lack any legitimacy; laws that are enacted by authorities that I have not elected and do not represent me. I am accused of organizing peaceful civil demonstrations that have no military aspects and are legal under international law.

We have the right to express our rejection of Occupation in all of its forms; to defend our freedom and dignity as a people and to seek justice and peace in our land in order to protect our children and secure their future.

The civil nature of our actions is the light that will overcome the darkness of the Occupation, bringing a dawn of freedom that will warm the cold wrists in chains, sweep despair from the soul and end decades of oppression.

These actions are what will expose the true face of the Occupation, where soldiers point their guns at a woman walking to her fields or at checkpoints; at a child who wants to drink from the sweet water of his ancestors’ fabled spring; against an old man who wants to sit in the shade of an olive tree, once mother to him, now burnt by settlers.

We have exhausted all possible actions to stop attacks by settlers, who refuse to adhere to your courts’ decisions, which time and again have confirmed that we are the owners of the land, ordering the removal of the fence erected by them.

Each time we tried to approach our land, implementing these decisions, we were attacked by settlers, who prevented us from reaching it as if it were their own.

Our demonstrations are in protest of injustice. We work hand in hand with Israeli and international activists who believe, like us, that had it not been for the Occupation, we could all live in peace on this land. I do not know which laws are upheld by generals who are inhibited by fear and insecurity, nor do I know their thoughts on the civil resistance of women, children and old men who carry hope and olive branches. But I know what justice and reason are. Land theft and tree-burning is unjust. Violent repression of our demonstrations and protests and your detention camps are not evidence of the illegality of our actions. It is unfair to be tryed under a law forced upon us. I know that I have rights and my actions are just.

The military prosecutor accuses me of inciting the protesters to throw stones at the soldiers. This is not true. What incites protesters to throw stones is the sound of bullets, the Occupation’s bulldozers as they destroy the land, the smell of teargas and the smoke coming from burnt houses. I did not incite anyone to throw stones, but I am not responsible for the security of your soldiers who invade my village and attack my people with all the weapons of death and the equipment of terror.

These demonstrations that I organize have had a positive influence over my beliefs; they allowed me to see people from the other side, who believe in peace and share my struggle for freedom. Those freedom fighters have rid their conscious from the Occupation and put their hands in ours in peaceful demonstrations against our common enemy, the Occupation. They have become friends, sisters and brothers. We fight together for a better future for our children and theirs.

If released by the judge will I be convinced thereby that justice still prevails in your courts? Regardless of how just or unjust this ruling will be, and despite all your racist and inhumane practices and Occupation, we will continue to believe in peace, justice and human values. We will still raise our children to love; love the land and the people without discrimination of race, religion or ethnicity; embodying thus the message of the Messenger of Peace, Jesus Christ, who urged us to “love our enemy.” With love and justice, we make peace and build the future.

Just for Background, Bassem Tamimi is a veteran Palestinian grassroots activist from the West Bank village of Nabi Saleh, north of Ramallah. He is married and the father of four children.

Tamimi has been arrested by the Israeli army 11 times and has spent roughly three years in Israeli jails, even though he was never convicted of any offence. He spent roughly three years in administrative detention with no charges brought against him. Furthermore, his attorney was denied access to allegedly “secret evidence” brought against him in reminiscence of a Kafkaesque trial. In 1993, Tamimi was falsely arrested on suspicion of murdering an Israeli settler, but before he was cleared, due to being severely tortured by the Israeli Shin Bet, he collapsed and laid unconscious for seven days in a hospital.

Earlier, Tamimi acted as an organizer of the Nabi Saleh protests and coordinator of the village’s popular committee, for which he was often the target of harsh treatment by the Israeli army. Since demonstrations began in the village, his house has been raided and ransacked numerous times, his wife was twice arrested, and two of his young sons aged 14 and 8 seriously injured rubber-coated bullets and a tear-gas projectile. Shortly after demonstrations in the village began, the Israeli Civil Administration served ten demolition orders to structures located in Area C, of which Tamimi’s house was one, despite the fact that it was built in 1965.

It is evident that Israel views Tamimi nonviolent protest activity as a great danger to its democracy, the only one in the Middle East.

Juan Cole: ’1967 borders’ is a smokescreen for Israeli expansionism

By: shergald Wednesday May 25, 2011 10:15 am

Speech to AIPAC

Whenever you want to understand happenings in Israel-Palestine, you turn to the Middle East expert Juan Cole, as in this interpretation of Netanyahu recent speech to the Congress, entitled, What lies Behind Netanyahu’s Bluster on ‘1967 Borders’. While the entire Congress applauded the Israeli PM, it was doubtful that more than a few appreciated or at least would admit what the occasion was all about.

For Juan Cole, it was about continuing the colonization of Palestinian land unimpeded by Obama’s peace initiative, the project he and other Likud prime ministers have supported since perhaps the close of the 1967 war. (It is reprinted by permission.)

Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu’s high dudgeon over the world community’s demand that Israel return more or less to ’1967 borders’ plays to two audiences, his domestic constituency among far rightwing ‘Greater Israel’ parties intent on usurping Palestinian land, and his American constituency among the third or so of US Jews who oppose trading land for peace.

For the rest of us in the US, being yoked to Netanyahu’s angry expansionism is like being forced to date Charlie Sheen. It won’t do our own reputation any good, and it won’t rescue him from his self-destructiveness.

The ’1967′ borders are actually those that obtained before Israel launched its 1967 ‘Six-Day War’ on Syria, Jordan and Egypt. (There is no doubt that Israel launched this war, and that its aggressiveness with Syria in the previous six months contributed mightily to the tensions that led to it.)

The reason Israel has to go back to 1967 borders is that the annexation of territory from a neighbor through warfare is illegal according to the United Nations Charter, which is a treaty to which Israel and the United States are both signatories. ‘Greater Israel’ apologists attempt to get out of this difficulty by saying that countries used to conquer land away from their neighbors all the time. This is a bogus argument, since countries used to do a lot of things, including sponsor the slave trade; Britain even insisted on China allowing the sale of opium in the early 19th century. The world changed when World War II ended and the countries of the world established the United Nations to forestall any recrudescence of Axis techniques of conquest and rule. If Israel does not believe in the UN Charter, it should renounce its UN membership.

It is not just the UN Charter. The Hague Agreement of 1907 and the Geneva Convention of 1949 forbid a power occupying enemy territory in war time from annexing it or in any way changing the life ways of its people.

Another bogus argument the Greater Israel expansionists trot out is that the UN Charter only forbids the acquisition of territory from other countries, and the Palestinians did not have a country, and so they are fair game. This argument is morally despicable, since the Israelis made the Palestinians stateless, thwarting the intention of the League of Nations that Palestine become a state; and now they are using the abjectness and statelessness as an argument that Palestinians can be stolen from at will. But the argument is also incorrect. Both the League of Nations and the UN made it perfectly clear that they intended that the Palestinians have a state in the future, so in preventing this from happening the Israelis are defying international law. The 1947 UN Partition Plan, the legitimacy of which the Israeli government says it recognizes, awarded Gaza and the West Bank to the Palestinians. So it is not true that these territories are no-man’s land or that there is no legal framework for their people’s existence, such that anyone could enslave them or expropriate them at will.

Netanyahu’s argument for not going back to 1967 borders is that it is inconvenient. He says that the 1967 borders are indefensible. This assertion is a logical fallacy, known as special pleading. You can’t launch a war and annex your neighbor’s territory because you fear that your own presents security challenges. Lots of countries are unhappy with their borders. Saddam Hussein annexed Kuwait in 1990 in part because he felt that the British had erred in not giving modern Iraq a deep water port, which made Iraq ‘indefensible’ and put it at an economic disadvantage. Pakistan believes that its failure to secure the headwaters of the Indus Valley rivers in Kashmir in 1947 puts it at a permanent disadvantage vis-a-vis India and makes the country overly vulnerable (‘indefensible’). Netanyahu’s immoral argument that a country just has to take by main force whatever it feels will make it more secure is astonishing and is a standing danger to world peace if it were taken seriously by other countries.

Aljazeera English reports on Netanyahu’s rejection of 1967 borders and anything like them:

International law forbids Israel to colonize the West Bank– not only the UN Charter but also the Geneva Conventions of 1948.

But beyond the specious character of Netanyahu’s rhetoric (according to which it would have been perfectly all right for George W. Bush to annex Iraq to the United States), the fact is that the whole tiff over ’1967 borders’ is a smokescreen for Israeli expansionism. The settler movement could put down settlements in much of the sparsely populated south of Israel proper with no problem. Instead, they insist on taking Palestinian land. They are not colonizing the West Bank only to make it more ‘secure’ (they are making it less so), but rather out of greed, ambition, and expansionism. It is not about defense, it is about offense.

MAP:showing the current status of Israel’s colonization of the West Bank.

The Likud Party led by Netanyahu does not believe in allowing the Palestinians to have a state, and does not believe in withdrawing from the Occupied Territories. This obstinate stance and commitment to undermining the international rule of law is why there is no point in ‘engaging’ the Likud with ‘ compromises.’ Netanyahu led the charege against the Oslo Peace process pursued by then PM Yitzhak Rabin in the early 1990s, and when Rabin was assassinated and Netanyahu came briefly to power he did whatever he could to destroy the peace process. He admitted this obstructionism on tape:

Israeli PM Netanyahu: I “stopped” Oslo peace process – ENGLISH SUBTITLES

Netanyahu rudely lectured President Obama in front of the cameras that the Palestinian desire to see the return of some of the refugees expelled from their homes by the Israelis in 1948 ‘isn’t going to happen’ and he urged Obama to frankly tell the Palestinians that it isn’t going to happen. But he may as well also have instructed Obama to tell the Palestinians that the two state solution is dead.

Israel by now has not only planted colonies all over the West Bank and moved hundreds of thousands of people in, but it has secretly withdrawn residency rights from 140,000 Palestinians. The ‘separation barrier’ removed another 12 percent of Palestinian territory. No one can look at a map of Gaza and the West Bank as they actually exist and see a viable state that could protect the rights of its citizens (the point of a state). Israel keeps announcing new settlements or expansions of existing ones on Palestinian territory.

Netanyahu is saying ‘no’ to peace, ‘no’ to negotiations, ‘no’ to dignity and rights for Palestinians for generations to come.

Ben Franklin said that ‘Experience keeps a dear school, but fools will learn in no other.’ Netanyahu’s children and grandchildren and great grandchildren will one day regret that he slapped away the hand of help and the good will of Barack Obama in favor of a stubborn and greedy Israeli expansionism.

The most likely outcome of Israel’s present course is a one state solution, achieved over decades, with much heartbreak and violence and ruined lives in the meantime. The Jews of Israel will likely end up like the Maronite Christians of Lebanon. France created Lebanon in 1920 for a then Christian majority, but Christian out-migration and rapid Muslim population growth reduced the Maronites to only about 22 percent of the population today if we count children. Likewise, Israeli Jews have already lost their majority among first-graders in what was Mandate Palestine in favor of Palestinians and Palestinian-Israelis. Current demographic trends will likely produce an Israel that is a third Arab by 2030 and that is not even counting the Occupied Territories. The instability in the Arab world and the Greater Middle East, which is growing, could well over time increase Jewish out-migration (out of sheer nervousness) so that it outstrips in-migration of Jews. I can’t see a way for Israel to escape this demographic and geopolitical fate and remain viable as a nation-state. Plans on the Israeli right to denaturalize and expel the 1.5 million Palestinian-Israelis are unrealistic and do not reckon with the likely backlash from the Arab world, which won’t remain weak and abject forever. (We can already see glimmerings of a new, more assertive Egypt).

The course Netanyahu is charting will harm the United States in so many ways they are hard to count. But he is also digging the grave of his own vision of a Jewish state.

Links in the original HERE.

Brooklyn-Jenin: Happy Birthday, Juliano Mer Khamis, by Udi Aloni

By: shergald Sunday May 15, 2011 7:02 am

Juliano Mer Khamis (left) and Udi Aloni (right).

Udi Aloni wrote this final obituary on the death of Juliano Mer Khamis, a Jewish-Palestinian peace activist who operated a theatre in the Palestinian refugee camp of Jenin, Palestine before his murder. It was published by Mondoweiss and is reprinted here (in quotes) by permission. It is too moving not to share with a wider audience.

“Forty days have passed since the murder of Juliano Mer Khamis. Juliano –freedom fighter, cultural hero, actor, director, clown, teacher, husband, lover, tyrant, servant, father, (something of a mother), provocateur, gourmet, wild intellectual, and more than all that and encompassing all that – a soul-friend. Demons chased Juliano for years, until he taught them to bow to his will. He caught and tamed them like wild horses and harnessed them to the chariot of freedom, on which he galloped to far, inspired realms. He rode off in search of liberty and the meaning of its boundaries, and generously took us along on his fascinating journey.

Forty days have passed and I could not write a word. What language does one choose to say Kadish for a Shahid who came from a Christian family and was, himself, a Communist. So I was moved in the funeral when, in lieu of Kadish, a harmonica played the traditional tune of that song which seemingly was written for and about Jule: “What man is he that desireth life, and loveth many days, that he may see good?” So I wrote nothing for forty days, but I did function. I functioned like a man possessed, as though the spirit of Jule had come into me – and there was no one like Jule for functioning in a crisis. There is much to say about the days following the murder: about the loneliness, the melancholy, the tensions. About the family, bereft of a father, husband, and friend, that will have to have to shoulder the unbearable burden.

But I spent the days after the murder with Jule’s students, the students whom I had learned to know and love over the past year. I could tell stories about the students’ feelings of persecution, about their sense of being the disciples carrying forward his legacy, about the sense of helplessness before the faceless violence that took him from our small world. Two days after the murder we decided, the students and I, to go to Ramallah, to find a space where we could cry, mourn, remember, and become reenergized. We sought refuge far away from the place of the trauma, from the place where he, this man who turned a group of outcasts into a troupe of talented actors, was murdered. Now the students walk the streets of Ramallah and Jenin with their wounds exposed, for all to see. Sometimes they are fragile, sometimes powerful, seeking a healing balm or a holy rage to pacify their pain. My friend Adi Khalifa, a Palestinian stand-up artist from Haifa, gave a workshop on how to laugh at Jule. And so we sat there, a grieving troupe, and we could not stop laughing and crying for seven days and seven nights.

Truth be told, we became refugees from a refugee camp, and then were expelled from the hospice that had given us refuge in Ramallah. We were expelled by an administrator with a German accent, because I am an Israeli Jew. But there – faced with expulsion – twelve young Palestinians from the Jenin Refugee Camp stood angrily against the Christian-European administrator, shouting in unison that if she would not respect an Israeli Jew who came to support the struggle for equality and justice she was a racist… Hallelujah! What an amazing education Juliano gave them; he was truly ahead of his time. He brought the spirit of the Arab Spring and of Tahrir Square to his students. He kept challenging and re-challenging them, in a sort of ongoing pop-quiz about the spirit of freedom – beyond religion, beyond nationality, and beyond gender.

Hard work and unending talent turned Jule into an artist-leader, who began to create real change with revolutionary power in the whole space between the Jordan river and the sea. Unlike the project run by his mother, Arna, he was not only there to help the children in the camp. He chose to establish a professional theater in the most impossible place, the place that seemed most unprepared, to produce an atomic-dialectic explosion of uncompromising ideologies. In Jule’s world, universal values and particular tradition clash swords with fundamentalism and decadence. In the Freedom Theatre we thought that only a true ideological explosion would manage to ignite the engine of Palestinian culture. Only from this position could we expose the fact that Muslim fundamentalism and the decadence of Ramallah are both on the side of the failure of the revolution. In the same spirit, Jewish fundamentalism and the decadence of Tel Aviv are both on the side of the occupation.

I have great contempt for those journalists who were in such a hurry to rejoice about the fact that he was probably murdered by a Palestinian. Their mantra was “here is this wonderful man, come to help the natives, and they murdered him.” Strange, I do not remember those same journalists rejoicing when a Jew murdered Yitzchak Rabin in the name of the ideology which today rules our country. An ideology served by those same journalists.

Today it is Nakbah Day, and I mourn alone the never-again-to-be-celebrated birthday of Juliano. Jule came to the Nakbah refugees in Jenin to share their struggle and their fate. He tried to offer a nonviolent means of resistance. Zakaria Zubeidi had faith in him and lay down his arms to help develop the Freedom Theater. Zakaria knew that by taking this path he could lose his own life, but he did not imagine that he would lose the life of his beloved friend. After the murder I got a middle-of-the-night SMS from Zakaria: “It’s really hard without Jule” – and tears filled my eyes. People liked to say that Juliano was a Jew in Palestine and a Palestinian in Israel. But Jule was a Jewish-Palestinian everywhere and a human everywhere. He wanted to free the Palestinians from the Israelis, the women from the men, the poor from the rich, and people, in general, from their internal bonds.

Juliano, I am so lucky that you generously opened wide the doors to your home, made the theatre my home, and made its people my family. You taught me the practice of binationalism, step by measured step. We worked in the theatre night and day to create our cultural bomb, but we were not sufficiently careful, and it went off in our laps and took your life at the height of its bloom. Kafka wrote, and I quote from memory, “martyrdom and suicide do not exist at the same level of consciousness; martyrdom is more like a bridegroom approaching his wedding.” Happy birthday, habibi, Jule. It’s really hard without you.

P.S. A quote from Juliano’s vision document, sent a year ago to Freedom Theater supporters and friends:

“We aim to create a theater of the highest professional level, that will become the leading force in revival of Palestinian culture – not just a local theatre to benefit camp dwellers, but rather a theater that stretches boundaries beyond the very borders. We believe that we can create a joint force that will strengthen the links between advanced technology, women’s rights, and education in promoting nonviolent struggle for culture, justice, and liberty. As a troupe we will advance the theoretical and practical artistic vision of our pathfinders, philosopher Edward Said and creator Mahmud Darwish, to try and create a community that will attempt to free itself from the bonds of the Israeli occupier, simultaneously with the internal bonds of Palestinian Society.”

Juliano was born on Nakbah Day and murdered on the anniversary of the assassination of Martin Luther King Jr. Here he is in his own words.

Israel does not target civilians: the late Vittorio Arrigoni responds

By: shergald Tuesday April 26, 2011 9:57 am

Since the submission of the UN Goldstone Report documenting war crimes against Israel during the Gaza invasion (some just call it a massacre) of December 2008 in which 1,460 Gazan Palestinians were killed, mostly civilians including 433 children, and the destruction of 21,000 buildings, including mosques, hospitals, schools, and even the headquarters of UNWRA, the Palestinian refugee agency, plus ambulances, among them, Judge Goldstone, delegated by the UN to investigate the invasion, last month recanted his conclusion that Israel intentionally targeted civilians, a war crime.

Before he died, Vittorio Arrigoni, a member of the International Solidarity Movement, who originally went to Gaza on a Free Gaza Movement boat to break the siege that was attempting to strangle Gaza’s people on grounds that the Strip is controlled by Hamas, spoke on this matter. Although a poll completed a few years earlier indicated that only 25% of Gazans support Hamas, the fact that Hamas won a fair democratic election in 2006 became the premise to begin hostilities. It did not matter that Israel continued its occupation and land confiscations in the other Palestinian territories, the West Bank and East Jerusalem.

The circumstances of Vittorio Arrigoni’s assassination are still unclear. He was allegedly killed by a terrorist group operating inside Gaza. But before he died, he helped make this video, which speaks to the notion that Israel does not intentionally target civilians.

A comment to this video by gazafriends, posted on Apr 14, 2011, memorializes Vittorio’s work in Gaza.


Peace, Propaganda, & The Promised Land

By: shergald Monday April 11, 2011 5:36 am

When the documentary, Peace, Propaganda & the Promised Land, first appeared, it provided a striking comparison of U.S. and international media coverage of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, and strife in the Middle East in general. It zeroed in on how structural distortions in the U.S. media reinforced false perceptions of the conflict. The documentary exposed how the foreign policy interests of American political elites–oil, and a need to have a secure military base in the region, among others–worked in combination with Israeli public relations strategies (hasbara) to exercise a powerful influence over how news about the conflict is reported in the US.

Peace, Propaganda & the Promised Land remains relevant today.

Part I:

Part II:

The deconstruction of an AP story: Israeli army strikes Gaza after school bus hit

By: shergald Friday April 8, 2011 1:06 pm


Alarm from the Council for the National Interest Foundation president, Alison Weir. More slanted Israeli-centric news from a major new organization, the Associated Press, and an understanding why Israel consistently is cast as a victim, in spite of its occupation of the Palestinian people and the continuing theft of their lands and country.

The Associated Press is the oldest and largest wire service in the world and is the primary source of international news for newspapers all over the country.

As we expect you’re acutely aware, its reports are consistently Israeli-centric. Therefore, we are providing an analysis of today’s report on Gaza, telling what actually occurred over the past week, what AP chose to report, and what it chose not to report.

This kind of highly distorted reporting misleads Americans on Israel-Palestine, resulting in the disastrous Middle East policies we see today. We feel that exposing this situation and educating the general public — as well as editors here in America — on the actual situation in the region will help to bring the change so urgently needed.

First, How AP works

Since most newspapers don’t have their own reporters in Israel or the Palestinian Territories, they obtain their news on this region from wire services. AP is usually the only global wire service taken by U.S. newspapers.

Although AP is a cooperative, which means that it is “owned” by all the news organizations that use its news, in reality there is almost no oversight of its work. Editors around the country simply accept its reporting at face value.

The trouble is, however, that its reporting is consistently Israeli-centric.

The “control bureau” for the region, through which all news reports are funneled, is located in Israel. Its editors are living in Israel, their families are frequently Israeli, and quite often they themselves are Israeli citizens.

Even when an AP report carries a Palestinian dateline and even a Palestinian byline, in the large majority of cases the article was actually written in Israel, frequently by an Israeli editor.

A study of AP’s reporting found that it had reported on Israeli children’s deaths at a rate seven times greater than they reported on Palestinian children’s deaths – even though Palestinian children were killed first and in far greater numbers.

This blog will deconstruct AP’s daily reporting on Israel-Palestine: it will discuss its editors’ word choices, editorial decisions, and headlines. It will especially explore which “context” AP’s editors on this beat have chosen to include and which to ignore.

Alison Weir continues

First, let’s look at what has happened in Gaza in the past week:

 On Friday, April 1, Israeli forces assassinated a 24-year-old member of a Palestinian resistance group in Gaza.

 On Saturday, April 2, the Israeli air force assassinated three members of the group.

 On Tuesday, April 5, Israeli forces shot dead a Palestinian in northern Gaza, reportedly unarmed and not part of any resistance groups.

 On Wednesday, April 6, at dawn Israeli forces bombarded Gaza in three air strikes, injuring four people, including two women (one of them pregnant) and a child.

 On Wednesday afternoon hundreds of children in Gaza participated in a march asking the international community to protect them against ongoing Israeli raids and attacks.

 On Wednesday night the Israeli Air Force bombarded several areas of Gaza, causing extensive damage; at least one resident was injured.

 On Thursday morning, April 7, the resistance group that had suffered four assassinations fired mortars at a nearby Israeli town, which injured two people on an almost empty school bus, the bus driver and the one student (16) who hadn’t already been dropped off.

 Thursday at noon Israeli forces bombarded Gaza, killing five people and injuring over 40.

 Thusday evening Palestinian resistance forces all agreed to a ceasefire to try to prevent the violence from increasing.

 Israel ignored this and continued its air strikes against Gaza, killing still more Gazans.

 In all, Israeli forces killed 14 people within 24 hours and injured dozens.

 Among those killed were a mother, her young daughter, and an elderly man.

Following is how AP reported on this news. This story is on hundreds of newspaper websites around the country:

Israeli army strikes Gaza after school bus hit


JERUSALEM (AP) — Israeli aircraft and ground forces struck Gaza on Friday, killing two Hamas gunmen and three civilians

No mention in either the headline or the lead paragraph that Israeli forces killed a total of 14 people in the past 24 hours, including a mother, her young daughter (injured another of her children), and an elderly man, and that they injured dozens of others.

in a surge of fighting sparked by a Palestinian rocket attack on an Israeli school bus the day before.

No mention that this rocket attack was sparked by Israeli forces killing five Gazans in the preceding few days.

Just over two years after rocket fire from Gaza triggered

Israel had already broken the cease fire three times, killing seven Palestinian, which is what triggered the rock fire.

a devastating Israeli military offensive in the territory, which killed approximately 1400 Palestinians, at least 773 of them civilians – hundreds of them children.

Israel and Gaza’s Hamas rulers seemed on the brink of another round of intense violence.

AP still chooses not to mention the five Palestinians in Gaza that Israeli forces had killed in preceding days.

In Thursday’s attack, Gaza militants hit an Israeli school bus near the border with a guided anti-tank missile, injuring the driver and badly wounding a 16-year-old boy. Most of the schoolchildren on the bus got off shortly before the attack.

By Friday morning, Israel’s ongoing retaliation

AP calls the Israeli action retaliation (for two injured, one with minor injuries) but fails to calls that the rocket attack retaliation (for the killing of five people).

had killed 10 Gazans – five militants, a policeman and four civilians – and wounded 45. The dead Friday included three civilians killed by Israeli tank fire and two militants killed in an air strike, both near the southern Gaza town of Khan Younis.

Still no mention of the mother and children.

Hamas, which had largely held its fire since Israel’s last major offensive, claimed responsibility for the bus attack.

Had the bus been full, broader Israeli retaliation would have been all but inevitable and the region – already destabilized by the popular revolts sweeping the Arab world – could have been drawn into another war.

It’s odd to put such speculation in a news article, especially when AP left out so many newsworthy facts.

It is unclear if Hamas was trying to provoke a new conflagration, if it was not fully in control of all of its fighters, or if it believes Israel would pull back before invading Gaza again.

Again, it’s odd to put such speculation and commentary in a news article, especially when AP left out so many newsworthy facts.

Israel was condemned internationally after the last incursion.

“Incursion” is an odd word for the massive invasion by Israeli forces that was condemned in detailed reports issued by numerous highly respected international organizations.

Hamas said the rocket attack was in retaliation for the killing of three fighters in an airstrike earlier in the week. At around midnight Thursday, with Gaza rocked by explosions, the organization announced a cease-fire.

This was actually announced earlier and included all sectors of the Gazan resistance. The announcement about this also spoke of the 21-year-old killed on Tuesday, whom AP never mentions in the report.

But the Israeli strikes continued, hitting Hamas facilities and smuggling tunnels.

And many other facilities. AP also fails to mention that the tunnels are a response to Israel’s suffocating siege of Gaza, noted by groups such as Christian Aid.

Electricity lines and transformers were damaged, causing power blackouts in some parts of the territory, according to Jamal Dardsawi, a spokesman for Gaza’s Electric Distribution Company.

While AP speculated about what would have happened if the nearly empty Israeli bus had been full, there is no mention here about what electricity blackouts are actually doing to Gazan patients on respirators, in hospital operating rooms, etc.

In Israel, studies at some schools near Gaza were canceled Friday because of concerns for the students’ safety.

No mention of schools in Gaza, whose students have been injured, one killed, and parents killed and injured.

Palestinian militants launched nine mortars and rockets into Israel, causing damage to at least one building, the military said. Israeli casualties have been kept low thanks to reinforced rooms and early warning systems.

and the fact that the Israeli military, thanks to Americans’ $8 million per day to Israel, is the fourth or fifth most powerful military in the world.

Matan Vilnai, the Israeli Cabinet minister in charge of the home front, told Army Radio that Israel was acting to deter attacks. “We are acting as we see fit so that this type of fire will not continue, and so that the people behind the fire will regret it,” Vilnai said.

Israel’s education minister, Gideon Saar, said in a briefing with reporters that any civilian casualties in Gaza were unintentional and that Israel did not target “anyone except the terrorists.”

AP fails to report that numerous international investigations have found evidence indicating that Israel has often targeted civilians.

U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon on Friday condemned the bus attack and expressed concern over civilian casualties in Israel’s strikes. He called for “de-escalation and calm to prevent any further bloodshed.”

Thousands of rockets from Gaza have hit Israeli towns and cities since 2001.

AP fails to mention that these have killed a total of approximately 20 Israelis. AP also fails to mention that during the same period Israeli forces have killed thousands of Gazans, including numerous children.

Israel’s attempts to stop the rockets have included military incursions and covert operations abroad aimed at disrupting Hamas’ efforts to procure arms.

AP again gives the Israeli narrative. It fails to report that Israeli military incursions and covert operations preceded Gazan rockets.

In February, a Palestinian engineer was seized from a sleeper train in Ukraine and showed up several days later in Israel,

The normal way to report this would be to state that Israel kidnapped a Palestinian engineer in the Ukraine.

where he has been charged with masterminding Hamas’ rocket program.

Once again, AP emphasizes Israeli claims without including countering claims.

Last year a Hamas operative was assassinated in Dubai, and Israeli agents are widely assumed to have been responsible. Israel identified the man as a Hamas agent responsible for obtaining weaponry from Iran.

Again, we get the Israeli narrative, and only the Israeli narrative.

This week, Sudan accused Israel of being behind an explosion that killed two in Port Sudan. The blast was thought to be linked to arms smuggling to Gaza. Israel would not comment.

AP doesn’t bother supplying any information about the two human beings in Port Sudan who were


Ibrahim Barzak contributed reporting from Gaza City, Gaza Strip.

Yet, the story was written and edited in Israel by Matti Friedman, a journalist who may have family ties to the Israeli military.


In case anyone is curious about what occurred before this period, March had seen increased Israeli hostilities, including tightening the siege and a gradual escalation of Israeli military attacks that killed at least 11 Palestinians and injured over 40.

If you have had the patience to read through this long piece, you will have come to understand that Israeli propaganda services have a long arm into US and European news services and is capable of slanting any news in Israel-Palestine into a Palestinian terrorist paradigm casting Israel as a victim, in spite of….well, the reality.

Reproduced with permission.