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  • Palestinians uncover history of the Nakba, even as Israel cuts them off from their sources

    For Palestinian historians researching the 1948 exodus of their people, the greatest challenge is getting access to the few surviving documents of the period: most are locked away in Israeli archives
    By Dina Kraft Apr 20, 2018

    https://www.haaretz.com/middle-east-news/palestinians/.premium.MAGAZINE-hidden-stories-of-the-nakba-1.6010350

    When Salim Tamari was researching his book on Arab neighborhoods in the Jerusalem area that were destroyed or conquered during the 1948 war, he had to ask Jewish-Israeli colleagues to go to the Israel State Archives to retrieve material for him. As a Palestinian, he did not have a permit to travel to the city, just 33 kilometers (20 miles) from his office in the West Bank.
    He was seeking family papers, photos and diaries – precisely the kind of primary source material vital to piecing together any period in history. However, this material is often out of reach for Palestinian historians of the Nakba (the Palestinian term for the formation of Israel, which means “Catastrophe” in Arabic).
    While Israelis will celebrate 70 years of the Jewish state this week, it is remembered as a national trauma by the Palestinians. Over 700,000 lost their homes in wake of the War of Independence and millions of their descendants live in refugee camps scattered throughout the Middle East.
    Telling the social history of this period from a Palestinian perspective is a challenge.
    When Palestinians fled or were driven from their homes – the matter has long been the subject of fierce debate – the contents were often looted or confiscated, among them the letters, books and photo albums needed to help tell the history of that period and the life that preceded it.
    The limited material that remained was collected and cataloged by the nascent Israeli authorities and stored in archives. In the case of some 30,000 books collected and housed by the National Library of Israel, for example, the belongings were labeled “absentee property” and, like other materials, placed out of reach of the majority of Palestinians.
    One archive of particular interest for demographic and ethnographic information is that of the Haganah (the underground, pre-independence army of British Mandatory Palestine’s Jews). This contains the so-called “Village Papers” – intelligence collected on individual villages before the war began. The materials include hand-drawn maps of Arab villages; the number of people living in them; and those they had incriminating information on who might be tapped as informers. None of it is digitized.

    https://seenthis.net/messages/688711 via Nouvelles d’Orient


  • The biography of the founder of the Palestinian Popular Front makes it clear: The leftist leader was right -

    Israelis considered George Habash a cruel airline hijacker, but Eli Galia’s new Hebrew-language book shows that the PFLP chief’s views would have been better for the Palestinians than Arafat’s compromises

    Gideon Levy Apr 13, 2018

    https://www.haaretz.com/middle-east-news/palestinians/.premium-biography-makes-it-clear-this-palestinian-leftist-leader-was-right

    George Habash was Israel’s absolute enemy for decades, the embodiment of evil, the devil incarnate. Even the title “Dr.” before his name — he was a pediatrician — was considered blasphemous.
    Habash was plane hijackings, Habash was terror and terror alone. In a country that doesn’t recognize the existence of Palestinian political parties (have you ever heard of a Palestinian political party? — there are only terror groups) knowledge about the man who headed the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine was close to zero.
    What’s there to know about him? A terrorist. Subhuman. Should be killed. Enemy. The fact that he was an ideologue and a revolutionary, that his life was shaped by the expulsion from Lod, changed nothing. He remains the plane hijacker from Damascus, the man from the Rejectionist Front who was no different from all the rest of the “terrorists” from Yasser Arafat to Wadie Haddad to Nayef Hawatmeh.
    Now along comes Eli Galia’s Hebrew-language book “George Habash: A Political Biography." It outlines the reality, far from the noise of propaganda, ignorance and brainwashing, for the Israeli reader who agrees to read a biography of the enemy.
    Presumably only few will read it, but this work by Galia, a Middle East affairs expert, is very deserving of praise. It’s a political biography, as noted in its subtitle, so it almost entirely lacks the personal, spiritual and psychological dimension; there’s not even any gossip. So reading it requires a lot of stamina and specialized tastes. Still, it’s fascinating.
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    Galia has written a nonjudgmental and certainly non-propagandistic biography. Taking into consideration the Israeli mind today, this isn’t to be taken for granted.
    Galia presents a wealth of information, with nearly a thousand footnotes, about the political path of Habash, a man who was considered dogmatic even though he underwent a number of ideological reversals in his life. If that’s dogmatism, what’s pragmatism? The dogmatic Habash went through more ideological changes than any Israeli who sticks to the Zionist narrative and doesn’t budge an inch — and who of course isn’t considered dogmatic.

    The exodus from Lod following an operation by the Palmach, 1948.Palmach Archive / Yitzhak Sadeh Estate
    In the book, Habash is revealed as a person of many contradictions: a member of the Christian minority who was active in the midst of a large Muslim majority, a bourgeois who became a Marxist, a tough and inflexible leader who was once seen weeping in his room as he wrote an article about Israel’s crimes against his people. He had to wander and flee for his life from place to place, sometimes more for fear of Arab regimes than of Israel.

    He was imprisoned in Syria and fled Jordan, he devoted his life to a revolution that never happened. It’s impossible not to admire a person who devoted his life to his ideas, just as you have to admire the scholar who has devoted so much research for so few readers who will take an interest in the dead Habash, in an Israel that has lost any interest in the occupation and the Palestinian struggle.
    The book gives rise to the bleak conclusion that Habash was right. For most of his life he was a bitter enemy of compromises, and Arafat, the man of compromise, won the fascinating historical struggle between the two. They had a love-hate relationship, alternately admiring and scorning each other, and never completely breaking off their connection until Arafat won his Pyrrhic victory.
    What good have all of Arafat’s compromises done for the Palestinian people? What came out of the recognition of Israel, of the settling for a Palestinian state on 22 percent of the territory, of the negotiations with Zionism and the United States? Nothing but the entrenchment of the Israeli occupation and the strengthening and massive development of the settlement project.
    In retrospect, it makes sense to think that if that’s how things were, maybe it would have been better to follow the uncompromising path taken by Habash, who for most of his life didn’t agree to any negotiations with Israel, who believed that with Israel it was only possible to negotiate by force, who thought Israel would only change its positions if it paid a price, who dreamed of a single, democratic and secular state of equal rights and refused to discuss anything but that.
    Unfortunately, Habash was right. It’s hard to know what would have happened had the Palestinians followed his path, but it’s impossible not to admit that the alternative has been a resounding failure.

    Members of the Palestinian National Council in Algiers, 1987, including Yasser Arafat, left, and George Habash, second from right. Mike Nelson-Nabil Ismail / AFP
    The Palestinian Che Guevara
    Habash, who was born in 1926, wrote about his childhood: “Our enemies are not the Jews but rather the British .... The Jews’ relations with the Palestinians were natural and sometimes even good” (p. 16). He went to study medicine at the American University in Beirut; his worried mother and father wrote him that he should stay there; a war was on.
    But Habash returned to volunteer at a clinic in Lod; he returned and he saw. The sight of the Israeli soldiers who invaded the clinic in 1948 ignited in him the flame of violent resistance: “I was gripped by an urge to shoot them with a pistol and kill them, and in the situation of having no weapons I used mute words. I watched them from the sidelines and said to myself: This is our land, you dogs, this is our land and not your land. We will stay here to kill you. You will not win this battle” (p.22).
    On July 14 he was expelled from his home with the rest of his family. He never returned to the city he loved. He never forgot the scenes of Lod in 1948, nor did he forget the idea of violent resistance. Can the Israeli reader understand how he felt?
    Now based in Beirut, he took part in terror operations against Jewish and Western targets in Beirut, Amman and Damascus: “I personally lobbed grenades and I participated in assassination attempts. I had endless enthusiasm when I was doing that. At the time, I considered my life worthless relative to what was happening in Palestine.”
    “The Palestinian Che Guevara” — both of them were doctors — made up his mind to wreak vengeance for the Nakba upon the West and the leaders of the Arab regimes that had abandoned his people, even before taking vengeance on the Jews. He even planned to assassinate King Abdullah of Jordan. He founded a new student organization in Beirut called the Commune, completed his specialization in pediatrics and wrote: “I took the diploma and said: Congratulations, Mother, your son is a doctor, so now let me do what I really want to do. And indeed, that’s what happened” (p. 41).
    Habash was once asked whether he was the Che Guevara of the Middle East and he replied that he would prefer to be the Mao Zedong of the Arab masses. He was the first to raise the banner of return and in the meantime he opened clinics for Palestinian refugees in Amman. For him, the road back to Lod passed through Amman, Beirut and Damascus. The idea of Pan-Arabism stayed with him for many years, until he despaired of that as well.
    He also had to leave medicine: “I am a pediatrician, I have enjoyed this greatly. I believed that I had the best job in the world but I had to make the decision I have taken and I don’t regret it .... A person cannot split his emotions in that way: to heal on the one hand and kill on the other. This is the time when he must say to himself: one or the other.”

    Militants from the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine, Jordan, 1969.1969Thomas R. Koeniges / Look Magazine Photograph Collection / Library of Congress
    The only remaining weapon
    This book isn’t arrogant and it isn’t Orientalist; it is respectful of the Palestinian national ideology and those who articulated and lived it, even if the author doesn’t necessarily agree with that ideology or identify with it. This is something quite rare in the Israeli landscape when it comes to Arabs in general and Palestinians in particular. Nor does the author venerate what’s not worthy of veneration, and he doesn’t have any erroneous romantic or other illusions. Galia presents a bitter, tough, uncompromising, very much failed and sometimes exceedingly cruel struggle for freedom, self-respect and liberation.
    And this is what is said in the founding document of the PFLP, which Habash established in December 1967 after having despaired of Palestinian unity: “The only weapon left to the masses in order to restore history and progress and truly defeat enemies and potential enemies in the long run is revolutionary violence .... The only language that the enemy understands is the language of revolutionary violence” (p.125).
    But this path too met with failure. “The essential aim of hijacking airplanes,” wrote Habash, “was to bring the Palestinian question out of anonymity and expose it to Western public opinion, because at that time it was unknown in Europe and in the United States. We wanted to undertake actions that would make an impression on the senses of the entire world .... There was international ignorance regarding our suffering, in part due to the Zionist movement’s monopoly on the mass media in the West” (p. 151).
    The PFLP plane hijackings in the early 1970s indeed achieved international recognition of the existence of the Palestinian problem, but so far this recognition hasn’t led anywhere. The only practical outcome has been the security screenings at airports everywhere around the world — and thank you, George Habash. I read Galia’s book on a number of flights, even though this isn’t an airplane book, and I kept thinking that were it not for Habash my wanderings at airports would have been a lot shorter. In my heart I forgave him for that, for what other path was open to him and his defeated, humiliated and bleeding people?
    Not much is left of his ideas. What has come of the scientific idealism and the politicization of the masses, the class struggle and the anti-imperialism, the Maoism and of course the transformation of the struggle against Israel into an armed struggle, which according to the plans was supposed to develop from guerrilla warfare into a national war of liberation? Fifty years after the founding of the PFLP and 10 years after the death of its founder, what remains?
    Habash’s successor, Abu Ali Mustafa, was assassinated by Israel in 2001; his successor’s successor, Ahmad Saadat, has been in an Israeli prison since 2006 and very little remains of the PFLP.
    During all my decades covering the Israeli occupation, the most impressive figures I met belonged to the PFLP, but now not much remains except fragments of dreams. The PFLP is a negligible minority in intra-Palestinian politics, a movement that once thought to demand equal power with Fatah and its leader, Arafat. And the occupation? It’s strong and thriving and its end looks further off than ever. If that isn’t failure, what is?

    A mourning procession for George Habash, Nablus, January 2008. Nasser Ishtayeh / AP
    To where is Israel galloping?
    Yet Habash always knew how to draw lessons from failure after failure. How resonant today is his conclusion following the Naksa, the defeat in 1967 that broke his spirit, to the effect that “the enemy of the Palestinians is colonialism, capitalism and the global monopolies .... This is the enemy that gave rise to the Zionist movement, made a covenant with it, nurtured it, protected it and accompanied it until it brought about the establishment of the aggressive and fascistic State of Israel” (p. 179).
    From the Palestinian perspective, not much has changed. It used to be that this was read in Israel as hostile and shallow propaganda. Today it could be read otherwise.
    After the failure of 1967, Habash redefined the goal: the establishment of a democratic state in Palestine in which Arabs and Jews would live as citizens with equal rights. Today this idea, too, sounds a bit less strange and threatening than it did when Habash articulated it.
    On the 40th anniversary of Israel’s founding, Habash wrote that Israel was galloping toward the Greater Land of Israel and that the differences between the right and left in the country were becoming meaningless. How right he was about that, too. At the same time, he acknowledged Israel’s success and the failure of the Palestinian national movement. And he was right about that, too.
    And one last correct prophecy, though a bitter one, that he made in 1981: “The combination of a loss of lives and economic damage has considerable influence on Israeli society, and when that happens there will be a political, social and ideological schism on the Israeli street and in the Zionist establishment between the moderate side that demands withdrawal from the occupied territories and the extremist side that continues to cling to Talmudic ideas and dreams. Given the hostility between these two sides, the Zionist entity will experience a real internal split” (p. 329).
    This has yet to happen.
    Imad Saba, a dear friend who was active in the PFLP and is in exile in Europe, urged me for years to try to meet with Habash and interview him for Haaretz. As far as is known, Habash never met with Israelis, except during the days of the Nakba.
    Many years ago in Amman I interviewed Hawatmeh, Habash’s partner at the start and the leader of the Democratic Front for the Liberation of Palestine, which split off from the PFLP in 1969. At the time of the interview, Habash was also living in Amman and was old and sick. I kept postponing my approach — until he died. When reading the book, I felt very sorry that I had not met this man.

    https://seenthis.net/messages/686630 via Nouvelles d’Orient


  • Son of a bitch, what a video
    We should thank the soldiers in that video for sharing their genuine emotions and rejoicing at the sight of an unarmed Arab flying in the air after being shot

    Gideon Levy Apr 12, 2018

    https://www.haaretz.com/opinion/.premium-son-of-a-bitch-what-a-video-1.5992610

    Let’s say the soldiers in that video clip didn’t cheer and hoot, using foul language. Let’s say they recited Yehuda Amichai’s poem “God has pity on kindergarten children” before kneeling to take aim at demonstrators, and that after using live fire to shoot an unarmed protester they recited “El Malei Rachamim,” the Jewish prayer for the soul of the dead, assuming the protester had been killed like dozens of others. Let’s say the soldiers were shocked, meeting later for soul-baring talks into the night to discuss values.
    Let’s imagine some of them required psychological aid for trauma or post-trauma, with a few joining Breaking the Silence, confessing their deeds and repenting. And then a leftist filmmaker would make a movie about them, showing how deep was their sacrifice, how agonizing their suffering, just like in “Waltz with Bashir” or “Foxtrot.” How beautiful we could be. And then came this video and ruined everything.
    Let’s say the sharpshooters were value-driven soldiers, who had to carry out their duty while suffering wrenching pangs of guilt. Would that make them better human beings? More humane? More moral? They would tug at our heartstrings much more than those lowlifes in the video. No scandal would erupt and the beautiful soldiers would continue aiming at and shooting protesters.
    Half the country was shocked for a moment by the video. This was after two Fridays in which army snipers had killed and wounded hundreds of unarmed people who endangered no one, with Israel remaining silent. The country lived in peace with the massacre, justifying it in unified chorus. Then came the video and halted the celebrations for a moment. Is that how one talks? Is that how one takes photos? Not nice, soldiers. Even the campaign’s commander Avigdor Lieberman said that the soldier who took the pictures should be demoted. A miniature scandal over etiquette. Soldiers are allowed to kill and wound civilians to their hearts’ content but one doesn’t talk like that and one doesn’t film it.
    One should learn from the pilots. This wouldn’t have happened to them. When they dropped a one-ton bomb on a residential building in Gaza they didn’t cheer in the cockpit and they didn’t curse. Their language is as pure as the driven snow. You won’t hear them saying: “The son of a bitch. What a clip. Wow, we got someone in the head, he flew up with his leg in the air. Go, you sons of bitches.” That’s not their style. Some of them actually squirm during the debriefing session, even though they never the see the whites of their victims’ eyes, like their brothers-in-arms, the snipers, do. Maybe that’s why pilots are more value-driven.

    https://seenthis.net/messages/685932 via Nouvelles d’Orient


  • ’I was just following orders’: What will you tell your children? - Opinion

    ’How did you destroy villages?’ one daughter will ask. ’How did you agree to imprison two million people?’ another will whisper. The answers will only make their weeping louder

    Amira Hass Apr 08, 2018

    https://www.haaretz.com/opinion/.premium-i-was-just-following-orders-what-will-you-tell-your-children-1.597

    Maybe the day will come and young Israelis – not one or two, but an entire generation – will ask their parents: How could you? If the question is asked, our situation will already be better because it will signal the post-herd stage of the Israeli existence.
    To really understand Israel and the Palestinians - subscribe to Haaretz
    The problem is we cannot know when this will happen. In another 70 years? In another 50? How low can we sink in our choosing to go along with the herd, wicked and enjoyable in its own right? What nadir must we reach before the young people are shocked about what their parents and grandparents did and stop imitating them, an emulation that is also an upgrade of sorts.
    Let us allow ourselves a minute of optimism, and assume that the question will be asked before it is too late. With just a bit more optimism, let us say they will be the 4-year-olds of today, or those who are born in another few months. Congratulations.

    A man fills a bucket with water brought by a water tank carriage as Palestinians face a water crisis in Gaza City, Gaza on May 9, 2016.Ali Jadallah / Anadolu Agency /
    The question “how could you?” will split into a few sub-questions. For example: Why did you consent? You really didn’t know? Don’t talk nonsense — after all, the information was published in real time, and in abundance. You didn’t need to wait for someone to be released from a forced labor camp in Siberia and appear at the door a few months later to tell the story.
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    Why didn’t you care? Why did you remain silent? How could you have gone out hiking on the weekends, watch television and movies, go shopping in the new mall and work on your master’s degree in history of the gulags or run a business from your home, choose concerts and plays in London and go to the soccer game every week – and also renovate the house as if everything was normal?
    The parents may be embarrassed and say: “You have to understand, it wasn’t just us. Our neighbor Adina too, who was a famous professor of the history of anti-Semitism, lived normally – between her trips abroad, conversations in the supermarket and interviews on radio and television. She too remained silent on those matters, and loved to hear the later sonatas of Beethoven and Bartok.” And then the mother will correct the father: “What’s the matter with you? She wasn’t an expert in anti-Semitism, but on species of butterflies going extinct.” The argument between the two will spill over into other arguments, and that is how they will avoid answering their daughter’s question.

    Other parents may apologize. “You must understand,” they will say. “We were afraid of terrorism.” And the children will press on: How does the fight against terrorism turn into destroying water pipes and cisterns for collecting rainwater, and quotas for drinking water for specific groups of people at a time when we were enjoying an abundance of water? The father will twist and turn and say he “was not responsible for the quota. Ask the children of Mordechai and Ori about that, and nu, what was his name, the infrastructure minister?” The son – forgive him for his interruptions, he is a teenager – will yell: But you drove the bulldozers that destroyed the cisterns. Grandpa told me about it, proudly, before he died. The father will correct him: “An excavator, not a bulldozer — and I was among the soldiers who aimed their rifles at the little buggers who didn’t throw stones at the drivers.”

    https://seenthis.net/messages/684351 via Nouvelles d’Orient


  • Israel is the terrorist

    Young Palestinians are not carrying out acts of terror- they are leading a desperate struggle against an army that is a thousand times stronger than they

    Ilana Hammerman Apr 05, 2018

    https://www.haaretz.com/opinion/.premium-israel-is-the-terrorist-1.5976966

    About a week ago, on the highway between Hermesh and Mevo Dotan, two soldiers were killed and two were injured by a car that was driven by a resident of Barta’a. There are not many Israelis who know where these settlements are located and in what kind of reality they exist. But the vast majority probably have no doubt who was the terrorist here, and who, the innocent victim, and they hope for the fulfillment of the vow made by President Reuven Rivlin, who declared after the incident: “We will not rest until we bring all the collaborators to justice; we will not allow terrorism to become a reality.”
    The problem is that terror has long since become the reality, and the entity that has allowed and is allowing this to happen is the State of Israel. Look at the map and find Barta’a, and maybe you’d even be interested in going there and seeing and hearing how its residents live and what their surroundings are like. I happened to do so a few days before the car-ramming incident, and it was completely clear to me – and not for the first time – that this reality is a product of the ongoing policy of terror pursued by generations of Israeli governments, and that it is this policy that gives rise to the acts of resistance against it.
    What’s amazing is only that there aren’t more such acts, because it’s really and truly an intolerable situation. Barta’a al-Sharqiya is located east of Wadi Ara, between the Green Line and the separation barrier. In that location the fence makes a major detour into the West Bank in order to include in Israeli territory four settlements with names as fresh and pleasant as the fruit of the field and its fragrances: Shaked (Almond), Reihan (Basil), Hinanit (Daisy) and Tal Menashe (Dew of Menashe).
    Within this enclave there are also four Arab villages, the largest of which is Barta’a al-Sharqiya. This entire enclave, with its fences, checkpoints and military forces, exists and thrives only for the benefit of the settlers who settled in it and next to it. The people who have been living for ages in the Arab villages in this part of the country suddenly found themselves penned in and subject to a diabolical maze of orders and regulations: They are not allowed to enter Israel to the west, while to the east, in the West Bank– their natural living space – two checkpoints were set up for them, via which they must leave and enter during opening hours and with the permission and good graces of the soldiers and private security guards posted there.
    A few are also allowed to bring food and merchandise in their cars via the checkpoints, with restrictions. Palestinians who live outside the enclave – who are members of the same nation as those living within it, and often their relatives – are not permitted to enter unless they have “special permits.”
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    Farmers from outside the enclave found themselves cut off from their land, and they too must request special permits and must enter and leave through special gates and at predetermined opening hours, in order to cultivate their fields. The settlements of Hermesh and Mevo Dotan are also situated in the area of the West Bank, but outside the enclave. The point is that every such settlement that is built In the West Bank – in which not a single dunam belongs to the State of Israel – disrupts the lives of the Palestinian villages in the area in ways that a free citizen would find difficult even to imagine.

    That’s the reality there, and it’s one of state-sponsored terror, the State of Israel. Because what is land confiscation on a huge scale, what are restrictions on freedom of movement, and with it freedom of employment and commerce, home demolitions, the imposition of curfews and closures, the building of innumerable fences and walls and the deployment of military forces armed to the teeth, in the heart of a Palestinian civilian population, in order to protect an Israeli civilian population that settled among it by force – what are all these if not terror, in other words, a war against unarmed citizens?
    And so, in this situation a young Palestinian girl stands in the back yard of her home in Nabi Saleh and slaps an Israeli soldier who was sent to her village only in order to guard the settlement of Halamish, which also thuggishly stuck itself deep inside the area of the West Bank; and in this situation two young women arrive at the checkpoint in the heart of Hebron, each one separately, with a knife in their hand or their bag, and the armed soldiers – who are there in order to protect a violent Jewish settlement, which expelled tens of thousands of Palestinian civilians and incessantly abuses those who survived – shoot them dead.
    And in this situation demonstrators emerge in the heart of the cities of Jericho, Bethlehem or the outskirts of the village of Beit Ummar, carrying stones and tires for burning and incendiary devices, to confront soldiers armed with machine guns and stun and gas grenades, who invade their communities and their homes day and night and injure and kill those who resist them and flee from them; and in this situation a young man comes from Barta’a and runs over and kills and injures soldiers – who are posted there only to protect the settlements that were generously built north and south of his village, and because of which the crowded village is doomed to economic and human strangulation.
    What are the acts of these young people? Terror? No, this is a desperate struggle by groups and individuals, who from the day they were born have nothing to hope for, against an army that is a thousand times stronger than they. And what is this army defending: The security of its country? No, it is defending the choice of Israeli governments to use terror to impose the “state of the Jewish people” on the entire region between the Mediterranean and the Jordan River.
    I would like to make these things clear out of a belief in the power of words to shape consciousness. And sometimes political involvement as well.

    https://seenthis.net/messages/684211 via Nouvelles d’Orient


  • U.S. Jewish leader Ronald Lauder gave $1.1 million to covert group pushing anti-Muslim campaign
    https://www.haaretz.com/us-news/ronald-lauder-gave-1-1-million-to-group-pushing-anti-muslim-campaign-1.5977

    The president of the World Jewish Congress was one of the biggest backers of a secretive group that spent millions of dollars on targeted campaign ads predicting a Muslim takeover of the United States.
    Ronald Lauder gave $1.1 million to the group Secure America Now, the watchdog group Open Secrets revealed Thursday, citing IRS forms it had acquired. Secure America Now is not required to disclose its donors.

    https://seenthis.net/messages/684067 via Nidal


  • Trump, Saudi Arabia in lockstep: Give Syria up to Assad, ignore Gaza -

    Trump’s talk with the Saudi crown prince made him conclude that there’s nothing Washington can do in Syria; they also see eye to eye on the weekend’s events in Gaza and the question of Hamas’ status

    https://www.haaretz.com/us-news/.premium-trump-saudi-arabia-in-lockstep-give-syria-up-to-assad-ignore-gaza-

    They also see eye to eye on the weekend’s events in the Gaza Strip and the question of Hamas’ status. Last Friday, the United States opposed a Kuwaiti motion in the UN Security Council to condemn Israel for the violence. Riyadh did its part by refusing Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas’ request that it convene an emergency Arab summit to discuss the killing of Palestinians in Gaza. The kingdom gave Abbas the cold shoulder, saying the regular Arab League summit would take place in a few weeks anyway, so no additional summit was needed.
    The disinterest Mohammed and Trump both showed in the events in Gaza, combined with their capitulation to reality in Syria, reveals a clear American-Saudi strategy by which regional conflicts will be dealt with by the parties to those conflicts, and only those with the potential to spark an international war will merit attention and perhaps intervention.
    >> Gaza carnage is a victory for Hamas – and a propaganda nightmare for Israel ■ With riots and live fire, Gaza just went 25 years back in time >>
    An example of the latter is the battle against Iran, which will continue to interest both Washington and Riyadh because they consider it of supreme international importance, not just a local threat to Israel and Saudi Arabia.
    Syria, in contrast, doesn’t interest the world, and to the degree that it poses a threat to Israel, Israel’s 2007 attack on Syria’s nuclear reactor and its ongoing military intervention in Syria show that it neither needs nor even wants other powers involved.
    >> Ten years of silence on Syria strike. Why now? ■ A turning point in Israel’s history ■ Before successful strike, Israel’s most resounding intel failure
    The Israeli-Palestinian conflict is also no longer seen as a global threat, or even a regional one. Therefore, it’s unnecessary to “waste” international or pan-Arab effort on it. If Egypt can and wants to handle the conflict from the Arab side, fine. But for now, that will be it.

    https://seenthis.net/messages/682046 via Nouvelles d’Orient


  • The Israel Massacre Forces
    Gideon Levy Apr 01, 2018 11:17 AM
    https://www.haaretz.com/opinion/.premium-the-israel-massacre-forces-1.5962852
    https://www.haaretz.com/polopoly_fs/1.5963118.1522539124!/image/2296544235.jpg_gen/derivatives/headline_1200x630/2296544235.jpg

    The killing of Palestinians is accepted in Israel more lightly than the killing of mosquitoes. There’s nothing cheaper in Israel than Palestinian blood. If there were a hundred or even a thousand deaths Israel would still “salute” the IDF. This is the army whose commander, the good and moderate Gadi Eisenkot, is received with such pride by Israelis. Of course, in the holiday media interviews, no one asked him about the anticipated massacre and no one will ask him now either.

    But an army that prides itself on shooting a farmer on his land, showing the video on its website in order to intimidate Gazans; an army that pits tanks against civilians and boasts of one hundred snipers waiting for the demonstrators is an army that has lost all restraint. As if there weren’t other measures. As if the IDF had the authority or right to prevent demonstrations in Gaza, threatening bus drivers not to transport protesters in territory where the occupation has long ended, as everyone knows.

    Despairing young men sneak in from Gaza, armed with ridiculous weapons, marching dozens of kilometers without hurting anyone, only waiting to be caught so as to escape Gaza’s poverty in an Israeli jail. This doesn’t touch anyone’s conscience either. The main thing is that the IDF proudly presents its catch. Palestinian President Mahmous Abbas is responsible for the situation in Gaza. And Hamas, of course. And Egypt. And the Arab world and the whole world. Just not Israel. It left Gaza and Israeli soldiers never commit massacres.

    https://seenthis.net/messages/681849 via Loutre


  • Israel’s clash with reality on Gaza -

    The clash in Gaza shows that it’s baseless to distinguish between short-term solutions such as blocking border protests and long-term solutions such as the continued closure of the enclave

    Haaretz Editorial Apr 01, 2018

    https://www.haaretz.com/opinion/editorial/.premium-a-clash-with-reality-along-the-israel-gaza-border-1.5962957

    The demonstrations organized by Hamas in the Gaza Strip claimed at least 15 Palestinian lives on their first day, in a clash planned to continue for six weeks. The reason for these protests is well-known. As predicted by the army and the security agencies, the harsh conditions in which 2 million Gazans live under an Israeli closure amid a diplomatic solution nowhere in sight have prepared the ground for a mass eruption in which tens of thousands of people took part, people who’ve lost all hope for a better future.
    To really understand Israel and the Palestinians - subscribe to Haaretz
    So far the army has managed to prevent a breach of the border fence and the risk of thousands of Gazans entering Israel, but it would be misleading to picture the events in Gaza as a localized military incident where the winners and losers are measured by the number of deaths and an intact border fence.
    The arena of this campaign isn’t limited to Gaza. On the diplomatic front Israel will now have to deal with international pressure and countries, some of them friendly to Israel, and some that don’t embrace the Israeli script considering Hamas responsible for the civil uprising. The longer the confrontation on the southern border lasts, the greater the chances of East Jerusalem and the West Bank joining in. Jordan, Egypt and other Arab states are concerned that these protests might trickle into their own territory.
    The army may have prepared for every scenario but it’s not authorized to set policy or exceed the principles dictated by the government. These principles and policies have fed the Palestinian protests and are endangering Israel’s security and standing.
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    The confrontation in Gaza shows that it’s groundless to distinguish between short-term solutions such as blocking the border protests and long-term solutions that include a continued closure while waiting for a final diplomatic resolution. The short term dictates the long term and not the other way around, and now it demands the adoption of a new policy.
    The government is pleased that the U.S. administration totally agrees with it to hold the Palestinians responsible for the deadlocked peace process. But the U.S. administration doesn’t have to deal with the tens of thousands of Palestinians at the border fence, the citizens of Israel do. Still, the cabinet prefers to delude people into thinking that a few dozen Israeli snipers near the border will lift the threat.

    “The solution is not a military one,” the military chief of staff repeatedly claims, but it doesn’t seem anyone in the cabinet is listening to him. Reason demands that snipers shouldn’t be the ones to solve a deep-rooted problem, and that fighting over prestige, winners and losers shouldn’t be allowed. The events as well as the apathy shown by the Israeli government demand that Israel’s allies exert their influence to show the government the path it must follow.

    https://seenthis.net/messages/681863 via Nouvelles d’Orient


  • Gaza footage shows protester shot in the back while running away from Israeli border wall

    According to the committee organizing the march, the Palestinian in the video is Abed el-Fatah Abed e-Nabi, 18, and was killed as a result of the shooting ■ IDF claims Hamas distributes many videos, some of which are partial and fabricated

    Jack Khoury and Yaniv Kubovich Mar 31, 2018 12:38 PM

    https://www.haaretz.com/israel-news/.premium-gaza-video-shows-protestor-shot-while-running-away-from-border-1.5

    A Palestinian taking part in Friday’s “March of Return” near the Gaza border was shot with his back to Israeli army soldiers while moving away from the border fence, so appears to show a video published on Palestinian media Saturday.
    According to the committee organizing the march, the Palestinian in the video is Abed el-Fatah Abed e-Nabi, 18, and was killed as a result of the shooting, which occurred east of Jabaliya in the northern Gaza strip.
    The video shows two Palestinians running away from the border towards a large group of protesters. When they are several feet away from the group, a shot is heard, and one of the Palestinians, reporedtly e-Nabi, drops to the ground. A small group gathers around to assist him. According to the committee behind the march, the video “clearly shows e-Nabi poses no threat.”
    skip - Video shown on Palestinian media
    Video shown on Palestinian media - דלג

    Israeli Defense Forces spokesperson has issued a reply, saying that Hamas distributes many vidoes, among which are those that show partial events that have been edited and fabricated.
    “IDF acted Friday against violent protests and terrorists activities which included live fire towards its soldiers, attempts to inflitrate Israel ... stone throwing, bottle boms,” read the statement. “The forces acted according to open-fire protocols and in a reasonable manner as they avoided harming civilians posted there by Hamas, who wish to embarrass Israel while risking those civilians ... anyone who partakes in violent protests puts themselves at risk.”
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    E-Nabi is one of a 15 Palestinians killed in Friday’s demonstrations, in which 758 were wounded from live fire, 148 from rubber-tipped bullets, 422 from inhaling tear gas and 88 from other causes.
    The UN Security Council convened Friday night to discuss the events on the Gaza border, despite the United States’ and Israel’s request to postpone deliberations for Saturday, due to Passover holiday eve. No Israeli envoy was present during discussions.

    In a statement released Saturday, Israel’s envoy to the UN Danny Danon said “This disgraceful abuse of the holiday will not prevent us from presenting the truth regarding Hamas’ violent protests, whose only purpose is to ignite the sector and incite provocations.”
    An Israeli Arab human rights organization condemned Israel’s action on the Gaza border as ’unlawful’ on Saturday, alerting Attorney General Avichay Mendelblit that Israel was in breach of international law.

    https://seenthis.net/messages/681741 via Nouvelles d’Orient


  • Orgies, blackmail and anti-Semitism: Inside the Islamic cult whose leader is embraced by Israeli figures

    He has a harem of scantily clad ’kittens,’ claims the U.K. ’deep state’ brought Hitler to power and is accused of sex slavery. What draws Israeli politicians and rabbis to Turkish cult leader Adnan Oktar?
    By Asaf Ronel Mar 29, 2018

    https://www.haaretz.com/middle-east-news/turkey/.premium.MAGAZINE-inside-the-muslim-sex-cult-whose-leader-is-embraced-by-is

    ISTANBUL – Fulya is a Turkish woman of 36. Tall, thin, with short, oxidized hair, hazel eyes, penciled eyebrows and full lips. When she enters a fancy restaurant on the European banks of the Bosporus in Istanbul’s fashionable Bebek neighborhood, almost all eyes turn to look at her. Even though Fulya (not her real name), who’s the daughter of the CEO of a large Turkish company, seems to leave a trail of stardust behind her, her work is not especially glitzy. She organizes delegations of foreign dignitaries who visit Turkey, part of the burgeoning array of nonprofit organizations doing diplomatic work under President Recep Tayyip Erdogan.
    Before that, Fulya was a journalistic commentator on Turkey and the Middle East, appearing both in print and on-air. She held those jobs while she was, for more than a decade, a member of a religious sex cult led by a person named Adnan Oktar. According to Fulya, for the last four years she pursued her career as a journalist even though she was a captive of the idiosyncratic cult, following a failed first attempt to escape. She’d made an appointment with a doctor in a hospital in an effort to flee, but Oktar’s people seized her as she was entering the hospital and forced her into a car. After that, she relates, she was imprisoned in a room in one of the Istanbul compounds owned by the cult, managing her career mostly via computer and under close scrutiny, and leaving the room only to take part in the cult’s activities.
    Fulya says she knew she would never escape if she remained in the cult’s central walled-in, high-surveillance compound. Accordingly, she quarreled repeatedly with Oktar, until, less than a year ago, he ordered her to be moved to another compound he owns. There, after managing to get a message out to her father, she organized a getaway. At a prearranged moment, she ran out to the yard with only her ID card and the pajamas she was wearing, got into her father’s waiting car and fled, as the cult’s staff tried to catch her.
    According to the story told by Fulya and by her partner, Sedat (also a pseudonym), who also escaped from the cult two years ago, Oktar is a combination of the type of evangelical preachers one sees on American television and the head of a sex cult that objects in principle to bringing children into the world. The cover for all this is a singular interpretation of Islam.

    https://seenthis.net/messages/681202 via Nouvelles d’Orient


  • ’Shoot anyone breaching the fence’: Israeli army gears up for Gaza mass protest -
    Israeli army calling up snipers and extra soldiers to help local troops deal with Friday’s demonstration ■ Defense officials certain army can prevent Palestinian from crossing Gaza border

    Yaniv Kubovich Mar 29, 2018 10:07 AM

    https://www.haaretz.com/israel-news/.premium-israeli-army-gears-up-for-gaza-mass-protest-1.5957896

    The defense establishment believes that the army will succeed in preventing Gazans from crossing the border into Israel during the March of Return scheduled for Friday, even if that means Palestinian deaths.
    To really understand Israel and the Middle East - subscribe to Haaretz
    Defense officials said Gaza residents do not seem eager to take part in the event, but Hamas is making efforts to bring as many of them as possible to the fence on Friday. As a result, the troops may have to deal with a particularly large demonstration.
    <<This Friday, Israel’s Tear Gas and Tanks Will Confront Palestinian Marchers. But Brute Force Can’t Be Israel’s Only Answer |Opinion

    A Palestinian poster calling for people to join ’The Great March of Return’ on the Gaza-Israel border on Friday, March 30 2018
    Over the last few days the Israel Defense Forces has warned that it would open fire on anyone who tries to breach the border fence and enter Israel.
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    The IDF has brought a brigade, snipers and soldiers from various courses, to help local troops deal with Friday’s demonstration. The snipers have been instructed to shoot demonstrators who breach the fence.
    In a ceremony marking a change of Military Intelligence commanders on Wednesday, Chief of Staff Gadi Eizenkot said that the situation in Gaza is “highly explosive” and “threatens to damage the sensitive life fabric and safety of the region’s residents.”

    <<Israel’s Defense Minister Says There’s No Humanitarian Crisis in Gaza. Here Are the Facts<<
    Eizenkot visited the Gaza division several times this week to supervise the preparations. On Wednesday he and Shin Bet chief Argaman presented to the cabinet ministers preparations and intelligence evaluations ahead of the events, noting that stopping the Palestinians from crossing the fence and entering Israel was the troops’ main task.
    They also presented a scenario in which a large crowd comes to the tent compound on the other side of the fence. The assessment is that the army will manage to handle the event, though possibly only at the cost of Palestinian fatalities.

    ’Grandfather, we will return soon’ - Palestinian poster ahead of ’The Great Return March’
    On Wednesday, the Coordinator of Government Activities in the Territories, Major General Yoav Mordechai, warned the Palestinian bus companies slated to carry demonstrators to the fence that their entry permits would be revoked.
    “We contacted more than 20 bus companies in Gaza, who were paid by Hamas to take people to violent demonstrations and warned that we’ll take personal steps against their owners,” he said.
    Preparations for Friday’s event come in the wake of growing tension along the Gaza border and several attempts — some successful — to cross it.
    On Wednesday, the army struck two Hamas observation posts in the northern Gaza Strip after two Palestinians set a fire near the border fence. The suspects did not cross into Israel.
    Also Wednesday, a Palestinian from Gaza was arrested on the Zikim beach in Israel near the Gaza border and taken in for questioning. He was unarmed.
    On Tuesday, three Palestinians, armed with grenades and knives, were found and arrested after infiltrating 20 kilometers into Israeli territory. On Saturday, Israel struck Hamas targets after four Palestinians carrying bottles filled with flammable material approached the fence on foot and managed to cross the border into Israel near Kibbutz Kissufim.
    The army also said it will impose a closure on the West Bank and Gaza crossings for the duration of the Passover holiday. The closure will begin Thursday at midnight and be lifted on Saturday, April 7. The army added that passage will be allowed for humanitarian and medical cases, pending approval by the Coordinator of Government Activities in the Territories.

    https://seenthis.net/messages/681205 via Nouvelles d’Orient


  • You bet it’s apartheid

    With Ahed Tamimi’s sentence to jail, the truth has come out about Israel

    https://www.haaretz.com/opinion/.premium-you-bet-it-s-apartheid-1.5939683

    They might not have intended it – this is too big for them, and perhaps even too big for their arrogance, but they are the initiators of the regime, or at least its harbingers. They studied law and went to work (“to serve”) in the military courts. They were promoted and became military judges. That’s what they call the clerk-officers who work for the moral army as judges of the occupied in the occupied territories. They work in a military unit with a biblical name: the “Judea Military Court,” and they decide people’s fate. No doubt they’re certain they’re working in a legal system, like they were taught at university. There are, after all, prosecutors and defense attorneys in it. There’s even a translator.
    Most of the work attracts no attention. In Israel, who cares what happens in the prefabs at the Ofer military base? They have sent thousands of people to an aggregate tens of thousands of years of imprisonment, and almost never exonerated anyone; at their workplace, there’s no such thing. They have also approved hundreds of detentions without hearings, even though there is no such thing in a country of law. Day after day, it’s just another day at the office.
    And then Ahed Tamimi came to them. Almost 2 million people around the world signed a petition calling for her release. And the forces of Israeli military justice just kept at it, clerks devoted to the system. Now they must be thanked. This time they exposed to the world the naked truth: They are working for an apartheid system. They are its harbingers. They are its formulators. They are its contractors, small cogs in a big machine, but reflective of reality.
    The three officers who judged the teenage girl in various military courts, Col. Netanel Benishu, president of the Military Court of Appeals (there’s no shortage of titles here), who approved the hearing in the dark behind closed doors; Lt. Col. Menahem Lieberman, president of the Judea Military Court, who approved the plea bargain by which Tamimi and her mother would serve eight months in prison for nothing, or for her heroism, and Lt. Col. Haim Balilty, who approved her remaining in custody throughout the trial. One day they’ll be appointed to the Supreme Court. A colonel, and two lieutenant colonels who told the world: There’s apartheid here.
    Only by chance were the three all religious, a kind of innocent coincidence. We don’t know who among them is a settler, but that of course means nothing either. They went to work in a military court of the occupation to protect human rights in the territories, in the name of the Lord of Hosts.After their rulings on Tamimi, there are no fair-minded people left in the world, not even in brainwashed Israel, who can seriously claim that an apartheid regime does not exist in the territories. The BDS movement should congratulate the officers who lifted all doubt from those who still had any doubts. The legal system that has one law for Jews and another for Palestinians, without apology, without whitewashing, should be appreciated for its honesty. A legal system that sentenced a soldier who shot a wounded man to only one more month than its sentence for a teenage girl who slapped a soldier – this is a system that openly admits it considers slapping the occupier equal to the murder of a person under occupation. Only one month separates the two.

    https://seenthis.net/messages/679899 via Nouvelles d’Orient


  • Israeli universities urged to bar professors from calling to boycott

    We will not be used as a ’political thought police for the government,’ heads of universities say in unusually harsh response

    Yarden Zur Mar 25, 2018

    https://www.haaretz.com/israel-news/universities-urged-to-bar-professors-from-calling-to-boycott-israel-1.59384

    A panel for higher education headed by Education Minister Naftali Bennett adopted a code of ethics Sunday that moves to bar academics from calling for a boycott of Israel. 
    The subcommittee of the Council for Higher Education, in adopting this measure and a list of other principles prohibiting discrimination and advocacy based on political beliefs, rejected a controversial ethical code written by Prof. Asa Kasher at Bennett’s request.
    The heads of the universities in Israel harshly rejected the move, saying they would not agree to be “used as a political thought police for the government.” The move “continues the unfortunate line by which the ethical code is political sensorship that crushes underfoot the most basic principles of academic freedom,” it added. 
    The principles do not mention a specific call to ban academic boycotts in the settlements, but calls for a “ban on discrimination, positive or negative, of students based on their political opinions,” and a “ban on discrimination, positive or negative, of a faculty member or candidate for such or for promotion, based on their political opinions.”
    The measures would extend to both teaching faculty and administrators. The fourth principle bans “party propaganda in the framework of teaching,” and the fifth would prohibit “presenting or publishing materials “with political or personal opinions as if they are the opinions of the institution.”

    Education Minister Naftali Bennett speaking at a Knesset committee in February, 2018.אילן אסייג
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    The committee also proposed that lecturers be prohibited from “wrongly taking advantage of the teaching platform to systematically and improperly exhort a political position that clearly exceeds what is required by the teaching of the course in its broader context within its field.”

    The adopted principles were formulated last week and sent to the heads of Israel’s academic institutions for response. The issue will then be brought before the entire council.
    The subcommittee recommends that these principles become part of institutions’ disciplinary codes by early 2019; however, there is some uncertainty among panel members as to whether this can be enforced by the council.
    Adoption of the recommendations, a source told Haaretz, are ultimately up to the institutions themselves because the council is left with no avenue to enforce the measures. The only existing means against an institution that does not respond to the recommendations is to revoke its recognition as an institution of higher education, and that, of course, is unrealistic.
    “A code of ethics,” said the source, “is designed to define and spell out accepted norms of conduct in a specific community, and divergence from it can’t be considered a disciplinary infraction.”
    The original, rejected ethical code formulated by Kasher included wide-ranging directives in almost all areas of academic life, including campus activity, the classroom, publications and promotions, and was met with wide protest in the academic world. 
    Kasher’s ethical code treated the issue more stringently, stating that a lecturer “will not allow himself to deviate from the syllabus and the field of the academic unit, neither for political activity nor for similar exhortation, beyond a momentary and insignificant deviation. A significant deviation, for political purposes or similar exhortation, is improper and might also constitute wrongly taking advantage of authority.”
    Earlier, the Committee of University Heads called the code “a collection of government-dictated rules over an ensemble of academic activities of the academic faculty in Israel.
    The American Association of University Professors, harshly criticized Kasher’s code, stating that it was damaging to Israeli democracy.

    https://seenthis.net/messages/679668 via Nouvelles d’Orient


  • Israel condemns hundreds of Palestinians to unemployment – due to their last name
    Israeli authorities revoked the work permits of over a thousand Palestinians solely because they have the same surname as the perpetrator of a stabbing attack

    Gideon Levy and Alex Levac Mar 23, 2018 1:54 PM

    https://www.haaretz.com/israel-news/.premium-israel-leaves-hundreds-of-palestinians-jobless-due-to-their-last-n

    If this isn’t collective punishment, then what is collective punishment? If this isn’t arbitrariness, then what is arbitrariness? And if this measure doesn’t ignite a fire in the relatively tranquil West Bank town of Yatta, then what is the measure intended for? Yatta is distraught, its economy is threatened with collapse, and all because of one person who transgressed, because of whom Israel is punishing an entire town.

    Up until a few months ago, over 7,000 residents of this town in the south Hebron Hills had permits to work. Of them, 915 residents with the surname Abu Aram worked in Israel and hundreds more in the settlements, according to the Palestinian District Coordination and Liaison office in Yatta. But those workers then lost their jobs in Israel and the settlements solely because of their names, in the wake of an astounding, draconian decision of the Civil Administration, Israel’s governing body in the West Bank. In desperation, dozens even changed their names in their ID cards, but to no avail. Their way back to work in Israel, where they’ve held jobs for years, is blocked, though they have done nothing wrong. Here’s what happened:
    Last August 2, a 19-year-old Yatta resident, Ismail Abu Aram, stabbed Niv Nehemia, the deputy manager of a supermarket in the Israeli city of Yavneh, wounding him seriously. The assailant was arrested. The next day, the authorities decided – in accordance with standard procedure after a terrorist attack – to bar the assailant’s family from entering Israel. The ban was lifted 10 days later, family members returned to their jobs in Israel and the settlements, and Yatta resumed its usual way of life.

    https://seenthis.net/messages/679100 via Nouvelles d’Orient


  • A new stage in the Palestinian struggle for liberation

    In advance of the Marches for the Palestinian Right of Return, messages are being sent that indicate the transition from a belligerent nationalist and religious approach to a civilian one

    Ronit Marzan Mar 20, 2018

    https://www.haaretz.com/opinion/.premium-a-new-stage-in-the-palestinian-struggle-for-liberation-1.5918118

    The Marches for the Palestinian Right of Return, which will begin on March 30 and continue at least until mid-May (in the hope that by then a discussion of the right of return will begin), are beginning a new stage in the Palestinian struggle for liberation, a stage of nonviolent popular resistance. The marches were decided on through cooperation between an international coordinating committee and civil society organizations, dignitaries and heads of hamulot (extended families) in the Gaza Strip
    The initiative is being supported by the political groups (such as Hamas and Palestinian Islamic Jihad) in light of the stagnation in the efforts at national reconciliation and the failure of both the armed struggle and the diplomatic strategy. In addition to the marches, the chairman of the Palestinian Club in Great Britain and the chairman of the International Committee for Breaking the Siege of Gaza have announced their intention of sending ships to Gaza.
    The organizers of the marches believe that the Israeli army will not be able to withstand a nation armed with a strong desire to shake off the dust of the refugee camps and restore its honor and natural rights. They hope the presence of international media outlets and the official responsibility of UN institutions for the Palestinian refugees will ensure that Israel won’t harm them.
    A manifesto disseminated by the Coordinating Committee of the Right of Return states that the marches are based on Paragraph 11 of UN Resolution 194 (which refers to the right of return). In order to prevent any Israeli claim that the marches are the initiative of terror organizations, the manifesto also states that they are popular marches of families rather than of political parties or military factions.
    Participants will include Palestinians from Gaza, the West Bank, the diaspora and the areas taken over by Israel in 1948. According to the organizers, the marches will continue on a regular basis and won’t end until the right of return is implemented. They are not violent and there is no intention of clashing with Israeli soldiers or throwing stones at them. The first stage of the marches will begin with a sit-down strike and building of tents at a distance of 700 meters from the barbed wire fences.
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    Among the visual presentations on the campaign’s Facebook page, one can find the caricature of Hanzala, the Palestinian refugee who became an activist who cuts barbed wire fences. Or a tent and a dove and an olive branch above the UN symbol, which symbolize freedom and a return to the land. They use the Arab word “a’ad” (returnee) and not “laga” (refugee), and in the end there is also a sign warning against crossing the fence against orders.

    The Palestinian national liberation movement is undergoing a profound crisis, which requires it to decide whether to reconstruct the awareness of armed resistance, inspired by Iranian films that have recently been seen in Gazan movie theaters, and bring ruin to the Palestinian people; or to prefer to build an awareness of nonviolent civil resistance, inspired by cultural heroes such as Mahatma Gandhi and Martin Luther King.
    The latter understood that the greatest obstacle facing the black man is not the Ku Klux Klan but the moderate and arrogant white man, who believes in public order more than in justice, and thinks that he can determine a timetable for another person’s freedom and demand that he wait for a more convenient time.
    The organizers of the March of Return are unwilling to wait for a more convenient time. After trying violence and entreaties and the diplomatic approach, they have decided to violate the public order and arouse the masses to a civil rebellion. This is therefore the best time for Israel and the international community to turn their gaze to the nonviolent Palestinian outcry a moment before it crosses the separation barriers.
    The writer has a doctorate in Middle East history and is a researcher of Palestinian society and politics at the University of Haifa.

    https://seenthis.net/messages/678382 via Nouvelles d’Orient


  • Palestinians’ new doomsday weapon has Israel scared to death

    The first field trial is next week, the day of Passover. A new weapon against occupation, wielded by Palestinian refugees. And Israel, with its layers of defense against every manner of killing devised by man, is unprepared

    Bradley Burston Mar 20, 2018

    https://www.haaretz.com/israel-news/.premium-palestinians-new-doomsday-weapon-has-israel-scared-to-death-1.5930

    It is the sum of all fears of Israel’s ruling right. It is a weapon against which one of the world’s most powerful, advanced militaries is at a loss.

    It could succeed where suicide bombings, ballistic missile barrages, and sophisticated attack tunnels have failed. And it’s coming on Passover, just over a week away.
    It’s non-violence.
    Beginning on the day of the Passover seder, just a week from this Friday, Palestinians plan mass marches toward Israeli and Israeli-held territory, as well as sit-ins and vigils. They will press for Israeli and world attention to UN Resolution 194, the legal basis for what is known as the Palestinian Right of Return.
    The plan is this: They will be unarmed. They will not throw stones. They will be organized by family clans rather than militant groups. They will avoid clashes with Israeli troops.
    And Israel, with its layers of defenses against attacks from space, cyberspace, nuclear submarines, and every manner of killing machine devised by man, is unprepared.
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    “All the announcements we’ve been hearing about mass marches - these are very, very problematic developments,” former Shin Bet chief and ex-minister of Home Front Defense Avi Dichter said Monday. “This is not a military war, rather it is a war of the masses, different in its essentials.”
    "If on Friday afternoon, at the end of Friday prayers, if thousands or tens of thousands [take part], or if it turns into a number even larger than that, this is an issue which the IDF will need to prepare itself for in a different manner [than it is used to], significantly so, more so," Dichter, a senior Likud figure and chair of the Knesset Foreign Affairs and Defense Committee, told Army Radio.

    https://seenthis.net/messages/678094 via Nouvelles d’Orient


  • Who’s hiding Israeli air force participation in major exercise with UAE and U.S.?

    It’s unclear why Israel is not mentioned on the promotional website of the annual Iniohos exercise with the U.S., UAE, Greece, Britain, Cyprus and Italy

    Yaniv Kubovich Mar 20, 2018

    https://www.haaretz.com/israel-news/who-s-hiding-iaf-participation-in-major-exercise-with-uae-1.5919421

    The Israel Air Force began a joint exercise in Greece with the air forces of the United Arab Emirates and the United States. Italy, the United Kingdom and Cyprus also participated in the exercise.
    A number of IAF F-16 jet fighters, along with dozens of planes from the other air forces, are participating in the annual Iniohos exercise.
    This is not the first time that the IAF has taken part in the exercise in Greece and the UAE’s participation was publicized, even though Israel does not have diplomatic relations with the UAE.

    Fighters and pilots participating in the multi-national Iniochos 2018 exercise in Greece Hellenic Air Force
    skip - IAF
    IAF - דלג

    IAFΠολεική Αεροπορία / YouTube
    This year, however, Israel does not appear on the Hellenic Air Force website that gives details about the exercise. It does not appear on the list of participants, nor does Israel’s flag appear in the group photo and Youtube video clip in which the flags of all the participating countries are shown next to an array of the countries’ planes.
    It isn’t clear why Israel’s participation is being hidden; in past years its participation was widely publicized. There is a hint of Israel’s involvement, however, in the patch worn by the pilots on their flight suits, where Israel’s flag can be seen along with the flags of the other countries.
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    Last November the air forces of eight countries took part in the international Blue Flag exercise at Uvda Air Base in southern Israel. In addition to the IAF, the air forces of the United States, Germany, France, Italy, Poland, Greece and India participated. It was the first time the air forces of Germany and France had taken part in air exercises in Israel.
    >> Blue Flag 2017: Israel’s Fighter-jet Diplomacy | Analysis >>
    At the time, the IAF said that despite the operational importance of the exercise, the real achievement was a diplomatic one. As for the exercise in Greece, the same is probably true, but the IAF plans continue the tradition of participating in this exercise.

    https://seenthis.net/messages/678046 via Nouvelles d’Orient


  • Iran, Syria and Saudi Arabia: Top three stunning admissions from the top U.S. general in the Middle East

    Assad has won, Iran deal should stand and Saudis use American weapons without accountability in Yemen: head of U.S. military’s Central Command’s stunning Congressional testimony

    https://www.haaretz.com/middle-east-news/top-three-stunning-admissions-from-the-top-u-s-general-in-the-region-1.5910

    Haaretz and Reuters Mar 16, 2018

    The top U.S. general in the Middle East testified before Congress on Tuesday and dropped several bombshells: from signaled support for the Iran nuclear deal, admitting the U.S. does not know what Saudi Arabia does with its bombs in Yemen and that Assad has won the Syrian Civil War.
    U.S. Army General Joseph Votel said the Iran agreement, which President Donald Trump has threatened to withdraw from, has played an important role in addressing Iran’s nuclear program.
    “The JCPOA addresses one of the principle threats that we deal with from Iran, so if the JCPOA goes away, then we will have to have another way to deal with their nuclear weapons program,” said U.S. Army General Joseph Votel. JCPOA, or Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action, is the formal name of the accord reached with Iran in July 2015 in Vienna.
    Trump has threatened to withdraw the United States from the accord between Tehran and six world powers unless Congress and European allies help “fix” it with a follow-up pact. Trump does not like the deal’s limited duration, among other things.
    Votel is head of the U.S. military’s Central Command, which is responsible for the Middle East and Central Asia, including Iran. He was speaking to a Senate Armed Services Committee hearing on the same day that Trump fired Secretary of State Rex Tillerson after a series of public rifts over policy, including Iran.
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    Tillerson had joined Defense Secretary Jim Mattis in pressing a skeptical Trump to stick with the agreement with Iran.
    “There would be some concern (in the region), I think, about how we intended to address that particular threat if it was not being addressed through the JCPOA. ... Right now, I think it is in our interest” to stay in the deal, Votel said.

    When a lawmaker asked whether he agreed with Mattis and Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff General Joseph Dunford’s position on the deal,Votel said: “Yes, I share their position.”
    Mattis said late last year that the United States should consider staying in the Iran nuclear deal unless it was proven Tehran was not complying or that the agreement was not in the U.S. national interest.
    A collapse of the Iran nuclear deal would be a “great loss,” the United Nations atomic watchdog’s chief warned Trump recently, giving a wide-ranging defense of the accord.
    Iran has stayed within the deal’s restrictions since Trump took office but has fired diplomatic warning shots at Washington in recent weeks. It said on Monday that it could rapidly enrich uranium to a higher degree of purity if the deal collapsed.
    Syria
    Votel also discussed the situation in Syria at the hearing.
    During the Syrian army’s offensive in eastern Ghouta, more than 1,100 civilians have died. Syrian President Bashar al-Assad’s forces, backed by Russia and Iran, say they are targeting “terrorist” groups shelling the capital.
    U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations Nikki Haley warned on Monday that Washington “remains prepared to act if we must,” if the U.N. Security Council failed to act on Syria.
    Votel said the best way to deter Russia, which backs Assad, was through political and diplomatic channels.
    “Certainly if there are other things that are considered, you know, we will do what we are told. ... (But) I don’t recommend that at this particular point,” Votel said, in an apparent to reference to military options.
    Republican Senator Lindsey Graham asked whether it was too strong to say that with Russia and Iran’s help, Assad had “won” the civil war in Syria.
    “I do not think that is too strong of a statement,” Votel said.
    Graham also asked if the United States’ policy on Syria was still to seek the removal of Assad from power.
    “I don’t know that that’s our particular policy at this particular point. Our focus remains on the defeat of ISIS,” Votel said, using an acronym for Islamic State. 
    Saudi Arabia
    In a stunning exchange with Democratic Senator Elizabeth Warren, Votel admitted that Centcom doesn’t know when U.S. fuel and munitions are used in Yemen. 
    “General Votel, does CENTCOM track the purpose of the missions it is refueling? In other words, where a U.S.-refueled aircraft is going, what targets it strikes, and the result of the mission?” Warren asked.
    “Senator, we do not,” Votel replied.
    The Senator followed up, citing reports that U.S. munitions have been used against civilians in Yemen, she asked, “General Votel, when you receive reports like this from credible media organizations or outside observers, is CENTCOM able to tell if U.S. fuel or U.S. munitions were used in that strike?”
    “No, senator, I don’t believe we are,” he replied.
    Showing surprise at the general’s response, Warren concluded, “We need to be clear about this: Saudi Arabia’s the one receiving American weapons and American support. And that means we bear some responsibility here. And that means we need to hold our partners and our allies accountable for how those resources are used,” she said.

    https://seenthis.net/messages/677209 via Nouvelles d’Orient


  • New U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo has a hawkish history on Iran and Israel - U.S. News - Haaretz.com

    https://www.haaretz.com/us-news/.premium-new-u-s-secretary-of-state-mike-pompeo-has-a-hawkish-history-on-ir

    In November 2015, Pompeo visited Israel and met with Netanyahu, a meeting which he said left a strong impression on him. “Prime Minister Netanyahu is a true partner of the American people,” Pompeo said after their discussion at the Prime Minister’s Office in Jerusalem. “Our conversation was incredibly enlightening as to the true threats facing both Israel and the United States. Netanyahu’s efforts to prevent Iran from obtaining nuclear weapons are incredibly admirable and deeply appreciated.”
    During the same visit, Pompeo met senior officers in the Israeli police and was briefed by them on the “lone wolves Intifada” that included dozens of stabbing and car-ramming attacks by Palestinians across the country. A statement by his office described the Israeli police officers he met as “a group of officers who not only bravely defend the people each day, but have also been targeted themselves by terrorists.” Pompeo said that “by putting on their uniform, the men and women of the Israeli National Police put a target on their back for terrorists who want to murder law enforcement. In the fight against terrorism, cooperation between Israel and the United States has never been more important.”
    Two weeks after his visit, Pompeo released a statement condemning “the ongoing violence in the State of Israel,” explaining that “I can tell you that the Israeli people and the Israeli National Police are demonstrating admirable restraint in the face of unspeakably cruel attacks.” He added that "We cannot let these acts of terror go on any longer. Those who carry out, encourage, or defend this violence should be condemned in the strongest possible terms. We must stand with our ally Israel and put a stop to terrorism. Ongoing attacks by the Palestinians serve only to distance the prospect of peace.

    https://seenthis.net/messages/676641 via Nouvelles d’Orient