Adonis Diaries

Archive for the ‘Time for Outrage’ Category

 

How Israel promotes cyberbullying of US students

George Washington University students who support Palestinian rights are being cyberbullied. (DivestThisTimeatGW)

The Israeli government is encouraging its supporters to engage in a cyberbullying campaign against US students after they voted to divest from companies that profit from Israel’s crimes.

Administrators of the Act.IL app began directing its users to “like” and share a Facebook page that was set up solely to threaten and bully student senators of George Washington University in Washington, DC, who had recently voted in support of the resolution.

The Facebook page smeared the divestment campaign as “anti-Semitic.”

The Act.IL app is the product of a partnership between Israeli think tanks, lobby groups and Israel’s Ministry of Strategic Affairswhich poured nearly $600,000 into the project, according to revealed documents.

This lobby effort was funded largely by casino billionaire Sheldon Adelson, a major donor to anti-Palestinian causes and to Donald Trump’s presidential campaign.

The ministry is in charge of running a covert campaign of sabotage against BDS, the boycott, divestment and sanctions movement in support of Palestinian human rights.

The student senators’ ballots were cast in secret, due to concerns that they could face retaliation if their votes were made public. The vote passed 18-6 with six abstentions on 24 April.

A similar resolution failed to pass – by one vote – last year.

The Facebook page to which the app directed its users, titled “No Secret Ballot,” and an accompanying website with the same name, threatened to expose the student senators who had voted in support of the resolution.

But it seems unlikely they could really have done so, since the voting was done by paper ballot and there is no record of how each student personally voted.

“Foreign government interference in the electoral process is always concerning,” Radhika Sainath, senior staff attorney at Palestine Legal, told The Electronic Intifada.

But, she added, Israel’s “meddling in student democracy by bullying and threatening” college students is “just plain scary.”

The Facebook page and the website were both taken offline soon after, but the app did not remove their listing of the bullying campaign and it remained as an “open mission” until it expired.

Screenshot of the Act.IL app’s “mission” to support a cyberbullying campaign. (@AntiBDSApp)

Students say that the online bullying campaign is an extension of in-person intimidation that occurred leading up to and during the voting process.

Individuals wearing bird costumes and masks, evoking the shadowy blacklisting website Canary Mission, stood outside the senate hall as students voted on the resolution, and reportedly posted signs around campus saying “SJP [Students for Justice in Palestine] you saw two of us, we saw all of you,” according to Mondoweiss.

Canary Mission is an anonymous website that aims to tarnish the reputations of educators and students who speak out for Palestinian rights, and compromise their future professional careers.

University police refused to remove the harassing individuals and failed to protect students, an activist with Divest This Time at GW, a student group which promoted the divestment vote, told The Electronic Intifada.

The student did not wish to be named for fear of retaliation.

“Missions” to bully

The Act.IL app sends users on “missions” to promote Israel’s image, report social media pages and accounts that support Palestinian human rights and harass activists involved in BDS campaigns.

It also encourages users to post pro-Israel talking points in the comment sections of online articles, and to harass journalists who they claim are “biased.”

The app dedicated at least six separate missions to harass New Zealand pop star Lorde after she canceled her Tel Aviv gig in December.

It incentivizes the user experience with points and badges once users complete their missions – effectively turning the harassment of activists into a game.

One of the “missions” the Act.IL app assigned to Israel’s propaganda foot soldiers last November, according to The Jewish Daily Forward, “was to comment on a specific post on the Facebook page of the pro-Palestinian website The Electronic Intifada.”

Israel’s PR operatives wanted to counter the impact of The Electronic Intifada’s reporting on the Dutch government’s support for a promotion by settlement-profiteering Israeli supermarket chain Shufersal.

“War room”

Israel began testing various online propaganda tools in order to counteract negative press, especially after its assaults on Gaza in 2012 and 2014.

These included so-called “hackathons” – events run by the Israeli government in partnership with think tanks and Israel advocacy groups to develop online tools that inject pro-Israel content into social media while smearing BDS campaigns around the globe.

During Israel’s 2014 attack on Gaza, for instance, Israeli institutions set up a “war room” of students tasked with spreading anti-Palestinian propaganda on Facebook.

Another government-backed initiative, revealed in 2012, offered students up to $2,000 to post pro-Israel propaganda online, working for five hours a week “from the comfort of home.”

The Act.IL app was one the products born from these efforts, out of an ongoing project run by the Interdisciplinary Center in Herzliya, an Israeli university with strong ties to the military and its weapons development sector.

The app’s manager has boasted that the Israeli army and the Shin Bet, Israel’s secret police, feed the Act.IL developers information on “inciting content,” saying that even those agencies “couldn’t keep [up] with how fast we were getting things removed.”

The strategic affairs ministry “has started to rebrand these initiatives as ‘algorithmic diplomacy,’” writes Ottawa-based researcher Michael Bueckert, who has been monitoring the app over the last year.

Bueckert runs a Twitter account that tracks the app’s announced “missions.”

The app is classic “astroturfing,” he told The Electronic Intifada, using the common term for a fake grassroots campaign.

It directs users to interact with and share social media content, and can even send emails through users’ Gmail accounts to try to influence the outcome of local campaigns “in a way that appears organic and spontaneous – and deliberately in a way that hides the participation of the Israeli state or any other organizations,” he said.

“A trick”

Although the app consistently interferes with local Palestine solidarity campaigns, Bueckert said, “this is the first time that I’ve noticed it take on this aggressive cyberbullying approach.”

“What the app does is a trick,” Bueckert said.

“If you’re on campus, or involved in a local campaign, and you see all of these ‘likes’ coming in for the other side, you could be confused and assume that there’s a public consensus against your campaign,” when in fact it is just the same group of dedicated users of the app, he added.

Last month, the app directed users to send emails and petitions to the city council of Cambridge, Massachusetts, in an effort to thwart activist pressure on the city to drop Hewlett-Packard over that company’s contracts with the Israeli military.

“These are international app users at the direction of the Israeli government, not local constituents,” Bueckert tweeted at the time.

Citing “aggressive tactics by opponents” of the campaign, the activist group MassAgainstHP said in mid-April that they had to postpone their hearing in front of the city council.

Bueckert said that although online campaigns are a normal way activists can support their causes, what is new about the way that the app works is that Israel itself, with the assistance of its military and secret police, is helping to “promote and facilitate this process of online social media wars.”

He told The Electronic Intifada that it was fascinating to see that there are people who are willing to be voluntarily conscripted as “agents of the Israeli government in a very real way.”

Coordinated digital attacks

In addition to the defunct website to which the app directed its users, NoSecretBallot.com, another anonymous website was launched to harass and smear students involved in the George Washington University divestment campaign.

The website gw-against-antisemitism.com claims the resolution is “anti-Semitic” and “divisive,” and can send an email through the site to senators opposing the vote.

Analysis by The Electronic Intifada shows that both websites are hosted by a private registrant through the same domain name provider and have identical IP addresses, a strong indication that one central organization launched and maintained both sites.

Notably, the Israel on Campus Coalition, an Israel lobby network that closely monitors the Palestine solidarity movement, appears to be involved in attacking the student supporters of divestment at George Washington University.

The ICC tweeted a link on 16 April to a petition opposing the George Washington University divestment resolution, but that tweet has since been deleted.

This tweet from the Israel on Campus Coalition seems to have been deleted.

The ICC continues, however, to excoriate the outcome of the vote and smear a student senator, Brady Forrest, who had been accused of anti-Semitism due to his criticisms of Israeli policies and Jewish student organizations that back Israeli violence against Palestinians.

In an email seen by The Electronic Intifada, which addressed Forrest as “Adolf Hitler,” student senators were warned against using a secret ballot during the divestment vote.

In the email imploring student senators to vote against the resolution, the sender includes a link to the gw-against-antisemitism.com website.

The email sender’s address, however, is listed as tom@jvacampaigns.comJVACampaigns.com is a website that helps organizations with “advocacy” and “strategic messaging” as well as bulk email services.

The Israel on Campus Coalition was listed as one of just 20 main clients on their website, as can be seen in the screenshot below, which was taken on 23 April:

Screenshot of recent JVA Campaign page listing ICC as a client.

As of 4 May, the ICC logo and name on their client roster had been removed:

The ICC seems to have been dropped from JVA Campaign’s current client list.

ICC’s partner organization, Hillel International, still appears as a client.

It is not known why the ICC was removed from the JVA Campaigns client list. The Electronic Intifada did not receive a response from the company by press time.

Meanwhile, in the past week, the Act.IL app has been directing its users to sign up to receive campaign emailsfrom right-wing Florida senator Marco Rubio and to sign a petition opposing a BDS campaign at the City University of New York (CUNY).

The student senate at CUNY planned to vote on a system-wide divestment resolution last week.

However, that vote was postponed indefinitely after senators came under heavy pressure from Israel supporters, according to Rani al-Hindi, a member of the Palestine Solidarity Alliance at Hunter College, which is part of the CUNY system.

In mid-April, the ICC had tweeted the same link to a petition against the resolution that was promoted by the Act.IL app.

A one-page website appeared, smearing the CUNY divestment campaign as “anti-Semitic.” Users could click and send pre-formulated emails in opposition to the divestment vote.

Al-Hindi told The Electronic Intifada that student senators received a deluge of these emails from Israel-aligned students, as well as individuals unaffiliated with the university system, pressuring the senators to vote against the resolution.

Students supportive of the divestment campaign had been facing routine harassment by Zionist students, al-Hindi explained.

Last month, 14 civil rights and social justice groups, including Palestine Legal and the Center for Constitutional Rights, sent a letter to 280 US universities demanding they take urgent action to protect students’ free speech.

Universities must condemn the increasing harassment and intimidation tactics employed by right-wing Israel advocacy groups, including Canary Mission, the letter says.

Nora Barrows-Friedman is an associate editor of The Electronic Intifada.

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Israel ravaged Lebanon and Beirut, even before the occupation in 1982, with a series of car bombing tactics

Rise and Kill First: First-Hand Accounts of Israel’s Role in a Widespread Campaign of Car (and Bicycle and Donkey) Bombings in Lebanon

Early on, Bergman explains, the operation used mostly “explosives concealed in cans of oil or preserves” built in a metal shop of Kibbutz Mahanayim where Ben-Gal used to live.

The explosives themselves came from the bomb disposal unit of the IDF so as to “greatly minimize the chance that any connection with Israel might be revealed if the explosive devices fell into enemy hands.”

““We’d come there at night,”” Ben-Gal told Bergman, “Meir [Dagan] and I and the rest of the guys, with the Northern Command’s chief engineer, who brought the explosives, and we’d fill those little drums and connect the  fuses.”

The cover of Rise and Kill First

These “little drums” were then “dispatched to couriers in large backpacks, or, if they were too big, on motorcycles, bicycles, or donkeys.”

As Bergman tells it: “Soon the bombs began exploding at the homes of the PLO’s “collaborators” in southern Lebanon, killing everyone there, as well as in PLO positions and offices, mostly in Tyre, Sidon, and the Palestinian refugee camps around them, causing massive damages and casualties.”

The operation was run in complete secrecy, according to Bergman. It was never approved by the government itself, and there is “no way of knowing” to what extent Ezer Weizman, the Defense Minister when the operation was launched, knew about it.

In spite of their efforts, Eitan, Ben-Gal and Dagan were unable to keep their operation fully airtight, leading several senior officers from AMAN (the Hebrew acronym for the Intelligence Department of the Israel Defense Forces General Staff) to push back and strenously object.

The head of AMAN’s Research Division, Amos Gilboa, described to Bergman what he called a “constant struggle” between AMAN and the Northern Command.

“Yanosh [Ben-Gal] lied to us all the time. We did not believe any of  their reports,” Gilboa said. “This was one of the ugliest periods in the history of the country.” Later, AMAN learned “from its sources in Lebanon” about the “car and donkey bombings” but, writes Bergman, they eventually decided to drop the issue.

Pushback also came from within the government itself, as when Deputy Defense Minister Mordechai Zippori learned of an attack that had taken place in April 1980 and during which women and children had been killed following the explosion of a car bomb in southern Lebanon.

The aim had been, according to Bergman, to hit “PLO personnel.” In June, a meeting was convened in Begin’s office, with Zippori accusing Ben-Gal of “carrying out unauthorized actions in Lebanon” and that “in these activities, women and children have been killed.” The latter replied: “Not correct. Four or five terrorists were killed. Who drives around in Lebanon in a Mercedes at 2 a.m.? Only terrorists.”

Begin accepted Ben-Gal’s assurance that he had in fact received permission for the action and called an end to the meeting. According to Bergman, the extent of the Prime Minister’s knowledge about these activities is unclear.

From that point on, however, “the top brass realized there was no point in asking the prime minister to rectify the situation.” The Tel Aviv meeting thus marked the end of any kind of internal pushback against the covert operation conducted by Eitan, Ben-Gal and Dagan, a fateful development as the operation was about to enter its second (and even more violent) stage following the appointment of a new Defense Minister.

On July 16, 1981, Palestinian Katyushah rockets had killed 3 Israeli civilians in the village of Kiryat Shmonah. The next day, the Israeli air force had responded with a massive bombing raid targeting the headquarters of the PLO in downtown Beirut as well as several bridges around Sidon, killing between 200 and 300 people, mostly Lebanese civilians, and wounding over 800.

Philip Habib, President Ronald Reagan’s special envoy in the region, mediated a ceasefire whereby the PLO was required to stop any attacks inside Israel. To Israeli leaders, such an agreement was unacceptable.

The PLO was a “terrorist” organization, and the American decision to consider Arafat a partner in a ceasefire a veritable affront. As to the specifics of the accord, they argued that the PLO should stop all attacks against Israel and Israeli interests, including attacks that took place in the occupied territories or in places like Europe.

As Bergman notes however, “the outside world saw things differently, and Habib made it clear to the Israelis that the United States would back a land incursion into Lebanon only in response to a gross provocation by the PLO.”

On August 5, 1981, Begin picked Ariel Sharon to replace him as Defense Minister.

For the next 10 months or so, as Israeli historians like Zeev Schiff and Ehud Yaari, Benni Morris, Avi Shlaim or Zeev Maoz have long documented, Israel engaged in numerous military operations with the clear purpose of goading the Palestinians into some form of military response, which Israel would then be able to condemn as a “terrorist” attack that justified a major offensive into Lebanon.

August 1981: Ariel Sharon Becomes Defense Minister and Intensifies the FLLF Bombing Campaign to Goad the PLO into Resorting to “Terrorism”

Rise and Kill First represents a major contribution to our understanding of this historical moment, as it demonstrates, based on first-hand accounts from Israeli officers involved in the operation, that the car-bombing campaign that greatly intensified once Sharon became Defense Minister should be understood precisely as one element of this broader strategy of provocation.

Immediately after taking his new functions Sharon decided to “activate Dagan’s secret apparatus in the Northern Command.” He picked Eitan as a “personal emissary” who would “keep an eye on the clandestine activities in the north” and, Bergman explains, “by mid-September 1981, car bombs were exploding regularly in Palestinian neighborhoods of Beirut and other Lebanese cities.”

The author then specifically mentions bombings in Beirut and Sidon in early October, notes that “in December 1981 alone, eighteen bombs in cars or on motorcycles, bicycles, or donkeys blew up near PLO offices or Palestinian concentrations, causing many scores of deaths” and adds that “a new and unknown organization calling itself the Front for the Liberation of Lebanon from Foreigners took responsibility for all of these incidents.”

As Bergman writes: “Sharon hoped that these operations would provoke Arafat into attacking Israel, which could then respond by invading Lebanon, or at least make the PLO retaliate against the Phalanges, whereupon Israel would be able to leap in great force to the defense of the Christians.”

The author goes on to add remarkable operational details. During that stage of the operation, the explosives were “packed in Ariel laundry powder bags” so as to look “like innocent goods” when going through roadblocks. Women were sometimes enlisted to drive “to reduce the likelihood of the cars being caught on the way to the target zone.”

The cars themselves “were developed in the IDF’s Special Operations Executive (Maarach Ha-Mivtsaim Ha-Meyuchadim).” These operations involved an early generation of aerial drones, used to observe as Dagan’s agents drove and parked the cars, then to remotely set off the devices.

The FLLF also “began attacking Syrian installations in Lebanon,” Bergman adds, and even “claimed responsibility for operations against IDF units.” According to Dagan the FLLF was never behind any such attacks but it “took responsibility in order to create credibility, as if it was operating against all of the foreign forces in Lebanon.”

The American Press and its Contemporary Coverage of the FLLF Car-Bombings

Frontpage of the New York Times from February 6, 1983 featuring an article by on Thomas Friedman on a bombing by the Front for the Liberation of Lebanon from Foreigners

While providing remarkable details about the Israeli side of this secret operation, Bergman’s account remains very vague when it comes to the attacks themselves and, more importantly, their victims. Contemporary media accounts of the October 1981 Beirut and Sidon bombings, which he refers to specifically, give a clearer sense of the violence and destruction involved.

On October 1, a car “booby-trapped with 220 pounds of TNT and 20 gallons of gasoline” exploded near the offices of the PLO, in what a UPI journalist described as “a busy street in Moslem west Beirut packed with fruit and vegetable venders and housewives doing their morning shopping.”

The bomb “tore the facade off buildings, destroyed 50 cars and left the street littered with debris and dismembered bodies.” Immediately following the blast a second bomb, weighing 330 pounds and which had been planted in another car parked on the same street, was found and dismantled by bomb disposal experts.

Later that same day, “six other cars loaded with hundreds of pounds of explosives were found and defused in Beirut and Sidon in what was intended as a devastating blitz against Palestinians and leftist Lebanese militiamen by rightist terrorists.”

As Barbara Slavin and Milt Freudenheim reported in the pages of the New York Times, an “anonymous caller” for the FLLF had told “foreign news agencies that the attacks were directed against Palestinian and Syrian targets in Lebanon and would continue “until no foreigners are left.”

” They went on to add that both Mahmoud Labadi, the spokesman for the Palestine Liberation Organization, and Lebanese Prime Minister Chafik Wazzan “blamed Israel and its Christian allies in Lebanon for the car bomb” while “Israel attributed the bombing to internecine P.L.O. warfare.”

Another year of trying hard to erase Palestine and Palestinians

From Google Maps’ erasure of Palestine, to Israel’s Eurovision win, to the new Jewish-Arab movement that plans to save the Israeli left, here are the most popular articles we published this past year.

By +972 Magazine Staff

25. ‘We’ll ensure it doesn’t escalate to violence — on our end’

It’s hard to believe now, but 2018 began with a glimmer of hope for the residents of the Gaza Strip, as nonviolent activists planned mass demonstrations at the Israel-Gaza fence demanding freedom and the right of return for Palestinian refugees.

Ahmed Abu Artema, one of the organizers of the “Great Return March” spoke at the time to +972’s Rami Younis about why he believed hundreds of thousands of people would show up, and what message he’d like to send to Israelis. Read the interview here.

Palestinians demonstrate near Khan Yunis by the border fence between Israel and the southern Gaza Strip on March 09, 2018. Photo by Abed Rahim Khatib/ Flash90

Palestinians demonstrate near Khan Yunis by the border fence between Israel and the southern Gaza Strip on March 09, 2018. Photo by Abed Rahim Khatib/ Flash90

 

24. In memory of the first lawyer to bring the occupation to court

Felicia Langer was a Holocaust survivor, a communist, and one of the first Israeli lawyers to defend the Palestinian residents of the occupied territories in the Supreme Court. Read human rights attorney Michael Sfard’s eulogy here.

Felicia Langer exits the High Court in Jerusalem, after the hearing of the appeal against Bassem Shaka's expulsion. November 22, 1979. (Herman Hanina)

Felicia Langer exits the High Court in Jerusalem, after the hearing of the appeal against Bassem Shaka’s expulsion. November 22, 1979. (Herman Hanina)

 

23. Who profits from keeping Gaza on the brink?

Keeping Gaza on the verge of collapse keeps international humanitarian aid money flowing to exactly where it benefits Israeli interests, writes Israeli economist Shir Hever. For the full article, click here.

Palestinians wait to cross into Egypt through the Rafah border crossing in the southern Gaza Strip after it was opened by Egyptian authorities for humanitarian cases, February 7, 2017. (Abed Rahim Khatib/Flash90)

Palestinians wait to cross into Egypt through the Rafah border crossing in the southern Gaza Strip after it was opened by Egyptian authorities for humanitarian cases, February 7, 2017. (Abed Rahim Khatib/Flash90)

 

22. New film uncovers ‘rotting foundation’ of U.S. Israel lobby

A new Al Jazeera documentary provides a sobering look at a lobby that continues to defend Israel’s control of Palestinian lives, despite the many Americans turning against it. Click here to read more.

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu speaks at the AIPAC Conference in Washington D.C. on March 6, 2018. (Haim Zach/GPO)

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu speaks at the AIPAC Conference in Washington D.C. on March 6, 2018. (Haim Zach/GPO)

 

21. ‘Apartheid is a process’

With the passage of the ‘Jewish Nation-State Law,’ Israel constitutionally enshrined discrimination against its Palestinian population. ‘We don’t have to keep looking for policies that resemble Jim Crow,’ Attorney Fady Khoury told +972’s Edo Konrad. Read the interview here.

Palestinians cross the Bethlehem checkpoint as they head to Al-Aqsa Mosque compound in Jerusalem's Old City to attend the third Friday prayers of Ramadan on June 1, 2018. (Wisam Hashlamoun/Flash90)

Palestinians cross the Bethlehem checkpoint as they head to Al-Aqsa Mosque compound in Jerusalem’s Old City to attend the third Friday prayers of Ramadan on June 1, 2018. (Wisam Hashlamoun/Flash90)

 

20. We are all accomplices to Israel’s massacre in Gaza

On May 14, Israeli snipers gunned down 60 Palestinian protesters who took part in Gaza’s “Great Return March.” At the time, Mairav Zonszein wrote: “There has been no outrage. We all let this happen. But it is not too late to speak out.” Read the article here.

Protesters carry away someone who was shot by an Israeli sniper along the Gaza border, May 14, 2018. (Abed Rahim Khatib/Flash90)

Protesters carry away someone who was shot by an Israeli sniper along the Gaza border, May 14, 2018. (Abed Rahim Khatib/Flash90)

 

19. Arabic was an official language in Israel for 70 years, 2 months, and 5 days

Why upend the status quo of the past 70-plus years? Ask the Israeli government.

Israeli Border Police officers guard the entrance to Damascus Gate in Jerusalem's Old City, September 21, 2016. (Yonatan Sindel/Flash90)

Israeli Border Police officers guard the entrance to Damascus Gate in Jerusalem’s Old City, September 21, 2016. (Yonatan Sindel/Flash90)

 

18. How Google Maps is erasing Palestine

Ever wonder what it’s like for Palestinians to travel between Israeli checkpoints and roadblocks in the West Bank? A new report details the ways Google Maps’ mapping process in the occupied territories serves the interests of the Israeli government, while contradicting the company’s stated commitment to human rights. Read Henriette Chacar’s article here.

Israeli soldiers inspect Palestinian cars at the Beit Furik checkpoint, near Nablus, West Bank, May 27, 2015. (Ahmad Al-Bazz/Activestills.org)

Israeli soldiers inspect Palestinian cars at the Beit Furik checkpoint, near Nablus, West Bank, May 27, 2015. (Ahmad Al-Bazz/Activestills.org)

 

17. My great-grandfather saved Jews. Now I’m in jail for refusing to enlist in the IDF

Matan Helman, an Israeli conscientious objector, pens a poignant letter about his Dutch great-grandfather, Richte Taklenbroch, who refused to enlist in the Nazi work camps during the German occupation of the Netherlands. Richte escaped and joined the underground resistance. Read the letter here.

Israeli activists demonstrate on Purim in support of Israeli conscientious objectors, March 24, 2016. (photo: Oren Ziv/Activestills.org)

Israeli activists demonstrate on Purim in support of Israeli conscientious objectors, March 24, 2016. (photo: Oren Ziv/Activestills.org)

 

16. Birthright walk-offs get a taste of settler violence

In June, eight Birthright participants walked off their trip in order to learn firsthand about the occupation. While touring through occupied Hebron with Breaking the Silence, they witnessed the violence meted out against Palestinians and anti-occupation activists in the city. Read more here.

Israeli soldiers escort Jewish settlers as they tour the Old City of the occupied West Bank city of Hebron, June 4, 2016. The Israel army has enforced segregation in the city for over two decades, restricting residents’ movement according to their religion. (Wisam Hashlamoun/FLASH90)

Israeli soldiers escort Jewish settlers as they tour the Old City of the occupied West Bank city of Hebron, June 4, 2016. The Israel army has enforced segregation in the city for over two decades, restricting residents’ movement according to their religion. (Wisam Hashlamoun/FLASH90)

 

15. The color of racism: What many get wrong about race relations in Israel

When an Arab family declared their intention to move into Afula, a mostly Mizrahi middle-class city in northern Israel, the locals responded with racism and hate. Meanwhile, anti-racist activists accused the residents of promoting ‘white supremacy.’ Lihi Yona writes that understanding the ways Jewish supremacy and white supremacy intersect in Israel is the first step toward dismantling them. Read the full article here.

Israeli right-wing protesters shout at a pro-peace demonstration, Rabin Square, Tel Aviv, August 9, 2014. Hundreds gathered in Tel Aviv to protest Israel’s attack on Gaza, despite a police decision to revoke the demonstration permit. (Keren Manor/Activestills)

Israeli right-wing protesters shout at a pro-peace demonstration, Rabin Square, Tel Aviv, August 9, 2014. Hundreds gathered in Tel Aviv to protest Israel’s attack on Gaza, despite a police decision to revoke the demonstration permit. (Keren Manor/Activestills)

 

14. The new Jewish-Arab movement that plans to save the Israeli left

Standing Together, a new joint Arab-Jewish movement, is aiming to transform Israeli politics. It won’t be easy, but the Israeli left’s first step back to power might be believing that it can win again. Click herefor the full article.

African asylum seekers and human rights activists, including Standing Together members, protest against deportation of asylum seekers at Rabin Square in Tel Aviv on March 24, 2018. (Miriam Alster/Flash90)

African asylum seekers and human rights activists, including Standing Together members, protest against deportation of asylum seekers at Rabin Square in Tel Aviv on March 24, 2018. (Miriam Alster/Flash90)

 

13. Israeli minister posts video with genocidal chants by fans

At the end of a Facebook video encouraging fair conduct by fans from Beitar Jerusalem, one of Israel’s notoriously racist soccer clubs, those surrounding Miri Regev break out into chants of ‘burn your village,’ directed at the opposing team — from an Arab city in Israel. Read the full story here.

Miri Regev with Beitar Jerusalem fans, January 22, 2018. (Screenshot from Miri Regev's Facebook video)

Miri Regev with Beitar Jerusalem fans, January 22, 2018. (Screenshot from Miri Regev’s Facebook video)

 

12. The far-right nationalist movement roiling Eritreans in Israel

A new militant anti-Muslim movement seeks to establish a Tigrinyan Orthodox-Christian state in what is now Eritrea and parts of Ethiopia. Known as “the Agazians,” the activists are deepening the divisions within the already fractious Eritrean opposition. Read more here.

A man holds an Eritrean flag as asylum seekers protest continued detentions and demand Israel examine their asylum claims, January 5, 2014. (Photo: Activestills.org)

A man holds an Eritrean flag as asylum seekers protest continued detentions and demand Israel examine their asylum claims, January 5, 2014. (Photo: Activestills.org)

 

11. How Childish Gambino explains the problem with Israel’s Eurovision win

Childish Gambino shocked the world this year with a new music video for his hit, “This is America,” which focuses on the oppression of African Americans. In the Israeli context, says Amjad Iraqi, the video serves to illustrate why audiences should focus on the injustices unfolding in the background of artistic performances – especially those representing the state. Read the article here.

Screenshot from Childish Gambino's music video for 'This is America.'

Screenshot from Childish Gambino’s music video for ‘This is America.’

 

10. In memory of Razan al-Najjar

The 21-year-old paramedic was shot and killed by Israeli soldiers while trying to aid wounded protesters near the Gaza-Israel separation fence. Many Israelis either refuse to believe she was actually killed or claim that her killing was somehow justified. Click here for more.

The photo of Razan that circulated on social media.

The photo of Razan that circulated on social media.

 

9. The untold story of Jewish anti-Zionists in Israel

For nearly as long as Palestinians have resisted their displacement, small groups of Jews have joined them. Ran Greenstein’s book, “Zionism and Its Discontents,” brings to life the complex, often contradictory story of those Israelis who saw Palestinian and Jewish liberation as one and the same. Read Joshua Leifer’s review here.

Israeli soldiers hold down an Israeli activist during a demonstration in the West Bank village of Nabi Saleh. (photo: Activestills)

Israeli soldiers hold down an Israeli activist during a demonstration in the West Bank village of Nabi Saleh. (photo: Activestills)

 

8. Ad for Israeli maternity ward portrays fetus as future soldier

Yes, it’s as absurd as it sounds.

An advertisement for Ichilov Hospital's Lis Maternity and Women's Hospital. (Screenshot)

An advertisement for Ichilov Hospital’s Lis Maternity and Women’s Hospital. (Screenshot)

 

7. The Palestine movement taught me to confront anti-Semitism

On American university campuses, pro-Palestine activists are routinely smeared as anti-Semites seeking to destroy Israel. But contrary to what pro-Israel activists claim, the BDS movement has been instrumental in challenging anti-Semitism on the left. Click herefor the full article.

UC Berkeley students demonstrate after the student senate the student senate did not overturn a veto on a bill that would divest from American companies profiting off the occupation. (photo: Ramsey El-qarey)

UC Berkeley students demonstrate after the student senate the student senate did not overturn a veto on a bill that would divest from American companies profiting off the occupation. (photo: Ramsey El-qarey)

 

6. Nabi Saleh is where I lost my Zionism

By the time +972’s Lisa Goldman began going to Nabi Saleh, she had spent about four years reporting on what she saw in the West Bank and Gaza, watching detachedly as her politics moved ever leftward. What she witnessed in that small West Bank village was the last straw. Read the full article here.

Palestinian protesters clash with Israeli troops during a protest to show solidarity with Palestinian prisoners on hunger strike, Nabi Saleh, West Bank, April 21, 2017. (Flash90)

Palestinian protesters clash with Israeli troops during a protest to show solidarity with Palestinian prisoners on hunger strike, Nabi Saleh, West Bank, April 21, 2017. (Flash90)

 

5. The myth of the Gaza ‘border’

What Israel fears more than a Palestinian state is a Palestinian population it cannot disown, and the myth that Gaza is “separated” from Israel helps it balance that fear. That myth must be broken, and that racist fear must be exposed, writes Amjad Iraqi. Read the full article here.

Palestinian protesters inside the Gaza Strip throw stones in the direction of an Israeli military position on the other side of the border fence, Gaza Strip, December 8, 2017. (Ezz Zanoun/Activestills.org)

Palestinian protesters inside the Gaza Strip throw stones in the direction of an Israeli military position on the other side of the fence, Gaza Strip, December 8, 2017. (Ezz Zanoun/Activestills.org)

 

4. Why Israel’s Eurovision contestant became a target for BDS

Netta Barzilai stunned Europeans this past year with a feminist anthem that won the annual Eurovision Song Contest. Despite her undeniable talent, Barzilai is still the official representative of a country that, for more than half a century, has denied millions of people basic rights under a brutal military occupation, writes Orly Noy. Read her full article here.

Netta Barzilai seen during a press conference after the first semifinals of the 2018 Eurovision Song Contest. (Wouter van Vliet, EuroVisionary/CC BY-SA 4.0)

Netta Barzilai seen during a press conference after the first semifinals of the 2018 Eurovision Song Contest. (Wouter van Vliet, EuroVisionary/CC BY-SA 4.0)

 

3. Videos show Israeli soldiers sniping unarmed protesters in Gaza

As Gaza’s ‘Great Return March’ turned into a full-fledged popular protest movement, the Israeli army scrambled to explain the growing body count. Infographics were released. Talking points were distributed. Israel was defending its sovereign border, they said. Then came the videos.

Israeli snipers seen on the border with Gaza during the Great March of Return, March 30, 2018. (IDF Spokesperson)

Israeli snipers seen on the border with Gaza during the Great March of Return, March 30, 2018. (IDF Spokesperson)

 

2. Denying Palestinians the right to challenge oppression

Attacks against the UK Labour Party for its newly adopted definition of anti-Semitism only contribute to the silencing of Palestinian voices, the potential criminalization of their struggle against Israeli policies, and the negation of their demands for freedom and equality, say two London-based human rights activists. Read the article here.

Illustrative photo of pro-Palestine protesters in London, June 10, 2018. (Alisdare Hickson/ CC BY-SA 2.0)

Illustrative photo of pro-Palestine protesters in London, June 10, 2018. (Alisdare Hickson/ CC BY-SA 2.0)

 

1. ‘I won’t fly refugees to their deaths’: The El Al pilots resisting deportation

The Israeli government announced late last year that it would begin deporting asylum seekers to third countries, where they would be vulnerable to exploitation, humiliation, human trafficking, frequent arrests, and possible death. Months before the plan was nixed, at least three pilots for Israel’s flag carrier published declarations publicly refusing to take part in the forced deportations. Read more here.

 

The IDF doesn’t investigate Palestinian deaths — it whitewashes them

The Israeli army says it would like to conduct thorough investigations of the Palestinians it kills or wounds. The only problem? It is unable to do so honestly.

By Hagai El-Ad

Israeli Border Police officers take positions during clashes with Palestinian protesters in the West Bank city of Hebron, July 14, 2018. (Wisam Hashlamoun/Flash90)

Israeli Border Police officers take positions during clashes with Palestinian protesters in the West Bank city of Hebron, July 14, 2018. (Wisam Hashlamoun/Flash90)

 

A little over a year ago, on the last day of October 2017, Muhammad Musa and his sister Latifah drove to Ramallah to run some errands. Shortly after the two filmed a short selfie video during the ride, soldiers opened fire at their car near Halamish junction. Latifah was wounded, Muhammad was killed. He was 26.

B’Tselem’s investigation into his killing was made public about five weeks later, and included several eye witness accounts as well as testimonies from paramedics who arrived on the scene. One of these eyewitnesses, Muhammad Nafe’a, is identified by his full name, photo, address, and occupation.

And yet, the Military Police Investigations Unit (MPIU) still somehow wrote to B’Tselem, almost six months later in May 2018, that it would be grateful “to receive Muhammad Nafe’a’s full personal information in order to contact him and arrange to have him give his statement on the matter.”

Welcome to the parallel universe known as “MPIU investigations.” In this universe, “investigations” proceed at lightning speed, and the military — which fully controls the West Bank and has little trouble getting its hands on Palestinians — acts as if it cannot locate a witness without the assistance of a human rights organization, even when his details are available for all to see, along with the rest of the findings of an independent investigation published long ago.

If this were a comedy, the awkwardness and absurdity of it all would have been quite amusing. But this is reality, not theatre. Investigating killings is enormously important, both in terms of justice for the victims, and to prevent the recurrence of such incidents.

The pitiful display in the “investigation” of Muhammad Musa’s killing is no aberration — it is part of the military law enforcement system’s longstanding policy, which affects hundreds, if not more, of cases of killings, injuries, and violence.

The extensive experience B’Tselem has gained over the decades as it attempted to promote accountability has shown that the system has no real interest in advancing investigations and bringing justice to the victims. Its main objective is to create the appearance of a functioning legal system, while effectively whitewashing the offenses and protecting those who caused harm without justification.

Here are the figures: since the beginning of the Second Intifada in late 2000 until 2015, B’Tselem demanded the MPIU open an investigation in 739 cases in which soldiers killed or otherwise harmed Palestinians.

97% of those cases were closed, either after an “investigation” was conducted, or even without launching one. Indictments were filed in only 25 cases. The number of convictions is obviously even much lower. Suffice it so say, hardly anyone is ever held accountable.

Palestinians mourn at the funeral of 22-year old Palestinian Ilyas Yasin, who was killed by Israeli soldiers after an alleged knife attack in October, Salfit, West Bank on December 29, 2018. (Nasser Ishtayeh/Flash90)

Palestinians mourn at the funeral of 22-year old Palestinian Ilyas Yasin, who was killed by Israeli soldiers after an alleged knife attack in October, Salfit, West Bank on December 29, 2018. (Nasser Ishtayeh/Flash90)

 

These figures are a direct result of the way the system functions.

Firstly, it is inaccessible to Palestinian complainants — the victims it is supposed to protect. Secondly, the investigations drag on for months, even years, and are almost entirely based on interviews with the suspects and in some cases the victims, rather than external evidence. Without evidence, the Military Advocate for Operational Matters, who receives the investigation file, can close it for that very reason.

The Military Advocate General, who is tasked both with advising the military on the legality of its actions and directives, as well as deciding whether to launch investigations into incidents arising from those very actions and directives, finds himself in a conflict of interests.

To top it all off, the entire system is confined to looking at the conduct of soldiers on the ground rather than at that of the top brass and the policy makers. In these circumstances, its ability to actually procure justice is extremely limited.

Some two-and-a-half years ago, B’Tselem decided to stop demanding the Israeli army open investigations and to cease abetting the MPIU’s whitewashing. The organization has since continued to conduct independent investigations into cases in which security forces harm Palestinians, and has investigated most incidents in which Palestinian civilians were killed.

B’Tselem no longer contacts the MPIU, but it does publish its findings to the public, as in the death of Muhammad Musa and hundreds like it.

Although B’Tselem’s position is public and well known, MPIU officials still occasionally send the organization all sorts of requests relating to their “investigations.” Sometimes they ask for information that has already been made public, other times the ask for help locating witnesses the military has no trouble finding, and so on.

B’Tselem received such requests regarding the killing of Ahmad Zidani, a 17-year-old Palestinian who was shot dead by security forces as he was running away from them; or, Ali Qinu, also 17, who was shot in the head by soldiers; or Ahmad Salim, 28, also fatally shot in the head; or Muhammad Musa.

CCTV footage of Israeli soldiers shooting Muhammad Habali in the back of the head in the West Bank city of Tulkarm on Dec. 4, 2018. (Photo: Screenshot of footage released by B'Tselem)

CCTV footage of Israeli soldiers shooting Muhammad Habali in the back of the head in the West Bank city of Tulkarm on Dec. 4, 2018. (Photo: Screenshot of footage released by B’Tselem)

 

B’Tselem recently received another letter from the MPIU regarding what they call “the occasion of the death of Muhammad Habali,” a Palestinian with a mental disability who was shot in the head by soldiers in early December.

The soldiers fired from a distance of about 80 meters as Habali ran away from them; he did not pose a threat. In the letter, the MPIU investigator says he will conduct a “thorough investigation,” and asked for the video footage as well as for a witnesses’ contact information. B’Tselem had already uploaded the full, unedited video footage online. The MPIU’s repeated request for the contact information speaks volumes about the the true nature of its investigations.

And here is the response B’Tselem sent to MPIU Commander Col. Gil Mamon:

In your letter you contacted us regarding the “event of Muhammad Habali’s death” in Tulkarm on December 4, 2018.

Paper, evidently, does not blush. However, since you have outdone yourselves, it is necessary to set the record straight and clarify that what you refer to as “the occasion of death” was the killing of a passerby from a distance by a soldier.

You further note in your letter that you intend to conduct a ‘thorough investigation’ in order to ‘reach the truth.’ However, given our years of experience with the whitewashing mechanism referred to as the MPIU, the first part is not true, and the second will not happen.

As an aside, we note that contrary to the manner in which you spelled the organization’s name in your letter, it is not an acronym. Our name is the biblical word, B’Tselem, ‘in the image of.’ See Genesis 1:27: ‘And God created humankind in His image. In the image of God did He create them.’

B’Tselem is committed to to continuing its independent work documenting human rights violations committed by security forces in the occupied territories and the lack of accountability for these acts on the part of state authorities.

The organization, however, will continue its work without the military law enforcement system, which perpetuates the violence on the ground. Collaborating with this deception is not simply ineffectual, it is harmful, as it lends credibility to a system that should be condemned, allowing it to carry on legitimizing human rights violations.

This is not merely theoretical. The complete lack of accountability for killing and violence means they are guaranteed to be repeated. This is why B’Tselem will continue investigating, publicizing, and uncovering the truth about the Israeli so-called law enforcement whitewashing — until the occupation ends.

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The crimes of 1948: Jewish fighters speak out

“The most ferocious Jewish terrorists on Palestinian civilians were those who had escaped the Nazi camps”.

#Nakba

Thomas Vescovi. Thursday 28 June 2018 13:08 UTC

More than 60 years after these events, the combatants express little remorse: the territory needed to be liberated to found the Jewish state and there was no room for “Arabs” (Meaning Palestinians)

For the Israelis, 1948 represents the high point of the Zionist project, a major chapter in the Israeli national narrative when the Jews became masters of their own fate and, above all, succeeded in realising the utopia formulated 50 years earlier by Theodor Herzl – the construction, in Palestine, of a state of refuge for the “Jewish people”.

(This utopia was the concept of the USA “Christian” Evangelists, 50 years prior to Herzl ideology: They believed the Second Coming will take place only when the Jews occupy Jerusalem)

For the Palestinians, 1948 symbolises the advent of the colonial process that dispossessed them of their land and their right to sovereignty – known as the “Nakba” (catastrophe, in Arabic).

In theory, Israeli and Palestinian populations disagree over the events of 1948 that drove 805,000 Palestinians into forced exile. However, in practice, Jewish fighters testified early on to the crimes of which they perhaps played accomplice, or even perpetrator.

Dissonant voices

Through various channels, a number of Israelis would testify to the events of the day, as early as 1948.

At the time of the conflict, a number of Zionist leaders questioned the movement’s authorities on the treatment of Arab populations in Palestine, which they considered unworthy of the values the Jewish fighters claimed to defend. Others took notes hoping to testify once the violence had stopped.

Yosef Nahmani, a senior officer of the Haganah, the armed force of the Jewish Agency that would become the Army of Defense for Israel, wrote in his diary on 6 November 1948:

“In Safsaf, after the inhabitants had hoisted the white flag, [the soldiers] gathered the men and women into separate groups, bound the hands of fifty or sixty villagers, shot them, then buried them all in the same pit. They also raped several women from the village. Where did they learn such behaviour, as cruel as that of the Nazis? […] One officer told me that the most ferocious were those who had escaped the camps.”

During the conflict, a number of Zionist leaders questioned the movement’s authorities on the treatment of Arab populations in Palestine, which they considered unworthy of the values the Jewish fighters claimed to defend

The truth is, once the war was over, the narrative of the victors alone was heard, with Israeli civil society facing a number of far more urgent challenges than that of the plight of the Palestinian refugees. People who wanted to recount the events of the day had to turn to fiction and literature.

,In 1949, the Israeli writer and politician, Yizhar Smilansky published the novella Khirbet Khizeh, in which he described the expulsion of an eponymous Arab village. But according to the author, there was no need to feel remorse about that particular chapter of history. The “dirty work” was as a necessary part of building the Jewish state. His testimony reflects, instead, a kind of atonement for past sins. By acknowledging wrongs and unveiling them, one is able to cast off the burden of guilt.

The novel became a bestseller and was made into a TV film in 1977. Its release provoked heated debate since it called into question the Israeli narrative claiming the Palestinian populations had left their lands voluntarily to avoid living alongside Jews.

A squad of Jewish fighters during the Nakba. Photo from the TV drama, Khirbet Khizeh, based on the eponymous novella (Wikipedia)

Other works were published but few as realistic as Netiva Ben-Yehuda’s trilogy, The Palmach Trilogy, published in 1984, recounting the events of a three-month period in 1948.

A commander in the Palmach, the elite fighting force of the Haganah, she evokes the abuses and acts of violence perpetrated against Arab inhabitants and provides details of the massacre at Ein al Zeitun, which took place around 1 May 1948.

The Deir Yassin massacre

On 4 April 1972, Colonel Meir Pilavski, a former Palmach fighter, was interviewed by Yediot Aharonot, one of Israel’s three largest daily papers, on the Deir Yassin massacre of 9 April 1948, in which nearly 120 civilians lost their lives.

His troops, he claims, were in the vicinity at the time of the attacks, but were advised to withdraw when it became clear the operations were being led by the extremist paramilitary forces, Irgun and Stern, which had broken away from the Haganah.

From then on, the debate would focus on the events at Deir Yassin, to the point of forgetting the nearly 70 other massacres of Arab civilians that took place. The stakes were high for the Zionist left: responsibility for the massacres would be placed on groups of ultras.

The debate would focus on the events of Deir Yassin, to the point of forgetting the nearly 70 other massacres of Arab civilians that took place

In 1987, when the first works of a group of historians known as the Israeli “new historians” appeared, including those of Ilan Pappé, a considerable part of the Jewish battalions of 1948 were called into question. For those who had remained silent in recent decades, the time had come to speak out.

Part of Israeli society seemed ready to listen as well. Within the context of the First Palestinian Intifada and the pre-Oslo negotiations, pacifist circles were ready to question Israeli society on its national narrative and its relationship to non-Jewish communities.

These attempts at dialogue ended suddenly with the outbreak of the Second Intifada, which was more militarised and took place in the aftermath of the failed Camp David talks and the breakdown of Israeli-Palestinian negotiations. The Katz controversy would perfectly embody the new dynamic.

The Katz controversy

In 1985, a 60-year-old kibbutznik, Teddy Katz, decided to resume his studies and enrolled in a historical research programme under the direction of Ilan Pappé at the University of Haifa. He wanted to shed light on the events that took place in five Palestinian villages, deserted in 1948.

He conducted 135 interviews with Jewish fighters, 64 of which focused on the atrocity that allegedly took place in the village of Tantura, cleared of 1,200 inhabitants on 23 May 1948 by Palmach forces.

After two years of research, Katz states in his work that between 85 and 110 men were ruthlessly shot dead on Tantura beach, after digging their own graves. The massacre would then continue in the village, one house at a time, and a man hunt was played out in the streets.

The killing only stopped when Jewish inhabitants from the neighbouring village of Zikhron Yaakov intervened. More than 230 people were murdered.

Ilan Pappé: “The Nakba, the observation of a crime, ignored but not forgotten

In January 2000, a journalist from daily Maariv newspaper decided to talk to some of the witnesses mentioned by Katz. The main witness, Bentzion Fridan, a commander for the Palmach forces present in Tantura, denied the whole story point blank, then filed a complaint, along with other senior officers, against Katz, who found himself forced to face a dozen lawyers determined to defend the honour of the nation’s “heroes”.

Under pressure from the media – who were calling him a “collaborator” and were only covering his accusers’ version of the facts – and the courts, he agreed to sign a document acknowledging he had falsified their statements. Though he withdrew his acknowledgement a few hours later and had the backing of a university commission, the legal proceedings were over.

With the collapse of the Oslo Accords, the return to power of the Likud, the failure of the Camp David Accords and the Taba Summit, the Second Intifada and the kamikaze attacks, Israeli pacifists were no longer interested in the Palestinian version of 1948. Indeed, most were too busy falling into rank to escape the repercussions of the country’s increasingly conservative social order.

Testifying for posterity

In 2005, the filmmaker Eyal Sivan and the Israeli NGO Zochrot developed the project Towards a Common Archive aiming to gather testimonies from the Jewish soldiers of 1948. More than 30 agreed to testify on the events of those days which had been subject to such conflicting accounts.

Why had fighters now agreed to testify, a mere few years later? According to Pappé, the scientific director of the project, for three reasons.

They did all agree on the necessity, in 1948, of forcing Arab populations into exile in order to build the State of Israel

First, most were approaching the end of their lives and were no longer afraid of speaking out.

Second, the former fighters had fought for an ideal that had deteriorated with the rise in Israel of religious circles and the far right, as well as the neoliberal electroshock imposed by Netanyahu during his successive mandates.

Third, they were convinced that sooner or later the younger generations would discover the truth of the Palestinian refugees, and they believed it was their duty to pass on the knowledge of the disturbing events.

The testimonies are Not identical across the board.

Some fighters went into great detail, whereas others did not wish to address certain topics. Nevertheless, they did all agree on the necessity, in 1948, of forcing Arab populations into exile in order to build the State of Israel, though their views differed at times on the usefulness of firing on civilians.

All claim to have received specific orders concerning the razing of Arab villages, however, to prevent the exiled populations’ return.

The villages were “cleaned out” methodically.

As they approached the site, soldiers would fire or launch grenades to frighten the local populations. In most cases, such actions were enough to drive the inhabitants away. Sometimes, a house or two had to be blown up at the entrance of a village to force the few recalcitrant inhabitants to flee.

As for the massacres, for some, the acts were merely part of the “cleansing” operations, since the leaders of the Zionist movement had authorised them to “cross this line”, in certain cases.

The “line” was systematically crossed when inhabitants refused to leave, put up resistance, or even fought back.

No remorse

In Lod, more than 100 people took refuge in the mosque, believing rumours that Jewish fighters would not attack places of worship. A rocket launcher destroyed their shelter, which collapsed on them. Their bodies were burned.

For others, the leaders Yigal Allon, of the Palmach, and David Ben Gurion, of the Jewish Agency, reportedly opposed the shooting of civilians, ordering forces to first let them go and then to destroy the homes.

The combatants also testify to a contrasting Palestinian response. In most cases, they seemed “frightened” and overwhelmed by the events, hastening to join the flow of refugees. Some Arabs begged the soldiers not to “do to them what they did in Deir Yassin”.

Other inhabitants seemed convinced they would be able to return home at the end of the fighting. One witness spoke of residents of the village of Bayt Naqquba who left the key to their houses with Jewish neighbours in the Kiryat-Avanim kibbutz, with whom they were on good terms, so the latter could ensure that nothing was looted.

Good Jewish-Arab relations come up regularly, and few witnesses speak of being on bad terms with their neighbours before the beginning of the war.

During an eviction around Beersheba, Palestinian peasants came to ask for help from the inhabitants of the neighbouring kibbutz, who did not hesitate to intervene and denounce the actions of Zionist soldiers.

More than 60 years after these events, the combatants expressed little or No remorse.

According to them, it was necessary to liberate the territory promised by the UN in order to found the Jewish state, and this meant there was no room for Arabs in the national landscape.

– Thomas Vescovi is a teacher and a researcher in contemporary history. He is the author of Bienvenue en Palestine (Kairos, 2014) and La Mémoire de la Nakba en Israël (L’Harmattan, 2015).

READ MORE ►

“Nakba’s harvest of sorrow: We will be back, grandmother 

The opinions expressed in this article are those of the author alone and do not necessarily reflect the editorial policy of Middle East Eye.

Photo: On 12 May 1948, members of the Haganah escort Palestinians expelled from Haifa after Jewish forces took control of its port on 22 April (AFP).

This article originally appeared in French.

 

‘THEY KNOW THAT WE KNOW THEY ARE LIARS, THEY KEEP LYING’: WEST’S WAR PROPAGANDA ON GHOUTA CRESCENDOS

Instead, Western corporate media continues to shriek the war propaganda we already heard from eastern Aleppo in December 2016, from Madaya in 2016 and 2017, and elsewhere in Syria whenever the liberation of terrorist-held areas was underway.

I’ve been to liberated Homs, Aleppo, Madaya, al-Waer.

Syrian civilians spoke to me of their gratitude to their army for saving them. When the media cried that the areas had ‘fallen’ and blasted about Syrian-Army massacres, it was simply lying, and the areas returned to peace and stability.

MSM cites Jaysh Al-Islam supporters

As per their norm, corporate media’s reports on Eastern Ghouta rely on the usual suspect sources.

Reporting from Istanbul, The Guardian’s Kareem Shaheen, on March 16 – a day when over 13,000 civilians escaped terrorist rule in Ghouta – produced yet another article of inverted reality, shamelessly writing: “Residents in the enclave have said they want to be able to leave the besieged areas but with international guarantees that they will not be detained or otherwise punished by advancing regime troops.

Video evidence contradicts this claim.

Civilians complained that terrorists would not allow them to leave, that terrorists were preventing them from doing so by shooting at them and shelling humanitarian corridors.

This is a tactic that was seen in late 2016, when terrorists in eastern Aleppo did precisely the same thing, shelling humanitarian corridors (including one I stood on  in November 2016).

Shaheen would do well to leave Istanbul and report honestly from within Syria – and I don’t mean sneaking illegally in and embedding with Al-Qaeda.

The New York Times’ March 15 article described terrorists occupying Ghouta as a “rebel movement,” and cited sources tightly affiliated with these terrorists.

Lexicon is important. Corporate media’s “rebels” are Syrian civilians’ nightmares, terrorists. Yet, corporate media has consistently, and deliberately, chosen lexicon which whitewashes some of the most heinous terrorists of our day.

One of the NY Times’ sources, Mohammad Adel, wrote on Facebook that his superhero name would be Zahran Alloush. Recall that Alloush was the head of Jaysh Al-Islam, and the terrorist behind putting civilians (including women) in cages to use as human shields.

28164848_1841394292537223_6972752726567157652_o

Quite a ‘hero’ to aspire to be. Quite an activist source to quote.

The authenticity of Amer Almohibany’s photos, used in the article, should be questioned, given that he is not a neutral Getty photographer.

Like Mohammad Adel, Almohibany praisesJaysh Al-Islam, indeed has spent time with them as they fire missiles towards Damascus, also eulogized Zahran Alloush (whose photo he took at close proximity), and incidentally enjoyed food that most Ghouta residents were deprived of by terrorists.

Firaz Abdullahcited in a different NY Times article as a “media activist,” also praised Alloush, calling him a “beautiful martyr.”

Another media source, Qusay Noor, extends his neutrality beyond solely supporting Jaysh Al-Islam but also terrorists of Faylaq Al-Rahman and Al-Qaeda.

Pulse media contributor, Idrees Ahmad, calls Noor “heroic.” Ahmad’s hero in July 2016 applauded Abu Muhammad Al-Julani, the “Emir” of Al-Qaeda in Syria. [Photos collated here]

The media frenzy has even rehashed the 2016 theme of Aleppo child Omran Daqneesh as the face of suffering in Syria, with war propagandist Assad Hannaa tweeting on March 9:

This is another Omran, history is repeating itself Omran of Ghouta. Omran was lucky to survive this brutal airstrike by the Assad regime but unfortunately his three-month-old sister Katr Al Nada did not.”

It is unlikely that Hannaa read my reply that Omran Daqneesh himself was not gravely injured, nor by an airstrike, as his father told me in June 2017. And it is despicable that Hannaa, surely knowingly, re-exploited Daqneesh.

Screenshot from 2018-03-22 13-26-57

The media knowingly lies

On March 12, Syria’s Ambassador to the UN Bashar Jaafari, after refuting Nikki Haley’s latest chemical-weapons lies, quoted writer Najib Mahfouz, saying: “They are liars. And they know that they are liars. And they know that we know that they are liars. Even so, they keep lying, and very loudly so.

While Jaafari was referring to America’s lies and longtime war propaganda, this also clearly applies to corporate media.

In our March 11 interview, war correspondent Elijah Magnier highlighted corporate media’s role in prolonging the terrorists’ occupation of Ghouta:

The heads of the tribes in Ghouta are saying, ‘The only reason why these jihadists are holding on to Ghouta, not willing to leave, and keeping the civilians as a shield is because of the mainstream media. Because the mainstream media is supporting them, the international community is supporting them – they’re supporting the jihadists. Why they should leave?

Journalist Jeremy Salt, on March 15, wrote a scathing article addressing the media propaganda:

The sanctified logo of the New York Times, ‘All the news that’s fit to print,’ needs to be replaced with something more contemporary, more attuned to the fake ‘news’ cycle in which we are all trapped, perhaps ‘All the sh*t that’s fit to print.’”

The problem is not the media’s lack of capacity to get through to the truth but rather its disinterest in the truth, in favor of government policies based on lies and deception.

And in a recent interview, former British ambassador to Syria, Peter Ford said:

Western mainstream media have their narrative and they don’t want to see it disturbed. Any evidence that goes against their preferred narrative – namely that ‘Assad is a butcher, massacring his people’ – anything that disturbs that narrative is simply ignored or mocked.

But the truth is beginning to come out… All these crocodile tears being cried by the likes of Ambassador Nikki Haley in New York are disgraceful, trading on sentiment when behind it is just cynical great power maneuvering.”

Chemicals and lab in Eastern Ghouta

One of the accusations shrieked by Nikki Haley is that the Syrian government used chemical weapons. However, this accusation and the many prior, is fact-devoid rhetoric.

Yet, on March 12, Russia’s envoy to the UN, Vassily Nebenzia, named Al-Nusra as being behind the March 5 chlorine attacks in Eastern Ghouta. To those closely following events in Syria, this is far from the first time terrorists in Syria have used chemical weapons, then blamed it on the Syrian government.

On March 16, journalist Sharmine Narwani wrote of the “well-equipped chemical laboratory run by Saudi-backed Islamist terrorists,” which she had seen the day prior in Shifoniyeh, Eastern Ghouta.

Peppered with her photos of the equipment (including US-made equipment), Narwani’s article aptly argues that terrorists have both motive and capability to stage chemical attacks in Syria, and outlines previous instances in which they have.

In spite of this latest revelation, Haley and the UN itself will turn blind eyes to the terrorists’ possession of chemicals, and to their relentless attacks on Damascus, which have killed over 10,000 civilians.

The mortar and missile attacks on Damascus and elsewhere in Syria merit no outrage from the UN.

On March 5, an article citing Trappist Nuns in Syria read:

We, the people who actually live in Syria, we are really exhausted, nauseated by this global indignation that issues blanket condemnations of those who defend their lives and their land.

“The attacks on civilians in Damascus, began from the Ghouta area into the government-controlled part, and not vice versa… Why this blindness on the part of the West?

It is a painful rhetorical question that many of us have asked over the years, well-aware of the answer: because it doesn’t serve the regime-change agenda, one so diligently put forth by the corporate media.

As the war propaganda continues, I quote the nuns, who said: “Deliver us Lord from the war… and deliver us from bad journalism.

29313406_1867550256588293_4818283720710553600_o

*Still from a video report interviewing civilians who were evacuated from Eastern Ghouta.

RELATED ARTICLES: 

Terrorist capabilities laid bare in an Eastern Ghouta chemical lab (by Sharmine Narwani)

The ‘other’ Omran: Aleppo civilians expose MSM lies & child exploitation, (by Vanessa Beeley)

Meet Aylan & Omran: Child victims used for Syrian war propaganda

UN Feigns Outrage Over Ghouta While Terrorist Rockets Rain Down on Damascus

Absurdities of Syrian war propaganda

What Life Is Like Under ‘Moderate’ ‘Rebel’ Rule (Aleppo)

Where is the West’s compassion & condemnation following terror attacks in Middle East?

Order Returns To Western Cities, Civilians Recount Horrors Of ‘Rebel’ Rule (Madaya and al-Waer)

Truth and Lies of the Syrian Conflict: Conversations with Eva Bartlett, Tom Duggan and Patrick Henningsen. Global Research News Hour episode 212

 

Twenty-One Thoughts On The Persecution Of Julian Assange

1. I write a lot about the plight of Julian Assange for the same reason I write a lot about the Iraq invasion: his persecution, when sincerely examined, exposes undeniable proof that we are ruled by a transnational power establishment which is immoral and dishonest to its core.

2. Assange started a leak outlet on the premise that corrupt and unaccountable power is a problem in our world, and that the problem can be fought with the light of truth. Corrupt and unaccountable power has responded by detaining, silencing and smearing him. The persecution of Assange has proved his thesis about the world absolutely correct.

3. Anyone who offends the US-centralized empire will find themselves subject to a trial by media, and the media are owned by the same plutocratic class which owns the empire. To believe what mass media news outlets tell you about those who stand up to imperial power is to ignore reality.

4. Corrupt and unaccountable power uses its political and media influence to smear Assange because, as far as the interests of corrupt and unaccountable power are concerned, killing his reputation is as good as killing him. If everyone can be paced into viewing him with hatred and revulsion, they’ll be far less likely to take WikiLeaks publications seriously, and they’ll be far more likely to consent to Assange’s silencing and imprisonment. Someone can be speaking 100 percent truth to you, but if you’re suspicious of him you won’t believe anything he’s saying. If they can manufacture that suspicion with total or near-total credence, then as far as our rulers are concerned it’s as good as putting a bullet in his head.

5. The fact that the mass media can keep saying day after day “Hey, you know that bloke at the embassy who shares embarrassing truths about very powerful people? He’s a stinky Nazi rapist Russian spy who mistreats his cat” without raising suspicion shows you how propagandized the public already is. A normal worldview unmolested by corrupt narrative control would see someone who circulates inconvenient facts about the powerful being called pretty much all the worst things in the world and know immediately that that person is being lied about by those in power.

6. Relentless smear campaigns against Assange have given the unelected power establishment the ability to publicly make an example of a journalist who published uncomfortable truths without provoking the wrath of the masses. It’s a town square flogging that the crowd has been manipulated into cheering for. Narrative control has enabled them to have their cake and eat it too: they get to act like medieval lords and inflict draconian punishment against a speaker of undeniable facts and leave his head on a spike in the town square as a warning to other would-be truth tellers, and have the public believe that such a bizarre violation of modern human rights is perfectly fine and acceptable.

7. There are people who worked really hard to get journalism degrees, toiled long hours to earn the esteemed privilege of appearing on the front pages of a major publication, only to find themselves writing articles with headlines like “Julian Assange is a stinky, stinky stink man.”

8. Ordinary citizens often find themselves eager to believe the smear campaigns against Assange because it is easier than believing that their government would participate in the deliberate silencing and imprisoning of a journalist for publishing facts.

9. And yes, Julian Assange is most certainly a journalist. Publishing important information about what’s going on in the world so the public can inform themselves is precisely the thing that journalism is. There is no conventional definition of journalism which differs from this. Anyone who says Assange is not a journalist is telling a lie that they may or may not actually believe in order to justify his persecution and their support for it.

10. Another reason people can find themselves eager to believe smears about Assange is that the raw facts revealed by WikiLeaks publications punch giant holes in the stories about the kind of world, nation and society that most people have been taught to believe they live in since school age. These kinds of beliefs are interwoven with people’s entire egoic structures, with their sense of self and who they are as a person, so narratives which threaten to tear them apart can feel the same as a personal attack. This is why you’ll hear ordinary citizens talking about Assange as though he attacked them personally; all he did was publish facts about the powerful, but since those facts conflict with tightly held identity constructs, the cognitive dissonance that was caused to them can be interpreted as feeling like he’d slapped them in the face.

11. We live in a reality where unfathomably powerful world-dominating government agencies are scrutinized and criticized far, far less than a guy trapped in an embassy who published inconvenient facts about those agencies.

12. Assange disrupts establishment narratives even in his persecution. Liberal establishment loyalists in America still haven’t found a rational answer to criticisms that in supporting Assange’s criminal prosecution they are supporting a Trump administration agenda. You now have the same people who’ve been screaming that Trump is Hitler and that he’s attacking the free press cheering for the possibility of that same administration imprisoning a journalist for publishing facts.

13. The precedent that would be set by the US prosecuting a foreign journalist for merely publishing factual information would constitute a greater leap in the direction of Orwellian dystopia than the Patriot Act, for America and for the entire world.

14. The billionaire media has invalidated itself with its refusal to defend Assange. They know the precedent set by his prosecution for WikiLeaks publications would kill the ability of the press to hold power to account, but they don’t care because they know they never do that. For all their crying about Jamal Khashoggi and Jim Acosta’s hurt feelings, they do not actually care about journalism or “the free press” in any meaningful way.

15. Whenever I see a blue checkmark account on Twitter bashing Assange I mentally translate whatever they’re saying into “There is nothing I won’t do to advance my career in corporate media. If you’re in a position to promote me I will literally get down on my knees right this very second and let you do whatever you want to my body.”

16. I sometimes feel like I respect professional propagandists who smear Assange more than I respect ordinary citizens who go around smearing him for free. What do these people think they’ll get as a reward for their work as pro bono CIA propagandists? A gold star from Big Brother? They’re like slaves who beat and betray other slaves that fall out of line in order to win favor with the master, except they’re not even achieving that. The professional manipulators are at least cheering for their own class to continue to have its leadership’s interests advanced; ordinary people who do it are cheering for their own oppression.

17. Even lower in my view are the self-proclaimed leftists and anarchists who view themselves as oppositional to the establishment but still help advance this smear campaign. It is impossible to attack Assange without supporting the Orwellian empire which is persecuting him. I don’t care what mental gymnastics you’re doing to justify your pathetic cronyism; what you are doing benefits the most powerful and depraved people on this planet.

18. Anyone who participates in the ongoing smear campaign against Assange and Wikileaks is basically just saying “Extremely powerful people should be able to lie to us without any difficulty or opposition at all.”

19. Everyone should always be extremely suspicious of anyone who defends the powerful from the less powerful. It’s amazing that this isn’t more obvious to more people.

20. Contrary to the narratives promoted by establishment smear merchants, Julian Assange is not hiding from justice in the Ecuadorian embassy. He is hiding from injustice. Everyone who knows anything about the US government’s prosecution of leakers and whistleblowers knows he has no shot at a fair trial, and would face brutal mistreatment at the hands of the same regime which tortured Chelsea Manning.

21. The persecution of Assange is essentially a question that mankind is asking itself: do we want to

(A) continue down the path of omnicidal, ecocidal Orwellian dystopia, or do we want to

(B) pull up and away from that trajectory and shrug off the oppressive power establishment which is driving us toward either total extinction or total enslavement?

So far, A is the answer we’ve been giving ourselves to that question. But, as long as we switch before it’s too late, we can always change our answer.


adonis49

adonis49

adonis49

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