Adonis Diaries

Posts Tagged ‘David Sheen

Can you Spot The Difference? Modern Israel versus Nazi Germany

The genocidal public discourse against Palestinians and non-Jews in Israel is reaching fever pitch.

If we’ve learned anything from the horrors of the 20th century it is that fascism doesn’t stop: We must stop it.

We need to call time on Israeli fascism.

posted this November 21, 2014

Independent Israeli journalist David Sheen brought this image to my attention, with this tweet:

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You may find this image shocking, eerily reminiscent of the treatment of Jews in Nazi Germany, African Americans through the era of the Jim Crow segregation laws, or the UK hotel signs of the 1950’s reading ‘No Blacks, no dogs, no Irish’.

I do not make these comparisons for kicks, hype or wanton disregard for these past horrors.  It is because of those disgraceful periods in our history that we must not stand by while it happens again.

Here are just some samples of the sort of sentiments now acceptable to air in public in Israel today.

 

These are public figures, many on the public payroll, calling for the expulsion, harassment, torture and murder of civilians purely because of the ethnic group to which they belong.

And if you feel uncomfortable by the similarity between these pronouncement and those of Hitler, Goebbels and co, then just look what happened when 327 Jewish holocaust survivors and their descendents published an open letter calling on Israel to end it’s genocide against the Palestinians this Summer.

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These people, who survived the worst of the Nazi regime, say clearly:

“Genocide begins with the silence of the world.

‘Never again’ must mean NEVER AGAIN FOR ANYONE!”

So how did Israelis react to this letter?  Here are just a sample of the responses from Jewish Israelis on Facebook:

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Translation:

Katy Morali: Holocaust survivors who think like this are invited to go die in the gas chambers.

Shmulik Halphon: He’s invited to go back to Auschwitz.

Meir Dahan: No wonder Hitler murdered 6 million Jews because of people like you you’re not even Jews you’re disgusting people a disgrace to humanity and so are your offspring you are trash.

Asher Solomon: It’s a shame Hitler didn’t finish the job.

This level of dehumanization and demonization of ‘Arabs’ does not remain confined to incitement and hate-speech, but spills over into street-level violence.

In recent days, Israelis publicly lynched a Palestinian-Israeli bus driver, just hours after Jewish-Israeli hate mob JSIL changed their profile picture to this:

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The body of Palestinian-Israeli bus driver Yusuf Hasan al-Ramouni, 32, from al-Tur in East Jerusalem was found hanging from a steel bar in the middle of his bus.

Palestinians claim six Israelis attacked al-Ramouni while he worked on his vehicle, while Israeli authorities argue suicide.

These same authorities claimed the murder of Palestinian-Israeli teenager Mohammed Abu Khdeir was an ‘honor killing’ committed by family member over his sexuality.  Mohammed was kidnapped from outside his parents home, beaten, had gasoline poured down his throat and was burnt alive from the inside out in July.  It was later found that Jewish-Israeli settlers had committed the act.

But western media outlets continue to air Israeli propaganda as if the state were a credible source.  One example would be when CNN’s Wolf Blitzer aired Israel’s Liar-in-Chief Michael Oren claiming the 2 teens killed on Nakba day, Nadim Nuwara and Mahmoud Salameh, was a staged event and they might not even be dead. Never mind that local CCTV clearly shows the murders were real.

Whenever a Palestinian is murdered by Israelis, the Hasbara machine of Israeli PR kicks in to confuse and mislead.

Conversely, any act of violence against Israelis by Palestinians is amplified, and escalated to Al-Qaeda, War on Terror levels of significance.

Just this week, myself and other journalists close to the Israel-Palestine issue called to task CNN’s Washington Chief Jake Tapper for retweeting this image:

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The whole situation brings to mind that famous quote from Malcolm X:

If you aren’t careful, the newspapers will have you hating the people who are being oppressed and loving the people who are doing the oppressing.

While Palestinians, either side of Israel’s Apartheid Wall continue to face daily threats to their homes, livelihoods, and lives – they are treated by Israeli and Western media as the aggressors.

It is almost beyond belief that such a clearly asymmetrical scenario can be recast into a ‘conflict’ – it is not a conflict.  It is an illegal military occupation of one people over another, it is a racial Apartheid, it is a slowly unfolding genocide.  It must end.

The harsh truth is this: those people turning their heads and disowning the rights of Palestinians today, would have done exactly the same to Europe’s Jews during the holocaust.

They would have believed the propaganda, they would have absorbed and espoused the same bigotry, they would have tacitly or overtly gifted their complicity.  “Never again” means never again for anyone, or it means nothing.

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“Indirect victims of Holocaust”? Palestinians were colonized since 1869

When Gaza was attacked during the summer, Angela Merkel promised to “stand by the side of Israel.”

The German chancellor has done much more than offer verbal support for Israel’s crimes. Under her leadership, the Berlin government has been equipping Israel with submarines that reportedly carry nuclear weapons.

France built the 6 submarines and Germany provided the finance from German taxpayers’ pockets’.

France was the only supporter for colonizing and partitioning Palestine before WWI and the main power after WWII to delivering sophisticated weapons and nuclear plants.

The first settlement was established in 1869 in a land donated by the Ottoman Sultan close to Jaffa.

Beginning 1882, Edmond de Rothschild invested $100 million over the next 17 years to purchase land and build colonies.

Lord Balfour acknowledge the partition of Palestine in 1917. A year later, both France and the US president ratified Balfour declaration. The western powers had already set their mind in partitioning Palestine before WWI ended.

During its mandate over Palestine, England cracked down on the countless Palestinians uprising and civil disobedience (Intifada) using extreme forms of violence and torture techniques. England refrained from persecuting the extremist terrorist Jewish factions such as Jabotenski, Begin, Shamir, Irgun…

At the start of WWII, England trained thousands of Jews in Palestine on how to demolish bridges, plant bombs and execute assassination… The Palestinians were denied enlisting in the army.

Merkel may sympathize with Israel on account of the Nazi behaviour, but she and Max Blumenthal are not to ignore the fact that Palestine was already planned to be partitioned long time ago and have to desist throwing sands in the eyes of the world community.

Emran Feroz in The Electronic Intifada this November 14, 2014

Germany made Palestinians “indirect victims of Holocaust,” says author Max Blumenthal

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The German chancellor and the Israeli prime minister met with their respective cabinets in Jerusalem in February. (Saeed Qaq / APA images)

Some German politicians have tried to muzzle debate about Israel by denouncing its critics as “anti-Semites.”

The American journalist Max Blumenthal — author of Goliath: Life and Loathing in Greater Israel — faced such a smear on a recent speaking tour in Germany.

A number of elected politicians alleged that a scheduled talk by Blumenthal and his colleague David Sheen in a Berlin theater would serve “to promote anti-Semitic prejudice.”

This was deeply ironic: both Blumenthal and Sheen are themselves Jewish. The politicians denouncing them failed to produce any evidence that they are hostile towards fellow Jews.

Blumenthal spoke to Emran Feroz in Stuttgart.

Emran Feroz: You recently witnessed the destruction caused by Israel in Gaza. What scenes had the most effect on you?

Max Blumenthal: Emergency operations had to be performed in dentist chairs, while the bodies of dead children had to be laid in ice boxes, which were originally designed for ice cream. Those were probably the most shocking testimonies I heard.

EF: Not long after your trip to Gaza, you started using the hashtag #JSIL (Jewish State of Israel in the Levant) on Twitter. Making this kind of comparison between the group Islamic State and Israel is taboo in Germany. Why did you dare to do this?

MB: It is strange that you equate, in Germany, IS with Hamas or describe the entire Palestinian national movement as “heirs of the Nazis,” while there is such an outrage regarding my comparison. It was not a direct one-to-one comparison, but I wanted to point out the hypocrisy behind supporting one religiously exclusive state that forces minorities out of its territory while attacking another.

EF: But by using this hashtag, you must be suggesting that Israel and IS are somehow similar.

MB: Sure, they are. The “Jewish state” has no internationally recognized borders. The same relates to the “Islamic State.”

Both constructs have emerged after the original indigenous population were partly expelled and ethnically cleansed.

In the case of Israel it was the Palestinian indigenous population; in the case of the IS [they] are the Christians, Yazidis, Shiite Muslims (and even Sunni Muslims).

Both “countries” rely on a religious exclusivity in the Levant.

And both think they represent all Muslims and Jews worldwide and thereby help inspire Islamophobic and anti-Semitic sentiments.

Both the Jewish state and the Islamic State recruit confused young men from around the world as foreign fighters to engage in atrocities.

When Israel’s defenders failed to address the comparisons on their merits, they simply attempted to hijack the #JSIL hashtag by declaring it stands for the “Jewish State of Israel Lives.”

EF: IS fighters behead their victims and then spread the videos of the beheadings through YouTube and social media. Do Israeli soldiers also make such videos?

MB: During the last attack on Gaza, the Israeli army killed civilians via drones and Jewish Israeli citizens celebrated the killings on Facebook. Some Israeli citizens gathered on a hill in the border town of Sderot and celebrated the bombing of the military with chips and beer. I find that this is not less macabre and disgusting. (How about pouring gasoline in the mouth and setting a Palestinian youth on fire?)

EF: How present is religious extremism inside the Israeli military?

MB: It is very present. A major figure of the last military operation in the Gaza Strip was commander Ofer Winter, who was celebrated as a national hero. Prior to the mission Winter said to his troops, that the Palestinians had sinned against God and therefore all must be punished.

So he declared a literal “holy war” against the Palestinian people. This is not the only way Winter has expressed the religious extremism that is rising in Israeli society.

In one instance, an Israeli woman singer wanted to perform in front of [Winter’s] soldiers. He refused [permission] to do so and said that a woman is not allowed to do that.

EF: Many women are part of the Israeli army. This is celebrated in what are effectively promotional campaigns for Israel. How can there be misogyny in the Israeli military if it has many female members?

MB: What is not mentioned is the fact that it is more likely that these women are assaulted by their male counterparts in the army than by Palestinians. I think that only imperialist feminists argue that women can be emancipated in an army like the Israeli one.

Good examples of this type of feminism are political figures like Samantha Power or Angela Merkel or Tzipi Livni because their peculiar brand of feminism goes hand in hand with the imperialistic interests of the western powers who are so invested in majority Muslim countries, where the population is portrayed as culturally backwards and in need of “liberation.”

EF: During the last attack on Gaza, the family of Ibrahim Kilani — who are German citizens — were killed. His son Ramsis, who lives in Germany, said that up to today nobody has apologized to him. The German government has not called him a single time. How can you explain this behavior?

MB: The behavior of the German government shows not only the lack of interest in the rights of the Palestinians, but also the very lives of them. The life of these people is practically non-existent in Germany. They are the new “un-people.”

The German foreign minister issued condolences for the families of those German citizens killed on an airliner over eastern Ukraine, possibly by Russian separatists. But they’ve said nothing to the Kilani family.

The negation of Palestinian lives has been German policy since the days of Konrad Adenauer [chancellor of West Germany from 1949 to 1963].

In those days Israel had no problem to negotiate on Holocaust reparations with the head of the chancellery, Hans Globke, who was a known Nazi in the Third Reich. This cash flow from Germany went directly to the Israeli occupation machine that has made the Palestinians indirect victims of the Holocaust.

The current bloodshed is a result of this policy and every German should ask himself: how does this policy honor the Holocaust?

EF: Your willingness to make such statements probably explains why some German politicians do not want to see you here in Germany. What happened to you exactly?

MB: Some politicians, such as Volker Beck, a parliamentarian from Germany’s Green Party, had launched a campaign to silence us — me and the journalist David Sheen. The reason for this is the fact that they do not want to know of another version of Judaism and they certainly do not want to hear about the facts on the ground.

Their attitude actually promotes anti-Semitism.

It is simply anti-Semitic to equate Zionism with Judaism and to limit Jewish identity to the narrow confines of Israeli nationalism. For a gentile politician to do it is beyond disgusting.

EF: The Gaza Strip remains destroyed. And, according to some media outlets, a third intifada (actually the fourth if you don’t forget 1936 that lasted 4 years) is going to happen in the occupied West Bank. Is this really the case or is it just scaremongering?

MB: Last year the al-Aqsa mosque [in Jerusalem] was stormed “only” eight times by Israeli soldiers. This year this happened 76 times. Radical religious elements have announced that they want to demolish the mosque to build a Jewish temple. If this happens, the situation will take on global implications that will be approach the apocalyptic.

The whole conflict is taking on a religious dimension, which is devastating for all involved, and, as I said, will promote radicalization around the globe. I think the third intifada actually is at the door.

However, I believe that this word — intifada — does not adequately describe the situation. It is not effective enough to describe what is actually going on. At that time — in the case of the first and second intifadas — this term was appropriate.

Now with so many Palestinian political leaders in prison or dead and such a complex matrix of control imposed on them, a nationwide revolt cannot take place. What we are seeing is creative resistance with limited means occurring on a national level but at sporadic moments.

And it will continue and intensify as long as the status quo is in place. It is that deadly status quo that German foreign policy protects and promotes.

Emran Feroz is a Germany-based freelance journalist, blogger and activist. He is also the founder of Drone Memorial, a website listing victims of drone attacks. His Twitter account is @Emran_Feroz

 

Testimonies of atrocities in Gaza from the Russell Tribunal

Watch these testimonies

The Russell Tribunal on Palestine convened an emergency session in Brussels last month to examine whether Israel committed war crimes in the besieged Gaza Strip during “Operation Protective Edge,” the summertime military assault that killed more than 2,100 Palestinians, including more than 500 children, injured more than 11,000 and left Gaza in ruins.

Israeli soldiers were ordered to execute any Palestinian witness who could understand the criminal orders of the officers?

After hearing testimony from journalists, eyewitnesses, legal scholars and physicians present during the onslaught, the twelve-member jury, made up of world-renowned intellectuals and international law experts, found Israel guilty of “war crimes, crimes against humanity, crimes of murder, extermination and persecution and also incitement to genocide.”

Though it was virtually ignored by both mainstream and progressive media outlets, the tribunal was significant in that it did what the so-called international community has time and again refused to do.

The Russell Tribunal put Israel on trial for its crimes against Palestinians.

Incitement to Genocide

Journalist David Sheen delivered a horrifying presentation on incitement to genocide within Israeli society, which was consumed by genocidal rhetoric from top Israeli government officials to the lynch mobs barreling down the streets of Jerusalem shouting “death to Arabs.”

Sheen’s testimony stunned the jury, concluding that absent outside intervention and accountability, the potential for genocide is likely.

“In light of the clear escalation in the physical and rhetorical violence deployed in respect of Gaza in the summer of 2014, the tribunal emphasizes the obligation of all states parties to the 1948 Genocide Conventionto take such action under the Charter of the United Nations as they consider appropriate for the prevention and suppression of acts of genocide,” the judges implore in their final ruling.

“It is recognized that in a situation where patterns of crimes against humanity are perpetrated with impunity, and where direct and public incitement to genocide is manifest throughout society, it is very conceivable that individuals or the state may choose to exploit the conditions in order to perpetrate the crime of genocide,” they warn.

And  adding, “We [sic] have a genuine fear that in an environment of impunity and an absence of sanction for serious and repeated criminality, the lessons from Rwanda and other mass atrocities may once again go unheeded.”

Grisly executions

Journalist Max Blumenthal delivered powerful testimony on evidence of war crimes he gathered while in Gaza following a five-day ceasefire in mid-August.

Blumenthal described in vivid detail the grisly executions he documented of civilians, paramedics and fighters carried out by invading Israeli soldiers.

He also highlighted several instances of Israeli soldiers summarily executing older men in Gaza after learning they spoke Hebrew, leading to speculation that soldiers were ordered to eliminate anyone capable of understanding their commands. (The soldiers were to execute witnesses who could understand the criminal orders of the officers?)

Blumenthal posted a transcript of his testimony here.

Kidnappings and human shields

Gaza-based journalist Mohammed Omer described to the jury the crimes he witnessed and reported on in Gaza as well as the hardships of daily life under siege (see video of his testimony at the top of this post).

He cited summary executions, kidnappings of Palestinian men at gunpoint and the use of Palestinian civilians as human shields by invading Israeli soldiers in the now obliterated farming community of Khuzaa.

Omer was the only Palestinian eyewitness that made it out of Gaza to attend the session.

Raji Sourani, director of the Palestinian Centre for Human Rights, and filmmaker Ashraf Mashharawi were scheduled to testify but the Egyptian military regime prevented them from leaving through the Rafah crossing.

Deliberate and systematic

Renowned Norwegian doctor Mads Gilbert presented the jury with descriptions and photos of the gruesome injuries he witnessed while working at the overwhelmed al-Shifa Hospital in Gaza City at the peak of Israel’s latest bombing campaign, which marked the fourth time since 2006 that Gilbert has operated in Gaza during an Israeli military attack.

Outlining the devastation inflicted on Gaza’s health sector, Gilbert emphasized his admiration for the medical workers who risk their lives repairing the bodily damage caused by Israel’s “deliberate, systematic attack on the Palestinian civilian society.”

Taken together, the testimonies presented at the Russell Tribunal (all of which can be viewed here) demonstrate a clear pattern of intentional destruction of Gaza and its people by an increasingly extreme settler-colonial state “primed for genocide,” as Max Blumenthal put it.

Genocide does not happen overnight or in a vacuum.

There are warning signs, many of which were raised at the Russell Tribunal.

Israel has been destroying and erasing Palestine for more than six decades in an effort to consolidate and maintain a demographically engineered Jewish majority in an area that is historically Palestinian.

As long as countries including the United States continue to unconditionally shower Israel with weapons while shielding its leaders from accountability on the international stage, Israel’s destruction of Palestine will not only continue, it will intensify.

So the question becomes, how bad do the atrocities need to get before the world puts a stop this madness?

And why these Africans think it a good idea to seek asylum in Israel?

Didn’t these Africans learn that apartheid systems despise the black people? And other colors that do not come very close to White? The Superior race?

On an otherwise quiet Saturday evening two weeks ago, thousands of African refugees flooded the streets of Tel Aviv demanding freedom.

It was one of the biggest mobilizations of non-Jewish asylum seekers ever to take place in Israel, as men and women, mostly from Eritrea and Sudan, marched past stunned onlookers in the upmarket cafes and bars that have made Tel Aviv a popular holiday destination.

Eritrea and South Sudan relied on arms shipment from Israel to kill their own citizens in supposedly wars of independence, and now they want to believe that Israel was indeed a true friend and not another colonial power getting ready to plunder their natural resources…

Joseph Dana, a journalist based in Ramallah, published in The National this January 2, 2014

African refugees seeking asylum in Israel met with apathy

In the cool winter air, these African refugees appealed to an entire country to recognize their refugee status and stop viewing them as enemies.

The March for Freedom, as refugee advocates dubbed the protest in Tel Aviv, was part of a month-long campaign of non-violent protest in response to new government legislation authorizing their mass detention.

The legislation is compounded, or perhaps aided, by national apathy towards their plight. The apathy, however, is not born of simple xenophobia but something much deeper in Israel’s self-definition as a Jewish and democratic country.

African refugees seeking asylum in Israel met with apathy

The new year brings no respite for non-Jews fighting to be recognised and given their rights in the state of Israel. Joseph Dana reports on the struggle of African migrants in Tel Aviv and the Bedouin in the Negev threatened with expulsion.

Several thousand African asylum seekers who entered Israel illegally via Egypt staged a peaceful protest last month in Tel Aviv denouncing the refusal of the authorities to grant them refugee status, as well as holding several hundred in detention centres. Oren Ziv / AFP

An Israeli man shouts racist slogans at a group of  Sudanese refugees from the Darfur region as they arrive at a cultural centre in southern Tel Aviv last year. Marco Longari / AFPI

African asylum seekers at a protest last month in Tel Aviv protesting the refusal of the authorities to grant them refugee status. Oren Ziv / AFP

Police enter an internet cafe owned by Eritreans in Tel Aviv where an Israeli man allegedly stabbed three refugees. Police said they were initially treating the stabbings as a racist attack. Oren Ziv / AFP

Hundreds of Bedouin and activists protested and clashed with police in the northern Israeli city of Haifa in a ‘day of rage’ across Israel and Palestine during a demonstration in November against the Prawer Plan. Ahmad Gharabli / AFP

Israeli Bedouin flee as police fire tear gas during a protest in November against the Israeli government’s Prawer Plan, a redevelopment initiative that would uproot as many as 70,000 Bedouin from their villages and move them into new urban centres in the desert. Oren Ziv / Getty Images

African refugees seeking asylum in Israel met with apathy

As 2014 opens, Israel finds itself in the throes of an internal struggle over the identity of the state. The struggle can be summed up in one question: how can a country remain democratic when it favours the rights of one ethnic or religious group above all others?

Exacerbating this tension is the presence of non-Jewish citizens such as the Bedouin in the Negev desert and the non-Jewish refugees seeking asylum from Africa.

Despite the gravity of these issues, they have failed to penetrate Israel’s mainstream discourse, due in large part to the siege mentality that predicates conversations about Israel’s national security and position in the region.

Without mainstream debate, the government has been afforded room to facilitate aggressive “solutions” to the problems of non-Jews in Israel. The Bedouin, one of the most impoverished communities in Israel, are the target of an ambitious redevelopment scheme by the Israeli government that, opponents of the scheme say, will destroy the social fabric of the community and thrust them even deeper into poverty.

At the same time, African refugees are routinely rounded up and placed in massive detention centres without being charged with crimes.

The tension between democracy and ethnocracy – the inability to be at once a Jewish and a democratic state – is a major culprit in the unfolding crisis. Zionist leaders have long claimed that Israel would serve as a beacon to other nations.

As a western-style democracy on the edge of the Middle East, this imagined path for Israel has long been used for propaganda aimed at establishing the necessity of the state.

However, the reality of a state that privileges one set of citizens on religious and ethnic grounds belies the image the government has moulded with non-Jewish citizens, including African refugees and the Bedouin, at the sharp end.

In major Israeli cities such as Tel Aviv and Jerusalem, thousands of African refugees languish on the margins of society. For many, Israel was a natural choice for asylum, but the current reality is that most African refugees lead a parlous existence, working illegal jobs at exploitative wages with the ever-present threat of expulsion.

Jean-Luc, an undocumented refugee from the Democratic Republic of Congo, has lived in Tel Aviv for five years. Israel, he says, was a logical country to seek refuge in because of the Jewish state’s image as a country of refugees.

At a sidewalk cafe in south Tel Aviv, he recounted his experience walking across the Sinai and the feeling that he was following in the footsteps of the ancient Israelites reaching the Promised Land.

Despite his official status as an illegal migrant, Jean-Luc and other African migrants like him have created a strong community in Israel. Churches serve as the primary meeting place for the various diasporas, allowing them to recreate community institutions and maintain bonds that extend back to the homeland.

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Migrants fleeing Africa’s various conflicts began their journey into Israel with overland travel across Egypt’s Sinai Peninsula. In this lawless, inhospitable corner of Egypt, Bedouin smugglers move people from Cairo to the Israeli border. Tales of rape, torture and random shooting are not uncommon.

If they get through the Sinai, they are faced with entering Israel illegally, which is becoming increasingly more difficult due to a state-of-the-art barrier, which is nearing completion.

After cross-border violence between Israeli soldiers and Egyptian militants last summer, Israel took the questionable step of entering Sinai in order to arrest Africans suspected of entering the country on foot. The Israeli army is increasing its military presence along the Sinai border with the explicit intention of ending African migration and the strategy appears to be working as the numbers of refugees entering Israel has plummeted.

However, many Africans have already made the journey. There are an estimated 50,000 illegal migrants of African origin living in Israel, with the large majority (more than 60 per cent) from Eritrea. African asylum seekers join the roughly 180,000 mostly Asian migrant workers, who have been in Israel since the early 2000’s.

Since the founding of the state of Israel seven decades ago, less than 200 non-Jews have received political asylum. Given the well-documented crimes and violence of the Eritrean regime, the global recognition rate for Eritrean asylum is 84 per cent, while for Sudanese it’s 64 per cent.

Israel’s relationship with the African continent is a complex one. In the early part of the 1950s, the Israeli state invested heavily in sub-Saharan Africa, attempting to win support at the United Nations from newly independent African countries.

The relationship was marked by Israeli export of agricultural knowledge, water technology and, in some cases, military training, in exchange for United Nations support.

But the relationship went sour when Israel threw its hat in with the apartheid regime in South Africa. By the late 1960s, Israel began an elaborate and secretive relationship with South Africa marked by military collusion. In exchange for military equipment, expertise and assistance in circumventing international boycotts of apartheid South Africa, Israel received huge amounts of raw materials and cash throughout the late 1970s and 1980s.

This secret relationship ended Israel’s warm relations with many African states, who lent diplomatic support to the Palestine Liberation Organization.

It is a relationship that Israel would prefer to forget. While the Palestinians championed Nelson Mandela as one of their own, the Israeli prime minister Benjamin Netanyahu and president Shimon Peres declined an invitation to Mandela’s memorial in Johannesburg.

For Israelis, the presence of Africans is, in a word, unsettling.

While the Israeli government tends to extol the virtues of Israel’s humanitarian projects around the world from Haiti to the Philippines, the humanitarian situation at home is very different.

The Israeli government labels all African refugees, regardless of their intentions, as simply “enemy infiltrators”. Curiously, the legal foundation for the classification is similar – in spirit and language – to legislation from 1954, which labelled Palestinian refugees and militants returning to their land inside of newly minted Israeli state as “enemy infiltrators”.

If the mainstream press is any guide, the perception is that African migrants have come to work, to use state services and freeload off the Israeli system. In extreme cases, Africans are spoken about in terms unheard of in contemporary western discourse.

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For example, at a rally against Africans last summer in Tel Aviv, Israeli parliamentarian Miri Regev went as far as to label Africans a “cancer” on the Israeli body. A day later, Regev apologised for her remarks, but not to Africans.

She apologised to Israeli cancer patients for comparing them to Africans. But this is not straightforward racism. The root of the problem is found in the tension of Israel’s self-definition. More than 60 years since its founding, Israel remains unsure of how its description of itself as a Jewish and democratic state can co-exist with the stated desires of Zionists and the creation of a sustainable exclusivist state in historic Palestine.

To experience this tension, all one has to do is take a stroll in southern Tel Aviv. Before it gained its image as the heartland for East Asian migrant workers – kind of like Tel Aviv’s Chinatown – the area was a low-income part of the city known for its low municipality taxes in the neighbourhoods of Hatikva and Neve Sha’anan.

Both minutes from the central bus station, the area has long been home to Mizrahi Israelis – Jews from Arab countries.

Feeling neglected by the government and pinched by the ever-increasing cost of living, these residents took to the streets last year to protest what they consider to be an African takeover of south Tel Aviv.

The city wants to turn south Tel Aviv into a kind of Chinatown,” says Tel Aviv-based journalist and urban planner Jesse Fox. “The residents in these areas are being squeezed by the government, and anti-African anger is an outlet for their anger.”

Since May of 2012, violent outbreaks of anti-African sentiment have been quietly percolating here. In July, an Israeli man entered an internet cafe and stabbed three Eritreans. The attacks have even spread to Jerusalem, where two apartments belonging to Sudanese migrants were firebombed in the dead of night over the summer.

The attacks have continued over the past year and, instead of deterring future attacks – those apprehended have been handed light sentences such as community service – Israel is busy crafting unorthodox solutions to the problem to the refugee crisis.

According to published reports in leading Israeli newspapers such as the liberal daily Haaretz, Israel is attempting to send refugees to third countries in Africa, like Uganda, in exchange for agricultural expertise and military hardware.

Some Israeli politicians are also seizing upon the frustrations of residents in Tel Aviv. Eli Yishai, a former interior minister and a member of the right-wing religious party Shas, has been a leading voice behind the new wave of xenophobia.

In an interview with the Israeli daily Maariv, Yishai noted that “most of the people [immigrants] coming here are Muslims who think the land doesn’t belong to us, to the white man … the infiltrators, along with the Palestinians, will quickly bring us to the end of the Zionist dream.”

Last year, the Israeli parliament passed the Prevention of Infiltration Law that allows the state to detain refugees for up to three years without trial, a provision which can be renewed indefinitely after the initial three-year detention.

With an eye to the legal precedent this law would entrench, Israel’s parliament amended the legislation to allow for the creation of a new “open” facility where African refugees can be held indefinitely. The parliamentary amendment shortens the period of incarceration without trial from three years to one and regulates the operation of the new facility, which will be open during the day and closed at night.

Detention can still be renewed indefinitely. Those conscripted to the detention facility will not be permitted to work and will have to register three times a day with authorities. Additionally, they will not be permitted to leave the site from 10 in the evening until the following morning.

Fundamentally, nothing but semantics changed with the amendment, as the government can still hold refugees indefinitely, but under less strict conditions. However, the pressure placed on the parliament to make these domestic changes demonstrates that not all Israelis are in support of such harsh measures to cope with the refugee issue.

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For the refugees who took to the streets of Tel Aviv two weeks ago, the effect of the law and the parliamentary amendment was one and the same: the denial of recognition of their refugee status. For Israeli liberals who want the government to find an equitable solution to the refugee crisis, the parliamentary amendment was an attempt to confirm the health of Israel’s democratic institutions.

Far from the concrete of Tel Aviv, Israel’s Bedouin community is the target of an Israeli government plan to redevelop their land in the name of progress. Under the Prawer Plan, the redevelopment plan named after one of its primary architects, Ehud Prawer, as many as 70,000 Bedouins would be uprooted from their villages and moved into new urban centres in the desert.

The stated goal of the plan is development of Israel’s Negev desert, which has long occupied a special place in the Zionist vision for Israel as the undeveloped land that should be conquered, modernised and used as the foundation of the Jewish state.

The Bedouin villages slated for demolition are currently unrecognised by the state and thus have no legal recourse to the electricity and water infrastructure. While Bedouins claim to have lived on the land they occupy for at least 1,000  years, the nascent Israeli state in the 1950s was slow to recognise their land claims.

The result was a set of legal loopholes resulting from Israel’s selective application of Ottoman land law that allows the government to expropriate land without recognised titles for state use.

In practice, both in Israel and in the Occupied Palestinian Territories, land has been expropriated from non-Jewish Israeli citizens and subjects of Israel’s military regime for state, or exclusively Jewish Israeli, use.

For those Palestinian citizens of Israel and hard-left Israelis against the Prawer Plan, it is seen in the same light as the creation of Indian reservations in the United States. Last month, Israeli parliamentarian Miri Regev confirmed the comparison.

When asked by left-leaning MP Hanna Swaid in a parliamentary debate if she wanted to transfer the entire population of Bedouin in the Negev, Regev replied, “yes, as the Americans did to the Indians.”

“95% of the land in the Negev is Israeli-owned state land,” says Thabet Abu Rass of Adalah, a Palestinian legal NGO operating in Israel. “We are supporting development, but we are against unwanted development. Bedouins occupy less than one per cent of the total land in the Negev. The Bedouin should be treated as equal citizens, as individuals with rights.”

The Prawer Plan sparked mass protests by Palestinian citizens of Israel as well as Bedouin and Israeli Jewish leftists throughout Israel and the occupied Palestinian territories, prompting some commentators to forecast a new internal intifada on the horizon.

Photographs from the most recent mass mobilisation in late November, dubbed “the day of rage”, show heavily armed Israeli security forces firing tear gas at stone-throwing Bedouin protesters in the biggest clashes since the Second Intifada more than 13 years ago.

Mainstream Israeli media outlets carried the images, which looked as though they came from West Bank demonstrations against Israeli occupation. The message and how it was interpreted seems clear: a new front in Israel’s battle over what it means to be a Jewish and democratic state has opened.

Israeli officials have been quick to complain that Palestinians and segments of the Israeli left have tried to turn the Prawer Plan into a Palestinian issue and draw specific connections with the situation in the Occupied Palestinian Territories. While there might be a morsel of truth to this, one cannot deny that the Bedouin, who are citizens of Israel, are protesting the Prawer Plan using rights-based language.

For them, like the Palestinians living under Israeli military occupation, the issue is not about facile distinctions such as land or development.

“This is a continuation of the legal system that was designed in the 1950s to handle non-Jewish citizens of Israel,” said Suhad Bishara, the director of the Bedouin unit at Adalah.

“But to imagine that, in 2013, the government can relocate and uproot people in this manner is breathtaking. I am afraid to say that this will set a dangerous new legal precedent in the state of Israel.”

Page 5 of 5

In the middle of December, members of the Israeli parliament were shocked to learn that Bedouins had not been consulted about the Prawer Plan. In a letter to the Israeli parliament regarding the plan, its co-architect Benny Begin wrote: “I have never said to anyone that the Bedouin accept my plan.”

He couldn’t have made such a claim, he explained, because he never even presented the Bedouin community with his plan, “and therefore I could not have heard their reactions to it.”

In light of Begin’s remarks, some of Israel’s liberal elite voiced strong opposition to the plan in the country’s newspapers. It was simply unacceptable, some argued in Israeli dailies, that Bedouins were not consulted about a plan that would drastically change their life. Far from demonstrating concern for the rights of the Bedouin, the debate appeared to assuage the uncomfortable reality that Israel’s democratic institutions were not serving all of the country’s citizens.

For David Sheen, an Israeli filmmaker and writer who focuses on the situation of African refugees, the rare soul-searching that came from Begin’s Prawer Plan remarks underlines another crucial dichotomy in Israeli society.

“The main difference that I see in Israeli society concerning the situation of non-Jewish residents is one between liberals and humanists,” Sheen said from his home in the southern Israeli city of Dimona.

Israeli liberals, [who] occupy an oversized role in the public posturing of the country, don’t actually want to do the right thing when it comes to non-Jews in Israel. They don’t actually want Israel to be full-fledged democracy; they want to feel like they are doing the right thing.

“They don’t want scapegoats for our problems, but they are perfectly happy to have Africans carted off to desert ghettos.

While the current Prawer Plan is no longer, a new one will almost inevitably take its place. When the law allowing the indefinite detention of African asylum seekers failed, the Israeli parliament simply amended it, with the same effect.

Founded on a system of discriminatory laws, Israel has perfected a form of military government that completely deprives the rights of non-Jews.

While this once affected native Palestinians in the Occupied Territories and Israel, today the legal foundations of the state are designed to ensure the privileges of Jewish Israelis above all others – even in Tel Aviv and its southern edge, where African migrants, most legitimately seeking asylum, reveal the lie of a country neither ready – nor interested – to be a fully democratic state.

Joseph Dana is a journalist based in Ramallah.

 

 

Israeli racism on Video

Regular readers of The Electronic Intifada are familiar with the shocking and escalating racism in Israel against people from countries in Africa.

Our extensive coverage of the incitement and attacks on Africans, thanks in large part to the work of David Sheen, demonstrates that this phenomenon is not marginal, but is incited by Israel’s top political leadership.

When Israeli government ministers incite angry mobs, calling Africans “cancer,” they are simply expressing another face of the racism that Palestinians have always experienced.

Ali Abunimah posted on The Electronic Intifada this Oct. 18, 2013

Watch the video on Israeli racism The New York Times didn’t want you to see

The video was Solicited, then rejected by The New York Times

Yet rarely does this knowledge make it into mainstream media.

The example of the video above, Israel’s New Racism: The Persecution of African Migrants in the Holy Land, produced by David Sheen and Max Blumenthal, helps us to understand why.

Blumenthal explained to Consortium News how The New York Times commissioned the 11-minute video, but after the paper’s editors saw it, refused to publish it:

I was asked to submit something by The New York Times op docs, a new section on the website that published short video documentaries. I am known for short video documentaries about the right wing in the US, and extremism in Israel. They solicited a video from me, and when I didn’t produce it in time, they called me for it, saying they wanted it. So I sent them a video I produced with my colleague, David Sheen, an Israeli journalist who is covering the situation of non-Jewish Africans in Israel more extensively than any journalist in the world.

We put together some shocking footage of pogroms against African communities in Tel Aviv, and interviews with human rights activists. I thought it was a well-done documentary about a situation very few Americans were familiar with. We included analysis. We tailored it to their style, and of course it was rejected without an explanation after being solicited. I sent it to some other major websites and they have not even responded to me, when they had often solicited articles from me in the past.

Eventually, The Nation – which has also typically been quite timid in airing criticism of Israel – agreed to publish it.

While some of the footage in the video has already appeared on The Electronic Intifada, Sheen’s commentary is a good primer for those unfamiliar with the topic.

There is also a previously unseen interview with Michael Ben-Ari, one of Israel’s most notorious anti-African racists and a former member of Israel’s parliament, the Knesset.

Ben-Ari also has a long history of inciting racism and hatred against Palestinians and Christians.

In the same Consortium News interview Blumenthal, author of the bestselling and widely promoted 2009 book Republican Gomorrah, also spoke about the difficulty he has had getting any mainstream media attention for his new book Goliath: Life and Loathing in Greater Israel.

Just like this video, Blumenthal’s new book offers an unflinching look at the racist reality of Israel that America’s establishment media simply does not have the guts to confront.

Pnina Tamano-Shata, a Jewish Ethiopian woman who did her military service in Israel, is refused to give blood by Israel (Red Cross) Magen David Adom, on ground of special blood…

“J’ai 32 ans, je suis arrivée à l’âge de trois ans en Israël, j’ai effectué mon service militaire et j’ai deux enfants, il n’y aucune raison de me traiter de la sorte”, s’est indignée Pnina Tamano-Shata une députée noire juive israelienne d’origine éthiopienne .

Selon les directives du ministère de la Santé… “il n’est pas possible d’accepter le sang spécial d’origine juive éthiopienne” a declare le Magen David Adom, l’équivalent de la Croix Rouge israélienne…. à l’occasion d’une opération de don organisée dans l’enceinte du Parlement israelien…”

Another video on the same topic.

Read more: https://adonis49.wordpress.com/2012/05/30/anti-immigration-riots-hit-african-neighbourhood-of-tel-avivisrael/

Israel’s New Racism: The Persecution of African Migrants in the Holy Land

About 60,000 African migrants have arrived in Israel since 2006, fleeing unrest in their home countries. But upon arrival in the ostensibly democratic country, the migrants have faced intense persecution and have been branded as “infiltrators” by right-wing politicians and activists. –   October 19, 13


adonis49

adonis49

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