Adonis Diaries

Posts Tagged ‘Mark Regev

The accents of the Israeli team

For many, following all the ins and outs of the Israeli-Palestinian saga can be confusing.  Hamas did that, the Israeli army did that.

They started the war. No, they started the war.  They broke the ceasefire.  No, they broke the ceasefire.  Hummus belongs to them. No, it belongs to them.

It is all very overwhelming.  One thing is glaringly clear.

American journalists seem to have a much easier time having conversations with Israeli officials than they do with their Palestinian counterparts.  The reason is obvious.

All of Israel’s official mouthpieces speak perfect unaccented English.  And why wouldn’t they?  After all, they are not from Israel.


Amer Zahr published this August 6, 2014:

Zahr is a Palestinian American comedian, writer, and speaker living in Michigan. He is also the editor of “The Civil Arab.” Email Amer Zahr.

Here are the cast of characters acting as Israel’s cheerleaders to the American public.

1. Peter Lerner is the foreign press spokesperson for the Israel Defense Forces.  He was born in London in 1973.  He immigrated to Israel in 1985.

Hebrew, one of the two official languages of Israel (yes, Arabic is an official language too, because Israel is a democracy), is his second language.  You might have wondered why Peter Lerner sounds more like a spokesperson for the Queen than he does for Israel.  Why wouldn’t he? He is, after all, a foreigner in the land of Israel.


2. Dore Gold is a diplomat who has served in many Israeli governments.  He was once Israel’s ambassador to the United Nations.  He is currently the president of an Israeli think tank in Jerusalem.  He was born in Connecticut, attended high school in Massachusetts, and earned a BA, MA, and PhD from Columbia University in New York City.

He has appeared on television numerous times during Israel’s latest offensive defending and explaining the policies of the Netanyahu government.  As you might expect, his English is perfect.  Mr. Gold lives in Jerusalem.

He might even live in a house that once belonged to Palestinians:  trust me, in Jerusalem, it’s a safe bet.  You might have wondered why Dore Gold sounds like a Yankees fan.  Why wouldn’t he? He is, after all, a foreigner in the land of Israel.

3. Mark Regev is the official spokesman of the Netanyahu government.  In 1960, he was born in Australia, where he grew up and finished college.

He immigrated to Israel at the age of 22, when he began his graduate studies at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem.  He has remained in his adopted homeland ever since.  Hebrew is also his second language.

You might have wondered why the official Israeli spokesman sounds like Crocodile Dundee.  Why wouldn’t he? He is, after all, a foreigner in the land of Israel.

4. Michael Oren was most recently Israel’s ambassador to the United States.  He was born in upstate New York.  He earned his MA and PhD from Princeton University in New Jersey.  He immigrated to Israel in his mid-twenties. He has lectured at dozens of American campuses.

He articulately defends Israeli policies on American televisions across our great country.  Well, he is usually articulate, if you don’t count his recent interview on MSNBC when he suddenly (and quite conveniently) couldn’t hear Andrea Mitchell when she asked him about reports that Israel had eavesdropped on John Kerry last year.

But even when he flusters and fumbles, he speaks eloquent East Coast English.  You might have wondered why Michael Oren sounds like an American university professor.  Why wouldn’t he? He is, after all, a foreigner in the land of Israel.

5. Micky Rosenfeld is the Israeli police spokesperson to the foreign press.  He speaks English flawlessly.  That’s because he is English.  Yup, he was born in England and grew up there.  He is blond and blue-eyed.  There’s nothing wrong with that, of course.  He grew up with Duran Duran, the English Premiere League, and bland food.

The garlicky cuisine of his new homeland must have come as a bit of a shock to him.  You might have wondered why Micky Rosenfeld sounds like Piers Morgan.  Why wouldn’t he? He is, after all, a foreigner in the land of Israel.

6. Ron Dermer is Israel’s current ambassador to the United States of America. He has been all over CNN in recent weeks.  He attended the University of Pennsylvania before moving to Israel is his twenties.  He was born in 1971 in Miami Beach, where both his father and brother were once the mayor there.

He is one of Netanyahu’s closest advisers, writing many of his speeches, in English I assume.  He is highly educated, yet for some reason he still sounds obnoxious and rude during just about every interview.  You might have wondered why Ron Dermer sounds like a whiny kid from Florida. Why wouldn’t he? He is, after all, a foreigner in the land of Israel.


Now I don’t really mind that all of these Israeli messengers speak perfect English in American, Australian, and British accents.  However, I do mind that with all that Western education they still can’t pronounce “Hamas.”

They insist on continuing to say “Khamas.”  This is just offensive.  Hamas is already frightening enough with its crappy rockets, ancient rifles, and hooded militants.

Do they really have to add that chilling “kha” sound?

Do they do that with all “h” sounds?

It would make some nursery rhymes seem just downright scary.  “Khumpty Dumpty sat on a wall” just sounds alarming.  C’mon guys. It’s “Hamas,” like “happy.”  Just think that.  Hamas. Happy. Hamas. Happy. See, it works.

In any case, this is the cast of characters acting as Israel’s cheerleaders to the American public.

Justifying racial supremacy, ethnic cleansing, and indiscriminate bombing campaigns definitely sounds better when it’s done in an accent we can all relate to.

But I’m sure every American listening to them still wonders why all these Israelis sound like the next door neighbor.  Why wouldn’t they?  They are, after all, foreigners in the land of Israel.  Foreign colonist settlers.

Gaza back-story: Israel won’t be telling you

The Israelis of Sederot are coming under rocket fire from the Palestinians of Gaza?

Over 6,000 descendants of the Palestinians from Huj – now called Sederot – live in the squalor of Gaza. Israeli army had turned up at Huj on 31 May 1948 and expelled its inhabitants, never to return.

Living among the “terrorists” Israel is claiming to destroy and who are shooting at what was Huj.

The people who lived in Sederot in early 1948 were not Israelis, but Palestinian “Arabs”. Their village was called Huj.  Two years earlier in 1946, these same Arabs had actually hidden Jewish Haganah “terrorist” fighters from the British Army.

David Ben Gurion (Israel’s first Prime Minister) called the expulsion from Huj an “unjust and unjustified action”. Too bad. The Palestinians of Huj were never allowed back.

This is not just about the foul murder of three Israelis in the occupied West Bank.

Or the foul murder of burning alive a Palestinian in occupied East Jerusalem.

Nor about the arrest of many Hamas militants and politicians in the West Bank.  Nor about rockets.

As usual, in Israel objective it’s about land.

ROBERT FISK published this Wednesday 9 July 2014

The true Gaza back-story that the Israelis aren’t telling this week

A future Palestine state will have no borders and be an enclave within Israel, surrounded on all sides by Israeli-held territory

By this afternoon, the exchange rate of death in two days was 40-0 in favour of Israel. (This number increased to 60 dead and over 600 injured, mostly children and women, and over 60 houses destroyed by 400 jet attacks).

But now for the Gaza story you won’t be hearing from anyone else in the next few hours.

It’s about land.

The Israelis of Sederot are coming under rocket fire from the Palestinians of Gaza and now the Palestinians are getting their comeuppance. Sure. But wait, how come all those Palestinians – all 1.5 million – are crammed into Gaza in the first place? Well, their families once lived, didn’t they, in what is now called Israel? And got chucked out – or fled for their lives – when the Israeli state was created.

And – a drawing in of breath is now perhaps required – the people who lived in Sederot in early 1948 were not Israelis, but Palestinian Arabs. Their village was called Huj. Nor were they enemies of Israel. Two years earlier, these same Arabs had actually hidden Jewish Haganah fighters from the British Army.

But when the Israeli army turned up at Huj on 31 May 1948, they expelled all the Arab villagers – to the Gaza Strip! Refugees, they became. David Ben Gurion (Israel’s first Prime Minister) called it an “unjust and unjustified action”. Too bad. The  Palestinians of Huj were never allowed back.

And today, well over 6,000 descendants of the Palestinians from Huj – now Sederot – live in the squalor of Gaza, among the “terrorists” Israel is claiming to destroy and who are shooting at what was Huj. Interesting story.

And same again for Israel’s right to self-defence. We heard it again today.

What if the people of London were being rocketed like the people of Israel? Wouldn’t they strike back? Well yes, but we Brits don’t have more than a million former inhabitants of the UK cooped up in refugee camps over a few square miles around Hastings.

The last time this specious argument was used was in 2008, when Israel invaded Gaza and killed at least 1,100 Palestinians (exchange rate: 1,100 to 13). What if Dublin was under rocket attack, the Israeli ambassador asked then? But the UK town of Crossmaglen in Northern Ireland was under rocket attack from the Irish Republic in the 1970s – yet the RAF didn’t bomb Dublin in retaliation, killing Irish women and children.

In Canada in 2008, Israel’s supporters were making the same fraudulent point. What if the people of Vancouver or Toronto or Montreal were being rocket-attacked from the suburbs of their own cities? How would they feel? But the Canadians haven’t pushed the original inhabitants of Canadian territory into refugee camps.

And now let’s cross to the West Bank.

First of all, Benjamin Netanyahu said he couldn’t talk to Palestinian “President” Mahmoud Abbas because he didn’t also represent Hamas. Then when Abbas formed a unity government, Netanyahu said he couldn’t talk to Abbas because he had unified himself with the “terrorist” Hamas. Now he says he can only talk to him if he breaks with Hamas – even though he won’t then represent Hamas.

Meanwhile, that great leftist Israeli philosopher Uri Avnery – 90 years old and still, thankfully, going strong – has picked up on his country’s latest obsession: the danger that Isis will storm west from its Iraqi/Syrian “caliphate” and arrive on the east bank of the Jordan river.

“And Netanyahu said,” according to Avnery, “if they are not stopped by the permanent Israeli garrison there (on the Jordan river), they will appear at the gates of Tel Aviv.”

The truth, of course, is that the Israeli air force would have crushed Isis the moment it dared to cross the Jordanian border from Iraq or Syria.

The importance of this, however, is that if Israel keeps its army on the Jordan (to protect Israel from Isis), a future “Palestine” state will have no borders and will be an enclave within Israel, surrounded on all sides by Israeli-held territory.

“Much like the South African Bantustans,” says Avnery. In other words, no “viable” state of Palestine will ever exist. After all, aren’t Isis just the same as Hamas? Of course not.

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu (Getty Images)Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu (Getty Images)

But that’s not what we heard from Mark Regev, Netanyahu’s spokesman. No, what he told Al Jazeera was that Hamas was “an extremist terrorist organisation not very different from Isis in Iraq, Hezbollah in Lebanon, Boko Haram…” Tosh.

Hezbollah is a Shia militia now fighting to the death inside Syria against the Sunni Muslims of Isis. And Boko Haram – thousands of kilometres from Israel – is not a threat to Tel Aviv.

But you get the point. The Palestinians of Gaza – and please forget, forever, the 6,000 Palestinians whose families come from the land of Sederot – are allied to the tens of thousands of Islamists threatening Maliki of Baghdad, Assad of Damascus or President Goodluck Jonathan in Abuja.

Even more to the point, if Isis is heading towards the edge of the West Bank, why is the Israeli government still building colonies there – illegally, and on Arab land – for Israeli civilians?

This is not just about the foul murder of three Israelis in the occupied West Bank or the foul murder of a Palestinian in occupied East Jerusalem. Nor about the arrest of many Hamas militants and politicians in the West Bank.  Nor about rockets. As usual, it’s about land.

Note 1: Do you care to refresh your memory on the Timeline of the attack on Gaza in 2012?

Note 2: Same lousy and murderous reasons that the western nations are extending Israel to resume its carnage, as in 2008 and 2012. Will anything change in humanity?


Palestinian refugees fleeing during the Nakba/Desolation (1948), and Israel’s prison regime

Israeli government spokesman Mark Regev would have us believe that Israel willingly and graciously conceded the demands of 2,000 hunger-striking Palestinian prisoners in the name of peace, and as an act of good faith towards Palestinian Authority president Mahmoud Abbas. But neither Abbas nor the Israeli government could have contained the ensuing uproar had any of the prisoners died.

Palestinian refugees fleeing during the Nakba

Photo on the left below: A Palestinian police officer carries a wounded girl from the site of a terrorist attack in Jerusalem, 29 December 1947. Militants from the Irgun Zionist group threw a bomb into a bus in the Palestinian residential quarter outside Herod’s Gate, killing 17 Palestinian civilians

Photo 2: A Palestinian police officer carries a wounded girl into the emergency room at Shifa hospital in Gaza City, 27 December 2008. Israeli warplanes pounded dozens of targets across the Gaza Strip in unprecedented waves of air strikes Saturday, killing at least 155 and wounding more than 310.

In the “only democracy in the Middle East” (Israel) police arrest three for reading a list of Palestinian villages destroyed in the Nakba
Safa Joudeh of The Electronic Intifada posted on May 18, 2012 “Israel’s prison regime can no longer go unnoticed”:
“It was only in the last 10 days of the month-long mass hunger strike (four prisoners had passed the 75-day mark, 7 prisoners had passed 50 days) that it gained visible media coverage. Israeli officials were quick to invoke security grounds.

In an interview with CNN on 7 May, Regev said: “These groups have put suicide on a pedestal and now I’m afraid they’ll kill themselves to instigate more violence.”

“These groups” are Palestinians, young and old, from an array of different backgrounds, arrested from their homes and at checkpoints: students, sportsmen, engineers, journalists, health workers. For weeks they fasted, their flesh consumed by their own bodies, nervous systems shutting down, organs giving way. They were denied family visits, placed in solitary confinement, some reportedly beaten in prison hospital, emaciated limbs shackled to their beds, teetering on the brink of death.

A struggle reduced by Regev to a ploy meant to instigate reprisal.

The Israeli Prison Service eventually approved the prisoners demands — basic rights they were owed under international law and conventions — including an end to the policy of administrative detention, ending solitary confinement, and allowing family visits.

Israel’s “Guantanamo Bay” policies

“This hard-won victory however, is only the tip of the iceberg. The deeper issue of contention lies in the adjudication process employed by Israeli forces towards Palestinian prisoners, which mirrors that of the US State Department toward Guantanamo Bay detainees.

Under Military Order 378, the Israeli military courts are granted extraordinary powers over Palestinians in the occupied West Bank and Gaza Strip and even outside them, criminalizing many aspects of ordinary life. Basic guarantees for due process and a fair trial, the right to call witnesses and not to self-incriminate, required by international law are absent, and a detainee is effectively deemed guilty unless proven innocent — in a system with a near 100 percent conviction rate. These and many other documented abuses are in no way exceptional. They are the norm in a system where all the judges and prosecutors are officers of the Israeli army and all the defendants are Palestinians (see “Presumed Guilty: Failures of the Israeli Military Court System: An International Law Perspective,” Addameer, November 2009).

Those are issues that concern Palestinians who are actually “charged” and “tried.” On top of this there are the hundreds of so-called “administrative detainees,” who are held without charge or trial based on “secret evidence” which is kept from the detainees and their lawyers.

Israel refuses to recognize Palestinians as prisoners of war, denying them the protection of the Third Geneva Convention, to which Israel is a signatory, while in some cases using the “Unlawful Combatant law” to detain Palestinians indefinitely under administrative detention.

This follows the example of George W. Bush, who afforded the legal status of “Illegal Enemy Combatants” to Guantanamo Bay detainees.

And lastly, thousands of cases of torture, using internationally banned methods, have been recorded by Palestinian, Israeli and international human right organizations over the years.

This includes sleep and sensory deprivation, subjection to extreme heat and cold, food and drink deprivation, solitary confinement that can last for years, various forms of physical suffering including breaking bones and electrocution, sexual assault, and strappado, a medieval technique revived by Israeli security agents, known as “Palestinian security hanging” in modern-day terms. This method involves tying detainees’ hands behind their backs and hanging them from their bound hands for hours or even days, causing excruciating pain, dislocated joints and the feeling that their body is being pulled apart.

Systematic violations of Palestinian rights

Nearly two hundred] Palestinian prisoners have died in Israeli jails since 1967 due to torture and mistreatment, an average of approximately four prisoners each year. Thousands have suffered illness and debilitating conditions over the years (“On the occasion of Palestinian Prisoners’ Day, PCHR issues a report on Palestinian prisoners in Israeli jails,” PCHR, 17 April 2006).

Systematic violations of Palestinian prisoners’ rights have been explained away in the past in the same way as they were during the hunger strike. Again, Mark Regev was quoted by the Associated Press as saying:

“This strike is being led by hardcore Hamas and Islamic Jihad, the leaders of this strike are people who’ve been directly responsible for brutal acts of terror against innocent civilians, people who have blown up people in pizza parlors, in coffee shops, on school buses.”

What a characteristically misleading statement. In reality only 5 percent of indictments of Palestinians in Israeli courts are for causing or attempting to cause death — less than the percentage of indictments of Palestinian prisoners for traffic offences (incidentally, many of which are treated as threats to Israeli security according to military order 378, Section VI) (“Presumed Guilty: Failures of the Israeli military court system (Page 9), Addameer, November 2009).

Another Israeli prime minister spokesperson, Ofir Gendelman, stated on Twitter: “6 of the 1600 prisoners on hunger strike are administrative detainees, the rest were tried and convicted of terrorism.”

Also a misleading statement, taking into account the nature of terrorism offenses as defined by Israeli military orders, which constitute Israel’s legal basis for its control over the West Bank and Gaza Strip.

Israel has drafted numerous military orders pertaining to the detention and prosecution of Palestinian prisoners.

For example, military order 101 states that attending protests, waving flags without a permit, sitting in a cafe if the Israeli military commander has ordered it closed, displaying political symbols, printing and distributing material “of political significance,” assembly of ten or more Palestinian political characters without a permit from Israel, and attempting to influence political opinion (deemed political incitement), are some of the offenses considered “Hostile Terrorist Activity.”

Political parties, those under the Palestine Liberation Organization, with which Israel signed a peace deal in 1993, and others, are illegal. It is an act of terror to associate with members of “illegal” parties. It is illegal to invite them into your home, be present at their functions, be in possession of their literature, et cetera. Israel currently holds 27 “democratically-elected” Palestinian members of parliament in administrative detention, among thousands of activists and political figures.

Section 3 of military order 378 criminalizes affiliation to any group any of whose members committed or plans to commit a security offense. Moreover, so much as talking to someone Israel merely suspects could be its enemy, immediate relatives included, is a crime.

Another clause states that an Israeli soldier can order any town person or villager to remove obstructions in the road, including nails and glass. It is a criminal offense to refuse.

This order also allows Israel to prosecute Palestinians who commit offenses inside the West Bank and Gaza Strip..

Military order 1650 criminalizes what is defined as “infiltration,” which includes the presence of Palestinians from the Gaza Strip in the West Bank without an Israeli-issued permit, including those born in the West Bank but have a registered address in Gaza. The culprit can face up to twenty years in jail.

Given the wide range of Palestinian political, civic, cultural and social activities criminalized by Israeli military orders, it makes sense that 90 percent out of all Palestinian prisoners who are charged are convicted.

No longer going unnoticed

In his CNN interview, Israeli spokesperson Mark Regev said, “Israel gives our prisoners treatment above and beyond what international standards demands we give, if you look at some of their demands it is really for the extras above and beyond what international law requires.”

This statement bears no semblance to the truth. Denial of the appalling conditions of imprisonment endured by Palestinians, and reported by organizations such as the International Committee of the Red Cross, raises doubts concerning Israel’s commitment to improving these conditions as stipulated by the prisoners’ agreement.

Israel’s military “justice” system further propagates the definition of what Palestinian right should be, according to parameters and rhetoric that have proved time and again to be fabricated and no longer relevant.

Lucky enough, Israel’s unjust treatment of Palestinian prisoners is no longer going unnoticed.

Note: Safa Joudeh is a freelance broadcast journalist and writer from the Gaza Strip, reporting from Gaza and Egypt. Follow her on Twitter (@SafaJoudeh).




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