Category Archives: Zionism

Jerusalem protests: The mob “breaking faces” learned from Israel’s establishment

Inside the Israeli parliament and out on the streets of Jerusalem, the forces of unapologetic Jewish supremacism are stirring, as a growing section of Israel’s youth tire of the two-faced Jewish nationalism that has held sway in Israel for decades.

Last week, Bezalel Smotrich, leader of the far-right Religious Zionism faction, a vital partner if caretaker Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu stands any hope of forming a new government, issued a barely veiled threat to Israel’s large Palestinian minority.

Expulsion, he suggested, was looming for these 1.8 million Palestinians, a fifth of the Israeli population who enjoy very degraded citizenship. “Arabs are citizens of Israel – for now at least,” he told his party. “And they have representatives at the Knesset [Israeli parliament] – for now at least.” For good measure, he referred to Palestinian legislators – the elected representatives of Israel’s Palestinian minority – as “our enemies sitting in the Knesset”.

Smotrich’s brand of brazen Jewish racism is on the rise, after his faction won six mandates in the 120-member parliament in March. One of those seats is for Itamar Ben Gvir, head of the neo-fascist Jewish Power party.

Ben Gvir’s supporters are now in a bullish mood. Last month, they took to the streets around the occupied Old City of Jerusalem, chanting “Death to Arabs” and making good on promises in WhatsApp chats to attack Palestinians and “break their faces”.

For days, these Jewish gangs of mostly youngsters have brought the lawless violence that has long reigned largely out of sight in the hills of the occupied West Bank into central Jerusalem. This time, their attacks haven’t been captured in shaky, out-of-focus YouTube videos. They have been shown on prime-time Israeli TV.

Equally significant, these Jewish mobs have carried out their rampages during Ramadan, the Muslim holy month of fasting.

Arson attacks

The visibility and premeditation of this gang violence has discomfited many Israelis. But in the process, they have been given a close-up view of how appealing the violent, anti-Arab doctrines of the late Rabbi Meir Kahane – the ideological inspiration behind Jewish Power – are proving with a significant section of young Jews in Israel.

One, sporting a “Kahane was right” badge, spoke for her peers as she was questioned on Israeli TV about the noisy chants of “May your village burn down” – a reference to so-called “price-tag” arson attacks committed by the Israeli far-right against Palestinian communities in the occupied territories and inside Israel.

Olive groves, mosques, cars and homes are regularly torched by these Jewish extremists, who claim Palestinian lands as their exclusive biblical birthright.

The woman responded in terms she obviously thought conciliatory: “I don’t say that it [a Palestinian village] should burn down, but that you should leave the village and we’ll go live in it.”

She and others now sound impatient to bring forward the day when Palestinians must “leave”.

Machinery of oppression

These sentiments – in the parliament and out on the streets – have not emerged out of nowhere. They are as old as Zionism itself, when Israel’s first leaders oversaw the ethnic cleansing of Palestinians from most of their homeland in 1948, in an act of mass dispossession Palestinians called their Nakba (catastrophe).

Violence to remove Palestinians has continued to be at the core of the Jewish state-building project ever since. The rationale for the gangs beating up Palestinians in occupied East Jerusalem are the actions pursued more bureaucratically by the Israeli state: its security forces, occupation administrators and courts.

Last week, that machinery of oppression came under detailed scrutiny in a 213-page report from Human Rights Watch. The leading international human rights group declared that Israel was committing the crime of apartheid, as set out in international law.

It argued that Israel had met the three conditions of apartheid in the Rome Statute: the domination of one racial group over another, systematic oppression of the marginalised group, and inhumane acts. Those acts include forcible transfer, expropriation of landed property, the creation of separate reserves and ghettos, denial of the right to leave and return to their country, and denial of the right to a nationality.

Only one such act is needed to qualify as the crime of apartheid but, as Human Rights Watch makes clear, Israel is guilty of them all.

Dragged out of bed

What Human Rights Watch and other human rights groups have been documenting is equally visible to the gangs roaming Jerusalem. Israel’s official actions share a common purpose, one that sends a clear message to these youngsters about what the state – and Israel’s national ideology of Zionism – aims to achieve.

They see Palestinian land reclassified as Jewish “state land” and the constant expansion of settlements that violate international law. They see Palestinians denied permits to build homes in their own villages. They see orders issued to demolish Palestinian homes, or even entire communities. And they see Palestinian families torn apart as couples, or their children, are refused the right to live together.

Meanwhile, Israeli soldiers shoot Palestinians with impunity, and drag Palestinian children out of bed in the middle of the night. They man checkpoints throughout the occupied West Bank, restricting the movement of Palestinians. They fire on, or “arrest”, Palestinians trying to seek work outside the closed-off ghettos Israel has imposed on them. And soldiers stand guard, or assist, as settlers run amok, attacking Palestinians in their homes and fields.

All of this is invariably rubber-stamped as “legal” by the Israeli courts. Is it any surprise, then, that growing numbers of Israeli teenagers question why all these military, legal and administrative formalities are really necessary? Why not just beat up Palestinians and “break their faces” until they get the message that they must leave?

Uppity natives

The battlefront in Jerusalem in recent days – characterised misleadingly in most media as the site of “clashes” – has been the sunken plaza in front of Damascus Gate, a major entrance to the walled Old City and the Muslim and Christian holy places that lie within.

The gate is possibly the last prominent public space Palestinians can still claim as theirs in central Jerusalem, after decades in which Israeli occupation authorities have gradually encircled and besieged their neighbourhoods, severing them from the Old City. During Ramadan, Damascus Gate serves as a popular communal site for Palestinians to congregate in the evenings after the daytime fast.

It was Israeli police who triggered the current explosive mood in Jerusalem by erecting barriers at Damascus Gate to seal the area off at the start of Ramadan. The pretext was to prevent overcrowding, but – given their long experience of occupation – Palestinians understood the barriers as another “temporary” measure that quickly becomes permanent, making it ever harder for them to access the Old City and their holy sites. Other major gates to the occupied Old City have already been effectively “Judaised”.

The decision of Israeli police to erect barriers cannot be divorced from a bigger context for Palestinians: the continuing efforts by Israeli authorities to evict them from areas around the Old City. In recent weeks, fresh waves of armed Jewish settlers have been moving into Silwan, a Palestinian community in the shadow of al-Aqsa Mosque. They have done so as Israel prepares to raze an entire Palestinian neighbourhood there, using its absolute control over planning issues.

Similarly, the Israeli courts have approved the eviction of Palestinians in Sheikh Jarrah, another neighbourhood under belligerent occupation close to the Old City that has been subjected to a long-running, state-backed campaign by Jewish settlers to take it over. Last month, Jerusalem officials added insult to injury by approving a plan to build a memorial to fallen Israeli soldiers in the midst of the Palestinian community.

The decision to close off the Damascus Gate area was therefore bound to provoke resistance from Palestinians, who fought police to take down the barriers. Police responded with tear gas, stun grenades and water cannon.

Those scenes – of uppity natives refusing to be disappeared back into their homes – were part of the trigger that brought the Jewish gangs out onto the streets in a show of force. Police largely let the mob rampage, as youths threw stones and bottles and attacked Palestinians.

Tired of half measures

The sight of Jewish gangs roaming central Jerusalem to hurt Palestinians has been described as a “pogrom” by some progressive US Jewish groups. But the difference between the far-right and the Israeli state in implementing their respective violent agendas is more apparent than real.

Smotrich, Ben Gvir and these street gangs are tired of the half-measures, procrastination and moral posturing by Israeli elites who have hampered efforts to “finish the job”: clearing the native Palestinian population off their lands once and for all.

Whereas Israeli politicians on the left and right have rationalised their ugly, racist actions on the pretext of catch-all “security” measures, the far-right has no need for the international community’s approval. They are impatient for a conclusion to more than seven decades of ethnic cleansing.

And the ranks of the far-right are likely to swell further as it attracts ever-larger numbers of a new generation of the ultra-Orthodox community, the fastest-growing section of Israel’s Jewish population. For the first time, nationalist youths from the Haredi community are turning their backs on a more cautious rabbinical leadership.

And while the violence in Jerusalem has subsided for the moment, the worst is unlikely to be over. The final days of Ramadan coincide this year with the notorious Jerusalem Day parade, an annual ritual in which Jewish ultra-nationalists march through the besieged Palestinian streets of the Old City chanting threats to Palestinians and attacking any who dare to venture out.

Turning a blind eye

Human Rights Watch’s detailed report concludes that western states, by turning a blind eye to Israel’s long-standing abuses of Palestinians and focusing instead on a non-existent peace process, have allowed “apartheid to metastasize and consolidate”.

Its findings echo those of B’Tselem, Israel’s most respected human rights organisation. In January, it too declared Israel to be an apartheid regime in the occupied territories and inside Israel, towards its own Palestinian citizens.

Despite the reluctance of US and European politicians and media to talk about Israel in these terms, a new survey by B’Tselem shows that one in four Israeli Jews accept “apartheid” as an accurate description of Israel’s rule over Palestinians. What is far less clear is how many of them believe apartheid, in the Israeli context, is a good thing.

Another finding in the survey offers a clue. When asked about recent talk from Israeli leaders about annexing the West Bank, two-thirds of Israeli Jews reject the idea that Jews and Palestinians should have equal rights in those circumstances.

The mob in Jerusalem is happy to enforce Israel’s apartheid now, in hopes of speeding up the process of expulsion. Other Israelis are still in denial. They prefer to pretend that apartheid has not yet arrived, in hopes of easing their consciences a little longer.

• First published in Middle East Eye

The post Jerusalem protests: The mob “breaking faces” learned from Israel’s establishment first appeared on Dissident Voice.

Recognition of Palestine is ‘Symbolic’ but also Critical: The Australian Case

Australia’s Labor Party’s recognition of Palestine as a State on March 30 is a welcomed position, though it comes with many caveats.

Pro-Palestinian activists are justified to question the sincerity of the ALP’s stance and whether Australia’s Labor is genuinely prepared to fully adopt this position should they form a government following the 2022 elections.

The language of the amendment regarding the recognition of Palestine is quite indecisive. While it commits the ALP to recognize Palestine as a State, it “expects that this issue will be an important priority for the next Labor government”. ‘Expecting’ that the issue would be made an ‘important priority’ is not the same as confirming that the recognition of Palestine is resolved, should Labor take office.

Moreover, the matter has been an ‘important priority’ for the ALP for years. In fact, similar language was adopted in the closing session of the Labor conference in December 2018, which supported “the recognition and right of Israel and Palestine to exist as two states within secure and recognized borders,” while adding this important clause: The ALP “calls on the next Labor government to recognize Palestine as a State”.

Unfortunately for Labor, they lost the May 2019 elections, where the Liberal Party maintained the majority, again forming a government under the leadership of Scott Morrison.

Morrison was the Prime Minister of Australia when, in 2018, the ALP adopted what was clearly a policy shift on Palestine. In fact, it was Morrison’s regressive position on Israel that supposedly compelled Labor to develop a seemingly progressive position on Palestine. Nine days after former US President, Donald Trump, defied international law by officially recognizing Jerusalem as the capital of Israel – and subsequently relocating the US embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem – Morrison flirted with the idea as well, hoping to enlist the support of the pro-Israel lobbies in Australia prior to the elections.

However, Morrison did not go as far as Trump, by refraining from moving his country’s embassy to the occupied city. Instead, he developed a precarious – albeit still illegal – position where he recognized West Jerusalem as Israel’s capital, promising to move his country’s “embassy to West Jerusalem when practical, in support of, and after, final-status determination.”

Canberra, however, did take ‘practical’ steps, including a decision to establish a defense and trade office in Jerusalem and proceeded to look for a site for its future embassy.

Morrison’s self-serving strategy remains a political embarrassment for Australia, as it drew the country closer to Trump’s illegal, anti-Palestinian stance. While the vast majority of United Nations member states maintained a unified position regarding the illegality of the Israeli occupation of Palestine, asserting that the status of Jerusalem can only be determined based on a negotiated agreement, the Australian government thought otherwise.

As Palestinians, Arabs and other nations mobilized against Australia’s new position, the ALP came under pressure to balance out the Liberal party’s agenda, seen as blindly supportive of military occupation and apartheid.

Since the ALP lost the elections, their new policy on Palestine could not be evaluated. Now, according to their latest policy conference conclusion, this same position has been reiterated, although with some leeway, that could potentially allow Labor to reverse or delay that position, once they are in power.

Nonetheless, the Labor position is an important step for Palestinians in their ‘legitimacy war’ against the Israeli occupation.

In a recent interview with Professor Richard Falk, former UN Special Rapporteur on the situation of human rights in the Palestinian territories, the international law expert explained the need to “distinguish symbolic politics from substantive politics”.

“In the colonial wars that were fought after 1945, the side that won usually was the side that won what I call the legitimacy war, which is the ‘symbolic battlefield’, so to speak, and maintain the principled position that was in accord with the anti-colonial flow of history,” Falk said.

Practically, this means that, often, the militarily weaker side which may lose numerous military battles could ultimately win the war. This was as true in the case of Vietnam in 1975 as it was in South Africa in 1994. It should also be true in the case of Palestine.

This is precisely why pro-Israeli politicians, media pundits and organizations are fuming in response to the ALP’s recognition of Palestine. Among the numerous angry responses, the most expressive is the position of Michael Danby. He was quoted by Australian Jewish News website as saying that ALP leaders, Anthony Albanese and Richard Marles, have done more than adopting the pro-Palestinian position of former British Labor leader, Jeremy Corbyn, by also adopting “his Stalinist methods by suppressing debate on the foreign policy motions”.

Israel and its supporters fully understand the significance of Falk’s ‘legitimacy war’. Indeed, Israel’s military superiority and complete dominance over occupied Palestinians may allow it to sustain its military occupation on the ground a while longer, but it does very little to advance its moral position, reputation and legitimacy.

The fact that ALP’s position advocates a two-state solution – which is neither just nor practical – should not detract from the fact that the recognition of Palestine is still a stance that can be utilized in the Palestinian quest for legitimizing their struggle and delegitimizing Israel’s apartheid.

Falk’s theory on ‘substantive politics’ and ‘symbolic politics’ applies here, too. While calling for defunct two-states is part of the substantive politics that is necessitated by international consensus, the symbolism of recognizing Palestine is a crucial step in dismantling Israel’s monopoly over the agenda of the West’s political elites. It is an outright defeat of the efforts of pro-Israeli lobbies.

Politicians, anywhere, cannot possibly win the legitimacy war for Palestinians, or any other oppressed nation. It is the responsibility of the Palestinians and their supporters to impose their moral agenda on the often self-serving politicians so that the symbolic politics may someday become substantive. The ALP recognition of Palestine is, for now, mere symbolism. If utilized correctly, through pressure, advocacy and mobilization, it could turn into something meaningful in the future.  This is not the responsibility of Labor, but of Palestinians themselves.

The post Recognition of Palestine is ‘Symbolic’ but also Critical: The Australian Case first appeared on Dissident Voice.

Israel Rejects ICC Investigation: What Are the Possible Future Scenarios?

The Israeli government’s position regarding an impending investigation by the International Criminal Court of alleged war crimes committed in occupied Palestine has been finally declared by Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu.

“It will be made clear that Israel is a country with rule of law that knows how to investigate itself,” Netanyahu said in a statement on April 8. Subsequently, Israel “completely rejects” any accusations that it has committed war crimes.

But it won’t be so easy for Tel Aviv this time around. True, Israel is not a party to the Rome Statute, according to which the ICC was established, but it can still be held accountable, because the State of Palestine is a member of the ICC.

Palestine joined the ICC in 2015, and the alleged war crimes, which are under investigation, have taken place on Palestinian soil. This grants the ICC direct jurisdiction, even if war crimes were committed by a non-ICC party. Still, accountability for these war crimes is not guaranteed. So, what are the possible future scenarios?

But first, some context …

‘Blatant Impunity’

On March 22, the Palestinian Ambassador to the United Nations, Riyad Mansour, declared that “the time has come to stop Israel’s blatant impunity”. His remarks were included in a letter sent to the UN Secretary-General, Antonio Guterres, and other top officials at the international body.

There is modest – albeit cautious – optimism among Palestinians that Israeli officials could potentially be held accountable for war crimes and other human rights violations in Palestine. The reason behind this optimism is a recent decision by ICC to pursue its investigation of alleged war crimes committed in the occupied Palestinian territories.

Mansour’s letter was written with this context in mind. Other Palestinian officials, such as Foreign Minister, Riyad al-Maliki, are also pushing in this direction. He, too, wants to see an end to Israel’s lack of accountability.

Till Netanyahu’s official position, the Israeli response has been most predictable. On March 20, Israeli authorities decided to revoke Al-Maliki’s special travel permit in order to prevent him from pursuing Palestinian diplomacy that aims at ensuring the continuation of the ICC investigation. Al-Maliki had, in fact, just returned from a trip to The Hague, where the ICC is headquartered.

Furthermore, Israel is openly attempting to intimidate the Palestinian Authority in Ramallah to discontinue its cooperation with the ICC, as can be easily gleaned from the official Israeli discourse. “The Palestinian leadership has to understand there are consequences for their actions,” an Israeli official told The Jerusalem Post on March 21.

Despite years of legal haggling and intense pressure on the ICC’s outgoing Chief Prosecutor, Fatou Bensouda, to scrap the investigation altogether, the legal proceedings have carried on, unhindered. The pressure was displayed in various forms: direct defamation by Israel, as in accusing the ICC of anti-Semitism; unprecedented American sanctions on ICC officials and constant meddling and intervention, on Israel’s behalf, by member states that are part of the ICC, and who are described as amici curiae.

They did not succeed. On April 30, 2020, Bensouda consulted with the Court’s Pre-trial Chamber regarding whether the ICC had jurisdiction over the matter. Ten months later, the Chamber answered in the affirmative. Subsequently, the Prosecutor decided to formally open the investigation.

On March 9, a spokesman for the Court revealed that, in accordance with Article 18 in the Rome Statute, notification letters were sent by the Prosecutor’s office to ‘all parties concerned’, including the Israeli Government and the Palestinian leadership, notifying them of the war crimes probe and allowing them only one month to seek deferral of the investigation.

Expectedly, Israel remains defiant. However, unlike its obstinacy in response to previous international attempts at investigating war crimes allegations in Palestine, the Israeli response, this time, appears confused and uncertain. On the one hand, Israeli media revealed last July that Netanyahu’s government has prepared a long list of likely Israeli suspects, whose conduct can potentially be investigated by the ICC. Still, the official Israeli response can only be described as dismissive of the matter as being superfluous, insisting that Israel will not, in any way, cooperate with ICC investigators.

Though the Israeli government continues to maintain its official position that the ICC has no jurisdiction over Israel and occupied Palestine, top Israeli officials and diplomats are moving quickly to block what now seems to be an imminent probe. For example, Israeli President, Reuven Rivlin, was on an official visit to Germany where he, on March 18, met with his German counterpart Frank-Walter Steinmeier, thanking him on behalf of Israel for opposing the ICC’s investigation of Israeli officials.

After lashing out at the Palestinian leadership for attempting to “legalize” the conflict, through an international investigation, Rivlin renewed Israel’s “trust that our European friends will stand by us in the important fight on the misuse of the International Criminal Court against our soldiers and civilians.”

Unlike previous attempts at investigating Israeli war crimes, for example, the Jenin massacre in the West Bank in 2002, and the various investigations of several Israeli wars on Gaza starting in 2008-09, the forthcoming ICC investigation is different. For one, the ICC investigation targets individuals, not states, and can issue arrest warrants, making it legally incumbent on all other ICC members to enforce the Court’s decisions.

Now that all attempts at dissuading the Court from pursuing the matter have failed, the question must be asked: What are the possible future scenarios?

The Next Step

In the case that the investigation carries on as planned, the Prosecutor’s next step would be to identify suspects and alleged perpetrators of war crimes. Dr. Triestino Mariniello, member of the legal team that represents the Gaza victims, told me that once these suspects have been determined, “the Prosecutor will ask the Pre-trial chamber to issue either arrest warrants or subpoena, at least in relation to the crimes already included in the investigation so far.”

These alleged war crimes already include Israel’s illegal Jewish settlements, the Israeli war on Gaza in 2014 and Israel’s targeting of unarmed civilian protesters during Gaza’s Great March of Return, starting in 2018.

Even more ideally, the Court could potentially widen the scope of the investigation, which is a major demand for the representatives of the Palestinian victims.

“We expect more crimes to be included: especially, apartheid as a crime against humanity and crimes against Palestinian prisoners by Israeli authorities, especially torture,” according to Dr. Mariniello.

In essence, this means that, even after the investigation is officially underway, the Palestine legal team can continue its advocacy to expand the scope of the investigation and to cover as much legal ground as possible.

‘Narrow Scope’ 

However, judging from previous historic experiences, ideal scenarios in cases where Israel was investigated for war crimes rarely transpired. A less than ideal scenario would be for the scope of the investigation to remain narrow.

In a recent interview with former UN Special Rapporteur on the situation of human rights in Occupied Palestinian Territories, Professor Richard Falk, he told me that even if the narrow scope remains in effect – thus reducing the chances of all victims seeing justice – the investigation is still a “breakthrough”.

The reason why the investigation may not be broadened has less to do with justice and much to do with politics. “The scope of the investigation is something that is ill-defined, so it is a matter of political discretion,” Professor Falk said.

In other words, “the Court takes a position that needs to be cautious about delimiting its jurisdiction and, therefore, it tries to narrow the scope of what it is prepared to investigate.”

Professor Falk does not agree with that view but, according to the seasoned international law expert, “it does represent the fact that the ICC, like the UN itself, is subject to immense geopolitical pressure.”

Still, “it’s a breakthrough even to consider the investigation, let alone the indictment and the prosecution of either Israelis or Americans that was put on the agenda of the ICC, which led to a pushback by these governments.”

Israel’s Missed Opportunity

While the two above scenarios are suitable for Palestinians, they are a non-starter as far as the Israeli government is concerned, as indicated in Netanyahu’s recent statement in which he rejected the investigation altogether. According to some pro-Israeli international law experts, Netanyahu’s decision would represent a missed opportunity.

Writing in the Israeli newspaper, Haaretz, international law expert Nick Kaufman had advises Israel to cooperate, only for the sake of obtaining a “deferral” from the Court and to use the ensuing delay for political maneuvering.

“It would be unfortunate for Israel to miss the opportunity of deferral which could provide the ideal excuse for reinitiating peace talks with the Palestinians,” he wrote, warning that “if Israel squanders such an opportunity it should come as no surprise if, at a later date, the Court will hint that the government has no one but itself to blame for the export of the judicial process to The Hague.”

There are other scenarios, such as even more intense pressures on the Court as a result of ongoing discussions between Israel and its benefactors, whether in Washington or among the amici curiae at the Court itself.

At the same time, while Palestinians remain cautious about the future of the investigation, hope is slowly rising that, this time around, things may be different and that Israeli war criminals will eventually be held accountable for their crimes. Time will tell.

  • Romana Rubeo contributed to this article
The post Israel Rejects ICC Investigation: What Are the Possible Future Scenarios? first appeared on Dissident Voice.

Starmer isn’t “too cautious”: he is ruthlessly tearing Labour apart

The completion of Keir Starmer’s first year as Labour leader might have passed without note, had it not been the occasion for senior party figures to express mounting concern at Labour’s dismal performance in opposition to Prime Minister Boris Johnson’s government.

At a time when Labour ought to be landing regular punches on the ruling party over its gross incompetence in handling the Covid-19 pandemic, and cronyism in its awarding of multimillion-pound coronavirus-related contracts, Starmer has preferred to avoid confrontation. Critics have accused him of being “too cautious” and showing a “lack of direction”.

Dissatisfaction with Starmer among Labour voters has quadrupled over the past 10 months, from 10 percent last May to 39 percent in March. His approach does not even appear to be winning over the wider public: a recent poll on who would make a better prime minister gave incumbent Johnson a 12 percentage-point lead.

Increasingly anxious senior Labour MPs called late last month for a “big figure” to help Starmer set aside his supposed political diffidence and offer voters a clearer idea of “what Keir is for”.

That followed a move in February by Starmer’s team to reach out to Peter Mandelson, who helped Tony Blair rebrand the party as “New Labour” in the 1990s and move it sharply away from any association with
socialism.

‘Cynically’ evasive

But there is a twofold problem with this assessment of Starmer’s first year.

It assumes Labour’s dire polling is evidence that voters might warm to Starmer if they knew more about what he stands for. That conclusion seems unwarranted. A Labour internal review leaked in February showed that the British public viewed Starmer’s party as “deliberate and cynical” in its evasiveness on policy matters.

In other words, British voters’ aversion to Starmer is not that he is “too cautious” or lacklustre. Rather, they suspect that Starmer and his team are politically not being honest. Either he is covering up the fact that Labour under his leadership is an ideological empty vessel, or his party has clear policies but conceals them because it believes they would be unpopular.

In response, and indeed underscoring the increasingly cynical approach from Starmer’s camp, the review proposed reinventing Labour as a patriotic, Tory-lite party, emphasising “the flag, veterans [and] dressing smartly”.

However, the deeper flaw in this assessment of Starmer’s first 12 months is that it assumes his caution in taking on the Tory government is evidence of some natural restraint or reticence on his part. This was the view promoted by a recent commentator in the Guardian, who observed: “‘Starmerism’ has not defined itself in any sense beyond sitting on the fence.”

But Starmer has proved to be remarkably unrestrained and intemperate when he chooses to be. If he is reticent, it appears to be only when it serves his larger political purposes.

All-out war

If there is one consistent thread in his first year, it has been a determined purging from the party of any trace of the leftwing politics of his predecessor, Jeremy Corbyn, as well as a concerted effort to drive out many tens of thousands of new members who joined because of Corbynism.

The paradox is that when Starmer stood in the leadership election last spring, he promised to unify a party deeply divided between a largely leftwing membership committed to Corbyn’s programme, on the one hand, and a largely rightwing parliamentary faction and party bureaucracy, on the other.

As an internal review leaked last April revealed, party officials were determined to destroy Corbyn even while he was leader, using highly undemocratic means.

Even if Starmer had chosen to be cautious or diffident, there looked to be no realistic way to square that circle. But far from sitting on the fence, he has been busy waging an all-out war on one side only: those sympathetic to Corbyn. And that campaign has involved smashing apart the party’s already fragile democratic procedures.

The prelude was the sacking last June of Rebecca Long-Bailey as shadow education secretary – and the most visible ally of Corbyn in Starmer’s shadow cabinet – on the flimsiest of pretexts. She had retweeted an article in the Independent newspaper that included a brief mention of Israel’s involvement in training western police forces in brutal restraint techniques.

Real target

A few months later, Starmer got his chance to go after his real target, when the Equalities and Human Rights Commission published its highly flawed report into the claims of an antisemitism problem in Labour under Corbyn’s leadership.

This provided the grounds Starmer needed to take the unprecedented step of excluding Corbyn from the parliamentary party he had been leader of only months earlier. It was a remarkably provocative and incautious move that infuriated large sections of the membership, some of whom abandoned the party as a result.

Having dispatched Corbyn and issued a stark ultimatum to any MP who might still harbour sympathies for the former leader, Starmer turned his attention to the party membership. David Evans, his new general secretary and a retread from the Blair years, issued directives banning constituency parties from protesting Corbyn’s exclusion or advocating for Corbynism.

Corbyn was overnight turned into a political “unperson”, in an echo of the authoritarian purges of the Soviet-era Communist party. No mention was to be made of him or his policies, on pain of suspension from the party.

Even this did not suffice. To help bolster the hostile environment towards left wing members, Starmer made Labour hostage to special interest groups that had openly waged war – from inside and outside the party – against his predecessor.

During the leadership campaign, Starmer signed on to a “10 Pledges” document from the deeply conservative and pro-Israel Board of Deputies of British Jews. The board was one of the cheerleaders for the evidence-free antisemitism allegations that had beset Labour during Corbyn’s time as leader – even though all metrics suggested the party had less of an antisemitism problem than the Conservatives, and less of a problem under Corbyn than previous leaders.

Alienating the left

The Pledges required Starmer to effectively hand over control to the Board of Deputies and another pro-Israel group, the Jewish Labour Movement, on what kind of criticisms Labour members were allowed to make of Israel.

Opposition to a century of British-sponsored oppression of the Palestinian people had long been a rallying point for the UK’s left, as opposition to the treatment of black South Africans under the apartheid regime once was. Israel’s centrality to continuing western colonialism in the Middle East and its key role in a global military-industrial complex made it a natural target for leftwing activism.

But according to the Pledges – in a barely concealed effort to hound, alienate and silence the party’s left – it was for pro-Israel lobby groups to decide who should be be declared an antisemite, while “fringe” Jewish groups, or those supportive of Corbyn and critical of Israel, should be ignored.

Starmer readily agreed both to adopt the board’s conflation of criticism of Israel with antisemitism, and to disregard prominent Jews within his own party opposed to pro-Israel lobbying. His office was soon picking off prominent Jewish supporters of Corbyn, including leaders of Jewish Voice for Labour.

One of the most troubling cases was Naomi Wimborne-Idrissi, who was suspended shortly after she appeared in a moving video in which she explained how antisemitism had been weaponised by the pro-Israel lobby against left wing Jews like herself.

She noted the pain caused when Jews were smeared as “traitors” and “kapos” – an incendiary term of abuse, as Wimborne-Idrissi pointed out, that refers to “a Jewish inmate of a concentration camp who collaborated with the [Nazi] authorities, people who collaborated in the annihilation of their own people”.

In suspending her, Starmer’s Labour effectively endorsed that type of ugly demonisation campaign.

Israeli spy recruited

But the war on the Labour left did not end there. In his first days as leader, Starmer was reluctantly forced to set up an inquiry into the leaked internal report that had exposed the party bureaucracy as profoundly hostile to Corbyn personally, and more generally to his socialist policies. Senior staff had even been shown trying to sabotage Labour’s 2017 general election campaign.

But once the Forde Inquiry had been appointed, Starmer worked strenuously to kick it into the long grass, even bringing back into the party Emilie Oldknow, a central figure in the Corbyn-era bureaucracy who had been cast in a damning light by the leaked report’s revelations.

A separate chance to lay bare what had happened inside Labour head office during Corbyn’s term was similarly spurned by Starmer. He decided not to  defend a defamation case against Labour brought by John Ware, a BBC reporter, and seven former staff in Labour’s disciplinary unit. They had worked together on a Panorama special on the antisemitism claims against Corbyn that did much to damage him in the public eye.

These former officials had sued the party, arguing that Labour’s response to the BBC programme suggested they had acted in bad faith and sought to undermine Corbyn.

In fact, a similar conclusion had been reached in the damning internal leaked report on the behaviour of head office staff. It quoted extensively from emails and WhatsApp chats that showed a deep-seated antipathy to Corbyn in the party bureaucracy.

Nonetheless, Starmer’s office abandoned its legal defence last July, apologising “unreservedly” to the former staff members and paying “substantial damages”. Labour did so despite “clear advice” from lawyers, a former senior official said, that it would have won in court.

When Martin Forde, chair of the Forde inquiry, announced in February that his report had been delayed “indefinitely”, it seemed that the truth about the efforts of Labour staff to undermine Corbyn as leader were being permanently buried.

The final straw for many on the party’s left, however, was the revelation in January that Starmer had recruited to his team a former Israeli military spy, Assaf Kaplan, to monitor the use of social media by members.

Much of the supposed “antisemitism problem” under Corbyn had depended on the Israel lobby’s efforts to scour through old social media posts of left wing members, looking for criticism of Israel and then presenting it as evidence of antisemitism. As leader, Corbyn was pushed by these same lobby groups to adopt a new, highly controversial definition of antisemitism produced by the International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance. It shifted attention away from hatred of Jews to criticism of Israel.

A former Israeli spy trained in the dark arts of surveilling Palestinians would be overseeing the monitoring of party members’ online activity.

Tory party of old

Far from sitting on the fence, as his critics claim, Starmer has been ruthless in purging socialism from the Labour party – under cover of claims that he is rooting out an “antisemitism problem” he supposedly inherited from Corbyn.

In a speech last month, Mandelson – the former Blair strategist who Starmer’s team has been consulting – called on the Labour leader to show “courage and determination” in tackling the supposedly “corrupt far left”. He suggested “large numbers” of members would still need to be expunged from the party in the supposed fight against antisemitism.

Starmer is investing huge energy and political capital in ridding the party of its leftwing members, while exhibiting little appetite for taking on Johnson’s right wing government.

These are not necessarily separate projects. There is a discernible theme here. Starmer is recrafting Labour not as a real opposition to the Conservative party’s increasingly extreme, crony capitalism, but as a responsible, more moderate alternative to it. He is offering voters a Labour party that feels more like the Tory party of old, which prioritised tradition, patriotism and family values.

None of this should surprise. Despite his campaign claims, Starmer’s history – predating his rapid rise through the Labour party – never suggested he was likely to clash with the establishment. After all, few public servants have been knighted by the Queen at the relatively tender age of 51 for their radicalism.

In safe hands

While head of the Crown Prosecution Service, Starmer rejected indicting the police officers who killed Jean Charles de Menezes and Ian Tomlinson, and his department effectively cleared MI5 and MI6 officers of torture related to the “War on Terror”.

His team not only sought to fast-track the extradition to Sweden of Julian Assange, the Wikileaks founder who exposed western war crimes, but it also put strong pressure on its Swedish counterpart not to waver in pursuing Assange. One lawyer told the Swedes in 2012: “Don’t you dare get cold feet!”

Starmer’s actions since becoming Labour leader are very much in line with his earlier career. He wants to prove he is a safe pair of hands to the British establishment, in hopes that he can avert the kind of relentless vilification Corbyn endured. Then, Starmer can bide his time until the British public tires of Johnson.

Starmer seems to believe that playing softball with the right wing government and hardball with the left in his own party will prove a winning formula. So far, voters beg to differ.

• First published in Middle East Eye

The post Starmer isn’t “too cautious”: he is ruthlessly tearing Labour apart first appeared on Dissident Voice.

The Nakba of Sheikh Jarrah: How Israel Uses ‘the Law’ to Ethnically Cleanse East Jerusalem

A Palestinian man, Atef Yousef Hanaysha, was killed by Israeli occupation forces on March 19 during a weekly protest against illegal Israeli settlement expansion in Beit Dajan, near Nablus, in the northern West Bank.

Although tragic, the above news reads like a routine item from occupied Palestine, where shooting and killing unarmed protesters is part of the daily reality. However, this is not true. Since right-wing Israeli Prime Minister, Benjamin Netanyahu, announced, in September 2019, his intentions to formally and illegally annex nearly a third of the occupied Palestinian West Bank, tensions have remained high.

The killing of Hanaysha is only the tip of the iceberg. In occupied East Jerusalem and the West Bank, a massive battle is already underway. On one side, Israeli soldiers, army bulldozers and illegal armed Jewish settlers are carrying out daily missions of evicting Palestinian families, displacing farmers, burning orchards, demolishing homes and confiscating land. On the other side, Palestinian civilians, often disorganized, unprotected and leaderless, are fighting back.

The territorial boundaries of this battle are largely located in occupied East Jerusalem and in the so-called ‘Area C’ of the West Bank – nearly 60% of the total size of the occupied West Bank – which is under complete and direct Israeli military control. No other place represents the perfect microcosm of this uneven war like that of the neighborhood of Sheikh Jarrah in occupied East Jerusalem.

On March 10, fourteen Palestinian and Arab organizations issued a ‘joint urgent appeal to the United Nations Special Procedures on forced evictions in East Jerusalem’ to stop the Israeli evictions in the area. Successive decisions by Israeli courts have paved the way for the Israeli army and police to evict 15 Palestinian families – 37 households of around 195 people – in the Karm Al-Ja’ouni area in Sheikh Jarrah and Batn Al-Hawa neighborhood in the town of Silwan.

These imminent evictions are not the first, nor will they be the last. Israel occupied Palestinian East Jerusalem in June 1967 and formally, though illegally, annexed it in 1980. Since then, the Israeli government has vehemently rejected international criticism of the Israeli occupation, dubbing, instead, Jerusalem as the “eternal and undivided capital of Israel”.

To ensure its annexation of the city is irreversible, the Israeli government approved the Master Plan 2000, a massive scheme that was undertaken by Israel to rearrange the boundaries of the city in such a way that it would ensure permanent demographic majority for Israeli Jews at the expense of the city’s native inhabitants. The Master Plan was no more than a blueprint for a state-sponsored ethnic cleansing campaign, which saw the destruction of thousands of Palestinian homes and the subsequent eviction of numerous families.

While news headlines occasionally present the habitual evictions of Palestinian families in Sheikh Jarrah, Silwan and other parts of East Jerusalem as if a matter that involves counterclaims by Palestinian residents and Jewish settlers, the story is, in fact, a wider representation of Palestine’s modern history.

Indeed, the innocent families which are now facing “the imminent risk of forced eviction” are re-living their ancestral nightmare of the Nakba – the ethnic cleansing of historic Palestine in 1948.

Two years after the native inhabitants of historic Palestine were dispossessed of their homes and lands and ethnically cleansed altogether, Israel enacted the so-called Absentees’ Property Law of 1950.

The law, which, of course, has no legal or moral validity, simply granted the properties of Palestinians who were evicted or fled the war to the State, to do with it as it pleases. Since those ‘absentee’ Palestinians were not allowed to exercise their right of return, as stipulated by international law, the Israeli law was a state-sanctioned wholesale theft. It ultimately aimed at achieving two objectives: one, to ensure Palestinian refugees do not return or attempt to claim their stolen properties in Palestine and, two, to give Israel a legal cover for permanently confiscating Palestinian lands and homes.

The Israeli military occupation of the remainder of historic Palestine in 1967 necessitated, from an Israeli colonial perspective, the creation of fresh laws that would allow the State and the illegal settlement enterprise to claim yet more Palestinian properties. This took place in 1970 in the form of the Legal and Administrative Matters Law. According to the new legal framework, only Israeli Jews were allowed to claim lost land and property in Palestinian areas.

Much of the evictions in East Jerusalem take place within the context of these three interconnected and strange legal arguments: the Absentees’ Law, the Legal and Administrative Matters Law and the Master Plan 2000. Understood together, one is easily able to decipher the nature of the Israeli colonial scheme in East Jerusalem, where Israeli individuals, in coordination with settler organizations, work together to fulfill the vision of the State.

In their joint appeal, Palestinian human rights organizations describe the flow of how eviction orders, issued by Israeli courts, culminate into the construction of illegal Jewish settlements. Confiscated Palestinian properties are usually transferred to a branch within the Israeli Ministry of Justice called the Israeli Custodian General. The latter holds on to these properties until they are claimed by Israeli Jews, in accordance with the 1970 Law. Once Israeli courts honor Israeli Jewish individuals’ legal claims to the confiscated Palestinian lands, these individuals often transfer their ownership rights or management to settler organizations. In no time, the latter organizations utilize the newly-acquired property to expand existing settlements or to start new ones.

While the Israeli State claims to play an impartial role in this scheme, it is actually the facilitator of the entire process. The final outcome manifests in the ever-predictable scene, where an Israeli flag is triumphantly hoisted over a Palestinian home and a Palestinian family is assigned an UN-supplied tent and a few blankets.

While the above picture can be dismissed by some as another routine, common occurrence, the situation in the occupied West Bank and East Jerusalem has become extremely volatile. Palestinians feel that they have nothing more to lose and Netanyahu’s government is more emboldened than ever. The killing of Atef Hanaysha, and others like him, is only the beginning of that imminent, widespread confrontation.

The post The Nakba of Sheikh Jarrah: How Israel Uses ‘the Law’ to Ethnically Cleanse East Jerusalem first appeared on Dissident Voice.

Elections under Fire: Palestine’s Impossible Democracy Dilemma  

Many Palestinian intellectuals and political analysts find themselves in the unenviable position of having to declare a stance on whether they support or reject upcoming Palestinian elections which are scheduled for May 22 and July 30. But there are no easy answers.

The long-awaited decree by Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas last January to hold legislative and presidential elections in the coming months was widely welcomed,  not as a triumph for democracy but as the first tangible positive outcome of dialogue between rival Palestinian factions, mainly Abbas’ Fatah party and Hamas.

As far as inner Palestinian dialogue is concerned, the elections, if held unobstructed, could present a ray of hope that, finally, Palestinians in the Occupied Territories will enjoy a degree of democratic representation, a first step towards a more comprehensive representation that could include millions of Palestinians outside the Occupied Territories.

But even such humble expectations are conditioned on many “ifs”: only if Palestinian factions honor their commitments to the Istanbul Agreement of September 24; only if Israel allows Palestinians, including Jerusalemites, to vote unhindered and refrains from arresting Palestinian candidates; only if the US-led international community accepts the outcome of the democratic elections without punishing victorious parties and candidates; only if the legislative and presidential elections are followed by the more consequential and substantive elections in the Palestinian National Council (PNC) – the Palestinian Parliament in exile – and so on.

If any of these conditions is unsatisfactory, the May elections are likely to serve no practical purpose, aside from giving Abbas and his rivals the veneer of legitimacy, thus allowing them to buy yet more time and acquire yet more funds from their financial benefactors.

All of this compels us to consider the following question: is democracy possible under military occupation?

Almost immediately following the last democratic Palestinian legislative elections in 2006, the outcome of which displeased Israel, 62 Palestinian ministers and members of the new parliament were thrown into prison, with many still imprisoned.

History is repeating itself as Israel has already begun its arrest campaigns of Hamas leaders and members in the West Bank. On February 22, over 20 Palestinian activists, including Hamas officials, were detained as a clear message from the Israeli occupation to Palestinians that Israel does not recognize their dialogue, their unity agreements or their democracy.

Two days later, 67-year-old Hamas leader, Omar Barghouti, was summoned by the Israeli military intelligence in the occupied West Bank and warned against running in the upcoming May elections. “The Israeli officer warned me not to run in the upcoming elections and threatened me with imprisonment if I did,” Barghouti was quoted by Al-Monitor.

The Palestinian Basic Law allows prisoners to run for elections, whether legislative or presidential, simply because the most popular among Palestinian leaders are often behind bars. Marwan Barghouti is one.

Imprisoned since 2002, Barghouti remains Fatah’s most popular leader, though appreciated more by the movement’s young cadre, as opposed to Abbas’ old guard. The latter group has immensely benefited from the corrupt system of political patronage upon which the 85-year-old president has constructed his Authority.

To sustain this corrupt system, Abbas and his clique labored to marginalize Barghouti, leading to the suggestion that Israel’s imprisonment of Fatah’s vibrant leader serves the interests of the current Palestinian President.

This claim has much substance, not only because Abbas has done little to pressure Israel to release Barghouti but also because all credible public opinion polls suggest that Barghouti is far more popular among Fatah’s supporters – in fact all Palestinians – than Abbas.

On February 11, Abbas dispatched Hussein al-Sheikh, the Minister of Civilian Affairs and a member of Fatah’s Central Committee, to dissuade Barghouti from running in the upcoming presidential elections. An ideal scenario for the Palestinian President would be to take advantage of Barghouti’s popularity by having him lead the Fatah list in the contest for the Palestinian Legislative Council (PLC). Hence, Abbas could ensure a strong turnout by Fatah supporters, while securing the chair of presidency for himself.

Barghouti vehemently rejected Abbas’ request, thus raising an unexpected challenge to Abbas, who now risks dividing the Fatah vote, losing the PLC elections, again, to Hamas and losing the presidential elections to Barghouti.

Between the nightly raids and crackdowns by the Israeli military and the political intrigues within the divided Fatah movement, one wonders if the elections, if they take place, will finally allow Palestinians to mount a united front in the struggle against Israeli occupation and for Palestinian freedom.

Then, there is the issue of the possible position of the ‘international community’ regarding the outcome of the elections. News reports speak of efforts made by Hamas to seek guarantees from Qatar and Egypt “to ensure Israel will not pursue its representatives and candidates in the upcoming elections,” Al-Monitor also reported.

But what kind of guarantees can Arab countries obtain from Tel Aviv, and what kind of leverage can Doha and Cairo have when Israel continues to disregard the United Nations, international law, the International Criminal Court, and so on?

Nevertheless, can Palestinian democracy afford to subsist in its state of inertia? Abbas’ mandate as president expired in 2009, the PLC’s mandate expired in 2010 and, in fact, the Palestinian Authority was set up as an interim political body, whose function should have ceased in 1999. Since then, the ‘Palestinian leadership’ has not enjoyed legitimacy among Palestinians, deriving its relevance, instead, from the support of its benefactors, who are rarely interested in supporting democracy in Palestine.

The only silver lining in the story is that Fatah and Hamas have also agreed on the restructuring of the Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO), which is now largely monopolized by Abbas’ Fatah movement. Whether the democratic revamping of the PLO takes place or not, largely depends on the outcome of the May and July elections.

Palestine, like other Middle Eastern countries, including Israel, does have a crisis of political legitimacy. Since Palestine is an occupied land with little or no freedom, one is justified to argue that true democracy under these horrific conditions cannot possibly be achieved.

The post Elections under Fire: Palestine’s Impossible Democracy Dilemma   first appeared on Dissident Voice.

Israel is hiding the truth about the killing of Ahmad Erekat

Once again, video footage reveals that Israel’s account of a Palestinian “terror attack” bears no relationship to what actually happened. Not only did Israel dissemble about the circumstances in which its soldiers shot dead 26-year-old Ahmad Erekat last June, but it is still inflicting appalling suffering on his family eight months later based on those lies.

A new forensic investigation discredits Israel’s claim that Erekat used his car to launch a ramming attack on a military checkpoint near Bethlehem. It finds that the collision was more likely an accident, and that the soldiers responded by carrying out an extra-judicial execution.

Nonetheless, Israel is still refusing to hand Erekat’s body back to his parents for burial, in what amounts to the psychological torture of the family while Israel insists on holding on to the bodies of Erekat and some 70 other Palestinians for use as bargaining chips in potential future negotiations with Hamas.

Shot six times

Erekat was shot six times by soldiers on 23 June. He had been driving through the occupied West Bank to complete errands on his sister’s wedding day, on what should have been a simple journey. But more than five decades of Israel’s belligerent – and seemingly permanent – occupation have created an obstacle course of checkpoints and traffic holdups that Erekat had to negotiate.

By mid-afternoon, he arrived at the large “Container” checkpoint, one of many Israel has built to permanently divide up the West Bank. The purpose of these checkpoints is to limit Palestinian movement and thereby help Jews living in Israel’s illegal settlements to seize more Palestinian territory for themselves. In that sense, the checkpoints are integral to Israel’s decades-long effort to stop a Palestinian state from ever being born.

Erekat’s killing was widely reported in both Israeli and international media, in part because he was a nephew of Saeb Erekat, a prominent Palestinian spokesperson until his own death late last year of complications related to Covid-19.

In reporting Ahmad Erekat’s killing, most media faithfully echoed Israel’s official line. He had rammed his car into the checkpoint in a “terror attack” that lightly injured a soldier. He was then fatally shot – or “neutralised” – when he emerged from his car to attack other soldiers.

None of this fitted with what was known even then. But Israel refused to conduct an investigation that risked clearing Erekat’s name. Witnesses were not interviewed and the the car was not checked for malfunctions.

Extrajudicial executions

Israel, however, has found it harder than usual to put Erekat’s killing in the rearview. As is often the case, Palestinians who witnessed the incident disputed the Israeli army’s account of an attack. Video from other drivers’ phones suggested that Erekat had been denied medical attention and left to bleed to death on the side of the road.

But more significantly, Saeb Erekat intervened to deny that his nephew was carrying out an attack, and accused the soldiers of executing him “in cold blood”.

Israel often refuses to release footage of these all-too-frequent checkpoint deaths. That alone should raise suspicions that in many cases, Israeli soldiers are not defending themselves – as the army claims – but carrying out extrajudicial executions when something, anything, takes them by surprise.

Trigger-happy soldiers shoot first, and the army barely bothers to ask questions later – both because Palestinian lives are considered cheap and because soldiers know they are operating in a system with no accountability. Impunity is what happens when a belligerent occupation becomes permanent rule by a master class over a serf class.

But in this case, with international pressure building, Israeli officials issued footage from one of the checkpoint’s cameras, assuming it would quiet the criticism. They were wrong.

Optical illusion

The problem for Israel is that today’s digital tools mean experts can reconstruct events in astonishing detail from even limited video.

The footage was studied by Forensic Architecture, a research group based at the University of London and headed by British Israeli academic Eyal Weizman. The team was able to create a three-dimensional reconstruction of that afternoon’s events.

To the untrained eye, the footage appears to show Erekat’s car accelerating as it swerves towards a concrete blast wall protecting soldiers. But as experts found, that was an optical illusion caused by changing perspective as the car altered direction.

Forensic Architecture’s experts show that the car continued at roughly 15km per hour throughout. Had Erekat wished to, he could have driven the car much harder and faster into the checkpoint than he did.

Jeremy Bauer, a US collision expert who was part of the team, said the movement of the wheels suggests that Erekat might have tried to brake during the swerve.

‘Confirming the kill’

Many Israelis, of course, ignored this expert analysis and maintained last week that the incident was still a car-ramming. But they studiously avoided discussing the even more damning second and third parts of Forensic Architecture’s analysis.

The team also found that, after the crash, Erekat got out of the car and was moving backwards while trying to raise his hands when he was struck by the first shot. He was four metres from the nearest soldier. A further two bullets were fired in quick succession. Three more rounds were fired into him as he lay wounded on the ground. 

In other words, whether or not Erekat carried out a car-ramming – and the evidence suggests he did not – soldiers shot him even though he posed no threat.

In Israeli military parlance, the soldiers “confirmed the kill”. They followed an unwritten army code that allows them to carry out an extrajudicial execution of any Palestinian they have unilaterally decided is a “terrorist”.

Left to bleed

It was exactly the same logic that dictated what happened next. In the third part of the analysis, Forensic Architecture noted that an Israeli medical team arrived within 10 minutes. They left Erekat to bleed to death, even though footage from a driver’s phone showed him moving his arm after he was shot.

At the time, Israeli officials claimed that Erekat was given medical attention “within minutes”, but that it was determined he was dead. The truth is that Israeli paramedics attended solely to the lightly injured soldier, while a Palestinian ambulance was denied access to Erekat.

In the video footage, an Israeli soldier can be seen wandering past Erekat’s head shortly after he was shot, but the soldier offered no assistance. The Forensic Architecture report points out that the denial of medical assistance to Palestinians is an established practice of “killing by time” – a bureaucratic version of “confirming the kill”.

Erekat was left for around two hours on the ground. At some point his body was stripped of its clothes and, the report observes, he could be seen naked, surrounded by around 20 Israeli soldiers and police. How his family must feel about this additional indignity one can only imagine.

But even this degrading treatment pales in comparison to the fact that his parents have been denied access to their son’s body and the right to bury him ever since.

Erekat’s corpse – like those of 70 other Palestinians assumed to be “terrorists” – has been effectively kidnapped by the Israeli state and held as a bargaining chip.

Nothing exceptional

There is nothing exceptional about Israel’s treatment of Erekat. An earlier investigation by Forensic Architecture exposed almost identical lies justifying an extrajudicial execution in 2017 by police inside Israel of another Palestinian man – this one nominally an Israeli citizen.

Fed by a similar culture of racism to the army’s, Israeli police shot Yacoub Abu al-Qiyan, a teacher, as he was driving down a hillside track in his Negev village. Badly injured, he lost control of the vehicle and hit and killed a police officer. In seeming revenge, Abu al-Qiyan was left to bleed to death for half an hour as police and medics milled around nearby.

Even more notoriously, a video from 2016 shows an Israeli army medic, Elor Azaria, shooting a wounded Palestinian man in the head at close range as the man lies on the street in the occupied Palestinian city of Hebron.

And last May, an unarmed, autistic Palestinian man, Iyad al-Halak, was shot seven times at close range by Israeli police as he lay on the ground, and while one of his teachers begged the officers not to harm him. Afterwards, Israel claimed that all the cameras at the site of his shooting in Jerusalem’s Old City were malfunctioning.

Dark secret

Despite Forensic Architecture’s work, Israeli police last week continued to claim that Erekat’s crash was “a documented terrorist attack”.

A joint statement from the government, army and Shin Bet intelligence service still falsely claimed that Erekat moved “quickly towards Border Police fighters while waving his hands in a manner taken as threatening”, adding that the soldiers “were certain that they were in immediate mortal danger”.

In Israel’s security worldview, even a Palestinian raising his hands in surrender proves only his “terrorist” intent.

It is important to remember that last summer, in the days preceding Erekat’s execution, the Israeli army had braced for what it assumed would be a wave of “terror attacks” that ultimately failed to materialise. The military expected retaliation after Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu announced Israel’s intent to annex swaths of the West Bank, in violation of international law.

The truth is that Erekat died not only because Israeli soldiers misread his intentions. He died because those same soldiers – like their military commanders and political leaders – live with the repressed knowledge that their presence on another people’s land, and their efforts to displace those people by force, can never be accepted.

Erekat was killed on his sister’s wedding day, and his body and his family continue to be abused to this day, so that Israel can avoid confronting what the occupation necessarily entails. He paid the price with his life so that Israelis can avoid facing that dark secret.

• First published in Middle East Eye

The post Israel is hiding the truth about the killing of Ahmad Erekat first appeared on Dissident Voice.

Picnic Video Exposes Both Faces of Israeli Apartheid

A short video taken by a family as they picnicked in the West Bank this month may be the best field guide yet to Israel’s complex apartheid system of state-sponsored Jewish supremacy.

In the clip posted to Facebook, armed Jewish settlers arrive unexpectedly to break up the picnic of a Palestinian family – including grandparents and two babies – at a scenic public space on a hillside north of Ramallah.

In the occupied West Bank, the settlers are the lords of the land and used to getting their own way. They assume that this is just another group of Palestinians to be terrorized away so that the illegal Jewish settlement they live in, one of many dozens, can further expand its jurisdiction on to Palestinian land.

For the settlers, this is all in day’s improvised ethnic cleansing.

Not as it appears

But they are in for a surprise. The scene is not exactly as it appears and things don’t go to plan.

Some distance from their homes, Palestinians would usually pack up in a hurry at the first sight of menacing armed settlers. But these Palestinians stand their ground and argue back in fluent Hebrew.

When the settlers cite the Bible as their title deeds to the land, and start grabbing the family’s things to evict the group, the grandmother shouts indignantly: “We are Israelis just like you and we’re allowed to be here.”

She is partly right. They are indeed Israelis. The family are from Nazareth, the largest and most privileged Palestinian community inside Israel. They belong to a minority formally known as “Israel’s Arabs”. But the grandmother’s claim that her family is “just like you” is an error – or more likely a bluff.

A settler corrects her: “You’re not Israelis, you’re Arabs, we did you a favor when we let you stay.”

Historical anomaly

In Israeli public discourse, “Israel’s Arabs” – or “Israeli Arabs” as the term is usually transcribed into English to make it seem less offensive – have been stripped of their real identity to sever their connection to the larger Palestinian people.

Nonetheless, they are descended from exactly the same Palestinian population that today lives either under occupation in the West Bank, East Jerusalem and Gaza, or as refugees exiled from their homeland by Israel’s mass ethnic cleansing campaign in 1948, known by Palestinians as the Nakba, or Catastrophe.

“Israel’s Arabs” are marked out from other Palestinians only by an historical anomaly: a small number managed to avoid the ethnic cleansing operations of 1948 and remained on their land in what was about to become Israel.

Eventually, and very reluctantly under international pressure, Israel conferred a very degraded citizenship on these “Arabs”. Today, after decades of higher birth rates than Israeli Jews, “Israel’s Arabs” are a fifth of the population.

Ugly truth

Israel proudly tells the world that its “Arab” citizens enjoy entirely equal rights with Jewish citizens. The truth is far uglier, as prime minister Benjamin Netanyahu inadvertently conceded when he used Instagram to correct an Israeli TV host who had suggested that Israel was a western-style democracy. “Israel is not a state of all its citizens. According to the nation-state law we passed, Israel is the nation-state of the Jewish people — and not anyone else,” he wrote.

Some 70 laws explicitly offer differentiated rights depending on whether an Israeli citizen is Jewish or “Arab”.

“Israel’s Arabs” are almost entirely segregated from Israeli Jews in where they can live, where they go to school, and in many cases where they are allowed to work. The citizenship status of Jews and “Arabs” derives from separate laws. These “Arabs” are barred from living in most of Israel’s territory, and planning rules have been systematically skewed to their disadvantage.

In short, most “Israeli Arabs” live in segregated, poor, land-hungry, overcrowded and under-resourced communities.

But by historical accident they have an Israeli citizenship that confers on them – unlike Palestinians under occupation – the right to vote in Israeli elections and basic legal rights protected by Israel’s civilian courts, not its military courts.

“Israel’s Arabs” are also typically dealt with either by the ordinary Israeli police or by a paramilitary force known as the Border Police that operates in both Israel and the occupied territories. The border being policed is the segregated one between Jews and non-Jews.

But dealing with the Border Police is often preferable to being policed by the Israeli army, as is usually the case for Palestinians in the occupied territories.

No price to pay

As the settlers who disrupt the woodland picnic fail to get their way, they look confused and unsure. One says to the family: “You are not Israeli, you are Arabs. We did you a favor by letting you remain [in Israel]. Go back to Nazareth.” But what exactly are their rights in a situation like this?

If these were straightforward “Palestinians”, the settlers could throw rocks at them or shoot over their heads. Should the Palestinians refuse to flee, they could be beaten or the settlers could even consider shooting one in the leg – or worse – to make sure the rest got the message: “We are kings and you are unwelcome serfs”.

There is unlikely to be a price to pay for harming Palestinians under occupation, apart from maybe a story in Haaretz from Amira Hass, the only Israeli reporter living in the West Bank.

But the settlers can always say they had been attacked by Palestinians and were defending themselves. No real questions would be asked. If a video surfaced on YouTube showing otherwise, Israeli officials would act as press officers, claiming the footage was edited to mislead viewers – just another example of Pallywood. And anyone sharing the video could be discounted as an antisemite.

Familiar rules

This is a game whose rules the settlers – and the Israeli army and government behind them – know only too well, rules designed to work exclusively for their benefit.

But in the case of “Israeli Arabs” picnicking in the West Bank, the rules have not been properly defined. Can settlers beat with impunity these uppity natives with Israeli citizenship? Can they point their guns at them? If they do, what happens? Might there be an investigation? And if so, who will lead it – the army or the police?

Might these “Arabs” have relatives back in privileged Nazareth who are lawyers versed in the intricacies of the Israeli legal system? There are even some “Arab” judges in the court system. How might such a judge rule in a case like this?

The settlers’ uncertainty is justified. Which apartheid rules apply in the occupied territories when dealing with “Israel’s Arabs”: the occupation version of apartheid or the Israeli democracy version of apartheid? It is a grey area.

Unsure of powers

No longer confident that their powers are limitless, at least in a situation like this one, the settlers decide to delegate. They call the army. After all, soldiers of the Jewish state are there to protect other Jews, even when those Jews are armed, they are living illegally on Palestinian land and they are attacking defenseless Palestinians.

The army will know what to do.

The soldiers are soon there, but they look a little unsure too. They are more used to standing “guard” as settlers attack and terrorize Palestinians, only interfering if it looks like the settlers might be in need of help.

These picnickers aren’t Jewish, so the soldiers are under no duty to protect them. But at the same they are Israeli citizens so the soldiers cannot afford to be filmed pointing their guns at them or watching impassively as the settlers beat them up.

Gentle ethnic cleansing

There is no rule book for this situation, so the soldiers improvise. With the wisdom of Solomon, they cut the baby in half. A soldier concedes that they are indeed in a public space but warns the “Arabs” that, unlike the settlers, they are “not allowed here”. He adds: “I don’t want to use too much force.”

The soldiers prefer that the threat remains implicit. The family will have to leave immediately and cede this land to the masters, the Jews. The “Israeli Arabs” are evicted in an orderly fashion.

What we see, caught on the camera of Lubna Abed el-Hadi, is what might be termed gentle ethnic cleansing.

This short video confirms the lie of the oft-repeated claim of Israeli leaders that “Israel’s Arabs” have equal rights with Israeli Jews. In truth, Jews always have superior rights, whether it is inside “democratic” Israel or in the occupied territories.

Layers of apartheid

The original apartheid state – the one in South Africa – offers a template that can help us to decode this video. As with Israel, there were layers to South African apartheid, although those layers were much less effective than Israel’s at veiling the segregation system.

South Africa had its “Whites” – the masters – and its “Blacks” – the serfs. But it also had a group trapped between them, one that was harder to classify, called the “Coloreds”. In a system that craved clear racial categorizations, the Coloreds were a nuisance – a reminder of times before apartheid when segregation was not so strict and inter-racial relationships possible.

The Coloreds were really Blacks in the sense that they had none of the privileges of the Whites. But they also enjoyed a few exemptions from the worse racist policies faced by the Blacks, such as the requirement to carry passes to move around.

A New York Times article in 1985, in South Africa’s final apartheid years, concluded: “Despite the law that seeks to lock them into a simple group definition, South Africa’s mixed-race people defy such labeling and the ambiguity of their status is acute.”

Israel’s Coloreds

The comparison is not precise. “Israel’s Arabs” are not the descendants of mixed relationships between Jews and Palestinians. They are as native as other Palestinians, their histories indistinguishable until 1948. Like other Palestinians, “Israeli Arabs” have a relatively unified language and culture that was not true of the Coloreds in South Africa.

But their inferior legal status and ambiguous social position within the dominant apartheid system is similar to that of the Coloreds.

After the fall of South Africa’s apartheid, and in an era of 24-hour rolling news, Israel has eased the most blatant forms of discrimination faced by its “Arabs”. It has been careful to avoid the worst excesses of South Africa’s version of apartheid inside Israel. There are no separate entrances to rest rooms or shops for Israel’s “Coloreds”.

But the core segregation continues. “Israeli Arabs” are expected to live in their own 120 or so segregated neighborhoods, Israel’s version of the notorious Group Areas Act. They are banned not only from accessing the Jewish-only settlements of the West Bank, but from living in all of the territory inside Israel bar the 3% reserved for non-Jews.

‘Security’ policy

The Coloreds had “token representation” in South Africa, according to the Times. “Israeli Arabs” too have the semblance of a vote, but one that makes no impact on the parliamentary system or the shape of the government. Like the Colored counterparts, “Israeli Arab” schools are massively underfunded and under-resourced, and the police force’s policy towards them moves between neglect and open hostility.

As happened in 1966 at District Six, a Colored community near Cape Town, “Israel’s Arabs” can be forced off their lands at the drop of the hat – as is currently happening at Umm al-Hiran in the Negev – if the state deems that the land is needed more by the masters than the serfs.

The New York Times article notes that apartheid South Africa’s policy towards its Coloreds and Blacks was governed by a “security” approach that treated them as an enemy. Just such an official policy towards “Israel’s Arabs” was highlighted nearly 20 years ago by a state commission of inquiry.

Another observation by the Times will echo with “Israeli Arabs”: “Most black townships, for instance, have few entrances and are thus easily sealed.” Similarly, “Arab” communities in Israel typically have one or two ways in or out – a legacy of the military government that in Israel’s first two decades tightly controlled all “Arab” movement.

In recent months those memories were revived in Nazareth, for example, when the police again blockaded the city’s entrances during periods of lockdown.

Desirable or undesirable

Very belatedly it has finally dawned on Jewish human rights groups in Israel that the country’s apartheid system can no more be separated between a “democratic” Israel and a non-democratic occupied territories than South Africa’s could be between its white areas and the so-called black homelands, the Bantustans.

One group, B’Tselem, concluded last month that Israeli apartheid is indivisible, just as South Africa’s was. Its executive director, Hagai El-Ad, observed: “There is not a single square inch in the territory Israel controls where a Palestinian and a Jew are equal. The only first-class people here are Jewish citizens such as myself.”

The division, El-Ad noted, was not primarily between Israelis – Jews and “Arabs” – and Palestinians but between the segregated treatment of people under Israeli rule as either “desirable or undesirable”.

Those picnicking “Arabs” are the undesirables just as much as are the Palestinians living close by in Ramallah. Which is why the settlers were determined to move them off the land, and why the soldiers were only too happy to assist.

Israel upholds a system of Jewish supremacy over the land, and it matters not one jot whether those challenging its apartheid rule are Palestinian subjects without rights or “Arab” citizens supposedly with full rights.

• First published in Mondoweiss

The post Picnic Video Exposes Both Faces of Israeli Apartheid first appeared on Dissident Voice.

Letter to the Australian Taxpayer-funded ABC and SBS Media re Anti-Arab & Anti-Jewish Anti-Semitism and False Reportage about Occupied Palestine

Dear ABC & SBS management and staff,

I am an anti-racist Jewish-Celtic scientist, humanitarian, artist and writer from one of Hungary’s most famous Jewish families (ask any mathematician or surgeon). Only about a dozen of my wider family survived the Jewish Holocaust in Hungary in 1944-1945. For all decent people and in particular anti-racist Jewish humanitarians the core messages from the WW2 Jewish Holocaust (5-6 million Jews killed through violence or imposed deprivation) – and from the more general Nazi Germany-imposed WW2 European Holocaust (30 million Slavs, Jews and Gypsies killed), the WW2 Bengali Holocaust (6-7 million Indians starved to death for strategic reasons by the British with Australian complicity), and the 1937-1945 Japan-imposed WW2 Chinese Holocaust (35-40 million killed) – are “zero tolerance for racism”, “never again to anyone”, “bear witness”, “zero tolerance for lying”, and “silence is complicity”.

I listen much of the day to ABC Classic FM but there is no escaping the sea of Zionist hasbara (propaganda) in Zionist-subverted and perverted Mainstream Australia and in the ABC and SBS in particular – thus a favourite presenter (I am sure only out of Zionist-imposed ignorance in Australia) recently described a piece as by “a German Jewish composer who very wisely moved to what was then called Palestine in the 1930s.”

Fact: it has been called “Palestine” or variants thereof since the time of Greek historian Herodotus (484 – c. 425 BCE) after the Philistines who settled coastal areas in about 1200 BC. It is still called Palestine (or variants thereof e.g. Filastin to Indigenous Palestinians and other Arab peoples) by the UN (which has recognized the State of Palestine, unlike Zionist-subverted Australia), nearly all UN members, and over 14 million Palestinians of whom about 7 million represent 50% of the Subjects of Apartheid Israel (Jewish Israelis representing 47%). Palestinians have continuously inhabited Palestine since the dawn of the Agrarian Revolution. Indeed famed anti-racist Jewish American scholar Professor Jared Diamond has noted the present-day presence in the Jordan Valley of Palestine of wild relatives of plants domesticated in the Agrarian Revolution of the Fertile Crescent. What would Indigenous Australians have to say about this erasing of millennia of Indigenous history?

72% of the Indigenous Palestinian subjects of Apartheid Israel (the 5.2 million Occupied Palestinians highly abusively confined to the Gaza Concentration Camp or to West Bank ghettoes) have zero human rights (as set out in the 30 Articles of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights) and like the Burmese cannot vote for the government ruling them. The “lucky” 2 million Palestinian Israelis can vote but exist as Third Class citizens in their own land under over 60 Nazi-style, race-based laws and under explicitly stated threats to suffer Rohingya-style mass expulsion as happened in 1948 (800,000 Palestinians expelled) and 1967 (400,000 Arabs expelled from the West Bank and Israeli-occupied Syria).

Recently the ABC and the SBS have reported without retraction false Israeli claims that (a) the International Criminal Court has no jurisdiction over Israel because the Palestinians “do not have statehood” (false: the UN has overwhelmingly recognized the State of Palestine with Zionist-subverted US lackey Australia abstaining), and (b) that Israel leads the world in Covid-19 vaccination in “Israel” but does not have to provide Covid-19 vaccine to its 5.2 million Occupied Palestinians Subjects because they are somehow “independent” and “not occupied” (false: numerous UN Resolutions, notably UNSC Resolution 2334, state the awful reality that Israel is an Occupying Power, Occupies the Occupied Palestinians, and must abide by the Fourth Geneva Convention that states unequivocally in Articles 55 and 56 that the Occupier is inescapably obliged to provide life-sustaining food and medical services to its Conquered Subjects “to the fullest extent of the means available to it”).

This physical and conceptual “wiping out“ of the Palestinian people was first enunciated by genocidal, neo-Nazi psychopath Theodor Herzl, the founder of Zionism (“We shall try to spirit the penniless population across the border by procuring employment for it in the transit countries, while denying it employment in our country. The property owners will come over to our side. Both the process of expropriation and the removal of the poor must be carried out discretely and circumspectly”); was reiterated by genocidal psychopath and Israeli PM Golda Meir (“There is no such thing as a Palestinian people… It is not as if we came and threw them out and took their country. They didn’t exist”); and reiterated by a succession of genocidally racist Zionist psychopaths up to the present Israeli PM Benjamin Netanyahu (“Israel should have exploited the repression of the [1989 Tiananmen Square] demonstrations in China, when world attention focused on that country, to carry out mass expulsions among the Arabs of the territories”).

Such genocidally racist statements about Indigenous People (common in public in Australia up to 1967) would see the perpetrators regarded as utterly unfit for public life today in politically correct racist (PC racist) Australia. Zionism is genocidal racism in awful theory and horrendous ethnic cleansing practice, and its supporters should be regarded as utterly unfit for public life, as have been like racists such as the Ku Klux Klan, Nazis, neo-Nazis and supporters of Apartheid. Indeed heroes in the fight against Apartheid, such a Nelson Mandela and anti-racist Jewish South African Ronnie Kasrils, have condemned Israel as an Apartheid state. Indeed Dr Verwoerd, the architect of South African Apartheid, stated: “Israel, like South Africa, is an apartheid state.”

Unfortunately the decent Greens and a small body of decent Labor MPs aside, Coalition and Labor MPs are overwhelmingly fervent supporters of nuclear terrorist, genocidally racist and international law violating Apartheid Israel. Politicians who fervently support Apartheid Israel and hence the crime of Apartheid are utterly unfit for public life in a one person-one-vote democracy. Decent anti-racist Jewish and non-Jewish Australians will utterly reject the racist, pro-Apartheid Coalition, vote 1 Green and put the Coalition last. Indeed the eminent human rights lawyer, Professor Gillian Triggs, has described the Coalition as “ideologically opposed to human rights.”

Witting or unwitting repetition of Mainstream media-popularized Zionist falsehoods is wrong because (a) the assertions are false, (b) when made to children it amounts to egregious intellectual child abuse (noting that an expert Israeli psychiatric survey has found that 50% of Israeli children suffer from physical, psychological or sexual abuse, with 17% suffering sexual abuse as compared to 25% in Australia), and (c) it severely impacts decent, truthful and humane anti-racist Jewish citizens who as decent human beings are utterly opposed to the horrendous crimes of nuclear terrorist, racist Zionist-run, genocidally racist, serial mass murdering, serial war criminal, serial invader, serial occupier, grossly human rights-abusing, woman-abusing, mother-abusing, child-abusing, democracy by genocide, utterly mendacious, and Nazi-style Apartheid Israel.

Yes, there evidently are some decent, anti-racist journalists and commentators within the ABC and the SBS. And indeed truth-seekers turn to the ABC and SBS as alternatives to the dominant and dangerously mendacious Murdoch media. However I can immediately list a handful of truly outstanding, anti-racist truth-tellers associated with the ABC (past and/or present) – and some of them anti-racist Jewish Australians with a sole allegiance to Australia – who have been falsely smeared as anti-Jewish anti-Semites by simply being named and included (without explicit condemnation) in regular Zionist anti-Semitism reports or in reports on anti-Zionism, pro-BDS or pro-Palestinian humane rights positions that the Zionists and their supporters falsely declare to be “anti-Semitic” e.g. G1, G2, J1, J2, K, M1 and M2.

The racist Zionists are presently seeking to get Australia and Facebook to implement the utterly false Zionist IHRA definition of “anti-Semitism” as including criticism of Apartheid Israel, a malicious falsehood that was opposed by anti-racist Jewish British Labour MPs and by anti-racist Jewish organizations around the world, but which eventually destroyed eminently anti-racist UK Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn.

Getting Zionists and pro-Zionists to report/comment on Palestinian matters is like getting Nazis to comment on the Jewish Holocaust. Zionism is genocidal racism and Nazism without gas chambers. Pro-Zionist, US lackey Australia needs de-Nazification as in post-WW2 Germany.

Anti-racist Jewish American scholar Professor Bertell Ollman: “Yet, the facts on the ground, when not obscured by one or another Zionist rationalization, show that the Zionists are the worst anti-Semites in the world today, oppressing a Semitic people as no nation has done since the Nazis”. In similar vein, outstanding anti-racist Jewish Canadian writer Naomi Klein: “There is a debate among Jews — I’m a Jew by the way. The debate boils down to the question: “Never again to everyone, or never again to us?… [Some Jews] even think we get one get-away-with-genocide-free card…There is another strain in the Jewish tradition that say[s], ‘Never again to anyone”. Anti-racist Jewish scholar Moshe Menuhin (father of famous violinist, anti-Zionist and universalist, Yehudi Menuhin) on the Zionist oppression of the Palestinians: “Jews should be Jews – not Nazis” (see “Jews Against Racist Zionism”).

Anti-Semitism comes in 2 equally repugnant forms, anti-Arab anti-Semitism (including Islamophobia) against 300 million ethnically and culturally Semitic Arabs (e.g. Palestinians) and 1,600 million largely culturally Semitic Muslims, and anti-Jewish anti-Semitism against 18 million largely culturally Semitic Jews (e.g. DNA analysis reveals that I am mostly Ashkenazi Jewish but have zero Middle Eastern contribution; i.e., I have no genetic connection to the Roman era Jewish Palestinians whose descendants today in Palestine are overwhelmingly the sorely oppressed Indigenous Palestinians).

The Zionists are the worst anti-Arab anti-Semites in the world in terms of obscene racist words, vile Apartheid Israeli laws and impositions, and the horrendous genocidal violence of the Palestinian Genocide (2.2 million Palestinians killed through violence, 0.1 million, or imposed deprivation, 2.1 million, since 1916), and the Zionist-promoted Muslim Holocaust and Muslim Genocide (32 million Muslins killed from violence, 5 million, or from imposed deprivation, 27 million, in 20 countries invaded by the US Alliance since 9/11) (see my huge book: US-imposed post-9/11 Muslim Holocaust and Muslim Genocide, Chapter 16 of which compares the ongoing Palestinian Genocide and the ongoing Australian Aboriginal Genocide).

However the Zionists are manifestly the worst anti-Jewish anti-Semites in the world today through (a) falsely conflating the crimes of the falsely asserted “Jewish state”, Apartheid Israel, with all Jews (i.e. including a huge body – and hopefully a majority – of decent, anti-racist Jews), (b) the exciting of reactive anti-Jewish anti-Semitism and hostility around the world through the horrendous crimes of Apartheid Israel (a major concern of anti-racist Jews, notably UK Minister Sir Edwin Montagu and Australian Governor General Sir Isaac Isaacs), and (c) the appalling intimidation, censorship, sidelining and obnoxious, false defamation of decent, anti-racist Jews as “racist”, “anti-Semitic”, “self-hating Jews” and “self-loathing Jews”. A half-century career scientist and writer, the author of over 100 scientific papers, 7 huge books and of hundreds of carefully researched and referenced humanitarian articles, I am regularly horribly defamed by Zionists, and in the last decade have been rendered “invisible” in the country of my birth and sole allegiance, Australia (those involved in this silencing have evidently been Zionists, but are also likely to include Zionist — and US-subverted Australian Intelligence and Zionist — and US-subverted Mainstream media gatekeepers).

As a typically patriotic Australian child I was indignant when a great mentor, a Jewish refugee from Nazism, would say that it could happen in Australia. It has. A dominant body of Zionist-subverted, Zionist-perverted and cravenly US lackey Australian Mainstream journalists, editors, politicians, academics, commentators and public intellectuals take on the utterly mendacious and criminal Zionist version of reality. The science-informed, international law-cognizant and humane positions of anti-racist Jewish and non-Jewish humanitarians, and indeed of the actually Semitic Arab victims of genocidal Zionist and American violence, are largely ignored by US lackey Mainstream presstitutes who dance to the tune of genocidally racist Apartheid Israel and Apartheid America. Anti-racist Jews and Muslims are routinely sidelined, censored, vilified, bullied and falsely defamed in Zionist-subverted Australia. No better example can be given than the vilification, censoring, sacking and driving out of Australia of engineer and journalist Yassmin Abdel Magied for merely posting on her Facebook page: “Lest we forget (Manus, Nauru, Syria, Palestine).”

Commenting on the current Sinophobia and China-bashing in US lackey Australia, a Palestinian figure opined that any Chinese activities had not got to first base as compared to the massive American and Apartheid Israeli subversion of Australia. Indeed, as reported by Mainstream media and Alternative socialist media, Australian institutions have been massively subverted by the US and Apartheid Israel. Individual Australians have variously been intimidated, censored, bullied, vilified, sidelined, defamed, shot, tasered, kidnapped, robbed, falsely imprisoned, mangled, tortured, killed, subject to mass intelligence gathering, deceived and their passports repeatedly used for terrorist purposes by Apartheid Israel and its agents. Indeed Apartheid Israel has been malignantly involved in Australia’s neighbourhood in support of the Myanmar military and its Rohingya Genocide, the Sri Lankan Tamil Genocide and the overthrow of democracy in Fiji. Labor leaders Bob Carr and Kevin Rudd are rare examples of Australian leaders speaking out. However shortly after Kevin Rudd had diplomatically objected to the Israeli mass forging of Australian passports for terrorism purposes, and the Israeli kidnapping of Australians in international waters, he was removed in a pro-Zionist-led Coup that has kept Labor out of power for a decade.

Entrenched, Zionist-purveyed anti-Arab anti-Semitism and anti-Jewish Anti-Semitism have to be recognized and countered. Entrenched national, Government and Opposition support for Apartheid Israel is support for Apartheid that is condemned in International Law as a crime against Humanity by the UN International Convention on the Suppression and Punishment of the Crime of Apartheid. It gets worse. The UN Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons (TPNW) came into effect from 22 January 2021 and prohibits State Parties (a) from possessing nuclear weapons or (b) supporting such possession “in any way”. Pro-Apartheid Israel, US lackey Australia rejects the TPNW, and is in gross violation of the TPNW by intimate involvement in US nuclear terrorism and in numerous military involvements with nuclear terrorist Apartheid Israel. Australia is second only to the US as a supporter of nuclear terrorist Apartheid Israel.

Scientists recognize that the world is existentially threatened by (a) nuclear weapons and (b) by man-made climate change. Indeed one of Humanity’s greatest minds, Professor Stephen Hawking, has stated: “We see great peril if governments and societies do not take action now to render nuclear weapons obsolete and to prevent further climate change”. However, in addition to entrenched anti-Semitism against Arabs, Muslims and anti-racist Jews, Zionist- and US-subverted Australia threatens Humanity and the Biosphere by (a) rejecting its International Law obligations under the nuclear ban treaty, and (b) being the worst country in the Developed world for climate action policy with the US coming in at second worst. Indeed Australia is among world leaders in 16 areas of climate criminality (see my latest huge book Climate Crisis, Climate Genocide & Solutions necessarily published in Europe) .

Evil happens when good men do nothing. I require a retraction and apology from the ABC and the SBS for purveying the falsehoods outlined above. Decent anti-racist Jewish and non-Jewish Australians will not tolerate taxpayer funding of anti-Arab anti-Semitic and anti-Jewish anti-Semitic media. Please disseminate this letter to everyone you can.

Yours sincerely, Dr Gideon Polya, Melbourne

The post Letter to the Australian Taxpayer-funded ABC and SBS Media re Anti-Arab & Anti-Jewish Anti-Semitism and False Reportage about Occupied Palestine first appeared on Dissident Voice.

“Freedom is Never Voluntarily Given”: Palestinian Boycott of Israel is Not Racist, It is Anti-Racist 

Claims made by Democratic New York City mayoral candidate, Andrew Yang, in a recent op-ed in the Jewish weekly, ‘The Forward’, point to the prevailing ignorance that continues to dominate the US discourse on Palestine and Israel.

Yang, a former Democratic Presidential candidate, is vying for the Jewish vote in New York City. According to the reductionist assumption that all Jews must naturally support Israel and Zionism, Yang constructed an argument that is entirely based on a tired and false mantra equating criticism of Israel with anti-Semitism.

Yang’s pro-Israel logic is not only unfounded, but confused as well. “A Yang administration will push back against the BDS movement which singles out Israel for unfair economic punishment,” he wrote, referring to the Palestinian Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions movement.

Yang compared the BDS movement to the “fascist boycotts of Jewish businesses”, most likely a reference to the infamous Nazi boycott of Jewish businesses in Germany, starting in April 1933.

Not only does Yang fail to construct his argument in any historically defensible fashion, he  claims that BDS is “rooted in anti-Semitic thought and history.”

BDS is, in fact, rooted in history, not that of Nazi Germany, but of the Palestinian General Strike of 1936, when the Palestinian Arab population took collective action to hold colonial Britain accountable for its unfair and violent treatment of Palestinian Muslims and Christians. Instead of helping Palestine achieve full sovereignty, colonial Britain backed the political aspirations of White European Zionists who aimed to establish a ‘Jewish homeland’ in Palestine.

Sadly, the efforts of the Palestinian natives failed, and the new State of Israel became a reality in 1948, after nearly one million Palestinian refugees were uprooted and ethnically cleansed as a result of a decidedly violent campaign, the aftershocks of which continue to this day. Indeed, today’s ongoing military occupation and apartheid are all rooted in that tragic history.

This is the reality that the boycott movement is fighting to change. No anti-Semitic, Nazi – or, according to Yang’s ahistorical account, ‘fascist’ – love affair is at work here; just a beleaguered and oppressed nation fighting for its most basic human rights.

Yang’s ignorant and self-serving comments were duly answered most appropriately, including by many anti-Zionist Jewish intellectuals and activists throughout the US and the world. Alex Kane, a writer in ‘Jewish Currents’ tweeted that Yang made “a messed up, wrong comparison”, and that the politician “comes across as deeply ignorant about Palestine, Palestinians and BDS”.  US Muslim Congresswoman, Ilhan Omar, and the American Arab Anti-Discrimination Committee (ADC) added their voices to numerous others, all pointing to Yang’s opportunism, lack of understanding of history and distorted logic.

But this goes beyond Yang, as the debate over BDS in the US is almost entirely rooted in fallacious comparisons and ignorance of history.

Those who had hoped that the unceremonious end of the Donald Trump Administration would bring about a measure of justice for the Palestinian people will surely be disappointed, as the American discourse on Palestine and Israel rarely changes, regardless which President resides in the White House and what political party dominates the Congress.

So, reducing the boycott debate to Yang’s confused account of history and reality is, itself, a reductionist understanding of US politics. Indeed, similar language is regularly infused, like that used by President Joe Biden’s nominee for United Nations envoy, Linda Thomas-Greenfield while addressing her confirmation hearing at the Senate’s Foreign Relations Committee on January 27. Like Yang, Thomas-Greenfield also found boycotting Israel an “unacceptable” act that “verges on anti-Semitism.”

While the presumptive envoy supported the return of the US to the Human Rights Council, UNESCO and other UN-affiliated organizations, her reasoning for such a move is merely to ensure the US has a place “at the table” so that Washington may monitor and discourage any criticism of Israel.

Yang, Thomas-Greenfield and others perpetuate such inaccurate comparisons with full confidence that they have strong support among the country’s ruling elites from the two dominant political parties. Indeed, according to the latest count produced by the pro-Israel Jewish Virtual Library website, “32 states have adopted laws, executive orders or resolutions that are designed to discourage boycotts against Israel.”

In fact, the criminalization of the boycott movement has taken center stage of the federal government in Washington DC. Anti-boycott legislation was passed with overwhelming majorities in both the Senate and the House of Representatives in recent years and more are expected to follow.

The popularity of such measures prompted former Secretary of State, Mike Pompeo, to declare the Israel boycott movement to be anti-Semitic, describing it at as ‘a cancer’ at a press conference in November, alongside Israeli Prime Minister, Benjamin Netanyahu, while in the illegal settlement of Psagot.

While Pompeo’s position is unsurprising, it behooves Yang and Thomas-Greenfield, both members of minority groups that suffered immense historical racism and discrimination, to brush up on the history of popular boycott movements in their own country. The weapon of boycott was, indeed, a most effective platform to translate political dissent into tangible achievements for oppressed Black people in the US during the civil rights movement in the mid-20th century. Most memorable, and consequential of these boycotts was the Montgomery Bus Boycott of 1955.

Moreover, outside the US, numerous volumes have been written about how the boycott of the White supremacist apartheid government in South Africa ignited a global movement which, combined with the sacrifices of Black South Africans, brought apartheid to an end in the early 1990s.

The Palestinian people do not learn history from Yang and others, but from the collective experiences of oppressed peoples and nations throughout the world. They are guided by the wisdom of Martin Luther King Jr., who once said that “We know through painful experience that freedom is never voluntarily given by the oppressor, it must be demanded by the oppressed.”

The boycott movement aims at holding the oppressor accountable as it places a price tag on military occupation and apartheid. Not only is the Palestinian boycott movement not racist, it is essentially a rallying cry against racism and oppression.

The post “Freedom is Never Voluntarily Given”: Palestinian Boycott of Israel is Not Racist, It is Anti-Racist  first appeared on Dissident Voice.