Wednesday, July 30, 2014

Bolivia declares Israel a terrorist state

AFP
5 hours ago

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Israeli soldiers fire towards the Gaza Strip from their position near Israel's border with the coastal Palestinian enclave on July 27, 2014 (AFP Photo/Gil Cohen-Magen)

La Paz (AFP) - Bolivia on Wednesday renounced a visa exemption agreement with Israel in protest over its offensive in Gaza, and declared it a terrorist state.

President Evo Morales announced the move during a talk with a group of educators in the city of Cochabamba.

It "means, in other words, we are declaring (Israel) a terrorist state," he said.

The treaty has allowed Israelis to travel freely to Bolivia without a visa since 1972.

Morales said the Gaza offensive shows "that Israel is not a guarantor of the principles of respect for life and the elementary precepts of rights that govern the peaceful and harmonious coexistence of our international community."

More than two weeks of fighting in Gaza have left 1,300 dead and 6,000 wounded amid an intense Israeli air and ground campaign in response to missile attacks by the Islamist militant group Hamas.

In the latest development, 16 people were killed after two Israeli shells slammed into a United Nations school, drawing international protests.

Bolivia broke off diplomatic relations with Israel in 2009 over a previous military operation in Gaza.

In mid-July, Morales filed a request with the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights to prosecute Israel for "crimes against humanity."

Tuesday, July 29, 2014

Ethnocratic "Jewish Democracy" reaches new heights as Israeli Knesset Banns elected Palestinian Representative

MK Zoabi banned from Knesset for six months

Balad MK will be able to vote, but not participate in any other activity in plenum. Haneen Zoabi at the President's residence, January 31, 2013.




Haneen Zoabi at the President's residence, January 31, 2013. Photo: Marc Israel Sellem/The Jerusalem Post


MK Haneen Zoabi (Balad) will be banned from all parliamentary activity except voting for the next six months, following a Knesset Ethics Committee ruling Tuesday on complaints by Knesset Speaker Yuli Edelstein and other lawmakers.

Zoabi's punishment will take effect on Wednesday, the last day of voting before the Knesset goes on recess until October, at which point she will not be able to make speeches, submit parliamentary questions or initiate debates in committees or the plenary.
Also Tuesday, a Knesset Channel poll found 89% of Jewish Israelis think Zoabi's citizenship should be revoked, while only 10% opposed such a move.


The Balad MK has a long history of controversial activity in and out of the Knesset, including participating on the 2010 Gaza flotilla on the infamous Mavi Marmara ship, which was stopped by IDF commandos. In 2011, she was banned from the Knesset by the Ethics Committee for two months after she physically attacked an usher who tried to remove her from the plenum for incessantly interrupting Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu, who referred to her in his speech.
Related:

Zoabi unapologetic, repeats that kidnapping is not terror
Zoabi justifies Hamas rockets as fighting 'soft occupation' in Gaza
The Ethics Committee received many complaints about Zoabi in recent weeks about her, saying the kidnapping of Eyal Yifrah, Naftali Fraenkel and Gil-Ad Shaer in Gush Etzion in June, who later were found murdered, is not terrorism – which attorney general Yehuda Weinstein decided is not criminal incitement - and for her support for Hamas rocket attacks on Israel during Operation Protective Edge.

Edelstein also submitted a complaint, telling the committee that many citizens appealed to him to take action against Zoabi because "her statements bordering on incitement encouraging violence and supporting terrorism." The Knesset Speaker specifically mentioned an article Zoabi published on a Hamas website in which she encouraged Palestinians to take part in "popular resistance" and called to "put Israel under siege instead of negotiating."

He also quoted Zoabi's statements in a radio interview following the kidnapping of the three boys: "[The kidnappers] are not terrorists. They have to use these means, until Israel will wake up a little, until the citizens of Israel and Israeli society will wake up and feel the suffering of the other." Finally, Edelstein sent the committee a video in which Zoabi displays aggressive behavior toward police officers during a demonstration in Haifa against IDF activities.

"I know the committee consistently defends freedom of expression for MKs in general and specifically for those who represent minorities, and as Knesset Speaker, I think this is the right and appropriate policy. Still, I think that MK Zoabi crossed the line long ago when it comes to appropriate behavior for a lawmaker," Edelstein wrote. The Knesset Speaker continued: "The many complaints I received show this is not a 'usual' case of harsh or outrageous statements that happen from time to time in the Knesset, but continued provocative behavior that erodes the Knesset's status.

"That is why I think the Ethics Committee should use its authority in a way that will send a message to MK Zoabi and the wider public that although freedom of political expression is a basic right, they cannot support terrorist organizations and encourage acts of terrorism," he concluded.

The Ethics Committee pointed out in its decision that, when Weinstein said Zoabi's comments on the three teens' kidnapping are not criminal, he added that they could be unethical, as they are "especially harsh at the time they were said because, although she expressed reservations about the action of kidnapping, they could be understood as understanding and identification with it." Zoabi responded to the committee that the complaints were spiteful and exemplify the "reigning culture of racism and the need to rule over the other and suppress the other's political opinions."

The Balad MK said the Ethics Committee ignored the context of her comments about the three teens.

"It is too bad that the Knesset Speaker used a partial quote," she wrote. "In any case, I admit that my political and parliamentary activity, like my declarations and opinions, represent political opinions and values that completely contradict those reflected in the complaints.

"I represent a vision of justice, freedom, equality and an uncompromising battle against racism, oppression, discrimination, dispossession and disenfranchisement…I will not give in to those who are trying to silence me, punish me and take revenge on me," Zoabi added.

The Ethics Committee wrote that it seeks to avoid limiting freedom of political expression by MKs, even when their statements are outrageous, and expressions of harsh criticism in times of war must be allowed.

However, the committee added, there is a difference between legitimate criticism and encouraging Israel's enemies and legitimizing terrorism against Israeli citizens.

"The public in Israel, like in any country, expects that the members of its parliament, who declare allegiance to the state, will not encourage those who attack it and want to kill its soldiers and citizens," the Ethics Committee decision reads. "Criticism of the government [by an MK], harsh as it may be, should be made from the point of view of someone who wants the good of the country and its citizens and wants to influence policy." As such, the committee decided that Zoabi's comments and their timing were not legitimate and showed she identifies with enemies of Israel, and that the article she wrote can only be understood as calling to harm the State of Israel, its security and its basic interests.

Her words violated her pledge as an MK and hurt the Knesset and its image, the committee wrote, and as such, it gave her the harshest punishment it is able to give, a ban from all parliamentary activity except for voting for six months.

Many MKs reacted positively to Zoabi's punishment, including foreign minister Avigdor Liberman, who said "it is not enough to suspend Zoabi from Knesset debates for six months – she should be sent away from Israel to Qatar, and join the traitor from her party who already ran there, Azmi Bishara." Bishara fled Israel and resigned from the Knesset in 2007, when he was being investigated for ties with an enemy country.

Deputy transportation minister Tzipi Hotovely (Likud) said the Balad MK should not be a citizen of Israel.

"The Knesset did something symbolic today, but as long as she continues to get a salary from Israel and be an MK, the fiasco continues. The right thing to do is have her dismissed from the Knesset," Hotovely stated.

Knesset Interior Committee chairwoman Miri Regev (Likud) said "there is no doubt Zoabi will go underground together with Hamas leaders and I will succeed in getting her [parliamentary] immunity revoked. Zoabi's removal from the Knesset is closer than ever. There is no room for traitors in the Knesset."

Knesset Committee for the Advancement of the Status of Women chairwoman Aliza Lavie (Yesh Atid), who got into a shouting match with Zoabi over her statements about the kidnapped teens, said a six-month suspension is not enough and that a Hamas representative should not be in the Knesset.

"Zoabi consistently supports our enemies and harming Israeli security," Lavie stated. "MK Zoabi's behavior raises a serious suspicion that she crossed a clear redline at which point she can no longer be an MK." However, MK Issawi Freij (Meretz) said the decision was disproportionate and unreasonable and proves that Jewish and Arab MKs are treated differently.

"The Ethics Committee is quick to punish MK Zoabi but not MKs and ministers who incite against and call to boycott Arabs…who get a weak censure," Freij said. "Freedom of speech is a right that cannot be violated, except in the most extreme cases, especially when it's an MK."



Incremental Genocide: An Interview with Ilan Pappe






Incremental Genocide: An Interview with Ilan Pappe


a recent Opinion piece published on Electronic Intifada, Israeli historian Ilan Pappe defines the Israeli policy towards the Gaza Strip as an "incremental genocide." He writes “Israel’s present assault on Gaza, alas, indicates that this policy continues unabated. The term is important since it appropriately locates Israel’s barbaric action—then and now—within a wider historical context.” Malihe Razazan spoke with Professor Ilan Pappe about ways in which we need to examine the ongoing Israeli military aggression on Gaza within a wider historical background. The interview was conducted on 15 July, prior to the Israeli ground incursion into Gaza.

Debunking the myths about Gaza: The truth behind Israeli and Palestinian talking points Why this fight now? Who started it? What happened with the kidnapped Israeli teens? Getting to the bottom of myths

from Salon.com
MONDAY, JUL 28, 2014 07:01 PM EDT

OMAR BADDAR

Debunking the myths about Gaza: The truth behind Israeli and Palestinian talking points

Palestinians just endured an exceptionally brutal weekend: In Gaza, the death toll crossed the appalling benchmark of 1,000, overwhelmingly civilians. In the West Bank, Israeli soldiers and settlers also killed at least nine Palestinians amid protests against the devastation of Gaza. I recently debunked Israel’s misleading “human shields” argument attempting to deflect responsibility for the killing of hundreds of Palestinian civilians; but more important to expose is the false narrative of how we found ourselves in this crisis and who is responsible for its perpetuation.

Invisible Bias

For most media outlets, the current crisis began with the kidnapping and murder of three Israeli teens in the West Bank. This is, of course, an arbitrary starting point. Just one day before the kidnappings, a Palestinian man and a 10-year-old child were killed in Gaza by an Israeli airstrike. Why wasn’t that the starting point of the violence? Has the media internalized Israel’s narrative to such an extent that they only see Israel as “responding” to violence rather than initiating it?

Israel initially blamed Hamas for the teens’ kidnapping, and “responded” by going on a violent rampage in the West Bank, invading homes, killing demonstrators, and arresting hundreds of Palestinians, including 60 Hamas members who had been freed in an earlier prisoner swap. Imagine the opposite scenario for a moment: When Israeli troops were caught on tape killing unarmed Palestinian teens just a few weeks before the kidnapping of the Israeli teens, imagine if Hamas responded by invading Israeli homes, shooting Israeli demonstrators and kidnapping hundreds of Israeli troops. Would media outlets cover such actions with the same sympathy and understanding afforded to Israel’s actions?

Hamas, Rockets and Kidnappings

We hear a lot about how many rockets Hamas fired, but rarely in a proper timeline. Hamas had been strictly observing a cease-fire agreement since it was brokered in 2012, and was even arresting Palestinian militants from rival factions who fired rockets at Israel as recently as last month. Hamas ultimately did resume firing rockets into Israel, but only after the massive crackdown Israel initiated against Hamas in the West Bank (and by some accounts, even after an Israeli airstrike on Gaza).

And it turns out the initial crackdown against Hamas was also without basis. Israeli officials now acknowledge, in direct contradiction to statements by Israel’s prime minister, that Hamas was actually not responsible for the kidnappings of the three Israeli teens after all. And this is not just a realization Israel made over the weekend: Israeli intelligence officers reportedly noted as early as June 30 that there was no evidence implicating Hamas as an organization.

Why Now?

Since Hamas did not initiate this confrontation, the question remains: Why did Israel pick this fight with them now? The answer requires a bit of context: For more than two decades, Palestinians and Israelis have been engaged in a so-called peace process, which aims to establish a Palestinian state on the occupied territories, the small areas from which Israel is legally required to withdraw. But that peace process failed time and again because Israel was never serious about allowing a viable Palestinian state to exist, and insisted on swallowing up more and more Palestinian land through relentless settlement expansion, in direct violation of international law. More recently, Israeli Prime Minister Bibi Netanyahu candidly (though only in Hebrew) ruled out the possibility of allowing a sovereign Palestinian state to exist.

But because global perceptions are important, Israel is always looking for a way to deflect responsibility for the failure of the peace process onto the Palestinians. One of the talking points used to that end is the claim that there is “no partner for peace” on the Palestinian side because the leadership was divided. So when Hamas and the Palestinian Authority agreed to end their division in recent months, Netanyahu’s government freaked out and demanded Western governments boycott the new united Palestinian leadership. When, to Netanyahu’s bitter disappointment, the U.S. insisted on dealing with the new Palestinian government anyway, Israel seems to have opted for a direct confrontation with Hamas to break up the unity government. One can see the cynical exploitation of the teens’ kidnapping to this end simply by looking at the Jerusalem Post headline, which reads: “Netanyahu to Kerry: PA’s Hamas-backed unity government to blame for missing teens.” Evidence for this sort of nonsense, of course, is nowhere to be seen.

Occupation and Self-Defense

Beyond the tit-for-tat of “who started it” many are busy debating, it is crucial to emphasize that Israel has illegally occupied the Palestinian territories for many decades, is actively engaging in land theft through illegal settlement expansion, and is imposing a system of apartheid. Under those circumstances, Israel’s very posture is offensive, and it cannot claim to be engaging in “self-defense” against the very people whose land it has illegally usurped.

To personalize this for a moment, imagine a bully sitting on a smaller child, and every time someone objects to the fact that the bully is beating the smaller child with an iron rod, the bully exclaims, “Well, he tried to slap me, so I was forced to defend myself.” No, you can’t claim that you’re beating the smaller child with an iron rod in self-defense, especially when you can end the entire confrontation simply by getting off him. Back to the political reality, Norman Finkelstein put it best: “The refrain that Israel has the right to self-defense is a red herring: the real question is, does Israel have the right to use force to maintain an illegal occupation? The answer is no.”

Israel’s Message to Palestinians

When you take into account everything I mentioned so far, you begin to realize that the ubiquitous talking point “Israel was forced to defend itself from Hamas rockets” is wrong on three counts: 1) This round of violence did not start with Hamas rockets; 2) Israel was not “forced” into this confrontation; and 3) Israel as the occupying power is certainly not “defending” itself.

Under these circumstances, the atrocious bombing of Gaza and the killing of hundreds of civilians makes clear that Israel’s message to Palestinians is this: You will live under our boot, occupied, besieged, dispossessed and humiliated without any semblance of freedom. On occasion, we may even go on a violent rampage against you, but you better not respond. Because if any of you ever dare respond to our violence with violence, we will be forced to “defend ourselves” by using our overwhelming military might to beat your entire society into submission.

Ending the Violence

By now, you’ve probably heard news outlets accuse both Israel and Hamas, on alternating occasions, of rejecting cease-fire proposals. The accusations against both are true, and this merely has to do with the terms of each proposal: Israel wants a cease-fire that effectively ends the fighting while allowing Israel to keep its boot on Gaza’s neck. Hamas, on the other hand, insists on some humanitarian conditions, including ending the siege and economic suffocation of Gaza, the introduction of international peacekeeping forces at Gaza’s borders, and the freeing of prisoners rounded up in recent weeks, many held without charge or trial.

Whatever cease-fire terms end up being accepted by both sides will only matter in the short term. In the long term, only true justice (an end to Israel’s occupation and apartheid) can end this conflict. Here, the responsibility of American citizens is paramount: If we can end our government’s unconditional military and diplomatic support for Israel’s most destructive policies, or condition such support on Israel abiding by its legal and moral obligations, we can begin to work toward that real justice all Israelis and Palestinians deserve.

Omar Baddar is a Middle East political analyst based in Washington, DC. You can follow him on Twitter at @OmarBaddar


Monday, July 28, 2014

Israel's Propaganda War The Secret Report Helps Israelis Hide Facts: The slickness of Israel's spokesmen is rooted in directions set down by pollster Frank Luntz



By Patrick Cockburn

July 28, 2014 "ICH" - "The Independent" - Israeli spokesmen have their work cut out explaining how they have killed more than 1,000 Palestinians in Gaza, most of them civilians, compared with just three civilians killed in Israel by Hamas rocket and mortar fire. But on television and radio and in newspapers, Israeli government spokesmen such as Mark Regev appear slicker and less aggressive than their predecessors, who were often visibly indifferent to how many Palestinians were killed.
There is a reason for this enhancement of the PR skills of Israeli spokesmen. Going by what they say, the playbook they are using is a professional, well-researched and confidential study on how to influence the media and public opinion in America and Europe. Written by the expert Republican pollster and political strategist Dr Frank Luntz, the study was commissioned five years ago by a group called The Israel Project, with offices in the US and Israel, for use by those “who are on the front lines of fighting the media war for Israel”.
Every one of the 112 pages in the booklet is marked “not for distribution or publication” and it is easy to see why. The Luntz report, officially entitled “The Israel project’s 2009 Global Language Dictionary, was leaked almost immediately to Newsweek Online, but its true importance has seldom been appreciated. It should be required reading for everybody, especially journalists, interested in any aspect of Israeli policy because of its “dos and don’ts” for Israeli spokesmen.

These are highly illuminating about the gap between what Israeli officials and politicians really believe, and what they say, the latter shaped in minute detail by polling to determine what Americans want to hear. Certainly, no journalist interviewing an Israeli spokesman should do so without reading this preview of many of the themes and phrases employed by Mr Regev and his colleagues.

The booklet is full of meaty advice about how they should shape their answers for different audiences. For example, the study says that “Americans agree that Israel ‘has a right to defensible borders’. But it does you no good to define exactly what those borders should be. Avoid talking about borders in terms of pre- or post-1967, because it only serves to remind Americans of Israel’s military history. Particularly on the left this does you harm. For instance, support for Israel’s right to defensible borders drops from a heady 89 per cent to under 60 per cent when you talk about it in terms of 1967.”

How about the right of return for Palestinian refugees who were expelled or fled in 1948 and in the following years, and who are not allowed to go back to their homes? Here Dr Luntz has subtle advice for spokesmen, saying that “the right of return is a tough issue for Israelis to communicate effectively because much of Israeli language sounds like the ‘separate but equal’ words of the 1950s segregationists and the 1980s advocates of Apartheid. The fact is, Americans don’t like, don’t believe and don’t accept the concept of ‘separate but equal’.”

So how should spokesmen deal with what the booklet admits is a tough question? They should call it a “demand”, on the grounds that Americans don’t like people who make demands. “Then say ‘Palestinians aren’t content with their own state. Now they’re demanding territory inside Israel’.” Other suggestions for an effective Israeli response include saying that the right of return might become part of a final settlement “at some point in the future”.

Dr Luntz notes that Americans as a whole are fearful of mass immigration into the US, so mention of “mass Palestinian immigration” into Israel will not go down well with them. If nothing else works, say that the return of Palestinians would “derail the effort to achieve peace”.

The Luntz report was written in the aftermath of Operation Cast Lead in December 2008 and January 2009, when 1,387 Palestinians and nine Israelis were killed.

There is a whole chapter on “isolating Iran-backed Hamas as an obstacle to peace”. Unfortunately, come the current Operation Protective Edge, which began on 6 July, there was a problem for Israeli propagandists because Hamas had quarrelled with Iran over the war in Syria and had no contact with Tehran. Friendly relations have been resumed only in the past few days – thanks to the Israeli invasion.

Much of Dr Luntz’s advice is about the tone and presentation of the Israeli case. He says it is absolutely crucial to exude empathy for Palestinians: “Persuadables [sic] won’t care how much you know until they know how much you care. Show Empathy for BOTH sides!” This may explain why a number of Israeli spokesman are almost lachrymose about the plight of Palestinians being pounded by Israeli bombs and shells.

In a sentence in bold type, underlined and with capitalisation, Dr Luntz says that Israeli spokesmen or political leaders must never, ever justify “the deliberate slaughter of innocent women and children” and they must aggressively challenge those who accuse Israel of such a crime. Israeli spokesmen struggled to be true to this prescription when 16 Palestinians were killed in a UN shelter in Gaza last Thursday.

There is a list of words and phrases to be used and a list of those to be avoided. Schmaltz is at a premium: “The best way, the only way, to achieve lasting peace is to achieve mutual respect.” Above all, Israel’s desire for peace with the Palestinians should be emphasised at all times because this what Americans overwhelmingly want to happen. But any pressure on Israel to actually make peace can be reduced by saying “one step at a time, one day at a time”, which will be accepted as “a commonsense approach to the land-for-peace equation”.

Dr Luntz cites as an example of an “effective Israeli sound bite” one which reads: “I particularly want to reach out to Palestinian mothers who have lost their children. No parent should have to bury their child.”

The study admits that the Israeli government does not really want a two-state solution, but says this should be masked because 78 per cent of Americans do. Hopes for the economic betterment of Palestinians should be emphasised.

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu is quoted with approval for saying that it is “time for someone to ask Hamas: what exactly are YOU doing to bring prosperity to your people”. The hypocrisy of this beggars belief: it is the seven-year-old Israeli economic siege that has reduced the Gaza to poverty and misery.

On every occasion, the presentation of events by Israeli spokesmen is geared to giving Americans and Europeans the impression that Israel wants peace with the Palestinians and is prepared to compromise to achieve this, when all the evidence is that it does not. Though it was not intended as such, few more revealing studies have been written about modern Israel in times of war and peace.


Sunday, July 27, 2014

The People Putting Innocents in Danger are the Israelis Gaza, Israel and ‘Human Shields’

WEEKEND EDITION JULY 25-27, 2014
From Counterpunch.com

by SARAH GILLESPIE
What does it mean to use human shields? Employed by the Germans and Japanese in the Second World War, the tactic is premised on an underlying trust in your enemy’s humanity. It appeals to the compassion and mercy of the combatant that they not slaughter the innocent in order to avenge their target. The ‘shield’ is not the human bodies surrounding the ‘guilty’ party, the shield is the clemency that mankind instinctively affords the innocent. The shield evaporates only when confronted by an enemy who is not merely a fellow solder locked in a power battle, but a psychopath unconcerned with the pain of others. Such is the case with the Hamas. They are faced with an enemy who is willing to obliterate pregnant women, babies, kids, handicapped people, schools and crowded hospitals in order to smash their target. The Israelis repeatedly demonstrate a pathological disregard for any life that is not a Jewish life, and it is for this reason alone, that the Hamas are utterly incapable of ever using ‘human shields.’

However, Netanyahu, pro Israeli media and Zionist supporters can’t resist endlessly recycling their trope that the Hamas use civilians to guard their rockets. They are clearly flummoxed as to why this assertion does nothing to quell the snowballing international outrage at the massacres they are committing. Their argument attempts to plant in our minds the notion that the Hamas actively invite the Israeli military to slaughter and maim innocents and, in doing so, prove that their savagery deserves to be annihilated. Paradoxically therefore, according to the twisted logic of Zionists, the more innocent Palestinians that die, the worse the Palestinians are. As a collective they are guilty of being innocent.

But this propaganda ploy doesn’t work. Not only does it not work, it boomerangs completely. Every time a Zionist apologist repeats their ‘human shield’ accusations they merely advertise their own deficit of basic humanity. They tell us ‘the Hamas think we have empathy for our fellow human beings, but if you look at the casualty figures, you’ll see how mistaken they are.’

The other issues at play here are the rights of the Palestinians to defend themselves and the pragmatics of warfare in a refugee camp. Israel is extremely fond of telling the world that they have the right to defend themselves. They enjoy a nuclear arsenal, cutting edge American weaponry and the formidable Iron Dome technology. Yet, although Israel constantly brags about its own egalitarian credentials, for some reason Israel refuses to grant the Palestinian people this same intrinsic right to defense that it demands for itself. Palestinians are not allowed to protect themselves. They are not allowed to fight. Instead we are invited to imagine that it is somehow acceptable for the Palestinians to have no weaponry whatsoever, no army, no solders, no rights. We are lead to believe that the only way for Palestinians to prove their integrity, is to lie down like lambs and quietly live out the unspeakably miserable lives of squalor, poverty and despair that Israel has designed for them. In short, Israel wishes the Palestinians were suicidal but, inconveniently, they keep proving to us that they are not.

Obviously asking a people to passively embrace their own ethnic cleansing is implausible. One would hope that the Jews, more than anyone, might be capable of grasping such a fundamental truth – but sadly not. Given then, that the people of Gaza, like any other human beings, have right to defense, where exactly should they store their weapons? In the rolling valleys and tumbling hills of Haraat al-Daraj? Amid the fauna-filled acres of Shuja’iyya? Gaza is home to approximately 1.8 million people, it is 25 miles long by 5 to 7 miles wide and sealed by both an Egyptian and Israeli blockade. It is the most crowded open air prison on earth. The only place to feasibly store weapons is inevitably in the proximity of the people forced to live there cheek by jowl. Israel has now ordered some 43% of the territory to be evacuated. But where to? The Kafka-esque request to insist people go, knowing there is nowhere to go to, is clearly there to benefit Israeli PR, not save lives. And it doesn’t fool anyone. There are currently hundreds of thousands of displaced. The schools that have opened to receive those fleeing are already overflowing and Palestinians that endured the bombings of schools during Operation Cast Lead, know that even a so-called ‘refuge’ can not guarantee safety. Let’s be clear: the only people putting the Palestinians in danger are the Israelis. The only people killing innocent people are the Israelis. Hamas may not be the party that the chattering classes of the West would want to govern them, but they are democratically elected and they have as much right as Israel, Britain, France and America to fight against an oppressor that quite literally wants to ‘wipe them off the map.’ They face a tough job, but one thing they can’t do is use human shields against an enemy that doesn’t recognise them as human.

Sarah Gillespie is a writer and musician living in London. She can be reached through her website: www.sarahgillespie.com


from the horse's mouth: A former AJC president spills the beans

from Politico.com

WASHINGTON AND THE WORLD

Israel Provoked This War
It’s up to President Obama to stop it.
By HENRY SIEGMAN July 22, 2014

There seems to be near-universal agreement in the United States with President Barack Obama’s observation that Israel, like every other country, has the right and obligation to defend its citizens from threats directed at them from beyond its borders.

But this anodyne statement does not begin to address the political and moral issues raised by Israel’s bombings and land invasion of Gaza: who violated the cease-fire agreement that was in place since November 2012 and whether Israel’s civilian population could have been protected by nonviolent means that would not have placed Gaza’s civilian population at risk. As of this writing, the number killed by the Israel Defense Forces has surpassed 600, the overwhelming majority of whom are noncombatants.

Israel’s assault on Gaza, as pointed out by analyst Nathan Thrall in the New York Times, was not triggered by Hamas’ rockets directed at Israel but by Israel’s determination to bring down the Palestinian unity government that was formed in early June, even though that government was committed to honoring all of the conditions imposed by the international community for recognition of its legitimacy.

The notion that it was Israel, not Hamas, that violated a cease-fire agreement will undoubtedly offend a wide swath of Israel supporters. To point out that it is not the first time Israel has done so will offend them even more deeply. But it was Shmuel Zakai, a retired brigadier general and former commander of the IDF’s Gaza Division, and not “leftist” critics, who said about the Israel Gaza war of 2009 that during the six-month period of a truce then in place, Israel made a central error “by failing to take advantage of the calm to improve, rather than markedly worsen, the economic plight of the Palestinians in the [Gaza] Strip. … You cannot just land blows, leave the Palestinians in Gaza in the economic distress they are in and expect Hamas just to sit around and do nothing.”

This is true of the latest cease-fire as well. According to Thrall, Hamas is now seeking through violence what it should have obtained through a peaceful handover of responsibilities. “Israel is pursuing a return to the status quo ante, when Gaza had electricity for barely eight hours a day, water was undrinkable, sewage was dumped in the sea, fuel shortages caused sanitation plants to shut down and waste sometimes floated in the streets.” It is not only Hamas supporters, but many Gazans, perhaps a majority, who believe it is worth paying a heavy price to change a disastrous status quo.

The answer to the second question — whether a less lethal course was not available to protect Israel’s civilian population — is (unintentionally?) implicit in the formulation of President Barack Obama’s defense of Israel’s actions: namely, the right and obligation of all governments to protect their civilian populations from assaults from across their borders.

But where, exactly, are Israel’s borders?

Henry Siegman is president of the U.S./Middle East Project. He served as senior fellow at the Council on Foreign Relations and non-resident research professor at the School of Oriental and African Studies of the University of London, and is a former national director of the American Jewish Congress.
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Read more: http://www.politico.com/magazine/story/2014/07/israel-provoked-this-war-109229.html#ixzz38gYnTVd8