Category Archives: Israel/Judaism – General

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My Parents Founded a Settlement, Now Trump Could Make Their Dream Come True

http://www.haaretz.com/opinion/.premium-1.776450

My Parents Founded a Settlement, Now Trump Could Make Their
Dream Come True

Yair Svorai Mar 12, 2017 4:37 AM

U.S. President Donald Trump’s “two-state and one-state” pronouncement
last month effectively signaled the demise of the Oslo Agreements – a
significant reversal of the long-established U.S. position, now in
contrast with a near-universal international consensus. It also supports
the continuation of Israel’s colonization of the territories it has
occupied since 1967.

Indeed, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu confirmed the spirit of
occupation-as-usual by demanding “security control” over the entire area
west of the Jordan River, proclaiming, in the words of The Nation’s
Rashid Khalidi, “A permanent regime of occupation and colonization,
ruling out a sovereign independent Palestinian state, whatever fictions
of ‘statehood’ or ‘autonomy’ are dreamed up to conceal this brutal
reality. Trump’s subsequent silence amounts to the blessing of the U.S.
government for this grotesque vision of enduring subjugation and
dispossession for the Palestinians.”

The expansion of Jewish settlement in, and control of, Palestine has
followed a consistent pattern for about 100 years: people replacement –
the replacement of Palestinians by Jews. It is crucial to understand the
timing of such expansion: whenever the opportunity arises. And, for
Israel, Donald J. Trump is a historical opportunity on a grand scale.

In 1907, the leadership of the World Zionist Organization sent Dr.
Arthur Ruppin on a fact-finding mission to Ottoman Palestine. Ruppin, a
German-Jewish economist and lawyer, subsequently developed a plan with
the ultimate goal of establishing Jewish self-rule in Ottoman Palestine,
where Jews were a small minority (between 6 and 9 percent).

The plan included establishing new settlements in such a way that over
time they would form a mass of settlements – Israel’s first settlement
bloc – to be used, much like today, as a geopolitical leveraging tool.

In the following three decades, prior to the Holocaust and before anyone
could imagine the horrific fate awaiting European Jews, the foundation
of the State of Israel was set in place via the creation of elaborate
pre-state institutions, buttressed by small waves of immigrants whose
political orientation ranged from Zionist socialists to right-wing
ultra-nationalists.

Among the latter were my parents, Moshe and Tova Svorai, arriving as
children from Eastern Europe in the early 1920s and belonging to the
most far-right elements of the Zionist movement – Betar and Brit
Habirionim, followed by the Irgun, and then the Lehi (Stern Gang); both
of these were pre-state Jewish terrorist organizations.

In the big-picture sense, left-wing and right-wing Zionists wanted the
same thing – a Jewish state in Palestine. The differences among them
were largely semantic: a matter of political style, timing and competing
approaches on how to reach that goal.

The elephant-in-the-room facing Zionism was – then, as now – ignored:
the land was already populated by Palestinian Arabs, who had been there
for centuries. Ignoring the physical reality, from early on Zionist
terminology was designed to perpetuate the myth of an empty land
awaiting its lost people: “A land without a people for a people without
a land.”

A dunam here and a dunam there

Following the original Ruppin Plan, the expansion of Jewish settlement
started with land acquisitions from absentee Arab landlords, culminating
in a military campaign to drive the native population off its land. As
the old Zionist saying goes, “A dunam here and a dunam there” (a dunam
is approximately equal to a quarter of an acre), whenever the
opportunity arises.

The same opportunistic vigor was used to remove the Palestinian people
from what was soon to become Israel.

The best known milestone in the removal of the Arab population was the
Deir Yassin massacre of April 9, 1948, conducted by Irgun and Lehi
forces, designed to scare Palestinians and cause them to flee their
homes, towns and villages.

Israel’s War of Independence consisted of other massacres, too. The war
itself followed Plan Dalet (Plan D), carefully developed by the
“moderate,” mainstream Haganah leadership to expand the territory of the
future state beyond the UN Partition Plan and to remove as much of
Palestine’s Arab population as possible. Then, as now, the goal of the
Jewish state has been to maximize its land area and to minimize the
Palestinian-Arab population residing in it.

This was the Nakba, the catastrophe – a term used by the Palestinian
people to describe the loss of their homeland: the disappearance of
entire communities totaling some 750,000 people, who were forced out of
their country. Post-1948 Palestine was a drastically changed land: about
500 Palestinian towns and villages had been emptied of their
inhabitants, their homes mostly razed and their lands divided among the
Jewish kibbutzim (communal farms) and villages.

The term Nakba, which is central to Palestinian nationhood as much as
the Holocaust is for Jews and slavery is for African-Americans, is
shunned by most Israeli Jews for obvious reasons: Even the mere
implication of responsibility for the Nakba war crimes is unacceptable.

Those Palestinians who managed to remain, now known as “1948
Palestinians,” were placed under military rule, with their basic civil
rights – such as the freedom to assemble, travel and claim their
properties – removed. In addition, most of their lands were confiscated
by the newly created Jewish state and transferred to kibbutzim and villages.

Military rule lasted until 1966 and assured that the dispossession of
the Palestinians could be carried out in a well-organized and highly
controlled manner – “a dunam here and a dunam there” – with the remnants
of the subject population confined to specific territories, in many
cases restricted to their villages, homes or jail cells.

‘This will belong to us’

The Green Line – the 1949 armistice line separating Israel from the West
Bank of Jordan – followed the line of Jewish settlements put in place
during the 1920s-’40s, in close adherence to the Ruppin Plan. It is
probably the first example of how “facts on the ground” proved to be
crucial for the success of the Zionist project, something that Ruppin
appreciated possibly before anyone else.

But the old Green Line was irregular and left a great deal of fertile,
hilly land on the other side. And then there was Jerusalem, whose
eastern parts, including Temple Mount, were also on the other side of
that border. Standing with my parents near the Montefiore Windmill in
the early ’60s, looking at the Old City on the other side of the
then-border, I vividly remember my astonished reaction to hearing my
mother say, “One day, this too will belong to us.” She was soon to be
proved right.

The swift military victory of the 1967 war offered an unprecedented
opportunity for Israel to expand in all directions. Jerusalem was the
nationalist-religious pinnacle; even more importantly, the last
remaining parts of old Palestine were now there for the taking – the
West Bank and the Gaza Strip, totaling 22 percent of historic Palestine.
Ditto the Syrian territory of the Golan Heights, and Sinai (which was
subsequently returned to Egypt under a separate “peace agreement”
following the 1973 war).

Since 1967, under the so-called “moderate” and “extreme” Israeli
governments led by the Labor and Likud parties, some 130 settlements and
100 outposts have been established in the West Bank, with a population
of some 400,000 Jewish settlers. Additionally, some 200,000 Israelis
live in East Jerusalem.

Any relocation of the occupier’s population into occupied territories,
whether into government-established settlements or so-called “rogue”
outposts, is considered illegal according to international law and
conventions.

When they were in their 60s, my own parents were among the founders of a
settlement in the northern West Bank, where they spent the rest of their
days. They were firm believers in the absolute and exclusive right of
the Jewish people to its biblical homeland, and remained committed to
making their personal contribution to their cause to the very end.

They were guided by Lehi’s “18 Principles of Rebirth” essay, which
defined biblical Israel as starting at the Nile and reaching to the
Euphrates River – a vast territory that includes parts of Egypt and
Saudi Arabia, most of Jordan and Syria, and all of Lebanon.
Incidentally, a large number of Israeli right-wingers, among them
Netanyahu and members of his government, admire Lehi and its principles
– including, at least in spirit, its territorial desires.

Immediately after the 1967 war, the Syrian population of the Golan
Heights (some 130,000 people) was forced out by Israel, 1948-style,
leaving the territory largely empty for Israeli colonization to take
root. Israel’s annexation of the Golan Heights followed in 1981.
(Netanyahu is now seeking U.S. recognition from Trump of Israeli
sovereignty over the Golan Heights.)

Erasing the past

And the Nakba continued. The initial period after the 1967 war included
a number of known cases where West Bank villagers were expelled from
their homes by an Israeli military command attributed to Gen. Yitzhak
Rabin. Among them were the villages of Imwas, Yalo and Bayt Nuba in the
Latrun area, which were subsequently razed. (I visited the three
destroyed villages in August 1967. There was very little left other than
broken stones and fruit trees bursting with fruit left unpicked by
villagers, now turned refugees.) In an attempt to eradicate the villages
from history and erase them from public memory, the victors attempted to
conceal their crimes by planting a recreational forest, named Canada
Park, on the land formerly owned and cultivated by these villagers – a
concealment method that had been used before.

As for the rest of the West Bank, in a slow process that has lasted
nearly 50 years – and which continues to this day – the Palestinian
population has been stripped of much of its land and pushed into
Bantustan-like areas surrounded by Jewish settlements. The territory is
now dissected into enclaves designed by Israel to assure a discontinuity
of Palestinian land, thereby guaranteeing that a viable Palestinian
state cannot be established.

“Facts on the ground” work in both directions: the presence of one
population (Jewish) and the absence of another (Palestinian). Now, most
of the Jordan Valley has been cleared of the Palestinian population; in
hamlets of the poorest population – the Hebron Hills Bedouin – families
are routinely uprooted and forced out of their shacks.

And throughout the West Bank, bit by bit, “a dunam here and a dunam
there,” Palestinians are forced out by Jews. Houses are demolished, land
is taken or its cultivation is prevented; olive groves are uprooted by
settler thugs with full impunity, under the watchful gaze of Israel’s
occupation army – euphemistically called the Israel Defense Forces. And
Israeli government policy greatly restricts Palestinians in the West
Bank from using their land and natural resources, especially water
required to cultivate crops.

Thus, while Israeli settlements enjoy unrestricted water usage with lawn
sprinklers galore, Palestinian farmers who dig out a 10-foot-long
(3-meter) trench to collect and divert rainwater into a field or
vegetable garden risk punishment and the destruction of their fields and
gardens.

And the Nakba continues. A similar crackdown on Israel’s Palestinian
citizens takes place with predictable regularity along similar patterns
– as witnessed most recently by the destruction of the Bedouin village
of Umm al-Hiran, whose population is to be corralled elsewhere in the
Negev and its lands designated for a new Jewish settlement. The more
things change, the more they stay the same.

This is a very short list of the evils of Israel’s occupation – all of
this, and much more, has been widely reported over the past five
decades, and documented in great detail by UN agencies, multiple
international aid organizations, foreign consulate staff and local civic
organizations, both Palestinian and Israeli. (The death and destruction
in Gaza, its collapsed infrastructure, economy, essential public health
facilities, child nutrition and basic resources of livelihood require
separate coverage.)

The Oslo II (“Taba”) Agreement divided the West Bank into Areas A, B and
C – a division that is used by Israel to divide and rule, confine and
control the local Palestinian population.

The experience of 1948 and the early years of statehood have proven most
beneficial to Zionist colonialism. A slow and methodical acquisition of
land, this time by means that are entirely illegal, coupled with
strategic removal and confinement of the Palestinian population,
resulted in settlement blocs – vast land areas that are largely
Arab-free and a network of highways, other infrastructure projects and
state institutions serving the Jewish-only settlements.

This is nothing short of new-age apartheid, where the indigenous
population is not only of no value to its colonial masters – not even as
a source of cheap labor – but it is essential for the success of the
colonial project that it be removed: the more of “them” that are gone,
the better off “we” are. That people-removal process is called ethnic
cleansing, which is a crime against humanity under the statute of the
International Criminal Court.

All of this has been carried out mostly in plain view, under the world’s
watchful eye. It has also been made possible and indirectly funded by
the United States, under Democratic and Republican administrations alike
– notwithstanding outgoing President Barack Obama’s lame-duck UN
Security Council non-veto move, and various U.S. declarations about
Israeli settlements being “a threat to peace,” or making it “almost
impossible … to create a contiguous, functioning Palestinian state.”
Both true, but meaningless.

Despite the rhetoric, the United States has been the primary enabler of
Israel’s occupation: military aid (currently $38 billion over the next
10 years), including the very latest technologies, and close military
coordination; tax exemptions for donations to Israel, including to
organizations that fund settlements; global diplomatic protection; and
the lending of legitimacy to a state whose actions would have otherwise
made it a global pariah long ago.

Thus, under the guise of a never-ending “peace process,” the United
States has acted as a dishonest broker and purveyor of broken promises,
e.g., a “two-state solution” where the territory of the imagined state
is eaten up by the other, already existing regional-superpower state
while “peace talks” continue. It’s like the pizza analogy where two
parties engage in lengthy negotiations over the splitting of a pie,
while one of them keeps eating the slices. Over these past 50 years, the
United States has facilitated the replacement of the Palestinian people,
bit by bit, one dunam and one person at a time, as Israel grabs every
opportunity that arises, paid for by Uncle Sam.

For Israel, the election of Trump to the highest office in the land
presents a historical opportunity on a grand scale to accelerate both
settlement expansion and the process of people replacement.

Never before has a U.S. president expressed such unbridled support for
an Israeli government – especially one that is widely seen as the most
right-wing, aggressive Israeli government ever.

In light of the new opportunity, the Israeli government has unleashed a
wave of settlement construction permits in the West Bank and East
Jerusalem – so far totaling about 6,000 homes for Jewish settlers – and
announced the creation of a new settlement.

In addition, a new law allowing the confiscation of privately held
Palestinian land for the benefit of Jewish settlements was recently
passed. As journalist Jonathan Cook explained in The National, “In
practice, there has never been a serious limit on theft of Palestinian
land. But now Israeli government support for the plunder will be
explicit in law.” The Nakba continues, vigorously.

Reality could not be much uglier and the future could not look much
bleaker – most especially for Palestinians, but also for Israeli Jews.
As Haaretz writer and occupation expert Amira Hass noted, “It’s hard to
admit that the Zionist ideology and its product – Israel – have created
a thieving, racist, arrogant monster that robs water and land and
history, that has blood on its hands under the excuse of security, that
for decades has been deliberately planning today’s dangerous Bantustan
reality, on both sides of the Green Line.”

Perhaps hard to admit, but crucially important to recognize.

The writer, a former Israeli, has lived in the United States for 45 years.

Lieberman: Disloyal Israeli Arabs Should Be Beheaded

Lieberman: Disloyal Israeli Arabs Should Be Beheaded

MK Ahmad Tibi compares Yisrael Beiteinu head’s vision to a ‘Jewish ISIS’; foreign minister also reiterates support for transfer.
http://www.haaretz.com/israel-news/elections/1.646076

Ha’aretz, 9.3.2015

Israeli Arabs who are disloyal to the State of Israel should have their heads chopped off, Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman said at an elections conference at the Interdisciplinary Center Herzliya this week.

“Whoever’s with us should get everything – up to half the kingdom,” Lieberman said Sunday, in a reference to King Ahaseurus’ pledge to Queen Esther as described in the Book of Esther, which tells the story of the Purim holiday celebrated last week.

But Israeli Arabs who are disloyal to the state deserve a different fate, the chairman of Yisrael Beiteinu said at the “Voting for Democracy – 2015 Elections” election conference, Channel 2 News reported.

“Those who are against us, there’s nothing to be done – we need to pick up an ax and cut off his head,” Lieberman said. “Otherwise we won’t survive here.”

Prominent Israeli Arab MK Ahmad Tibi, who is No. 4 on the Arab parties’ Joint List ticket, suggested a situation like that described by Lieberman would result in a Jewish version of the Islamic State group, also known as ISIS or ISIL.

Joint List “will remove racists’ and fascists’ heads only through democratic means – bringing as many [Knesset] seats as possible and active participation in the election,” The Jerusalem Post quoted Tibi as saying Monday. “The stronger we are, the weaker the Jewish Islamic State will be.”

Lieberman also reiterated his position advocating the transfer of at least some of Israel’s Arab citizens.

“There is no reason for Umm al-Fahm to be part of the State of Israel,” Lieberman said about a northern Israeli town populated by Arab citizens of Israel, according to the Channel 2 report. “Citizens of the State of Israel who raise a black flag on Nakba Day – from my perspective, they can leave, and I’m very happily willing to donate them to Abu Mazen,” he said, referring to Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas.
read more: http://www.haaretz.com/israel-news/elections/1.646076

The corruption of Judaism: Sacralisation of a wall

http://www.haaretz.com/israel-news/.premium-1.774093

Over 1,000 Religious Girls Bused to Western Wall to Overpower Feminist Activists’ Prayer

Orthodox high school girls leave school to shout down Women of the Wall during prayer services at Jerusalem’s Western Wall; Police separate groups, restricting confrontations to verbal attacks.
Judy Maltz Feb 27, 2017 6:41 PM

Women of the Wall was forced to hold its monthly prayer service behind barricades on Monday morning, as busloads of Orthodox high school girls from around the country descended on the Western Wall as part of a show of force against the feminist prayer group.

According to police estimates, somewhere between 1,000 and 2,000 Orthodox high school girls, many of them from schools affiliated with the national religious Bnei Akiva movement, filled up the women’s section of the Western Wall. The girls were bused in by Liba, an extreme right-wing organization behind a new campaign to force the government to repeal its plan to create a new egalitarian prayer space at the Western Wall for the Reform and Conservative movements, as well as Women of the Wall.

Among the girls taken out of schools to participate in the protest were students from several West Bank settlements.

Police set up the barricade in order to prevent confrontations between the two praying groups in the women’s section. About 120 women participated in the Women of the Wall morning service marking the beginning of the Jewish month of Adar. Their service also included a Bat Mitzvah ceremony for an Israeli girl.

Asked about the purpose of their visit to the Western Wall, a student from one of the religious high schools, who asked that her name not be published, pointed at the Women of the Wall group situated behind the barricades, and said: “We have come to pray that they are ousted from here.”

While many of the girls prayed quietly, others heckled the Women of the Wall worshippers, several shouting at them: “You are animals. You are animals.”

Outside the women’s section, a large group of ultra-Orthodox male protestors congregated, cursing members of Women of the Wall as they entered the holy site. “Wicked women,” they shouted. “You are not Jewish. You are Christian.”

Susan Silverman, a Reform rabbi and the sister of celebrity comedian Sarah Silverman, was kicked in the shin by an ultra-Orthodox demonstrator on her way into the barricaded area. Silverman is a member of the board of Women of the Wall.

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The prayer service was delayed about 20 minutes because of scrupulous inspections conducted at the security checkpoint at the entrance to the Western Wall. Police requested that all visitors open their coats and empty their bags at the checkpoint. A suitcase bearing special Women of the Wall prayer books was confiscated for about 30 minutes so that each prayer book could be inspected individually.

Inside the prayer areas, the noise reached deafening levels as religious worshippers tried to drown out the sounds of Women of the Wall praying and singing. Several ultra-Orthodox women blew loud whistles, as they held up signs denigrating the feminist worshippers. These whistle-blowers make a regular practice of disturbing Women of the Wall worshippers during their monthly prayer service. Police typically do not interfere with their noisemaking.

Meanwhile, in the men’s section, the morning prayer service was blasted through loudspeakers, creating even further commotion.

As Women of the Wall exited the area at the completion of their service, a human barricade of police officers stood between them and angry ultra-Orthodox protesters, many of them delivering verbal threats against the feminist worshippers.

A spokeswoman for the Jerusalem Police said that despite the tense atmosphere at this morning’s prayer services, they ended without any unusual incidents or arrests. “Our preparations, together with those of the Western Wall Heritage Foundation, allowed Women of the Wall to hold its prayer service in the women’s section as it does every month, despite the large number of high school girls praying there this morning,” said Galit Ziv, the spokeswoman. (The Western Wall Heritage Foundation is responsible for decorum at the holy site.)

Liba, which operates in collaboration with the Chief Rabbinate of Israel, last week launched a video campaign condemning the government plan to create a special egalitarian prayer space at the Western Wall under the slogan: “The Kotel is the heart of the nation – a heart cannot be split.” The video concluded with a call to supporters to come to the Western Wall for the Rosh Chodesh prayer service to “stop contempt of the Kotel.”

Liba, which describes its mission as “preserving the Jewish character of the State of Israel,” recently published a report claiming to show ties between Reform Judaism and the international Boycott, Divest and Sanctions movement against Israel.

Responding to the scene at the Western Wall this morning, Izhar Hess, executive director of the Conservative movement in Israel, said the busloads of students brought to the site “simply to disrupt Women of the Wall” is proof of “how much the ultra-Orthodox right wing has taken over the government’s agenda.”

“I call on Minister of Education Naftali Bennett to summon immediately the principals of those girls schools that sent their students to this political demonstration,” he said, “and I urge Prime Minister Netanyahu to implement the plan for an egalitarian space once and for all to prevent such scenes of hatred at the Western Wall every month.”

The government approved the plan for an egalitarian space in January 2016, but under pressure from his ultra-Orthodox coalition partners, Netanyahu has failed to follow through with it. The non-Orthodox movements and Women of the Wall have take their case to the Supreme Court, where it is now pending.

Police bust women-trafficking, prostitution ring in Tel Aviv

Police bust women-trafficking, prostitution ring in Tel Aviv

Network smuggled Russian and Ukrainian women into Israel and ran brothels in luxury high-rises, investigators charge

The Times of Israel, 29 November 2015

A months-long undercover police investigation has uncovered a women-trafficking and prostitution network in Tel Aviv and Ramat Gan.

The investigation, reported Sunday by Israel Radio, was conducted under the auspices of the Tel Aviv Police and resulted in the arrest of two men suspected of running the trafficking ring.

Additional arrests are expected, the Hebrew-language Walla news site reported.

The suspected ringleader of the group, identified as Leonid Streimer, is a 35-year-old resident of the Tel Aviv suburb of Bat Yam.

The investigation reportedly turned up a complex operation in which the network would locate young Russian and Ukrainian women, some of whom had worked as models, and convince them to come to Israel on tourist visas, promising they would find work amid the difficult economic situations in their home countries.

Once they got to Israel, the women were housed in luxury condominium towers and expensive hotels, where the ring allegedly operated brothels for businessmen and wealthy individuals.

The women would charge significant fees for their sexual services, of which the network operators would get a percentage. A police source told Walla that one woman told investigators she would earn $3,000 or more per week, most of which she would send to her family in Ukraine.

The investigation began following complaints by neighbors in the luxury buildings, who suspected that brothels were being operated near their homes.

In September 2014, police arrested two suspects for running a prostitution ring that consisted of Russian and Ukrainian women brought to Israel on medical tourism visas.

According to the Task Force on Human Trafficking, an alliance of Israeli NGOs, there are 15,000 women working in the sex trade in Israel.

Israel’s sex trade booming

Israel’s sex trade booming
Human trafficking in Israel rakes in more than USD billion a year, findings in annual parliamentary survey show

By Miri Hasson |YNET  23.03.05 , 12:44

http://www.ynetnews.com/articles/0,7340,L-3062297,00.html

TEL AVIV – Thousands of women are being smuggled into Israel, creating a booming sex trade industry that rakes more than USD one billion a year, a parliamentary committee said on Wednesday.

The Parliamentary Inquiry Committee, headed by Knesset member Zehava Galon of the left-wing Yahad party, commissioned the report in an effort to combat the sex trade in Israel. Findings showed that some 3,000 and 5,000 women are smuggled to Israel annually and sold into the prostitution industry, where they are constantly subjected to violence and abuse.

The report, issued annually, said some 10,000 such women currently reside in about 300 to 400 brothels throughout the country. They are traded for about USD 8,000 – USD 10,000, the committee said.

The U.S. State Department ranks Israel in the second tier of human trafficking around the world, saying the Jewish State does not maintain minimal conditions regarding the issue but is working to improve them.

Israel passed a law in 2003 that would allow the state to confiscate the profits of traffickers, but watchdog groups say it is rarely enforced.

Most foreign prostitutes in Israel come from Ukraine, Moldova, Uzbekistan and Russia and many are smuggled in across the Egyptian border.

The committee found that the women work seven days a week for up to 18 hours every day and that out of the NIS 120 paid by customers, they are left with just NIS 20, while the rest of the money is passed on to their traders.

The prostitutes face constant threats of abuse and murder, the report said, and Israeli law does little to help them. Delays in trial dates and prolonged hearings force the women to remain exposed to violence for more than a year until they are called in to provide testimony, and courts rarely collect early testimonies, as permitted by law.

To help combat the problem, the committee recommended that the state prosecutor’s office refrain from making plea bargains with sex traders. It also advised to raise the threshold of punitive measures and pushed for financial compensation for sex trade victims.

Sex Slavery in Israel: Half-Billion-Dollar “Industry” Largely Staffed By Sex Slaves

Sex Slavery in Israel

Half-Billion-Dollar “Industry” Largely Staffed By Sex Slaves

By Dr. Martin Brass

SOLDIER OF FORTURE, October 2002, p. 32.

Israel prides itself as a “beacon of light,” paving an enlightened path for democracy and human rights in a region of dictators, theocracies, tyrants and human rights abusers.

In July 2001, the U.S. State Department placed Israel on a “third tier” list of countries, or worst offenders, of Traffickers in Persons. In the shadows of the “beacon of light” lurks a brutal and inhumane abuse – trafficking of women and children for the sex-slave trade. Israel was on the same list as Saudi Arabia, Lebanon, Sudan, Yugoslavia, Bahrain, Greece, Pakistan, Qatar, Turkey, the United Arab Emirates and 12 others.

The State of Israel was established in order to give refuge to the Jewish Diaspora that had been mercilessly abused in WWII. Since the end of the Cold War, Israel became a haven for more than one million former Eastern-bloc refugees of largely Jewish descent. What is appalling in light of the above is the involvement of the Israeli government and law enforcement in one of the most horrendous international crimes.

Hookers In The Holy Land

Police raided the Furmis Brothel, one of 250 whorehouses in Tel Aviv. The three-story building was under video surveillance. The police charged through iron gates guarded by armed bodyguards, next storming through the armed guards and iron doors fortifying the elevator, then ascending to the third floor and maneuvering through a narrow corridor where they noticed a suspicious cupboard. Crashing through the cupboard, they found another passage, where they collided with armed bodyguards, then hurtled through a locked door. Tel-Aviv magazine describes the officers’ horror at their find: Ten girls were locked up in a filthy, foul two-room brothel with only mattresses on the floor.

“These girls are kept like dogs.” A Tel Aviv police officer told U.S. News and World Report.

The Palace Club, a seedy brothel in Tel Aviv, was the target of a group of journalists on a fact-finding mission. Down a few flights of dark, stone stairs three girls huddled in a corner of a reception area waiting for johns. Their fat pimp dabbed the sweat from his forehead with a large silk handkerchief. The pimp bragged that his women make 120 shekels for a half-hour, “100 shekels for me, 20 shekels [$6] for them.” If their earnings had to be put into a kitty to pay the tax bill, the girls served as unpaid slaves.

At the Tropicana, in Tel Aviv, according to journalist Michael Specter writing in The New York Times, 20 women share 12 cubicles, working eight-hour day-shifts and 12-hour night-shifts.

One sex-slave, lured by an offer of legitimate work, told Amnesty International that she “had a nervous break-down. A client offering to help me escape turned out to be one of them and I was beaten up by the owners. There was nowhere to run – there were bars on the windows and bodyguards, day and night.”

“The conditions were terrible. One girl was kept to work in the basement for eight months. It was damp there and she got tuberculosis as a result. Most of the girls had different diseases – venereal and others related to their reproductive organs. I do not wish even to my enemies to go through what we went through.”

She escaped by jumping from the first floor of the building. When she returned to help another friend escape, she was arrested in a police raid as an illegal alien. She was afraid to testify against the pimp, who knew the whereabouts of her family in Ukraine.

“Nearly all prostitutes in Israel are Russian [70%], their boss is not. Israelis love Russian girls,” according to “Wake Up or Die,” an organization monitoring sex-trafficking who quotes a chuckling Jacob Golan, an Israeli slave master. “They are blonde and good-looking and different from us.”

“This is a whole industry – recruiting them, bringing them and distributing them to all of the parlors,” said Efraim Fhrlich, former commander of the Tel Aviv vice squad. This “national industry” brings in $450 million yearly. A pimp can earn $50,000-$125,000 per year on pimping one slave. A 10-slave brothel can take in up to 750,000 shekels or $215,000 a month.

The Victim As A Criminal

“Until now, the authorities have addressed this as a problem of prostitution, not kidnapping or trafficking in people,” Knight-Ridder News cites Yael Weisz-Rind, director of Amnesty International Israel. “Trafficked women are effectively treated as criminals by the various Israeli agencies with whom they come in contact, rather than as victims of human rights abuses.”

The Jerusalem Post reports that when pressured, Israeli police Commander Yossi Sedbon, while claiming that fighting the trade in women is a priority for the police, emphasized that only a minority of hookers were kidnapped and forced into prostitution. Sedbon declined to comment on the complaints filed against police chiefs for not addressing the problem.

A poll by the Israeli Women’s Network showed that 44% of Israelis believe all female Russian immigrants provided sexual services for pay. Reuters said that the women are stereotyped as having brought crime and prostitution, while exploiting Israeli laws enabling anyone with a Jewish grandparent to immigrate.

“The fact that most of the women knowingly enter Israel illegally made me think twice,” an Israeli university scholar I met in Jerusalem admitted. She had “a hard time being compassionate for people who break the law … it is even harder to sympathize with women who knowingly come to be prostitutes and then complain about the conditions.” However, after extensive research, she became an advocate for the girls.

“These women were manipulated, kidnapped, threatened, abused, drugged, raped, lied to, and used … the punishment that they receive from the government who sends them back to a dangerous situation in their homeland after long stays in jail does not fit the crime,” she said.

Invitation To An Israeli Hell

“Elderly Jewish women in the Ukraine often lure the girls into the trade,” Specter said. Or, the girls are recruited through “an ad or an unexpected meeting on the street, with a proposition to work abroad as a maid, secretary, showgirl, nanny or waitress.” A typical ad, writes Walter Zalisko, 24-year police veteran, authority on Russian organized crime in New Jersey and New York, seeks ” … pretty woman, under age 40, slender, educated, to work in modern office setting; $600/month; documents and transportation provided.”

Reuters interviewed one girl, starving in Russia, who got caught up in the whirlwind of international crime. Defrauded into working in Israel, she was kidnapped by a pimp, kept in bondage with eight women in two apartments and extorted of her pay.

“I came into this circle and then it was very hard to get out. My papers were fake, I had no money, I had no acquaintances and I was in an enclosed place.” Torn between her fear of physical abuse by her pimp and fear of deportation back to hunger, she did not dare seek help at the police station across the road.

Specter tells the story of a Ukrainian who, after seeing an ad, slipped off a tour boat when it put in at Haifa, hoping to make a bundle dancing naked on the tops of tables. In Israel, she was taken to a brothel, where her boss burned her passport. “I own you,” he said. “You are my property, and you will work until you earn your way out. Don’t try to leave. You have no papers and you don’t speak Hebrew. You will be arrested and deported. Then we will get you and bring you back.” Subsequently, the brothel was raided, and she was jailed.

Megan Goldin interviewed one 18-year-old girl that “has been bought and sold so many times she has lost count.” Admittedly lured to Israel by promises of large sums of money if she turned to prostitution, she said “I never thought I would actually have to do it � I thought once I arrived would find a way to escape and find other work, as a waitress or something.”

She had been flown to Egypt, where with 20 other women aged between 18 and 24, she was smuggled by a Bedouin cross the Sinai desert. The girls were forced to crawl under a barbed-wire border fence in the middle of the night.

Organized crime from the former Soviet Union invested $4 billion dollars in real estate and businesses in Israel in seven years. In a warped marriage based on greed that has no boundaries and no loyalties, Israeli mafias join with Russian mafias to cooperate with Arab Bedouins to smuggle women and children to the “Promised Land.”

The unfenced, unguarded 70-mile Israel-Egypt border allows the Bedouins to navigate through the desert with dune buggies and all-terrain vehicles. Israeli Border Patrols, focused on intercepting terrorists, ignore the Bedouin slave traders.

“It’s horrible,” an Israeli official said. “The women we found had been used along the way (by the Bedouins). After all, their masters had to test their product. They are touched and measured and prodded in heinous ways to ‘ensure the quality of the product.’ Some also bring friends or family to use the women. Then the women have to work for a period of one or more months free of charge to ‘pay for their passage.'”

Going Once, Going Twice

“It’s like a car. It depends how valuable she is,” “Amir,” a Tel Aviv pimp told Reuters. Four of the girls who were valued at lower prices ended up working in the slum area around Tel Aviv’s old central bus station where they were trapped and burnt to death when a religious fanatic torched their brothel, a Jewish weekly said. Girls are traded and bartered for a variety of goods, including drugs.

The girls, many of whom are Palestinian, are displayed naked at pimping auctions going at prices ranging from $4,000 to $20,000, depending on her looks, according to one Tel Aviv pimp.

Chaim Nardi, an Israeli sociologist, links the slave-trafficking to machismo attitudes in Israeli society, which “allow men to consider women their toy.” Most prostitutes suffer from depression, he said.

Prison officials report that 80% of the girls become addicted to drugs, mainly heroin, Israelis’ drug of choice. A vicious cycle of prostitution finances their addiction.

Criminologist Menachem Amir said that three groups – Orthodox Jews, Arabs and the 250,000 foreign workers spike demand.

Arabs and Orthodox Jews have “very strong taboos against sexual connections outside of marriage and therefore go to a place where they can do it more anonymously,” a Tel Aviv pimp, Amir, told Reuters.

Some rabbis, “Wake Up or Die” said, ride bicycles to the whorehouses. “A good percentage of the clients are ultra-Orthodox Jews, pious men whose lives are guided by Halachah (religious law), which tells them when they can or cannot have sex with their wives.”

So, on Thursday (boys night out in Israel) busloads of Orthodox Jews travel from Jerusalem, Haifa, and points beyond to Tel Aviv for a few brief moments of passion in a massage parlor, behind a sand dune, or in an alley. Other customers are accountants, lawyers, policemen, and politicians. “The entire spectrum of Israeli society is keeping the hookers in business,” Detective Shachar, veteran on the Tel Aviv vice detail, said.

“Many of the prostitutes in Israel, especially those of Arab descent, are abused by Jews expressing their ‘racial-nationalist fervor.'” The girls … “find that their Jewish customers only come to them after a Palestinian terrorist act to get their own brand of sexual revenge laced with racial-nationalistic fervor … and they do it with hate and anger.”

Neveh Tirza Prison warden Debi Sagi helped give Hotline for Migrant Workers, the interventionist organization dealing with the problem, better access to the prisoners. Victims share cells with Israeli convicted criminals. Many are detained in police detention centers because of the over-crowded jails, where the conditions are worse. Half are deported penniless.

The pimps’ attorneys often represent the girls, or the pimp might pay 30,000 shekels bail pending her deportation, so that she can go back to work. “These women,” said Nomi Levenkron, senior advocate of Hotline, “who were raped, trafficked and exploited before their arrests, were in fact sold once more, this time by the state itself.”

Israeli Police In The Hot Spot By Hotline

One 18-year-old Moldavian sought refuge in a Tel Aviv police station. Some of the officers, who were her clients, recognized her and called her pimp. She fled. The pimp found her and forced her back to the brothel.

“There are police who just come as clients, those who get special discounts because of their good relationships with the owner of the place and those that inform the owner about police operations,” Levenkron said.

Hotline found police involved in six of 24 cases in 15 months – four cases of policemen warning of impending police raids, one policeman managed a brothel, and another sold a woman to another pimp after her arrest.

Hotline accused the Israeli officials of: arresting pimps at their convenience, and ignoring crimes of notorious pimps who cooperate with the police on other matters; of disregarding the 16-year sentence allowed, and of making “shameful” plea bargains with pimps.

The authorities, according to Hotline, lied about women refusing to testify. Less than 20, of hundreds of women interviewed in two and a half years, had been asked to testify. Of 1,370 files opened between 1998-2000, only 2% were prosecuted.

“N” was arrested when she filed a complaint. The police refused to release her on bail for five days, claiming that her life was in danger because the pimps were too dangerous to be arrested. N’s Israeli boyfriend informed the pimps that the police were looking for them and advised them to turn themselves in, which they did.

Charges were pressed against her two pimps. One of them was declared unfit to stand trial and the other was sentenced on 15 February 2001, to two years in prison, one year on probation and fined $5,000. The prosecutors claimed that N was “rented” for only five days from the time the new law against trade in human beings was approved till her escape, and that her testimony was weak. No charges were pressed against the pimp for rape, managing a brothel and living off prostitutes’ income, although he had confessed.

“V” was arrested in a brothel and sent to prison for three months, waiting for her traveling documents. For a month and a half Hotline was told that there was no evidence to support V’s claims. The day after Hotline notified the Parliament investigation committee, the police decided to cooperate. V named eight people who sold, bought or raped her, giving their addresses. Twenty-two more days passed before the first pimp was arrested. Another pimp had fled the country.

Judicial indifference is compounded by police complicity, Levenkron said.

Amnesty describes treatment of several cases by authorities. Anna, knowingly joining the sex industry, was auctioned twice and taken to work in Haifa, where she was held with two other women in an apartment with bars. She was arrested after a police raid on the apartment. In court the police alleged that Anna had signed statements admitting to involvement in prostitution – but all the documents were in Hebrew. She later discovered that she had been framed – accused of running a brothel.

Tatiana arrived in Israel from Belarus to work as a hotel maid to support her mother and son. The pimp met her, took her to a brothel and told her that she would have to repay her “sale price” and the travel costs. After several failed escape attempts, Tatiana was finally released from the brothel after a police raid – a friend of hers had contacted the Belarus Consulate who contacted the police.

She was taken into custody as an illegal immigrant.

No Rehab for Rahab

On her prison bunk, she found an anonymous note threatening to kill her and punish her family if she squealed. Hotline petitioned the Chief of Police for witness protection, who replied that the Police could not guarantee anyone’s safety outside Israel. She was deported to Belarus despite begging to be flown to Poland or Lithuania and then allowed to cross into Belarus by car. She was reportedly met by a male relative and taken to an unknown location. Tatiana’s subsequent fate is unknown. “I don’t know the outcome of the trial. I only know that Arthur [the pimp] is at liberty I talked to him on the phone …

Arthur knows my address in St. Petersburg and my telephone number because he kept my passport. I have a small daughter, eight-years-old there. He threatened that he would find me in Russia, at home, if I did not do what he wanted me to,” one girl told Amnesty International.

A Jewish weekly interviewed Tel Aviv Police Superintendent Pini Aviram, who heads a special investigative team dealing with the trafficking issue. “My team consists of only five Russian speakers,” he said, frustrated at the lack of manpower.

In June 2000, the Knesset amended a 1997 prostitution law to prohibit the buying or selling of persons. Penalties are doubled if the victim is a minor.

The Knesset’s “feeble efforts” Human Rights Watch said, “were undermined by its failure to provide safe houses, witness protection, legal assistance, relief from deportation, or third-country resettlement.”

Israel has until 2003 to implement “minimum standards for the elimination of trafficking” or face stiff economic sanctions. In June of this year, the State Department bumped Israel up to the second tier, since it is “taking action against sex-trafficking.”

Hotline refutes testimony by the State Department that Israel had taken progressive steps towards halting the trafficking and exploitation of women, their spokesperson saying that Israel is merely acting under U.S. pressure.

Police Deputy-Commander Avi Davidovitch told Jewsweek July 2002 that although the number of trafficked women is growing alarmingly high, few complaints are filed against pimps, and many women either refuse to complain or later retract earlier statements they have made to the police, out of fear of reprisals.

As of July 2002, Washington Jewish Week reports, few pimps involved in trafficking ever face a judge and the majority of prostitutes are deported without being allowed to testify against their pimps.

Slave Trader Turns State Witness

However, “there are certain encouraging signs,” Nardi said. “It appears things are getting better. The Israeli prosecutors are working hard against this phenomenon.”

For example, as a result of one of the biggest stings on slavery in Israel’s history, 18 men involved in drug sales and the smuggling, trafficking and prostitution of women faced trial. The director of the Special Crimes Unit, Deputy Commissioner Menashe Arviv, thinks they will likely receive sentences of between three and 10 years, according to Forward Magazine.

An international lawyer, Dr. Martin Brass is a frequent contributor.

Destroying Syria: a Joint Criminal Enterprise

Destroying Syria: a Joint Criminal Enterprise

by Diana Johnstone, CounterPunch, October 4, 2016

Everyone claims to want to end the war in Syria and restore peace to the Middle East.

Well, almost everyone.

“This is a playoff situation in which you need both teams to lose, but at least you don’t want one to win — we’ll settle for a tie,” said Alon Pinkas, a former Israeli consul general in New York told the New York Times in June 2013. “Let them both bleed, hemorrhage to death: that’s the strategic thinking here.”

Efraim Inbar, director of the Begin-Sadat Center for Strategic Studies, stressed the same points in August 2016:

“The West should seek the further weakening of Islamic State, but not its destruction… Allowing bad guys to kill bad guys sounds very cynical, but it is useful and even moral to do so if it keeps the bad guys busy and less able to harm the good guys… Moreover, instability and crises sometimes contain portents of positive change… The American administration does not appear capable of recognizing the fact that IS can be a useful tool in undermining Tehran’s ambitious plan for domination of the Middle East.”

Okay, not exactly everyone.

But surely the humanitarian website Avaaz wants to end the war and restore peace.
Or does it?

Avaaz is currently circulating a petition which has gathered over a million signatures and is aiming at a million and a half. It is likely to get them, with words like this:

“100 children have been killed in Aleppo since last Friday.

“Enough is enough!”

Avaaz goes on to declare: “There is no easy way to end this war, but there’s only one way to prevent this terror from the skies — people everywhere demanding a no-fly zone to protect civilians.”
No-fly zone? Doesn’t that sound familiar? That was the ploy that served to destroy Libya’s air defenses and opened the country to regime change in 2011. It was promoted zealously by Hillary Clinton, who is also on record as favoring the same gambit in Syria.

And when the West says “no-fly”, it means that some can fly and others cannot. With the no-fly zone in Libya, France, Britain and the United States flew all they wanted, killing countless civilians, destroying infrastructure and allowing Islamic rebels to help themselves to part of the country.

The Avaaz petition makes the same distinction. Some should fly and others should not.

“Let’s build a resounding global call to Obama and other leaders to stand up to Putin and Assad’s terror. This might be our last, best chance to help end this mass murder of defenseless children. Add your name.”

So it’s all about mass murder of defenseless children, and to stop it, we should call on the drone king, Obama, to end “terror from the skies”.

Not only Obama, but other “good” leaders, members of NATO:

“To President Obama, President Erdogan, President Hollande, PM May, and other world leaders: As citizens around the globe horrified by the slaughter of innocents in Syria, we call on you to enforce an air-exclusion zone in Northern Syria, including Aleppo, to stop the bombardment of Syria’s civilians and ensure that humanitarian aid reaches those most in need.”

The timing of this petition is eloquent. It comes exactly when the Syrian government is pushing to end the war by reconquering the eastern part of Aleppo. It is part of the massive current propaganda campaign to reduce public consciousness of the Syrian war to two factors: child victims and humanitarian aid.

In this view, the rebels disappear. So do all their foreign backers, the Saudi money, the Wahhabi fanatics, the ISIS recruits from all over the world, the U.S. arms and French support. The war is only about the strange whim of a “dictator”, who amuses himself by bombing helpless children and blocking humanitarian aid. This view reduces the five-year war in Syria to the situation as it was portrayed in Libya, to justify the no-fly zone: nothing but a wicked dictator bombing his own people.

For the public that likes to consume world events in fairy tale form, this all fits together. Sign a petition on your computer and save the children.

The Avaaz petition does not aim to end the war and restore peace. It clearly aims to obstruct the Syrian government offensive to retake Aleppo. The Syrian army has undergone heavy losses in five years of war, its potential recruits have in effect been invited to avoid dangerous military service by going to Germany. Syria needs air power to reduce its own casualties. The Avaaz petition calls for crippling the Syrian offensive and thus taking the side of the rebels.
Wait – but does that mean they want the rebels to win? Not exactly. The only rebels conceivably strong enough to win are ISIS. Nobody really wants that.

The plain fact is that to end this war, as to end most wars, one side has to come out on top. When it is clear who is the winning side, then there can be fruitful negotiations for things like amnesty. But this war cannot be “ended by negotiations”. That is an outcome that the United States might support only if Washington could use negotiations to impose its own puppets – pardon, pro-democracy exiles living in the West. But as things stand, they would be rejected as traitors by the majority of Syrians who support the government and as apostates by the rebels. So one side has to win to end this war. The least worst outcome would be that the Assad government defeats the rebels, in order to preserve the state. For that, the Syrian armed forces need to retake the eastern part of Aleppo occupied by rebels.

The job of Avaaz is to get public opinion to oppose this military operation, by portraying it as nothing but a joint Russian-Syrian effort to murder civilians, especially children. For that, they call for a NATO military operation to shoot down (that’s what “no-fly” means) Syrian and Russian planes offering air support to the Syrian army offensive.
Even such drastic measures do not aim to end the war. They mean weakening the winning side to prevent it from winning. To prolong a stalemate. It means – to use the absurd expression popular during the Bosnian war – creating an “even playing field”, as if war were a sports event. It means keeping the war going on and on until nothing is left of Syria, and what is left of the Syrian population fills up refugee camps in Europe.

As the New York Times reported from Jerusalem in September 2013, “The synergy between the Israeli and American positions, while not explicitly articulated by the leaders of either country, could be a critical source of support as Mr. Obama seeks Congressional approval for surgical strikes in Syria.” It added that “Israel’s national security concerns have broad, bipartisan support in Washington, and the American Israel Public Affairs Committee, the influential pro-Israel lobby in Washington, weighed in Tuesday in support of Mr. Obama’s approach.” (This was when Obama was planning to “punish President Bashar al-Assad for using chemical weapons without seeking to force him from power” – before Obama decided to join Russia in disarming the Syrian chemical arsenal instead, a decision for which he continues to be condemned by the pro-Israel lobby and the War Party.) AIPAC’s statement “said nothing, however, about the preferred outcome of the civil war…”

Indeed. As the 2013 report from Jerusalem continued, “as hopes have dimmed for the emergence of a moderate, secular rebel force that might forge democratic change and even constructive dialogue, with Israel, a third approach has gained traction: Let the bad guys burn themselves out. ‘The perpetuation of the conflict is absolutely serving Israel’s interest,’ said Nathan Thrall, a Jerusalem-based analyst for the International Crisis Group.”

The plain truth is that Syria is the victim of a long-planned Joint Criminal Enterprise to destroy the last independent secular Arab nationalist state in the Middle East, following the destruction of Iraq in 2003. While attributed to government repression of “peaceful protests” in 2011, the armed uprising had been planned for years and was supported by outside powers: Saudi Arabia, Turkey, the United States and France, among others. The French motives remain mysterious, unless linked to those of Israel, which sees the destruction of Syria as a means to weaken its archrival in the region, Iran. Saudi Arabia has similar intentions to weaken Iran, but with religious motives. Turkey, the former imperial power in the region, has territorial and political ambitions of its own. Carving up Syria can satisfy all of them.

This blatant and perfectly open conspiracy to destroy Syria is a major international crime, and the above-mentioned States are co-conspirators. They are joined in this Joint Criminal Enterprise by ostensibly “humanitarian” organizations like Avaaz that spread war propaganda in the guise of protecting children. This works because most Americans just can’t believe that their government would do such things. Because normal ordinary people have good intentions and hate to see children killed, they imagine that their government must be the same. It is hard to overcome this comforting faith. It is more natural to believe that the criminals are wicked people in a country about which they really understand nothing.

There is no chance that this criminal enterprise will ever arouse the attention of the prosecutors at the International Criminal Court, which like most major international organizations is totally under U.S. control. For example, the United Nations Undersecretary General for Political Affairs, who analyses and frames political issue for the Secretary General Ban Ki Moon, is an American diplomat, Jeffrey Feltman, who was a key member of Hillary Clinton’s team when she was carrying out regime change in Libya. And accomplices in this criminal enterprise include all the pro-governmental “non-governmental” organizations such as Avaaz who push hypocrisy to new lengths by exploiting compassion for children in order to justify and perpetuate this major crime against humanity and against peace in the world.

Diana Johnstone is the author of Fools’ Crusade: Yugoslavia, NATO, and Western Delusions. Her new book is Queen of Chaos: the Misadventures of Hillary Clinton. She can be reached at diana.johnstone@wanadoo.fr

Yes, Netanyahu, Let’s Talk About Ethnic Cleansing

http://www.haaretz.com/opinion/.premium-1.741296
Opinion // Yes, Netanyahu, Let’s Talk About Ethnic Cleansing

Turning Israeli settlers into victims is the prime minister’s most staggering act of chutzpah yet. The only mass ethnic cleansing that took place here was in 1948, when some 700,000 Arabs were forced to leave their lands.
Gideon Levy, Sep 10, 2016 9:48 PM

Israel knows a thing or two about ethnic cleansing. Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu knows a thing or two about propaganda. The video he posted on Friday proves both points. Here’s the real thing — yet another record for Israeli chutzpah: The evacuation of settlers from the West Bank (which has never happened, and presumably never will) is ethnic cleansing.

Yes, the state that brought you the great cleansing of 1948 and that has never, deep in its heart, given up on the dream of cleansing, and that never stopped carrying out methodical microcleansings in the Jordan Valley, in the South Hebron Hills, in the area of Ma’aleh Adumim and in the Negev, too — that state calls the removal of settlers ethnic cleansing. That state compares the invaders of the occupied territories with the children of the land who clung onto their lands and homes.

Netanyahu proved once more that he is the real thing, the most authentic representative of the “Israeliness” that created reality for itself: Turning night into day, shamelessly and without any sense of guilt, without inhibition.

In Israel, many people, perhaps a majority, will buy these goods. The settlers of the Gaza Strip became “expellees,” their removal “deportation.” Not only is an aggressive and violent action — settlement — legitimate, but its agents are victims.

The Jews as victim. Always the Jews, only the Jews. An Israeli prime minister less brazen and arrogant than Netanyahu would not dare to utter the term “ethnic cleansing,” given the plank in his own eye. Few propaganda campaigns would dare go so far. Yet occasionally, reality intrudes.

And the reality is razor-sharp. The only mass ethnic cleansing that took place here was in 1948. Some 700,000 human beings, the majority, were forced to leave their homes, their belongings, their villages and the land that had been theirs for centuries. Some were forcibly expelled, put on trucks and removed; some were intentionally frightened into fleeing; still others fled, possibly unnecessarily. They were never allowed to return, save for a few, even if only to recover their belongings.

Being barred from returning was worse than the expulsion. It is what proved that the cleansing was intentional. Not a single Arab community remained between Jaffa and Gaza, and all the other areas are scarred with the remains of villages, the vestiges of life. That is ethnic cleansing — there’s no other term for it. More than 400 villages and towns were wiped off the face of the earth, their ruins covered over by Jewish communities, forests and lies. The truth was concealed from Israeli Jews and the descendants of the deportees were forbidden to commemorate them — neither monument nor gravestone, to paraphrase Yevgeny Yevtushenko.

The number of settlers now exceeds the number of expellees. They invaded a land that was not theirs, with the support of successive Israeli governments and the opposition of the entire world, and they knew that their enterprise was built on ice. They and the Israeli governments not only crudely violated international law, which earns no respect in Israel. They also broke Israeli law, with the support of a subjugated judiciary.

Land theft is even a violation of the law practiced in Israel and the territories. When Israelis, and the world, began to become accustomed to this situation, to accept it as inevitable, along comes the prime minister and takes his chutzpah up one more level: The settlers are actually victims. Not the ones they expelled, not the ones they disinherited of their land. In the reality according to Netanyahu, the settlements that were built for the purpose of precluding arrangements with the Palestinians are not an obstacle, and he equates them with the she’erit haplita — the remnants of the Palestinians that remained in Israel, to borrow a term from the aftermath of the Holocaust.

Language can be twisted to any use, propaganda to any moral perversion. Farewell, reality, you’re not relevant here anymore.

Reflections By An ARAB JEW

Reflections By An ARAB JEW

by Ella Habiba Shohat

Irvi Nasawi: Sephardic & Middle Eastern Cultures

Ella Habiba Shohat is Professor of Cultural Studies and Women’s Studies at CUNY. A writer, orator and activist, she is the author of Israeli Cinema: East/West and the Politics of Representation (Univ. of Texas Press, 1989) and the co-author (with Robert Stam) of Unthinking Eurocentrism: Multiculturalism and the Media (Routledge 1994). Shohat co-edited Dangerous Liaisons: Gender, Nation and Postcolonial Reflections (University of Minnesota Press, 1997) and is the editor of Talking Visions: Multicultural Feminism in a Transnational Age, (MIT Press/The New Museum, 2000). She writes often for such journals as Social Text and the Journal for Palestine Studies.
When issues of racial and colonial discourse are discussed in the U.S., people of Middle Eastern and North African origin are often excluded. This piece is written with the intent of opening up the multicultural debate, going beyond the U.S. census’s simplistic categorization of Middle Eastern peoples as “whites.”

It’s also written with the intent of multiculturalizing American notions of Jewishness. My personal narrative questions the Eurocentric opposition of Arab and Jew, particularly the denial of Arab Jewish (Sephardic) voices both in the Middle Eastern and American contexts.

I am an Arab Jew. Or, more specifically, an Iraqi Israeli woman living, writing and teaching in the U.S. Most members of my family were born and raised in Baghdad, and now live in Iraq, Israel, the U.S., England, and Holland. When my grandmother first encountered Israeli society in the ’50s, she was convinced that the people who looked, spoke and ate so differently–the European Jews–were actually European Christians. Jewishness for her generation was inextricably associated with Middle Easterness. My grandmother, who still lives in Israel and still communicates largely in Arabic, had to be taught to speak of “us” as Jews and “them” as Arabs. For Middle Easterners, the operating distinction had always been “Muslim,” “Jew,” and “Christian,” not Arab versus Jew. The assumption was that “Arabness” referred to a common shared culture and language, albeit with religious differences.

Americans are often amazed to discover the existentially nauseating or charmingly exotic possibilities of such a syncretic identity. I recall a well-established colleague who despite my elaborate lessons on the history of Arab Jews, still had trouble understanding that I was not a tragic anomaly–for instance, the daughter of an Arab (Palestinian) and an Israeli (European Jew). Living in North America makes it even more difficult to communicate that we are Jews and yet entitled to our Middle Eastern difference. And that we are Arabs and yet entitled to our religious difference, like Arab Christians and Arab Muslims.

It was precisely the policing of cultural borders in Israel that led some of us to escape into the metropolises of syncretic identities. Yet, in an American context, we face again a hegemony that allows us to narrate a single Jewish memory, i.e., a European one. For those of us who don’t hide our Middle Easterness under one Jewish “we,” it becomes tougher and tougher to exist in an American context hostile to the very notion of Easterness.

As an Arab Jew, I am often obliged to explain the “mysteries” of this oxymoronic entity. That we have spoken Arabic, not Yiddish; that for millennia our cultural creativity, secular and religious, had been largely articulated in Arabic (Maimonides being one of the few intellectuals to “make it” into the consciousness of the West); and that even the most religious of our communities in the Middle East and North Africa never expressed themselves in Yiddish-accented Hebrew prayers, nor did they practice liturgical-gestural norms and sartorial codes favoring the dark colors of centuries-ago Poland. Middle Eastern women similarly never wore wigs; their hair covers, if worn, consisted of different variations on regional clothing (and in the wake of British and French imperialism, many wore Western-style clothes). If you go to our synagogues, even in New York, Montreal, Paris or London, you’ll be amazed to hear the winding quarter tones of our music which the uninitiated might imagine to be coming from a mosque.

Now that the three cultural topographies that compose my ruptured and dislocated history–Iraq, Israel and the U.S.–have been involved in a war, it is crucial to say that we exist. Some of us refuse to dissolve so as to facilitate “neat” national and ethnic divisions. My anxiety and pain during the Scud attacks on Israel, where some of my family lives, did not cancel out my fear and anguish for the victims of the bombardment of Iraq, where I also have relatives.

War, however, is the friend of binarisms, leaving little place for complex identities. The Gulf War, for example, intensified a pressure already familiar to the Arab Jewish diaspora in the wake of the Israeli-Arab conflict: a pressure to choose between being a Jew and being an Arab. For our families, who have lived in Mesopotamia since at least the Babylonian exile, who have been Arabized for millennia, and who were abruptly dislodged to Israel 45 years ago, to be suddenly forced to assume a homogenous European Jewish identity based on experiences in Russia, Poland and Germany, was an exercise in self devastation. To be a European or American Jew has hardly been perceived as a contradiction, but to be an Arab Jew has been seen as a kind of logical paradox, even an ontological subversion. This binarism has led many Oriental Jews (our name in Israel referring to our common Asian and African countries of origin is Mizrahi or Mizrachi) to a profound and visceral schizophrenia, since for the first time in our history Arabness and Jewishness have been imposed as antonyms.

Intellectual discourse in the West highlights a Judeo-Christian tradition, yet rarely acknowledges the Judeo-Muslim culture of the Middle East, of North Africa, or of pre-Expulsion Spain (1492) and of the European parts of the Ottoman Empire. The Jewish experience in the Muslim world has often been portrayed as an unending nightmare of oppression and humiliation.

Although I in no way want to idealize that experience–there were occasional tensions, discriminations, even violence–on the whole, we lived quite comfortably within Muslim societies.

Our history simply cannot be discussed in European Jewish terminology. As Iraqi Jews, while retaining a communal identity, we were generally well integrated and indigenous to the country, forming an inseparable part of its social and cultural life. Thoroughly Arabized, we used Arabic even in hymns and religious ceremonies. The liberal and secular trends of the 20th century engendered an even stronger association of Iraqi Jews and Arab culture, which brought Jews into an extremely active arena in public and cultural life. Prominent Jewish writers, poets and scholars played a vital role in Arab culture, distinguishing themselves in Arabic speaking theater, in music, as singers, composers, and players of traditional instruments.

In Egypt, Morocco, Syria, Lebanon, Iraq and Tunisia, Jews became members of legislatures, of municipal councils, of the judiciary, and even occupied high economic positions. (The finance minister of Iraq in the ’40s was Ishak Sasson, and in Egypt, Jamas Sanua–higher positions, ironically, than those our community had generally achieved within the Jewish state until the 1990s!)

The same historical process that dispossessed Palestinians of their property, lands and national-political rights, was linked to the dispossession of Middle Eastern and North African Jews of their property, lands, and rootedness in Muslim countries. As refugees, or mass immigrants (depending on one’s political perspective), we were forced to leave everything behind and give up our Iraqi passports. The same process also affected our uprootedness or ambiguous positioning within Israel itself, where we have been systematically discriminated against by institutions that deployed their energies and material to the consistent advantage of European Jews and to the consistent disadvantage of Oriental Jews. Even our physiognomies betray us, leading to internalized colonialism or physical misperception. Sephardic Oriental women often dye their dark hair blond, while the men have more than once been arrested or beaten when mistaken for Palestinians. What for Ashkenazi immigrants from Russian and Poland was a social aliya (literally “ascent”) was for Oriental Sephardic Jews a yerida (“descent”).

Stripped of our history, we have been forced by our no-exit situation to repress our collective nostalgia, at least within the public sphere. The pervasive notion of “one people” reunited in their ancient homeland actively disauthorizes any affectionate memory of life before Israel. We have never been allowed to mourn a trauma that the images of Iraq’s destruction only intensified and crystallized for some of us. Our cultural creativity in Arabic, Hebrew and Aramaic is hardly studied in Israeli schools, and it is becoming difficult to convince our children that we actually did exist there, and that some of us are still there in Iraq, Morocco, Yemen and Iran.

Western media much prefer the spectacle of the triumphant progress of Western technology to the survival of the peoples and cultures of the Middle East. The case of Arab Jews is just one of many elisions. From the outside, there is little sense of our community, and even less sense of the diversity of our political perspectives. Oriental-Sephardic peace movements, from the Black Panthers of the ’70s to the new Keshet (a “Rainbow” coalition of Mizrahi groups in Israel) not only call for a just peace for Israelis and Palestinians, but also for the cultural, political, and economic integration of Israel/Palestine into the Middle East. And thus an end to the binarisms of war, an end to a simplistic charting of Middle Eastern identities.

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Israel: Tax haven for Jews

http://www.haaretz.com/israel-news/.premium-1.726821

Lyin’ to Zion: Israel Is Haven for Fraudsters From France
Efforts to attract Diaspora Jews have made Israel a haven for a few who are trying to escape the long arm of the law.

Hagai Amit

Jun 24, 2016 9:40 AM

In a recent article on the connections between alleged French fraudster Arnaud Mimran, currently on trial in France, and Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, the French newspaper Liberation featured a headline calling Israel a “paradise” for French swindlers.

“Six of the 12 junior defendants in the Arnaud Mimran case were not in court, because they were in Israel, including Eddie Abittan, Michael Haik, Gabriel Cohen, Jeremy Grinholz and Frederic Sebag,” the French daily reported.

“Others involved in the ‘sting of the century’ also found sanctuary in Israel before being extradited to France. That’s the case with Cyril Astruc, alias Alex Khan … who found sanctuary in Israel and was arrested in January 2014. If the vast majority of French Jews who emigrate to Israel are honest, hundreds of others choose to immigrate to Israel to evade legal proceedings in France or use Israel as a base for fraud that they plan to carry out abroad,” the newspaper wrote.

The coverage was prompted by a series of fraud cases that have surfaced involving French Jews. And that is even before Haaretz reported that the star witness in the “sting of the century,” Eithan Liron, is hiding in an apartment on Tel Aviv’s Nordau Boulevard.

In early May, seven Netanya residents with French citizenship were arrested on suspicion of committing massive fraud against several foreign companies. They allegedly hacked the email accounts of senior executives at the targeted multinationals in order to impersonate them and persuade company employees to transfer large sums into bank accounts under their control, ostensibly in order to pay suppliers.

In April, French media outlets reported that five Israeli foreign currency firms were at the center of a French investigation of a 105-million-euro ($118 million) alleged fraud against investors. Fifteen suspects were detained on suspicion of involvement in the case. And in January, five suspects of French origin were arrested for allegedly impersonated corporate executives for the purpose of fraud.

Liberation reported that the instigator of the alleged scheme was Gilbert Chikli, who it said was living in a home with a pool and Jacuzzi in Ashdod, protected by armed guards, “even though he had been sentenced [abroad] to seven years in prison and a fine of a million euros.”

Reports from recent months also allege connections with other cases from the last two years, including one reported at the beginning of last year involving two Jewish suspects of French origin who are accused of systematically collecting information about executives at hundreds of French companies that they were said to be seeking to defraud.

The reports claimed that the two, who live in Tel Aviv and Herzliya, impersonated lawyers and business people and approached the companies demanding that funds be transferred to the pairs’ bank accounts.

If international investigators in Israel perceive crime from Central and South American as relating to drugs, and crime from Russia and Ukraine as fraud-related, in recent years, crime from France has related more and more to sophisticated technology-related crime, in their view.

Bilateral cooperation

Some 7,500 Jews immigrated to Israel last year, compared to 6,700 in 2014 and 3,300 in 2013.

Most are at least middle- class individuals and families who come to Israel in order to escape religious tensions and anti-Semitism in France, and because they want to live in the Jewish state. But for a small minority of these immigrants, Israel is a haven of another sort.

The criminal ties between the two countries have for some years accounted for a significant amount of the workload in the international investigation units of the Israel Justice Ministry and its French counterpart. Cooperation between agencies is close and includes annual meetings to review outstanding cases. The number of extraditions from Israel to France rises every year.

It’s not only legitimate Jewish immigration from France that worries Israeli officials. The Law of Return, which gives Jews and their extended families the right to immigrate to Israel and become citizens, has also been a subject of the authorities’ attention. When there is a new wave of immigrants from a particular country, there is frequently also a rise in the number of people who try to “hitch a ride” at their expense, in order to settle in Israel and exploit their knowledge of the language and customs of their country of origin to engage in criminal activity from their new Israeli base.

The French immigrant community is not thrilled about the reports of criminal links between Israel and France.

“There are a few French Jews who have done things that are not good in France and Israel has taken them in,” says Ouriel Boubli, a lawyer who works with French immigrants. “Apparently that was a mistake. It causes problems and the French community in Israel is angry at these people who have tainted it.” The recent cases have also made it difficult for “good folks” who want to come to Israel to invest, he added.

People of means are choosing to immigrate, Moti Morad, the CEO of the Rishon Letzion branch of Mati, which works with French immigrants, confirms. “People who used to come here just on visits and would count the number of days that they could remain without paying taxes have become citizens, but I don’t see a trend involving the transfer of black [market] money to Israel. There is always a certain percentage.”

An article in Newsweek in late March reported data from the group New World Wealth, which seeks to estimate the flow of capital around the world. The data included an effort to survey international migration by people of means and it reported that a quarter of the 10,000 millionaires who left France in 2015 were Jewish.

This year, the report claims, 4,000 new immigrant millionaires have come to Israel, half of whom have settled in Tel Aviv, but Herzliya, Netanya and Jerusalem were also mentioned as cities that have attracted new immigrant millionaires. The figures reflect the fact that in recent years, Israel has become a magnet for wealthy Jews from around the world and not just from France.

Italy, too

“There is an extensive Italian community that is currently transferring a lot of money to Israel out of concern over steps that the government there would take, but we know that there are also a lot of French people coming and buying property in Israel,“ says Arik Gruber, a lawyer.

One possible reason for Israel’s attractiveness for some is the fact that in 2008, the law was amended to give new immigrants and returning Israelis who had left the country a 10-year tax exemption on income produced outside of Israel or generated from assets outside the country. The amendment also exempted them from reporting overseas income and assets. That’s no small attraction for someone seeking to bring black market assets into the country, but Israeli government authorities have no data on the extent to which such assets have been transferred here.

Avichai Snir of the Netanya Academic College, who conducts research on the subject of black market capital in Israel, says: “The phenomenon exists of money laundering by Jews from around the world in Israel. Historically, the Israeli view was that Jews were to be pitied even under those circumstances and that we needed to help them smuggle their capital. That’s a view from the early years of the country, that persisted for a long time.”

Gruber says a lot of black-market money has come into the country through a variety of means. And a former senior staffer in the Israel Tax Authority’s investigation department added: “Israel has always supported Jews bringing their money here. As a result of legislation, they come here, and for their first ten years here, they have almost no contact with law enforcement authorities.”

Suspicion over money laundering is sometimes the only grounds on which the Israeli police can deal with crime committed abroad. To open a money-laundering investigation in connection with activity committed abroad, the activity has to be significant not only from an Israeli standpoint, but also where it is committed, Israel Police sources say.

If it involves gambling money that is sent to Israel, in a place like the Czech Republic, for example, gambling is legal. If the law is broken in the country of origin, when the property comes into Israel, it is coming in as part of an effort to remove it from where the offense was committed. In such a situation, the money laundering is a separate offense that is divorced from the original offense, according to law enforcement officials.

The officials add that if the profits from fraud are brought into Israel, Israeli law enforcement addresses only the economic aspects of the case, attempting to prosecute the alleged offender for money laundering.

That still requires the cooperation of officials in the country where the initial offense was committed to prove that the motive was to hide the assets in Israel.

“The moment that parties with illegal funds enter Israel, they look for cash-rich transactions through which in one fell swoop they can launder a lot of money,” said a knowledgeable source.

“Investment in real estate is the last stage in the process, after I’ve put the money into the system. Leaving the money in the bank is more problematic, because it’s much more exposed. In real estate, you can register the property in the name of an aunt or sister or a straw man, whereas an account with several million euros in it is something that is usually reported and that could arouse suspicions,” said the source, who asked to remain anonymous.

Israel’s Weapons Sales to Europe Double Amid Refugee Crisis

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Israel’s Weapons Sales to Europe Double Amid Refugee Crisis

Overall, Israel signed contracts worth $5.7 billion in sales of weapons and military technology; Official data shows a drop in sales to African nations, Asia and Latin America, and a rise in sales to Europe and the U.S.

Gili Cohen
Apr 06, 2016 11:00 PM

Israel in 2015 signed contracts worth $5.7 billion in sales of weapons and military technology – an increase of about $100 million over the previous year, Defense Ministry figures published on Wednesday show.

Sales to Europe more than doubled since 2014, reaching $1.6 billion, compared to $724 million the previous year. Most of 2015’s deals included aircraft upgrades, ammunition and unmanned aircraft sales.

Ministry data showed a drop in sales to African nations, Asia and Latin America, and a rise in sales to Europe and the U.S., in comparison to 2014. The apparent reason is the refugee crisis in Europe and the rise of terrorism on the continent.

The Defense Ministry said 2015 was “another challenging year for security industries around the world” and saw the effects of falling oil prices and the fall of currency values. According to the ministry’s military aid branch, which seeks to increase Israeli weapons exports, the number of deals is expected to remain stable in the coming year.

“The military industries have succeeded, via a series of actions, joint work and determination all over the world, to restore stability to the Israeli military exports market,” branch head Brigadier-General (res.) Mishel Ben Baruch said.

After three years of consistent rises in weapons deals with African nations, 2015 saw a drop of almost 50% in new contracts signed for the sale of Israeli defense products to African countries.

The extent of deals with African nations stood at $163 million that year, compared to $318 million in 2014 and $223 million in 2013.

African nations represent a small portion of Israeli defense exports. Similarly to other years, most of the weapons were sold to Asia and the Pacific. But there was also a drop in defense sales to Asian countries in 2015. In 2014, contracts signed with Asia totaled close to $3 billion, compared to $2.3 billion in the past year.

The Defense Ministry doesn’t detail weapons deals signed with foreign agents or bodies, or their costs, nor does it provide details on the identities of who purchases Israeli weapons or technology. In the United States, however, official deals done via the site of the Defense Security Cooperation Agency (DSCA) are reported.

“There is an extreme lack of transparency in the data, especially which countries are purchasing,” Meretz lawmaker Tamar Zandberg told Haaretz. “And the data, time after time, conceal shady undemocratic and not peace loving countries – despotic regimes using the weapons and technology to control or otherwise operate against civilians.

“Each time we see that Israel is unfortunately on the wrong side of history in these matters, and the most current example is South Sudan. Israel is still apparently selling monitoring equipment and various control mechanisms being used against civilians,” she said.

According to Defense Ministry data, some 15 percent of deals signed in 2015 focused on improving aircraft or aerial systems and there’s a similar figure for the sales of ammunition and gun positions. Twelve percent of the deals have to do with radar sales, and 11 percent in sales of unmanned weapons.

The Defense Ministry takes pride that Israel is “among the leading 10 defense exporters in the world,” Brigadier-General Ben Baruch said.

The Single-state Solution Is Already Here

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The Single-state Solution Is Already Here

Now, of all times, out of the fire and despair, we must start talking about the last way out: one Israeli state with equal rights for both Jews and Arabs.
Gideon Levy
Oct 17, 2015 8:28 PM

Here is irrefutable proof that the one-state solution should not even be considered: the bloodshed, hatred and fear currently washing over the country. Advocates of the two-state solution and, especially, those who seek no solution, those Israelis who saw the one-state solution as treason and heresy, are now proclaiming victory. “There, that’s what the binational state will look like,” they are saying. “It will be a bloody, endless civil war.”

The same intimidatory arguments that were used for years against the two-state solution (the “Auschwitz borders”) are now being enlisted against the one-state solution. Now, as then, everything is judged according to the contours of the current, depressing reality, and it doesn’t occur to anyone that another reality is possible.

The nationalists say, “An agreement will never be possible with those bloodthirsty people.” The center-left says, “There’s no way to live together.” The common denominator is racism, and the assumption that the hatred will last forever. To this we must add the arguments over the Jewish state’s sanctity and the end of the Zionist project. In short, one state means the end of the world.

And now to the facts. One state already exists here, and has done so for 48 years. The Green Line faded long ago; the settlements are in Israel, and Israel is also the settlers’ land. The fate of the two million Palestinians who live in the West Bank is decided by the government in Jerusalem and the defense establishment in Tel Aviv, not by Ramallah. Maj. Gen. Yoav Mordechai, the coordinator of government activities in the territories, is their ruler far more than Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas is. They are clearly part of the binational state and have been its subjects, forcibly, for some three generations. This state has three regimes: democracy for the Jews; discrimination for the Israeli Arabs; and apartheid for the Palestinians. But everyone lives in one inseparable state.

The binational state that was born in 1967 is not democratic. In fact, it’s one of the worst states in the world, because of the military dictatorship it upholds in part of its territory – one of the most brutal, totalitarian regimes in existence today. It is also one of the most racist states, since it determines its residents’ rights based solely on their nationality. This is the one state that is washed in blood right now, and will continue to be washed in blood as long as it remains in its malicious, nondemocratic format.

Those who say the current bloodbath is proof that Arabs and Jews can’t live together base this on the current state of injustice. And they’re right. If Israel continues to be a state of iniquity, Jews and Arabs will never be able to live together in peace. But the growing few advocating the one-state solution are not thinking of this state – quite the opposite. They wish to undermine it and establish a different, more just and egalitarian regime. When that is established, the hatred and despair will most likely be forgotten.

One may not want to believe this, of course, but one must not deceive. You cannot deny the possibility of life together with arguments based on the existing conditions. Blood is being spilt because of the injustice, and stems from it. How can you rule out in advance the possibility that in a democratic, egalitarian state, different relations will be formed? There are quite a few historic precedents of hatred and horror that dissipated when the injustice dissipated.

We could go back to the two-state solution, of course. Not a bad idea, perhaps, but one that has been missed. Those who wanted a Jewish state should have implemented it while it was still possible. Those who set it on fire, deliberately or by doing nothing, must now look directly and honestly at the new reality: 600,000 settlers will not be evacuated. Without evacuation, there will not be two states. And without two states, only the one-state solution remains.

Now, of all times, out of the fire and despair, we must start talking about the last way out: equal rights for all. For Jews and Arabs. One state is already here, and has been for a long time. All it needs is to be just and do the right thing. Who’s against it? Why? And, most important, what’s the alternative?

In Israel, we walk amongst killers and torturers

http://www.haaretz.com/news/diplomacy-defense/1.662364
Ha’aretz: Jun. 22, 2015 |

In Israel, we walk amongst killers and torturers

By Amira Hass

The harassment of the Al-Midan Theater stems from envy of our subjects’ ability to overcome oppression, to think and create, in defiance of our image of them as inferior.

In our homes, our streets and our places of work and entertainment, there are thousands of people who killed and tortured thousands of other people or supervised their killing and torture. I write “thousands” as a substitute for the vaguer “countless” – an expression for something that cannot be measured.

The vast majority of those who kill and torture (now as well) are proud of their deeds, and their society and families are proud of their deeds – although usually it’s impossible to find a direct link between the names of the dead and the tortured and the names of those who kill and torture, and even when it is possible, it’s forbidden. It’s also forbidden to say “murderers.” And it’s forbidden to write “lowlifes” or “cruel people.”

Me, cruel? After all, our hands aren’t covered with blood when we push the button that drops a bomb on a building housing 30 members of a single family. Lowlife? How can we use that word to describe a 19-year-old soldier who kills a 14-year-old boy who went outside to pick an edible plant?

The Jewish killers and torturers and their direct commanders act as they do with official permission. The Palestinian dead and tortured that they have left behind over the past 67 years also have grieving nieces and families for whom bereavement is a constant presence. In university hallways, shopping malls, buses, gas stations and government ministries, Palestinians don’t know which of the people they encounter have killed, or which and how many members of their families and their people they have killed.

But what’s certain is that their killers and torturers are walking around free. As heroes.

In this morbid contest with the Palestinians over bereavement and pain, we, the Israeli Jews, cannot win. With our air force and our armored corps and our Givati Brigade and our famed elite commando units, we are the underdogs in this contest. But because we are the unquestioned rulers, we fake the results of the contest and appropriate bereavement to ourselves.

We’re not satisfied with the land, the homes and the direct connection to the place that we stole from them and appropriated and destroyed, and that we continue to destroy and appropriate and steal. No. We also deny all the reasons, all the historical and social context of expulsion, dispossession and discrimination, that have led a very small handful of those Palestinians who are citizens of Israel to try to imitate us by taking up arms. They deluded themselves into thinking that weapons were the proper means of resistance, or reached a peak of fury and helplessness and decided to take lives.

Whether or not they regret it, their delusion doesn’t cancel out the fact that they had and have every reason to resist the oppression and discrimination and wickedness that are part and parcel of Israel’s rule over them. Convicting them as murderers doesn’t turn us into the collective victim in this equation. Instead of reducing the reasons for resistance, we are only intensifying and improving the means of oppression. And one means of oppression is insatiable vengefulness.

The attack on the Al-Midan Theater and the play “A Parallel Time” is part of this vengefulness. And it involves a lot of envy as well. Envy of the ability of those we oppress to overcome the oppression and the pain, to think, create and act in defiance of our image of them as inferior. They don’t dance to our tunes like miserable weaklings.

And as in an anti-Semitic caricature, for us everything focuses on the funding, on money. We don’t shut people up, we brag. We’re enlightened, we only cut off their funding. We turned them into a minority in our land when we expelled them and didn’t allow them to return, and now the 20 percent who remain here should say thank you and pay with their tax money for plays that extol the state and its policy. That’s democracy.

This isn’t a culture war, or a war about culture. It’s yet another battle – probably a lost cause, like the previous battles – over a sane future for this country. Palestinian citizens of Israel were a kind of insurance policy for the possibility of a sane future: Call them a bridge, bilingual, pragmatic, even if against their will. But we have to make changes, and we have to know how to listen to them, in order for this insurance policy to be valid. Yet we, the unquestioned rulers, aren’t planning to listen and don’t know the meaning of change.

One final note: Reports about the murder of Lod resident, Danny Gonen, at the Ein Bubin spring near the village of Dir Ibzi’a were accompanied by links to recent previous attacks: the people wounded in a vehicular terror attack near Alon Shvut settlement, the border policeman who was stabbed near the Cave of the Patriarchs in Hebron. And what was not mentioned? Of course, two young Palestinians killed recently by IDF soldiers: Izz al-Din Gharra, 21, who was shot to death on June 10 in the Jenin refugee camp, and Abdullah Ghneimat, 22, who was run over on June 14 in Kafr Malik by an IDF jeep.

Every night, on average, the IDF conducts 12 routine raids. For the Palestinians, every nighttime raid, which often entails the use of stun grenades and gas and shooting, is a mini terror attack.

Antony J. Blinken: Remarks at the American Jewish Committee’s Global Forum 2015

Remarks at the American Jewish Committee’s Global Forum 2015

Remarks
Antony J. Blinken
Deputy Secretary of State
Washington Hilton
Washington, DC
June 8, 2015

Well, thank you all very, very much. It is wonderful to be with you today. Stan, thank you for those incredibly kind and generous words, and thank you also for your reference to Vice President Biden and his family in this incredibly difficult time. Beau Biden was one of the finest people I’ve had the privilege to know, and his loss, first and foremost for his family, but also for the country is a great one. So I deeply appreciate your recognition.

I’d also like to recognize David Harris, an exemplary leader, a global citizen, a good friend who is celebrating 25 years at the helm of the AJC. (Applause.) David, congratulations, Mazel Tov – (laughter) – we look forward to 25 more years.

And shalom as well to our Israeli audience at the Herzliya Conference and our distinguished guests here in Washington, including Daniel Mitov, the foreign minister of Bulgaria. It’s great to be with you today as well. (Applause.) It’s a real pleasure to join all of you and to see so many familiar faces, even if mine isn’t the one you were hoping for. (Laughter.)

Secretary Kerry very much wanted to be here today. As I think many of you know, he has great admiration for the work that you do to advocate for the security of Israel, the wellbeing of the Jewish people, and the human dignity of all.

He may be off his feet for a short while, but he is very much in the lead of all our efforts across the board. In fact, I have to tell you probably the smartest thing we did at the State Department was to sign up for the AT&T family plan – (laughter) – because the Secretary has been burning up the phone lines night and day. No time zone is safe. (Laughter.) But we’re all looking forward to having him back in the office very, very soon.

We are also very fortunate to have an extraordinary team at the State Department directing our efforts every day to combat anti-Semitism, promote international religious freedom, and advance peace and security in the Middle East. Ira Forman and David Saperstein, who are both here this morning, as well as Frank Lowenstein, Larry Silverman, and Wendy Sherman – (applause) – they are exemplars of public servants of the highest caliber.

But their work, our work, would not be possible without yours, scholars and students, community members, global leaders who are building relationships across religious, ethnic, and national lines from Sofia to Tokyo, Sao Paulo to New Delhi.

You’ve been called the State Department of the Jewish people, a title so apt I may start giving out some assignments today. (Laughter.) Yours is a community whose beliefs, as Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. described it, have, quote, “boldly been expressed and resolutely supported by deeds and action.” For over a century, AJC has raised its voice in defense of those who cannot, fighting oppression with unflinching advocacy and intolerance with unwavering commitment.

You were present in San Francisco at the birth of the United Nations, where you advocated for the inclusion of strong human rights safeguards in the UN Charter and championed the creation of the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights. You dedicated years of diplomacy, research, and dialogue to help shape Nostra Aetate, a historic declaration passed by the Second Vatican Council 50 years ago that heralded a new era in Catholic-Jewish relations and stood up against hatred and persecution “at any time by anyone.”

And you have been an indispensable partner to President Obama and to his predecessors in America’s ironclad commitment to Israel’s future as secure, democratic, prosperous, Jewish state. I quote, “It would be a moral failing on the part of the U.S Government and the American people, it would be a moral failing on my part if we did not stand up firmly, steadfastly, not just on behalf of Israel’s right to exist, but its right to thrive and to prosper.” That was President Obama last month at Adas Israel Congregation here in Washington.

For more than 65 years – (applause) – since Israel’s founding during periods of war and peace, calm and crisis, U.S. administrations of all stripes have backed this staunch, unshakable commitment with concrete support. But no administration and no President has done as much for Israel’s security as President Obama. (Applause.) Don’t just take my word for it. Listen to another voice who called this Administration’s support for Israel’s security, and I quote, “unprecedented.” And that is the voice of Israel’s prime minister, Benjamin Netanyahu.

This is true in terms of our strategic and operational coordination. Simply put, it has never been stronger. Our nation’s armed forces have conducted more joint military exercises with Israel than ever before, including the largest exercises in our history. This work has strengthened our military capabilities and the security of both our countries. At every level of our relationship, we are engaging in more comprehensive and meaningful consultations than ever before – from our political leaders to our intelligence officers to our defense officials.

That unprecedence it is true in terms of our vigilance to protect Israel’s legitimacy on the world stage and fight for its full and equal participation in UN institutions.

We helped secure Israel’s permanent membership in the Western European and Others Group, as well as its membership in the like-minded human rights caucus from which it had long been excluded in New York.

Last year, the U.S. opposed 18 resolutions in the UN General Assembly that were biased against Israel. On five occasions last year, the U.S. cast the only “no” vote against unfair anti-Israel measures in the UN’s Human Rights Council. (Applause.) We will continue to stand with Israel and against one-sided, biased resolutions – even if we are the only country on earth to do so. (Applause.)

And finally, our unprecedented support for Israel’s security can be seen in our direct assistance to Israel’s defense. Last year, as you know, despite difficult budgetary times, the United States provided Israel with more security assistance than ever before – $3.1 billion. Since 2011, the United States has provided over $1.3 billion for Iron Dome, a missile defense system that has saved lives, protected homes, schools, hospitals from a rainfall of rockets, like those that fell again just this past weekend from Gaza. (Applause.)

To guard against more distant but equally dangerous threats, we have worked with Israel on the Arrow weapons system to intercept medium-range ballistic missiles – and David’s Sling, for shorter-range missiles. We collaborated on a powerful radar system linked to U.S. early warning satellites that could buy Israel valuable time in the event of a missile attack. And we will soon start deliveries to Israel of the F-35 Joint Strike Fighter, making Israel the only country in the Middle East with the most advanced fighter in the world. (Applause.)

This Administration has also stood firmly with Israel in its quest for peace with its neighbors, a prerequisite for long-term regional stability and the preservation of true and secure democracy in the Jewish homeland. As President Obama has repeatedly emphasized, the United States will never stop working to realize the goal of two states living side-by-side in peace and security because this is the best way to guarantee Israel’s future as a democratic, Jewish state. (Applause.)

Taken together, these examples are reflective of a President and an Administration with deep, personal, and abiding concern for Israel’s security and its future. And I can attest to this to you from direct personal experience. Last summer, late on a Thursday during the Gaza crisis, when I was still in my position at the White House, I got a call from Israeli’s ambassador to the United States Ron Dermer. And Ron said to me, “I’d like to come over to see you urgently, anytime you can see me.” And I said, “Come on over now.” And he arrived at the White House a little later that evening, around 8:30 at night. And he told me that Israel needed an emergency resupply of more interceptors for the Iron Dome system. And the ambassador and Israel’s defense attache ran through the substance of what they needed and why they needed it immediately.

The very next day, Friday morning, I went to the Oval Office and briefed President Obama. He responded with three words: “Get it done.” And by Tuesday – (applause) – just a few short days later, we had an additional 225 million in short-fuse funding from the U.S. Congress to do just that. (Applause.)

The United States and Israel may not always see eye to eye. We may have our differences. But our bedrock security relationship is sacrosanct, and I’m here to tell you it is stronger than ever. (Applause.)

And I can tell you another thing this morning: It’s at the very top of our minds as we sit at the negotiating table with Iran. The United States and Israel share an absolute conviction that Iran must not, under any circumstances, be allowed to obtain a nuclear weapon. (Applause.) When it comes to that core strategic goal, there is not an inch of daylight between the United States and Israel.

Now, we continue to believe that the very best way to prevent Iran from having a nuclear weapon is through a verified, negotiated agreement that resolves the international community’s legitimate concerns and, as a practical matter, makes it impossible for Iran to develop the fissile material for a weapon without giving us the means and the time to see it and to stop it.

The June 30th deadline is fast approaching. And we do not yet have a comprehensive agreement, and there remains a chance that we won’t get one. If we don’t get where – what we need on a few key issues, we won’t get there.

But, as Secretary Kerry announced in Lausanne in April, the deal we are working toward will close each of Iran’s four pathways to obtaining enough fissile material for a weapon – the uranium pathways at Natanz and Fordow, the plutonium pathway through Iran’s heavy water reactor at Arak, and a potential covert pathway.

To cut off these pathways, any comprehensive arrangement must include exceptional constraints on Iran’s nuclear program and extraordinary monitoring and intrusive transparency measures that maximize the international community’s ability to detect any attempt by Iran to break out, overtly or covertly.

Let me take this opportunity here today to address some of the concerns that are floating around about the deal that we’re working toward. And I have to tell you that many of these concerns are simply misplaced and are more myth than fact.

First, the deal that we are working to achieve will not expire. There will not be a so-called “sunset.” Different requirements of the deal would have different durations, but some – including Iran’s commitment to all of the obligations of the Non-Proliferation Treaty, including the obligation not to build a nuclear weapon, as well as the tough access and monitoring provisions of the Additional Protocol – those would continue in perpetuity.

By contrast, in the absence of an agreement, Iran’s obligations under the interim arrangement that we reached – the so-called Joint Plan of Action – those would sunset immediately. Then, Iran likely would speed to an industrial-scale program with tens of thousands of centrifuges.

Second, this deal would provide such extensive levels of transparency that if Iran fails to comply with the international community’s obligations, we’ll know about it – and we will know it virtually right away, giving us plenty of time to respond diplomatically, or, if necessary, by other means. Most of the sanctions would be suspended – not ended – for a long period of time, with provisions to snap back automatically if Iran reneges on its commitments.

Third, we would not agree to a deal unless the IAEA is granted access to whatever Iranian sites are required to verify that Iran’s program is exclusively peaceful – period. (Applause.)

Fourth, there is simply no better option to prevent Iran from obtaining the material for a nuclear weapon than a comprehensive agreement that meets the parameters that we set and announced in Lausanne.

I have to tell you that, unfortunately, it is a fantasy to believe that Iran will simply capitulate to every demand if we ratchet up the pressure even more through sanctions. After all, Iran suffered even more through the great depravations of the war with Iraq. And despite intensifying pressure over the last decade, Iran went from just 150 centrifuges in 2002 to 19,000 before we reached the interim agreement.

Nor is it likely that our international partners – without whom our sanctions are not effective – would go along with such a plan. They signed on to sanctions in order to get Iran to the negotiating table and to conclude an agreement that meets our core security interests, not to force Iran to abandon a peaceful nuclear program.

Up until now, we’ve kept other countries on board – despite the economic loss that it presents for some of them – in large part because they’re convinced we are serious about diplomacy and about reaching a diplomatic solution. If they lose that belief, it’s the United States, not Iran, that risks being isolated, and the sanctions regime we’ve worked so hard to build will crumble away.

And to those who would prefer that we simply take military action now against Iran without going the last diplomatic mile, you need to consider that such a response would first destroy the international sanctions coalition, and second, only set Iran’s nuclear program back by a few years at best, at which point Iran likely would bury a new program deep underground and speed toward an actual nuclear weapon. With the comprehensive agreement that we’re working to conclude, we have a chance to achieve much, much more than that.

All of that said, the United States continues to believe – as we have from day one – that no deal is preferable to a bad deal. We’ve had plenty of opportunities throughout this negotiating process to take a bad deal; we did not, and we will not. (Applause.)

And we know that just like the interim agreement we reached, any comprehensive agreement will be subject to the legitimate scrutiny of our citizens, our Congress, and our closest partners. We welcome that scrutiny, and will not agree to any deal that cannot withstand it. At the same time, I would say to any opponents of the agreement, if we reach it: You’ll have an obligation, too. Here in the United States, you’ll have an obligation to tell the American people exactly what you would do differently, and exactly how you would get it done. (Applause.)

Many of you will recall how, after we signed the interim Joint Plan of Action that enabled us to begin these comprehensive negotiations, there were those who told us we’d made a tragic mistake. That Iran wouldn’t comply and the sanctions regime that we’d painstakingly built over so many years would crumble. That we had jeopardized the safety and security of our nation and our partners.

But President Obama and Secretary Kerry maintained that the United States, our partners – including Israel – and the entire world would become safer the day after the Joint Plan of Action was implemented. That is exactly what happened. A year and a half ago, Iran’s nuclear program was rushing full speed ahead toward larger stockpiles, greater uranium enrichment capacity, and the production of weapons-grade plutonium and even shorter breakout timelines.

Today, Iran has lived up to its commitments under that Joint Plan of Action. It’s halted progress on its nuclear program; it’s rolled it back in some key respects for the first time in a decade. How do we know that? Because today, as a result of the interim agreement, the international inspectors, the IAEA, have daily access to Iran’s enrichment facilities, and a far deeper understanding of Iran’s nuclear program. They’ve been able to learn new things about Iran’s centrifuge production, uranium mines, and other facilities. And they’ve been able to verify that Iran is indeed honoring its commitments.

If we do reach a comprehensive deal, it will not end nor will it alter our commitment to supporting those in Iran demanding greater respect for universal rights and the rule of law. And we continue to insist that Iran release Saeed Abedini, Amir Hekmati, Jason Rezaian, and help us find Robert Levinson. (Applause.)

And reaching a comprehensive deal will not alter our commitment to fighting Iran’s efforts to spread instability and support terrorism. This will not change – with or without a deal. (Applause.)

But Iran with a nuclear weapon – without a nuclear weapon, excuse me – will be far less emboldened to take destabilizing actions in the region. It will reduce the pressure for a regional nuclear arms race and strengthen the international nonproliferation regime. In short, it is a critical step to greater global security – for the United States, for Israel, and for all of our partners in the region.

Finally, I’d like to address this morning another grave concern, and that is the deeply disturbing rise in anti-Semitism in parts of our world that have already seen how this tragic story ends. In the last few years, as all of you know so well, there have been horrific attacks on Jews from Brussels to Paris, Toulouse to Copenhagen. In some countries, we’re seeing a rise in government officials and media personalities spinning abhorrent, dangerous anti-Semitic conspiracy theories about Jewish individuals, about Israel, about the United States. And in a few places, we see the rise of extreme right-wing parties – from Jobbik in Hungary to Golden Dawn in Greece – openly embracing Nazi-like hatred of Jews. This is happening today – just 70 years after the Holocaust. Just 70 years after we pledged Never Again. While survivors of the Shoah are still with us to bear witness.

With organizations like AJC at the forefront, communities are mobilizing in response. In France, Germany, the United Kingdom, leaders have strongly condemned these acts of vile hatred, reinforced security in Jewish communities and around key sites, and expressed their unshakable solidarity with their Jewish citizens. Citizens of many faiths have formed human rings of protection around synagogues in Denmark, in Sweden, in Norway. But more – much more – must be done to make this fight a global priority.

Last month, the AJC released a very thought-provoking “Call to Action” on anti-Semitism that raises important recommendations that all of us can benefit from. These include developing new curricula for civic education, undertaking thorough studies of the security of Jewish communities, and blocking social media sites that incite hatred and violence.

But all of you know so very well that anti-Semitism is not just a Jewish issue. It’s not a Jewish issue, period. It cannot be addressed by Jewish organizations alone. Anti-Semitism – like all forms of prejudice – is a fundamental threat to democracies and open societies in every corner of the globe. (Applause.)

It’s simple: We cannot and we will not tolerate it. That’s why the United States is devoting more and more resources to this fight. Our embassies, our consulates are increasingly involved in supporting Jewish communities under pressure and under threat. At the UN and other international institutions, our diplomats are undertaking efforts to push back against anti-Semitism – unfortunately, on virtually a daily basis. Earlier this year, the U.S. worked with Israel and the European Union to organize the first UN General Assembly session on anti-Semitism in UN history, where people of all faiths took to the podium to denounce anti-Semitism and pledge to halt its alarming rise.

And over the last two years, our Special Envoy to Monitor and Combat Anti-Semitism Ira Forman, who’s with us today, has traveled to 25 countries and 37 communities to discuss the deteriorating situation and find new ways to combat anti-Semitism wherever it exists. (Applause.)

Ladies and gentlemen, for over 100 years, AJC has led the campaign against intolerance, against injustice, against a false choice between security and peace for the state of Israel. For what AJC has always known and what the world must now understand is that these issues don’t just affect someone else – someone else’s freedom, someone else’s dignity, someone else’s safety – they affect all of us, each of us. They undermine our security. They defy our humanity. And they call into question our most basic values. And they’re personal, and I have to tell you they’re personal to me as well.

Last summer, at the height of the conflict in Gaza, I exchanged emails with a cousin who’s been living in Tel Aviv for nearly 30 years. She wrote to me and the rest of our family about living with the constant worry for her children, especially her eldest son, who is training for the engineering unit that would be deployed to uncover tunnels and dismantle bombs. She wrote about living with the fear that terrorists were tunneling underground and could kidnap or kill her fellow citizens. She wrote about transforming their storage room back into a bomb shelter; about cycling to work with one earbud out of her ear so that she could hear the air raid sirens; about living on a 90-second timer, because that’s how much time you have to get to a bomb shelter when the sirens go off. As I read her emails, I thought of the mothers and fathers in Israel who send their children off to school or military service and endure each day in the desperate hope that their sons and daughters will be okay. I thought of the mothers and fathers in Gaza who faced their worst nightmare when their children were caught in the crossfire. And I thought of how these parents share more experiences in pain than they do in joy, and how it must be – how it can be – the reverse.

This is not naive optimism or false hope, but rather the conviction that the steps we take today together can make all of us more free and more secure; the conviction that a two-state solution is the best and only way to preserve Israel’s future as a secure, democratic Jewish state, as well as fulfill the rightful aspirations of Palestinians to a state; that a verified, negotiated, comprehensive agreement is the best way to prevent Iran from obtaining a nuclear weapon; and that our united stand against anti-Semitism is the only way to uphold the democratic values on which our societies are built.

As they have for over a century, the voices of AJC remain essential in shaping this future, in setting us on a better course. It is daunting. It is uncertain. But we pursue this better future with courage and commitment and the confidence that comes from being with you in the very best of company. May your voices, your bold expressions and resolute actions – may they always carry far and wide, so that together we may usher in a world that is just a little bit more just, more free, and more secure for everyone. Thank you very, very much. (Applause.)

David Ben-Gurion, Israel’s Segregationist Founder

http://forward.com/opinion/israel/308306/ben-gurion-israels-segregationist-founder/

David Ben-Gurion, Israel’s Segregationist Founder
Seth J. FrantzmanMay 18, 2015

‘The danger we face is that the great majority of those children whose parents did not receive an education for generations will descend to the level of Arab children,” Israel’s first prime minister, David Ben-Gurion, declared at a July 1962 meeting. He was speaking with the head of a teachers federation on the question of whether to segregate “Mizrahi” children, whose parents came from Muslim countries, from “Ashkenazi” children in school.

In the document from the Labor Party archives, revealed recently in Haaretz, a shocking image is conjured up. Did Israel’s first leader really consider segregating Jewish children according to country of origin? Why did he use racially tinged terms of abuse, worrying that Israel would become “Levantine” and “descend” to be “like the Arabs”?

The document is emblematic of a tragic Israeli problem, the legacy of the disastrous policies put in place in the early years of the state that at the time seemed in line with prevailing European concepts but did irreparable harm.

Consider the case revealed on April 9 by author Orna Akad at the blog +972. She related how 23 years ago she went to a workshop at the community of Neve Shalom. “One of the participants in the workshop was also a member of the community’s admission committee… we came up to her full of hope and said proudly that we are a couple, a Jewish woman and an Arab man, and that we would like to register and appear before the community’s admission committee,” Akad said. The woman had bad news: “We are a community which encourages life together in coexistence, but we are opposed to mixed marriage.”

If you are perplexed, you should be. Israel’s small communities have an unusual way of organizing themselves. An “acceptance” or admissions committee regulates almost every single community outside a major town. You can’t just move to a place, you have to ask to be admitted. It is why a May 2012 headline screamed, “Sderot activists win right to move to Kibbutz Gevim.” They didn’t want to be kibbutz members, just to live in an expansion area of the kibbutz. But one committee member had blocked them, reportedly saying, “We are trying to introduce new blood into the community, but new blood needs to match what is already there.” The newcomers were not “attuned to community life.”

  How did some 1,000 communities in Israel become gated communities, so that people who are Arab, Ethiopian or other minorities can be denied the right to live where they want either directly or as result of euphemistic rulings like that they are “not attuned to community”? This is one of the main legacies of 1950s Israel.

Admissions committees created ethnically homogenous Jewish communities (Yemenites in one place, Hungarians in another). Worse, a segregated education system for Jews and Arabs cemented total separation so that 99% of pupils study in either Jewish or Arab schools through the end of high school. The education system was put in place in 1949, but it should have been obvious that “separate development” was a road to future disaster.

David Ben-Gurion is often portrayed as a mythical formative figure in the early years of the Jewish state. In Anita Shapira’s 2014 biography she lionizes him: “He knew how to create and exploit the circumstances that made its [Israel’s] birth possible.” Peter Beinart similarly paints a picture of early Israel endowed with liberal and socialist principles. “Labor Zionists insisted that the character of Jewish life in Palestine, and of the eventual Jewish state, was as important as the state itself.” The well-known author Ari Shavit wrote in his book, “My Promised Land,” that “the newborn state [of Israel] was one of the most egalitarian democracies in the world.” Washington Post columnist Richard Cohen romanticized Israel’s early years as “fighting intellectuals, rifle in one hand and a volume of Kierkegaard in the other.”

There is a massive nostalgia and a total misunderstanding of the nature of the state in those years. Israel was not egalitarian in the 1950s; it was a divided society, in which Arab citizens, having watched the vast majority of their community flee or be expelled from the country in 1948, were kept under military-imposed curfew. It was a society in which security concerns trumped civil rights, in which nationalistic military parades were common, and ethnic and religious divisions were cemented.

The founders of the state saw themselves as embarking on a massive social engineering experiment. As these new documents reveal, Ben-Gurion imagined that the Jews who had come from Arab countries would soon outnumber Jews of European origin — “In another 10-15 years they will be the nation, and we will become a Levantine nation, [unless] with a deliberate effort we raise them…” he said. The country had a responsibility to elevate this population from its many generations of living in, as he disparagingly put it “downtrodden, backward countries.” The disdain for Arab culture was extreme, despite the fact that Arabs in British Mandatory Palestine held high positions, were the intellectual elite of the country and had a sophisticated society.

The discrimination of the 1950s haunts Israel today. It persists in the media, as when Tel Aviv’s Ashkenazi elite is referred to as a “white tribe,” or when Russian immigrants are mocked as having “crime in their blood” and a successful Arab citizen like TV host Lucy Aharish is described in one article as not “dressing like an Arab.” The segregated schools and admissions committees created a balkanized society. Rather than romanticizing the leader who perpetuated these divisions, people should imagine an Israel in the future that reforms the failed legacy. Reduce segregation and encourage diverse communities. Interrogate the past, don’t whitewash it.

Seth J. Frantzman is the opinion editor of The Jerusalem Post.

The nuts and bolts of racial discrimination, Zionist style

http://www.dailystar.com.lb/News/Middle-East/2015/May-11/297484-israels-west-bank-housing-policy-by-numbers.ashx

Israel’s West Bank housing policy by numbers

OCCUPIED JERUSALEM: Since seizing the West Bank in 1967, Israel has held full control over all planning matters for both Palestinians and Jewish settlers in an area covering over 60 percent of the territory.

Although settlers can secure building permits with ease, the opposite applies for Palestinians who are forced to build illegally, with Israel bulldozing hundreds of such structures every year, rights groups say.

Villages vs. settlements Over 60 percent – around 360,000 hectares – of the West Bank is classified as Area C, which Israel aims to retain under any final settlement. This is where Israel has full control over security and also civilian affairs which are managed by the Civil Administration.

U.N. figures show there are an estimated 298,000 Palestinians living in Area C, in 532 residential areas. There are also 341,000 Israelis living in 135 settlements and 100 or so unauthorized outposts.

Less than 1 percent of Area C is designated for Palestinian development, compared to 70 percent which falls within the domain of local settlements, the U.N. says. Palestinian construction in the rest of Area C is subject to severe restrictions and almost impossible to carry out.

Demolition orders vs. permitsSince the 1993 Oslo autonomy accords were signed, Israel has issued more than 14,600 demolition orders, according to Israeli planning rights watchdog Bimkom.

So far, about 2,925 structures have actually been demolished.

Bimkom architect Alon Cohen Lifschitz estimates there are an average of two structures per order, meaning that over the past two decades, Israel has issued demolition notices to nearly 30,000 Palestinian-owned structures.

Last year, Israel issued 911 demolition orders on grounds of a lack of building permits. There are currently more than 9,100 outstanding demolition orders which can be implemented, Bimkom says.

Structures can include anything from a house to an animal shed, a road or fence, foundations, infrastructure, cisterns, cemeteries and solar panels. Since 1996, Israel has granted only a few hundred building permits for Palestinian structures.

According to Amnesty International, there were 76 building permits issued to Palestinians between 1996 and 1999. And from 2000-2014, only 206 building permits were issued, Bimkom says. In 2014, Israel granted a single permit.

Two-tier planning system

In Area C, a two-tier planning system operates based on ethnic-national background: a civil and representative system for Jewish settlers, and a military system without representation for Palestinians, Israeli NGO Rabbis for Human Rights says.

In planning for Palestinian villages, the objectives are to limit land use and encourage dense construction, whereas in the settlements, the trend is often the opposite – to include as much area as possible, producing low density, it says.

The quantum mechanics of Israeli totalitarianism

http://www.aljazeera.com/indepth/opinion/2015/05/quantum-mechanics-israeli-totalitarianism-150507072609153.html

The quantum mechanics of Israeli totalitarianism

To understand how it feels to be a Palestinian, you need to think like a particle physicist, not a social scientist.

Mark LeVine, Al Jazeera, 7 May 2015

With the coalition government formed by Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu easily the most ultranationalist and conservative government in Israel’s history, even the most cockeyed optimist would shrink from imagining that Oslo can still be revived, if only the right treatment were concocted.

The problem today is not that anyone but the most self-interested Israeli, Palestinian or US officials still pretends that the peace process is functioning. Rather, it’s that hardly anyone in a position of power can explain precisely when, how and especially why it died. To do so requires moving far more deeply into the dynamics of the endlessly troubled peace process than most policy-makers or commentators are willing to delve, into what I term the “quantum mechanics” underlying Oslo’s fatally flawed structures.

Israel has long claimed uniquely democratic credentials in a region besot with authoritarian regimes.

The unending occupation, the sheer chutzpah with which the Israeli government continues to expand its presence in the West Bank while sieging Gaza, the escalating protests by minorities inside the country’s 1967 borders, and the composition of the new government, all put the lie to such claims today.

Matrix of control

What’s still poorly understood by most non-Palestinians is just how deep the level of control has long been. Even if you’ve spent decades travelling through the West Bank and Gaza, the intensity of that control remains hard to grasp.

As I walked through the Jordan Valley last month near the front-line village of Fasayel, I began to understand how one reason why it’s been so difficult to explain the intensity and all-encompassing scope of Israel’s “matrix of control” over the Occupied Territories is that even its critics don’t use strong enough language to describe it.

Israel is not just an “occupier” or a “coloniser”. However democratic it may (or may not) be inside its 1967 borders, in the Occupied Territories Israel’s rule is nothing short of totalitarian.

In calling Israeli rule totalitarian, I am not arguing that the government mimics the worst policies of thought control and ideological purism practised by the 20th century’s Fascist and Communist states such as Nazi Germany, Stalinist Russia or Maoist China (although Israel’s constant harassment and imprisonment of Palestinian activists does reflect a desire to control how Palestinians think and act, at least publicly).

Rather, I’m talking about a much deeper level of control, at what can only be described as the quantum level of Palestinian daily life.

To understand how it feels to live as a Palestinian today you need to think like a particle physicist, not a social scientist. Moving through the space of Israel/Palestine involves negotiating a host of forces that the average Palestinian has about as much control over as the average electron or proton does of the nuclear and quantum forces determining its path. And it’s through this near total control of the space that Israel is able, in George Orwell’s description of totalitarianism, to “control the past as well as the future”.

Israeli geographer Jeff Halper, founder of the Israeli Committee Against Home Demolitions (ICAHD) coined the “matrix of control” to describe these forces. The name evokes numerous overlapping layers of control, including the physical infrastructure of settlements and their security corridors and zones, bypass roads, closed military areas and even “nature reserves”. The matrix also includes the bureaucratic and legal/planning levels, and the use of large-scale violence and imprisonment to control people’s behaviour and movement.

With its matrix of control, Israel has achieved an unparalleled and uniquely successful synergy of “bio” and “necro”-politics, controlling life and death at most every scale of Palestinian existence. The matrix is continuously adjusted with as much care as Israel has adjusted the caloric intake of Gazans during its periodic intensifications of the Gazan siege.

Three, four and five dimensions

A look at the group of detailed maps created by ICAHD reveals upwards of two dozen parameters of control that can intersect at any given coordinate on the map. But the map is only a two dimensional representation of a multidimensional and multi-levelled reality. It’s not just various forces meeting on the ground. When you’re walking through the 97 percent of the West Bank that is in Areas B or C and thus under Israel security control, you realise that the matrix extends both under the ground you’re walking on and above your head.

Below ground, Israel controls all the water resources in the West Bank, and for 50 years has systematically taken most every possible well, stream, aquifer or other water source from Palestinians (in direct violation of international law, it must be remembered).

It also controls the airspace above Palestinians’ heads, as the constant buzz of Israeli fighter jets training overhead in the Jordan Valley, and the ubiquitous presence of drones and helicopters almost everywhere at any time, and the prohibitions on building new floors on existing structures makes clear.

In whatever direction Palestinians look or want to step or reach – left or right, forwards or backwards, above or below them – the land, air and water surrounding them is largely outside their permanent control.

Blink of an eye

But it is not just that most of their territory is out of Palestinian hands. The quantum physics of Israel’s matrix of control also has its own Heisenberg, or uncertainty principle.

In quantum mechanics this principle asserts that it is impossible to know with precision the exact state of a particle because the very act of observing it changes its state. In the same way, merely by changing their location Palestinians change the state of territory upon which they are moving.

On the one hand, despite the rockiness of the landscape, the geography of the West Bank can be among the most liquid on earth. It changes as one moves through it, depending on who you are – Jew or Palestinian, settler or refusnik, soldier or international. Spaces that seems open and free can suddenly be surrounded by military forces and closed off, declared off limits for any length of time for a variety of reasons merely because Palestinians moved into and through it or used it for grazing, water, or other normal activities.

Moreover, their very movement through the geography can change it not just for a moment, but permanently. At the same time, the uncertainty principle can also operate with a time lag. If Palestinians decide to walk through a Jordan Valley village, for example, or to plant trees on their land in the hills around Hebron or Jenin, it’s not at all uncommon for the Israeli military to issue demolition or confiscation orders a few days later.

In particular, the movement of Jews has an even more profound effect than Palestinians especially when establishing an outpost or settlement. Once land is claimed even on the flimsiest of pretexts the military usually moves in and declares a still larger area a security zone, making it impossible for Palestinians to access the land for months, years or even decades.

And so, it seems that land in Palestine can change states from liquid to solid almost instantly, freezing in place whatever Israel decides it wants frozen, from people to legal categories. The quantum physics of Palestinian geography can thus produce permanent changes not just in the three normal dimensions of space, but in the conflict’s “fourth dimension” as well, namely time.

But however many dimensions one considers, the goal remains the same: to achieve, in the words of the Palestinian-Israeli hip-hop group DAM, “Maximum Jews on maximum land; minimum Arabs on minimum land.”

Neoliberal policies

There is even a fifth, economic dimension in which the physics of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict operates. The neoliberal policies imposed on the Occupied Territories under Oslo have ensured that when Palestinians aren’t being displaced by Israeli settlers or bombs, they are fixed in place as objects of development, whose economic life is confined to small spaces that remain largely under Israeli control. The possibility of their becoming subjects able to shape their own destinies is, it seems, outside the laws of physics operating in the Holy Land.

It is the changeling nature of the political, physical and economic geographies of the Israeli-controlled Occupied Territories that has made it so difficult for Palestinians and their supporters internationally (including in Israel) to develop effective strategies of resistance, nevermind transcending the occupation.

With Oslo’s final demise, Palestinians don’t just need new strategies for resisting an occupation without end; what’s needed is an entirely new physics as well.

Indeed, it has long been argued that Palestinians are still waiting for their Ghandi. It might well turn out that to overcome decades of totalitarian Israeli rule, a long-dead peace process, and ineptitude, corruption and authoritarianism internally, Einstein would be a far more useful figure.

Mark LeVine is a professor of Middle Eastern History at University of California, Irvine, and a Distinguished Visiting Professor at Lund University.

The views expressed in this article are the author’s own and do not necessarily reflect Al Jazeera’s editorial policy.
 
Source: Al Jazeera

Israel’s road signs policy ‘erases memory of place’

http://www.aljazeera.com/news/2015/02/israel-road-signs-policy-erases-memory-place-150202105553841.html
Israel’s road signs policy ‘erases memory of place’

In some areas, street signs only indicate the nearest Israeli settlements.

Rania Zabaneh, Dalia Hatuqa |  Al Jazeera, 04 Feb 2015

Ramallah, West Bank – Just outside of Ramallah, on the edge of the main West Bank north-south artery known as Road 60, a large green road sign is hard to miss. It indicates that the Israeli settlements of Kokhav Yaakov and Geva Binyamin are nine kilometres to the south, while Pesagot is another 13km away.

Just south are the Palestinian villages of Deir Dibwan, Burqa, Mikhmas and Jaba – but they are not mentioned on any of the major signs on the highway. This is a situation replicated across the West Bank, where approximately 150 settlements peppering the higher elevations are connected by a network of roads.

A United Nations report said this network is “primarily for Israeli use that specifically link West Bank settlements to each other and to Israel … Palestinian access on to this network is restricted by a closure regime consisting of … checkpoints, roadblocks and a permit system for Palestinian vehicles.”

Israeli authorities have long banned the Palestinian Authority (PA) from putting up its own road signs that refer to Palestinian towns and villages. This is true mostly for population centres in Area C, the more than 60 percent of the West Bank under Israeli administrative and security control.

The Israeli Coordinator of Government Activities in the Territories said: “The matter is being checked and addressed.” COGAT is an Israeli defence ministry unit that encompasses the Civil Administration, the Israeli governing body in the West Bank.

On an intersection on a two-lane highway in the northern West Bank, cars, lorries and taxis whiz by, travelling to various destinations. But it is difficult for Palestinian travellers here to pinpoint where they are; street signs only indicate where the nearest Israeli settlements are.

“We normally know this street as the ‘Yitzhar line’,” said one truck driver, referring to the settlement thrust in the heart of three Palestinian villages; Burin, Madama and Asira al-Qibliyeh. “We are between Qalqiliya and Huwara. There isn’t anything to indicate where Nablus or Qalqiliya are except Yitzhar.”

Not only are the proper names of Palestinian locales – in either Arabic, English or Hebrew – often absent from street signs, but in some cases, even the Arabic spelling of Hebrew names has been painted over or erased.

“We got used to the Hebrew name of the area because there are no other signs,” one taxi driver told Al Jazeera. Another added: “We have a hard time getting to places. We have to ask for directions the whole time.”

In 2009, the PA kick-started a US-funded project to install road signs in Arabic and English script. The $20m project was expected to last four years. However, about half of the signs were not erected because of Israeli opposition, and the project was subsequently shelved.

“Israel does not allow us to erect street signs, especially on main streets and bypass roads in Area C,” Mohammad Jabarin, the deputy minister of local government, told Al Jazeera. “We managed to put up signs inside Palestinian population centres, but not outside.”

That has not made it easier for Palestinians to navigate their way through the West Bank, carved up by a matrix of Israeli infrastructural obstacles, including the separation wall, about 100 fixed checkpoints, concrete blocks, and earth mounds.

Critics contend that the Israeli military occupation has not only effectively changed the landscape, but also affected Palestinian memory “through visual and linguistic manipulation.”

“Perceived as mundane and experienced as mere informative images, innocent and indisputable, road signs can constitute part of a highly invested political strategy for producing a linguistic landscape,” wrote Liora Bigon and Amer Dahamshe, who studied Israeli road-sign policy.

Others say the presence of Israeli military infrastructure has affected Palestinians’ usage. Places like Qalandiya, the name of a West Bank refugee camp, are now synonymous with the checkpoints thrust in their midst.

“The most imminent danger is when the colonial terms are used by individuals under occupation,” said Abaher el-Sakka, a professor of social sciences at Birzeit University.

Another danger, according to Sakka, is “erasing the memory of the place, connected to the original owners of the land, by using names that serve the interests of the colonisers, and this means the ultimate success of the colonial project”.

Sakka’s fears do not seem to be inflated: Many drivers on the “Yitzhar line” could not name the nearby Palestinian villages where the settlement was built. “There’s no Arabic name for this area,” said one taxi driver. “There’s an Arab village here, but I can’t remember its name, because there are only Hebrew signs.”

Source: Al Jazeera

The Taste of Mulberries

The following beautiful texts are taken from the book “Israel, an Apartheid State” by Uri Davis, Zed Books Ltd, 1987.

Prolegomena: The Taste of Mulberries

by Havah ha- Levi

(a) The Female Snake

Someone said something about Tantura…1

Soft hills rolled silently into each other’s embrace [towards the beach] and right on the edge of the hills there was a dense plantation of low palm trees clustered on the beach. A scenery of soft and misty dream. Only the feeling of nausea returns to trouble me.

At a short distance from the cluster of palms there was a group of empty houses.

Some of them were slightly damaged, but generally, the houses were intact and beautiful. Everything [about the houses] was very neglected, empty and filthy. A few ancient shoes exposed their seams along the footpath. There in the deserted village of Tantura the kibbutz set up the summer camp for its children.

The houses were cleaned up. A large long tent was erected to serve as a dining hall. The place was a paradise for children.

I remember the heat of the scorching sun over my tanned skin. The salt taste of the sea water. The swimming competitions. The beautiful and quiet beach. And thirty or forty happy children. Really happy.

And yet I listen to my memories. I try to redraw the lines that chart my memory.

There are things that already had their beginning in another place.

There were these half scornful sentences, such as: if the Arabs come, they will steal you first. You are blonde and the Arabs like blonde girls; if the Arabs come, they will see your golden head in the dark and will steal you first. They will think perhaps that it is a ball of gold; here is an Arab shoe. Such sentences …

Towards the end, two days before the conclusion of the summer camp, they asked who wanted to go on a tour and listen to Motke telling stories about the conquest of Tantura. I went, too.

We went into the cluster of palms, and the leader of the summer camp, a nice jovial kibbutznik who evidently loved children, was already there telling something. I lagged behind as usual. I walked along daydreaming and slightly bored. When I eventually caught up with the group, they were all standing near a large house which had perhaps originally been situated at the edge of the village, and I remember the words: ‘We attacked at both ends. Most of them had already run away. Suddenly a huge Arab came out behind this house and began to run. I shot him, and he jumped in the air like a rabbit, turned a somersault and fell’.

Even today I do not know whether this was a factual description of what had happened. But at our place, they used to say that if you kill a snake, you should throw it away or hide it, because if it is left exposed, all the snakes (the family? the tribe?) will come to the place to look for it and this could be very dangerous. And that if you kill a bee that has stung you, it is likewise necessary to throw it away or hide it, since otherwise all the bees will come there after its smell. And that if you kill a lion, the lioness will always come to search for it.

And then, suddenly, together with the Arab, shot in the air with his white kufiyya and black agal, all the Arabs who had lived there in these houses, who had worn those shoes now discarded on the footpaths, the children who had run about naked on the beach, the fat, erect women who had carried the jars on top of their heads… they all came out suddenly in my imagination to look for him. I recalled the warning not to leave the corpse of the snake in the place where it had been killed because the female snake will come to look for it and I turned to look behind me, terrified. There was nothing there. Only the beautiful houses and the sea. A bit angry and a bit curious, I thought about this bad Arab who had come to attack our soldiers. I thought he had deserved to die like that, yet he did not seem to have been dangerous when he was shot there in the air, like a rabbit. I wanted to know if he was from this village, or from another place.

We returned to the beach and ate a water melon. I wanted to have the ‘heart’ of the water melon, but I never got it because I always arrived late. Everything lost its taste. I told my friend: Mira, I am already fed up with this summer camp. I want to go back home.

She looked at me surprised, beautiful, suntanned: ‘Why?’

(b) The Taste of Mulberries

The name of the villages was Sarkas, which probably refers to the former origin of its inhabitants, Circassians, who came, I would not know how, to the Middle East and settled here.2Anyway, when I came to know the village, all of its inhabitants were Palestinian Arabs. In fact, I never came to know the village properly; I was never there, though this is only half the truth, and I shall return to that later.

In our eyes, the eyes of children four or five years old, the village was represented by two women: Khadija and Hanifa. Maybe they were more courageous than the rest, or maybe they served as something like the ‘Foreign Office’ of the village. They often walked about in the kibbutz, and as far as I can remember they were mainly preoccupied with the picking of khubeiza (mallow) leaves which grew in wild abundance along the roadside. When we asked why they pick the khubeiza, we were told that the Arabs cook the leaves and eat them. And so, the first thing lever knew about Arabs was that they eat khubeiza. I also knew, of course, that they ride on camels, since the camels used to pass through the kibbutz and occasionally camp there; I knew that they ride on donkeys along the white road which probably stretches up to the very end of the world. But at that time there were also in the area British soldiers (the Mandate) and Australian soldiers (World War II), and thus it was imbedded in my consciousness that Eretz Israel3 consists of us, as well as passers by: Arabs, British, Australians …

About that time they all disappeared, and I really did not notice their disappearance all that much. Of course, the departure of the British was accompanied by much talk on the radio and in the yard of the kibbutz. But as to the fact that Khadija and Hanifa ceased to show up – well, there are many events that pass through the universe of any child, and he or she accepts their appearance os well as their disappearance as a matter of fact. Later, I came to know that the village had been destroyed by bulldozers, and I was a little scared. And then I forgot, und many years passed be fore Sarkas again emerged before my eyes as a place where people lived.

The destroyed village was made into the kibbutz garbage dump. I do not know who was the first to discover that in the midst of the ruins and the dust und the stench there remained a mulberry tree. A huge mulberry tree, which, In summer, produced huge mulberries: black and deliciously sweet. The mulberry trees in the kibbutz were grown on much water and their fruit was therefore somewhat watery, and anyway they were much too high to climb. But this mulberry tree was low, spreading wide, and heavily laden with fruit, to the deep delight of a little girl who was rather quiet and clumsy and who loved mulberries. And thus, every Saturday we would go on pilgrimage to the mulberry tree, stand around it for hours and eat of its fruit and return home with hands and faces blackened by the dark dye of mulberry sap. Never, not once, while standing there among the ruins and the dust under the scathing sun did we talk or think of the inhabitants of Sarkas who lived here: where are they? Where did they go? Why?

From the distance of fifteen years of difficult political development, I watch this group of children devouring mulberries in the midst of a destroyed village, and I just cannot comprehend: how? Wherefrom this utter blindness?

For many years I would walk on Saturdays to Sarkas. At times with company. At times alone. Now Sarkas was no longer embodied in Khadija and Hanifa. Now Sarkas was reduced to the stench of the kibbutz garbage dump and the mulberries In summer. On either side of the road to Sarkas there were sabr cacti hedgerows along all roads, but today they have all disappeared, except in books and in Arab villages, where they still remain. In summer the sabr would bring forth their fruit, and raise masses of tiny red and orange flags glued to their rounded green flagpoles in a summer festival. And when the sabr fruit was ripe, the Arab women would appear out of nowhere, fill their big tin containers with the red and orange fruit and walk away. Today I remember these Arab women and I ask myself: where did they come from? Who were they? Were they exiled inhabitants of the of the village? And in the evening, when they eat the fruit that they had gathered or when they sell it at the roadside, do they feel the taste of their lost homes?

But at that time I did not think of them in the least. The Arabs were something whose temporary provisional existence was eternal. They pass along the white mild on a donkey-cart, emerging out of somewhere and going on to somewhere else, Only once, for some reason … There was a big scout night game, a sort of test of courage. I hid behind the sabr hedgerows and waited for my pursuers to pass by. I sat there in the dark for a long time, quietly. I was not afraid. And all of a sudden they were with me. The women of Sarkas. The women who pick khubeiza along the roadside. The women with the long knives who steal wheat from the fields of the kibbutz. The women with the water cans and the bundles of dry wood on their heads. Slowly, slowly, they slipped by on their bare feet, black and silent. Their round outline, like the sabr cacti leaves, merged with the darkness around, silent.

Today there stands on the site a huge plant for the processing of agricultural products. An exemplary cooperative venture. And the hill? The hill of the village of Sarkas, where is it? The entire area was levelled down, and around the huge factory orange groves were planted, and there is not one single cut stone left as testimony. Yet, I remember. I testify.

In 1961, a very young woman from kibbutz Giv’at ha-Sheloshah married an Arab youth who was employed in her kibbutz. The kibbutz refused to allow them to remain there, and they applied to join ‘my’ kibbutz. The debate on whether they are to be admitted or whether they are not to be admitted extended over one and a half years and shook the kibbutz in a way that no other subject ever did, either before or since. The debate cut across families, and brought sons to rebel against their parents, brothers against brothers and husbands against wives. The leadership of the Ha-Shomer ha-Tza’ir kibbutz federation was called to present its position (opposed), and threats of leaving the kibbutz on this matter were voiced in both camps. In the end, the ‘mixed couple’ was not admitted to the kibbutz. Both camps were already tired of endless debates and rows. In a bitter discussion which I (who supported their admission) had with one of the leading opponents he told me: ‘Do you know that Rashid is a son of the village of Sarkas? Do you think he can live here, raise his children here and always see across the street the hill which was his village, and not think anything?’

At that moment, together with the scorching sun and the dust, I felt in my mouth the taste of the mulberries, and I understood what homeland means, and also, for the first time, vaguely and at a distance and a little bit afraid, I understood that this homeland, the homeland of the songs and of school textbooks, is simply just the taste of mulberries, and the smell of dust, and the moist earth in winter, and the colour of the sky, and that it is a homeland not only for me, but also for Rashid Masarwa. At that very moment, in the midst of the heated discussion, the taste of mulberries and the shock, I remembered one fearful memory.

It was towards the end of the 1948 war, after we had won the war and defeated the Arab armies and had a state of our own. We were lying in bed. Eight children in the children’s house. It was night. From the distance we heard the heavy and rumbling noise. It was not very far away, but one could clearly hear that the noise did not come from inside the kibbutz. And the noise went on and on and on. I asked what this protracted and continuous noise was, and one of the children told me that two kibbutz members had gone with bulldozers to Sarkas to destroy the houses of the Arabs. In real fear of Arab revenge I asked: ‘But what will the Arabs do when they come back and see that we have destroyed their homes?’ And he then answered: ‘That is why we destroy their homes, so that they do not come back’.

I then knew that the matter was lost. The home of Rashid was destroyed then so that he would not return. So that he, his mother in the long black robe who walks erect with the bundle of wood magnificently balanced on her head, and all his brothers and sisters who run barefoot on the stones would not return. And also now they will not let him come back.

In December 1972, the entire country was shaken with what was dubbed in the press as the ‘affair of the espionage and sabotage network’. Some thirty Arab youths and six Jewish youths, Israelis, were arrested on charges of forming a ‘sabotage organization’, operated by Syrian intelligence, whose object was ‘to damage the security of the state’. One of the Jewish detainees, a youth aged 26, was a son of my kibbutz. Another detainee from the Arab village of Jatt, was a youth named Mahmud Masarwa. In his defence speech he stated as follows:

The Honourable Court, Your Honourable Judges,

My father was born in the village of Sarkas, near kibbutz .. , in the vicinity of Haderah. My father was the son of a peasant. In 1948, he was removed from his land, expelled by force. Their lands were confiscated. Their homes were destroyed. On the site a factory for the kibbutz was built. My father was compelled to go out and seek work as a labourer in order to feed … [his family]. We went to live in such a tiny house: twelve people in the space of metres times 3 metres. In 1957, I remember this quite well, one year after the Sinai war, my father told me and my brother who sits here [in the court room]: ‘Go out to work in order that you at least help me to finance your studies .. .’ (Quoted from the official Protocol of the court proceedings.)

‘My brother who sits here in the court room!’

His brother who sat there was Rashid Masarwa who, in 1961, applied to be admitted to the kibbutz together with his Jewish wife. It was Rashid Masarwa who told the members of the kibbutz:

I want to live here as a loyal kibbutz member like everyone else, but I want my children to know that their father is an Arab, and I want my children to know the Quran, and I want them to celebrate all the Jewish holidays, but also know what Ramadan is, and that their grandfather and grandmother will come to visit them here in the kibbutz, and that my children will also go to the village to be with their grandfather and grandmother in the holidays.

Now he is sitting here, Rashid Masarwa, and watches his brother being sentenced for wanting to take by the force of arms what he himself had hoped to gain by application and consent, and all the brotherhood among the nations in the world could not be of any avail to them.

In the Ramleh central prison the son of the dispossessing kibbutz und the son of the dispossessed village met again. Only one youth, one Udi Adiv, from that kibbutz. resolved in his mind to cross the road. But the world has no space to accommodate the naive.

And if prisoners in jail do dream – both prisoners, no doubt, see in their dreams the colour of the sky, and perhaps they also savour the taste of mulberries.

1 Tantura is a Palestinian Arab village on the Mediterranean coast, some 13 km north of Caesaria. In 1944 its population was estimated at 1,470 Muslim and 20 Christian inhabitants. It was occupied by the Israeli army in 1948 and subsequently almost completely destroyed. All of its inhabitants were expelled and made refugees. The lands of the Palestinian Arab village of Tantura are now cultivated by the Israeli Jewish kibbutz Nahsholim (established 1948; population 350; area of cultivation 1,500 dunams). [Footnote probably by Uri Davis]

2 After the Russian conquest of Circassia from the Ottomans in 1878, many Circassian clans and families loyal to the Ottoman regime emigrated to various countries throughout the Ottoman empire. The Ottoman Sultan Abd al-Hamid extended his support to the Circassian resettlement and made lands available to them in Palestine, inter alia, where there are two Circassian villages, Kufr Qama in Lower Galilee and Rihaniyya in Upper Galilee. The attempt to settle Circassians in the Northern Sharon, in the northern coastal plain, where they established the village of Sarkas failed, and the original Circassian inhabitants were gradually replaced by native Palestinian Arabs. In 1947 the village population totalled some 400 inhabitants. [Footnote probably by Uri Davis]

3 The Hebrew designation of historical Palestine.

 

Israeli soldiers are licensed thugs applying state violence in the West Bank

http://www.haaretz.com/news/diplomacy-defense/.premium-1.631735

Israeli soldiers are licensed thugs applying state violence in the West Bank

Even without tear gas grenades and grabbing Ziad Abu Ein by the throat, the presence of IDF troops in Turmus Aya was an act of violence in itself.

By Amira Hass, Haaretz, 15.12.14 3
 
The death of the Palestinian minister Ziad Abu Ein is more evidence of how the violence of the Israel Defense Forces has become normal, an obvious routine, one that is not seen and not changed. We have been busy with “a heart attack or not a heart attack,” we dealt with “suspending security coordination or not suspending security coordination” and with “how the IDF prepares for escalation.” In other words, we have been dealing with what slightly tickles Israeli fake normalcy.

Nobody addressed the naturalness with which a line of IDF soldiers and Border Police and army jeeps set up in a Palestinian field to prevent farmers from accessing their land. There is no criticism of the nonchalance with which the licensed thugs shoot tear gas and stun grenades at old people, women and young people. And why? So they will not come near the unauthorized and illegal outpost of Adei Ad, located on their land.

Even without tear gas grenades and stun grenades, even without grasping Abu Ein’s throat – the presence of IDF and Border Police forces there was pure violence. Every pillbox in the West Bank, every military camp and Civil Administration jeep, and every tractor of the Jerusalem municipality in the eastern part of the city, they are all an inseparable part of the state violence.

The Palestinian Authority was established in 1994 as part of a deal for a period of five years: The Palestinians will not respond to the Israeli state violence, and Israel will gradually reduce the areas in which its licensed thugs apply their violence. This was the practical essence of the Oslo Accords. But the best and brightest of the Israeli forces did everything so that the Palestinians would be portrayed as the agreement’s violators if they respond to Israel’s non-shrinking violence. To shout at a soldier is also a violation of the deal. That is why Abu Ein was grabbed by the throat.

We are now 20 years after. And even if there are pockets of pseudo autonomy with Palestinian policemen (who hide during the IDF’s nighttime invasions), state violence has not retreated, not been reduced. On the contrary – it has only spread, grown stronger and even more arrogant.

The job of the IDF, the Shin Bet security service and the police is to protect the Jewish citizens of Israel, including the settlers in the West Bank (including East Jerusalem, of course). With every settler added to the proud list of preferred citizens, the means of protection must be increased. The settler population is growing, and so does the violence of the state and its institutions. The soldiers are thugs on behalf of the state and the settlers are licensed thieves, thieves on behalf of the authorities.

The land the unauthorized and illegal outposts stole is insignificant compared to the land stolen by the illegal official settlements, the bypass roads, the official institutions (Border Police, police, government, army). This theft is what must be protected. And that is the job of every soldier.

Only a minority among the settlers personally attack and endanger the lives of Palestinians. Only a minority personally abuse and harass the residents of the villages, whose bitter fate has brought them such “neighbors.” The rest of the settlers – their work is being carried out by the IDF’s lawyers and the State Prosecutor’s office, by the clerks and officers of the Civil Administration, architects and contractors, and the thugs in uniform. To be more precise: The settlers are just the well-pampered representatives of the state, its institutions and its mission of dispossession.

The minority that personally does harass is Jewish Israeli, and the IDF is required to protect them. This protection, for all the settlers, is done in two ways. One is passive: When the settlers attack Palestinians, the soldiers are absent or stand to the side. The night before Abu Ein’s death, a large group of Israeli citizens went down from the direction of the Adei Ad outpost and raided the village of Mughayer. They threw rocks at houses and cars, damaged trees and land between Mughayer and its neighboring village of Turmus Aya. The explanation that reached Palestinian authorities: The Israelis claimed a horse had been stolen from them.

The second form of protection is active: arrests, shooting, wounding, killing Palestinians and blocking their access to their land. This is the easy solution for the army: So they will not have to prevent Jews from harming Palestinians, it forbids the Palestinians from working their land.

The history of these attacks and their results – the evaporation of tens of thousands of dunams of land and a source of sustenance for Palestinian villages – is found in the impressive and shocking content of two studies: “The Road to Dispossession: A Case Study – The Outpost of Adei Ad” from Yesh Din – Volunteers for Human Rights; and the Kerem Navot’s (Naboth’s Vineyard) “Israeli Settler Agriculture as a means of Land Takeover in the West Bank” by Dror Etkes in cooperation with Quamar Mashriqi-Assad of Rabbis for Human Rights – Israel. They are required reading for anyone who wants to understand how state violence and the violence of the settlers join together, are dependent on one another, feed each other.

On Wednesday the lawyers of Yesh Din were supposed to present on the land of the four villages the petition they filed that same morning in a demand to evacuate Adei Ad. The response of Adei Ad, as was distributed to some of the journalists last Wednesday, testifies to the alliance between the thugs: “The residents of Adei Ad are busy at the moment pushing back a security incident initiated by Yesh Din. It turns out that this same organization filed a petition with the High Court of Justice this morning against the community. The residents will not be dragged into a provocation, and trust the army to do its job and distance the terrorists from the houses of the community.”