Category Archives: Israel/Palestine

IDF instagram

The Electronic Intifada recently exposed yet another instance of Israeli dehumanization of the Palestinian people.  I refer to a series of Instagram photos they published on their website three days ago.  Several of them include the Israeli solider, Mor Ostrovski, posing with his various weapons but it is the below photo which has sparked the most controversy.  Yes that is a Palestinian youth that is in the cross hairs of his sniper rifle.   As expected the IDF offered lip service saying that “this is a severe incident which doesn’t accord with the IDF’s spirit and values.  The issue was brought to the attention of the soldiers commanding officers, will be examined and properly handled.”  This is of course the same institution that has not indicted a single solider or individual for any of the 240 cases of military abuse perpetrated against  Palestinians in the occupied West Bank by the IDF in 2012.

What this latest episode exposes is the persistent dehumanization of the Palestinian people.  This dehumanization is rampant through out Israeli society.  The dehumanization campaign is integral to maintaining the occupation.  If the average Israeli were to view the average Palestinian as say a human being with natural rights such as the right to live it would be extremely difficult to maintain this massive occupation and colonization of another people.  But when viewed as a nuisance at best and a “terrorist threat” at worse it becomes easier and easier to justify acts of extreme aggression toward individuals who are less than human.

Breaking the Silence Silenced by RNC convention

The indispensable Israeli NGO Breaking the Silence has released a new report on children and youth in the Occupied West Bank.  Complete with video testimonies the new report paints a disturbing picture of the daily violence that the IDF inflicts on Palestinian children.  Now normally the American media would try their best to ignore this sort of report.  They may even try their best to some how portray this as yet another viscous anti-Semitic attack.  Lucky for the media the Republican National Convention will be eating up most of their time and energy.  So before you get all worked up over the RNC and DNC conventions take the time and read through the report.  If you cant read the whole report here are articles in The Independent, The Guardian and Ynet, all of which deal with the recent report.  When your watching the balloons falling from the convention arena ceiling, you may want to take a minute and think about how your tax dollars go to funding this decades long occupation.

Separate and Unequal

972 Magazine writer Roi Maor discusses Israel’s legal system. Judge for your self if this is apartheid or not.

No denying Israeli apartheid anymore

The above picture is that of Dani Dayan.  Dayan is the head of the Yesha Council of Jewish Communities in Judea and Samaria.  The Yesha Council is an umbrella group which represents all the various settler communities colonizing the West Bank.  Yesterday the New York Times published an Op-Ed by Dayan in which he argues that the settlements are not only going to stay, but in fact they are the solution to the Israel Palestine problem.  I would urge everyone to read this.  It does not matter where you fall on the political spectrum when it comes to the Israel Palestine question because this is the direction that Israel is moving in.  I will not spend the time dissecting all of the inaccuracies and racist remarks in Dayan’s article, instead I will leave you with this thought.

Israel will continue its colonization of the West Bank and the Palestinian people.  They will block any effort to broker a two state solution.  Politicians their will make sure that Israel maintains an ethnic majority over the Palestinian people in the West Bank, effectively turning the West Bank into a series of Bantustans.  Settlers will flood into the West Bank at an unprecedented level; stealing land, water, and peoples individual rights.  This is what Jimmy Carter warned about in his book Palestine: Peace not Apartheid in 2006, for which he was roundly criticized as being an anti-Semite.  Well Carters predictions have come true.  For all those in Israel and America who have bemoaned the two state solution have no fear, a one state solution will happen.  One state in which a racist Jewish majority rules over a Palestinian minority.

U.S. and Israel oppose UNESCO “world heritage status” for Church of Nativity

The US and Israel have condemned UNESCO for declaring the Church of the Nativity a world heritage site.  They complain that the Palestinians use of “imminent threat” to the church was nothing more than a political move.  When asked about the UNESCO decision Prime Minister Netanyahu said the Palestinians are  “engaging in unilateral actions that only distance peace.”  US ambassador to UNESCO, David Killion, also expressed regret saying that he was “profoundly disappointed” by the vote.  Both Israel and the United States claim that the Palestinians use of “imminent threat” is unfounded and misleading.  Bethlehem is under the control of the PA and thus is not in any danger from Israel, as the Palestinians are claiming.  But, and this is a very big but, the city of Bethlehem is surrounded on three sides by the Israeli separation wall.  Ostensibly the separation wall was built to keep Palestinian militants out of Israel.  In reality the separation wall is part of Israeli’s attempt to grab and annex as much Palestinian land as possible.  For Palestinians living in Bethlehem every year they see more and more of their land disappear. Israel’s insistence of settlement building has also not stopped.  And while there are no new settlements being built in Bethlehem right now, the same basic principle remains, and that is the persistent and illegal annexation of Palestinian land.  The Church of the Nativity may not be in immediate danger right now but the very fabric of the Palestinian people is.  Netanyahu’s claim that this is a political move is right though.  Of course this is a political move.  Politicians be they Palestinian or Israeli make political moves.  It is no more a political move though then Israel’s brainwashing of Evangelical conservatives to support Israel is a political move.  The idea alone that this is a detriment to peace is enough to make your stomach turn.  If the South African’s had tried to designate an ancient site during apartheid would we have told them not to because it might effect gaining their freedom from whit minority rule?  Palestinians are playing the hand they were dealt.  They are not content to sit passively sit at home and watch their land and people disappear.  After decades of occupation they are tired of waiting for Israel and the United States to act.

AFP on controversial Israeli military training program

AFP has a terrific underreported story on an Israeli military training exercise that targets innocent Palestinians. Unsurprisingly this has not made it to the front pages of newspapers here in America.

As the Shawakha brothers rushed to protect their home from intruders, they had no clue they were unwitting participants in an Israeli army exercise that would leave one of them dead.

“It was March 27, 1:30 in the morning,” recalls Akram Shawakha, 36, who was on watch duty on the top floor of the modest family home on a hill east of the West Bank city of Ramallah.

Their house is on the outskirts of the wealthy village of Rammun, where most residents have emigrated to America.

“I saw two men dressed in ordinary clothes near the entrance,” said Akram, a cement factory worker who was taking the first shift on guard duty to keep an eye on the family’s 10 sheep and their car from would-be thieves.

Clutching a stick, Akram went down to wake his brothers — 39-year-old Anwar and 28-year-old Rashad — then went outside as they got dressed and picked up a knife to protect themselves.

Akram confronted the two strangers, addressing them in Arabic “which they spoke perfectly,” he recalls.

“I asked them who they were.

“One of them said: ‘Don’t worry, we know everyone in Rammun.’ We insisted on seeing their identity papers, and they put their hands in their pockets and pulled out their guns, not to threaten us, but with the intention of shooting.”

Gunfire erupted and a confused melee ensued. The three brothers suffered bullet wounds although they managed to throw blows of their own as they fought.

“Everything happened in less than a minute,” Akram says.

“Then Israeli soldiers in uniform arrived and we were ordered to stop. My brothers were lying on the ground, injured. I asked the soldiers for help.”

The two “intruders” were quickly whisked away in a military vehicle as the three brothers waited, lying on the ground. At one point, “a soldier fired a round at the ground, injuring Rashad further,” Akram says.

Eventually the three brothers were taken to an Israeli hospital.

Rashad died on April 2.

The story was picked up by the Israeli media, which soon discovered that the two “intruders” were in fact soldiers participating in a training exercise by the “Dudevan” military unit, which specialises in infiltrating Palestinian areas disguised as Arabs.

Shortly after the two surviving brothers were released from hospital, they filed a complaint through the Israeli rights group B’Tselem.

On April 24, nearly a month after the incident, the military prosecutor informed B’Tselem that it had opened an investigation.

The military has repeatedly refused to comment on the investigation, saying only that it is ongoing.

“It wasn’t until I was at the hospital that I understood the people we confronted were soldiers,” Anwar Shawakha told AFP, saying he had only realised what had happened when an army officer called “Adam” told him during his interrogation.

“Their lives were never in danger. We just wanted to know their identity, but their identity was their guns,” he says.

“We thought they were thieves. At no point did they mention Israel, nor the army, nor did they order us to go back into the house, otherwise none of this would have happened,” he sighs.

“Rammun is a quiet village.”

Using Palestinian villages as a training ground for undercover Israeli troops is not uncommon. In 2007, the practice prompted Israeli NGO Yesh Din to complain to the military’s top legal adviser, warning the exercises could endanger both Israeli and Palestinian lives.

Yehuda Shaul, founder of Breaking the Silence, a group of former Israeli soldiers critical of army practices in the occupied territories, says such exercises have increased in recent years.

“As the West Bank becomes more and more secure, security-wise, there is more and more training on ‘live’ Palestinians,” he told AFP.

Back during the violence of the second intifada (2000-2005), the security situation was too dangerous for troops to carry out such undercover work, but since then, the army has been taking advantage of the calm for training purposes.

“Now training on Palestinians is not putting the troops in danger, so as the West Bank becomes more and more calm, we hear more and more of these stories,” he said.

A newly trained unit doesn’t want “their first arrest operation to be carried out on a real sting, on a really wanted person,” he explains.

“So you pick a quiet village in the area where you’re based, you open the map, choose a random house … You go in the middle of the night, you surround the house, you grab a guy as if it’s a real arrest.”

The argument is that training “has to be as close to the real thing” as possible, he said.

“It is another form of what we call in the army ‘Making our presence felt’ — if Palestinians get the feeling that the army is everywhere all the time, they will be afraid to attack,” Shaul told AFP.

“When you control people under military occupation for so long, you’re starting to play games. Individual soldiers play games at checkpoints with people, and the big army plays games with villages.”

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