BETHLEHEM (Ma’an) — President Mahmoud Abbas on Tuesday declared a long-term ceasefire agreement between Israel and Palestinian factions in the Gaza Strip.In a short televised address, Abbas said the agreement would go into effect at 7 p.m.For his part, deputy chief of Hamas’ politburo Mousa Abu Marzouq wrote on his Twitter account that “talks have ended. We have reached understandings crowning our people’s steadfastness and our resistance’s triumph. We are awaiting a statement setting the zero point and end to the aggression.”
A well-placed Palestinian source confirmed that Gaza border crossings would be open in tandem with an extended ceasefire.
The source explained that Egypt would issue a statement calling for a comprehensive and mutual ceasefire together with opening Gaza’s crossings for the entry of construction material.
The Gaza fishing zone will also be increased.
In addition, the source said, Israel has pledged to stop targeted assassinations against Palestinian resistance activists and faction leaders.
The source, who spoke on condition of anonymity, added that a round of negotiations between Israel and the Palestinians would start in Cairo a month later to discuss unresolved issues.
Palestinian factions, including Hamas and Islamic Jihad, have accepted the newly reached ceasefire agreement which Israel also accepted, the source highlighted.
Spokesman of the military wing of the Popular Resistance Committees Abu Mujahid also told Ma’an that a permanent ceasefire agreement would go into effect this evening.
He said the agreement would be based on the 2012 truce and would include opening Gaza crossing points permanently.
He said opening crossings would mean an end to the Gaza siege, reconstruction of the enclave, removing the “no-go zone” and enlarging the Gaza fishing zone.
Israel’s Channel 10 TV quoted Israeli officials as saying they agreed to a ceasefire.
Turkey has openly acknowledged that a top Hamas operative has been residing within its borders. The United States has also acknowledged this fact.
Saleh al-Arouri, one of the founding members of Hamas’s Qassam Brigades was exiled to Syria until the Arab Spring, quickly making his way to Turkey thereafter. Al-Arouri, formerly jailed in Israel for his Hamas membership has recently claimed that Hamas was involved in the deaths of three Israeli teens – without providing evidence.
Earlier this summer, when the Palestinian unity government was expected to take hold, and after the kidnapping deaths of three Israeli teens, a Hamas sustained rocket attack and a violent bombing campaign by Israel ensued, derailing the peaceful negotiations in the region once again.
Turkey is no stranger to harboring various groups of fighters, as the paramilitary group ‘Front Victory’ guided by Turkish intelligence and reportedly backed by Saudi financiers, was found to be directly tied to the formation of ISIS. It should also be noted that Turkey was very supportive of its NATO colleagues that were seeking to attack Syria, a strategy which fit snugly with the policy planning of the US-Israel-GCC alliance. There seems to be a warmth between Turkey and Israel despite the often overplayed icy relationship. In 2012, Turkey was said to have replaced Iran, as a Hamas’ top financial backer according to Israeli intelligence. Additionally, Turkey has had multiple defense contracting bids with Israel in recent years with the support of Turkish PM Erdogan.
The suspicious deaths of three Israeli teens in early June, has led to Gaza being bombarded for nearly two months now, suffering an enormous number of those wounded and killed. It has been stated that Hamas itself was in fact an Israeli creation, as a way to strategically weaken the PLO during the late 1980′s and some have associated the following quote with Charles Freeman a former US ambassador to Saudi Arabia:
“Israel started Hamas. It was a project of Shin Bet which had a feeling they would use it to hem in the PLO.”
Here’s a featured interview with Charles Freeman, conducted by RT news, discussing the ‘echochamber’ of US-Israeli foreign policy objectives. He also states on record that he did not believe Hamas started the broken cease-fire in 2008…
In a Guardian news release, we see a broader picture of Al-Arouri’s intelligence ties and his role in Middle East:
“Al-Arouri’s role in Hamas dates back to the 1990s, according to a US indictment issued in 2003, when he was a student at Hebron University.Amnesty International in 2012 described him as one of the founding members of the Qassam Brigades.
According to Matthew Levitt, an analyst with the Washington Institute, al-Arouri was forced to leave Israel in 2010 after serving more than 15 years in prison for actions related to his Hamas membership. He lived in exile in Syria until the unrest during the Arab spring, when he moved to Turkey.”
Skeptics are also asking what was Al-Arouri’s role in Syria’s Arab Spring, and why was he released by Israel due to activities and direct ties to Hamas leadership?
Distrust in the ranks spurred Hamas to execute 18 of its own in recent days, RT explains the significance of this:
“Israeli intelligence is widely believed to rely on informers in both Gaza and the West Bank. Collaborators are sometimes lured by money and sometimes coerced or blackmailed.“
The Muslim Brotherhood, US, Britain & Israel
Many investigators have traced the beginning of Islamic terror back to its Western sponsors and following the fall of the Ottoman Empire in 1924, as British intelligence helped spawn the birth of the Muslim Brotherhood. At that time, the United States began installing their own brand of leadership throughout the Middle East.
It goes without saying that the Muslim Brotherhood has deep ties to the British intelligence community.
Recently another senior Hamas leader, Khaled Meshaal, who also has ties to the Mulsim Brotherhood, has come forward stating that a certain element associated with Hamas carried out the kidnapping deaths of three Isareli teens and that, “Hamas political leadership was not aware of all these details,” continuing, he stated, “We learned about these confessions from the Israeli investigation.”
Meshaal has a past relationship with Israel. Israel attempted to kill him in Jordan in 1997, as Israel conveniently negotiated for the release of two Mossad agents for Meshaal’s life. Here is what the CFR had to say about the apparent attack:
“Israel has targeted Hamas leaders for assassination in the past, and experts say this is a concern for Meshal: He survived a botched assassination attempt by Israeli intelligence agency Mossad in 1997 when he was still living in Jordan. In that episode, Mossad assassins broke into the building where he was sleeping and injected poison into his ear.”
What other details were negotiated between Meshaal and Israel following the attempt on his life?
According to Haaretz Meshaal was a member of the Muslim Brotherhood at an early age, which could also indicate intelligence ties to the West and Israel:
“Meshaal was born in the West Bank in 1956, but has lived most of his life outside of the Palestinian territories. In 1967, Meshal’s family moved to Kuwait, where his father served as an imam. At 15, Meshaal joined the Muslim Brotherhood. A few years later, while studying physics at Kuwait University, he founded the student group List of the Islamic Right.”
Meshaal lived in Kuwait, just prior to the 1990 invasion by Iraq. He then moved to Jordan, spent some time in Damascus, just prior to the eruption of the 2011 uprising seemingly funded by the West. Currently he now resides in the cushy confines of Qatar. It’s very hard not to suspect Meshaal of also collaborating with many intelligence bodies when you consider that the West and its manifold allies consider Hamas a ‘terror network’ and given that this is the decree by various intelligence bodies – how is it that Meshaal has seemingly been able to roam freely about the Middle East and the Gulf States?
We know that through Western sponsored arms funneling Syria has become infested with FSA “moderate” rebels, while Western ‘regime changers’ were looking to destabilize the sovereign nation. Other key Western allies like Jordan, have housed covert CIA/FSA facilities that have been instrumental in enabling the rise of ISIS.
How is it possible that Turkey, Jordan and Israel have avoided the destructive advances of the ISIS?
Is it possible that Hamas’s Meshaal was also a key player working secretly in different nation states fomenting radicals to be used by the West?
It was reported that “after years of alignment with Damascus, during which he used Damascus as a base, Meshaal relocated in 2012 to Doha, severing ties with President Bashar al-Assad and declaring his support for the Syrian rebellion.”
In other words, is Meshaal himself a planted form of opposition, that has really been working with the US-NATO-Israeli-GCC block all along?
We should also remember a quote from former Israeli Mossad case officer Victor Ostrovsky, which was gleaned in the early 90′s, from his book, The Other Side of Deception:
“Supporting the radical elements of Muslim fundamentalism sat well with the Mossad’s general plan for the region. An Arab world run by fundamentalists would not be a party to any negotiations with the West, thus leaving Israel again as the only democratic, rational country in the region. And if the Mossad could arrange for the Hamas (Palestinian fundamentalists) to take over the Palestinian streets from the PLO, then the picture would be complete.“
IMAGE: ‘NATO’s Edge’ – Saleh Al-Arouri, located in Turkey, has stated that al-Qassam Brigades, the armed wing of Hamas, was responsible for the deaths of three Israeli teens, under Hamas leader Khaled Meshaal, who is in exile in Qatar. (photo dailymail.com)
Arouri was once imprisoned for several years in Israel. Under what conditions was he released and allowed to reside in the NATO stronghold? Why was he in Syria just prior to the Arab Spring?
Sign Of The Times below…
Hamas’ Al-Arouri claims group murdered 3 Israeli teens: Israeli Quisling?
A Hamas official who lives in Turkey has claimed that members of its militant wing kidnapped and killed three Israeli teenagers in June. The killing of the three was initially used by Israel to being its two-week-long bombardment of Gaza, killing 2,000 Palestinians.
Speaking at a conference in Turkey, Saleh Al-Arouri said the al-Qassam Brigades were responsible. The claim has been met with skepticism by many. Al-Arouri is the only member of Hamas to make this claim and it stands in contrast to the statements of both the Hamas leader Khaled Meshaal, who is in exile in Qatar, and the Israeli police, both of whom stated that Hamas was not responsible.
Questions must be asked about Al-Arouri’s motivation for making this claim and whether or not he is in a position to make any authoritative statements about Hamas, or the operations of any other Palestinian groups or individuals in the West Bank or elsewhere in the occupied territories. First of all, the Turkish government is no friend of the Palestinian people, so why is Al-Arouri living there?
Writing last year in the pro-Zionist US rag mag ‘Foreign Policy‘, Johnathan Schanzer said this about Al-Arouri’s presence in Turkey:
Given the strategic importance of Turkey to the United States, particularly in light of Turkey’s role in helping to support the Syrian opposition, officials in Washington have demurred on confronting Ankara. Obama, who has maintained cordial ties with Erdogan, has given no indication that Turkey’s relationship with Hamas is a problem for Washington.
Indeed, since Turkey is a NATO country and fully on board with US and Gulf Monarchies’ bloodbath in Syria, with Syria being perhaps the only true ally that the Palestinians had (along with Hizb’allah in Lebanon) why would a Hamas ‘big wig’ and alleged “money man” be ensconced in Turkey?
A July article from the ‘Washington Institute‘ tells us:
Drawing on his past operational experience, an Israeli official told The Times of Israel, Arouri “has urged West Bank operatives incessantly to set up terror cells and perpetrate kidnappings.” He “financially sponsored these cells, which were trained and directed to abduct Israelis,” often sending funds via charities serving as front organizations. Odds are, though, that Israeli authorities won’t soon release evidence to back up any off-the-record charges that Arouri was tied to the three teens’ kidnapping and murder. In the words of former Israeli National Security Adviser Yaakov Amidror, “Anyone who knows something about Arouri will not tell you, because it’s intelligence that should not be published and is needed for the future.” Arouri’s role overseeing Hamas West Bank operations overall, however — whatever role he did or did not play in this particular plot — is not in dispute.
Arouri’s ‘revelation’ however appears to have been pre-empted, or set up for him, by Israeli officials who, in a June edition of the Times of Israel, were quoted as saying that Arouri was behind the kidnapping and killing of the teens.
A few days ago, the Times of Israel, in its role as mouth-piece for the Israeli government, claimed that Israeli intelligence had uncovered a plot by Hamas to launch widespread attacks on Israeli targets and also stage a coup against the Palestinian Authority in the West Bank. The discovery of the alleged plot was supposedly the result of the arrest by Israeli police of hundreds of supposed Hamas members in the West Bank in the aftermath of the kidnapping of the Israeli teens. Palestinian National Authority (PNA) chairman, Abbas said the revelation was “a grave threat to the unity of the Palestinian people and its future,”
Note the chronology here and the way in which the political landscape has been entirely reversed in the space of a few months. Earlier this year, the PNA had brokered a deal with Hamas to form a unity government to effectively unite Gaza and West Bank. This was a first real step towards a Palestinian state and, most importantly, the new unity government would have NO Hamas members in it. This was a strategic move to make it more difficult for the Israelis to dismiss the new entity as ‘terrorist’.
More from Sott here….
READ MORE ISRAELI NEWS AT: 21st Century Wire Israel Files
The Israel Police have not ruled out a possible terrorist attack as they continue their intensive search for a missing American yeshiva student in a forest outside Jerusalem.
Aaron Sofer, 23, of Lakewood, New Jersey, a student at a yeshiva, or Jewish religious school, has been missing since Friday when he went hiking with a friend in the Jerusalem Forest.
Israel Police spokesman Micky Rosenfeld said on Tuesday that the police were pursuing all avenues in their investigation, including “nationalistic motives,” a phrase tied to the conflict between Israel and Palestinian militants.
An unconfirmed report in the Israeli press said that police had found personal items that could belong to Sofer and had ordered civilians to leave the area of the find.
Sofer and his friend became separated when they were making their way down a steep incline. The friend called police when Sofer did not show up to prepare for Shabbat, according to reports.
Earlier, New Jersey politicians called for more help from both the U.S. and Israeli governments in the search for Sofer.
“I want the community to know that I believe no stone is being unturned,” said U.S. Rep. Chris Smith, a Republican, who has written to U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry asking for aid in the search.
Sofer’s mother and father, a rabbi and a school office worker, have flown to Israel to assist in the search.
“Please bring him back,” pleaded Sofer’s brother Yaakov, during a gathering in Lakewood, NJ. Aaron Sofer is one of 10 children.
The Sofer family spokesman noted that an Arab teenager, Muhammad Abu Khdeir, was killed in the same forest last month. The police have charged three Jewish teenagers in connection with that killing.
The spokesman told the Jerusalem Post that the killing of Abu Khdeir, compounded by heightened tensions with the Palestinians, created cause for alarm about Sofer.
At least 89 entire families have been killed in Gaza since Israel started its military campaign, Palestinian health officials said. The Judeh family, a woman and her four children, died after an airstrike hit their house reportedly without warning.
The incident happened in Tel Azatar, in the northern part of the Gaza strip and the family of five was killed instantly, after the Israeli Defense Forces launched their attack, the Israeli newspaper Haaretz reports. Locals said no warnings were given that airstrikes were imminent.
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu warned Palestinians on Sunday they should leave any building where militants are operating, to avoid potential death. Israel has targeted civilian buildings such as schools and hospitals, as it believes militants are using them to launch missile attacks.
“I call on the inhabitants of Gaza to evacuate immediately from every site from which Hamas is carrying out terrorist activity. Every one of these places is a target for us,” Netanyahu said in public remarks at a cabinet meeting.
Israel says it found a Hamas training manual supporting its claims that the Palestinian group are using civilians as cover. The army said it found the document in the northern Gaza town of Beit Hanoun at the end of July, when troops were operating inside the enclave.
“The process of hiding ammunition inside buildings is intended for ambushes in residential areas and to move the campaign from open areas into built up and closed areas,” the document, written in Arabic, stated.
“Residents of the area [are] used to bring in the equipment,” it continues, adding: “For jihad fighters, it is easy to operate inside buildings and take advantage of this to avoid (Israeli) spy planes and attack drones.”
Israel only released one page of the 102 page manual, with Hamas responding by saying it was a fake.
A spokesman for the group, Sami Abu Zuhri, said: “This is a fabricated paper and neither Hamas nor Qassam has anything to do with it.” He added: “Israel circulating this is aimed at justifying the mass killings of Palestinian civilians and massacres committed by the occupation army.”
On Saturday, Israel flattened a 13-story apartment block, which they said was being used by Hamas as a control center. There were no fatalities, and a non-explosive rocket was fired at the building to warn residents to evacuate as a strike was imminent. This is not the first time that Israel has targeted a high-rise building. A seven-story block was targeted in the southern town of Rafah and completely destroyed.
Haaretz reports that Palestinian websites have been displaying photos of damaged residential and commercial buildings on its pages. They hint that they believe Israel has altered its policy and is now intent on causing as much damage as possible to buildings it sees as potential targets.
Monday marks the 50th day since Israel started its campaign in Gaza on July 8 and the death toll has already reached 2,120 people, of which 577 are children, according to the Palestinian Health Ministry.
According to Prof. Omid Safi, although the Western governments have been mostly silent on the carnage of the Palestinian people in the Gaza Strip, the people in different countries, from France to Brazil and from Malaysia to Argentina have strongly stood by the people of Palestine and held massive demonstrations to voice their support for them.
“The latest studies indicate that now a majority of younger people in America are no longer supportive of Israeli policies,” said Prof. Safi in an exclusive interview with Fars News Agency. “For the first time, many Americans are able to see firsthand the reality of the brutal oppression that Palestinians have been suffering from for decades. Second, there is a translation of the Palestinian cause from an “Arab cause” or a “Muslim cause” to a humanitarian cause,” he added.
“Many people are increasingly able to relate to Palestine as what it is and what it has been for decades: a human rights catastrophe,” Safi noted.
Omid Safi is a Professor of Islamic Studies at University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill and specializes in Islamic mysticism, contemporary Islamic thought and medieval Islamic history. He had previously taught at the Duke University and published several books and articles on the scholarly journals and non-academic papers. Through the past years, he has led the Study of Islam Section at the American Academy of Religion. Safi has been described by Amazon.com as one of the leading Muslim public intellectuals living in the United States.
To discuss the recent wave of violence and bloodshed in the Gaza Strip and the different aspects of the Israeli regime’s incursion into the besieged territory as well as the international reactions to the Israeli offensive, FNA did an interview with Prof. Omid Safi currently based in North Carolina. The following is the text of the interview.
Q: The civilian death toll resulting from the Israeli airstrikes on the Gaza Strip is increasing rapidly, and the United Nations and the world powers have been unable, or unwilling to stop Israel from blowing up the besieged territory. What do you think about the international responses to the ongoing war in Gaza and the killing of more than 2,000 citizens that the Western mainstream media have preferred to leave unnoticed?
A: I would differentiate about the international response and the international political structure. In terms of the response, we have seen demonstrations against the Israeli atrocities in every continent. The response has been present in London, Chicago, Malaysia, Tehran, South Africa, Pakistan, Brazil, Argentina, Paris, New York, Australia, and so many other countries. Even in the United States, the strongest supporter of Israel worldwide, we have seen a turning of the popular opinion against the Israeli atrocities.
The structure, on the other hand, is a different story. The current international structure is broken, fractured, and morally bankrupt. In the existing geopolitical order, there are two powers capable of exerting the needed pressure on Israel to halt their genocidal assault on Gaza. The first is the United States, and the second the United Nations. The United States has been for a few decades the primary party responsible for both arming Israel and providing it with political cover. And therefore, the United States has no moral credibility for stopping Israel. As for the United Nations, the current structure of the UN reflects the victorious parties in World War II. The structure of the Security Council permits the United States to repeatedly veto any resolutions against Israel. The world community, reflected in the General Assembly, has passed dozens of resolutions condemning Israeli occupation of Palestine, right of refugees to return, etc., but none of them have a force of law. So we are in need of a radical transformation of the existing structure to one that both reflects the will of the worldwide community while protecting the rights of individual communities as well as individual human beings.
Q: It goes without saying that what Israel is doing in the Gaza Strip, that is the killing of civilians and pounding the hospitals and other non-military infrastructure, is a violation of international law. What international entity is responsible for investigating these violations? If Israel can get away with war crimes, then does it mean that the international law is so fragile and worthless that can be violated in such a massive extent, while the violator will never be held responsible?
A: I am fully in favor of bringing Israel in front of the International Criminal Court. It is long overdue. The Israeli politicians responsible for such massacres fully deserve to be brought to justice alongside others such as Tony Blair, George Bush, and genocidal dictators who have the blood of thousands on their hands.
Q: What do the people in the United States and the European countries think about the Israeli offensive into the Gaza Strip? What we can understand is that the official approach of these governments is remaining silent and inactive on the tragic events unfolding in Gaza. What do their people feel? Are they similarly indifferent about the plight of the beleaguered citizens of the Gaza Strip?
A: The view of most Americans – I am in a better situation to comment on USA vs. Europe – is largely shaped by the corporate media that reflects neoliberal capitalism, the current status of the United States as a hegemonic world power, and militarism. In many ways, the issue is not simply about prejudice towards Arabs/Muslims, though that is absolutely real, nor the notion of “Jews controlling America”, though there is no reason to deny the power of groups like AIPAC to put pressure on elected American officials, nor is it simply the commonly asserted notion of “Jewish control of US media”, though there is a great deal of pressure from Jewish lobby organizations here as well. It is a much bigger issue related to Americans being both misinformed and informed in a particular slant that reinforces American hegemony and militarism.
Q: Why do you think the Arab states in the Persian Gulf region have showed such a passive reaction to the ongoing war on Gaza? Why is the destiny of the people of Palestine so unimportant to these Arab leaders, and why is it that they don’t speak out against the cruelty taking place in Gaza by their arch-foe, Israel?
A: Because Palestine for them is largely speaking a political symbol, and not truly a humane concern for the suffering of Palestinians. Most of these Arab states, certainly Saudi Arabia and Egypt, have incredibly warm relationships with both United States and Israel. Saudi Arabia is working on military campaigns with Israel, and Egypt is also complicit in holding Palestinians under siege by closing the passage way in Rafah. All too often, the Arab leaders pay lip service to “the Palestinian cause” while being more concerned with their sectarian interests and their own repositions in the geopolitical restructuring of the Middle East vis-à-vis Iran, Turkey, Saudi, Israel, etc.
Q: It’s widely believed that Israel has been long trying to eliminate the cause of Palestine from the political discourse of the international community, reduce the sensitivity and importance of the Palestinian issue in the eyes of the Western and Arab public, dissuade the world from giving moral and political support to Palestine and then go ahead with its policy of ethnic cleansing in the Occupied Territories. Has it succeeded in realizing this plan?
A: No, I actually see these efforts failing. The latest studies indicate that now a majority of younger people in America are no longer supportive of Israeli policies. I think there are two reasons for this change: one [is] social media. For the first time, many Americans are able to see firsthand the reality of the brutal oppression that Palestinians have been suffering from for decades. Second, there is a translation of the Palestinian cause from an “Arab cause” or a “Muslim cause” to a humanitarian cause. Many people are increasingly able to relate to Palestine as what it is and what it has been for decades: a human rights catastrophe.
Q: Worldwide rallies were held on the International Quds Day (July 24) and people from different countries took to the streets to condemn Israel for its unrelenting mass killing of the Palestinians. In the absence of firm reaction by the Western powers, how much effective can such demonstrations and protests be in forcing the Tel Aviv regime to abandon its atrocious policies?
A: These rallies may not stop the current massacre. But as people of faith, we are promised that no lie can live forever, that “the truth has come and falsehood has vanished.” Every form of tyranny and oppression is ultimately bound to crumble upon itself. What will ultimately bring about this crumbling is not the mere passage of time, but a rising up of people of goodwill here, there, and everywhere, until we change our reality, our society, and our condition. And we come to see the reality of “God does not change the condition of a people until they change what is in their soul.” [Qur’an 13:11]
Interview by Kourosh Ziabari
Netanyahu explains to Blitzer, only “telegenic images” that Hamas captures for publicity purposes to instill in the viewers a sympathy for Gazans; they are not Israel’s fault, they are but the accidents of “war.” One must not weep over them for they were unintended casualties. We are after all a civilized society greater than all other developed nations. After all, we have been able to surreptitiously gain control of the governments of Britain, of Canada, of Australia and of the United States ensuring that they will support whatever we do even if it defies international law.
“…the pictures out of Gaza are heart wrenching and painful, the painful pictures of children dying… and the thousands of refugees. What goes through your mind when you see that?” Bibi’s answer is not the “banality of evil” that Hanna Arendt saw as she witnessed Eichmann’s answers at his trial, an evil of “stupidity” that excluded rational thought.
“Hamas targets civilians, we don’t… They want to pile up as many dead as they can…the more dead the better” (Netanyahu interview with Wolf Blitzer, 8/20/2014).
This is a calculated response to transfer the evil to the victims of Israel’s superior power, to blame Hamas, the government of the people, for their own slaughter. It is indeed an intended deception to cloak the true intention that every living Gazan man, woman and child was and will be for the rest of their lives impacted by this horror so calculatingly leveled against a defenseless people, an evil that is decidedly not banal, it is an insidious, barbaric, malicious, merciless evil perpetrated by methodically guided intelligent, deceitful men, Zionists, both on the people of Gaza and on true Jews in Israel and all true Jews around the world.
There is need today to comprehend the mentality of those who rule in Israel. That mentality has dominated the international scene for the past 45 days and counting in Gaza. The mentality governing Israel is most visible through its Prime Minister, a man caught in the vice of a system that forces the continuation of the administration in power to accede to the demands of its radical elements if it is to stay in power, and the necessity of the PM to self-promote his value by promoting actions diametrically opposed to human rights and international law.
Gaza stands as a glaring mirror of human suffering visible to the whole world wherein they see themselves suffering and join the mothers and fathers in sympathy for the oppressed in Gaza; yet that suffering is not visible as such to the vast majority of Israelis; it is as though they cannot see beyond their own internal selves, as though no other humans exist beyond their own conception of self, as though what they believe dictates the conditions and justifies the conditions irrespective of world values and morals. The suffering of Gazans is not theirs to see; what they suffer is not caused by Israel; indeed, Hamas has used Israeli weaponry to destroy their own people without the permission of the Israelis, to have the world condemn Israel and sympathize with the Palestinians, and to force Israel to unwillingly join their insidious end.
Netanyahu’s response ignores international law that allows for the oppressed to act against their occupiers; he hides the truth of Hamas’ rockets under a deluge of obfuscation as though the entire civilian population of Israel had a few seconds to escape death as rockets rained down on the whole of Israel, and not mention that one was killed.
It is a sin of omission, a decidedly deceptive omission of relative facts, that he, Netanyahu, stopped the negotiations for peace, that he chose to send missiles in the thousands (more than the 13000 tons of explosives (TNT) of one of the atomic bombs dropped on Japan in 1945) into Gaza to intentionally destroy them, their sewage, their water, their commercial buildings, their farms, their fishing boats, their schools, their mosques, missiles that did not miss their intended targets and that did indeed rain down on the whole of Gaza (see “How many bombs has Israel dropped on Gaza?” Ali Abunimah, August 18, 2014. Electronic Intifada).
“The easiest type of munition to estimate is artillery shells. On 14 August, Haaretz published the following information, sourced to a “senior official of the general staff” of the Israeli army (emphasis added):
The estimated cost of the total ammunition used in Gaza fighting is estimated at about 1.3 billion shekels [$370 million]. According to the army’s figures, 39,000 tank shells, 34,000 artillery shells, and 4.8 million bullets were supplied during the fighting. Senior military figures estimate that land forces alone used at least 60 percent of the 5,000 tons of ammunition given to them, but the IDF [Israeli army] cannot yet evaluate it accurately.
According to the same senior staff officer, most of the ammunition came from Israeli production lines. Some of the ammunition was purchased from the US during hostilities, within the “advance placement” program. Additional ammunition and fighting equipment, along with medical equipment, were also ordered during hostilities, using an expedited procedure via the Defense Ministry.
Israel expert Dena Shunra notes that the concern here is cost – this is a move in budget negotiations in which the army seeks more money – and that is the context in which the numbers are revealed.
If, as reported, 60 percent of the stores were used, that would mean 23,400 tank shells, 20,400 artillery shells and 2.9 million bullets. That is almost two bullets for every man, woman and child in Gaza.
This section of an article devoted to the explosives dropped on Gaza tells only a portion of the devastation inflicted on the people. But statistics reflect only a means of measuring the tonnage of TNT inflicted on the strip, they do not analyze the why of the strategy Netanyahu and his government used to punish the people of Gaza. Why this excessive power, why kill so many innocents, why devastate once again this piece of land completely controlled by occupation forces? Why tell the world over and over again that Israel “gave up land in Gaza and gave complete control to the Gazans when they left, when it is so blatantly a lie?
The purpose of this article is not to contrast rockets versus state of the art military weapons or to use one to justify action against another people. My intent is to attempt to comprehend the mindset that allows such criminal action to take place.
Israel began to build its case against Hamas when the agreement between Hamas and Fatah was signed. That signaled for Netanyahu the probability that Israel would now have to work out a settlement between all Palestinians and not with Abbas who had played along with the US and Israel as a legitimate representative of Palestinians. Without Gaza in the negotiations Israel could continue to pock mark the West Bank with settlements and settlers and apartheid roads with impunity (as it in fact is doing even as they wage relentless war against Gaza; see Uri Avnery 8/23/2014). Gaza would be isolated even further and, with Egypt as a complicit partner, could be totally controlled and eventually subjugated.
Faced, however, with a united Palestine potentially capable of bringing Israel before the international courts, Netanyahu needed an excuse to topple Hamas; hence the strategy to condemn it as a terror organization, an illegitimate government, and anathema to the western attempt to bring democracy to the mid-East. But he needed an excuse to attack, an excuse that would rally the people of Israel against an organization that threatened the individual’s security. The kidnapping of the three Settler teens provided that spark, especially if it was strategically used. By withholding the knowledge that the boys were killed from the parents and gagging the press the day of their kidnapping, he was able to mount an intense campaign of hatred against Hamas even though he had no legitimate evidence that Hamas was guilty. In insidious ways he forged even more hatred by claiming that Gazans taught their children to hate Jews making no reference to the prior invasions that resulted in a devastating report to the UNHRC that itemized in detail the destruction of 1400 lives, a third of whom were children, actions that would instill anger in those who suffered the onslaught. Sustained in their impunity from acts against humanity by the US veto, they were able to avoid official condemnation. [see at the end of this article text and pictures that show the facts on the ground today in Gaza.]
It is this manipulation of his people that must be considered. Why instigate such hatred against a neighbor unless you intend to make life for Gazans so horrific that they would grovel at the feet of Netanyahu seeking “calm” rather than unending destruction of their homeland. This evisceration of human rights to avoid creation of a state for Palestinians would serve Israel’s purposes even as it mocks the UN Universal Declaration of Human Rights. It demonstrates for all member states of the UN that Israel is willing to defy any document regardless of world opinion to satisfy its own aggression and needs.
Netanyahu knew he could raise the ire of the far right rapid settlers by appealing to their “chosen-ness” that gave them rights to slaughter those who threatened the state of Israel. After all didn’t Hamas’ charter say exactly that. But he didn’t mention, and no one does, that on January 11, 2006, the Guardian newspaper reported: “Hamas has dropped its call for the destruction of Israel from its manifesto for the Palestinian parliamentary election in a fortnight, a move that brings the group closer to the mainstream Palestinian position of building a state within the boundaries of the occupied territories” (Chris McGreal). Why tell the truth if it undermines your lies?
Should Netanyahu desire to curtail construction of tunnels in Gaza, would one not think it easier to locate and destroy them from inside Israel than to invade the country and its consequent destruction of life and property? Egypt reportedly destroyed the tunnels in the Rafah area and maintained a closing of the Rafah exit without invading Gaza, without killing one Palestinian, without destroying one building. Why not Israel? Obviously because Israel wanted to kill Gazans. For Netanyahu to claim that Hamas wanted to kill its own people reflects either absolute idiocy or intended deception to force blame on Hamas. There is blatant arrogance in making such an assertion, an arrogance that believes it can manipulate peoples’ thought and belittle the host who asked the question knowing that Blitzer would not laugh at such nonsense.
How explain this mindset? How controlled is this man by his own self-devoted professional promotion to believe he can convince the people of the world that his use of flechette bombs that explode above the ground spreading their steel needles into anything within striking distance, bombs designed to kill and mutilate living beings, mock his pretend weeping before Blitzer when asked “what goes through your mind?” and he says “Very sad,, we’re sad for every civilian casualty, they’re not intended…Hamas targets civilians…” But there he stands contradicted by the weaponry employed, yet he shows no signs of remorse, no acceptance of his own guilt, no shame at the amorality of his actions, no mercy.
Here is a mind capable of erasing all semblance of human sympathy as he wraps himself in the only defense he can muster, “my enemy made me do it.” Thus do those who have no missiles but homemade ineffective rockets that at best can declare to the occupying power, we are not dead nor have we capitulated; we have rights and spirit and hopes and dreams that someday we can live free of occupation, of constant harassment, of never ending spying, of locked gates, of checkpoints, of denial of a homeland that gives rights of citizenship, of all that others have, and for that brazenness they are condemned as the perpetrators of the inhuman acts of the Israeli military. This is a world gone mad.
Ultimately it is not just one man, the PM of Israel, that must bear the blame for these 45 days of mass destruction on a defenseless people unable to walk, run, fly or swim away from Gaza as they are pummeled from aircraft thousands of feet above their homes, fired at with missiles from navy vessels, and shot at point blank by thousands of Israelis in tanks, personnel carriers and seized buildings where the residents are forced to stay as shields to protect the soldiers, as devastation is wrought on their schools and mosques, caught at every turn, even when told where to go to seek a safe haven, a UN school for example, while the world witnesses the horror on iphones and note pads and weeps.
Yet the citizens of Israel take lawn chairs and drinks and cameras and family to the viewing of Gaza under siege, a safe distance from the fray to ensure that the military is defending the people of Israel, oblivious to the dangerous rockets pouring down upon them, and snapping the smiles and laughter that erupts as the hapless victims are mutilated or die. This is a mentality that looks at the suffering of others and does not see the suffering that their own endured at the hands of a merciless power just 65 years ago; they have become eyeless to the havoc they impose, senseless to the weeping of children, bereft of all human sympathy that cries in the wilderness of distance witnessing the glee they allow themselves because their beliefs have encrusted their souls with a Teflon bitterness that wipes away the blood pouring from the baby’s mouth, blinds them to the shattered head with a face yet visible but its bloodied innards dripping over the father’s arm, a child on her knees above the dead body of her mother, hundreds running, stumbling, crawling over the shattered ruins of homes and hospitals and schools and mosques attempting to hide from the enveloping death that surrounds them unable to grapple with the minds that willingly accept as their right the genocide of a neighbor. This is indeed a world gone mad.
Nonetheless these are, as Netanyahu explains to Blitzer, only “telegenic images” that Hamas captures for publicity purposes to instill in the viewers a sympathy for Gazans; they are not Israel’s fault, they are but the accidents of “war.” One must not weep over them for they were unintended casualties. We are after all a civilized society greater than all other developed nations. After all, we have been able to surreptitiously gain control of the governments of Britain, of Canada, of Australia and of the United States ensuring that they will support whatever we do even if it defies international law. That we have as a consequence also disabled the democratic processes in these countries by pirating their representatives thus denying the American citizen his or her rights is simply demonstrating how clever we are. It’s not that we cannot see, we simply see what we want to see. After all, a state that sees itself as unique, as special, as exceptional must not see others as equals with whom they must share the world, or they lose the only thing that differentiates them from all, the belief they have fostered that gives them free reign to control all. This is a Zionist world gone mad.
The following information is provided to show the reality on the ground.
What is not in doubt – given the vast scale of killing and destruction inflicted in Gaza, as documented in UN satellite images – is that it is indeed an enormous number.
Detail from UN satellite imagery showing total destruction of buildings in Khuzaa, Gaza Strip. (UNOSAT)
The Israeli military itself states that between 8 July and 5 August, “aerial, naval and ground forces struck 4,762 terror sites across the Gaza Strip.”
Of course we know that Israel defines everything it bombs as a “terror site,” so this number includes thousands of civilian homes, mosques, businesses and other civilian objects and infrastructure.
We also know that Israeli munitions factories were “working in shifts, 24 hours a day” to provide enough ammunition and shells to forces attacking Gaza.
During the attack, the Obama administration also replenished Israeli stocks from a one billion dollar weapons stockpile the US keeps in Israel. This included 120 mm mortar rounds and 40 mm grenades.
Submitted by Ali Abunima, Electronic Intifada
Shawn’s brilliant “translation” of the ad into plain English is below.
Five hundred and sixteen children are among the 2,142 Palestinians killed by Israel’s current bombardment of the Gaza Strip, according to the latest tally from Al Mezan Center for Human Rights.
The ad, which appeared in The Hollywood Reporter, was signed by a number of show business executives. It quotes an infamous statement by Golda Meir, the American colonial settler in Palestine who became Israel’s prime minister, justifying Israel’s slaughter of Arab children during her time.
Along with ADL National Director Abraham Foxman and National Chair Barry Curtiss-Lusher, The Hollywood Reporter identifies some of those who signed the ADL ad as MGM chairman Gary Barber, Lionsgate CEO Jon Feltheimer, Relativity Media CEO Ryan Kavanaugh, Nu Image/Millennium Films co-chairman Avi Lerner, Sony Pictures Entertainment co-chair Amy Pascal and Saban Capital Group chairman and CEO Haim Saban.
Shawn’s response, which also appears in The Hollywood Reporter, is masterful. Here is Shawn’s “translation” of Meir’s words, as they were used in the ADL ad (reproduced in full with permission):
Over the decades, I’ve done quite a bit of work as a translator from various languages, and sometimes when I get home from work, I just can’t stop. Yesterday, for example, I saw an ad in The Hollywood Reporter. It was in English, but its meaning was not immediately obvious at all, so I felt an overwhelming impulse to translate it.
The ad featured a statement that former Israeli Prime Minister Golda Meir had made in the 1950s about “the Arabs,” but the ad (which leaves out the words “the Arabs”) suggests that “her haunting words” are “as current as today’s headlines. She could have been talking about Hamas.” The quotation, as it appears in the ad, is as follows: “We can forgive [them] for killing our children. We cannot forgive them from forcing us to kill their children. We will only have peace with [them] when they love their children more than they hate us.”
My quick personal translation of this would be: “When we kill the children of Arabs, the Arabs made us do it. They hate us so much, they are so angry, that they do things that enrage us and make us kill children. If they were decent people who loved their children, they would set aside their hatred and stop provoking us, and we would then stop killing the children.”
Sometimes a translator feels compelled to argue with the text he’s just translated, particularly when, as in the case of this ad, one is confronted by a photograph of the author that makes one vividly feel her presence. In this case, I can only say that despite her wise and thoughtful and grandmotherly face, Golda Meir can be interpreted as saying here that she plans to kill the children of Arabs up until the moment when, in her sole judgment, the Arabs stop feeling “hate” and become sufficiently unprovoking and pacified.
Applying her remarks to the present day, as the signers of the ad suggest we should do, the ad seems fundamentally to be saying that it ought to be up to the current prime minister, Benjamin Netanyahu, to decide when the current killing ought to stop. I have to say, I feel that this ad, directed to members of the show business community, perhaps especially to Jewish members of the show business community such as myself, takes as its premise a false view both of history and of the present situation.
The broad outlines of the terrible history of the Jewish people over the centuries is relatively well-known to many of us. But unfortunately, many members of the show business community are not very aware of the tragic history of the Palestinian people. And yet the fact is that in my own lifetime (I was born in 1943) the Palestinian people have been expelled from their land and subjected to unceasing and unjustifiable torment, including a brutal occupation and, in Gaza, a regime in which an entire population has been placed on a starvation diet.
Anyone who learns more about what has happened can’t help but realize that the anger of the Palestinians cannot be ended by killing their children. That is a fantasy. Human beings simply aren’t made that way.
Shawn is reacting to what Columbia University professor Joseph Massad has called “an old Israeli casuistry used to justify Israel’s carnage of Palestinians.” In his 2011 article “Are Palestinian children less worthy?,” Massad shows how the demonization of Palestinian children and their parents has always accompanied Israel’s frequent massacres.
Shawn’s response comes after forty survivors of the Nazi genocide and 287 descendants of survivors and victims published a letter as an ad in The New York Times condemning Israel’s massacre and rejecting a previous ad by anti-Palestinian author Elie Wiesel accusing Palestinians of “child sacrifice.”
Shawn is well-known for his plays, later turned into films, The Designated Mourner, Marie and Bruce, My Dinner With Andre and The Fever. His voice is far better known to millions of children than his face through his roles in many animated films, including as “Rex” in the Toy Story films.
RAFAH – Parents of new-born babies would usually come to “al-Belbisi” for various infant supplies, from bodysuits and pajamas to bedcovers. The shop has become an icon, serving some 180,000 people, mostly refugees, of Rafah, in the southern Gaza Strip.
But that is history. Omar al-Belbisi now stands dazed in front of what remains of his shop – one of 80 in Rafah Trade Centre that were destroyed by Israeli missiles on Saturday morning.
As a haze of smoke drifts out of Belbisi’s shop, he is taking a brief break, his face covered in ashes and smeared with soot, from digging through the ruins of his property, salvaging what he can despite still being in shock and frightened more missiles may fall.
At least six Israeli missiles were fired on the trade centre, smashing shops, a wedding hall and an attorney’s offices. Most people rented the shops from the local municipality after the shopping mall was built with US $2 million in Norwegian-Dutch support, in 1998, said the mayor’s office.
“We were not expecting this to happen, and what could be a threat to Israel’s security here, in a shopping centre, which only sells domestic products to ordinary families?” said Belbisi.
His shop employed several people – providing them with income that helped feed, and clothe about 40 people.
He looks around at what is left – not “rockets” or militia equipment. Just pairs of trousers for $30 each, other family clothing and household items, now burnt or torn to shreds.
Belbisi had bought a large stock of clothes for the various seasons that occur in the course of two months: Eid, summer, and the new academic year. This was more than double his usual stock, and it had arrived before Israel launched its most recent 50-day attack. Now he has nothing left and must shut down for the rest of the season.
Normally anything he doesn’t sell, he can exchange or sell the next season for a discount, an option he no longer has. His business is ruined.
“The loss is too big, because I stocked up for three seasons. That is going to cost me triple losses – many thousands of dollars.”
Belbisi’s plight is heavier than most. He doesn’t buy with his own money directly; a merchant buys his stock, and the shop’s sales pay back the debt. His merchant will be looking for a check of about $39,500 come the middle of September.
Belbisi does not know what to do – but Majed Hadied of Gaza, who used to own the biggest carnations nursery in town, had a similar experience and said he knows what will happen.
Before Israel’s siege of Gaza in 2006, he travelled to the Netherlands to take part in the European Flower Exchange Market and enjoy seeing his products sold to different European Union countries.
For Hadied, Israel’s closure of commercial crossings to Gaza blocked the export for his carnations, and as they withered in the wait for Israel to release them, he could only feed them to his cows and camels. Then he had to face service-suppliers and merchants looking for their debts through the police or in the courts.
The immediate future for Belbisi looks very similar to Hadied’s – but this reality hasn’t dawned yet.
There is no-one to support Belbisi with his debts – he and his family can only pray that something will come up so they don’t have to starve.
Gaza economist Dr Maher Taba’a says the damage caused in this war is three times the damage caused in 2008-2009.
The mayor of Rafah, Subhi Radwan, inspecting the damage, said it was a horrendous image of destruction. As smoke still billowed from the trade centre, his staff tried to assess the value of the damage, thought to be around $10 million.
“This is an unjustified barbaric act, designed to crush what remains of the Palestinian economy,” said Radwan, seeing yet again the delivery of collective punishment Gaza and its residents.
Early on 1 August, Israeli F16s hit the same trade centre, but damaged mainly the roof. This time, Israeli intelligence called Fouad Zard, who lives next to the centre, to tell him he had eight minutes to evacuate.
“I called all the neighbours to evacuate immediately,” he said, but before the eight minutes passed, the first Israeli missile hit the shopping centre.
The Zard home was not apparently a target, but it was hit anyway, along with the “Amina Bint Wahb” and “al Khansa” UN Relief and Works Agency schools – both shelters for hundreds of families forced to flee their homes from Israeli attacks on the east of Rafah.
Rafah Trade Centre director Riad al-Holy said he cannot imagine any rational for this attack, other than just the deliberate destruction of the Palestinian economy. “There is no security pretext, and the loss among shop owners is massive.”
Meanwhile, the UN’s Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO) said about 42,000 acres of croplands had sustained substantial direct damage and half of Gaza’s poultry stock had been lost due to direct hits or lack of care due to reduced access to farmlands in border areas. Gaza’s fishermen have seen their annual catch reduced by almost 10%.
All this on top of the destruction of Gaza’s infrastructure, including water and electricity supplies. At least 360 factories and workshops have been damaged, including 126 that were completely wrecked, amounting to $47 million in damages.
The Palestinian Federation of Industries said the majority of industrial plants have halted production during the war, causing losses estimated at more than $70 million.
The examples are too many to list, but most recently they include casting Hamas as the side that has repeatedly broken truces and extended the fighting, asserting that Israel carried out “targeted bombings with limited civilian casualties” in recent attacks that killed numerous Palestinian civilians, as documented by Peter Hart of FAIR. They include Ali Abunimah and Greg Mitchell ridiculing The Times for labeling an Israeli attack that collapsed a 12-story apartment building in Gaza “audacious,” as well as the Palestinian human rights organization Al Mezan’s repeated criticism of The Times for refusing to correct a factual error about civilian casualties, for undermining of human rights workers in Gaza and thus supporting Israeli impunity.
But as someone who criticizes The Times reporting regularly, I’m still occasionally taken aback by new examples of how far The Times bias on Israel and Palestine extends and how deeply embedded it is at the paper. A tweet yesterday from long-time Guardian reporter Chris McGreal provides another surprising indication of this phenomenon. McGreal tweeted, “The ‘featured expert’ of NYT readers trip to Israel-Palestine is Arnon ‘the Arab counter’ Soffer. So no bias there then.” Soffer is a politically influential Israeli professor whose views have helped to provide the “intellectual” justification for Israel’s policy of carrying out regular massacres in the Gaza Strip, as well as for ghettoizing and marginalizing Palestinians in other locations.
Arnon Soffer’s views
McGreal was referring to a new Times venture called “Times Journeys” which calls on people to “… Travel with The New York Times. Return Smarter. Gain Understanding. Return Inspired.” One of its upcoming “journeys”, “The Israeli-Palestinian Conundrum,” set for November 7 – 15, 2014, features Arnon Soffer as one of the four “experts” for the journey. In a 2006 Guardian series on parallels between Israel and apartheid South Africa, McGreal described Soffer as a geographer who had “spent years advising the [Israeli] government on the ‘demographic threat’ posed by the Arabs.” Soffer’s views have been called racist by, among many others, Palestinian activist Omar Barghouti and Israeli Idan Lando, and Soffer’s been labeled a fascist by Israeli Haim Bresheeth.
Soffer is obsessed with treating Palestinians as a “demographic threat” to be crushed in order to maintain a Jewish state that must be preserved at all costs, including by unilaterally creating borders to separate Palestinians from Israeli Jews, then killing the trapped Palestinians, and by countering Palestinian population growth within Israel. Some of Soffer’s more frightening views have been outlined in 2004 and 2007 interviews with the Jerusalem Post’s Ruthie Blum.
In the 2004 interview, which is no longer available online but can be found here, Blum called Soffer “the originator of Ariel Sharon’s separation plan” and an advocate for Israel’s Gaza “disengagement.
Soffer explained, “When 2.5 million people live in a closed-off Gaza, it’s going to be a human catastrophe. Those people will become even bigger animals than they are today, with the aid of an insane fundamentalist Islam. The pressure at the border will be awful. It’s going to be a terrible war. So, if we want to remain alive, we will have to kill and kill and kill. All day, every day.”
“If we don’t kill, we will cease to exist. The only thing that concerns me is how to ensure that the boys and men who are going to have to do the killing will be able to return home to their families and be normal human beings.”
He continued, “This is what will happen after separation. If a Palestinian cannot come into Tel Aviv for work, he will look in Iraq, or Kuwait, or London. I believe that there will be movement out of the area. Responding to Blum’s question, “Voluntary transfer?” he answered, “Yes.”
In the 2007 interview with Blum he argued that he had been misunderstood in 2004, explaining, “I didn’t recommend that we kill Palestinians. I said we’ll have to kill them.” Hardly better. Then he explained further, “Our government has woken up. The only ones making noise are leftists and so-called human rights lawyers who only care about the well-being of cats, dogs and Palestinians, but never about Jews.”
On the subject of Israel’s Palestinian citizens, 20% of Israel’s population, Soffer warned, “the Israeli Arabs are enclosing the country from the Upper Galilee all the way around… As for the Arabs of the South: They’re the bridge between Gaza and Judea-Samaria… if we fail to keep that bridge closed, Katyushas will be launched from Kalkilya to Tel Aviv – right onto the Stock Exchange.” Soffer concluded, “we have to fortify ourselves with a fence. Then, whoever tries to cross it gets a bullet to the head.” And if we don’t shoot them, “then, we’ll cease to exist.”
A 2011 article in Israeli paper The Marker, translated to English by the Electronic Intifada which has documented Soffer’s views and analyzed their implications, outlined Soffer’s views on the threat posed by Israel’s Bedouin citizens. The article explained that, “Sofer added that the Bedouin population is managing to take over every clear plot of land.” He concluded, “The government must start taking action, and not flounder in the defense. We do not have another country. If I am not wrong about this terrible map, and I hope that I am wrong, Israel will simply be destroyed.”
Those who are unfamiliar with Israeli politics may be frightened to learn that in 2007 Soffer described himself, probably accurately, as “in the center, which is why both the Left and the Right attack me.” In light of Soffer’s depiction of Palestinians as “animals” who Israelis must “kill and kill and kill” “all day, every day,” against whom the Israeli government must act against urgently even within Israel, it is very disconcerting to imagine what “Times Journeys” participants who listen to Soffer might “return inspired” to do.
Subtle Echoes of Soffer’s Views in The Times’ Reporting
I was unable to figure out who at The Times does manage “Times Journeys,” though a Times press release quotes “Michael Greenspon, general manager, The New York Times News Services and International.” An FAQ section on “Times Journeys” explains that, “Times Journeys is operated independently of the New York Times Travel desk or other departments and members of the newsroom.”
While there may be a clear management separation between “Times Journeys” with their endorsement of Soffer, and the newsroom, there are elements of The Times reporting that include disturbing echoes of some of Soffer’s views – his understanding of Jewish privilege as fundamental to Israeli identity, and his vision of Palestinians as demographic threats who must be countered militarily. This reporting suggests that the worldview that allowed The Times to select Soffer as an appropriate “expert” without blinking, permeates the newspaper as a whole.
Despite daily reporting on Israel and Palestine, Palestinian citizens of Israel (generally called Israeli Arabs by The Times) are very infrequently mentioned by the paper, though they make up 20% of Israel’s population. In The Times’ daily reporting on Israel’s war on Gaza over the last month-and-a-half, I was able to locate only two sentences in The Times about Israel’s Palestinian citizens. In contrast, The Times Jerusalem Bureau Chief Jodi Rudoren twice reported on opinion polls of Israeli Jews only, showing what she described as very strong “Israeli” support for the assault on Gaza. In a July 26th article, she reported, “A poll of Israeli Jews conducted for Channel 2 News on Wednesday showed more than 8 in 10 were satisfied with Mr. Netanyahu, a 25 point jump from before the ground invasion began.” In an August 5 article, Rudoren again reported, “Several polls find that as many as nine out of 10 Israeli Jews back the prosecution of the war by Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu.” Israeli Jewish views were all that The Times felt merited mention. The Times has not bothered to report on Israel’s Palestinian citizens opposition to the war, including, including for example, an opinion poll showing that at least two-thirds oppose the war.
The much-criticized August 5 Jodi Rudoren article analyzing Palestinian casualties in Gaza, which was also the subject of Al Mezan’s complaints, uses Palestinian demographic and casualty information to classify Palestinian civilian casualties by age according to their likelihood to be “terrorists” whose killing is therefore justified according to the Israeli government. As I reported previously, in that article, Rudoren puts aside research by the UN and organizations like Al Mezan, and classifies Gazan males between the ages of 20-29 as “the population most likely to be militants.” Palestinian children between the ages of 15-17 are called “men” and “women,” and Palestinian males from 15-60 who were killed by Israel are described as part of “a mix of male civilians and combatants, though breakdowns are disputed.” This treatment of all Palestinian males aged 15-60 in Gaza as all suspect and guilty to varying degrees and thus appropriate candidates for assassination is only a few steps removed from Sofer’s depiction of Palestinians as “animals” who must be killed.
I have documented other examples of The Times recent reporting that serves to justify Israel’s wholesale killing and destruction in Gaza. Others have documented The Times reporters’ seeming thorough embeddedness within mainstream Israeli Jewish life that seems to contribute to generating that sort of reporting.
The bigger question for The Times
Some will probably try to assert that the inclusion of Nadia Hilou and Hanan Ashrawi, two Palestinians, among the four Times’ experts balances Soffer. But of course we all know that The Times would never endorse an “expert” who offers killing Israeli Jews as their overriding policy prescription.
I would like to believe, perhaps naively, that publicizing Soffer’s views and his selection as a Times “expert” may lead some right-thinking liberals at The Times and outside to actively oppose his involvement in “Times Journeys.” However, the much bigger and more appropriate question is whether or not The Times will take a deeper look at the related views and attitudes that seem to pervade the paper, that certainly inform aspects of the paper’s reporting on Israel and Palestine, and that led to Soffer being chosen, or whether his selection will simply be written off as a decision made by a new and less well-informed department of The Times.
Why was the Lancet letter which has 24 signatories of doctors and scientists published?
Dr. Swee Ang Chai: All the authors and signatories fear the worse at the beginning of this crisis which erupted in early July based on their previous experience. However the situation has got much worse since the publication of the letter. Gaza has already been declared a disaster area by the UK government. Despite the destruction of infrastructure, doctors and healthcare workers in Gaza continued to work despite severe conditions and their personal circumstances. Their own homes are being destroyed and families killed, and to be landed with more than 12,000 wounded is simply overwhelming for any medical system. That this is why Swee and her surgical colleagues wanted to assist by volunteering to go to Gaza.. As of yesterday (22 August 2014) the death toll reached 2083, with 50% women and children. Eighty five families were annihilated, and 12,656 injured. Forty five clinics and fifteen hospital were destroyed (two of the hospitals completely flattened), 8 fire stations, 1 ambulance station. Health institutions should be protected as sanctuaries under international law for the wounded and sick people, but they were targeted.
You and your consultant surgical colleague have just been deported as you entered Israel to get to Gaza…elaborate.
They first gave me a three month Israeli visa of the B2 type when they thought I was a tourist. Then when they realized I was going to Gaza, my colleague and I were taken aside and interrogated in a very humiliating way for three hours, following that we were detained, and deported after around 16-17 hours. But the personal humiliation, detention and deportation is not the worst part. It is the realisation that this is part of the siege imposed on Gaza. The siege does not only apply to medical equipment and supplies for Gaza but also to people who want to get to Gaza to assist. They can stop me from getting to Gaza but they cannot stop me from caring for and supporting the Palestinians, and they cannot stop the world from knowing about what they do to Palestinians. These crimes committed against Palestinians cannot be covered up. I will raise my voice and say what happened in Gaza. Gaza was shelled with tons of ammunition and depleted uranium which not only kill immediately but leave residues which emit radioactive rays causing malformations in utero and miscarriages . And this will continue despite repeated ceasefires. Gazans want to rebuild their broken homes but building materials are blockaded. People have no choice but to rebuild their broken homes with rubble contaminated with radioactive uranium as the siege continues. What do you want them to do? They have no choice but to rebuild their homes over mounds of destruction and ‘nuclear’ waste. Even if the war stops, these rays will have an impact on people’s lives.
Is Britain and the USA complicit in this?
I will not say that all of Britain and the US are complicit. Some in high positions are. But I can tell you that within a week of having published the Lancet letter, we got 20,000 signatures endorsing the letter. But there are others who are protesting against the letter at the same time. And there are people who have been subjected to threats via email saying that if you continue to support Palestinians you will be killed. But we must say what we have to say, this is the truth. This is what is happening, massacres, and if we are silent in the face of massacres we would not be fit to be doctors and scientists. We have to be witnesses. 32 years ago, I was a doctor supporting Israel, and my family and I used to support Israel. But when Israel invaded and occupied Lebanon in 1982, and bombed Lebanon for ten weeks, I could not tolerate it anymore. I decided not to support Israel and volunteered to help the wounded in Lebanon. Later I went to Gaza. My life changed, when I went to Lebanon, I went to Sabra and Shatilla, and I did not find terrorists. I found a people who are patient, gentle and generous and they welcomed me, amidst their enormous suffering. But they were labeled as terrorists. After the evacuation of the PLO, when they were defenceless, they were massacred. I went back after the attack (1982), and I found that some of the patients I treated were killed. I went back to London, and continued with my work and it is impossible to say nothing. For 32 years, I decided not to be silent , and will speak up for Palestinians as a witness to what happened to them. I am also a friend of the Palestinians. So wherever I go I will talk about what happened to Palestinians and the injustice which they have been enduring, and I will do this until I die.
Interviewer: You have written a book: From Beirut to Jerusalem, but since that time, there has been no change for the Palestinians. You were very angry. Let me read a section of the Gaza letter (published by Lancet):
“We register with dismay that only 5% of our Israeli academic colleagues signed an appeal to their government to stop the military operation against Gaza. We are tempted to conclude that with the exception of this 5%, the rest of the Israeli academics are complicit in the massacre and destruction of Gaza. We also see the complicity of our countries in Europe and North America in this massacre and the impotence once again of the international institutions and organisations to stop this massacre” the letter is directed to Who?
Dr. Swee Ang Chai: This paragraph refers to all people who are guilty of knowing that the massacre is going on and yet say nothing. They are complicit in the crime. There are also the people who deliberately cover it up. It is our duty and that of Mayadeen to inform the world of what is happening. But when we speak up, many attacked us because they were complicit in this crime , and tried to cover up what is happening by intimidating and silencing us. For example deporting doctors so that we do not see and witness what is happening. But they forget that the Palestinian doctors are still there, and they can tell the world what is going on because they are there. For the rest of the world, some do not take a stand because of lack of knowledge and it is our role to inform them. Others are worried about speaking up through fear, but we must support them to take a stand.
What do you think of Israel’s attack on people, children etc., why do you think they are killing them?
I am very sad because only 10% of Israel want the massacre to stop and the rest want it to continue. In other words the other 90% of Israelis want Palestinians chucked out or killed, and this is compatible with ethnic cleansing and mass extermination, a strong word, but what is happening in Gaza is an attempted or incremental genocide..
Why do you decide to publish the letter in the Lancet?
As you know this is a strong letter. many editors have difficulty with it. But we know the Lancet is a prestigious journal, and Richard Horton took the risk in publishing this. He knows Palestine well, since several years. His conscience made him publish this letter. He is paying a high price for publishing the letter. There is a nasty campaign to get him fired.
Thank you Dr. Swee Ang Chai, founder of Medical Aid for Palestinians and for your voice as a medical doctor and humanitarian.
by Paola Manduca, Iain Chalmers, Derek Summerfield, Mads Gilbert, Swee Ange, on behalf of 24 signatories
We are doctors and scientists, who spend our lives developing means to care and protect health and lives. We are also informed people; we teach the ethics of our professions, together with the knowledge and practice of it. We all have worked in and known the situation of Gaza for years.
On the basis of our ethics and practice, we are denouncing what we witness in the aggression of Gaza by Israel.
We ask our colleagues, old and young professionals, to denounce this Israeli aggression. We challenge the perversity of a propaganda that justifies the creation of an emergency to masquerade a massacre, a so-called “defensive aggression”. In reality it is a ruthless assault of unlimited duration, extent, and intensity. We wish to report the facts as we see them and their implications on the lives of the people.
We are appalled by the military onslaught on civilians in Gaza under the guise of punishing terrorists. This is the third large scale military assault on Gaza since 2008. Each time the death toll is borne mainly by innocent people in Gaza, especially women and children under the unacceptable pretext of Israel eradicating political parties and resistance to the occupation and siege they impose.
This action also terrifies those who are not directly hit, and wounds the soul, mind, and resilience of the young generation. Our condemnation and disgust are further compounded by the denial and prohibition for Gaza to receive external help and supplies to alleviate the dire circumstances.
The blockade on Gaza has tightened further since last year and this has worsened the toll on Gaza’s population. In Gaza, people suffer from hunger, thirst, pollution, shortage of medicines, electricity, and any means to get an income, not only by being bombed and shelled. Power crisis, gasoline shortage, water and food scarcity, sewage outflow and ever decreasing resources are disasters caused directly and indirectly by the siege.1
People in Gaza are resisting this aggression because they want a better and normal life and, even while crying in sorrow, pain, and terror, they reject a temporary truce that does not provide a real chance for a better future. A voice under the attacks in Gaza is that of Um Al Ramlawi who speaks for all in Gaza: “They are killing us all anyway—either a slow death by the siege, or a fast one by military attacks. We have nothing left to lose—we must fight for our rights, or die trying.”2
Gaza has been blockaded by sea and land since 2006. Any individual of Gaza, including fishermen venturing beyond 3 nautical miles of the coast of Gaza, face being shot by the Israeli Navy. No one from Gaza can leave from the only two checkpoints, Erez or Rafah, without special permission from the Israelis and the Egyptians, which is hard to come by for many, if not impossible. People in Gaza are unable to go abroad to study, work, visit families, or do business. Wounded and sick people cannot leave easily to get specialised treatment outside Gaza. Entries of food and medicines into Gaza have been restricted and many essential items for survival are prohibited.3 Before the present assault, medical stock items in Gaza were already at an all time low because of the blockade.3 They have run out now. Likewise, Gaza is unable to export its produce. Agriculture has been severely impaired by the imposition of a buffer zone, and agricultural products cannot be exported due to the blockade. 80% of Gaza’s population is dependent on food rations from the UN.
Much of Gaza’s buildings and infrastructure had been destroyed during Operation Cast Lead, 2008—09, and building materials have been blockaded so that schools, homes, and institutions cannot be properly rebuilt. Factories destroyed by bombardment have rarely been rebuilt adding unemployment to destitution.
Despite the difficult conditions, the people of Gaza and their political leaders have recently moved to resolve their conflicts “without arms and harm” through the process of reconciliation between factions, their leadership renouncing titles and positions, so that a unity government can be formed abolishing the divisive factional politics operating since 2007. This reconciliation, although accepted by many in the international community, was rejected by Israel. The present Israeli attacks stop this chance of political unity between Gaza and the West Bank and single out a part of the Palestinian society by destroying the lives of people of Gaza. Under the pretext of eliminating terrorism, Israel is trying to destroy the growing Palestinian unity. Among other lies, it is stated that civilians in Gaza are hostages of Hamas whereas the truth is that the Gaza Strip is sealed by the Israelis and Egyptians.
Gaza has been bombed continuously for the past 14 days followed now by invasion on land by tanks and thousands of Israeli troops. More than 60 000 civilians from Northern Gaza were ordered to leave their homes. These internally displaced people have nowhere to go since Central and Southern Gaza are also subjected to heavy artillery bombardment. The whole of Gaza is under attack. The only shelters in Gaza are the schools of the UN Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees in the Near East (UNRWA), uncertain shelters already targeted during Cast Lead, killing many.
According to Gaza Ministry of Health and UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA),1 as of July 21, 149 of the 558 killed in Gaza and 1100 of the 3504 wounded are children. Those buried under the rubble are not counted yet. As we write, the BBC reports of the bombing of another hospital, hitting the intensive care unit and operating theatres, with deaths of patients and staff. There are now fears for the main hospital Al Shifa. Moreover, most people are psychologically traumatised in Gaza. Anyone older than 6 years has already lived through their third military assault by Israel.
The massacre in Gaza spares no one, and includes the disabled and sick in hospitals, children playing on the beach or on the roof top, with a large majority of non-combatants. Hospitals, clinics, ambulances, mosques, schools, and press buildings have all been attacked, with thousands of private homes bombed, clearly directing fire to target whole families killing them within their homes, depriving families of their homes by chasing them out a few minutes before destruction. An entire area was destroyed on July 20, leaving thousands of displaced people homeless, beside wounding hundreds and killing at least 70—this is way beyond the purpose of finding tunnels. None of these are military objectives. These attacks aim to terrorise, wound the soul and the body of the people, and make their life impossible in the future, as well as also demolishing their homes and prohibiting the means to rebuild.
Weaponry known to cause long-term damages on health of the whole population are used; particularly non fragmentation weaponry and hard-head bombs.4, 5 We witnessed targeted weaponry used indiscriminately and on children and we constantly see that so-called intelligent weapons fail to be precise, unless they are deliberately used to destroy innocent lives.
We denounce the myth propagated by Israel that the aggression is done caring about saving civilian lives and children’s wellbeing.
Israel’s behaviour has insulted our humanity, intelligence, and dignity as well as our professional ethics and efforts. Even those of us who want to go and help are unable to reach Gaza due to the blockade.
This “defensive aggression” of unlimited duration, extent, and intensity must be stopped.
Additionally, should the use of gas be further confirmed, this is unequivocally a war crime for which, before anything else, high sanctions will have to be taken immediately on Israel with cessation of any trade and collaborative agreements with Europe.
As we write, other massacres and threats to the medical personnel in emergency services and denial of entry for international humanitarian convoys are reported.6 We as scientists and doctors cannot keep silent while this crime against humanity continues. We urge readers not to be silent too. Gaza trapped under siege, is being killed by one of the world’s largest and most sophisticated modern military machines. The land is poisoned by weapon debris, with consequences for future generations. If those of us capable of speaking up fail to do so and take a stand against this war crime, we are also complicit in the destruction of the lives and homes of 1·8 million people in Gaza.
We register with dismay that only 5% of our Israeli academic colleagues signed an appeal to their government to stop the military operation against Gaza. We are tempted to conclude that with the exception of this 5%, the rest of the Israeli academics are complicit in the massacre and destruction of Gaza. We also see the complicity of our countries in Europe and North America in this massacre and the impotence once again of the international institutions and organisations to stop this massacre.
There can be no solidarity with the Netanyahu government which has undermined moderate Palestinians, rejected offers of peace, and expanded settlements to make a two-state solution – impossible.
Political Zionism emerged as a liberation movement in response to antisemitism and nationalism. The foundation of Israel included anti- colonial aspects. Yet the settlement of Palestine by European Jews was itself an act of colonization carried out with– and in opposition to– world powers. The project as it unfolded was based in ideas of Jewish supremacy and in a particular interpretation of our traditions and history. It turned on the violent exclusion of the region’s indigenous population.
After 1967, Israel established an occupation in the West Bank and Gaza. After 2005, it initiated a siege of Gaza, designed to undermine Palestinian statehood. I therefore cannot remain silent when people portray this month’s conflict in isolation from the context of forty-seven years of occupation, collective reprisal, settlement expansion, and siege. We can attribute each individual failure to achieve peace to one side, the other, or both. But we cannot ignore that despite any rationalizations, Israel has occupied Palestinians for nearly fifty years. Ask what else Israel could have done from its position of strength to pursue peace. Consider what it means to accept so many deaths and the destruction of a city as collateral damage. No matter how we judge Hamas, the assault on Gaza has demonstrated Israeli disregard for Arab life. This will not bring peace. The choices that may bring peace will present serious risks, but none more dangerous, physically and ethically, than preserving the status quo.
This does not mean that Israelis lack the right to equality in their native land. It does not mean abandoning our ties to that land. However, we must pay attention to how legacies of power make certain forms of exclusion and subordination seem normal. We must remain vigilant against our own chauvinism and listen to others. Do not believe that Israel lacks partners for peace and do not stand with those who demonstrate to Palestinians that they lack such partners.
Jewish progressives can and do enjoy many ties to Israel, but Jewish progressives cannot value Jewish lives and freedoms over the lives and freedoms of Palestinians. Our self-realization cannot come at the expense of millions without citizenship, rights, and the same prospects for their children as our own. Progressives must stand against occupation, siege, and settlement expansion. There can be no progressive support for a wars of choice. There can be no solidarity with the Netanyahu government or its representatives like the Israeli Consul, which has undermined moderate Palestinians, rejected offers of peace, and expanded settlements to make a two-state solution–if that is desirable–impossible. There can be no progressive partnerships with organizations like AIPAC. Jewish unity cannot come at the expense of Jewish integrity.’
‘We made a mistake. There is a sickness inside our community’ — Jacob Ari Labendz
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