The Emperor Visits the Provinces. By Miko Peled

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Reception for Trump w Israel heads of state in Tel-Aviv airport

Israel breathes a sigh of relief as trump leaves the region with no offer of a “deal” allowing it to continue to kill, displace, arrest and torture Palestinians take their land and water and give it to Jews. Trump’s visit to Jerusalem was like Cesar coming to visit the far away provinces.  Israel welcomed him with smiles, flags and a perfectly orchestrated military parade, while Palestinians signaled their feelings by staging an all-out general strike – the first all out strike that included 1948 Palestine in over twenty years.  The strike and protests, the significance of which likely went over Trumps head, was also an expression of solidarity with hunger-striking prisoners who at this point have gone without food for close to forty days.

Trump flew into Tel-Aviv from Saudi Arabia where he announced the US-Saudi weapons deal which will surely result in the death of many innocents in Yemen. Standing by the corrupt and aging Saudi King Salman, Trump announced that the weapons deal was worth many billions of dollars and, he made sure to add, this deal is an investment in the US and will provide “jobs, jobs, jobs” for Americans.

In Jerusalem the media could not, and still can not get enough of Trump. No one even complained about the fact that even though Trump flew from Tel-Aviv airport to Jerusalem, the highway connecting the two cities was closed for several hours “just in case.”  On a morning news talk show, a panel which included the entire Zionist political spectrum discussed the Trump visit and was obvious from their discussions who is really in charge here.  It was not the representative of the “sane” liberal Zionists nor the representative of the “right of center” Likud but rather the wild eyed zealot Daniella Weiss, the voice of the the extreme most religious zealots settlers. She began by saying that Trump will bring no change because even Trump the great deal maker cannot undo what was agreed upon between God and the Jewish people when He promised “us” the Land of Israel. Then she stated that now there are 750,000 Jews living in Judea and Samaria, and not one of them can or will ever be removed.

“What about three million Palestinians?” she was asked and she made it clear that they are not part of the messianic vision that she holds. The number three million is how Zionists view the world. While over six millions Palestinians live in Palestine, only the Palestinians in the West Bank are counted.  Weiss was challenged by Omer Bar-Lev a veteran of the liberal Zionist Peace Now group and member of Knesset with the “Zionist Camp” party who passionately claimed that “people like her are destroying the Zionist vision” because they are forcing a reality where we (the Jews) will no longer be a majority and we will end up in a bi-national state, (this is coming from the “left”).  The difference between zealot fanatics like Daniella Weiss and the liberal Zionists is that the former don’t see Palestinians, and the latter have a recurring nightmare whereby Israel is forced to grant Palestinians citizenship rights. Both sides believe though that as long as the Palestinians have no rights Israel can claim to be a Jewish State.

Liberal Zionists claim that the reason there should be “peace” is so that Jews can maintain a majority in Palestine occupied in 1948, and a few border “adjustments.” What liberal Jews regard as peace, is a large outdoor Palestinian prison stretching along parts of what used to be the West Bank. They will call this prison a state and all will be well. That, according to them is what will save the Jews from having to live among an Arab majority. In this peaceful, liberal vision, the majority of the West Bank remains as part of Israel. “The national consensus,” Bar-Lev claimed correctly, “is that the main settlement blocks remain.” Also according to the national consensus the entire Jordan River Valley and all of expanded East Jerusalem – or in other words the majority of what used to be the West Bank – remain as part of “Israel.”

Daniella Weiss represents the true face of Zionism which has always maintained that Jews ought not to worry about trivial matters such as a few million Arabs.  Bar-Lev, who commanded one of Israels’s most murderous commando units, represents the fig leaf which which to cover up the true face of Zionism. When one travels to the South Hebron Hills region, which is mostly a wild and beautiful desert, spotted with Palestinian towns and tiny villages one sees the Zionist vision in action. The Palestinian villages are tiny, fifteen or twenty families living in caves and tents, some have built homes. There is usually no running water or electricity and very few paved roads. Even after fifty years of Israeli control, the water, electricity and paved roads didn’t reach these remote areas until Jewish settlers came. As soon as Jewish settlers showed up, they kicked the Palestinians off of their land, and built “outposts” which are like a baby settlements. Then, miraculously, running water, electricity and well paved roads appeared almost immediately, although they stopped short and did not reach any of the surrounding Palestinian villages. This is how the Jews make the desert bloom.

“We can sense that Trump is a great friend,” a Likud operative said on television. “He speaks of peace, and of course we too want peace, but we have no partner for peace. So while he (Trump) talks of a “deal” we can read the signs.” The signs being the new US ambassador, who is as true a Zionist as Daniella Weiss and of course, the son-in-law. I was reprimanded once for stating that the son-in-law is Jewish, as though it shouldn’t matter but if anyone thinks that Jared Kushner’s being Jewish is not relevant they can ask any Israeli on the street. They will tell you exactly what a “good friend” he is to Israel and how much money his family has given to settlements and the IDF.

So to sum up Trump’s mideast policy, the Saudi dynasty is safe and can keep killing Yemeni civilians using the best technology money can buy and in doing so they are also providing “jobs, jobs, jobs” for Americans. Trump is a great friend to Israel, we all agree that Israel has no partner for peace, and unlike Obama, Trump it seems will place no restrictions on Israel’s settlement expansion and ethnic cleansing campaign. It is a great day for Israel when the Emperor comes to visit!

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The 1967 Obsession, Trump and Trivia By Miko Peled

I arrived in Jerusalem last night and as always during the weeks between mid-May and mid-June the media is full of romanticized memories. Within these weeks are the two most siginicfant dates in modern Palestinian history: May 1948 when Palestine was conquered and renamed Israel, and June, 1967 when the Israeli army completed the conquest of Palestine by taking East Jerusalem, the West Bank and the Gaza Strip. For Palestinians these dates bring back bitter memories, but for Israelis the memories are sweet – those were the days when we were young and brave and innocent.  Vintage photos of soldiers at the newly conquered Western Wall, generals announcing “the Temple Mount is in our hands,” and teary-eyed old Jews praying with devotion are everywhere. The horrors that make up the Palestinian memories, the piles of dead bodies, civilians panicking as they are forcibly exiled, children lost in the mayhem and ancient villages and communities bulldozed only to be rebuilt for Jews are rarely shown or discussed.

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Israeli Generals Dayan, Narkis and Bar-Lev at the Western Wall
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Palestinian refugees fleeing to Jordan across the wrecked Alenbi Bridge
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Destruction of the 700 year old Mughrabi neighborhood was done immediately following the Israeli conquest of East Jerusalem to create the Western Wall plaza.

To add to all that, Donald Trump is expected to arrive in Jerusalem and this gives the press and the official state PR machine an even greater opportunity to deal with the two things they love best: smoke screens and trivia.  Gaza? never even heard of it! Fifteen hundred innocent political prisoners on a hunger strike for over a month? Nobody cares! But check this out: apparently Trump will fly directly from Saudi Arabia to Tel-Aviv and this is the first direct flight between the two countries; the King David Hotel in Jerusalem is preparing for Trump’s visit and a drone was spotted in the hotel parking lot! And the ongoing burning question, will the great deal maker be able to close the Israeli-Palestinian peace Deal?  All smoke screens and trivia which are the staples of tabloids – a category into which most Israeli media outlets fit perfectly – though in their defense one must admit that there is no point in dealing with substance because Trump’s visit will offer none.

Here are a few items that are sure not to be on Trump’s agenda: Two million people in Gaza have no access to clean water, proper nutrition or medicine.  They have been victims of devastating attacks for seven decades and before they can recover from one assault there is another one pending.  The Israeli water authority allocates only 3% of the water to Palestinians even though they make up more than 50% of the overall population. More than 55% of Palestinians with Israeli citizenship live below the poverty line, and even though they rate one of the highest in the world in literacy, there is massive unemployment among Palestinians. Palestinians in the West Bank live under a brutal military regime governed by Israeli commanders who impose inhumane laws and prevent people from enjoying the basic most human rights. Seven thousand political prisoners sit in Israeli jails in violation of international law, over fifteen hundred of them on a hunger strike for over a month.

Trump may also visit Ramallah, and there too these topics are not likely to come up. Though there are attempts to prop the legitimacy of the Palestinian Authority, it is on life support and barely surviving. Municipal elections to West Bank cities were a failure – marked by boycotts of major political parties and a lack of voter interest. Mahmoud Abbas, the so-called president of the Palestinian Authority is old and tired and can no longer mask his disinterest in the fate of his people.  Hamas has made some changes to its charter and the newly elected head of Hamas’ political bureau is the Gaza resident, Gaza born Ismail Haniya, who is also the democratically elected Prime Minister of the now defunct Palestinian Authority.  The Authority has no real authority and neither party is relevant anymore.

The question of moving the US embassy to Jerusalem is also dead at this point although for political reasons Netanyahu will pretend it is a priority.  Both Trump and Netanyahu know that Jerusalem is a red line that even two reckless politicians such as them will not dare cross. Trump will not risk a multi billion dollar weapons deal with Saudi Arabia, and Netanyahu won’t risk an uprising for a symbolic gesture for which no country in the world can give its support.  The international community has never recognized Jerusalem as part of Israel, and international recognition of Israel’s jurisdiction is out of the question. So while Israeli politicians may try to create headlines over this topic, it is nothing but a smoke screen.

The terror under which Palestinians live – be it in their own country or in refugee camps  around it, is part of the daily bread of Palestinian existence. The causes for this existence, the wars of 1948 and 1967 are commemorated each year during the weeks between mid-May and mid-June.  The horror of the Palestinian reality is magnified when compared to the dishonest, romanticized narrative presented by Jews during that time: An Israel that is eternally young and brave and facing constant danger, yet winning and succeeding. Judging by Trump’s entourage, which includes David Friedman the new US ambassador to Israel and Jared Kushner, the famous Jewish son in law, Israel’s narrative of lies will dominate the agenda, while trivia and smoke screens will dominate the news.

 

 

 

 

Defund, Disarm & Disband the IDF!

Each week the IDF (Israeli Defense Forces) spokesperson releases a few videos that are then posted on Twitter. They vary a bit but all have the same theme: Aren’t we just great! We (the IDF) are cool, and cute and tough and committed and good looking and serious and oh so humane. Yes they are especially so humane. But the truth is that the IDF is no more than a glorified terrorist organization that is well funded and well fed and needs to be defunded, disarmed and disbanded before its commanders and generals are dragged to The Hague for their crimes.

I admit I follow @IDFSpokesman on Twitter. Each week there is the “Shabbat Shalom” video. This is the one where a few cute, girl-soldiers all made up with green and black paint on their faces and wearing cammies and carrying big guns waive and greet us all with “Shabbat Shalom!” (If you don’t know, that is how Jewish people greet each other on Friday night, leading up to the Sabbath.) Anther version of that are “combat” soldiers, some platoon of some brigade or another on the font lines taking moment of respite from their arduous training regimen, or from the arduous work of protecting the nation from terrorism and other dangers. They look at us, smilingg as they waive and call out “Shabbat Shalom.

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Then there are the posts that just glorify the “troops.” During training, on the front lines, laying still during an ambush or working out. Always ready, always alert to defend democracy, freedom, peace and everything else that Israel never stood for. At this moment, if you checked @IDFSpokesman on Twitter you would see a short video of the Nahal Brigade in training. It is titled “Rise an Shine.” You will see fifty- one seconds of an infantry unit running, shooting, crawling and doing all the things that make us excited about war. Yet the Nahal Brigade is known to be one of the cruelest, murderous infantry brigades in the IDF.

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You will also see a post titles, “It’ll all be ok in the end.” In this video a cute girl, Sergeant Hannah who has an American accent (they always have American accents) talking about life, about the army, about her pride in the uniform she wears and how she is serving and protecting the Jewish state and the Jewish people. Heart warming, really if it wasn’t also covered in innocent Palestinian blood.  Because volunteering to “serve” in the IDF may look good to people who are ignorant but it is merely contributing to the mass murder and oppression of Palestinians.

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There is a video of the IAF, the Israeli Air-force displaying war planes and showing how grand it is to see the world from above. Of course flying and seeing the world through the eyes of an “IAF fighter pilot” is wonderful because when he drops tons of bombs on people in Gaza there is no sight of blood, there is no sight of the mutilated children, no sight of people buried in the rubble, people suffocating to death from the fumes and the chemicals and dust. It is clean and beautiful, no sweat. And the best part is that the pilots can do the ‘job” and make it home in time for dinner with the family.

IDF spokesman is a despicable job. He is not the first person in the world who tried to cover up blood with glory, and murderous attacks on defenseless civilians with smiles and the pretense of “serving your country.” But the way in which this is done by the IDF is particularly cynical and sickening because it is so good. How could these wonderful young men and women be accused of heinous bloody crimes when they look so good?

The IRA Volunteer Bobby Sands, who died tragically during the famous Irish hunger strike, is known to have said, “Our revenge will be the laughter of our children.” This is relevant to today’s Palestine for several reasons. Every time the IDF comes out with a post trying to beautify the terrorist organization which it represents, the IDF, we must all remember that children in Gaza have not been laughing for a very long time. That children are living in conditions unfit for humans all across Palestine and around it and are banned from living the normal life they deserve precisely because of this army of terror and no American accent can hide that. Furthermore, as over fifteen-hundred brave Palestinian freedom fighters have taken on the enormous act of self-sacrifice which is the hunger strike have now been without food for close to one month, Israel is desperately trying to discredit them.  Indeed one Palestinian children can laugh again it will be sweet revenge, but how long must they wait, and how many Palestinians must die until it happens?

As we watch his posts and read and hear the claims of courage, morality and legitimacy we must remember that a child in Gaza with a curable cancer will die while a Jewish child living minutes away will live, and this is because Israel will give access to the Jewish child and will prevent the Palestinian child from getting the care he or she needs. Many Jews around the world will support the IDF and donate to the “Friends of the IDF’ (though material support for a terrorist organization is a crime in the US) and claim that it is the IDF that is preventing another holocaust. The truth is that the IDF has been engaged in the crimes of ethic cleaning and genocide for decades, and no amount of BS can cover that up. It is time to defund, disarm, and disband the Jewish terrorist organization known as the IDF,  and to prosecute its commanders and generals.

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Criminal Disregard for Palestinian Lives. By Miko Peled

The cynicism displayed by Mahmoud Abbas’ recent visit to Washington, DC can only be appreciated when considering the incredible acts of self sacrifice taken by Palestinians imprisoned in Israeli jails who at the time of writing this, have been on a hunger strike for more than two weeks.  Abbas and Trump were disengaged, Spicer all the experts and pundits spewed their usual nonsense about peace and how Palestinians need to end terrorism (what terrorism?) which only goes to show the reckless disregard with which  people treat Palestine and its people.

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“Drink this milk first… drink…” By Mohammad Sabaaneh

It was reported that during his meeting with Trump, “Mr. Abbas… repeated the conditions the Palestinians have insisted on for years — the creation of an independent Palestinian state based on borders that existed before the Arab-Israeli War of 1967, with East Jerusalem as its capital; the right of return for refugees; and freedom for prisoners in Israeli cells. That formulation has been a nonstarter for Israel which itself has shown no sign of backing off its own fixed positions.” This is according to the New York Times which also reported that “Echoing Israel’s position, Mr. Trump pressed Mr. Abbas to discourage Palestinian instigation against Israelis. “There cannot be lasting peace unless the Palestinian leaders speak in a unified voice against incitement to violence and hate,” Mr. Trump said. This is a strange demand indeed since the cause for Palestinians hating Israel is Israel’s brutality.  No amount of incitement will result in the kind of hate Israel creates each time a child is beaten, or shot by soldiers, each time Gaza is bombed, each time a family has to stand in line for hours at a checkpoint and is tormented by soldiers. Indeed it is not the Palestinians who are to blame for hatred of Israel, it is Israel itself.

According the NYT, Trump did not publicly mention Palestinian financial payments to the families of convicted terrorists, but his spokesman, Sean Spicer, said Mr. Trump raised the issue privately.” In a piece about this visit in Israel’s daily, Haaretz it was emphasized that “Spicer added that Trump raised with Abbas the issue of payments to families of Palestinian terrorists in Israeli jails, and asked the Palestinian leader to resolve it.”  The insistence by Israel that the families of Palestinian prisoners suffer economic strangulation was discussed here and it should come as no surprise that Israel has got the US demanding this of Abbas. Once again, we see reckless, indeed criminal disregard for the lives of Palestinian political prisoners and their families.

No dead horse has ever been beaten with more vigor than the so-called Israeli Palestinian Peace Talks. As Ghassan Kanafani so brilliantly stated in this interview from 1970. When asked why his organization, the PFLP won’t engage in peace talks with Israelis he paused for a while then looked up at the reporter and said, “You don’t mean exactly peace talks, you mean capitulation.” Then he added, that for Palestinians, negotiating with Israel is like “negotiations between the sword and the neck.” And indeed when twenty three years later the PLO did engage in talks with the Israeli government in what yielded the Oslo Accords, the result was capitulation. The Palestinians had given up the struggle and got nothing in return.

The man leading the Palestinian prisoner hunger strike currently going on is Marwan Barghouti who was as enthusiastic as anyone about negotiating with Israel for a free independent Palestinian state. In fact, Barghouti himself was deeply involved in the negotiations. However, having gone through the humiliating process of negotiations with Israel, he realized, as Ghassan Kanafani had predicted, that the more Palestinians were negotiating, the deeper the Israeli sword was cutting into the Palestinian neck. Barghouti, considered by many to be the Palestinian equivalent of South Africa’s Nelson Mandela, is serving several life sentences in an Israeli prison because he had realized that only resistance can bring Palestinians the freedom they deserve.

Because of the total disregard for the lives of Palestinians, Israel is getting financial and military support from the world while the Palestinians heroically fight and get very little support. But this is because there is a paradigm in which Palestinians always need to be grateful for whatever little crumbs they get and Israel always 0calls all the shots. Sadly, Mahmoud Abbas made very little demands during his visit to Washington. He did not call on Washington to support the call for BDS, Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions, against Israel. He did not demand that Israel immediately and unconditionally lift the siege on Gaza and though he did demand that the prisoners be freed, there was no clear sense that he was demanding, it was more like he was politely begging.

Juxtaposing Abbas’ meeting in Washington with the prisoners’ hunger strike provides a clear picture of who is truly fighting for Palestinian rights. As these brave men continue with their self-sacrifice one is reminded of the hunger strike of Bobby Sands and the ten IRA volunteers who the British government let die. Their short lives and painful struggle is documented in the book “Ten Men Dead,” by David Beresford. Anyone wishing to understand what hunger strike entails will do well to read it.

The illegitimate  regime that has been occupying Palestine for sixty-nine years, Israel, must be dismantled and a democracy with equal rights must be established in its place. Otherwise the criminal disregard for Palestinian lives will go on uninterrupted.

 

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