Choking the Families of Prisoners. By Miko Peled

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Writing history with water and salt – two essential items for the hunger strikers. By permission from Mohammad Sabaaneh.

As thousands of Palestinian prisoners are engaged in the painful self-sacrifice of a hunger strike, the recent draconian move by Israel’s Defense Minister declaring the Palestinian National Fund a terrorist organization deserves attention. This fund is the conduit by which financial support is provided to thousands of Palestinian families who had or have loved ones in Israeli jails. We should mention that it is estimated that more than one million Palestinians have been imprisoned by Israel since 1967 alone and Palestinians are considered the most incarcerated nation in the world. All of this a result of Israeli policy of arresting political activists, leaders, intellectuals and fighters and lumping them into a single category of “terrorists.”

There is a process by which prisoners and former prisoners are provided financial support and the closure of this fund will choke their families’ only means of survival. The claim made by Israel is that the funds supports terrorism. This is much like the claims made upon the closure of the Holy Land Foundation in the United States in 2001.  The US government claimed that by providing for the families of Palestinian prisoners, the Holy Land Foundation was supporting, and even encouraging terrorism.

The Palestinian National Fund also provides, or provided, the salaries, meagre as they may be for the army of lawyers who work tirelessly to defend and fight in the Israeli courts for the rights of the Palestinian prisoners. The lawyers are there to deal with a huge array of issues like health care that the Israeli authorities regularly deny the prisoners and for which lawyers must fight. There are special needs which would seem obvious to anyone on the outside, like proper nutrition, visitation rights, beds and blankets and medication but they all require that the lawyers put in endless hours for which, at the end of the day, they need to be paid.

The ruling by the Defense Minister also implicates the lawyers themselves with supporting terrorism because they are engaged of getting the money to the families of prisoners that Israel sees as terrorists. One Palestinian attorney told me the following story: The Fund provides stipends for former prisoners, veterans of the Israeli jails. The lawyers need access to documents from the Israeli police and courts to prove exactly what a prisoner needs to receive from the Fund. They need to show, for example, how long a prisoner spent in prison, the exact dates of the encarceration, and with what he or she was charged. The attorney needs to make the case to the Fund to determine how much should be paid. There is a pay scale that determines all of this and so documents are crucial. My friend who works part time for the prisoners told me he needs to negotiate with the Israeli authorities to gain access to these documents and the Israeli authorities have been as of late warning him and other lawyers to “be careful.”  He was told that the authorities know what he are trying to do, which is helping former prisoners and the families of current prisoners access funds.

Stopping payment for the prisoners and their families will have catastrophic results on people who have already paid a heavy price and who have, at the end of the day committed no crime. Many former prisoners are unable to work because of disabilities they incurred while in jail.  After years of imprisonment that always involve torture and harsh conditions there are often permanent and in some cases irreversible ailments that require ongoing medical treatment  and so medical bill need to paid. The family may have lost their home and so a new one must be found. Palestinians are burdened with restrictions upon restrictions which in turn require permits upon permits. This is a lucrative business for the Israeli authorities, becasue these permits cost thousands of dollars – yet another burden on families and particularly ones that already at a disadvantage.  But for Israel the only concern that matters is that providing the prisoners and their families much needed financial support gives legitimacy to the prisoners’ cause. After all, if they are terrorists they deserve what they received and should be given nothing. It stems from the rationale, if one can call it that, that no legitimacy can be given to the Palestinian struggle and that the people who resist, as well as their families must be punished for all eternity.

As we see yet again, the Palestinian prisoners are unrelenting fighters who will never stop fighting until justice and freedom are achieved.  Exactly four years ago, in April 2013, I was taken to pay my respects at the grave of Bobby Sands, an IRA volunteer who died in prison as a result of a hunger strike. I was asked to read a message that was published that day by another hunger striker, Samer Issawi. Samer was close to death but thankfully defied death and survived 266 days without food.  I read Samer’s message  in front of Bobby Sands’ grave not knowing whether he will live or die.  We must all stand with the Palestinian prisoners to see that their demands are met soon and every effort must be made to reverse the draconian move by Israel to financial choke the prisoners and their families.

Click here to request a lecture by Miko Peled

It’s Personal.

As thousands of Palestinian political prisoners jailed by Israel are going through a hunger strike, we would do well to delve into the deeper, more personal and historical aspects of Palestine.  Though the politics and violence of settler colonialism have determined its fate for almost one hundred years, Palestine is not just a “case” or an “issue,” it’s personal. My dear, dear friend Nader Elbanna said to me a long time ago, “The Palestinian tragedy is more than just losing the house and the land.”  None of us will ever fully understand Palestine, none of us who are not Palestinian, that is, because it is personal. But there are ways to learn. Visiting Palestine is a good start. Living in Palestine is good too and learning Arabic affords a glimpse. Reading Ghassan Kanafani’s stories is moving and enlightening.

 

Ghassan Kanafani, in his short stories presents an intensely personal narrative and paints a picture that is painfully detailed. In one of his short stories, a young man asks, “would you like to hear about my life?” and he proceeds to describe a mother who died under the ruins of a house in Safed, the house that was built for her by her husband. He describes the father, now working in another part of the Arab World and unable to see his children, and a brother “learning humiliation” in an UNRWA school. In another short story Kanafani describes a father who is standing in the rain leaning on a broken shovel, taking a break from the back- breaking work of digging a ditch in the rain. He is digging in an effort to stop the rain water from flooding a tent where his family, now refugees, must live. He is cold, tired and hungry but avoids going inside the tent, not wanting to see his wife’s glare, knowing she blames him for the inevitable state of being unemployed and unable to provide for his family. Seeing his child wear a torn, old shirt he contemplates taking part in a scam operation, stealing bags of rice from the UNRWA storage facility and selling them on the black market. “The guard is in on it and for a small fee he will look the other way,” he is told by a man of whose morals he does not approve, and whose very presence makes him uneasy.

The occupation of Palestine is not only about the brutality that is inherent in settler colonialism but the daily, painful existence of a nation that is denied the right to live in the land to which it belongs. A nation forced to live in abject poverty in camps that are unfit for humans and which exist just hours away from the land and the homes from which they were kicked out. A land for which they have the deeds, and homes for which they still hold the keys now inhabited by Jewish settlers. “For us, to liberate our country is as essential as life itself” Kanafani says to an Australian reporter in a rare interview in English. He is fierce and forthright, sitting in his office, with photos of Che Guevara and Ho Chi Minh behind him.

But Palestinians are permitted only to be victims or terrorists, never freedom fighters or heroes. If Palestinians wrote “Live Free or Die” on a license plate they will be accused of terrorism and locked up, deported or simply killed, though in New Hampshire it is the official motto. Ironically, Israeli children learn about a legendary Jewish hero who, having been killed in battle in Palestine said, “it is good to die for one’s country” though clearly, he was fighting to take the country of others. Kanafani was brutally murdered, along with his young niece Lamees who was only seventeen, for saying and doing just that – fighting to liberate his country. Since his assassination by Israel almost half a century ago, countless Palestinians were killed by Israel, some fighting, most while sleeping in their beds or trying to flee.

Kanafani talks about “them,” the “Yahud” the Zionists who colonized Palestine and exiled his people, turning them into “people with no rights, with no voice.” “They have put enormous efforts into trying to melt me,” he writes, “Like a sugar cube in cup of tea.” And he talks about “You” the Arab authorities under whom Palestinians are now forced to live. “You had managed to melt millions of people and lump them into one lump, into a single thing you can now call ‘a case.’” And, he continues, “now that we are all ‘a case’” there is no personal attachment to any single person or story. How convenient. That is what allows for the ease with which the world treats the Palestinian tragedy. That is how the West can sell Israel the weapons and technology with which it slaughters Palestinians by the thousands and maintains the oppression.

One wonders what Kanafani would say about the horrific, large scale massacres endured by the people in Gaza since 2008. What would he say if he knew that since his death things have become worse now that Israel’s army of terror has access to more “modern” weapons that allow it to murder and maim thousands in a single “operation.” How would Kanafani react if he heard about entire families that were wiped out by mortars and missiles fired at them and others, incinerated by millions of tons of bombs dropped from war planes? One wonders what stories he might write about children burned and mutilated with such ease in the twenty first century? “We are a small, brave nation” Kanafani said in 1970, “who will fight to last drop of blood.”

Israel – the name that was given to the Zionist state which occupies Palestine – is indignant at the very mention of Palestine and at the idea that as a state it should respect the rights of Palestinians. People who support Israel are offended when they hear accusations of racism, indiscriminate violence and genocide. But these same people have no problem with the actual ongoing campaigns of genocide, ethnic cleansing and the reality of racist apartheid perpetuated by Israel. Because for them Palestine is not personal, it is just a “case,” just a “problem.” But Palestine is not a problem, it is personal, it has a beating heat, and that is why the fight for justice in Palestine is gaining momentum all over the world. As the Palestinian leader and political prisoner Marwan Barghouthi wrote recently from a cell in an Israeli jail, “The chains that bind us will break before our captors can break our resilience.”

Click here to request a lecture by Miko Peled

 

November 29, 1947 By Miko Peled

United Nations resolution 181, accepted on November 29, 1947, not only gave the Zionist movement the permission, but opened the door for Zionists to execute the ethnic cleansing of Palestine and create an apartheid state with exclusive rights for Jewish people, or as some call it, The State of Israel. It should come as no surprise then, that the ethnic cleansing of Palestine began as early as December of 1947, less than one month after the resolution was accepted.  According to Ilan Pappe, these early attacks on Palestinians neighborhoods and villages brought about the exodus of some 75,000 Palestinians. [1] In other words, a resolution whose intent was to bring calm to Palestine brought about a catastrophe.

As though to bring about a practical, moral and equitable solution to the question of Palestine, the United Nations General Assembly accepted Resolution 181 on November 29, 1947. This resolution called for the partition of Palestine into an Arab state and a Jewish state. It is arguably the biggest diplomatic success of the Zionist movement, and it enabled future successes without which the Zionist occupation of Palestine could not have survived. This resolution is the crowning achievement of the Zionist diplomatic corps, and of the man who headed it, Moshe Sharet, who later became the first foreign minister of Israel.

A myth that is still being perpetuated by the Zionists in this regard is that the Zionist movement accepted this just and equitable resolution, while the Arabs, and particularly the Palestinians made a historical mistake by rejecting it. But as Dr. Walid Khalidi states: “The native people of Palestine,” like the native people of every other country in the colonized world, “refused to divide the land with a settler community.” Feeling that this was both illegal and immoral the Palestinians saw no justification in giving away parts of their country to European colonizers.

Palestine under the British Mandate was divided into sixteen districts. In the partition plan, nine of them were allotted to the Jewish State, although only one of the nine districts had a Jewish majority. Furthermore, the entire Jewish population in Palestine at the time was one third of the Palestinian population and Jewish land ownership did not exceed 7 percent of the land. Still the Partition Resolution gave the Jewish community in Palestine, a community made of mostly new comers who came to colonize, over fifty percent of the land.

As we know, the actual partition boundaries never materialized. By 1949 the Zionist militias which then became the Israeli army, ignored the stated boundaries and occupied almost all of Palestine with the exception of two areas they chose to leave out, two areas that were determined by Israel, namely the West Bank and the Gaza strip. Some twenty years later, in 1967, the Israeli army occupied those as well and by doing so completed the conquest of Palestine, or as they call it, The Land of Israel.

The Zionist movement toiled relentlessly to achieve this international recognition through the United Nations. Resolution 181 gave a rubber stamp to everything the Zionists wanted and to everything they did following that resolution. Again quoting Ilan Pappe, “Resolution 181’s most immoral aspect is that included no mechanism to prevent the ethnic cleansing of Palestine.” “UN members who voted in favor of the Partition Resolution contributed directly to the crime that was about to take place.” [2]

It is ironic that Moshe Sharet, who was the point man in getting the resolution to pass, later referred [3] to the country being “emptied” of the Arabs as “very surprising.” “In the history of Eretz Israel” he says in a cabinet meeting, “this is even more surprising than the establishment of the State of Israel.” Surprising indeed. It’s as though the Zionists had nothing to do with it. “They started it by attacking us and so they had it coming and all of their homes and property are now ours,” Sharet stated and “What’s more” he added, “what is clear is that they will not return.” He said all this in a meeting of the Israeli cabinet on June 6, 1948. Then, discussing the Palestinian population of Yaffa, which Sharet describes in that same meeting as “an evil curse” and a “fifth column,” he says, “having eradicated it, we will never allow it to return.”

Sharet further reported that the Arabs were “removed” all the way from Tel-Aviv to the Western neighborhoods of Jerusalem. In the northern part of the country, from the city of Akka until Ras-Elnakura near todays border with Lebanon, “in terms of the population, the Arab villages no longer exist.” In a later meeting on the 9th of June, 1948, Sharet reports that already two hundred villages were “emptied” of their residents, the cities of Tabariya, Haifa, Akka, Yaffa, Safad, and all of Jerusalem that is outside the walled city are in our hands, Jenin has been emptied of people,” and he adds, “the situation is in our favor.”

Then during a meeting of the cabinet on 16 of June, 1948 David Ben-Gurion exclaimed: “The resolution of November 29 (1947) is dead. Our military force will determine the political outcome.”

We can see that certain patterns that exist today regarding resolution of the issue of Palestine, were already set in the days when UNSCOP, or the United Nations Special Commission on Palestine, were deliberating the partition plan. For example, the Zionist diplomatic corps dominated the discussions of the commission and created a reality in which, much like today, the solution was determined without any serious consideration of the Palestinian point of view, not to mention Palestinian interests. Furthermore, like Ben-Gurion stated in June 1948, what determines the political outcomes in Palestine is the Israeli military, and the Palestinian resistance to the invasion of their land is characterized, as it was then, as aggression and terrorism, while the Zionist offensive is characterized as justified self defense.

As an International Solidarity Day is planned in cities all around the world on this November 29, we must not forget the cause for the violence in Palestine. We must not forget what brought about the destruction of Palestine, and we must demand that the Zionist regime be removed, the refugees allowed to return. Sixty-eight years after that fateful UN resolution it is time to remedy the situation by freeing Palestine and allowing an inclusive democracy to be established instead of the State of Israel.

Click here to request a lecture by Miko Peled

References:

[1] The Ethnic Cleansing of Palestine, by Ilan Pappe, (2006) page 40
[2] The Ethnic Cleansing of Palestine, by Ilan Pappe, (2006) page 35.
[3] All the cabinet meeting quotes, from: “Speaking Out” Israeli Foreign Minister’s Speeches, May-December 1948 (2013) Edited by Yaakov and Rina Sharett pp. 136-144.

20 years since the Qana massacre and Naftali Benet is Education Minister

Naftali Bennet, Israel’s minister of education was the first public official to come out in support of Elor Azaria, the Israeli soldier who executed Abdel Fatah Alsharif as he lay wounded in Hebron. Bennet was critical of the government of which he is a member for not standing up for the soldier. I was listening to the interview with Bennet on Israeli television where he made the argument that the government and the press judged the soldier harshly and prematurely. Then he said something I never thought I’d hear.

“Maybe the soldier did make a mistake; you know I also made a mistake. During Grapes of Wrath, Operation Grapes of Wrath I was apparently mistaken and a very difficult thing happened.” A very difficult thing happened. Interesting choice of words and interesting timing: It is exactly twenty-years since the massacre in Qana village in Southern Lebanon, a massacre for which Bennet was responsible. He then went on to explain that, “in my case, I received the full backing of the commanding general and the army chief of staff.” In fact he was backed by the entire chain of command going all the way up to the Prime Minister (and Nobel laureate), Shimon Peres.

Bennet was talking about the shelling by Israeli forces of the UN compound in the southern Lebanese village of Qana. It took place on April 18, 1996 when hundreds of local Lebanese were seeking shelter at the compound. Of the 800 Lebanese civilians who had taken refuge in the compound, a reported 106 were killed and 116 were injured. The attack occurred amid fighting between the Israeli army and Hezbollah during operation “Grapes of Wrath.” There was evidence that an Israeli drone was spying on the compound before the shelling, making the argument that this may have been an error, unlikely at best. Clearly all levels of the IDF command knew that the compound was there and that it served as shelter for refugees escaping the fighting. The building was clearly marked as a UN compound and was even marked on the Israeli maps. Bennet who was commander of an Israeli army reconnaissance unit called for massive artillery shelling of the site.

Graves just outside the UN base at Qana cb791

The BBC described the massacre as: “one of the deadliest single events of the whole Arab-Israeli conflict.” Robert Fisk who reported from the site wrote, “Not since Sabra and Chatila had I seen the innocent slaughtered like this.”

Fisk’s descriptions of what he saw are not for the weak at heart but must be read and remembered. Over and over we hear the phrase “never again,” yet Israel commits one heinous massacre after another and gets away with it, usually absolved by the US. In this case the main culprit is known, he admits his responsibility and yet not only did he go unpunished, he is unrepentant and is now in charge of the Israeli ministry of education. How ironic. Again Fisk’s description, “The Lebanese refugee women and children and men lay in heaps, their hands or arms or legs missing, beheaded or disemboweled. There were well over a hundred of them […] The Israeli shells had scythed through them as they lay in the United Nations shelter, believing that they were safe under the world’s protection. Like the Muslims of Srebrenica, the Muslims of Qana were wrong.” And Fisk continues, “Now the Israelis are stained again by the bloodbath at Qana, the scruffy little Lebanese hill town where the Lebanese believe Jesus turned water into wine.”

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SHIMON PERES – OBITUARY OF A PEACE POLITICIAN
34 YEARS AGO TODAY – THE SABRA AND SHATILA MASSACRE ISRAEL FORCES MURDER 3500 PALESTINIANS AND LEBANESE INCLUDING WOMEN AND CHILDREN
PALESTINIAN MINORS TORTURED, ABUSED IN ISRAEL PRISONS
ISRAELI RABBI CALLS FOR POISONING OF PALESTINIAN WATER SUPPLY
Naftali Bennet was quoted as saying that he had killed many Arabs in his time and feels no remorse, and in his view “a soldier in the battlefield can not commit murder.” In a speech in the Knesset Bennet said he killed many terrorists during his military service and he wishes he had killed more. Bennet never saw an Arab he did not consider to be a terrorist, and therefore fair game. “Arabs are murdering Jews every day,” he said as he defended the execution in Hebron. An important piece of information that is completely ignored is that another soldier shot Abdel Fatah first, even though he was unarmed and his hands were raised, and only later did Elor Azaria execute him. Bennet called the scene as a “battle ground” and the shooting perfectly legitimate because according to him “Vicious Palestinian terrorists are coming out every day to kill Jews.”

The result of Bennet’s call for the shelling in Qana, according to Fisk, was “The blood of all the refugees ran quite literally in streams from the shell-smashed UN compound […] in which the Shiite Muslims from the hill villages of southern Lebanon – who had heeded Israel’s order to leave their homes – had pathetically sought shelter.” Once the news of the shelling had got out, relatives started arriving from other parts of Lebanon to look for loved ones. Their grief and anger were forceful, “we had suddenly become not UN troops and journalists but Westerners, Israel’s allies” Fisk writes, and he continues, “one bearded man with fierce eyes stared at us, his face dark with fury: […] “I would like to be made into a bomb and blow myself up amid the Israelis” the man cried.

The story of the Qana massacre was brought up during the Israeli elections of 2015, because Bennet was the head of one of the parties running. Claims were made that the “incident” was evidence that he had “poor judgment.” Today, twenty years and countless massacres later a man who knowingly brought about the gruesome killing of countless innocents is in charge of educating Israeli children and is defending the execution of a young Palestinian. And yet, the one man that everyone is calling a terrorist is one who committed no act violence at all: the young Abdel Fatah Alsharif, may he rest in peace.

http://ahtribune.com/history/782-qana-massacre.html

Click here to request a lecture by Miko Peled

A Good Israeli Soldier

Every one says he was a good soldier, a soldier that followed orders and was even commended by his superiors. But the most interesting information about the soldier and about the moments that led to him executing the wounded and helpless Abdel Fatah Al-Sharif as he lay on the ground in Hebron, is coming from very unusual sources. One source is a video that was created in defense of the soldier and was posted on a facebook page that is dedicated to supporting the soldier and the other is Palestinian human rights defender and leader of Youth Against Settlements in Hebron, Issa Amro.

Driving to Hebron one has to drive by Jewish settlements that are home to the some of the most violent, radical Jews anywhere. Then one drives through the now made famous Gush-Etzion intersection where many of these settlements intersect with Palestinian towns. There are always fully armed combat soldiers standing there, guarding the intersection but now, on top of that, at every angle a fully armed sniper stands at a post ready to pull the trigger. As we drove through the intersection I counted seven snipers, but it’s possible there are more.

In Hebron we meet my friend Murad, the man who showed me Hebron for the first time some five years ago or so, and together we drive straight to Tel-Rumeida. There we see Issa speaking to a group visiting from Europe. Once he is done we sit together and chat for a while, as more people join us and naturally the conversation turns to the latest incident. Abdel Fatah Alsharif and Ramzi Elkasrawi are shot and killed for allegedly attacking soldiers with a knife. Abdel Fatah was lying on the ground motionless, it is unclear if he is dead or alive, when suddenly and for no apparent reason, a soldier who has now become the subject of national and international attention shoots him in the head.

Issa starts to talk about the soldier. “He has been serving in Hebron for some time and I know him personally,” the soldier’s name is Elor Azaria. “He spent an entire day guarding me once,” this was during one of the many times Issa was arrested. It is something he endures regularly because he lives in Tel-Rumeida, fights for Palestinian rights and documents soldier and settler abuses. “I remember he was told by his officer to treat me well, and he did. He was told not to blindfold me or beat me and he did just that.” It would seem that Elor is indeed an exemplary soldier. Issa said that this was the one and only time that he was not beaten or humiliated by soldiers during an arrest.

I met Issa as I do every time I am in Palestine, by his house in Tel-Rumeida, a hill overlooking the old city of Hebron. His house was taken by the Israeli army to serve as a “base” and was eventually returned to him after a long legal battle. The house eventually became the center for Youth Against Settlements, a place for pro-Palestinian activists in Hebron to gather, sit and talk, work, etc. His neighbors on Tel-Rumieda are radical Jews who, with the assistance of the Israeli army took the homes of Palestinian and now reside in them. The Jewish settlers covet Issa’s home with passion and they will stop at nothing to get it. Having the full support of the army and the Israeli political establishment they fear nothing. Recently his house was declared a “closed military zone,” a step the authorities take just prior to confiscating Palestinian land and homes. His Jewish neighbors are free to come and go, and he is permitted to enter the house, but he is not permitted to bring guests. So we sit outside the parameters of the house. I, as it happens am not permitted to be anywhere in the vicinity because Israeli law prohibits Jewish citizens of Israel from entering Hebron altogether, unless they are settlers, in which case it’s ok.

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34 YEARS AGO TODAY – THE SABRA AND SHATILA MASSACRE ISRAEL FORCES MURDER 3500 PALESTINIANS AND LEBANESE INCLUDING WOMEN AND CHILDREN
PALESTINIAN MINORS TORTURED, ABUSED IN ISRAEL PRISONS
ISRAELI RABBI CALLS FOR POISONING OF PALESTINIAN WATER SUPPLY
Common wisdom and all the evidence point to the fact that the soldier was following orders when he executed Abdel Fatah. A video to which some commentary was added and is used by a group to support the soldier Elor Azaria allows us to see precisely when he arrives at the scene. We can see that he confers for a moment or two with a commander, and then we see Elor handing the commander his helmet (which shows he was in no danger whatsoever because soldiers in a combat zone must wear their helmets). Elor then adjusts his weapon as he walks toward the wounded Abdel Fatah, takes aim in full view of all who were present, and shoots Abdel Fatah in the head. The officer watches Elor the entire time and is clearly unmoved. The video shows clearly that Abdel Fatah was alive before Elor shot him, there is some hand movement and he turns his head prior to Elor shooting him. This was just corroborated by the medical examiner.

https://www.facebook.com/search/top/?q=אלאור%20עזריה

There is little room for mistake here: Elor Azaria executed a wounded man for no reason, and since he is a soldier on duty it makes it a war crime. What’s worse for Elor is that he was caught on camera. From his attitude and general behavior as he walks to commit this murder it is clear he was quite pleased, he had no reason to hesitate or worry, he was following orders or at the very least had consent to do what he did. After all, he is a good soldier. But sadly for him, he did not see was what was coming.

With the video of this execution going viral, the authorities in Israel had to do something. So everyone from the prime minister down the chain of command came down on the pawn soldier. Thank God for scapegoats! Elor Azaria didn’t realize that in his case someone would have to pay and being the lowest man on the totem pole it was going to be him. If justice were to be served heads would have to roll and everyone up the chain of command would have to be held accountable. But that won’t happen. Still, I wouldn’t feel too sorry for Elor Azaria. Prime Minister Netanyahu already said that having heard his father’s plea, and being a father himself, he was touched. One would think that being a father Netanyahu would be outraged that soldiers shot and killed the sons of Palestinian fathers. But alas, they have no way to plead to the Prime Minister. Oh and there is one more thing. Abdefatah did not attack the soldiers. According to witnesses he happened to be there, and saw what happened so he raised his hands to surrender. That’s when he was shot.

 

http://ahtribune.com/human-rights/773-a-good-israeli-soldier.htmG

Few days in Palestine

It’s only been a few days since I arrived in Palestine so not much has happened. Well, relatively speaking not much. I was traveling to Nabi Saleh to see my friend Bassem Tamimi. Since I didn’t have a car I had to travel by bus through Qalandia checkpoint to Ramallah then by service cab to the village and back – and on the way back, the girl soldier put down her phone long enough to examine my ID, realize I was Israeli and detain me. Then the next day, I went to the epic “Combat BDS” conference also known as, or rather should be known as “Crazy & Loony Bros. How Do We Kill BDS Circus” in Jerusalem. It was an unforgettable experience. And now, as I sit and write this, a soldier is being tried for murder because he shot a Palestinian who was already dead. So its not the soldier that shot and murdered the young Palestinian that’s on trial, it’s the soldier that shot him for fun after he lay dead, or nearly dead on the ground, ignored by several Israeli ambulances that were driving around him – that’s the soldier that’s being tried. But, as I said, it’s only been a few days.

I grew up here and when I come here I live in the home and in the room where I grew up. Very little has changed in Motza Elite, a quiet and disorganized little place where for the most part houses are surrounded by trees and vegetation. Sure, the trees are taller, their trunks thicker, but it is still a quiet, beautiful little place with no soldiers, police or border guards and of course, no Arabs. It is the perfect white, Jewish, privileged community and it is the perfect place to get away from it all, or as most people who live here do, ignore any of it exists. “It” is the rest of Palestine.

*

I will start with what seems to me the most bizarre thing going on at this moment. Two young Palestinians, who attacked fully armed soldiers using knives, were killed. Ambulances are on the scene taking care of the soldiers who were slightly wounded and they drive around the bodies of the young Palestinians. Suddenly a shot is heard. A soldier who was not on the scene originally decides to shoot one of the Palestinians lying on the ground, motionless, in the head. He claims he saw some movement and was concerned the victim on the ground might detonate a bomb. Now for some reason this soldier is charged with murder.

*

It’s a good idea from time to time to travel around the country as Palestinians do. Use buses, service cabs and go through checkpoints. It’s inconvenient, takes a lot of time and is totally unpredictable. So that’s what we did. Fadwa, my better half and I took a bus to East Jerusalem then another bus to Ramallah where we met Bassem Tamimi. We had coffee at “Stars and Bucks Café” and then the three of us took a service cab to Nabi Saleh. Bassem was supposed to be in the US now on a speaking tour. This would have been his third tour since receiving his visa to the US. But suddenly, with no real explanation and no apparent reason he got notice that his visa has been revoked. So American audiences were denied the chance to hear him and he remains here in Palestine trying to help the nearly twenty youth from Nabi Saleh, who are in prison, including his son Wa’ed.

We arrived in Nabi Saleh, spent the afternoon there and then returned to Jerusalem. We took a service cab to Ramallah, a cab to the checkpoint, tried to find our way through the maze that makes up the checkpoint, and thankfully the Palestinian vendors outside pointed us in the right direction. The soldier behind the window rarely takes the trouble to lift their eyes when the ID is presented. So, I press my ID against the window expecting to be waved through when something caught her eye long enough for her to see that mine was an Israeli ID. With nothing better to do she decided to look into this strange phenomenon, an Israeli coming through a Palestinian checkpoint. Thinking I was probably some kind of “human rights” agitator or something she called me from inside, “Are you with human rights?”

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WITCH-HUNTING FOR ISRAEL
MORE ON ISRAEL’S COMBATING BDS
“No.”

“Are you with B’Tselem”

“No.”

“Don’t you know Jews are not allowed to cross here?

“No.”

“What were you doing in Ramallah?”

“We bought strawberries, and had coffee.”

Fadwa is not the problem because she is not Jewish. I am the problem. Still they ask her the same questions and we are “invited” in to a waiting room and sit down.

We sit and wait. The room is maybe three feet by three feet and its freezing cold. We start looking at the graffiti in Arabic that is engraved into the walls. Ten minutes go by and nothing happens.

“What are we waiting for?”

“The police are on their way?’

“What for”

“To question you?”

“Why?”

“There is an order from the colonel or general that prohibits Jews from crossing here.”

She should read my book, The General’s Son, Journey of an Israeli in Palestine, there is a chapter called, The Commanding General’s Order.

“OK, we wont do it again.”

“The police will be here any minute.”

We wait ten more minutes and the same conversation takes place, then again and again about every ten minutes. Finally, she hands me my ID and says, “You can go now.” No explanation, no nothing.

*

It was a cold, rainy day as thousands entered the convention center in Jerusalem. Fresh coffee, sandwiches and pastries were free, security was tight and I tried to make myself as un-noticeable as possible. “Just blend in,” I thought to myself when I heard someone say, “look that’s Miko Peled.” Crap! Not the place I want to be recognized. Every kind of Israeli crazy was there. I look over, and it’s Anthony Lowenstein, the Auzzie journalist and Dan Cohen, an American journalist. Both are crazy Jews like me who came to see this circus. We sat down and then it started. The world’s most self-absorbed, self-righteous and criminally insane society was putting on a show, with its best actors playing lead roles. This was the “How To Combat BDS” conference, put on by Israel’s largest newspaper, Yediot Aharonot.

Israeli President Reuven Rivlin was up first. Israel could hardly have selected a better-suited man for the job of representing the state and the people of Israel. Rivlin is a white, European colonizer, constantly patting Israel and himself on the back for being a liberal democratic melting pot. “BDS foundation is de-legitimization of Israel without connection to what Israel does” President Rivlin said and he added that “the world is in awe of Israeli exceptionalism.” He ended his remarks by saying that he sleeps better than ever knowing the Israeli army is the most moral army on earth. Talk about “opium to the masses.”

Anthony Lowenstein wrote a piece about the conference everyone should read, but here is quick review of some of my favorite highlights: Gilad Erdan minister of public security, strategic affairs and Hasbarah (all that is one ministerial office) who has been designated as lead role in the fight against BDS said that it’s all about legitimacy. Indeed this is about legitimacy. Everything Israel does is about claiming it has legitimacy when clearly, being a settler-colonialist project that established a racist system in Palestine, it hasn’t got any legitimacy at all. Erdan went on to say that BDS activists would soon begin to pay for de-legitimization of Israel. He didn’t specify how they would pay, but one can be sure that all dedicated BDS activists expect that the struggle to free Palestine will be a tough one and will readily confront obstacles to achieve this goal.

Then Jewish Billionaire Ron Lauder came up to speak. He said that since anti-Semitic campus groups such as Students for Justice in Palestine and the Muslim Students Association are so well funded, poor Jewish students can’t complete and have no tools to defend themselves. You had to wonder if he is lying or just totally clueless. His remedy is that he will provide the funds for Pro Israeli groups on campus so that the Zionist voice is heard. As president of the World Jewish Congress he works closely with Jewish leaders around the world to push for anti-BDS legislation. Interestingly enough, he was the first one to mention Omar Barghouti, who heads the BDS movement, “why does he want to destroy Israel?” Lauder asked. If they had any sense they would have invited him to explain.

The EU ambassador to Israel was on a panel with some of the worst racist figures in Israel, including Danny Dayan. Dayan who was rejected by the government of Brazil to be Israel’s ambassador was now nominated to be Israel’s Consul General in NY. The EU ambassador said that West Bank settlement products are welcome in the EU, and that the labeling of settlement products is done merely for information purposes. More opium! Dore Good, general director of the Israeli foreign ministry said that we must expose the fact that the Islamic jihad and the Muslim Brotherhood established BDS. He repeated this several times even though it is completely untrue, practicing what was once said about a lie, that if it is repeated enough times, it becomes truth. Well, I doubt that in this case it will work. The day ended shortly after that and the three exhausted Jewish infiltrators drove away to bask in the warmth of Arab East Jerusalem. Who knows what the next few days may bring.

 

http://ahtribune.com/in-depth/744-days-in-palestine.html

 

Interview: On Contact with Chris Hedges: The BDS Movement

 

Miko discusses the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions Movement with Pulitzer prize winning journalist Chris Hedges. They discuss the global campaign to economically and politically pressure Israel to end its occupation of Palestinian land, grant equality to Arab-Palestinian citizens and allow Palestinian refuges the right of return to their homes.

To learn more about the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions Movement (BDS) visit: https://bdsmovement.net/