Thursday, July 31, 2014

Amira Hass: "Israel's moral defeat will haunt us for years"



Amira Hass, a great Israeli reporter who lives in the Occupied Territories, is often a voice of conscience. She speaks rightly of Israel's moral defeat in its current slaughters of civilians in Gaza (the UN suggests that some 30% of the total casualties are Hamas, but what even this quite limited and probably inflated figure means - for instance, someone who went to Hamas meetings and was present and killed when their family was killed - is not clear).

***

It is the casualness of the slaughter of children, the attacks on hospitals and UN schools and electrical plants and water supplies (stark war crimes), the denial of escape, for millions of onlookers, which will mark what the state of Israel is - and those who arm it - for a long time to come. See also here.

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What would Jews say if some other power - say, a tsar - shelled hospitals, murdered large numbers of children, treated Jews like this?

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So far, the Israeli military has killed over a 1,300. These are mostly families - Amira names several - civilians, women, children. In contrast, Hamas rocked have killed 3 civilians (they have also killed some 57 Israeli soldiers who are attacking Gaza - that is, against international law for an Occupying power - and of course, Occupy it - also illegal).

One does not have to have a deep sense of morality or proportion, those under the spell of Israeli and American propaganda notwithstanding, to see that a 360 to 1 ratio (or many lesser ratios) in killing civilians or 242 children to 0 (with some two thousand more severely injured)... - is a sign of crime.

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Further, the crime is against people who are imprisoned and starved (the Israeli government speaks of keeping the Gazans on a "diet"), who cannot flee the small area of Gaza because Israel and Egypt block the borders.

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Amira cites a Western diplomat who sees clearly the rationalization about how it all right to murder civilians - supporters of American drones, listen, too - if there is a "terrorist" present (i.e. a family of 14 including a suspect):

“If it is legal according to international law,” a Western diplomat told me, shocked by his own state’s position in support of Israel, “it is a sign that something stinks in international law.”

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The "if" is important here. An occupying power cannot, under humanitarian law, use military as opposed to police force. The conquest is illegal (and immoral) and the Israeli practice of rule, if anything, more so. See here.

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One defines dishonorable policy lawyers - see the Obama's administration's belatedly released attempts to legitimize murder even of American civilians by drones - by their evasion of the clearest and most important moral standards, their substitution of pettifoggery (I am not speaking here of those who get individual clients off by whatever means available - a common practice - but of those who speak in bad faith for evil policies such as this one). In this case, Israel strives to change international law for the worse by force...

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Israel has long occupied and since a show of withdrawing troops and settlements, starved Gaza. Here is a recent comment from an editor of Huffington Post which reveals the limitations of the supposed Israeli "withdrawal":

"Boston Globe: 'Israeli-imposed buffer zones...now absorb nearly 14 percent of Gaza's total land and at least 48 percent of total arable land. Similarly, the sea buffer zone covers 85 percent of the maritime area promised to Palestinians in the Oslo Accords, reducing 20 nautical miles to three.' Human Rights Watch: 'Israel also continues to control the population registry for residents of the Gaza Strip, years after it withdrew its ground forces and settlements there.' B'Tselem, 2013: 'Israel continues to maintain exclusive control of Gaza's airspace and the territorial waters, just as it has since it occupied the Gaza Strip in 1967.'

See also Henry Siegman here.
***

Supposedly the blockade is because the people there elected Hamas, an organization dedicated to the destruction of the state of Israel and whose 1988 charter displays considerable racism (the French and Russian Revolutions, disliked by Hamas, are supposedly due to Jews, the spurious "Protocols of the Elders of Zion" are touted...). But there is an important factual distinction here. The state of Israel occupies and encroaches steadily through settlements on the West Bank. It forces out - ethnically cleanses - the Palestinians. It is starving the people of Gaza and imposing vast unemployment...

***

Further, Israel resisted Hamas subordinating itself to the PLO in the new government in the West Bank which could have negotiated a two state agreement. It seeks to destroy this hopeful possibility.

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In addition, Israel is increasingly and explicitly - through the words of ministers in the Government including Likud - determined, precisely comparable to Hamas' Charter against Israel, to exclude any Palestinian state. It actually directs an Occupation/blockade and slaughter - a racist apartheid state. See here.

Note: no US commercial media cover the racism of the governing parties or the routine segregation in Israel.

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Hamas is a movement that seeks to defend an oppressed people (not a good movement, one which also murders civilians - though a small number - with its "homemade" rockets and also thus "legitimizes" reaction, but one which has just now been brought back into the moral/political leadership of Gaza and perhaps the West Bank by this unbelievable, unconscionable slaughter, the act of an Israeli state that does not want "peace" with the Palestinians except expulsion from the Occupied Territories...).

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Hamas has recently made clear its willingness to accept the will of the Palestinian people with regard to a two state settlement. Its demand for a cease fire has been only that Israel lift its blockade.

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That this slaughter also (and very secondarily) harms ordinary Israelis who have no security and face increasing and justified contempt in the world is also clear. Even in America, the facts of Israeli slaughter and segregation in ordinary life have begun to be noticed especially among young people.

In addition, Israeli politics has veered sharply to the Right, even including physical assaults on demonstrators inside Israel. See here. So much for freedom of expression or the right to protest there. Still, 3,000 in Tel Aviv, 700 in Haifa marched against the Occupation last Saturday. See here.

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Supporters of Greater Israel like to emphasize the words of Hamas. But if they want to see ethnic cleansing, they have but to listen to their own words, look in the mirror.

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"Israel's moral defeat will haunt us for years
We have passed 1,000 dead Palestinians. How many more?
By Amira Hass | Jul. 28, 2014 | 2:31 PM | 1

Palestinian rescue officers removing a body on Saturday from the rubble of a building Palestinian rescue officers removing a body on Saturday from the rubble of a building where at least 20 members of the Al-Najjar extended family were killed in Khan Yunis.

For the photograph, see here.

If victory is measured in the number of dead, then Israel and its army are big winners. From the time I wrote these words on Saturday, and by the time you read them on Sunday, the number will no longer be 1,000 (70-80 percent civilians) but even more.

How many more? Ten bodies, 18? Three more pregnant women? Five dead children, their eyes half-open, their mouths gaping, their baby teeth poking out, their shirts covered with blood and they are being carried on a single stretcher? If victory means causing the enemy to pile up a number of slaughtered children on one stretcher, since there are not enough stretchers, then you have won, Chief of Staff Benny Gantz and Defense Minister Moshe Ya’alon – you and the nation that admires you.

And the trophy also goes to the Startup Nation, this time to the startup renowned for knowing and reporting as little as possible with as many international media and available websites as possible. “Good morning, it was a quiet night,” the Army Radio host announced cheerfully on Thursday morning. In the day preceding the happy announcement, the Israel Defense Forces killed 80 Palestinians, 64 of whom were civilians, including 15 children and 5 women. At least 30 of them were killed during the same quiet night, from overwhelming shelling, bombing and firing from Israeli artillery, and this is without counting the number of injured or the number of houses blown up.)

If victory is measured in the number of families wiped out within two weeks – parents and children, one parent and a few children, a grandmother and daughters in law and grandchildren and son, brothers and their children, in all the variations you might choose – then we also have the upper hand. Here, names from memory: Al-Najjar, Karaw’a, Abu-Jam’e, Ghannem, Qannan, Hamad, A-Salim, Al Astal, Al Hallaq, Sheikh Khalil, Al Kilani. In these families, the few members who survived the Israeli bombings in the past two weeks are now jealous of their dead.

And let’s not forget the laurel wreaths for our legal experts, those without whom the IDF does not make a move. Due to them, blowing up an entire house – whether empty or filled with residents – is easily justified if Israel characterizes one of the family members as an appropriate target (be he senior or junior Hamas member, military or political, brother or family guest).

“If it is legal according to international law,” a Western diplomat told me, shocked by his own state’s position in support of Israel, “it is a sign that something stinks in international law.”

And another bouquet of flowers for our advisers, the graduates of the exclusive law schools in Israel and the United States, and maybe also in England: They are certainly the ones advising the IDF why it is permissible to fire at Palestinian rescue teams and prevent them from getting to the wounded. Seven members of medical teams on their way to rescue the injured were shot to death by the IDF during two weeks, the last two only last Friday. Another 16 have been wounded. This doesn’t include the cases is which IDF firing prevented crews from driving to the disaster scene.
You will surely recite what the army says: “Terrorists are hiding in the ambulances” – since Palestinians do not really want to save their wounded, they don’t really want to prevent them from bleeding to death under the ruins, isn’t this what you are thinking? Does our acclaimed intelligence, which did not discover during all these years the network of tunnels, know in real time that in every ambulance that was hit directly with IDF fire, or whose trip to save an injured person was blocked, there are really armed Palestinians inside? And why is it permissible to save a wounded soldier at the cost of shelling an entire neighborhood, but it is not allowed to save an elderly Palestinian buried under the rubble? Why is it forbidden to save an armed man, or more correctly a Palestinian fighter, who was wounded while repulsing a foreign army that invaded his neighborhood?

If victory is measured by the success at causing lifelong trauma to 1.8 million people (and not for the first time) waiting to be executed any moment – then the victory is yours.

These victories add up to our moral implosion, the ethical defeat of a society that now engages in no self-inspection, that wallows in self pity over postponed airline flights and burnishes itself with the pride of the enlightened.This is a society that mourns, naturally, its more than 40 soldiers who were killed, but at the same time hardens its heart and mind in the face of all the suffering and moral courage and heroism of the people we are attacking. A society that does not understand the extent to which the balance of forces is against it.

“In all the suffering and death,” wrote a friend from Gaza, “there are so many expressions of tenderness and kindness. People are taking care of one another, comforting one another. Especially children who are searching for the best way to support their parents. I saw many children no older than 10 years old who are hugging, comforting their younger siblings, trying to distract them from the horror. So young and already the caretakers of someone else. I did not meet a single child who did not lose someone – a parent, grandmother, friend, aunt or neighbor. And I thought: If Hamas grew out of the generation of the first intifada, when the young people who threw stones were met with bullets, who will grow out of the generation that experienced the repeated massacres of the last seven years?”

Our moral defeat will haunt us for many years to come."

***

"Andrew Sullivan
The Lie Behind The War
Jul 27 2014 @ 9:15pm
http://dish.andrewsullivan.com/2014/07/27/the-lie-behind-the-war/


Christian woman killed in Israeli airstrike on Gaza

Katie Zavadski, fresh from a Dishternship, nails down a critical fact in the latest Israel-Hamas death-match. As the Dish has noted before, the Israeli government knew from the get-go that the murderers of three Israeli teens – the incident that set off this bloody chain of events – were not doing official Hamas’ bidding even in the West Bank, let alone Gaza:

This was confirmed by Mickey Rosenfeld, the police spokesman:

So the entire swoop on the West Bank against Hamas, which soon escalated into all-out war, was based on a a false premise, uttered by Bibi Netanyahu thus: “Hamas is responsible, and Hamas will pay.” It’s worth recalling in that context that Hamas had recently been very quiet on the rockets front:

Fewer rockets were fired from Gaza in 2013 than in any year since 2001, and nearly all those that were fired between the November 2012 ceasefire and the current crisis were launched by groups other than Hamas; the Israeli security establishment testified to the aggressive anti-rocket efforts made by the new police force Hamas established specifically for that purpose.

Netanyahu saw an opportunity to hammer Hamas and punish the PA for cooperating with them. He took it. It disempowers both and makes an even more radical successor more likely. But if you assume that Netanyahu has no intention of ever coming to a peace agreement, a more radical Palestinian population helps justify that. Meanwhile, the core project of a permanent Greater Israel is advanced.

After watching this situation for too many years now, I have developed one key measurement: follow the settlements. Everything that happens is designed for their benefit. And that goes for the current ghastly carnage. It’s staggering what the Israeli government will sacrifice to advance the settlements.
(Photo: The dead body of Jalila Ayad, a Christian woman killed in an Israeli airstrike on her house in Gaza City, is carried to the Al-Shifa hospital morgue on July 27, 2014. By Mohammed Talatene/Anadolu Agency/Getty Images.)"

***

"Mehdi Hasan
Political director of The Huffington Post UK
Debunking Israel's 11 Main Myths About Gaza, Hamas and War Crimes
Posted: 28/07/2014 11:55 BST Updated: 28/07/2014 18:59 BST Print Article

Israel Believes These 11 Things About Gaza And Hamas
00:00/03:29


You've got to hand it to Israeli spinners like Mark Regev. They are masters of PR. In fact, as the Independent's Patrick Cockburn revealed over the weekend, "the playbook they are using is a professional, well-researched and confidential study on how to influence the media and public opinion in America and Europe".

Let's be clear: I'm no fan of Hamas, a brutal and anti-Semitic group which has been accused by Amnesty International and other NGOs of human rights abuses against the people of Gaza and of war crimes against the people of Israel. Firing rockets into civilian areas isn't justified under international law, even if it is framed as part of a (legitimate) struggle against foreign military occupation.

Having said that, however, in recent days I've been debating supporters of Israel's latest assault on Gaza on radio and on Twitter and I've been astonished not just by the sheer number of fact-free claims made by those supporters, but also by their confidence, slickness and sheer message discipline. According to the pro-Israel, pro-IDF crowd, Hamas is to blame for everything.

This, of course, is utter nonsense. To quote the late US senator Daniel Patrick Moynihan: "You are entitled to your opinion. But you are not entitled to your own facts."

So, in a Moynihanian spirit, here are fact-filled, evidence-based rebuttals to the 11 main myths, half-truths and self-serving 'talking points' that are repeatedly pushed by various Israeli spokespersons, both on the airwaves and on social media:

1) The Gaza Strip isn't occupied by Israel

Boston Globe: "Israeli-imposed buffer zones.. now absorb nearly 14 percent of Gaza's total land and at least 48 percent of total arable land. Similarly, the sea buffer zone covers 85 percent of the maritime area promised to Palestinians in the Oslo Accords, reducing 20 nautical miles to three." Human Rights Watch: "Israel also continues to control the population registry for residents of the Gaza Strip, years after it withdrew its ground forces and settlements there." B'Tselem, 2013: "Israel continues to maintain exclusive control of Gaza's airspace and the territorial waters, just as it has since it occupied the Gaza Strip in 1967."

2) Israel wants a ceasefire but Hamas doesn't

Al Jazeera: "Meshaal said Hamas wants the 'aggression to stop tomorrow, today, or even this minute. But [Israel must] lift the blockade with guarantees and not as a promise for future negotiations'. He added 'we will not shut the door in the face of any humanitarian ceasefire backed by a real aid programme'." Jerusalem Post: "One day after an Egyptian-brokered cease-fire accepted by Israel, but rejected by Hamas, fell through, the terrorist organization proposed a 10-year end to hostilities in return for its conditions being met by Israel, Channel 2 reported Wednesday.. Hamas's conditions were the release of re-arrested Palestinian prisoners who were let go in the Schalit deal, the opening of Gaza-Israel border crossings in order to allow citizens and goods to pass through, and international supervision of the Gazan seaport in place of the current Israeli blockade." BBC: "Israel's security cabinet has rejected a week-long Gaza ceasefire proposal put forward by US Secretary of State John Kerry 'as it stands'."

3) Israel, unlike Hamas, doesn't deliberately target civilians

The Guardian: "It was there that the second [Israeli] shell hit the beach, those firing apparently adjusting their fire to target the fleeing survivors. As it exploded, journalists standing by the terrace wall shouted: 'They are only children.'" UN high commissioner for human rights Navi Pillay: "A number of incidents, along with the high number of civilian deaths, belies the [Israeli] claim that all necessary precautions are being taken to protect civilian lives." United Nations Fact Finding Mission on the Gaza Conflict, 2009: "The tactics used by the Israeli armed forces in the Gaza offensive are consistent with previous practices, most recently during the Lebanon war in 2006. A concept known as the Dahiya doctrine emerged then, involving the application of disproportionate force and the causing of great damage and destruction to civilian property and infrastructure, and suffering to civilian populations. The Mission concludes from a review of the facts on the ground that it.. appears to have been precisely what was put into practice."

4) Only Hamas is guilty of war crimes, not Israel

Human Rights Watch: "Israeli forces may also have knowingly or recklessly attacked people who were clearly civilians, such as young boys, and civilian structures, including a hospital - laws-of-war violations that are indicative of war crimes." Amnesty International: "Deliberately attacking a civilian home is a war crime, and the overwhelming scale of destruction of civilian homes, in some cases with entire families inside them, points to a distressing pattern of repeated violations of the laws of war."

5) Hamas use the civilians of Gaza as 'human shields'

Jeremy Bowen, BBC Middle East editor: "I saw no evidence during my week in Gaza of Israel's accusation that Hamas uses Palestinians as human shields." The Guardian: "In the past week, the Guardian has seen large numbers of people fleeing different neighbourhoods.. and no evidence that Hamas had compelled them to stay." The Independent: "Some Gazans have admitted that they were afraid of criticizing Hamas, but none have said they had been forced by the organisation to stay in places of danger and become unwilling human-shields." Reuters, 2013: "A United Nations human rights body accused Israeli forces on Thursday of mistreating Palestinian children, including by torturing those in custody and using others as human shields."

6) This current Gaza conflict began with Hamas rocket fire on 30 June 2014

Times of Israel: "Hamas operatives were behind a large volley of rockets which slammed into Israel Monday morning, the first time in years the Islamist group has directly challenged the Jewish state, according to Israeli defense officials.. The security sources, who spoke on condition of anonymity, assessed that Hamas had probably launched the barrage in revenge for an Israeli airstrike several hours earlier which killed one person and injured three more.. Hamas hasn't fired rockets into Israel since Operation Pillar of Defense ended in November 2012." The Nation: "During ten days of Operation Brother's Keeper in the West Bank [before the start of the Gaza conflict], Israel arrested approximately 800 Palestinians without charge or trial, killed nine civilians and raided nearly 1,300 residential, commercial and public buildings. Its military operation targeted Hamas members released during the Gilad Shalit prisoner exchange in 2011."

7) Hamas has never stopped firing rockets into Israel

Jewish Daily Forward: "Hamas hadn't fired a single rocket since [2012 Gaza conflict], and had largely suppressed fire by smaller jihadi groups. Rocket firings, averaging 240 per month in 2007, dropped to five per month in 2013." International Crisis Group: "Fewer rockets were fired from Gaza in 2013 than in any year since 2001, and nearly all those that were fired between the November 2012 ceasefire and the current crisis were launched by groups other than Hamas; the Israeli security establishment testified to the aggressive anti-rocket efforts made by the new police force Hamas established specifically for that purpose.. As Israel (and Egypt) rolled back the 2012 understandings - some of which were implemented spottily at best - so too did Hamas roll back its anti rocket efforts."

8) Hamas provoked Israel by kidnapping and killing three Israeli teenagers

Jewish Daily Forward: "The [Israeli] government had known almost from the beginning that the boys were dead. It maintained the fiction that it hoped to find them alive as a pretext to dismantle Hamas' West Bank operations.. Nor was that the only fib. It was clear from the beginning that the kidnappers weren't acting on orders from Hamas leadership in Gaza or Damascus. Hamas' Hebron branch -- more a crime family than a clandestine organization -- had a history of acting without the leaders' knowledge, sometimes against their interests." BBC correspondent Jon Donnison: "Israeli police Mickey Rosenfeld tells me men who killed 3 Israeli teens def lone cell, hamas affiliated but not operating under leadership.. Seems to contradict the line from Netanyahu government."

9) Hamas rule, not Israel's blockade, is to blame for the humanitarian crisis in the Gaza Strip

US State Department cable: "Israeli officials have confirmed to Embassy officials on multiple occasions that they intend to keep the Gazan economy functioning at the lowest level possible consistent with avoiding a humanitarian crisis.. Israeli officials have confirmed.. on multiple occasions that they intend to keep the Gazan economy on the brink of collapse without quite pushing it over the edge." The Guardian: "The Israeli military made precise calculations of Gaza's daily calorie needs to avoid malnutrition during a blockade imposed on the Palestinian territory between 2007 and mid-2010, according to files the defence ministry released on Wednesday under a court order.. The Israeli advocacy group Gisha.. waged a long court battle to release the document. Its members say Israel calculated the calorie needs for Gaza's population so as to restrict the quantity of food it allowed in."

10) The Israeli government, unlike Hamas, wants a two-state solution

Times of Israel: "[Netanyahu] made explicitly clear that he could never, ever, countenance a fully sovereign Palestinian state in the West Bank.. Amid the current conflict, he elaborated, 'I think the Israeli people understand now what I always say: that there cannot be a situation, under any agreement, in which we relinquish security control of the territory west of the River Jordan.'"

11) All serious analysts agree it was Hamas, and not Israel, that started this current conflict

Nathan Thrall, senior Mid East analyst at the International Crisis Group, writing in the New York Times: "The current escalation in Gaza is a direct result of the choice by Israel and the West to obstruct the implementation of the April 2014 Palestinian reconciliation agreement." Henry Siegman, former national director, American Jewish Congress, writing for Politico: "Israel's assault on Gaza.. was not triggered by Hamas' rockets directed at Israel but by Israel's determination to bring down the Palestinian unity government that was formed in early June, even though that government was committed to honoring all of the conditions imposed by the international community for recognition of its legitimacy."

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"The // Intercept
Terrorism in the Israeli Attack on Gaza
By Glenn Greenwald [ https://firstlook.org/theintercept/staff/glenn-greenwald/ ] 29 Jul 2014, 8:17 AM EDT

Palestinian relatives mourn for victims of the Duheir family, near the rubble of their home, after it was destroyed by an Israeli air strike in Rafah on July 29, 2014, in the southern of Gaza strip. Photo Credit: Said Khatib/AFP/Getty Images

As I've written [ http://www.salon.com/2010/02/19/terrorism_19/ ] many [ http://www.salon.com/2011/12/10/the_real_definition_of_terrorism/ ] times [ http://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2012/dec/16/court-terrorism-morales-gangs-meaningless/print ] before [ http://www.salon.com/2010/03/14/terrorism_20/ ], "terrorism" is, and from the start was designed to be [ http://www.salon.com/2010/03/14/brulin/ ], almost entirely devoid of discernible meaning. It's a fear-mongering slogan, lacking any consistent application, intended to end rational debate and justify virtually any conduct by those who apply the term. But to the extent it means anything beyond that, it typically refers to the killing of civilians as a means of furthering political or military goals.

Below are two charts reflecting the deaths of civilians, soldiers and "militants" in both Gaza and Israel since the July 8 Israeli attack began. The statistics used are unduly generous toward Israel, since "militants" in Gaza are often nothing more than residents who take up arms to defend their homes against an invading and occupying army. Even with that generous interpretation, these numbers, standing alone, tell a powerful story:



If you landed on earth from another planet this week, knowing nothing other than the most common use of the word "terrorism," which side do you think would most frequently be referred to as "terrorists"?

Often, the most vivid illustration of the criminality of this attack comes not from data but from isolated stories. Yesterday, for instance [ http://www.nytimes.com/2014/07/30/world/middleeast/gaza-israel-violence.html?hp&action=click&pgtype=Homepage&module=photo-spot-region®ion=photo-spot&WT.nav=photo-spot&_r=0 ], "in Khan Younis, five members of the Najjar family, which lost 21 people in a previous strike, were killed." Meanwhile, "in the Al Bureij refugee camp in central Gaza, an airstrike from an F-16 killed the mayor, Anis Abu Shamala, and four others in his home, some of whom had taken refuge there from intense artillery shelling nearby."

At the same time, the Israeli government's messaging machine quickly switched from hyping rocket attacks, which were causing relatively little damage, to featuring what it began calling "terror tunnels". The U.S. media dutifully followed suit [ https://twitter.com/CNNSitRoom/status/493791212223352832 ], with CNN anchor (and former AIPAC employee) Wolf Blitzer touring a "terror tunnel" led around by the IDF and his flashlight [ https://twitter.com/CNNSitRoom/status/493791212223352832 ], while the New York Times' Jodi Rudoren did the same in an article headlined [ http://www.nytimes.com/2014/07/29/world/middleeast/tunnels-lead-right-to-heart-of-israeli-fear.html?hp&action=click&pgtype=Homepage&version=LargeMediaHeadlineSum&module=photo-spot-region®ion=photo-spot&WT.nav=photo-spot ] "Tunnels Lead Right to the Heart of Israeli Fear," quoting "Israeli military officials", "an Israeli military spokesman", and "Israeli experts". But a separate article in the NYT [ http://www.nytimes.com/2014/07/30/world/middleeast/gaza-israel-violence.html?hp&action=click&pgtype=Homepage&module=photo-spot-region®ion=photo-spot&WT.nav=photo-spot&_r=0 ] highlighted how these "terror tunnels" are actually used:

The strikes during the Muslim holiday of Eid al-Fitr came after the latest humanitarian halt to hostilities was punctured by attacks on both sides, culminating in the most deadly incursion yet by Palestinian militants through an underground tunnel from Gaza into Israel.

Colonel Lerner said Tuesday that between four and eight gunmen had burst from the tunnel near a military watchtower near the border and killed five soldiers in an adjacent building with antitank missiles.

In American media discourse, when Palestinians overwhelmingly kill soldiers (95% of the Israeli death toll) who are part of an army that is blockading, occupying, invading, and indiscriminately bombing them and killing their children by the hundreds, that is "terrorism"; when Israelis use massive, brutal force against a trapped civilian population, overwhelmingly killing innocent men, women and children (at least 75% of the Palestinian death toll), with clear intentions to kill civilians (see point 3 [ https://firstlook.org/theintercept/2014/07/21/netanyahus-telegenically-dead-comment-original/ ]), that is noble "self-defense." That demonstrates how skewed U.S. discourse is in favor of Israel, as well as the purely manipulative, propagandistic nature of the term "terrorists."

Wednesday, July 30, 2014

Poem: names




If the tsar shelled a hospital

killed children

what would


if the tsar shelled a school

shut off the power

what would you


if the tsar turned off the lights

cut the water

blew up UN headquarters

scattering the dead


made a pogrom

what would you



say?

Sunday, July 27, 2014

Poem: The Telegenic Dead by Jose Tirado



Binyamin Netanyahu is an arrogant man and a racist who thinks his words are not inscribed in the book of life He often says things that illuminate the soul of the occupation. This claim is sufficiently bizarre, sadly to be memorable among the ignoble things said by the wretched dictators of the past, for a long time to come...

H/t Laura Branca.

***

A Poem
The Telegenic Dead

by JOSE M. TIRADO

“[T]hey use telegenically-dead Palestinians for their cause… the more dead the better.”
–Israeli Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu, July 20, 2014

The leg is in the street.
Roughly attached & delicately
Arranged, (though
Shredded in between)
The torso lies quietly on the sidewalk
In front of the café.
The gray face & glass-like eyes
Looking “just so” at Heaven.
Nearby, her son, probably 4
(Or at least he was 4) has
Only one sandal on & the
Dirt covers his body in a delicate
Wave of sandy colored dustings
Distributed properly.
(Thankfully,) his face is buried beneath
The impeccably coiffed black-red mass
That once was his head.
Across the street lie more,
Posed just right to earn one´s immediate attention.
They work so hard it seems,
To get each pose, each positioned limb
“Just right” for the photogs and reporters.
Apparently, one can’t let up for a moment
Or they may appear
Simply dead.
Gaza works so hard these days
To get those images right.

***

José M. Tirado is a Puertorican poet, and writer living in Hafnarfjorður, Iceland, known for its elves, “hidden people” and lava fields. His articles and poetry have been featured in CounterPunch, Cyrano´s Journal, The Galway Review, Dissident Voice, The Endless Search, Op-Ed News, The International Journal of Transpersonal Studies, and others. He can be reached at jm.tirado@yahoo.com.

***

And here is a statement from Naomi Wolf about what the Occupation is doing to the souls of common apologists for Israeli slaughter of innocents in the United States:

"on compassion and morality to Jews everywhere (and everyone else)…(h/t Will Crain)
Naomi Wolf

'Anyone is still trying to tell me this is not a genocide, not the targeting of civilians? Here is what I want to say given the hundreds of responses I have heard to my post: everyone involved in the Israeli-Palestinian conflict has to face the issues they are accountable for. I am not responsible first for Syria, Hamas etc. I am responsible first for my own 'tribe.' Others are responsible first for their "tribes".

So a main issue for me is what is happening to the Jewish soul in contorting ourselves on and on to try to defend the indefensible or else to change the subject, look away. It is ego-dystonic to us to face what Israel is doing in Gaza because "we aren't like that". But looking away is where evil thrives and where we join in and participate in evil.

The hundreds of emails I have gotten from those defending Israel tend to: change the subject (look at how bad Syria is...Boko Haram is...etc.) Or: repeat the uncritical allegations of the IDF that Hamas is "hiding" among civilians. Where else the f-- are they supposed to go NOT to 'hide"? Gaza is all civilian! There is no battlefield! And the responses also try to establish false equivalencies -- ie an Israeli father was killed by rockets.

Now try to really hear this: THOSE REFLEXES ARE THE PROBLEM. There may be merits logically/intellectually in each of these "positions" but faced with the systematic brutal murder of children, of families, the issue for me, the urgent, demanding, compelling, house-on-fire issue, is the collective HARDNESS OF HEART that these intellectual contortions reveal among us.

FIRST should be our empathic response -- this can't be done this way -- this suffering must cease. The fact that we go
FIRST to tortured logic says to me that we are SCARED TO SEE AND FEEL THE TRUTH. And that is a corruption of our hearts and souls.

And the way I understand faith, that is a serious issue -- THAT is spiritual corruption; THAT is an urgent state of moral illness/decay -- that hardness of heart. THAT is what we as Jews have so often so reflexively sacrificed in contorting ourselves again and again to defend Israel and "not-see" what is in front of our eyes in terms of human suffering and injustice among those that Israel corrals/strips of rights/arrests without trial/bombs/degrades symbolically/deprives of basic human dignity. THAT is where I say -- it is not worth it. If this is what a "Jewish state" requires of us, it is not worth it TO US in my view.

Being the occupiers in this way has harmed us and degraded us internally in ways even more than we have harmed and degraded more externally those we are occupying/annihilating/targeting/oppressing. This is where we need to look at the injury we are doing to ourselves..our humanity..our kindness...our relationship to ourselves to others and to whatever decent God may be in any kind of relationship to us."

***

Where is the tradition of being kind to strangers since we were ourselves were strangers in Egypt?

the compassion?

Naomi Wolf and the demonstrators beaten in Tel Aviv and those who join the Boycott and Divestment movement and many others know this

***

Every word of Naomi's applies to the U.S. government and both parties who have armed Israel to the teeth - $3 billion per year to buy American weapons - and each "good American" who, forgetting herself, looks the other way...

***

For previous posts in detail on the slaughter and the underlying ethnic cleansing of so-called "Judea and Samaria" (to drive Palestinians out of the West Bank, a second nakba and steal, yet again, more land during the illegal Occupation, see here and here.)

Saturday, July 26, 2014

Some truths about Gaza, Occupation, crimes against humanity, and mob attacks on "leftists" in Israel



It is worth taking in what the Israeli occupation has long done to Gaza. The first of these articles is from my friend, Michael Schwartz, a brilliant writer on social movements, critic of the Iraq War, and longtime anti-war and anti-racist activist. Mike writes:

"I was particularly moved by this report because of the comment by one of the people he talked to this morning:

Umm Wael Mansour, who is also being treated at Al-Shifa, had her house destroyed by a tank shell. "I lived through the 1967 war and all the following Israeli wars, but this war is indescribable," she says. "It's crueler than the massacres of Sabra and Shatila."

What struck me so hard is that she is in a position to talk about the relative horror of various massacres. Clearly there are even more than she is mentioning here. And what this captures is the long term and continuous savagery that the Gazans have experienced, ever since they were driven off their land and put on the Gaza Reservation."

Mike brings home the parallels with the genocides against Native Americans:

"It just swept over me that various generations of American Indians had an almost identical set of experiences—the horror of a long term genocidal onslaught. Daily oppression in reservations deprived of minimal necessities for survival, punctuated by military onslaughts aimed at collective punishment and/or displacement to a reduced or new reservation."

***

The second letter is from Sara Roy, a senior researcher in the Middle East Center at Harvard, and gives some of the facts about what has happened in Gaza.

"Gaza’s deterioration, however, was not accidental or inadvertent. To the contrary, the devastation of Gaza’s economy (and environment) was deliberate and planned by Israel, imposed through separation and isolation and through a destructive economic blockade, which entered its eighth year last month. The blockade — which has been supported by the United States, the European Union, and Egypt in particular — virtually bans access to markets outside Gaza and confines the overwhelming majority of people to the Strip. This has ended all normal trade upon which Gaza’s tiny economy depends and has disabled the private sector and its capacity to generate jobs, preventing any viable recovery of Gaza’s productive sectors.

Unemployment in Gaza stands at 40.8 percent, a dramatic increase from 18.7 percent in 2000; however, for those people between 15 and 29 years of age, the unemployment rate is almost 60 percent. Because of this, poverty has increased with almost 80 percent of Gazans made dependent on humanitarian aid to survive although they are able and desperate to work.

Another way to understand the impact of the Israeli blockade is this: In 2000, UNRWA (the UN agency responsible for Palestine refugees) was feeding 80,000 people in the Gaza Strip; today it feeds over 830,000 people.
Yet, UNRWA’s food aid to almost half the population is now under threat as some international donors such as Canada have inexplicably defunded UNRWA or fund at levels that do not meet Gaza’s burgeoning need."

***

These are facts about a genocidal policy - to impose conditions designed destroy a people "in whole or in part". See the United Nations Convention against Genocide here. These conditions are created by the Israeli state but enabled by the United States and Europe though with increasing dissidence from below.

***

Roy rightly criticizes Hamas whose rockets, in so far as they kill civilians, are criminal. So far only two civilian Israelis have died from this - the rockets would be a just act of self-defense if they struck at those responsible for the Occupation but they don't (in contrast, the fighting against Israeli Occupying soldiers is just). Worse yet, they terrorize - with their now greater range - the whole Israeli population, though Israelis have shelters to go to - and can be used by Netanyahu's government as an excuse for its major war crimes and increasing "transfer" policy toward Palestinians.

For instance, declared "resident aliens" by the Occupying power, the population of the East Jerusalem has decreased markedly, perhaps by as much as a third, over the past 10 years.

***

Only mass nonviolent protest, which is growing in villages in the West Bank, as I reported on during a visit in October 2012 - see here and here - and in the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions movement, can not only isolate Israel (Israeli violence against civilians has done a startling job of producing such isolation) but stop a second "transfer."

***

Roy continues:

"Hamas’s targeting of Israeli civilians is also criminal and has achieved little for Palestinians. Instead of stopping Israel, Hamas rocket fire provides a continued rationalization for Israeli aggression on a nearly defenseless population.

Yet the terrible violence now engulfing Gaza, which has left more than 270 (predominantly civilian) dead [by yesterday, the number was 815 including in an attack on a UN school] and over 2,300 injured, feels somehow different say some of my Palestinian friends. There is an unfathomable quality to the violence from which Gaza’s people, especially children, can find no refuge. Raji Sourani, a prominent human rights lawyer in Gaza, recently wrote me, and his message demands to be shared: “Gaza is a totally unsafe place. Day and night the same: shock and terror . . . Airplanes do not leave Gaza’s skies and they are throwing death to children and women. I visited the intensive care unit at Shifa Hospital and you cannot imagine the scene; most of them will die soon. Even medicines do not exist — almost 40 percent shortages. The hospital is full of women and children; many lost [body] parts and limbs. The ceasefire will not last without ending the siege [and] opening the crossings . . . People here have nothing to lose except misery and humiliation . . . We want to live a normal life, with dignity. I believe this will go on for some time, I am sure we will pay heavily for it, but freedom has a price.”

***

Sara Woznick, an intensive care nurse from Denver with Medecins Sans Frontieres [Doctors without Border], says 40% of her patients are under 5. See here.(h/t Nader Hashemi)

***

The third is from Noura Erakat and deals with the law of Occupation. Israel took the West Bank and Gaza by an act of aggression (which justifies self-defense by the people aggressed against and discredits false claims of victimhood from the Occupiers). It has a "legal" police force, often engaged in forcing Palestinians out of the West Bank, ignoring settler children throwing shit and urine on the bazaar in Hebron - see here .

But every military invasion of Gaza by Israel is illegal - and criminal - under international humanitarian law. Israel and its American sycophants including, in this respect, President Obama (despite the blows he has taken from Netanyahu in the last election and his initial attempt to deter illegal and immoral settlements in the Territories) and John Kerry - plainly not seeking a reasonable or just peace - are trying, by force, to destroy that law.

***

Israel targets civilians with big weapons and often takes out children. It massacres little boys playing soccer as well as whole families...

By the latest "count," Israel has killed over 800 people, the Hamas rockets (and friendly fire) and now, more serious clashes with the IDF invaders 25 soldiers, three civilians. The lack of proportionality here is startling.

***

Israel is the fifth most well-equipped army in the World against a resistance movement under Occupation...

***

Netanyahu's claim that Hamas is hiding among civilians (where else could it be, particularly in densely populated and blockaded Gaza?) is a little like the US saying this about the Vietcong in Vietnam and bombing peasants from the air. It is a little like Hitler saying this about London. It is a rationale for mass murder, motivating and justifying resistance.

***

Netanyahu also goes on about tunnels. With the Israeli blockade, what else does he expect? If you keep people imprisoned and starve them, why is a crime to break out? (there was one clash in which some Israeli soldiers as well as Palestinians who came from a tunnel were killed; Netanyahu fantasizes attacks on Israeli villages while ordering slaughters of Gazan civilians...)

***

The American corporate press reports only Israel's claims - pretending Gaza is an independent country instead of a blockaded and starved place - which makes it sound like Israel is defending itself against Gaza's attacks. But that is false.

***

Israel receives $3 billion a year in US military aid - and the military regime in Egypt (Egypt gets the second largest amount of military aid - $1 billion per year - under Mubarak and Al-Sisi are tied to the American war complex) have imposed a blockade on Gaza which has killed a lot of people, long denied food and hospital care; Israel's renewed invasion is on top of this crime.

***

Read over the United Nations Convention against Genocide and you will discover that what Israel does in Gaza and in trying to force Palestinians out in the West Bank is genocidal. For instance, Article II, section c bars "Deliberately inflicting on the group conditions of life calculated to bring about its physical destruction in whole or in part."

***

On Democracy Now Tuesday morning, there was an interview with a Norwegian doctor, Mats Gilbert, who did a report for the UN. He is appalled at the Israeli attack on Al Aqsa Hospital, killing 5 patients, 4 in surgery just then, 10 minutes before. Read the interview here.

***

A page 1 article in the New York Times Tuesday by Judi Ruroren, now Jerusalem chief, begins with the suggestion that the Palestinian Authority tells people to say civilians are being killed.

"In the Battleground of Words, Hatred and Muddied Reality
By JODI RUROREN

JERUSALEM — The Gaza-based interior ministry advises its supporters in a YouTube video that whenever talking about the dead, “always add ‘an innocent citizen.’” In Israel, the message is quite different: Those same victims are described as “human shields” sacrificed by the “heartless” Hamas “terrorists” that rule Gaza."

But these points are not equivalent.

Do the supposed words of the Palestinian authority make babies less dead, the crime less horrible?

***

Recall the photos of the four little boys murdered for playing soccer on a beach in the New York Times last week.

Whole families have been murdered at home and also murdered if they move; there is no protection from the Israeli army and weaponry in densely populated Gaza, and no way out....

***

In contest, Ruroren's second point about what the Israeli government says, is just a lie. Hamas (and many guerrilla forces down through history) have been in civilian populations. Mao said: guerrillas are fish that swim in the sea of the people. The Japanese aggressors said: "drain the water" and murdered some 20 million people in 3 provinces in North China in the winter of 1940-41 - see Chalmers Johnson, Peasant Nationalism in China. (Mercifully, the Israeli slaughter is less...)

Against the law of war protecting civilians as well as decency, however, this Israeli fiction gives false permission, to massacre innocents in Gaza.

***

In any case, the first point, regardless of whether the Palestinian authority tells people to say it, is true.

***

Ruroren's opening is thus a grotesque specimen of propaganda and says a lot about the overwhelming racism which tries to paint Israel's horrors in palatable colors in the United States.

***

At the end of the article, however, Ruroren briefly worries about the dehumanization of Palestinians in Israel (for this, she was attacked by the even more extreme authoritarian Right). Israeli television, she says, comments only on the "diplomatic aspects" - when international outrage will force the army to stop - and expresses no concern about the murders of children (most of the 800 dead are children, women and other civilians).

***

But this attack is special in its sheer barbarism even compared to previous massacres, in its trumped up character (Hamas had nothing to do with the murders of the 3 Jewish teenagers as JJ Goldberg revealed in the Jewish Forward here; Netanyahu knew the first day they were dead - had a police recording of the killing since one of the young men had called them - and built up false hopes among the public for 2 weeks that they were still alive while stirring up mobs chanting "death to Arabs"; some of the participants monstrously burned a 16 year old Palestinian, Mohammed Abu Khdair - see here) and by its abandonment, even by previous massacres, of bounds.

So one result is growing and fierce opposition to Israel (demonstrations all over the world, including of a thousand people in Denver last Saturday, In Paris, there are outlying attacks on Jewish stores which are criminal and emulate Nazism. But to resist the Israeli occupation is to resist the very kind of European racism from which Jews suffered just the blink of an eye ago...

***

Reactionary mobs, with government "toleration" or incitement, are now physically beating up courageous Jewish peace demonstrators in Tel Aviv ("leftists to the gas chamber," a youth soccer captain, modeling himself pretty consciously on the greatest murderer of semites in all of history..., exclaims on Facebook).

"We look at the increasingly dangerous political climate inside Israel where several peace protests have recently come under attack. On Saturday, right-wing activists burned a Palestinian flag, chanted racial slurs and threw stones at an antiwar protest in Haifa of Arabs and Israelis opposed to the bombardment of Gaza. Haifa’s deputy mayor, Dr. Suhail Assad, and his son were beaten. On Sunday, the captain of a youth soccer team in Be’er Sheva wrote on his Facebook page: "send left-wing voters to the gas chambers and clean this country of left." For the Democracy Now! interview with Rann Bar-on, a Jewish peace activist and Duke mathematics lecturer, beaten in Tel Aviv, see here.

***

"RANN BAR-ON: Hi, Amy. We were about three or four hundred left-wing activists demonstrating against the war, for peace between Arabs and Jews, refusing to be enemies. As we arrived, my partner and I saw well over a thousand activists from—militant activists from the right, surrounded by police and others, screaming, "Death to Arabs! Death to leftists!" As we were protesting, they moved towards us. The police allowed them to move towards us. The police allowed them to attack us, to throw stones at us. Later on, as we were trying to leave, the police took—the police did not attempt to allow us to leave. They took over an hour to evacuate us while we were under heavy attack by stones and other missiles. Many were injured. We’ve had over 30 injured. Two women are still in hospital. There were gangs roaming the streets, beating up anyone they thought was an Arab or member of our demonstration. The police were—

AMY GOODMAN: Rann Bar-On, can you explain why you went out into the streets to protest?

RANN BAR-ON: Absolutely. I believe that what Israel is doing in Gaza is a racist attack. It is not self-defense in any way. And it is a continuation of Israeli policy that has always discriminated against the Arab population. What happened to us at the protest is not new. This is something that is a trend that has been continuing for many years. There has been much incitement from the political class that has allowed even so-called moderate right-wingers to join cries saying, "Death to Arabs! Death to leftists!" and attacking activists and Arabs in the street."

***

See also the story of "Yossi" below, an orthodox Jew beaten at the demonstration and again in a cafe which the Rightists had destroyed in Tel Aviv. "Yossi" fears, along with others, to give his name since Rightists are hunting them on Facebook.

***

"Yossi, wary of the increasing tension, tried to leave the cafe. The customer began to laugh at him. “Were you the one injured on Saturday?” he asked. Yossi replied that he was, and was in fact hospitalized. The man began shouting and getting aggressive with Yossi, who took out his phone and snapped a picture of the enraged customer. Yossi described what happened next with a sense of shock in his voice.

The customer grabbed Yossi by the hair and threw him to the ground, insisting that he give him the phone to delete the picture. Yossi suggested he would show the owner that he was deleting the picture but the customer would have none of it and again threw him to the ground and beat him. Yossi saw a police officer outside and tried to go to him when the customer threw him down again. Yossi blacked out for a moment and when he came to the customer was trying to physically throw him outside. The owner by this point was also trying to throw Yossi out of the cafe, saying he was causing trouble. Finally, Yossi managed to leave and call friends and the police, though both he and Rotem want to make clear that they don’t trust the police and don’t believe in using them anyway.

It is a level of violence that neither Yossi nor Rotem have seen before. Not aimed at other Jewish-Israelis, at least. Rotem was particularly appalled that throughout the assault, no one lifted a hand to help Yossi or to interfere.

Both Rotem and Yossi want to make it clear, though, that they recognize violence itself is nothing new. Yossi said, “this is nothing compared to the violence used against Palestinians every day.” Even during periods of relative calm, he says, “Palestinians are attacked every day. Every day.” What’s different, Rotem said, is that it is now being visited on other Jews, “in the heart of Tel Aviv.”


***

The sense in which Israel aspires to be a "democracy," that is a democracy ostensibly for all Jews rather than all citizens though now not so much for dissident Jews i.e. those who follow the prophets, those who speak truth to power - has always been in question. For instance, Arab Israelis were long ago barred from Histadrut, the labor unions, and kibbutzim. But recently, the assertion that Israel is a "Jewish state" - not a democracy or human rights regime for all - and physical attacks on Arab representatives even inside the Knesset make clear that this is already, increasingly an authoritarian regime.

***

And colonialism and "othering" of an Occupied people come home to Israel in the destruction of democracy and human rights even among Jews.

***

Mike writes:

"Monday, July 21, 2014 12:25 PM

Below is the latest article (now featured on AlJazeeraAmerica) about the current situation. He is the source for daily news of what it looks like on the ground in Palestine, and you can subscribe to his listserve by emailing him at the address below.

I was particularly moved by this report because of the comment by one of the people he talked to this morning:

Umm Wael Mansour, who is also being treated at Al-Shifa, had her house destroyed by a tank shell. "I lived through the 1967 war and all the following Israeli wars, but this war is indescribable," she says. "It's crueler than the massacres of Sabra and Shatila."

What struck me so hard is that she is in a position to talk about the relative horror of various massacres. Clearly there are even more than she is mentioning here. And what this captures is the long term and continuous savagery that the Gazans have experienced, ever since they were driven off their land and put on the Gaza Reservation.

It just swept over me that various generations of American Indians had an almost identical set of experiences—the horror of a long term genocidal onslaught. Daily oppression in reservations deprived of minimal necessities for survival, punctuated by military onslaughts aimed at collective punishment and/or displacement to a reduced or new reservation.

"From: Mohammed Omer [mailto:moingaza@gmail.com]
Sent: Monday, July 21, 2014 10:07 AM
To: undisclosed-recipients:
Subject: ‘Tank shells were falling like hot raindrops’

On the ground report published now on Al Jazeera America

america.aljazeera.com/articles/2014/7/21/gaza-shujayea-shelling.html

INTERNATIONAL

‘Tank shells were falling like hot raindrops’
Survivors of Shujayea bombardment recount horror tales amid frantic search for lost family members
July 21, 2014 8:22AM ET
by Mohammed Omer

Gaza City — Mahmoud al-Sheikh Khalil, one of the few survivors from the assault on Shujayea, stands nervously at the gates of al-Shifa hospital waiting for the next ambulance to arrive. His frightened eyes spot an ambulance making its way through the crowd with difficulty.

The ambulance doors open and the dead are lifted off. He bursts into tears as he recognizes a familiar small face and shouts out, "Samia al-Sheikh Khalil!" Three-year-old Samia's body has been torn to shreds by an Israeli tank shell. Yet she is still recognizable despite the burns.

Khalil, 36, learns that other remains, wrapped in white burial shrouds, are his cousins'. He collapses and says, "We were trying to run, but the tank shells were chasing us wherever we went."

"Around 6 a.m., I was inside my house. I heard the neighbors screaming for help after a blast. I managed to get outside to try to rescue them, but it was a massacre — women and children all torn into small pieces."

Shujayea, in the east of Gaza City, has been under horrendous attack since Israel began its assault on Gaza 14 days ago. Sunday's carnage left 72 people dead, according to the Palestinian Health Ministry. Nearly all the dead were women, children and elderly men.

According to Ashraf al-Qedra, a representative for the Health Ministry, Gaza's latest death toll climbed to 512 Palestinians killed and more than 3,160 injured since the start of Israel's assault on July 8.

Those like Khalil who survived said it was a miracle.

According to several eyewitness accounts, some Shujayea residents were holding whatever white cloth they could find — shirts, undershirts or tablecloths — to wave as white flags. They wanted to get out of the targeted area under constant heavy Israeli bombardment. But most white cloths were either ripped apart or covered in blood.

Iman Mansour, another survivor and mother of three, managed to escape with her children.

"Nowhere was safe to run to," she says. Her three children, all injured, are receiving medical treatment at Al-Shifa Hospital. "We were forced to leave our house because tank shells were falling like hot raindrops."

Her mother-in-law, Umm Wael Mansour, who is also being treated at Al-Shifa, had her house destroyed by a tank shell. "I lived through the 1967 war and all the following Israeli wars, but this war is indescribable," she says. "It's crueler than the massacres of Sabra and Shatila."

When her house was hit, she screamed out. As neighbors tried to help, they were killed outside her doorstep. "The bodies of men, women and children were scattered all over, and no one could come to help save them," she says as tears fall.

The smell at Al-Shifa is of burned human flesh. The morgue is filled with all types of injuries — human body parts and limbs and burned bodies, including bad facial burns on dead children.

The morgue has more bodies than it can hold. Many of the victims are unrecognizable. Those searching for their loved ones struggle to remember any specific physical detail — skin color, old scars, facial shape, haircut or height and weight, scraps of clothing — to be able to identify an otherwise badly damaged body.

During a two-hour cease-fire, ambulance crews struggle to collect dead bodies. When they arrive, some people are still alive, and some are taking their last breaths.

A paramedic sees a stretcher on the floor and underneath it the body of his colleague Fouda Jaber, killed by an Israeli tank shelling. "Oh my God, Fouad … Fouad is one of them. He has been killed," screams the medical worker before carrying out the body of his friend.

Jaber was on a rescue mission trying to save a family of 10, most of them women and children. He died inside the house while tank shells destroyed the ambulance.

"Instead of targeting medical facilities, in violation of international law, Israeli forces must protect medics and patients and ensure that the injured can safely reach medical facilities in Gaza and when necessary, outside the Strip," says Philip Luther of Amnesty International.

At the hospital, more survivors await the ambulances, searching desperately for their family members.

Khalil stays until the end of the day looking in vain for more relatives. Paramedics confirm that seven of his cousins are dead.

All he hopes for now is another cease-fire so he can get back home to search for the missing family members'."

***

From the Boston Globe, Sara Roy tells something of the real situation in Gaza:

"THE PODIUM
Deprivation in Gaza Strip

By Sara Roy | JULY 19, 2014

A Palestinian child runs on debris from a house that was destroyed Saturday in an Israeli strike in Beit Lahiya, Gaza Strip. AP Photo/Lefteris Pitarakis

A Palestinian child runs on debris from a house that was destroyed Saturday in an Israeli strike in Beit Lahiya, Gaza Strip. AP Photo/Lefteris Pitarakis

In almost three decades of research and writing on Gaza, I have often asked myself, “Is there a language to really express the torment of Gaza and the way in which the world’s unflinching indifference and heartlessness contribute to it?

Gaza’s present anguish did not emerge in a vacuum nor in response to a single terrible event as the Israeli government would have us believe. Instead, it emanates from a context of ongoing occupation and repression that has transformed Gaza — the center of Palestinian nationalism and resistance to Israeli occupation — into one of the most impoverished, imprisoned areas of the world.

Gaza’s deterioration, however, was not accidental or inadvertent. To the contrary, the devastation of Gaza’s economy (and environment) was deliberate and planned by Israel, imposed through separation and isolation and through a destructive economic blockade, which entered its eighth year last month. The blockade — which has been supported by the United States, the European Union, and Egypt in particular — virtually bans access to markets outside Gaza and confines the overwhelming majority of people to the Strip. This has ended all normal trade upon which Gaza’s tiny economy depends and has disabled the private sector and its capacity to generate jobs, preventing any viable recovery of Gaza’s productive sectors.

Unemployment in Gaza stands at 40.8 percent, a dramatic increase from 18.7 percent in 2000; however, for those people between 15 and 29 years of age, the unemployment rate is almost 60 percent. Because of this, poverty has increased with almost 80 percent of Gazans made dependent on humanitarian aid to survive although they are able and desperate to work.

Another way to understand the impact of the Israeli blockade is this: In 2000, UNRWA (the UN agency responsible for Palestine refugees) was feeding 80,000 people in the Gaza Strip; today it feeds over 830,000 people. Yet, UNRWA’s food aid to almost half the population is now under threat as some international donors such as Canada have inexplicably defunded UNRWA or fund at levels that do not meet Gaza’s burgeoning need. Without an increase in financial support to cover a $22 million shortfall, UNRWA may have to eliminate its food distributions by the end of 2014. If this happens there should be no doubt that Palestinians in Gaza will face starvation for the first time in their history, and the violence that will ensue from their deepened agony and abandonment will be calamitous.

The profound deprivation that has long defined life in Gaza is intensifying. Israel is deliberately targeting and bombing civilian infrastructure with the aim of ensuring Gaza’s continued decay. Even before Israel’s ground invasion, water and sewage treatment facilities in 18 different locations sustained damage, and presently, 900,000 people — half of Gaza’s total population — have no access to water. Fifty percent of sewage pumping and wastewater treatment systems are no longer operational, largely affecting Northern Gaza, Gaza city and Rafah. Damaged pipelines have resulted in the mixing of sewage and water, raising the risk of water borne diseases, a serious public health hazard. Several power lines have also been disabled by bombardments, leaving 80 percent of the population with only four hours of electricity a day, and critically disrupting the delivery of basic services, especially in hospitals.

Israeli warplanes have destroyed or severely damaged between 1,660 and1,890 homes and have inflicted significant damage to at least 1,420 more, displacing around 50,000 people, according to the UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs; 48,000 of the displaced are sheltering in 43 UNRWA facilities. Israeli airstrikes have also attacked a range of institutions including: UNRWA installations, hospitals, health clinics, nursing care centers, rehabilitation centers for the disabled, schools, sports clubs, banks, mosques and office buildings.

Hamas’s targeting of Israeli civilians is also criminal and has achieved little for Palestinians. Instead of stopping Israel, Hamas rocket fire provides a continued rationalization for Israeli aggression on a nearly defenseless population.

Yet the terrible violence now engulfing Gaza, which has left more than 270 (predominantly civilian) dead and over 2,300 injured, feels somehow different say some of my Palestinian friends. There is an unfathomable quality to the violence from which Gaza’s people, especially children, can find no refuge. Raji Sourani, a prominent human rights lawyer in Gaza, recently wrote me, and his message demands to be shared: “Gaza is a totally unsafe place. Day and night the same: shock and terror . . . Airplanes do not leave Gaza’s skies and they are throwing death to children and women. I visited the intensive care unit at Shifa Hospital and you cannot imagine the scene; most of them will die soon. Even medicines do not exist — almost 40 percent shortages. The hospital is full of women and children; many lost [body] parts and limbs. The ceasefire will not last without ending the siege [and] opening the crossings . . . People here have nothing to lose except misery and humiliation . . . We want to live a normal life, with dignity. I believe this will go on for some time, I am sure we will pay heavily for it, but freedom has a price.”

Sara Roy is a senior research scholar at the Center for Middle Eastern Studies, Harvard University."

***

Noura Erakat, from the Intifada website, deals specifically with some issues of international humanitarian law, in particular that the law concerning Occupation bars the use of military force:

"No, Israel Does Not Have the Right to Self-Defense In International Law Against Occupied Palestinian Territory
No, Israel Does Not Have the Right to Self-Defense In International Law Against Occupied Palestinian Territory
POSTED BY ELIAS ON JULY 19, 2014 IN NEWS & ANALYSIS, PALESTINE

Israel is distorting/reinterpreting international law to justify its use of militarized force in order to protect its colonial authority. Although it rebuffs the de jure application of Occupation Law, Israel exercises effective control over the West Bank and Gaza and therefore has recourse to police powers. It uses those police powers to continue its colonial expansion and apartheid rule and then in defiance of international law

by Noura Erakat


On the fourth day of Israel’s most recent onslaught against Gaza’s Palestinian population,President Barack Obama declared, “No country on Earth would tolerate missiles raining down on its citizens from outside its borders.” In an echo of Israeli officials, he sought to frame Israel’s aerial missile strikes against the 360-square kilometer Strip as the just use of armed force against a foreign country. Israel’s ability to frame its assault against territory it occupies as a right of self-defense turns international law on its head.

A state cannot simultaneously exercise control over territory it occupies and militarily attack that territory on the claim that it is “foreign” and poses an exogenous national security threat. In doing precisely that, Israel is asserting rights that may be consistent with colonial domination but simply do not exist under international law.

Admittedly, the enforceability of international law largely depends on voluntary state consent and compliance. Absent the political will to make state behavior comport with the law, violations are the norm rather than the exception. Nevertheless, examining what international law says with regard to an occupant’s right to use force is worthwhile in light of Israel’s deliberate attempts since 1967 to reinterpret and transform the laws applicable to occupied territory. These efforts have expanded significantly since the eruption of the Palestinian uprising in 2000, and if successful, Israel’s reinterpretation would cast the law as an instrument that protects colonial authority at the expense of the rights of civilian non-combatants.

Israel Has A Duty To Protect Palestinians Living Under Occupation

Military occupation is a recognized status under international law and since 1967, the international community has designated the West Bank and the Gaza Strip as militarily occupied. As long as the occupation continues, Israel has the right to protect itself and its citizens from attacks by Palestinians who reside in the occupied territories. However, Israel also has a duty to maintain law and order, also known as “normal life,” within territory it occupies. This obligation includes not only ensuring but prioritizing the security and well-being of the occupied population. That responsibility and those duties are enumerated inOccupation Law.

Occupation Law is part of the laws of armed conflict; it contemplates military occupation as an outcome of war and enumerates the duties of an occupying power until the peace is restored and the occupation ends. To fulfill its duties, the occupying power is afforded the right to use police powers, or the force permissible for law enforcement purposes. As put by the U.S. Military Tribunal during the Hostages Trial (The United States of America vs. Wilhelm List, et al.)

International Law places the responsibility upon the commanding general of preserving order, punishing crime, and protecting lives and property within the occupied territory. His power in accomplishing these ends is as great as his responsibility.

The extent and breadth of force constitutes the distinction between the right to self-defense and the right to police. Police authority is restricted to the least amount of force necessary to restore order and subdue violence. In such a context, the use of lethal force is legitimate only as a measure of last resort. Even where military force is considered necessary to maintain law and order, such force is circumscribed by concern for the civilian non-combatant population. The law of self-defense, invoked by states against other states, however, affords a broader spectrum of military force. Both are legitimate pursuant to the law of armed conflict and therefore distinguished from the peacetime legal regime regulated by human rights law.

When It Is Just to Begin to Fight

The laws of armed conflict are found primarily in the Hague Regulations of 1907, the Four Geneva Conventions of 1949, and their Additional Protocols I and II of 1977. This body of law is based on a crude balance between humanitarian concerns on the one hand and military advantage and necessity on the other. The post-World War II Nuremberg trials defined military exigency as permission to expend “any amount and kind of force to compel the complete submission of the enemy…” so long as the destruction of life and property is not done for revenge or a lust to kill. Thus, the permissible use of force during war, while expansive, is not unlimited.

In international law, self-defense is the legal justification for a state to initiate the use of armed force and to declare war. This is referred to as jus ad bellum—meaning “when it is just to begin to fight.” The right to fight in self-defense is distinguished from jus in bello, the principles and laws regulating the means and methods of warfare itself. Jus ad bellum aims to limit the initiation of the use of armed force in accordance with United Nations Charter Article 2(4); its sole justification, found in Article 51, is in response to an armed attack (or an imminent threat of one in accordance with customary law on the matter). The only other lawful way to begin a war, according to Article 51, is with Security Council sanction, an option reserved—in principle, at least—for the defense or restoration of international peace and security.

Once armed conflict is initiated, and irrespective of the reason or legitimacy of such conflict, the jus in bello legal framework is triggered. Therefore, where an occupation already is in place, the right to initiate militarized force in response to an armed attack, as opposed to police force to restore order, is not a remedy available to the occupying state. The beginning of a military occupation marks the triumph of one belligerent over another. In the case of Israel, its occupation of the West Bank, the Gaza Strip, the Golan Heights, and the Sinai in 1967 marked a military victory against Arab belligerents.

Occupation Law prohibits an occupying power from initiating armed force against its occupied territory. By mere virtue of the existence of military occupation, an armed attack, including one consistent with the UN Charter, has already occurred and been concluded. Therefore the right of self-defense in international law is, by definition since 1967, not available to Israel with respect to its dealings with real or perceived threats emanating from the West Bank and Gaza Strip population. To achieve its security goals, Israel can resort to no more than the police powers, or the exceptional use of militarized force, vested in it by IHL. This is not to say that Israel cannot defend itself—but those defensive measures can neither take the form of warfare nor be justified as self-defense in international law. As explained by Ian Scobbie:

To equate the two is simply to confuse the legal with the linguistic denotation of the term ”defense.“ Just as ”negligence,“ in law, does not mean ”carelessness” but, rather, refers to an elaborate doctrinal structure, so ”self-defense” refers to a complex doctrine that has a much more restricted scope than ordinary notions of ”defense.“

To argue that Israel is employing legitimate “self-defense” when it militarily attacks Gaza affords the occupying power the right to use both police and military force in occupied territory. An occupying power cannot justify military force as self-defense in territory for which it is responsible as the occupant. The problem is that Israel has never regulated its own behavior in the West Bank and Gaza as in accordance with Occupation Law.

Israel’s Attempts To Change International Law

Since the beginning of its occupation in 1967, Israel has rebuffed the applicability of international humanitarian law to the Occupied Palestinian Territory (OPT). Despite imposing military rule over the West Bank and Gaza, Israel denied the applicability of the Fourth Geneva Convention relative to the Protection of Civilian Persons in Time of War (the cornerstone of Occupation Law). Israel argued because the territories neither constituted a sovereign state nor were sovereign territories of the displaced states at the time of conquest, that it simply administered the territories and did not occupy them within the meaning of international law. The UN Security Council, the International Court of Justice, the UN General Assembly, as well as the Israeli High Court of Justice have roundly rejected the Israeli government’s position. Significantly, the HCJ recognizes the entirety of the Hague Regulations and provisions of the 1949 Geneva Conventions that pertain to military occupation as customary international law.

Israel’s refusal to recognize the occupied status of the territory, bolstered by the US’ resilient and intransigent opposition to international accountability within the UN Security Council, has resulted in the condition that exists today: prolonged military occupation. Whereas the remedy to occupation is its cessation, such recourse will not suffice to remedy prolonged military occupation. By virtue of its decades of military rule, Israel has characterized all Palestinians as a security threat and Jewish nationals as their potential victims, thereby justifying the differential, and violent, treatment of Palestinians. In its 2012 session, the UN Committee on the Elimination of Racial Discrimination described current conditions following decades of occupation and attendant repression as tantamount to Apartheid.

In complete disregard for international law, and its institutional findings, Israel continues to treat the Occupied Territory as colonial possessions. Since the beginning of the second Palestinian intifada in 2000, Israel has advanced the notion that it is engaged in an international armed conflict short of war in the West Bank and the Gaza Strip. Accordingly, it argues that it can 1) invoke self-defense, pursuant to Article 51 of the United Nations Charter, and 2) use force beyond that permissible during law enforcement, even where an occupation exists.

The Gaza Strip Is Not the World Trade Center

To justify its use of force in the OPT as consistent with the right of self-defense, Israel has cited UN Security Council Resolution 1368 (2001)and UN Security Council Resolution 1373 (2001). These two resolutions were passed in direct response to the Al-Qaeda attacks on the United States on 11 September 2001. They affirm that those terrorist acts amount to threats to international peace and security and therefore trigger Article 51 of the UN Charter permitting the use of force in self-defense. Israel has therefore deliberately characterized all acts of Palestinian violence – including those directed exclusively at legitimate military targets – as terrorist acts. Secondly it frames those acts as amounting to armed attacks that trigger the right of self-defense under Article 51 irrespective of the West Bank and Gaza’s status as Occupied Territory.

The Israeli Government stated its position clearly in the 2006 HCJ case challenging the legality of the policy of targeted killing (Public Committee against Torture in Israel et al v. Government of Israel). The State argued that, notwithstanding existing legal debate, “there can be no doubt that the assault of terrorism against Israel fits the definition of an armed attack,” effectively permitting Israel to use military force against those entities. Therefore, Israeli officials claim that the laws of war can apply to “both occupied territory and to territory which is not occupied, as long as armed conflict is taking place on it” and that the permissible use of force is not limited to law enforcement operations. The HCJ has affirmed this argument in at least three of its decisions: Public Committee Against Torture in Israel et al v. Government of Israel, Hamdan v. Southern Military Commander, and Physicians for Human Rights v. The IDF Commander in Gaza. These rulings sanction the government’s position that it is engaged in an international armed conflict and, therefore, that its use of force is not restricted by the laws of occupation. The Israeli judiciary effectively authorizes the State to use police force to control the lives of Palestinians (e.g., through ongoing arrests, prosecutions, checkpoints) and military force to pummel their resistance to occupation.

The International Court of Justice (ICJ) dealt with these questions in its assessment of the permissible use of force in the Occupied West Bank in its 2004 Advisory Opinion, Legal Consequences on the Construction of a Wall in the Occupied Palestinian Territory. The ICJ reasoned that Article 51 contemplates an armed attack by one state against another state and “Israel does not claim that the attacks against it are imputable to a foreign state.” Moreover, the ICJ held that because the threat to Israel “originates within, and not outside” the Occupied West Bank,

the situation is thus different from that contemplated by Security Council resolutions 1368 (2001) and 1373 (2001), and therefore Israel could not in any event invoke those resolutions in support of its claim to be exercising a right of self-defense. Consequently, the Court concludes that Article 51 of the Charter has no relevance in this case.

Despite the ICJ’s decision, Israel continues to insist that it is exercising its legal right to self-defense in its execution of military operations in the West Bank and the Gaza Strip. Since 2005, Israel slightly changed its position towards the Gaza Strip. The government insists that as a result of its unilateral disengagement in 2005, its occupation has come to an end. In 2007, the government declared the Gaza Strip a “hostile entity” and waged war upon the territory over which it continues to exercise effective control as an Occupying Power. Lisa Hajjar expounds on these issues here.

In effect, Israel is distorting/reinterpreting international law to justify its use of militarized force in order to protect its colonial authority. Although it rebuffs the de jure application of Occupation Law, Israel exercises effective control over the West Bank and Gaza and therefore has recourse to police powers. It uses those police powers to continue its colonial expansion and apartheid rule and then in defiance of international law cites its right to self-defense in international law to wage war against the population, which it has a duty to protect. The invocation of law to protect its colonial presence makes the Palestinian civilian population doubly vulnerable. Specifically in the case of Gaza,

It forces the people of the Gaza Strip to face one of the most powerful militaries in the world without the benefit either of its own military, or of any realistic means to acquire the means to defend itself.

More broadly, Israel is slowly pushing the boundaries of existing law in an explicit attempt to reshape it. This is an affront to the international humanitarian legal order, which is intended to protect civilians in times of war by minimizing their suffering. Israel’s attempts have proven successful in the realm of public relations, as evidenced by President Obama’s uncritical support of Israel’s recent onslaughts of Gaza as an exercise in the right of self-defense. Since international law lacks a hierarchal enforcement authority, its meaning and scope is highly contingent on the prerogative of states, especially the most powerful ones. The implications of this shift are therefore palpable and dangerous.

Failure to uphold the law would allow states to behave according to their own whim in furtherance of their national interest, even in cases where that is detrimental to civilian non-combatants and to the international legal order. For better or worse, the onus to resist this shift and to preserve protection for civilians rests upon the shoulders of citizens, organizations, and mass movements who can influence their governments enforce international law. There is no alternative to political mobilization to shape state behavior.

Source: Jadaliyya.com

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About the author

No, Israel Does Not Have the Right to Self-Defense In International Law Against Occupied Palestinian Territory Noura Erakat is a human rights attorney and writer. She is currently a Freedman Teaching Fellow at Temple University, Beasley School of Law and is a member of the Legal Support Network for the Badil Center for Palestinian Refugee and Residency Rights. She has taught International Human Rights Law and the Middle East at Georgetown University since Spring 2009. Most recently she served as Legal Counsel for a Congressional Subcommittee in the House of Representatives, chaired by Congressman Dennis J. Kucinich. She has helped to initiate and organize several national formations including Arab Women Arising for Justice (AMWAJ) and the U.S. Palestinian Community Network (USPCN). She is a board member of the Trans-Arab Research Institute (TARI); a Policy Advisor of Al-Shabaka; a founding member of the DC Palestinian Film and Arts Festival; the development consultant for Legal Agenda; and a contributor to IntLawGrrls. Noura has appeared on MSNBC’s “Up With Chris Hayes,” Fox’s “The O’ Reilly Factor,” NBC’s “Politically Incorrect,” Democracy Now, and Al-JazeeraArabic and English. Her scholarly publications include: “Litigating the Arab-Israeli Conflict: The Politicization of U.S. Federal Courts” in the Berkeley Law Journal of Middle Eastern and Islamic Law, “BDS in the USA: 2001-2010,” in the Middle East Report, and “U.S. vs. ICRC-Customary International Humanitarian Law and Universal Jurisdiction” forthcoming in the Denver Journal of International Law & Policy. She is a Co-Editor of Jadaliyya.com. You can follow her on Twitter at @4noura."

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‘Are you a fucking leftist?’ –Israeli fascists target anti-occupation activists in Tel Aviv
Bekah Wolf on July 18, 2014 21


Right wing protesters attacking an anti-war on Gaza demonstration in Tel Aviv. (Photo: Twitter/ActiveStills.org)
Right wing protesters attacking an anti-war on Gaza demonstration in Tel Aviv. (Photo: Twitter/ActiveStills.org)

Yossi* wants to make it very clear from the beginning of our discussion that I cannot use his real name. Rotem, his friend who is also translating, explains, “He is afraid. We’re all afraid. The fascists are searching for our Facebook profiles, for any information about us on the internet. They are hunting us.”

What first may seem like hyperbole is in fact exactly what pro-Palestinian, anti-occupation Jewish-Israeli activists have been describing for the last week: mobs of right-wing fascists chasing peaceful protesters and violently attacking them in the centers of West Jerusalem and Tel Aviv.

On Saturday night, July 12, a few hundred demonstrators gathered in Habima Square in Tel Aviv to protest the ongoing massacre in Gaza, organized by the Coalition of Women for Peace. Habima Square, according to Rotem, is the place for “mainstream” protests in Tel Aviv. Hundreds of demonstrations have been held there, though none in recent memory had turned as violent and ugly as Saturday night’s. While demonstrators chanted and held signs in the square, a group of approximately 60 counter-protesters, some wearing shirts with fascist logos prominently displayed, arrived and began menacing the crowd. Police were not doing much to separate the two groups. Some of the demonstrators had already dispersed, sensing the tension with the counter-protestors, and then a siren sounded, indicating an incoming rocket from the resistance in Gaza.

“The police were just cowards,” Rotem said. “They left us to face a group of fascists who wanted to kill us. They actually told us that.” The demonstrators there to support the people of Gaza tried to leave the area. Yossi explained what happened next. “We ran down the street and the fascists followed us. We ran into a cafe and about 20 of the fascists came inside after us. They completely destroyed the cafe.” A chair was raised and crashed over Yossi’s head. It was only when he lost consciousness that the police were called. Yossi was evacuated by friends to the hospital.

On Monday, Yossi decided he wanted to return to the cafe and apologize.

“I felt bad,” he said. “It is a cafe in my neighborhood. It wasn’t the owner’s fault that the fascists got violent. I wanted to apologize.”

Yossi describes himself as rather “strange” for a “left-wing activist”. He comes from a religious family and wears a yarmulke, a rare sight among the largely secular Jewish-Israeli left. He’s in his early twenties and says he’s been going to demonstrations in support of Palestinians in the Occupied Territories and inside Israel, as well as social justice issues. He went to the cafe and was chatting with the owner without incident until the bartender asked him, “are you a leftist?” Yossi replied that he was, which the bartender found odd, considering that Yossi was religious. Yossi gave the example to the bartender of the Naturei Karta, an orthodox sect that is strictly anti-Zionist when a customer in the cafe got up to confront him.

“Are you a fucking leftist?” he asked. “Do you love this country?”

Yossi replied that he did not, in fact, love the state, and said in English, “Judaism is not Zionism.” Rotem interjects at this point to explain, “this may seem like an obvious thing to say, but in Israel, it’s not.”

Yossi, wary of the increasing tension, tried to leave the cafe. The customer began to laugh at him. “Were you the one injured on Saturday?” he asked. Yossi replied that he was, and was in fact hospitalized. The man began shouting and getting aggressive with Yossi, who took out his phone and snapped a picture of the enraged customer. Yossi described what happened next with a sense of shock in his voice.

The customer grabbed Yossi by the hair and threw him to the ground, insisting that he give him the phone to delete the picture. Yossi suggested he would show the owner that he was deleting the picture but the customer would have none of it and again threw him to the ground and beat him. Yossi saw a police officer outside and tried to go to him when the customer threw him down again. Yossi blacked out for a moment and when he came to the customer was trying to physically throw him outside. The owner by this point was also trying to throw Yossi out of the cafe, saying he was causing trouble. Finally, Yossi managed to leave and call friends and the police, though both he and Rotem want to make clear that they don’t trust the police and don’t believe in using them anyway.

It is a level of violence that neither Yossi nor Rotem have seen before. Not aimed at other Jewish-Israelis, at least. Rotem was particularly appalled that throughout the assault, no one lifted a hand to help Yossi or to interfere.

Both Rotem and Yossi want to make it clear, though, that they recognize violence itself is nothing new. Yossi said, “this is nothing compared to the violence used against Palestinians every day.” Even during periods of relative calm, he says, “Palestinians are attacked every day. Every day.” What’s different, Rotem said, is that it is now being visited on other Jews, “in the heart of Tel Aviv.”

I asked what they saw as the cause of the surge of violence and fascist rhetoric in Israeli society. Yossi explained it this way: “The differen[ce] between the pilots bombing Gaza every day and the hooligans in the street is that the hooligans aren’t killing people.” In other words, the mentality required to massacre Gazans and that which leads to assaulting those who you don’t agree with are one in the same. Rotem lays the blame at the increasingly right-wing government and their direct incitement. “[Naftali] Bennett and others like him are encouraging this kind of violence. They are calling Palestinians animals and us traitors.” He believes it’s part of a coordinated campaign to incite violence. “It used to not be politically correct to talk like this. You used to only say these things behind closed doors. Now it’s out in the open.” The people on the streets attacking Palestinians and left-wing Israelis, he said, “are just the soldiers.” This is the result of “twenty years of denying democracy, of working against the Supreme Court, against minorities” he said.

“I don’t want to say it will get worse before it gets better, but….” Rotem said, his voice trailing off. The sense of urgency then returns to his voice. “It’s only going to get worse if the left doesn’t stand against it,” he said. “We are trying to organize. People can’t be afraid to be loyal to Palestinians. I don’t care if we get beaten again and again. We need to stand against the fascists.” “I’m a teacher,” he told me, “I wasn’t even really an activist. But I am now.”

*Not his real name

About Bekah Wolf
Bekah Wolf has worked in Palestine since 2003. In 2006 she co-founded the Palestine Solidarity Project with her husband, former administrative detainee and current popular committee leader Mousa Abu Maria. She lived for 4 years in her husband's village of Beit Ommar, Hebron District and currently splits her time between the U.S. and Beit Ommar with her daughter Rafeef."