These are sad times. We have a cease fire now, scheduled to last another 2 days (from midnight to midnight). The cease fire is to give time for the sides to talk.
My personal feeling is that Israel feels that it is doing excellently and will continue without giving the Palestinians the time of day. May I be wrong. They have the same right as do all human beings to be free! Imagine the United States telling Mexico that it can have no ports either sea or air ones! The Palestinians badly need their freedom. Will Hamas raise its hands without gaining the end of the siege? Israel is obviously not ready to give Gaza anything—well just small things, like extending the distance that fishermen will be allowed to fish. One thing that is not spoken of much is the fact that Gaza apparently has potentially a large natural gas field off its coast. BP was at one time interested in developing it, but due to Israel’s maneuverings pulled out. For more on the gas field see http://www.globalresearch.ca/war-and-natural-gas-the-israeli-invasion-and-gaza-s-offshore-gas-fields/11680
These gas fields are undoubtedly a reason that Israel wants no shipping port for Gaza or to allow Gaza control of the waters off its coast.
In any event, I anticipate that the missiles will begin coming our way again and bombings of Gaza will resume in 2 more days, if not sooner. On tonight’s Israel TV news (3 stations) the commentators and newscasters couldn’t hide their delight at the way the talks were going—all in Israel’s favor.
But these commentators and news casters ignore at their own peril what is happening outside of Israel. I have never seen so much anti-Israel articles, protests, and feeling in the 56 years that I have lived here. May it grow! In leaps and bounds! A country that denies the indigenous population freedom and the glow of a happy future deserves to be treated as the pariah it is!
As for the items below, there are 10 of them, several of which include videos worth seeing. The final item is one of these, an interview of Norman Finkelstein, but also includes a transcript. I did not listen to the entire video, but from the 1/3 or so that I heard, I presume that the whole is between 40-60 minutes.
Item 1 is a very strong speech by a Norwegian doctor who had just returned from Gaza. He insists that just as the Norwegians fought the Nazis in WWII, so Gazans also have the right to fight for their freedom.
Item 2 is likewise a strong speech, but at a protest, where Ramia Massi teaches Barack Obama the meaning of “barbaric.” Well worth hearing!
Item 3 likewise takes us to protests, of which there were many over the weekend.
Item 4 tells us that Israel’s military incursion into Gaza has breathed life into the boycott-Israel campaign, though this has not as yet brought the desired results. Perhaps it will.
Item 5 takes us to the protest in Cape Town–apparently one of the largest (http://www.iol.co.za/news/politics/huge-march-for-gaza-in-cape-town-1.1733038#.U-klZYkcTaU reports that 40,000 participated).
Item 6 tells the true story of what happened to the Greenhouses that the settlers on the outskirts of Gaza left behind.
Item 7, Gaza Diary depicts how the cease fire gives Gazans a bit of time to breathe, to do normal things as shop, just go out of the house, and the like, but accompanying them is the fear that the quiet might not hold.
In item 8 Gideon Levy explains what Gaza is like if you don’t hate it.
In item 9 Amira Hass bitterly (and justly) derides the Europeans for giving Israel a green light to kill and destroy.
Item 10 is the interview with Norman Finkelstein.
That’s it for tonight. Let’s continue to do whatever we can to help the people of Gaza rid themselves of the siege!
1 The Palestine Chronicle Monday, August 11, 2014
[use the link to listen to the entire speech, in Norwegian but with translation in subtitles]
Monday, August 11, 2014
Surgeon Mads Gilbert Gives a Powerful Speech about Gaza after Returning Home to Norway
Aug 8 2014
Mads Gilbert: “Nobody wants to be occupied!”
In a powerful 25 minute speech on his return home to Tromsø, Norway from 15 days treating the wounded in Gaza, the Norwegian emergency surgeon Dr Mads Gilbert said: “The heart of the Earth beats in Gaza now. It bleeds, but it beats.”
He went on to say: “The Palestinian people’s resistance in Gaza today is admirable, it is fair and it is a struggle for all of us. We do not want a world where raw power can be abused, to kill those who struggle for justice.”
Below is the first few minutes of the speech transcribed from the video which is subtitled in English. In an appeal to Norwegian citizens, he asks them to imagine what their country would be like today if they had not struggled for its liberation from German occupation.
I know you applaud for Gaza. I know you applaud for those who are there, the heroes of Gaza.
This will be no easy appeal to make, because I am now overcome by the mildness, the warmth, the safety, the absence of bombs, jets, blood and death. And then all that we’ve had to keep inside comes to the surface – so forgive me if sometimes I break.
I thought when I got home and met my daughters Siri and Torbjørn, my son-in-law and my grandkids Jenny and Torje, that it is such a mild country we live in.
It so good, with a kind of humanity in all relationships, because we actually built this country on respect for diversity, respect for the individual, respect for human dignity.
And imagine being back in 1945. And I beg to be understood when I say that I am not comparing the German Nazi regime with Israel. I do not.
But I compare occupation with occupation. Imagine that we in 1945 did not win the liberation struggle, did not throw out the occupier, could not see a bright future or believe our kids had a future. Imagine the occupier remaining in our country, taking it piece by piece, for decades upon decades. And banished us to the leanest areas. Took the fish in the sea, took the land, took the water, and we became more and more confined.
And here in Tromsø we were actually imprisoned, because here there was so much resistance to the occupation. So we are imprisoned for seven years, because in an election we had chosen the most resilient, those who would not accept the occupation.
Then after seven years of confinement in our city, Tromsø, the occupier began to bomb us. And they began to bomb us the day we made a political alliance with those in the other confined parts of occupied Norway, to say that we Norwegians would stand together against the occupier. Then they began to bomb us.
They bombed our university hospital, then the medical center, then killed our ambulance workers, they bombed schools where those who had lost their homes were trying to seek shelter. Then they cut the power and bombed our power plant. Then they shut off the water supply. What would we have done?
Would we have given up, waved the white flag? No. No, we would not. And this is the situation in Gaza.
This is not a battle between terrorism and democracy. Hamas is not the enemy Israel is fighting. Israel is waging a war against the Palestinian people’s will to resist. The unbending determination not to submit to the occupation!
It is the Palestinian people’s dignity and humanity that will not accept that they are treated as third, fourth, fifth-ranking people.
In 1938, the Nazis called the Jews “Untermenschen,” subhuman. Today, Palestinians in the West Bank, in Gaza, in the Diaspora are treated as Untermensch, as subhumans who can be bombed, killed, slaughtered by their thousands, without any of those in power reacting.
So I returned home to my free country – and this country is free because we had a resistance movement, because we said that occupied nations have the right to resist, even with weapons. It’s stated in international law.
You are permitted to fight the occupier even with weapons.
Nobody wants to be occupied!
2 Rania Masri gives Barack Obama a lesson on the meaning of ‘barbaric’
Annie Robbins on August 11, 2014 27
[use the link to hear Rania Masri’s very impressive speech]
Thousands of people from Austin and the surrounding region attended a rally and march protesting Israel’s assault on Gaza, joining the millions protesting around the world. Though for the most part, Austin’s protest on August 2 went unreported.
And video from that rally, of a thunderous speech by Dr. Rania Masri chastising President Obama over his usage of the term “barbaric,” has been garnering thousands of hits daily since it got picked up by social media.
Watch Rania Masri’s focused rage calling for us to make a stand and pledge to be organized in support of Boycott Divestment and Sanctions against Israel. And read each word of her amazing speech, which has already been translated into three languages:
‘Mr. Obama, what is barbaric?’
Yesterday [August 1], the Obama administration said that the capture of an invading Israeli soldier by the Palestinian Resistance was – and I quote – a “barbaric action.”
It seems President Obama and his administration consider the abduction of an invading soldier from an occupying army to be ‘barbaric’ but the massacre of more than 1600 Palestinians in their neighborhoods, in their homes, in their schools, in their hospitals, in their playgrounds, on their beaches is not barbaric.
We need to tell Mr. Obama what barbaric is.
Barbaric is the Israeli killing of more than 70 families in Gaza. More than 70 Palestinian families have been lost.
Barbaric is that 300,000 children in Gaza have lost either their home or a loved one.
Barbaric is that hospitals are targeted. Six out of nine hospitals in Gaza are closed and Israel is threatening to attack the rest.
Barbaric is that entire neighborhoods have been destroyed, labeled what one journalist called ‘apocalyptic.’
Barbaric is that we have 500,000 missiles dropped on an area smaller than 260 km2 (100 square miles).
Barbaric is that it has been the Zionist policy to destroy the economy in Gaza. That is why they bombed the electric power plant, that is why they are bombing the waste water infrastructure, that is why yesterday they destroyed an ice cream factory.
Barbaric is the siege imposed on Gaza since 2005 and the fencing off of Gaza since 1995. Barbaric is that the objective of this siege is deliberately to destroy the economy of Palestinians in Gaza, to cripple them, to break them. That, Mr. Obama, is barbarism.
Barbaric, Mr. Obama, is what is coming out of Israel right now – which is open calls for the genocide of Palestinians in Gaza. This is what is written in Israeli newspapers. The current Deputy Prime Minister who calls for that against the Palestinians in Gaza. [Note, he says, “We must blow Gaza back to the Middle Ages —destroying all the infrastructure, including roads and water.”]
But none of this is new for us Palestinians. We have seen it before. We have seen it before. We are not surprised. I wish we were. But none of the things that have happened against us in Gaza or in Ramallah or in Quds [Jerusalem] are new.
Barbaric, Mr. Obama, is Zionism. Golda Meir, Israel’s 4th Prime Minister, said, there is ‘no such as a Palestinian people.’ Barbaric is to deny our identity and to deny our existence.
Barbaric is what Menachem Begin, another Israeli PM, said in 1949 when he called Palestinians “beasts walking on two legs.”
Barbaric is what historian Benny Morris says, a historian who recognizes that every single Israeli village and Israeli town is built on a Palestinian village and a Palestinian town and yet he justifies this genocide and this ethnic cleansing and he recently called for the ethnic cleansing of Palestinians in Gaza. That is barbaric.
Barbaric is what the Israeli Offensive Forces are calling for. They have said very specifically that officers have been given legal advice that allows them – and I quote – to target “large numbers of civilian casualties.” And this statement was not released in 2014; this statement was from 2009.
Barbaric is what Netanyahu says when he says we must hit them – “Not just one blow, but blows that are so painful that the price will be too heavy to be borne.” And he said that in 2012. That is barbaric.
Barbaric is when they asked Netanyahu what will they say when we destroy their villages, Netanyahu said, “the world won’t say a thing. The world will say we’re defending [ourselves].”
President Obama has said, and I quote, “innocent civilians caught in the crossfire have to weigh on our conscience. We have to do more.”
Well I appeal to you, Mr. Obama, don’t do more. Because when he does more, he gives more weapons and he gives millions of our money to the Israeli war machine. No, Mr. Obama, if this is how the deaths of our families weighs on your conscience, then please don’t do more.
We need to recognize that the crimes against the Palestinians in Gaza over the past 27 days are not new. The crimes against the Palestinians in Gaza since the siege in 2005 are not new. They began in 1948.
We need to recognize what barbaric is. Barbaric is racism. Barbaric is defining Palestinians as a ‘demographic threat.’ A demographic threat and therefore considering that Palestinian existence is a threat to Israeli survival. Our existence is a threat to their survival, which means that the mere fact that we exist is justification for them to kill us. That is barbaric. That is racism. That is Zionism. And that is what we must end.
We are here, together to say, we demand an arms embargo on the state of Israel. We demand an arms embargo on the state of Israel.
We are here to say we demand the International Criminal Court and the International Court of Justice: take the Israeli war criminals to justice for the crime of genocide.
We demand an end to the occupation. And we demand an end to racism.
We stand with the Foreign Minister of Finland who said that sanctions against Israel must be on the table.
We stand with the governments of Latin American – from Ecuador, to El Salvador, to Bolivia, to Brazil, to Venezuela, to Chile, to Peru, to Cuba who expelled their ambassadors from Israel. We stand with the President of Bolivia, Evo Morales, who said Israel is a “terrorist state.”
And I have to say this. We not only stand with Palestinian families – with their women and their children – but we have to stand with the Palestinian Resistance. If we say that an occupied population has the right to defend itself – which is what an occupied population has the right to do – then we stand with the Palestinian Resistance. We stand with the Palestinian Resistance.
And if we are opposed to racism against Palestinians, then we need to be opposed to racism against anyone, anywhere. Which means, Mr. Obama, we are opposed to your drone warfare. We are opposed to your drone warfare. Mr. Obama, we are opposed to your immigrant policies that separates families in Texas and elsewhere in the United States. We are opposed to discrimination against African-Americans and Latino-Americans and all of the people of color. We say this as Palestinians, we say this as human rights activists: an end to the privatization of prisons in this country, an end to the drone warfare, an end to everything that is barbaric. That is what we say.
And we make a pledge. We make a pledge, right here, today. In the name of the Palestinians, who are the most resilient people I have ever known, who are standing, and who have been standing since 1948, we pledge to them, that when the bombs stop – and they will stop — we will remember our anger today, we will remember our tears today, and we will not be broken. So long as Palestinians are surviving, and they are surviving, so long as they are resilient – and by God we are resilient, we will not be broken and we will organize. That means each of you here is to make a pledge, to stand and be organized in support of the Boycott Divestment and Sanctions Movement. Make it your personal pledge to be organized in Dallas, in Houston, in Austin, wherever you come from in Texas, to support the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions movement. [end of the video]
We will break down the walls of Apartheid. We will end the horrors of occupation and siege. We will dismantle segregation in all its forms. We will connect our struggles. And we will teach resistance. Make that your pledge!
Who’s Rania Masri? She’s a political commentator, a regular on the Real News, a scholar, a human rights activist, a university professor of environmental science and a writer. Her activism has centered on environmental justice, civil rights, anti war, anti apartheid, of course Palestine and the list goes on. Prior to her current position as an assistant professor and chair of the Environmental Sciences Department at the University of Balamand in Lebanon, Masri directed the Southern Peace Research and Education Center at the Institute for Southern Studies in North Carolina. When she returns to Lebanon this fall she plans on accepting a position at the American University of Beirut.
She’s on fire.
Austin, TX – Aug. 2, 2014
About Annie Robbins
Annie Robbins is Editor at Large for Mondoweiss, a mother, a human rights activist and a ceramic artist. She lives in the SF bay area. Follow her on Twitter @anniefofani
View all posts by Annie Robbins →
Posted in Israel/Palestine
3 Hamodia Sunday, August 10, 2014
Anti-Israel Protesters Taking to Streets
(Reuters/Hamodia) – Some 5,000 people marched through the streets of Santiago over the weekend to call for the Chilean government to break all ties with Israel.
The protest consisted of members of various social organizations, human rights activists, university students, and members of Chile’s Palestinian community.
Regional neighbors such as Brazil, Peru and Ecuador have recalled their ambassadors in Israel in recent weeks.
Meanwhile in New York, about 500 Palestinians and their sympathizers marched to the United Nations, while shouting protests against Israel’s military retaliations against Hamas in the Gaza Strip.
Waving Palestinian flags and ‘Gaza’ signs, some called for an end to U.S. aid to the country.
In midtown Manhattan, police on motorcycles stood by, engines revved up to accompany the marchers before they peacefully headed toward the United Nations building.
London continued to be the scene of large pro-Palestinian demonstrations as thousands marched through central London over the weekend, demanding the British government take a tougher line against Israel.
Protesters converged on the main shopping area of Oxford Street, marching to the U.S. embassy and on to Hyde Park, many of them chanting “Free Palestine” and holding up banners saying “UK — Stop Arming Israel.”
Sayeeda Warsi, a Foreign Office minister and the first Muslim to sit in the British cabinet, resigned last week over the government’s policy on Gaza.
Cameron called for an immediate ceasefire and announced over the weekend that medical experts from the state-run National Health Service (NHS) would be deployed to the region within 48 hours to take part in humanitarian efforts.
Meanwhile, a public appeal for aid for Gaza by the Disasters Emergency Committee (DEC), on behalf of a number of British charities, had raised £4.5 million ($7.5 million, 5.6 million euros) since its launch on Friday.
The city council of Glasgow displayed a Palestinian flag outside its building, in solidarity with the population in Gaza, a move which sparked protest from the Jewish community.
There were also fresh protests in Paris, which has seen several demonstrations, including violent ones directed at the local Jewish community, in recent weeks.
In the Middle East, Jordan’s King Abdullah II lashed out at Israel in a one-sided speech which made no mention of the role of Hamas in the violence. Abdullah said he backed Egyptian efforts to end “the Israeli offensive” and that Jordan would speak out at international forums to bring the killing to a halt and implement a two-state solution.
In Israel itself, where anti-war demonstrations in the past, such those against the war in Lebanon, drew large numbers of people, only about 150 showed up in Tel Aviv, in defiance of a police ban on the assembly that cited military restrictions on public gatherings in cities within range of rocket fire.
Police spokesman Micky Rosenfeld said none of the participants in the illegal gathering were arrested.
The weak turnout merely underscored the broad public support for Operation Protective Edge. The private Israel Democracy Institute think-tank found in a survey in late July that as many as 95 percent of Israelis supported the war, and only 7 percent were opposed.. [*This is nonsense. The ‘weak’ turnout merely showed that not everyone obeyed the police directive against holding the protest. The former protest drew 6,000 Israelis, and this one would undoubtedly have produced the same number if not more. Dorothy]
This article appeared in print on page 7 of today’s edition of Hamodia.
Filed under: Europe, Israel, Palestinian, Protest, War
4 Haaretz Monday, August 11, 2014
Gaza war breathes life into drive to boycott Israel
Social media are abuzz, and companies rush to deny Israeli links, but there are few signs shoppers are actually shunning Israeli goods on the store shelves.
By Ronit Domke, Michal Ramati and TheMarker
The Gaza war has breathed new life into the global campaign to boycott Israel and the foreign companies that do business with it, although the impact of a tide of social media campaigns on actual spending decisions by consumers so far seems to be nil.
One barometer of the campaign is the Buycott mobile application, which is designed to help social activists of all stripes raise consumer awareness of their causes. The app allows shoppers to scan the barcode of a product to determine who made it and to cross-check against the boycott drives the shopper has chosen.
All three of Buycott’s top trending campaigns called for boycotts of products made in Israel and companies that do business with it. “Long live Palestine boycott Israel” was No. 1, at 262,321, followed by “Avoid Israel settlement products” at 142,021 and “Boycott des produits sioniste en France, at 4,285.
A campaign against genetically-modified farm products was fourth and a pro-Israel campaign, “Support Israel and boycott terrorist organizations” was No. 5, at 6,768.
The trending figure refers not to the number of followers but to how quickly the campaign is gaining them. “Long live Palestine” had just 461 members on July 7, the eve of Operation Protective Edge.
“I noticed three weeks ago that we were seeing an unusual spike in traffic, but there hadn’t been any articles written about the app or Israel campaigns,” Ivan Pardo, the California developer who launched the app a year ago, told Forbes magazine. “Next thing I knew Buycott was a top 10-app in the U.K. and the Netherlands, and No. 1 in a number of Middle Eastern countries. Word was spreading through social media.”
Meanwhile, a dedicated app, Boycott Israel, which says it aims to encourage awareness about companies that help Israel, has had tens of thousands of downloads. The Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions movement, which has been leading the drive against Israel, plans its own app.
Hugh Lanning, chair of the London-based Palestine Solidarity Campaign, told The International Business Times last week that he saw signs that the boycott campaign was becoming mainstream.
“We get the feeling that people are anxious. Individuals who have been outraged by what they’ve seen want ways in which they can individually protest. Boycott actions are being seen as a way the person in the street can say: out with that,” he said.
Starbucks, the Seattle-based coffee chain, felt the boycott pressure building enough that it felt compelled to respond over the weekend. Although the chain pulled out of Israel in 2003 after a brief foray, its founder and chairman, Howard Schultz, is Jewish and was being accused of donating money to the Israel Defense Forces.
“Is it true that Starbucks or Howard Schultz provides financial support to Israel?” the company asked in a question-and-answer section. “No. This is absolutely untrue. … Rumors that Starbucks or Howard provides financial support to the Israeli government and/or the Israeli Army are unequivocally false.”
Despite the social media outrage, there haven’t been any confirmed reports of consumers mass boycotting Israeli products. Tesco, Britain’s biggest supermarket chain, denied it had pulled from its shelves dates grown in Israeli settlements in the West Bank.
A Tesco spokesman told the Jewish Chronicle the move was not “politically motivated” or connected to the Gaza conflict, rather part of a “regular product review process.”
Intel, the U.S. semiconductor company with extensive research and development and manufacturing operations is Israel, was subject to a fraudulent press release and webpage in its name that asserted at the end of last week that the company was rescinding plans to invest $6 billion in upgrading its Israeli manufacturing.
“An unknown individual has sent what purports to be a news release to some members of the media concerning Intel’s operations in Israel,” Intel said. “This is a hoax. The purported news release does not come from Intel and is false.”
In Muslim countries, where Israeli products are scarce, boycott efforts have focused on global companies doing business with Israel.
The Turkish daily Zaman reported that Istanbul and a host of small towns have been urging residents not to buy products made in Israel or that have links to Israel, such as Coca-Cola, in a campaign that began on social media. Malaysians have mounted a campaign against McDonald’s, accusing it of supporting Israel’s war effort.
Activists not only called for shunning Big Macs, but reportedly harassed McDonald’s employees, prompting the local franchisee to issue a statement. “The reality is that our employees and franchisees have done nothing wrong and it is grossly unfair that they should be targeted in such a way,” it said.
In Mumbai, The Indian newspaper The Hindu reported in late July that over 1,000 hotels in the city had joined a boycott of Coca-Cola, Pepsi and other products sold in Israel. Kamlesh Sharma, public relations director of Coca-Cola in India, said it was too early to assess the impact. “They have chosen the wrong symbol of protest. Coca-Cola is still selling in Palestine,” he said.
5 CPT [i.e., Cape Town] protests against Gaza/Israel conflict
August 10, 2014
Several high profile dignitaries including Archbishop Desmond Tutu are participating in the march.
Pro-Palestinian march in Cape Town. Picture: Siyabonga Sesant/EWN.
Pro-Palestinian march in Cape Town. Picture: Siyabonga Sesant/EWN.
Lauren Isaacs & Govan Whittles
CAPE TOWN –Tens of thousands of people are making their way through the streets of the Cape Town CBD in protest against the ongoing violent conflict in Gaza.
Several high profile dignitaries including Archbishop Desmond Tutu are participating in the march.
Thousands of people gathered in Keizergracht Street before embarking on a march to Parliament.
The people are brandishing placards that read “save Gaza, free Palestine, stop the bombing and killing of our children”.
As the crowd descending on the CBD grows larger, several roads are being closed causing major traffic delays in and around the city.
This is the second major march to be held in the city in support of Palestine.
Last week thousands gathered in support of Israel at Huddle Park in Linksfield in Johannesburg.
The South African Zionist Federation organised the event to show solidarity with Israel as it continues its offensive in Gaza.
There was a large police contingent and private security guards.
Meanwhile, Israel launched air strikes across the Gaza Strip on Friday in response to Palestinian rockets fired after Egyptian-mediated talks failed to extend a 72-hour truce in the month-long war.
Map illustrating the conflict in Gaza. Graphic: AFP.
As rocket-warning sirens sounded in southern Israel, the military said Hamas had fired at least 18 rockets from Gaza and Israel’s “Iron Dome” interceptor system brought down two. Gaza militants said they had fired 10 rockets on Friday.
In the first casualties since hostilities resumed on Friday, Palestinian medical officials said a 10-year-old boy was killed in an Israeli strike near a mosque in Gaza City. In Israel, police said two people were injured by mortar fire from Gaza.
After a huge explosion in Gaza City, apparently from an air raid, a military spokesperson said Israel had responded to Hamas rocket fire by launching air strikes at “terror sites” across the Gaza Strip.
(Edited by Refilwe Pitjeng)
Smoke billows following an Israeli air strike in Rafah, in the southern Gaza Strip, on 8 August 2014. Picture: AFP.
Gaza: New ceasefire effective as talks continue
Former president Nelson Mandela’s eldest grandson says his family fully supports Palestine. Picture: Lauren Isaacs/EWN.
Killings of Palestinians ‘inhumane’
Smoke billows following an Israeli air strike in Rafah, in the southern Gaza Strip, on 8 August 2014. Picture: AFP.
6 Mondoweiss Sunday, August 10, 2014
The Greenhouse propaganda—How Gazan history is being rewritten to dehumanize Palestinians
Justin Schwegel on August 10, 2014 31
Gazan workers harvest carnations in one of the enclave’s huge greenhouses. (Photo via palstreet.blogspot.com)
Erase memory and you wash away the blood from the perpetrator’s hands, you undo the done deed, make it disappear from history. Erase memories of atrocities and you tempt future perpetrators with immunity—Miraslov Volf
In recent weeks, as Israeli bombs and artillery have slammed into the tiny strip of land that is home to nearly 2 million Palestinians in Gaza, the propaganda war has been raging with equal vigor. Israeli spokespersons have consistently denied any blame for civilian victims and even claimed that civilians are acting as human shields for Hamas operations, blaming the victims of this humanitarian catastrophe for their own suffering.
While it will take time and independent investigation to determine if the Israeli Defense Forces’ claims that Hamas is using civilians as human shields turn out to be as baseless as past IDF human shielding allegations against Hamas and Hezbollah, other claims made by Israel supporters can be easily dispelled now.
Pro-Israel politicians and pundits have rewritten the history of the demise of an agricultural project in the Gaza Strip to blame the victims of an economic tragedy for their own hopeless situation. During the past few weeks, several pro-Israel political pundits including Ezra Levant, Charles Krauthammer, Richard Chesnoff, Jeffrey Goldberg and Alan Dershowitz have taken this line of victim-blaming. Notably, Hillary Clinton also advanced the Israeli effort to rewrite history.
According to the history being written by Clinton and Krauthammer, Ariel Sharon made the decision to pull out of Gaza as a goodwill gesture toward peace and left the greenhouses behind so that Palestinians in Gaza could prosper. Palestinians decided to destroy the greenhouses because, according to Clinton “the leadership said, We don’t want anything left from Israel, [and they] destroyed it all.” Her version, which is by no means the most extreme, implies Palestinians destroyed the greenhouses in a self-destructive, anti-Semitic rage. This version of events is far removed from historical reality.
Why did Israel withdraw from Gaza?
Israel apologists view the 2005 withdrawal from Gaza as an altruistic act. In reality there is not much land nor many natural resources in Gaza, aside from a couple of offshore natural gas reservoirs. Prime Minister Ariel Sharon knew that allowing settlers to remain in the Gaza strip posed a massive “demographic threat,” an Israeli term for the threat that Palestinians might become the majority in Israel thereby making it impossible for Israel to be both Jewish and democratic. There were about 1.5 million Palestinians at the time who would have become Israeli if Israel had tried to swallow Gaza whole. The demographic threat was the reason for the withdrawal, and the reason for Gaza’s being quarantined from the outside world, not the hope that Gaza would become peaceful and prosperous.
What really happened to the greenhouses?
According to the New York Times, two months prior to the withdrawal, in July of 2005, Israeli settlers demolished about half of the greenhouses, “creating significant doubts that the greenhouses could be handed over to the Palestinians as ‘a living business.’” There are other reports that rather than leave their greenhouses behind for the Palestinians some settlers decided to burn them to the ground.
Notwithstanding the destruction that had already been wrought, wealthy American philanthropists led by the Gates foundation and James Wolfensohn, the US Special Envoy for Gaza Disengagement, bought the remaining greenhouses from the Israeli settlers on behalf of the Palestinians in Gaza for $14 million. Wolfensohn contributed $500,000 of his own money.
Admittedly, Palestinian looters took to the greenhouses when they were transferred to Palestinian control in mid-September 2005, hauling away some of the irrigation pipes, water pumps, plastic sheeting and glass, but leaving the greenhouses themselves structurally intact.
Bassil Jabir was the CEO of the Palestine Economic Development Company (PED), the organization founded by the Palestinian Authority to take charge of the greenhouse project after it was turned over to the Palestinians. The PED invested more than $20 million into the project. Jabir said that as a result of the destruction by Israeli settlers and Palestinian looters the PED had to invest an additional $5 million into the greenhouse project to revive it.
Despite the initial setbacks, the greenhouses were up and running by mid-October. By late November, the New York Times reported that the Palestinians were preparing to harvest a crop of peppers, strawberries, tomatoes and herbs worth $20 million. Presciently, in the same article, Palestinians expressed concern that if Israel did not keep the Karni border crossing open, it could result in the demise of the greenhouse project.
In mid-December, the greenhouses made their first export of 8 tons of peppers. Speaking to the Associated Press about the success of the project, Jabir said, “It makes us proud. This land was a symbol of occupation and many people were doubting our ability to rehabilitate [it], but now we have proven that we, as Palestinians, are able to manage our lives, to farm our land and to do our own business.”
That hope and pride soon turned to despair. According to Jabir, in order for the project to be successful, it would require moving at least 25 truckloads of produce a day through the Karni crossing. On rare days when the Karni crossing was functioning smoothly he was only able to move 3 truckloads. A crossing that was supposed to be open 24/7, per an international agreement to which Israel was party, was only open sporadically and unpredictably. Israel cited security concerns. The Palestine Economic Development Corporation and its Israeli distribution partner Adafresh were losing hundreds of thousands of dollars every week.
By February 2006, the BBC reported that because the farmers could not get their produce through the crossing, trucks were dumping perfect, ripe produce onto a wasteland to be eaten by goats. Bassil Jabir joked that because cows were eating their strawberries after they had rotted in the harsh sun next to the checkpoint, they had developed perfectly natural strawberry-flavored milk. According to Special Envoy Wolfensohn, “Instead of hope, the Palestinians saw that they were put back in prison.”
The BBC reported in February 2006, “Palestinians were convinced that Gaza was being deliberately strangled.” In March, Israeli daily Haaretz quoted the Commander of the IDF’s Gaza Division and the head of the Southern Command as stating there was no security-related reason for the closure of the Karni crossing. The Israeli Defense Minister ordered the closures to continue. Speaking to the BBC about Israeli border closures, Mr. Jabir stated, “This is a message to every investor: ‘Don’t come – there’s no hope of any investment flourishing.’” According to a PED report in early March made to Special Envoy Wolfensohn, the closures had cost the greenhouse project $5.4 million in the first two and a half months of 2006.
By April 2006, after months of border closures, there was no money left to pay the agricultural workers, and the project was shut down. Bassil Jabir quit as CEO of the Palestine Economic Development Company in 2006 and left the Gaza Strip in frustration.
During Israel’s June 2006 “Operation Summer Rains,” the United Nations Development Programme estimated that Israel inflicted $23.5 million in damage on Gaza’s agriculture, including damage to the greenhouses. Due to lack of project funds, no crop was planted that fall. During the next harvest season Israel kept the crossings open despite no noticeable change in security threat. Tentative plans were made to lease the greenhouses to independent farmers the next season, but when Israel and Egypt officially began the Gaza siege in 2007, the export-driven project was dead with no hope for revival.
At the beginning of 2008, Hamas militiamen blew a hole in the wall separating Gaza from Egypt. Many Gazans crossed into the Sinai to purchase goods and sell what they could. Farmers who had been prohibited from exporting their agricultural produce for years sold these same greenhouses to Sinai farmers who were not faced with similar export constraints and were happy to have them. Some greenhouses remained. Many were deliberately destroyed by the IDF during operation Cast Lead, which caused nearly $16 million in damage to Gaza greenhouses. Others have been destroyed by the most recent bombardment.
What does the lie accomplish?
The answer to this question depends on context. Hillary Clinton used the lie in a non sequitur to rebut Jon Stewart’s question of why Gazans cannot look to Hamas as their “freedom fighters.” Ezra Levant used it to argue that Palestinians are anti-Semites.
One of the Palestinians’ demands as a condition for a ceasefire during the present conflict is an end to the economically devastating siege and access to a UN-monitored seaport. If pro-Israel pundits admit that Israel killed the Gaza greenhouse project (and the rest of the Gaza economy) through border closures they might also have to admit that this request is reasonable.
The foundation of the lie inevitably denies Israel’s responsibility for destroying a lucrative business while simultaneously implying that Palestinians would rather engage in self-destructive sabotage than build a functioning economy. Indeed, the logic goes, if Palestinians cannot be trusted to keep a profitable greenhouse project running, how could we ever expect them to run a State?
The greenhouses are just one example of an industry choked to death by the Israeli siege. There are hundreds of others.
I caught up with Bassil Jabir this week, and he was not hesitant about what killed the greenhouse project. “All the problems I told you about were problems that we could handle or had handled. If we could have exported our produce we would have made $25 million after recovering our investment. [It was] not what the Israeli settlers did, not what the Palestinian looters did. Yes, it was bad, yes, it was costly, but if we got to export our produce we would have recovered in our first year. The closure [of the Karni crossing] was the evil from which we could not recover…It was my dream project and it was destroyed in front of me.”
The Greenhouse project is dead and with it died the dreams of many Palestinian farmers. Eight years ago the BBC reported on a murder by strangulation. Thanks to American revisionists like Hillary Clinton and Charles Krauthammer, it is now being portrayed as a suicide.
7 Haaretz Sunday, August 10, 2014
Gaza diary: The worst of times for Gaza and it may not be over
Despite the large number of people killed, the spirit of strength and steadfastness is palpable in the streets of the Strip.
By Abeer Ayyoub | Aug. 10, 2014
It wasn’t the first time a humanitarian cease-fire had been announced, but this one meant the end of the war for the 1.8 million Palestinian living in Gaza, or at least this is what they hoped. People rushed into the main streets in Gaza, either checking the damage left by the 30-day Operation Protective Edge or getting the basic necessities they had been deprived of while stuck indoors.
At the fancy toy store, Jihan Qannu’,25, was choosing new toys for her two daughters, who seemed delighted to be walking in the street again. Qannu’ said she wanted to take the children to an entertainment zone, but none of them were open. She bought them new toys instead.
“They have suffered enough; I’ll do my best to make them feel better,” Qannu’ said, while her three-year-old daughter pulled her dress asking for a new toy.
Shopping areas were full of people and the war was the talk of the town. Everyone was saying, “thank God you are still fine,” whether you know them or not.
Abu Ali, 45, was walking with his children near a huge government compound that had been reduced to rubble. He and his children gazed at the building for a while; they seemed choked with emotion.
“I went out into the street because I’m missing it and I’m missing the air, but Gaza is no longer the way it was; it’s totally devastated,” he said, displaying the mixed emotions of happiness at being alive, along with his children, and sadness for the hundreds killed and injured.
The number of people at one of the UNRWA schools, where thousands of residents from Al-Shejaiya and the northern neighborhoods have been sheltering, was lower than than it had been in recent weeks. People had gone to check up on their houses. Most of those who remained in the school were convinced that they no longer had houses.
Ghalya Kafarna, 45, said that she had gone to her damaged family home to fetch food and clothes. “People here ran to their houses when they heard about the cease-fire,” she said, with her two-year-old child in her arms. “I don’t know how long I’ll be here; I’m homeless now.”
People spoke constantly about resistance and their satisfaction with it. Despite the large number of people killed, the spirit of strength and steadfastness was dominant.
Muhammad Musa, 54, who works as a security guard at a public association, said he was totally supportive of the resistance and angry with the attitude of the international community toward the “massive crimes being committed against the innocent Palestinians in Gaza.”
“I have always opposed Hamas as a government, but when it comes to resistance, I support them with all of my might,” Musa said.
“I know that even if I have a fighter in my house, that doesn’t give the IDF the right to kill dozens of people and demolish houses to kill only one fighter; that can’t be fair.”
Thirty days of war has been the worst of times for the Gaza Strip. More than 1,800 people were killed, thousands were injured and complete neighborhoods were reduced to rubble. The brief cease-fire gave people a window to breathe, but they are still cautious that the nightmare is not over yet.
8 Haaretz Sunday, August 10, 2014
Go to Gaza, see for yourself
In the absence of hatred, one can understand the Palestinians. Without it, even some of Hamas’ demands might sound reasonable and justified.
By Gideon Levy
Can we possibly conduct a discussion, however brief, that is not saturated with venomous hatred? Can we let go for a moment of the dehumanization and demonization of the Palestinians and speak dispassionately of justice, leaving racism aside? It’s crucial that we give it a try.
In the absence of hatred, one can understand the Palestinians. Without it, even some of Hamas’ demands might sound reasonable and justified. Such a rational discourse would lead any decent person to clear-cut conclusions. Such a revolutionary dialogue might even advance the cause of peace, if one may still dare say such things. What are we facing? A people without rights that in 1948 was dispossessed of its land and its territory, in part by its own fault. In 1967 it was again stripped of its rights and lands. Ever since it has lived under conditions experienced by few nations. The West Bank is occupied and the Gaza Strip is besieged. This nation tries to resist, with its meager powers and with methods that are sometimes murderous, as every conquered nation throughout history, including Israel, has done. It has a right to resist, it must be said.
Let’s talk about Gaza. The Gaza strip is not a nest of murderers; it’s not even a nest of wasps. It is not home to incessant rampage and murder. Most of its children were not born to kill, nor do most of its mothers raise martyrs — what they want for their children is exactly what most Israeli mothers want for their own children. Its leaders are not so different from Israel’s, not in the extent of their corruption, their penchant for “luxury hotels” nor even in their allocating most of the budget to defense.
Gaza is a stricken enclave, a permanent disaster zone, from 1948 to 2014, and most of its inhabitants are third- and fourth-time refugees. Most of the people who revile and who destroy the Gaza Strip have never been there, certainly not as civilians. For eight years I have been prevented from going there; during the preceding 20 years I visited often. I liked the Gaza Strip, as much as one can like an afflicted region. I liked its people, if I may be permitted to make a generalization. There was a spirit of almost unimaginable determination, along with an admirable resignation to its woes.
In recent years Gaza has become a cage, a roofless prison surrounded by fences. Before that it was also bisected. Whether or not they are responsible for their situation, these are ill-fated people, a great many people and a great deal of misery.
Despairing of the Palestinian Authority, Gazans chose Hamas in a democratic election. It’s their right to err. Afterward, when the Palestine Liberation Organization refused to hand over the reins of power, Hamas took control by force.
Hamas is a national-religious movement. Anyone who champions hatred-free dialogue will notice that Hamas has changed. Anyone who manages to ignore all the adjectives that have been applied will also discern its reasonable aspirations, such as having a seaport and an airport. We must also listen to scholars who are free of hatred, such as Bar-Ilan University Mideast expert Prof. Menachem Klein, whose reading of Hamas goes against the conventional wisdom in Israel. In an interview to the business daily Calcalist last week, Klein said Hamas was founded not as a terror organization but rather as a social movement, and should be viewed as such even now. It has long since “betrayed” its charter, and conducts a lively political debate, but in the dialogue of hatred there is no one to hear it.
From the perspective of the dialogue of hate, Gaza and Hamas, Palestinians and Arabs, are all the same. They all live on the shore of the same sea, and share the single goal of throwing the Jews into it. A less primitive, less brainwashed discussion would lead to different conclusions. For example, that an internationally supervised port is a legitimate and reasonable goal; that lifting the blockade on the Strip would also serve Israel; that there is no other way to stop the violent resistance; that bringing Hamas into the peace process could result in a surprising change; that the Gaza strip is populated by human beings, who want to live as human beings.
But in Hebrew, “Gaza,” pronounced ‘Aza, is short for Azazel, which is associated with hell. Of the multitude of curses hurled at me these days from every street corner, “Go to hell/Gaza” is among the gentler ones. Sometimes I want to say in response, “I wish I could go to Gaza, in order to fulfill my journalistic mission.” And sometimes I even want to say: “I wish you could all go to Gaza. If only you knew what Gaza is, and what is really there.”
9 Haaretz Monday, August 11, 2014
A European green light to kill, destroy and pulverize Gaza
If the security of Jews in the Mideast were of real interest to European countries like Germany and Austria, they wouldn’t continue subsidizing the Israeli occupation.
By Amira Hass
A Palestinian man standing in a crowd of onlookers reacts to watching a soap factory go up in flames moments after it was hit by an Israeli airstrike in Gaza City on August 10, 2014. Photo by AFP
In its ongoing silence, official Germany is collaborating with Israel on its journey of destruction and death, waged against the Palestinian people in Gaza. Germany isn’t alone – Austria’s silence is also deafening.
Actually, why single out these two countries? On the second or third day of the war, Chancellor Angela Merkel wasn’t the only one to declare that she stood beside Israel. The entire European Union supported Israel and its right “to defend itself.”
Yes, France and Britain did some squirming last week, making a few feeble sounds of protest. But the EU’s original stance, stated on July 22, still resounds. It accused the side under prolonged Israeli siege of causing the escalation. This is the side that, despite all the European declarations on its right to self-determination and an independent state in the West Bank and Gaza, is still under Israeli occupation after 47 years.
EU member states and, obviously, the United States, gave Israel a green light to kill, destroy and pulverize. They placed the brunt of the blame on the people launching the rockets, the Palestinians. The rockets are disrupting the “order” and the “quiet,” endangering the security of Israel, which is so weak and vulnerable, always attacked for no reason whatsoever.
Basically, the United States and Europe are endorsing the status quo under which the Gaza Strip is severed from the West Bank. The Israeli siege of Gaza and the oppression of the Palestinian population in the West Bank are Israel’s quiet, order and security. Whoever dares to violate this must be punished. In their passionate declarations on Israel’s right to defend itself, EU officials fail to mention the Palestinians’ right to security or protection from the Israeli army.
Europe and the United States didn’t give Israel the green light to escalate — to destroy, kill and inflict suffering on an unprecedented scale — at the outbreak of the current hostilities. They already gave it back in 2006, when they spearheaded the boycott of the Hamas government, elected in a democratic vote.
Even then they chose to collectively punish the entire occupied Palestinian population while ignoring the main reason this organization had won a majority: the pet Palestinian regime that Europe had fostered — the Palestinian Authority. This regime remains tarnished by two evils – corruption and the failure of its diplomatic tactics to achieve independence.
The PA’s conduct has led to a situation in which negotiations, a willingness to reach a peace deal with Israel and even opposition to an armed struggle for moral and practical reasons have become synonymous with the enrichment of a small group — alongside its cynical disregard for the rights and conditions of most of the population.
Neither quiet nor order
One can understand that Israeli security experts repeatedly misread both open and subterranean currents coursing through Palestinian society, which again and again disrupt the “quiet.” Those experts’ brains aren’t programmed to understand that the quiet and order they’re supposed to preserve are neither quiet nor order.
Two weeks ago, Jacob Perry, the public’s darling and a key figure in the documentary “The Gatekeepers,” said he hoped the security establishment would be able to contain the latest wave of demonstrations in the West Bank.
“These demonstrations are bad for them and for us,” said the former head of the Shin Bet security service in a typically paternalistic manner. Indeed, the army, which did not wait for his advice, continues to kill demonstrators who do not endanger soldiers’ lives. They do this every week and wound dozens of others (two more were killed this weekend). Even after 47 years, security officials don’t get it that oppression does not lead to submission. At most it only postpones a much bloodier confrontation — as is now happening in Gaza.
But what of Europe’s experts, aid workers, diplomats and civilian and military advisers, and the lessons accumulated over the many years of colonialism? One would have thought that all these people and events would have prevented Europe from making such an egregious mistake in 2006, from which arose all the escalations soaked in Palestinian blood.
The boycott of Hamas, which in effect was a political boycott of the Palestinian people in the occupied territories, encouraged Fatah and PA President Mahmoud Abbas to overturn the election results by nondemocratic means. The boycott and Western contempt for the election result only goaded Hamas into extreme and desperate channels, turning it into a martyr and a respectable alternative in the public mind.
In fact, this wasn’t a “mistake” but rather a conscious decision. European countries and the United States are willing to invest billions of dollars in the Palestinian territories for the reconstruction of rubble created using American, and probably European, arms. These dollars address humanitarian disasters caused by the Israeli occupation.
Europe and the United States are willing to fund tents, food and water in order to domesticate a leadership held captive by these donations. These leaders therefore promise not to disrupt the quiet and order. It’s not justice and the Palestinians’ rights that the West holds dear, it’s the maintaining of “stability.”
Germany and Austria are particularly noteworthy. Because of them there’s the impression that the European Union is so supportive of Israel due to guilt feelings over the murder of Europe’s Jews under German occupation, and due to a moral commitment to the direct offshoot of that chapter in history, the State of Israel.
Shielded by the Holocaust, there is no need to discuss Western interests, whether American or European. These include the continued control, through trusted agents, of oil and gas resources, the protection of markets and the safeguarding of the “security” of Israel as a Western power, perceived as a stable entity that can contain and counter the changes in the region.
If the security of Jews in the Middle East were of real interest to European countries, especially Germany and Austria, they would not continue subsidizing the Israeli occupation. They would not give Israel a permanent green light to kill and destroy.
10 An interview of Norman Finkelstein on Gaza, etc
August 6, 2014