Maybe it should have been called ‘why Israel doesn’t care about traffic accidents’

Maybe it should have been called ‘why Israel doesn’t care about traffic accidents’

Sep 08, 2010

Adam Horowitz 


The ADL is not happy with Time. They sent the magazine a letter today in response to its current cover article, “Why Israel Doesn’t Care About Peace.” The gist of the article is that Israel is doing so well economically that affluent Israelis don’t really care about making peace with the Palestinians. The ADL finds this thesis (wait for it . . .) anti-Semitic. 

From the ADL press release:

In a letter to Managing Editor Richard Stengel, ADL called on the magazine’s editors to issue an apology to readers, both for the timing of the article and its calling up age-old anti-Semitic stereotypes about Jews and money.

The insidious subtext of Israeli Jews being obsessed with money echoes the age-old anti-Semitic falsehood that Jews care about money above any other interest, in this case achieving piece with the Palestinians,” wrote Mr. Foxman. “At the same time, Time ignores the very real sacrifices made by Israel and its people in the pursuit of peace and the efforts by successive Israeli governments of reconciliation.

Money aside, is there really a way to tell how much Israelis prioritize peace? Actually, I guess there is. Here’s a poll that was published in today’s Maariv:

Q. In your opinion, what are the most important subjects for the coming year?

Education—36%; the Iranian threat—13%; the war on corruption—12.7%; peace with the Palestinians—11.3%; traffic accidents—11.2%; dealing with poverty—7.9%

The poll by Teleseker questioned 500 people. The margin of error is 4.4 percent.

Jeff Halper to Pete Seeger: Ditch the JNF and honor the boycott

Sep 08, 2010 

Jeff Halper

Dear Pete,

All the best from your friends in Israel/Palestine. In that spirit, I was surprised to hear of your planned participation in With Earth and Each Other: A Virtual Rally for a Better Middle East. While at first blush it might seem to have something in common with the work of ICAHD and other Israeli and Palestinian peace groups — attempting to build bridges between peoples — it is actually something quite different.

One of the lead partners in the effort is the Jewish National Fund, which is responsible for the allocation of land in Israel. As such, it is a mainstay of the ever-increasing apartheid system there. Among their most recent activities has been the planting of a forest to cover a Bedouin village in the Negev from which the residents have been forcibly removed. They are in fact engaged in various tree-planting exercises that brand them as an environmental organization, when in fact their purpose is to secure the land of Israel, if not all of Palestine, for Jews only. That is their historical role, and so it remains. Efforts to paint Israel as environmentally concerned are mere greenwashing. Israel has repeatedly torn down Palestinian neighborhoods by declaring them green zones.

As you know, Israel has doggedly pursued a policy of settlement expansion, home demolition, and gradual ethnic cleansing of Palestinians throughout Israel proper and its occupied territories. Millions of Palestinians languish in internal and external refugee camps. In the wake of brutal assaults on Gaza and aid flotillas, the world is increasingly outraged.

A broad array of Palestinian civil society groups called in 2005 for a program of boycotts, divestment and sanctions to pressure Israel to conform to international law and stop blocking justice for Palestinians. This call has received widespread support. But the boycott includes a cultural and academic boycott as well. The purpose of this effort is to deny Israel the ability to brand itself as a normal nation while flouting the law and suppressing an occupied people. Brand Israel is their strategy; ours is to insist on no business as usual with the regime, as was done successfully in the struggle against apartheid South Africa.

In recent months, increasing numbers of artists have decided to forego performing in Israel. Gil Scott-Heron and Elvis Costello have explicitly stated that they will not participate in the whitewashing, greenwashing, or any washing of this rogue regime. Many others have quietly scuttled their planned tours.

I hope that you will decide to join these artists of conscience and once again make a bold stand for justice. The movement is gathering strength, the violators of civilized norms are fearful, and change is in the air.

Thanks for giving me a hearing,

Jeff Halper

Jeff Halper is the Coordinator of the Israeli Committee Against House Demolitions (ICAHD).

Bibi wants a Palestinian state…by 2040

Sep 08, 2010 

Matthew Taylor

According to the Telegraph, Netanyahu hopes to kick the Palestinian state can down the road by as much as 30 years.

Mr Netanyahu is reportedly hoping that the agreements reached under an accord would be phased in stage-by-stage over as much as 30 years.
Israel reportedly hopes that a protracted timetable would test the viability of a peace deal by gradually building confidence that its security needs would be met even as it withdrew from territory that would become part of a Palestinian state.

But Israel’s withdrawal from Sinai was completed within 36 months. So does Bibi want the glory of reaching a deal, but none of the heat of actually implementing it? Or, is this a way to inject a poison pill to make a deal unworkable?

I bring a guide to the Middle East

Sep 08, 2010

Philip Weiss


My wife knows I’m using her on this trip and she resents it. I wanted her to see the Middle East because she’s much more intuitive than I am. I wanted her eyes and ears because I’m clueless about people. I should never have admitted this to her.

 She’s already held it over me several times, saying that she wanted a vacation and she’s being taken to an unhappy place for my selfish purposes. For twenty minutes in the cab ride she didn’t talk to me, angry about what she was getting in for. Then on the plane, going over our too big Mastercard bill for last month, she said, Well 2,000 of that was for your trip. Half of that’s yours, I said. No, this is your trip.

It’s been better in the day we’ve been in Jordan. She likes heat and Arab culture and hummus, and she enjoys the rites around Ramadan and seeing all the the different ways women wear hijab. In the hotel restaurant some guys were getting drunk (yes) and singing and she said, Do you think they’re going to dance? I shrugged but a minute later sure enough two of them were dancing, delicately holding one anothers’ hands in the air. They soon called over the waiter. My wife wanted me to dance too but I was too tired.

It’s kind of a boys’ club here, she said. And is that a bad thing? I ventured. She said, It’s just the way it is, in Syria and Morocco too. I don’t mind it. It’s never impacted me negatively. But that’s the culture. The women are all somewhere else. I pushed her and I could see her backing away at having her brain picked. I used to know a lot and now I know a lot less, she said elliptically, referring to when she studied anthropology and thought she understood a culture. 

I woke up a couple hours ago and found these helpful statements on a political level, where I operate more than she does. This place is other, as Edward Said pointed out to us so long ago, and it sure is different. My culture’s not a boys’ club. Women have a different role, and I like that role. Big deal. All cultures are different. Then you think of what has been done to us in the west by ideologues: The idea that you could demonize one whole culture and one entire religion– to what end? To justify killing them? It’s crazy.

And of course so much of it is about a real estate venture, all to justify an ongoing landgrab, by a superior culture.

At the hotel bar, before the dancing, we watched a report on the TV about American Islamophobia. There was a long piece on the church that plans to burn the Koran. And because my ears are sensitive I picked up the constant references on the TV, and in conversation, to Israel and Palestine. So many of the people we’ve met in just half a day are surely the children of refugees.

At the bar, my wife said she was disappointed in me for not speaking more Arabic. You really ought to be learning Arabic. I thought about all the mulitilingual people you meet here, I thought about my college professor Michael Walzer learning Hebrew in his 50s, burrowing down into his Jewishness, and developing political theories that justified his ethnocentrism. I realized my wife was right. It’s a daunting challenge, but I’m already glad I brought her on my trip.

CARE USA drops board member over ties to Lev Leviev’s settlement building empire

Sep 08, 2010

Adam Horowitz

Having connections to the settlements is really becoming a scarlet letter, isn’t it? Adalah-NY reports that the international humantarian organization CARE USA has dropped a member of its board of directors over their relationship to Lev Leviev’s Africa Israel which builds homes in West Bank settlements.

From the Adalah-NY press release:

A member of the board of directors of the leading international humanitarian aid organization CARE USA has taken a voluntary leave of absence from CARE’s board due to the involvement of his employer, Africa Israel, in Israeli settlement activities. The move last week came after a July 12 letter to the Atlanta-based non-profit by the rights group Adalah-NY: The New York Campaign for the Boycott of Israel that outlined Africa Israel’s settlement ties, followed by letters from Jews Say NoJewish Voice for Peace (JVP) andCODEPINK, and meetings and discussions between representatives from CARE and Adalah-NY and JVP.

Riham Barghouti from Adalah-NY explained, “We thank CARE USA for acting swiftly to appropriately address this issue once it was brought to their attention. Representatives from CARE USA told us that they have approved the Board member’s request for an indefinite leave of absence while he remains in any way affiliated with Africa Israel. While on leave, we have been assured that the member in question will not attend or vote at Board meetings, receive Board information, or play any other role on the CARE USA Board.” . . .

Aaron Levitt from Adalah-NY said, “CARE’s response upheld the organization’s reputation for integrity, and was consistent with its more than 60 years of principled service to individuals and families in many of the poorest communities in Palestine and worldwide. It is our understanding that the Board member in question had no knowledge of Africa Israel’s involvement with settlement construction prior to Adalah-NY’s letter. The board member was already serving on the CARE USA Board when he established his connection with Africa Israel. We accept CARE USA’s assurance that the organization would never knowingly appoint a person associated with Israeli settlements to the CARE board.”

A quick internet search of the CARE USA website would seem to indicate that the board member in question is Richard A. Marin, the Executive Chairman and CEO of Africa Israel Investments USA. Although he isn’t currently listed on their website, he does appear in this cached version.

This campaign follows similar efforts by Adalah-NY to isolate Leviev for his settlement construction activities. In the past they have been successful in getting Oxfam, UNICEF and other charitable causes to distance themselves from Leviev over Africa Israel.

Here’s more from Adalah-NY on Africa Israel’s role in the settlements:

From 2000 -2008, Danya Cebus, the construction subsidiary of Africa Israel, built homes in the settlements of Har Homa, Maale Adumim (two different projects), Adam, and Mattityahu East on the land of the West Bank village of Bil’in. According to Who Profits, a project of Israel’s Coalition of Women for Peace, Africa Israel owns a percentage of the Alon Group, which has facilities and supermarkets in a number of Israeli settlements through the company Blue Square. In late December, 2009, Africa Israel sold Anglo-Saxon Real Estate, a company that sold settlement homes. Another Leviev-owned company, Leader Management and Development, owns and operates the expanding settlement of Zufim, built on the land of the West Bank village of Jayyous. Leviev has also been a donor to the Israeli groups the Land Redemption Fund and the Bukharan Community Trust, both of which have been involved in expanding Israeli settlements.

Update: Here is an official statement from CARE USA on the issue:

Rich Marin is voluntarily taking a leave of absence from his position on the CARE USA board of directors.
Mr. Marin has been a long-time supporter of CARE, playing key roles in the former CARE Corporate Council and in several fundraising efforts. After joining the CARE board in 2008, Mr. Marin was hired as the CEO of Africa Israel Investments USA (AFI USA), a real estate investment company that invests in the United States and Panama. The parent company of AFI USA is Africa Israel Investments Ltd.
Recently, a grassroots organization called Adalah-NY notified CARE and Mr. Marin that some companies under Africa Israel Investments Ltd. have been connected to building settlements in the West Bank in violation of international law. Although Mr. Marin and AFI USA do not build settlements in the West Bank, Mr. Marin did not want even the appearance of a connection to hinder CARE’s work, especially in West Bank and Gaza, so he voluntarily stepped aside from his CARE USA Board obligations.
CARE opposes illegal settlement building and encourages all parties to redouble their efforts toward a peaceful resolution to the conflict in the West Bank and Gaza. Mr. Marin remains committed to CARE’s work in the West Bank and Gaza and to CARE’s global vision: a world of hope, tolerance and social justice, where poverty has been overcome and all people live in dignity and security.
We continue to thank Mr. Marin for his service to CARE and to the people living in extreme poverty around the world.

Yale anti-Semitism conference continues to make waves

Sep 08, 2010

Adam Horowitz 

We’ve been following the ongoing debate over the disgraceful anti-Semitism conference held at Yale University that seemed more interested in ending criticism of Israel than challenging anti-Jewish sentiment. Earlier we posted the exchange between US PLO representative Maen Rashid Areikat and Yale President Richard Levin’s office. Areikat has a letter today in the Yale Daily News addressing the controversy:

Regarding my letter to President Levin last week, we do not object to Yale hosting a conference on anti-Semitism, undeniably an important field of study. We object to the clear political agenda behind a number of the conference’s presentations and the attempt to conflate Palestinian identity and criticism of Israel with anti-Semitism.

In addition to defaming Palestinians, the conference also took aim at Jews deemed insufficiently loyal to Israel with presentations like “Beyond Criticism and Dissent: On Jewish Contributions to the Delegitimation of Israel,” “Self Hatred and Contemporary Antisemitism,” and “Scourges and Their Audiences: What Drives Jews to Loathe Israel Publicly and What To Do About It?”

Itamar Marcus’ participation was particularly troubling. Marcus lives in the Jewish-only West Bank colony of Efrat located on occupied Palestinian land in violation of international law. In addition, he heads a propaganda outfit known as Palestinian Media Watch and is also closely tied to the New York-based Central Fund of Israel, which supports some of the most extreme and violent elements of Israel’s settler movement.

Finally, Marcus has spent much of the past two decades producing dubious reports claiming to document Palestinian incitement against Israel. As a colonist living on stolen land, he has a vested interest in demonizing Palestinians and preventing the establishment of a Palestinian state in the West Bank. As such, Marcus and the views that he represents pose a threat not only to the lives, rights and property of Palestinians, but also to the official policy of the American government.

By giving questionable characters like Itamar Marcus a platform from which to smear Palestinians — who are Semites themselves — and critics of Israel as anti-Semitic, conference organizers debase the term, much to the dismay of those truly concerned with combating bigotry and prejudice in all its forms.

Yale Law School student Yaman Salahi, who also challenged the conference in the pages of the Yale Daily News, continues to press the issue, now in response to a charge from the vice president of Yale Friends of Israel that Salahi’s desire to hold Israel to “extreme double-standards” constitutes anti-Semitism. From Salahi’s responds on his blog:

[Vice president of Yale Friends of Israel, Yishai] Schwartz’ suggestion that a holistic criticism of Israel is illegitimate is really a declaration that Palestinians should not possess the political, social, and human rights that all other people in the world can claim. No interest — academic, intellectual, or moral — is served by such a deliberate blindness to the logic of Israeli state ideology, except Israel’s interest in escaping fair scrutiny.

Schwartz’ letter is based on a number of problematic themes. First amongst these is the idea that criticism of Israel is based on double standards, and that no other country in the world is criticized for the same reasons. That is blatantly false. Many groups at the forefront of holding Israel accountable — like Human Rights Watch, Amnesty International, the United Nations, the International Committee of the Red Cross — regularly publish reports and perform research on human rights violators all around the world. They make no special exceptions for Israel — rightly. The fact that some critics of Israel may be motivated by anti-Semitism does not disqualify others from making fair claims.

As a related point, Schwartz makes the very strange claim that people who criticize Israel’s attacks on Gaza — which killed over 1,400 Palestinians and prompted a UN Report by Judge Richard Goldstone that found evidence of war crimes — are hypocrites for not criticizing “NATO operations in Afghanistan.” Does Schwartz live under a rock? Civilian deaths in Afghanistan are flying through the roof. Activists and human rights organizations around the world vociferously criticize those attacks including the legitimacy of the US-led war and occupation itself. Many of those are the same people monitoring Israeli human rights violations. The existence of great injustice in the world outside of Israel should motivate us to more action both in and out of Israel, not less action.

Through all this, it apparently does not strike Schwarz as hypocritical to invoke “every other nation’s right to self-determination” when defending Israel, which for decades has actively thwarted the realization of Palestinians’ right to self-determination.

The second main logical error animating Schwarz’ letter is his equivocation between Israel — a modern nation state represented by institutions like a parliament, government ministries, a police and a military — and “the Jewish people.” Of course, Israel does not belong to the Jewish people. One need not even invoke the legitimate claims of expelled Palestinian refugees to make this point, for 20% of Israel’s population by citizenship is not Jewish, but rather Arab Palestinians of Christian or Muslim background. By any contemporary notion of legitimate governance, no one ethnic or religious group can or should ever claim ownership of a state that is home to a diverse population. Additionally, it should not be necessary to state that not all Jews around the world are citizens of Israel. It is therefore not at all true that an attack on the Israeli government, no matter how hypocritical, no matter how unrestrained, is an attack on “the Jewish people.” It is in most cases nothing more than an attack on a powerful political entity that has birthed far too much injustice for the world to remain silent. (And one can–must–say that even while unequivocally rejecting any anti-Semitic or bigoted sentiments that some critics may harbor).

Wrongly and without any basis whatsoever, Schwartz attributes to me a number of views that I do not hold (including, for example, the idea that the rights of Jewish Arabs should not be recognized by Arab governments — or the regrettable implication that violation of the rights of Jewish Arabs by non-Palestinian Arab governments “cancels out” the rights of Palestinian refugees who were not responsible for such violations in the first place). The overall thrust of the letter completely ignores my column’s point, that it is impossible to fight one form of hatred (anti-Semitism) by promoting anti-Arab or anti-Muslim bigotry in the United States, or by refusing to criticize anti-Palestinian racism in Israel. Indeed, Schwartz’ silence on Israel’s entrenched institutional racism against Palestinians, even as he criticizes those who try to point it out, tells the whole story. It is unfortunate he had to accuse me of anti-Semitism, something I have always opposed, in order to make his point.

UN reports Israel displaced at least 50 Bedouin families, including 39 children, in August

Sep 08, 2010 


And other news from Today in Palestine:

Land and Property Theft and Destruction/Ethnic Cleansing

OCHA: Israel displaced dozens of children and their families last August

OCHA reported that Israel last month displaced 50 Bedouin families at least, including 39 children and destroyed their tents in an area near Doma village in Nablus.
Danon: Chief Rabbi permits building during Sukkot

Likud MK tells ‘Post’ requested special dispensation from Amar saying permissible to build during period usually used to reduce workload.
Solidarity/Activism/Boycott, Sanctions & Divestment

Spanish Parliament condemns Abdallah Abu Rahmah’s conviction

The Spanish Parliament followed the footsteps of the EU and the Desmond Tutu of the Elders, and joined the rising tide of international criticism over Abu Rahmah’s conviction of incitement by an Israeli military court.  The Spanish Parliament’s Intergroup for Palestine issued a statement that expressed their “deep concern that Abdallah Abu Rahmah’s potential incarceration aims at preventing him and other Palestinians from exercising their legitimate right to protest against the existence of the Wall in a non violent manner.
CARE USA drops board member over ties to Lev Leviev’s settlement building empire, Adam Horowitz
Having connections to the settlements is really becoming a scarlet letter, isn’t it? Adalah-NY reports that the international humantarian organization CARE USA has dropped a member of its board of directors over their relationship to Lev Leviev’s Africa Israel which builds homes in West Bank settlements.
Report: Rights groups plan ‘Mother of all flotillas’
BETHLEHEM (Ma’an) — International rights groups are preparing to send the “mother of all flotillas” to the besieged Gaza Strip, Israeli press said Tuesday.  European Jews for a Just Peace is one of the organizers of the mission to send more than 30 ships to protest Israel’s four-year blockade of the coastal enclave, Hebrew-language daily Ma’ariv reported.
Scottish activists campaign for nationwide boycott against Israel
EDINBURGH — Activists launched a national campaign last weekend to boycott Israeli products throughout Scotland. The group said it will target Muslim-owned shops in Scotland as a first step.  The Scottish Sunday Herald reported that after the campaign achieved success in Glasgow, campaign organizers decided to expand the boycott to Muslim shops throughout Glasgow, Edinburgh, Aberdeen, Dundee, and Fife.
For a morally consistent boycott of Israel
While we welcome acts of protest against any manifestation of Israel’s regime of colonialism and apartheid — including the recent announcement by 150 prominent Israeli academics, writers and cultural figures to boycott Israel’s settlements — we believe that these acts must be both morally consistent and anchored in international law and universal human rights.
Boycott grows as Stephen Sondheim, Mira Nair and Julianne Moore join call against settlement theater; Palestinian activists say keep focus on the big picture, Adam Horowitz
Jewish Voice for Peace’s campaign to support 60 leading Israeli actors and playwrights who are refusing to play a new theater in Ariel continues to grow. New notable figures are joining by the day. Ed Asner explains his support, “It is always amazing when actors turn down jobs.To have the actors of Israel say they will not work in those venues is truly an act of courage.. I applaud them and would live to instill the actors of America with that courage.” And Corey Fischer, co-founder of the Traveling Jewish Theater (now Jewish Theater San Francisco), expressed his admiration in the spirit of the season, “It seems to me that, as often happens in our times, these artists are taking on what was traditionally the task of the Hebrew Prophets: speaking truth to power. I hope someone is listening.”
Vanessa Redgrave’s ‘Zionist Hoodlums’ Speech Shocks Hollywood
With the Vietnam War over, one might have thought the early-Super70s tradition of offering up a political diatribe instead of an Academy Awards acceptance speech (see especially “Brando Refuses Oscar”) had gone the way of Sensurround by March 29, 1978. But on that night, Vanessa Redgrave shocked nearly a billion worldwide television viewers watching the Academy Awards with the last great Academy Awards protest speech of 20th century.

Global BDS against Israel is Working, Stephen Lendman
In July 2005, a coalition of 171 Palestinian Civil Society organizations created the Global BDS movement for “Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions against Israel Until it Complies with International Law and Universal Principles of Human Rights” for Occupied Palestinians, Israeli Arabs, and Palestinian diaspora refugees.
Letter: From Gaza with love; support a boycott
I am in besieged Gaza for the fifth time as I write this letter. The Israeli occupation/siege/imprisonment continues despite UN condemnation, international outcry and violation of international law.  As citizens of the world we should all be outraged by the atrocious human rights violations occurring here and in the West Bank. The cattle herding of Palestinians through the one border and the trickle of “supplies” (food, no building materials), purporting to be Israel’s “relaxing” of the grasp on all borders (only due to flotilla pressure), is an obscenely small gesture in light of the slow strangulation of the people here in Gaza.
Artist Action for Education in Palestine
solidarity concert for the World Education Forum in Palestine fall 2010 Friday September 24th 21h 2010 suggested donation: $10-20 Cabaret Mile-End 5240 avenue du Parc (close to Fairmount) Montréal, Québec featuring performances by Kalmunity Jazz Project Kalmunity Jazz Project the Jazz element to the city-wide Kalmunity artist network, featuring multiple horn instruments, drums, percussion, vocals, guitar, bass and additional music.
The Siege (Gaza & West Bank)/Humanitarian/Restriction of Movement/Human Rights/Racism
Weekly Report On Israeli Human Rights Violations in the Occupied Palestinian Territory (02-07 September 2010)
Israel imposes full closure on WB
West Bank, September 8, (Pal Telegraph) Israeli occupation authorities decided to impose a security comprehensive cordon on the West Bank that starts from midnight tonight until midnight next Sunday.
Israel bans sheikh from entering Jerusalem
JERUSALEM (Ma’an) — Sheikh Ali Abu Sheikha was issued an Israeli order at 1 a.m. on Tuesday banning him from Jerusalem until 12 November.  Abu Sheikha, an adviser to the Islamic Movement for Jerusalem and Al-Aqsa Affair, said he received the order along with a map of Jerusalem detailing the areas he was forbidden to enter. He added that the order was signed by head of the Israeli army’s Home Front Command Major General Yair Golan.
Israeli forces turn back 4 buses at Allenby
JERICHO (Ma’an) — Travelers at the Allenby Bridge crossing said Israeli forces denied four buses passage into Jordan Tuesday evening.  Israeli forces turned back four buses Tuesday evening at the Allenby Bridge crossing between the West Bank and Jordan, travelers said.  Allenby Bridge director Mustafa Ghannam said 35 buses had crossed the bridge into Jordan, and assured that those which were turned back would be priority passengers on Wednesday.  Israeli forces announced a reduction in operating hours at the crossing on Wednesday and Thursday due to Jewish holidays.
IOF prevents Norwegian delegation from reaching Jenin
Jenin, September 8, (Pal Telegraph) Israeli soldiers prevented a Norwegian delegation of solidarity of the Norwegian youth movement to support of Palestine from entering the city of Jenin in the West Bank, and forced them to return to the city of Jericho.
IDF to close off West Bank for holiday
Wary of additional terror attacks in wake of peace talks, army deploys troops, sets up roadblocks.,7340,L-3951458,00.html
Stopping the Water
At 7:00 am in the morning, the Israelis arrived too late to help a poor farmer. The men with guns were already there, sitting on the farmer’s well.  An argument broke out in Hebrew between the settlers and the Israeli human rights group Taayush. Every week, they enter the West Bank to work alongside Palestinians threatened by settlers and soldiers.  Both groups broke the rules of Shabat: settlers and activists used video cameras and cell phones as tempers rose with the temperature. One settler sat silently behind black sunglasses, a handgun tucked into his pants and a large machine gun hanging across his chest. Behind the escalating debate, the Palestinian farmer packed up his water house and readied his empty water tanker for the road home.
PCBS: Women 3 times more likely to be illiterate
RAMALLAH (Ma’an) — Women and girls make up three-quarters of illiterate Palestinians in the West Bank and Gaza, a study from the Palestinian Central Bureau of Statistics found.  Released in honor of International Literacy Day on 8 September, the study found 93,475 females and 29,558 males living in the West Bank and Gaza were illiterate.
The Female Factor: Peeking Out From Under Hamas’s Veil
Palestinian women in Gaza who are loyal to Hamas work to expand their role, but usually within the strict confines of Islam.
Violence and other Provocations

Voices from the Occupation
The human cost of the blockade – Children shot whilst collecting building material in Gaza.
Settler Open Fire At Palestinian Cars, Soldiers Arrest Civilians
An Israeli settler opened fire on Tuesday at Palestinian cars driving near the northern West Bank city of Nablus.
Israeli forces raid Nablus village
NABLUS (Ma’an) — Israeli forces raided a village south of the West Bank city of Nablus Tuesday night.  More than 20 Israeli military vehicles entered Al-Majdal Bani Fadel, and dozens of soldiers began to search the area, locals said, adding that forces imposed a curfew on the village.  An Israeli military spokeswoman said soldiers entered the village in response to reports of gunfire in the area, but was not aware of any curfew imposed.
IOF raids Hebron, closes main markets
Hebron, September 8, (Pal Telegraph) Israeli authorities Prevented last night people from entering the markets of the town of Hebron in the occupied West Bank.
WAFA: Israel’s Attacks Left 101 Palestinian Journalists Injured Since The Start Of 2010
Ramallah – PNN – The Palestine News And Information Agency WAFA relased a report on Wednesday documenting the Israeli violations against Palestinian Journalists since the start of 2010 until August 31st.  According to WAFA’s report 101 Palestinian journalists were injured during the reported period by Israeli’s military tear gas bombs, rubber-coated steel bullets and sound bombs.   52 journalists were detained and arrested by the Israeli military while troops damaged equipment in 12 separate incidents.  In total there was 166 violations aginst journalists since the start of this year, WAFA says 11 of those attacks were committed during the month of August alone.  The state run Agency WAFA announced that during the reported period there was one death case.  A Turkish journalist was killed during the Israeli navy attack on the Free Gaza Flotilla while sailing in international waters. The attack left 8 other killed and 54 injured.
War Crimes

Eyewitness to the Nakba
Public hearing at Zochrot, 61 Ibn Gvirol St., Tel-Aviv, June 17, 2010. The audience consisted of about twenty people. Initiated and organized by Amir Hallel. The testimony was video-recorded by Lia Tarachansky. Miri Barak prepared the transcription. Eitan Bronstein edited, summarized, and added footnotes. Translated to English by Asaf Kedar.
Israel’s evidence questioned as Corrie trial resumes
Testimonies resumed in the ongoing civil suit lodged by Rachel Corrie’s family against the State of Israel in Haifa’s District Court this week, as the state’s defense team called three witnesses to the stand.
Rachel Corrie trial: Israeli military Colonel states, “There are no civilians in war zones.”
Revolving Door: IDF soldier convicted of killing U.K. activist in Gaza released from jail
Taysir Hayb found guilty of manslaughter over the April 2003 shooting of Thomas Hurndall during an International Solidarity Movement protest in the Gaza Strip city of Rafah.
Arab Helpers

Palestinians arrest Israeli settler attackers (AFP)
AFP – The Palestinian Authority has arrested several Hamas members for organizing and carrying out two recent attacks on Israeli settlers, a senior official said on Tuesday.*
Hamas warns PA: Stop arresting our people or we’ll strike
Announcement comes after PA security officials arrest 6 Hamas-linked operatives suspected of two shooting attacks against Israelis last week.
Factions: PA arrests ‘desperate attempt to quell resistance’
GAZA CITY (Ma’an) — Palestinian opposition factions criticized the Palestinian Authority Tuesday, for what it described as “a desperate attempt to quell resistance” in the West Bank, following a wave of detentions after the fatal shooting of four Israeli settlers in Hebron.  Speaking to reporters in Gaza City, faction representatives called on the PLO and human rights organizations “not to remain silent” toward the the arrests.
“Peace” Talks/Political Developments

Sha’ath: PA will never recognize Israel as Jewish
Week after launching of direct talks, Palestinian negotiator says recognizing Israel as Jewish state would ‘directly threaten Muslims, Christians’ and prevent Palestinian refugees from ‘returning to their homes’.,7340,L-3951626,00.html
Erekat confirms new meeting after Egypt talks
BETHLEHEM (Ma’an) — There will be a direct bilateral meeting between President Mahmoud Abbas and Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu following the 14-15 September peace talks in Egypt, officials told Ma’an.  The Israeli Hebrew newspaper Ma’ariv said the two would meet in Jerusalem immediately after talks. Chief PLO negotiator Saeb Erekat told Ma’an Radio on Tuesday that a meeting was discussed but no date or location had been set.
Palestinians, Israelis doubt talks but collapse unlikely (AFP)
AFP – Palestinian and Israeli officials on Tuesday were cautious about the latest round of peace talks but indicated the US-backed negotiations were not likely to collapse.*
PM says ‘peace not at any price’ in New Year greeting
Netanyahu sends Rosh Hashana greetings to Israeli public via YouTube channel, wishes for happy holiday while giving hints to Palestinians. ‘We need to achieve peace, but we’re not naive,’ he says.,7340,L-3951176,00.html
Peace in Middle East will not come ‘quick’ : Obama (AFP)
AFP – US President Barack Obama warned Tuesday that progress towards peace in the Middle East would not come easily, or quickly, despite the launch of direct Israeli-Palestinian talks.*
Israel worried by Jones proposal for int’l force in W. Bank
American proposal to establish a multi-national force in the West Bank could be way to expedite a withdrawal following any peace deal with Palestinian Authority.
Other News

Palestinian nabbed for arms deal in Miami
Florida police arrest Abdalaziz Aziz Hamayel on suspicion of trying to purchase hundreds of stolen weapons, ammunition; transfer arms to ‘his people’.,7340,L-3951172,00.html
New groups enlist in public relations war in support of IDF
Bein Hakavanot founder: Group seeks to fight issues such as left-wing organizations’ pressure on army and legal advice influencing orders in the field.
OECD: Israel pays teachers half of Western average
The OECD’s annual report on education shows Israel trailing other developed nations in spending per student and teacher salaries.
Analysis/Opinion/Human Interest

Looking at Hamas and Seeing the I.R.A., ROBERT MACKEY
Does excluding Hamas from Middle East peace talks ignore what was learned in Northern Ireland when peace was achieved only after the I.R.A.’s political representatives were included?
This time in Washington, honest brokerage is not going to be enough, Avi Shlaim
The pope, according to a no doubt apocryphal story, maintains that there are two possible solutions to the Arab-Israeli conflict – the realistic and the miraculous. The realistic solution involves divine intervention; the miraculous solution involves a voluntary agreement between the parties themselves. The American-sponsored peace talks that got under way in Washington last week may be viewed in this light.
Peace requires more US action
When Hillary Clinton addressed the media on September 3 following the resumption of Palestinian-Israeli peace talks, she got much right. But in suggesting that the US will not invoke an agreement, Clinton misinterpreted the reality under which the talks are being held.
Spoiler Alert, Amjad Atallah
On Aug. 31, four Israeli settlers were killed by Palestinian gunmen near the West Bank city of Hebron. Abu Obeida, the spokesman for Hamas’s military wing, the Qassam Brigades, said the group “announces its full responsibility for the heroic operation in Hebron.”,0
British Palestinian rapper conducts a ‘musical intifada’
“It’s a musical intifada, a musical uprising,” says Shadia Mansour squinting in the sunshine outside the hip hop workshop she is running in the West Bank city of Hebron.  From inside, a DJ can be heard cutting out beats on his decks.  Ms Mansour has been dubbed “the first lady of Arabic hip hop”, but she is perhaps the only lady of Arabic hip hop. The 24-year-old British Palestinian rapper grew up in South London, but she is currently on tour in the West Bank.
Meet the Chernicks, Philip Weiss
A few weeks back Juan Cole created a data point to explain the neocons: “They have more assets than is visible on the surface. They have perhaps half of America’s 400 billionaires on their side.”  I am deeply grateful to Cole for that assertion. Even if it’s imprecise, even if it’s off, it’s obviously based on knowledge of how the discourse works and it’s got a large truth in it: it explains the fiendish persistence inside the political establishment of neoconservatism. I wish Chris Matthews would have Cole on and ask him why he believes this, ask him who gives money to Yale and why Yale wouldn’t have Cole but Yale would have a conference that attacked Palestinian identity formation and “self-hating Jews.”
Mearsheimer: There will be no two-state solution, only a greater Israel, and Palestinians will need the int’l community in the coming fight against apartheid, Philip Weiss
Something you won’t see on American television: Al Jazeera ran a long piece on the peace talks (linked here at Pulse.). “Empire” host Marwan Bishara is incisive; he speaks of the “Zionist lobby” and the emergence of a state in Kosovo with far less rigmarole than the endless peace process. His guests, on barstools in a rooftop interview in view of the White House, are Nabil Shaath of the P.A., former negotiator Rob Malley, and John Mearsheimer.
Arafat’s legacy is ignored, but his mistakes should not be, Tony Karon
This week’s photograph of four Middle Eastern leaders striding purposefully alongside the US president down a White House red carpet was nearly identical to an image from 15 years earlier. The only man to appear in both pictures was Egypt’s president Hosni Mubarak, who last Wednesday joined Jordan’s King Abdullah, the Palestinian Authority president Mahmoud Abbas, the Israeli prime minister Benjamin Netanyahu and the US president Barack Obama at a White House dinner to inaugurate a new round of direct peace talks. The 1995 edition, a signing ceremony for a second phase of the Oslo Accords, featured King Abdullah’s father, King Hussein, the former president Bill Clinton, the late prime minister Yitzhak Rabin, and the PLO leader Yasser Arafat.
Road to Jerusalem now moved from Baghdad to Tehran!, Philip Weiss
Wonderful post at Lobelog by Eli Clifton: The neocons used to insist that the road to peace in Jerusalem led through Baghdad.  Guess what, now they’re saying it leads “through Tehran.” And the sad news, they’re still in the ideological driver’s seat.
Israeli Security vs. Palestinian Economy, Jamil Salman
Following 17 years of failure under the Oslo regime and 2 years of stalemate since the last round of peace discussions (Annapolis), this week saw the commencement of renewed peace talks in Washington under the watchful gaze of American diplomats.  Depending on what you read or hear, the talks seem to offer both a glimmer of hope and no abundance of pessimism. With a one year deadline having been publicly announced as a timeframe on agreeing a final peace settlement, the talks have reportedly already stalled around the issue of Israeli settlements. This in itself is not surprising considering that both sides would, reluctantly, need to accept hard compromises if any agreement is to be reached. This holds especially true for Israel, who will need to allow for various concessions when addressing the issue of rebuilding Palestinian economic structures that have been largely eroded by Israeli dominance during the Oslo era.
Why Negotiate, Again?, Elias Akleh
Another round of the Palestinian/Israeli bargaining negotiations started September 2nd despite all the predictions and expectations of miserable failure. The two parties had met for the nth time, within the last 17 years, where they had discussed the same old issues again and again, and then departed without any positive results despite the American mediation (falsely called the honest broker).
Kairos and Christian Advocacy in the ‘Holy Land’, Timothy Seidel
Much is said about Palestine-Israel. There is no shortage of reporting, analysis, and opinion. And there is no shortage of expressions of personal commitments to ‘peace’. One need only glance at recent headlines to discover this, especially with another push to reinvigorate the ‘peace process’.  But there is also much that is not said. For example, in many reports of Israel’s attack on an aid flotilla headed to Gaza earlier this year there was a glaring absence of a back story. Why are basic relief supplies needed in Gaza?
The Misnomer of the Peace Talks, John Chuckman
I don’t know how anyone given the task could draw a map of Israel: it is likely the only country in the world with no defined borders, and it actually has worked very hard over many decades to achieve this peculiar state. It once had borders, but the 1967 war took care of those. It has no intention of ever returning to them because it could have done so at any time in the last forty-three years (an act which would have been the clearest possible declaration of a desire for genuine peace with justice and which would have saved the immense human misery of occupation), but doing so would negate the entire costly effort of the Six Day War whose true purpose was to achieve what we see now in the Palestinian territories.
Gaza ‘train’ symbol of lost connections
GAZA CITY (Ma’an) — “We had a tough time collecting all the parts – mostly spares – the raw materials were mostly from dismantled cars and things, but we collected what we could until we had this: what we call a train.”  The project was an initiative by Hussam Badawi and Gaza Mechanical Engineers, where he works. Badawi said the train-like vehicle, which travels at 30km/hour, was based on the American Jeep, with several alterations in scale and power.

Another Iraqi TV journalist killed in Mosul (AP)
AP – Gunmen on Wednesday killed an Iraqi TV journalist, the second to be slain in Iraq in as many days, highlighting the dangers media workers continue to face in the country seven years after the U.S.-led invasion.*
Five killed in attacks as Baghdad bans motorcycles (AFP)
AFP – A spate of bomb attacks and shootings in Iraq on Wednesday killed five people, including a television presenter, as Baghdad imposed a ban on motorcycles ahead of the Muslim holiday of Eid al-Fitr.*
Tuesday: 2 US Soldiers, 14 Iraqis Killed; 15 Iraqis Wounded
Gunmen killed two U.S. soldiers in one of at least three attacks on American targets. At least 14 Iraqis were killed and 15 more were wounded as well. Meanwhile, six months have passed since national elections, yet the new government has not been selected. Also, looted artifacts are slowly being returned to Iraq.

Iraq unable to meet current power demand until 2013: US (AFP)
AFP – Iraq will need at least another three years before it is able to satisfy current electricity demand, the US general charged with the military’s reconstruction efforts in the Middle East said on Tuesday.*
US and Iran favour Maliki as Iraq PM six months after polls (AFP)
AFP – Iraqi Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki has the backing of Washington and US arch-foe Iran to keep his job, six months after he narrowly lost an election to ex-premier Iyad Allawi, politicians said Tuesday.*
Hussein’s Kalashnikov Returned to Iraq
The rifle had been looted as a war trophy by an American soldier after the 2003 invasion.
Hundreds of looted artefacts returned to Iraq
* 542 items returned, mainly from U.S.
* Foreign minister pledges to retrieve all stolen relics
* Artefacts to go on display in Iraqi museum
Conditions in Iraq have never been as worse as they are now
The latest bombings in Iraq, particularly in Baghdad, show that the government is losing control despite ostensible measures to boost security.  One good indication of how fragile conditions have become is the daring attack last Sunday on a major army base and headquarters in the heart of Baghdad.  Unidentified gunmen barged into the former Defense Ministry building and barricaded themselves, waging a ferocious battle for about three hours, killing at least 12, and injuring many others.\2010-09-07\kurd.htm

Hizbullah, Syria welcome Hariri’s change of heart on accusations
BEIRUT: Prime Minister Saad Hariri’s remarks to pan-Arab daily Ash-Sharq al-Awsat were welcomed on Tuesday by Damascus and praised by Hizbullah which described the premier’s condemnation of false witnesses as a step toward uncovering the truth behind his father’s killing.
Aoun steps up criticism of president
BEIRUT: Free Patriotic Movement leader MP Michel Aoun reiterated Tuesday his sharp criticism of President Michel Sleiman and four ministers, holding them responsible for the “collapse of state institutions.” But the FPM chief denied that he sought the resignation of the Cabinet, at least under the current circumstances.
Israeli commissions confirm Nasrallah’s footage authentic
BEIRUT: Two commissions formed by the Israeli Army said footage displayed by Hizbullah leader Sayyed Hassan Nasrallah in August of a 1996 resistance operation to ambush an Israeli commando force was authentic, Israeli daily Maariv reported Tuesday.
MP Sami Gemayel Says Phalange Party Not Ashamed of Past
Phalange party MP Sami Gemayel reiterated on Wednesday that his party was not ashamed of its past despite accusations that the party was proud of its collaboration with Israel during the civil war.   In a press conference he held, Gemayel said the Phalange party is not ashamed of resorting to Israel during the civil war to arm itself.
Peacekeeper killed, another injured in road accident
BEIRUT: A United Nations peacekeeper was killed and another injured when their vehicle turned over while conducting routine engineering work in south Lebanon on Tuesday.
Inside Story – A change of heart?
Relations between Syria and Lebanon have improved and now Hariri has dramatically changed track. But why now? Who is behind it? And where does it leave the investigation into Rafik Hariri’s death?


Iran sticks to its guns on nuclear report
The United Nations’ atomic energy agency says Iran is hampering the work of its inspectors and continuing to enrich uranium, in contravention of Security Council demands. To the Americans, this shows Tehran is moving closer to nuclear weapons capability. To Tehran, the latest report, while “unbalanced”, proves for the 23rd time that Iran is sticking to a peaceful program.
Russian official: U.S. hindering resumption of talks with Iran
The comments, made to a discussion group of Russia experts, appeared aimed at nudging Washington towards restarting stalled UN-backed talks to provide Iran with nuclear fuel for a Tehran research reactor.
Iran suspends death by stoning case
Controversial punishment for Sakineh Mohammadi Ashtiani put on hold amid “review” following international outcry.
U.S. and Other World News

US to Spend $6B a Year on Afghan Troops
The United States expects to spend about $6 billion a year training and supporting Afghan troops and police after it begins pulling out its own combat troops in “2011”, The Associated Press has learned.
Sentencing Terrorism Suspects to Death — Without Trial, Anthony D. Romero and Vincent Warren
We simply cannot accept the proposition that the government should have unchecked authority to carry out extrajudicial killings, including of U.S. citizens, far from any actual battlefield. Nor can we accept the contention that the entire world is a battlefield.
There are no “do-overs” in long wars, Stephen M. Walt
Last week I offered up “Ten reasons why wars last too long,” which tried to explain why it was hard for leaders to recognize they are in a losing war and difficult for them to simply “cut their losses” and disengage.  Coincidentally, last week Stephen Sestanovich of Columbia University published a smart piece entitled “How do long wars become so long?” in The New Republic. TNR dropped off my “must-read” list a long time ago, but Sestanovich’s piece is excellent and well worth a look. He argues that many “long wars” begin with a half-hearted, desultory effort (as in Vietnam in the early 1960s, or Afghanistan from 2003-2007), often because U.S. leaders have more pressing priorities. When it becomes clear that things aren’t going well, however, presidents and their advisors normally conclude that they haven’t given the war their best shot and tend to assume that a serious effort will turn the tide.
9 Shameless Warmongers Who Call Fox News Home
Media Matters takes a look at the track record of wrong predictions and shoddy analysis about the war in Iraq by many of Fox News’ contributors and analysts.
New top music tour destination: Damascus
Damascus is increasingly on the radar for international music tours. Artists have been surprised at the huge turnout to performances.
Sex, violence, Islam: Syrian TV soap raises drama
BEIRUT — In a new Syrian soap opera, a beautiful green-eyed young woman named Layla is torn over whether to take off the niqab, the billowing black Islamic garb that hides every part of her except her eyes.  “I cannot take this pressure anymore,” she says in one episode. “I want to take off the veil.”  But her rebelliousness has unintended consequences: She is shunned by society, her mother refuses to take her calls and her brother plots her death.
Islam in the U.S.

White House: Koran Burning Endangers Troops
WASHINGTON — The White House said Tuesday that a Florida church’s threat to burn copies of the Muslim holy book could endanger U.S. troops abroad, while the State Department denounced the plan as “un-American” and said it would put American diplomats and travelers at risk.  White House spokesman Robert Gibbs noted the U.S. commander in Afghanistan, Gen. David Petraeus, has warned that images of a burning Quran would be used by extremists to incite violence.
US religious leaders condemn ‘anti-Muslim’ frenzy
* State Department calls planned Koran-burning un-American
* Muslim leader urges Muslims abroad to ‘take a step back’
* Protests in Kabul
Anti-Muslim Acts In Five States Being Investigated By Department Of Justice
WASHINGTON — The Justice Department is investigating a handful of apparently anti-Muslim incidents in four states, including the stabbing of a Muslim cab driver in New York City.  FBI agents and civil rights division investigators also are looking into vandalism and other incidents at mosques or mosque construction sites in Arlington, Texas; Murfreesboro, Tenn.; Madera, Calif.; and Waterport, N.Y.
Major pro-Israel giver funds ‘Jihad Watch’
Group opposing Ground Zero mosque is organizing rally on the 9th anniversary of the September 11 terror attacks.
Author Tim Wise Slams Ground Zero Mosque Opposition
After all, there is scarcely a square foot of land upon which we tread that is not, for someone, Ground Zero. I am sitting atop one now: a killing field for Cherokee, Chickasaw, Choctaw and Creek; a graveyard in which are buried the bones — and if no longer the bones, then surely the dust — of peoples whose evisceration occurred not so long ago, and is still remembered by those who have not the luxury of forgetting.
Concern Is Voiced Over Religious Intolerance
Rabbi David Saperstein, director of the Religious Action Center of Reform Judaism, said: “We know what it is like when people have attacked us physically, have attacked us verbally, and others have remained silent. It cannot happen here in America in 2010.”  The clergy members said that those responsible for a poisoned climate included politicians manipulating a wedge issue in an election year, self-styled “experts” on Islam who denigrate the faith for religious or political reasons and some conservative evangelical Christian pastors.  The Rev. Richard Cizik, president of the New Evangelical Partnership for the Common Good, said: “To those who would exercise derision, bigotry, open rejection of our fellow Americans of a different faith, I say, shame on you. As an evangelical, I say to those who do this, you bring dishonor to those who love Jesus Christ.”

Gainesville Muslim Community Organizes Vigils, Teach-Ins to Counter Planned Koran Burning
Global condemnation grows over a Florida church’s plan to burn the Koran on September 11th. General David Patreaus warns it could endanger US troops abroad. We speak with a Gainesville student who is helping to organize a series of counter events in the community, Mayor Craig Lowe, the first openly gay mayor who was targeted by the Florida church during his campaign, and Moustafa Bayoumi, author of “How Does It Feel to Be a Problem? Being Young and Arab in America.”

The reasons the BDS movement is ‘gaining speed’

Sep 08, 2010

Lawrence Davidson

On September 5, 2010 the Israel newspaper Haaretz published an article the headline of which read “Anti-Israel Economic Boycotts are Gaining Speed.” The subtitle went on to state that “the sums involved are not large, but their international significance is huge.” Actually, what seems to have triggered the piece was not international. Rather, it was the decision of a “few dozen theater people” to boycott “a new cultural center in Ariel,” an illegally settled town in the Occupied Territories. This action drew public support from 150 academics in Israel. The response from the Israeli right, which presently controls the government and much of Israel’s information environment, was loud and hateful.
Though this affair was domestic, it provided a jumping off point for Haaretz to go on and examine the larger international boycott of Israel which is indeed “gaining speed.” It noted that Chile had recently pledged to boycott products from the Israeli settlements and Norway’s state pension plan had divested itself of companies involved in construction in the Occupied Territories. The Haaretz article pointed out that these incidents (and there are others that can be named in such countries as Ireland and Venezuela) are signs that the boycott movement –so long the province civil society– is now finding resonance at the level of national governments. The Israeli paper declared that “the world is changing before our eyes. Five years ago the anti-Israel movement may have been marginal. Now it is growing into an economic problem.”
The article puts forth two explanations for this turn of events one of which is problematic, and the other incomplete. Let’s take a look at them.

1. “Until now boycott organizers had been on the far left. [Now] they have a new ally: Islamic organizations….The red side has a name for championing human rights, while the green side [the Islamic side] has money.” I have some personal knowledge of the boycott movement and I find some of these particulars to be, at best, exaggerations. The term “far left” must be based on some arbitrary Zionist definition of the political spectrum. Worldwide community support for the growing boycott movement has gone beyond political alignments. Today, it is a reflection of real united front seeking the promotion of Palestinian human rights (in this Haaretz is on the mark). As for the “green side” there is certainly an understandable affinity here. Muslims too are concerned about the human rights of Palestinians (including the Christians ones). However, the claim of any significant flow of cash is, as far as I know, another exaggeration. The Haaretz piece cites the example of the aid flotilla to Gaza, with its link to Turkey. But this is just one case in a worldwide movement. And, there was nothing illegitimate (despite Israeli propaganda) about the involvement of Turkish charities. It might come as a surprise to the Israelis, but you can run a boycott movement without heavy outside funding–as was the case of the boycott against South Africa.
2. Haaretz continues, “but then came the occupation, which turned us into the evil Goliath, the cruel oppressor, a darkness on the nations.” The article suggests that this is such a contrast with the righteous stand that helped convince the West to support the original formation of Israel that many have turned away from Israel in disappointment. “And now we are paying the price of presenting ourselves as righteous and causing disappointment: boycott.” No doubt there is much disappointment. The horrors of Israeli expansionism and occupation are such that they draw worldwide attention. And rightly so. But, they are symptoms of some deeper cause. What might it be? The state of Israel was founded on an ideological program called Zionism. That program called for the establishment of a state designed to serve the exclusive interests of one religiously identified group. While the Zionists felt this aim was justified by the centuries of persecution suffered by European Jews, it actually carried within it the seeds of its own corruption. The simple truth is that you cannot successfully design a state for one group only unless you found it on some desert island. If you put it down in a place that is occupied by others who are not of your group, what is the most likely next step? You turn into racists, ethnic cleansers, or worse. The Zionist adherence to their ideology and its program is the cause of their turning into “cruel oppressors.” The means dictated by their end made it so.
The Haaretz article does not go beyond these points, but there is plenty more to say. Those who wonder whether they should support the boycott should certainly consider the horrors of the Israeli occupation and its ghettoizing of the people of Gaza. They might also consider the following:
1. The non-Jewish population of Israel proper, that is Israel within the 1967 borders (the “Green Line”) are subject to segregation and economic and social discrimination that is both de jure and de facto. Their overall standards of living are lower than the Israeli Jews, their educational facilities inferior and their economic prospects poorer. This is to be expected. If you are running your state based on a racist principle, by definition discrimination must infuse the home front. This fact does not appear to fit with the often heard claim that the Israelis are “just like us” Americans. However, in a rather anachronistic way they are “like us” – that is like the United States prior to our civil rights legislation. In other words, Israel is like, say, Georgia or Alabama circa the 1920s.
2. The second factor worthy of consideration is the negative international impact of Zionist ideology, for the harm Zionism is not confined to either Israel or its Occupied Territories. The fact is that Zionist influence spreads far beyond Israel’s area of dominion and now influences many of the policy making institutions of Western governments, and particularly those of the United States. This influence is corruptive if only because it distorts both official and popular notions of national interests in the Middle East. When you have a powerful and single-minded lobby that is able to manipulate your government in such a fashion that it pours its national treasure into a racist state, arms it and protects it to the point of becoming an accomplice to its crimes, and by doing so willfully alienates 22% of the world’s population, you know that
your notion of national interest has been seriously mangled. This harmful influence makes it imperative that Israel’s oppressive behavior be singled out as a high priority case from among the many other oppressive regimes that may be candidates for boycott.
So no one in Israel, the U.S. or anywhere else should be surprised that the boycott against Israel, in its many manifestations, is “gaining speed.” If you are not yet a supporter you should become one. To join the boycott is good the world’s future in general. It is certainly good for the Palestinians, and yes, it is good for the Jews too.

Lawrence Davidson is a history professor at West Chester University.

Eyewitness to the Nakba

Sep 08, 2010 

Adam Horowitz

Ammon Neumann
Ammon Neumann sharing his memory of the Nakba with Zochrot.

Public hearing at Zochrot, 61 Ibn Gvirol St., Tel-Aviv, June 17, 2010. The audience consisted of about twenty people. Initiated and organized by Amir Hallel. The testimony was video-recorded by Lia Tarachansky. Miri Barak prepared the transcription. Eitan Bronstein edited, summarized, and added footnotes. Translated to English by Asaf Kedar.

Amnon Neumann: I was in the Second, Eighth, and Ninth Battalions of the Palmach from February 1948 until my discharge in October 1949. I was there for this whole period, except for a few months after I had been wounded and after my father had passed away.

The most significant period for me in terms of the Nakba was April-May 1948, when the battles or clashes with the locals took place, until the Egyptian Army arrived. At first we escorted convoys traveling on the road from ‘Iraq Suwaydan[1], from Rehovot, [through] ‘Iraq Suwaydan, Kawkaba[2] and Burayr,[3] to Nir-‘Am where our company headquarters were located. Then an armed group of Arabs situated itself in Burayr and didn’t let us through, so we took a different route, from near Ashdod where Isdud was located, through Majdal,[4] Barbara,[5] Bayt Jirja,[6] to Yad Mordechai.

From there we drove to Nir-‘Am. Those were the two routes [we used] until the Egyptian army arrived. When the Egyptian army arrived, it was a completely different situation. The Egyptian army arrived when we had wiped out all Arab resistance, which wasn’t that strong. It would be an exaggeration to say we fought against the Palestinians… in fact there were no battles, almost no battles. In Burayr there was a battle, there were battles here and there, further up north. But there were no big battles; why? Because they had no military capabilities, there weren’t organized. The big battles started with the entry of the Egyptian army, and those were very difficult problems, especially from May 15th, when we were still an organized army—the Palmach—semi-military.

But their soldiers were organized by British methods, they fought like the British. But they had no leadership and they had no motivation. So when they attacked, it was very lousy, they hardly knew how to attack, but they did know how to defend themselves. They knew they were fighting for their lives. But as far as all the rest, it was a fifth-rate army. They had terrible cannons that killed us like hell. They had all kinds of tanks of different types, and they were a problem for us. We didn’t have anything, we had armored vehicles, those fluttering ones that were impossible to fight with, not against tanks and not even against a halftrack, right? But we more or less managed with them.

The villagers’ flight, and I understand this is the main issue here, happened gradually. I only know about what happened from the ‘Iraq Suwaydan road, [through] Majdal, to ‘Iraq al-Manshiyya[7]. We were to the south of this area, and to its north there was the Givati Brigade. The day the Egyptians entered the war, the Negev was cut off and that was mostly our fault, my platoon’s fault… I’ll say more about it later. But that wasn’t significant. The Egyptians’ attacks were significant. They beat the hell out of us and killed us mercilessly.

The villagers’ flight started when we began cleaning these convoy escort routes. It was then that we started to expel the villagers… and in the end they fled by themselves. There were no special events worth mentioning. No atrocities and no nothing. No civilians can live while there’s a war going on. They didn’t think they were running away for a long period of time, they didn’t think they wouldn’t return. Nor did anyone imagine that a whole people won’t return.

First we expelled those … and then we started expanding sideways. To Najd[8], to Simsim[9], and that was a later stage. There were no battles, except for one battle in Burayr. In the north there were battles, with Givati, but we didn’t have any battles. We did ok with them … (silence). One village was left, between Dorot and Nir-‘Am, that’s Kufr Huj,[10] they didn’t run away and we didn’t expel them. There was probably an agreement at a higher level that Huj is not to be touched.

The first time I entered Kawkaba and Burayr I was amazed by their poverty. There was nothing there. No furniture and no nothing, there were shelves made of straw and mud, the houses were made of mud and straw. They lived there for thousands of years without any changes, and the only thing that happened to them was the disaster of the Nakba in “Tashah” [1948]. Because we didn’t come to collect taxes, we came to inherit the land from foreigners. That was the foundation of our thinking. We drove them out because of the Zionist ideology. Pure and simple. We came to inherit the land. Who do you inherit it from? If the land is empty, you don’t inherit it from anyone. The land wasn’t empty so we inherited it, and whoever inherits the land disinherits others. And that’s why we didn’t bring them back. It was everywhere, in the north and the south, everywhere.

That’s the most important point. The land wasn’t empty as I was told when I was a child. I know it, because I lived with Arabs. I remember I was wounded and I went home, after April 1948, after they had expelled the Arabs in Haifa, they had run away. Our villages, Yajur[11] and Balad al-Shaykh[12], didn’t exist anymore either. They were empty. And I came home and my father told me, Come sit, son. Sit. He told me, You know what happened? And I told him, Yes, I passed through Balad Al-Sheikh and there was no one there. And he said, Yes, there was a disaster. That’s not what was intended. That’s not what I intended. He came with the second Aliyah.

And he said: that’s not what I intended. So nobody thought in these categories, maybe the Yishuv leaders did. My father was a simple man, a worker his entire life. And then I went back to the Negev and we did the same thing. At that time I didn’t see anything wrong with it. I was educated to it just like everybody else. And I followed through with it faithfully, and if I was told things I don’t want to mention—I did them without the least of a doubt. Without thinking twice. For fifty or sixty years I’ve been torturing myself about this. But what’s done is done. It was done by order. And I won’t go into that, these are not things that … (long silence).

In the north they fought. In the south they didn’t, they didn’t have anything. They were miserable, they didn’t have anywhere to go, or anyone to ask.

Eitan Bronstein: What happened in the village Burayr?

Amnon Neumann: There was a battle, and there was a slaughter…

Eitan Bronstein: Can you say a little bit more about that?

Amnon Neumann: I don’t want to go into these things, leave me alone! It’s … it’s not things we go into. Why? Because I did it. Is that a good reason? (Long silence)

I can tell you about one thing. We received an order to occupy the intersection near ‘Iraq Suwaydan. There was a huge police station there which dominated the whole area. We went out with five jeeps and five armored vehicles. We stood at the intersection, and suddenly we heard the sound of tanks from the direction of Majdal. With our rifles and machine guns we couldn’t stand up to tanks. The moment we saw them we fled to Kawkaba, half a kilometer away, and hid in the village. Then the tanks came, stood there and started rotating their cannons, didn’t shoot or anything.

Dan Yahav: Whose tanks?

Amnon Neumann: The Egyptians’. Only they had tanks (laughing), we didn’t have any tanks back then. A few minutes later they started shooting at us from all directions. We sat in the armored vehicles, the fire wasn’t so… but they were shooting from all directions. Until we decided to find out who was there. We went out, looked around, ran a little. It was the villagers who had run away from Kawkaba that were shooting at us. Then our company commander, a nice guy, suddenly appeared with his pickup truck, took out a pistol and said, You abandoned the intersection, do you realize what that means?! It won’t be possible to pass through to the Negev anymore. So we told him, Moishe, go ahead and drive to the intersection, look closely, can you make it to the intersection? So he relaxed a little and then the Egyptian Spitfires came, bombed us and destroyed his pickup truck. He jumped into the sabra bushes and came out alive.

Eitan Bronstein: So who did the shooting, I didn’t understand who did the shooting.

Amnon Neumann: The Arabs who had lived in Kawkaba, the saw that we were running away, so they revealed themselves.

Eitan Bronstein: And then they shot at you, the Arabs from Kawkaba?

Amnon Neumann: Yes, that’s right they shot at us from the hills, from the wadis.

Lia Tarachansky: In Kawkaba there were no more people left anymore?

Amnon Neumann: There was nothing there. The only thing I remember are the terrible fleas there, they devoured us.

Eitan Bronstein: How many people were you?

Amnon Neumann: We were a platoon, thirty people. I was in the scouting platoon. There were other platoons, in Nir-Am, in Dorot, in those places.

Amir Hallel: Did you get to see the Arab residents?

Amnon Neumann: Yes, I got to see them in one place, in two places, when we expelled them by night.

Dan Yahav: What kind of weapons did you have?

Amnon Neumann: From the 15th or 17th of May, we received the Czech guns. Both that and Bazot[13]. But until then, I had a 1904 English rifle, with a broken butt that I tied with a steel wire.

Eitan Bronstein: When did you join the Palmach?

Amnon Neumann: I joined the Palmach in 1946, at the age of sixteen and a half.

Eitan Bronstein: And since then did you train regularly?

Amnon Neumann: Yes … Should I start telling the details?

Lia Tarachansky and Eitan Bronstein: It’s important.

Amnon Neumann: We were in training in Yagur. After four months in the Palmach, all our commanders were killed in a convoy on Haziv Bridge. We became orphans.

Amnon Neumann: A week later, the British army surrounded us and took us into custody at ‘Atlit. After being two weeks or a month in ‘Atlit, we were released and transferred to Gvat. And from there we were transferred after a while to Heftziba. We were there for about a year, and then one day they called us for roll call and said, Tomorrow you will be discharged from the Palmach (we had been in the Palmach for a year and nine months) and driven to a kibbutz near Rehovot. The next day, trucks came and took us, we got there in the evening, they put us in the dining hall and said, Now we’ll tell you what’s going on. The Haganah’s largest munitions factory is here. You will start working there, you’re no longer Palmachniks or anything, that was the arrangement then. We worked there until the war broke out four months later.

Eitan Bronstein: What did you work at?

Amnon Neumann: I made caps [for guns], nothing could be more boring. It was a huge factory, it’s still there, for example, at Kiryat HaMada in Rehovot, in Givat HaKibbutzim. It was underground. Yes, yes, I was a member of [Kibbutz] Maagan Michael, I had no choice. Nobody asked me. The factory is really impressive, we were also impressed by it at the time. It was in Rehovot next to the train station, very close to the train station, and we worked there until the war broke out.

When the war broke out we continued to work there. And then a friend of mine comes to me and says, Look, we are trained soldiers, we’ve been taught and we are knowledgeable soldiers. What are we doing here making caps? So I told him, You know what? Go over to Palmach headquarters and find out, and so it was. He went and then he says, Tomorrow I’m leaving the kibbutz. I said, I can’t leave, and they won’t let you leave here so quickly. And he said, I’m leaving. He left, and a week later I told the Kibbutz I’m leaving too. We thought of going to Jerusalem. They sent us to the Negev. When I got to the train station in Rehovot I heard a terrible explosion, I looked back and saw a train rolling down the slope. I understood what happened. The Etzel (Irgun) or the Lechi (Shtern Gang) did it.

Dan Yahav: The Lechi.

Amnon Neumann: They blew up the trains carrying the English army to Egypt. I ran breathless to Rehovot and then I went to the Negev.

Dan Yahav: You didn’t manufacture only caps, but also 9mm bullets, didn’t you.

Amnon Neumann: Sure, but I made caps.

Eitan Bronstein: What else did they manufacture there?

Amnon Neumann: Sten bullets, and they inspected Sten parts. They would inspect them there, there was a special place for shooting. It was a big factory, something like fifty people worked there. Going down there, seven meters, it was … you can go visit the place to this day.

Amnon Neumann: I did a scouting course so they put me in a scouting platoon and there was another platoon there. When we got there my friend told me, Don’t you have a pit? There are cannons here. I told him, So what if there are cannons? I’d never heard [of] a cannon. So he says, It’s a terrible thing. Go dig yourself a pit and cover it, until midnight. We did it, we covered it. The next morning I see he’s dying of fear. A brave guy, a great guy, but dying of fear. It told him, Ptachia, what’s the matter? He answered, There are cannons! We wanted to go eat at eight o’clock, so he told me, No, we’re not going to eat at eight, we’ll go later. At eight fifteen the terrible cannons of Beit Hanoun, there were something like ten there, opened concentrated fire. Now I understand that what they had done earlier was ranging. But nobody knew what a cannon was, and nobody knew what ranging was. So they ranged them a day earlier, before I even got there, and they saw—they had great observation posts—that everybody is getting into the dining hall, it wasn’t in Nir-Am but in Mekorot, before Nir-Am, and then they opened very heavy fire. We sat there for three hours, until they finished destroying the whole place and it became quiet. We got out, the platoon commander approached me and told me, A friend of mine from Kfar Yehezkel came to visit me, he’s lying in the trench, look, and then I saw all the dead. The whole trench was full of dead people. The whole dining hall was full of dead people. Whoever didn’t have a head cover was either killed or escaped, managed to escape. There were some who managed to escape. That was the Egyptian army’s welcome reception. After that they advanced and got to … The two-week long battle over Be’erot started … near Yad-Mordechai. We tried then to bypass the Egyptians but it didn’t work out. Only in the last night when it was decided that we’re leaving them, that we’re leaving the place, were we able to get the people out.

Question: What years are we talking about?

Amnon Neumann: July 48, until the first break in the fighting. By the time of the first break there were no more Arabs in the area.

Question: I don’t know if you will get back later to the topic I want to ask about. You said “we expelled” the villagers, can you describe an expulsion action for us, how it was done?

Amnon Neumann: Yes, until then some of them fled and some were expelled. We shot and they fled to Gaza. But we expelled systematically in the last day of the break in the fighting. During the break there were also a few battles. They tried to penetrate through the Gaza-Beersheba road and we stopped them. The Egyptians! There was no one else to stop.

Eitan Bronstein: Can you say in this context, do you remember what was the order you received regarding the Arab villages?

Amnon Neumann: I’ll tell you. I don’t like it, but I’ll tell you. In the last day of the break we were told that the Egyptians smuggled 20mm cannons to the villages Kawfakha[14] and al-Muharraqa[15] and tomorrow they would act with them and we need to destroy these villages. We drove there … and the men had fled, that was the usual practice. The men would run away first, leaving the women and the children, and then … (silence) we would expel them, right? And so it was in Kawfakha. I was in Kawfakha, others were in al-Muharraqa. It’s about 15km from Gaza. We surrounded the village, started shooting in the air, and everybody started to scream, yes, and … and we drove them out. The women and the children went to Gaza.

Lia Tarachansky: Were there people who didn’t agree to go?

Amnon Neumann: Nobody dared. I’ll tell you why: their mentality was that whoever dares will be killed anyway. They would do it too, if it were the other way around. These are no saints. It’s in the people’s culture, that this is how it’s always been. Whoever resisted would be killed with a sword or by shooting. It’s not an uncommon thing. By morning no one was there. We burned the houses that had straw roofs.

Eitan Bronstein: Just a second, I don’t understand, what exactly was the order in this context, was there an order in some villages to destroy the whole village and not in others? What exactly was the procedure?

Amnon Neumann: No, no, no. These villages were in our rear, and from a military standpoint it made sense. Nobody knew … we didn’t find any cannon there – that’s clear. But now it became an even surface, an open area that you could maneuver in.

Amir Hallel: Before then, if you had approached that area would it have been dangerous, would it have been disruptive?

Amnon Neumann: Nobody would have dared go into an inhabited village. We never entered villages to stay there but only to expel them. Someone asked earlier how they were expelled. This is how it was. Then the same thing happened with the Tarabin and with the Bedouin tribes. That was half a year later.

Amir Hallel: You said that in the whole area of the villages further to the north—when the Egyptians shot at you from Beit Hanoun in June in the whole area except for Huj—you said there were no Arabs. So what happened to those villagers?

Amnon Neumann: There were no Arabs, either they fled or we expelled them. We had already conquered Burayr in battle. The others, they saw that there’s nothing in Hulayqat[16] so they ran away. The big battle of Hulayqat was between our army and the Egyptians. There were no civilians.

Amir Hallel: And in Burayr, which battalion was that?

Amnon Neumann: That was the Second Battalion of the Palmach.

Amir Hallel: They attacked Burayr?

Amnon Neumann: Yes.

Eitan Bronstein: But who was resisting there, who was the battle against?

Amnon Neumann: The villagers couldn’t do anything against armed units entering the village, we called them gangs. But what does “gangs” mean? Those were groups of local soldiers that weren’t trained at all. The battle in Burayr wasn’t a big battle either, they ran away.

Amir Hallel: The inhabitants of the village?

Amnon Neumann: No, the armed people were foreigners there, they came to defend the village. Qawuqji told them, Fight, fight the Jews—we’ll come help you from Acre. No help and no nothing. At Sumayriyya near Regba it was the same thing. It characterized them in the south too, where I was, and also in the north. With the locals there was almost … in the north there were more battles, even difficult battles.

Eitan Bronstein: You’re saying it was a battle with armed people who were not the inhabitants of the village, in Burayr. But at the same time there were still residents of Burayr in the village?

Amnon Neumann: Yes!

Eitan Bronstein: So, there was a battle?

Amnon Neumann: There was a battle, and there was also a small murder and similar things and then the inhabitants ran away completely.

Eitan Bronstein: Yes, there are testimonies about a massacre having taken place in Burayr.

Amnon Neumann: You’ve heard about it?

Eitan Bronstein: Yes.

Dan Yahav: I wrote about it, it appears in my “Purity of Arms”.

Amnon Neumann: It does?

Dan Yahav: Yes.

Amnon Neumann: I don’t want to deal with it.

Dan Yahav: And in other villages as well.

Amnon Neumann: I know, I don’t want to deal with it!

Dan Yahav: Allow me a minute, I see the topic of the expulsion is a very sensitive topic. You were a soldier, I was also a soldier, and when I fought I wouldn’t know exactly what was happening in the area. But there are wonderful descriptions in the Negba archive. There is a wonderful description of a kibbutz member! He sees the expulsion, he sees the convoy with the children and everything and it reminds him of terrible things the Jewish people has been through. The same thing is available at Shmaria Gutman’s in Na’an, regarding Lud, Lud and Ramle, about the expulsion.

Amnon Neumann: Oh, right, right.

Eitan Bronstein: Today it is sensitive for you to recall it?

Amnon Neumann: (quietly) Yes, it is.

Amir Hallel: You said there was a time when you would pass through Bureir and at some point you stopped.

Amnon Neumann: Yes, we couldn’t pass through them because the shooting was too strong, and our miserable armored vehicles couldn’t handle it. So we drove through Ashkelon, Isdud, Ashkelon, Barbara, Bayt Jirja, down to Nir-‘Am. Part of the route was even a dirt road. I want to note that the people I was with over there, in our platoon everyone were born in this country. In the other platoon there were others, including immigrants and people who hadn’t grown up with the country’s air of decency, an air of people who knew what they were going to do, who gave their lives without thinking twice.

Eitan Bronstein: What was the atmosphere among the people in terms of the feelings they had about what happened then, during that time?

Amnon Neumann: It was a horrible period: we were sure that the Egyptians would wipe us out, especially after they had cut off the Negev. We didn’t know that the Ninth Battalion was getting organized in the north and would come and break the siege, we didn’t know that. That was later on, in Operation “Yoav”.

Eitan Bronstein: So in terms of the feeling, there was a feeling that it was like the end?

Amnon Neumann: That’s what I observed, unpleasantly. There was also a second platoon with us in Burayr. One guy, an Egyptian Jew, came here and said—excuse me—“I fucked her and shot her”.

Eitan Bronstein: Did you hear him say it?

Amnon Neumann: No, I was told about this later, I didn’t see him. And then they ran, the people who were there and saw her, a 17-year-old girl, he had put a bullet through her head. I approached the platoon commander, who was from Tel Yosef, and I told him, I told him, I think he should be killed. So he said, Stop it you! We’re all going to die in a week or two, what are you messing around with here … that was the mood back then. Later on the situation got better. We saw the Egyptians weren’t worth much, and they can be wiped out, and we really did attack the cannons and destroyed them and killed lots of Egyptians there. And after that the situation stabilized.

Amir Hallel: What happened to that guy?

Amnon Neumann: Nothing. What happened to him? Don’t ask! Don’t ask what happened.

Amir Hallel: You told me…

Amnon Neumann: I told you? So why do you need me to say it here? It’s not important. Just as I wasn’t important. He was killed later, but killed in a terrible way. But why is that important? A lot of my friends were killed not in a terrible way.

Eitan Bronstein: Can we get back to that harsh expression you mentioned. From that word you understood that there had been a rape there followed by murder?

Amnon Neumann: I didn’t see it, but people ran and saw it. They saw that girl lying there with a bullet in her head.

Dan Yahav: But they had washed her there, she was clean.

Amnon Neumann: I didn’t see and didn’t ask, how do you know?

Dan Yahav: I’m telling you, I know.

Amnon Neumann: This particular case?

Dan Yahav: Yes.

Amnon Neumann: With this Egyptian?

Dan Yahav: Yes, yes.

Amnon Neumann: I see you’ve done some research.

Dan Yahav: They washed her, prepared her and then did what they did. (Silence)

Amnon Neumann: I didn’t know these details and I never wanted to go into the thick of things.

Dan Yahav: By the way, the IDF archive is unwilling to this day to open documents related to cases of rape. It’s still [a matter of] “Israel’s security”. (Long silence)

Amnon Neumann: After that I was in Beersheba. There was a short battle there. It wasn’t a big battle, four or five hours and that’s it. There was a chain of Egyptian military posts there, 10km after Beersheba, and we attacked them, and it was the first time I encountered, in Beersheba, what we called the “French commando”. It was a unit made up of immigrants from Morocco. They were trained in Beersheba, in the alleys of Beersheba, and they attacked there. It was ok, we drove out the Egyptians, the Egyptians didn’t hold out anywhere for very long. It was the first time I saw soldiers walking around among the dead Egyptians. It turned out they had been looking for gold teeth in the officers’ mouths. I went crazy. My conceptual world was different.

Lia Tarachansky: Were there cases of disobedience to orders? Did anyone get up and leave rather than go all the way through with it?

Amnon Neumann: Where? With us? No. Never. Everyone went all the way through with it and to the bitter end.

Eitan Bronstein: You know, Amnon, we once met a soldier who had fought in Beersheba and he told us they shot people who had fled from Beersheba, people ran away and soldiers shot them, shot civilians.

Amnon Neumann: Yes, yes, yes. They ran away to the east and the south and they were shot. That’s because it was, I saw it… ok, I did that too. Are we done? Why should I go into details?

Eitan Bronstein: But you can describe exactly this thing, how you as a soldier, you’re shooting people who you see aren’t shooting at you, how… how did you understand it back then? Over there? That you had the full right to do it?

Amnon Neumann: I didn’t understand, I was 19.

Eitan Bronstein: So you just did it?

Amnon Neumann: I was a fool and I didn’t know. Yes. That’s why I’m in such despair, because soldiers are always 19-20 years old, and they never sober up until they’ve been through four battles. That’s the main point. And there will always be new 19-year-olds.

Amir Hallel: Was there an order to do it?

Amnon Neumann: Where I was, there was an order in one case. As I said, the horrors of war are more difficult than the battles of war, which are not easy either.

Eitan Bronstein: I heard recently about a testimony given by a Palmachnik, [who had been] I think in Simsim, were you in Simsim?

Amnon Neumann: I was there after the village had been destroyed.

Eitan Bronstein: So maybe you’ve heard soldiers’ testimonies saying they saved the Palestinian women from Palestinian men shooting their wives?

Amnon Neumann: They didn’t save, our soldiers didn’t save anyone. Look, in the heat of battle you don’t save anyone. And save just one person, yourself. Right? You don’t save anyone. After that there was the big battle over Be’erot Yitzhak. Really, a big and terrible battle. Half of the men of Be’erot Yitzhak were killed there. How many were there? There were 100, 40 were killed there, something like that. And we came from the direction of Sa’ad to save them and the platoons of the “Negev Animals” came from the other direction and then there was a battle. We shot and they shot. In the end, they fixed their machine gun and mowed down the Sudanese. It was a lucerne field there. Straight, even. And then I saw from a distance, for the first and only time, how the Egyptian officers walk with pistols with the soldiers ahead of them, shooting, lying down, getting up, shooting. That was one of the elite units of the Sudanese army, which afterwards stayed in ‘Iraq Suwaydan as well, until they conquered ‘Iraq Suwaydan.

Amir Hallel: What do you mean when you say that those officers walked with pistols?

Amnon Neumann: What reason did a poor Sudanese have for going and getting killed? For what? Did he even know? Those were the British methods, that there should be order. But the British didn’t have… it was also that way in World War I, rest assured. No one wants to die just like that. What did the Sudanese have here? They were tall, giant, muscular negroes. After the battle our platoon went to collect the booty and the documents. That was our part.

Eitan Bronstein: What do you mean the documents?

Amnon Neumann: Of the dead! What unit was it, what they did, right? We walked there among… we turned everyone over, and… all that. Back then I didn’t feel anything for these dead people. They were enemies and it’s good that they died, right? I didn’t feel anything special.

Amnon Neumann: In March 1949 the race to conquer Eilat began. We went down as far as Wadi Abiad, where ‘Ovda is. And we would kill poor Egyptians over there too, those who had got cut off from their units and we shot them from the hillside. Right? No one… they were abandoned, no one paid attention to them. After a week we were told, Operation ‘Ovda—going to conquer Eilat. Our platoon split into two, there was a group that led the whole Negev Brigade. And we drove, I was the scout commander, we drove an hour after them. In one of the wadis I suddenly heard a sound that was already familiar to me, a land mine exploded, I looked back and saw the jeep behind us rising into the air and collapsing. And immediately they opened fire on us. Me and my driver… (laughing) we jumped under the jeep. I left the MG machine gun hanging there (laughing). And he told me, his name was Basri, he was from Iraq, he told me, Amnon this is the end. We had been a year together. This is the end. We saw the heads, the kafiyas of the Legion soldiers above us, about twenty meters. So I told him, there’s nothing else to do; here, each one of us has a rifle, let’s shoot five bullets, the whole magazine, and run, whatever happens happens. And so we did. We shot, ran and hid. A few days later our commander said we conquered Eilat and we’re driving down there. We drove until we got to Wadi Paran. They I told him, Listen, let go 10km in here and see what happened to the jeep. He said ok, and then we were all tensed up, maybe there’s an ambush or something. And I followed with the map and said, Here there’s 300m left until we get to the jeep, and so it was. 200m before the jeep I saw a Jordanian lying dead, with his kafiyah. We went down to him, he had gotten a bullet here (point to his head), from the ten bullets we had shot. And then we saw the mines. Our jeep which first went through squeezed it with the wheel and it didn’t go off. The second jeep drove over it. We got to Eilat and the war was over.

Amir Hallel: Just a second Amnon, what about the Bedouins? You started saying something about them.

Amnon Neumann: Right, I forgot. The Azazme, and the Tarabin. We were there for two months, we marked the roads that would later be constructed on the Negev Plateau. We got to every remote corner there, really, to every corner. That was when I saw the Azazme and the Tarabin. They would be hiding in all kinds of places, in narrow wadis. I don’t know what they lived off from. I don’t know where they drank water. It was in the Negev Plateau, there was one well there where we would go once every two weeks to wash. Bir Malihi. The good well. Malihi in Arabic means good. It was then that I saw how they lived there. And they were terribly afraid. When we would appear with the jeeps, the men would mount their horses and run away, leaving the women and the children. We never touched them, right? These are not the people we wanted to hurt.

Question: There were no orders to expel them, to transfer them?

Amnon Neumann: No, no. You are reminding me of the Jahalin. The same week we conquered Eilat, our platoon had only three or four people who were taken to the conquering of ‘Ein-Gedi. When they came back, after two weeks, we all came back so I asked them, What did you do? So they said, Nothing. There were Jahalin there, we shot in the air and they ran away. We didn’t kill anyone, do anything, and Ein-Gedi is occupied. Later I heard about the Jahalin from a number of places. It was a large tribe in the east of the country and part of it was also in Jordan. A year ago, I visited… how do you call this place… where Sima went.

Dan Yahav: Ma’ale Adumim, they are still there.

Amnon Neumann: Yes, yes, Ma’ale Adumim. I visited there and saw the Bedouins. I said, Hannah, I have to approach them. And then I approached them. The youngsters received us, Hannah stayed in the car because it was a very warm day. The youngsters received us with such hatred: Get lost, why should we talk to you, are you a journalist? I told him, No, I’m not a journalist. So he told me again, Are you a journalist? I told him, No. and then I saw an old man standing there, on the side. I approached him and told him, Who are you? So he says, We are from the Jahalin. I told him, Where are you from the Jahalin? So he says, From Arad. I told him, No my friend, you are not from Arad, from the Arad area. So he says to me, How do you know? I said, I know. You were in the Dead Sea. I told him in Arabic. So he says, How do you know? So I said, They expelled you 60 years ago, didn’t they. He said, that’s right, after that we were in Arad. But before that we were in the valley below. There weren’t many to expel there.

Question: You also said they burned houses.

Amnon Neumann: That was in the south.

Eitan Bronstein: So in the south the houses were demolished immediately following the occupation, when the people left them.

Amnon Neumann: It wasn’t a problem to demolish them. These were mud and clay houses, nothing.

Questions from the audience: How did they do it? How did they demolish the houses?

Amnon Neumann: It was enough for an armored vehicle to drive by and give it a blow and the whole building would collapse.

Amir Hallel: What would you do if people tried to return to their village, what did you do?

Amnon Neumann: Oh, yes. People who were in Gaza wanted to return to their villages. They would come back at night and do two things: first, there was special agriculture, in the sand dunes, further up north. The vines would bloom and they would need to be pruned, so they would come there at night. The didn’t know they would never ever come back. And we waited for them, it was impossible to let them walk around there, so we waited for them.

Eitan Bronstein: Wait a minute, what would they come for, you didn’t say.

Amnon Neumann: To take care of the vine, to take all kinds of things from the village, I never looked into their sacks. And we would snipe and kill them. That was part of the horrible things.

A woman from the audience: One of the women-soldiers, the women who served in the Palmach, told about how during the war as well as afterwards throughout her life, the moral paralysis was so strong that it had to be accompanied by aggressiveness, and what she says is that after several decades of repressing so strongly what she had done and the demolition of the villages and the expulsion, that it took decades until she was walking in a certain forest and suddenly she remembered that she was standing in a place where a village had once stood. Have you also had experiences of this kind?

Amnon Neumann: Oh, experiences of this kind? Yes. I did but I wasn’t shocked anymore. I used to be shocked by what I’d been through.

Question: Can you maybe tell us?

Lia Tarachansky: You don’t want to talk?

Amnon Neumann: Come on! Do you want me to tell you that I shot at a pickup truck full of people? (coughing) Nonsense. It didn’t change the essence of the whole Nakba.

From the audience: But if we can understand how you repressed it, maybe we’ll be able to understand how the whole people of Israel still doesn’t know about the Nakba?

Woman in the audience: How come you, members of the battalion, never tried to sit together, to talk, to bring back memories?

Amnon Neumann: No. Uh, no, we had reunions years later.

Woman continuing: To try, after you sobered up didn’t you try…

Amnon Neumann: No, there was no one to do it with. We had company, battalion, brigade, Palmach reunions, right? In the end I stopped going and my wife got very angry. I said, I don’t want to hear them. They are always just telling about themselves. How it was here and how it was there. No one was thinking critically. How did you put it? Morally speaking, moral paralysis. It was moral paralysis.

Eitan Bronstein: But now you said something important. You keep saying all the time that it’s a war and that in a war terrible things happen.

Amnon Neumann: That’s right.

Eitan Bronstein: On the other hand, from your descriptions and from what you are saying and hinting here and there about having participated in horrible things as well, that’s not exactly the description of a war. Is this what you mean by “war”?

Amnon Neumann: As I told you, the horrors of war are as hard as the battles. I said it. These horrors, the horrible things that in a war are often worse than the war. Worse things, that is, when women are killed, when you kill children, all the horrors surrounding war, not surrounding the battle, they are worse than the battles. It’s called “moraot” [horrors] in Hebrew. Not “me’oraot” [events], but “moraot” of the war. The horrible things of war.

Eitan Bronstein: You mean, cases where civilians get killed. Are you referring to these kinds of things?

Amnon Neumann: Exactly.

Question: Amnon, can you perhaps tell us after all, if not about a specific event, at least a little bit in principle about the method? Really the method?

Amnon Neumann: There was no method.

Question continuing: The method of the expulsion, how it was done.

Amnon Neumann: Oh, the method of the expulsion! They would come to a village, shoot in the air, and the villagers had no weapons, they had nothing, they packed their things and fled. Then sometimes they would shoot after them and sometimes they didn’t, and that was all.

Question continuing: And what would you do after that, leave the village? Burn it down?

Amnon Neumann: There was so little in the village, as I said, in certain known cases we burned the village down and in other cases we would leave it. No one… there was nothing to steal. Look, there was nothing to loot there. They were as poor as church mice. There was nothing to steal. Me, the only looting I took, I found this kind of prayer rug, I put it in my pit, where I slept for three months.

Amir Hallel: In the south, in the area where you were in the south, in the Negev, were prisoners taken from among the villagers, or were people allowed to run away?

Amnon Neumann: Yes, yes. They were usually allowed to run away. If there were cases…

From the audience: There weren’t any prisoners or things like that?

Amnon Neumann: Egyptian prisoners?

From the audience: No, villagers.

Amnon Neumann: No. If there were prisoners they would be killed immediately.

From the audience: Can you tell about the occupation of Beersheba?

Amnon Neumann: There wasn’t much of an Egyptian force there, and wherever the Egyptians were attacked they didn’t hold out. I saw it in the cannons, when we conquered the cannons. We killed about 80 Egyptians there. So what? In two hours the cannons were in our hands, we had nothing to do with them. No one among us, even the company commander and battalion commander didn’t know, they had never in their life seen a cannon.

Amir Hallel: From the cannons did you continue into the town?

Amnon Neumann: No, it was enough. From the second company so many were killed, from the “Negev Animals”. You don’t move forward just like that. From Beit Hanoun. It wasn’t Beit Hanoun then.

Woman from the audience: I heard about an expulsion method in which three sides of a village would be closed off and one side left open where they wanted the expulsion to go. Was that a method you also used?

Amnon Neumann: That’s right. They would position one squad here, one squad here, one there, shoot in the air, not even straight at them, and they would run away by themselves, they had nothing to defend themselves with.

Woman in the audience: But they understood that it’s the only direction.

Amnon Neumann: They knew they had to get to Gaza, and they knew the directions better than us.

Eitan Bronstein: Amnon, I want to ask you something after all about those horrors that you find it difficult to talk about, and I understand that, but can you say something about afterward, let’s say, would it come up in conversations among the soldiers, for example? After all, you did do things, and you were adults, you did difficult things. Would you later share your experiences?

Amnon Neumann: It wasn’t difficult. Who was it difficult for? For the squad commander who gave the order, for the soldier who pulled the trigger? It wasn’t difficult. It was completely natural—we had to do it. If not, they would slaughter us. Don’t think that if it were the other way around it would have been better. It would have been much worse. There is no doubt about it.

[1] Between today’s Otzem and Negba

[2] Near today’s Moshav Kochav Michael.

[3] Next to today’s Heletz Intersection.

[4] Today part of Ashkelon.

[5] Today’s Moshav Mavki’im.

[6] Next to today’s Zikim Intersection.

[7] Today part of Kiryat Gat.

[8] Two kilometers north of Sderot.

[9] Between today’s Or HaNer and Gvar’am.

[10] Today “Havat HaShikmim”, between Dorot and Sderot.

[11] Two kilometers northwest of Kibbutz Yagur.

[12] Today part of Nesher.

[13] Medium-size machine gun.

[14] About two kilometers northeast of today’s Moshav Nir ‘Akiva.

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