31 January 2011

Palestinian Authority Suppresses Demonstrations Supporting Egyptian Masses

No one is more afraid and upset by the revolution in Egypt than the Quisling Palestinian Authority and the Fateh/PLO leaders. After all, as the Palestine papers show, they were in cahoots with Mubarak to enforce the blockade of Gaza. Mubarak was their closest ally and as a tribute to him they decided to set up their own little police statelet in Ramallah.

Now all that is cast into doubt. The Egyptian masses aren’t happy to have a repressive regime that dances to the United States tune. Who knows what might come next? Having chosen the road of collaboration there is nothing that the PA will not do to demonstrate its loyalty to its Zionist and American sponsors.

So it comes as no surprise that they are preventing demonstrations outside the Egyptian ‘Embassy’ and threatening organisers with torture if they don’t obey. And meanwhile the PA’s plain clothes security forces and policemen stage an out of uniform ‘demonstration’ outside the offices of Al Jazeera against the leaking of the 1,600 documents by Al Jazeera which shows that Abbas would have sold off his mother and children if it had gained him extra plaudits from Netanyahu.

What is shocking is that in this country our own Palestine Solidarity Campaign has kept silent, saying nothing, referring web site visitors to the comments of others. It has nothing to say on the Palestinian Authority and its betrayals and agreeing to all Israel’s demands, still less on the heroic demonstrations of the Egyptian masses. The stupid and supine Socialist Action members and fellow travellers who control Britain’s PSC are incapable of seeing that the liberation of the Arab masses from their US client regimes is a precondition of Palestinian liberation.

Tony Greenstein

(Ramallah, January 30, 2011) - Human Rights Watch
Palestinian Authority Disrupts Egypt Solidarity Protest in Ramallah

Palestinian Authority security forces shut down a demonstration on January 30, 2011, in front of the Egyptian embassy in Ramallah, after calling in one of the organizers for questioning multiple times on January 29 and ordering him to cancel the event notice that he had created on Facebook. Human Rights Watch monitored the demonstration and spoke with participants.

At around 4 p.m., the first of roughly 40 to 50 Palestinian demonstrators began to gather in front of the embassy to show solidarity for ongoing protests in Egypt, but were met by 20 armed police who immediately tried to confiscate cameras and ordered a journalist to turn off her microphone and recorder. Security agents wearing masks drove up in a Palestinian Preventive Security service jeep – which was driving very fast, apparently to intimidate protesters – and were soon joined by officers in two other jeeps and three police cars, and a van of the kind the PA uses for arrests and prisoner transport.

Demonstrators said they had expected a higher turnout, but that Palestinian security agencies had called in one of the organizers of the protest for questioning three times in the last 24 hours and told him to cancel the event because "there were orders that no event related to Tunisia or Egypt was allowed at this time." Members of the Facebook page calling for the demonstration received Facebook messages late last night saying that it was canceled.

Security forces pushed the demonstrators around 300 meters away from the Egyptian embassy. At that point, a man who identified himself as a police commander said the demonstrators were in a "security area" and would have to disperse. Several women demonstrators told the police that Palestinian law required the demonstrators to notify the authorities 48 hours in advance and that they had done so. Women also convinced three policemen to release a demonstrator they had seized and dragged away when he shouted, "Long live Egypt!" The police dispersed the protest after one hour.

Human Rights Watch called on the Palestinian Authority to stop security forces' arbitrary interference with peaceful demonstrations

Message from Ramallah Demonstrator

I received this message from a friend in Ramallah yesterday. For obvious reasons, he can't be identified from the suppressed demo:

"We, a group of Independent, liberal leaning Palestinian youth, organized a demonstration near the Egyptian embassy using social media tools such as Facebook, to our surprise one of the organizers was upheld unlawfully and threatened by the Police, Intelligence service and Preventive force on separate basis that if the event takes place he will be tortured and made to pay a heavy price. According to their conversations, they claimed that the order came directly from President Abbas office. We are under constant surveillance and harassment since saturday.

After forcing one of the members to cancel an event on Facebook sending a message to thousands of `confirmed attendees', we still went near the Egyptian embassy today at 4:00 pm. During the protest the police violently assaulted several peaceful protesters and threatened the use of brutal force if anyone raised any slogans.

These and other actions relating to the arrest of Journalists, activists and not as the PA claims only from the Islamist ranks, but also includes activists in Liberal and other leftist youth groups. Palestinians who used to express their opinions freely despite measures of occupation are now under the tutelage of two occupations suffocating our political, economic and social rights."

January 25, 2011, 11:07 am

Palestinian Police Are Said to Have Participated in Protest Against Al Jazeera


A video report on protests against Al Jazeera in Ramallah on Monday.

An angry mob that attempted to storm the office of Al Jazeera in the West Bank city of Ramallah on Monday, following the publication of leaked Palestinian documents by the Arab news network, included Palestinian police officers in civilian clothes, according to a local journalist.

In a report on the incident — which was captured on video by members of Al Jazeera’s staff and discussed on The Lede on MondayRuth Sherlock, a Christian Science Monitor correspondent, wrote that an unnamed “senior Palestinian journalist” at the scene pointed to the crowd pounding on the doors of the Al Jazeera office and said, “Many of the men here are from the preventative security forces. I recognize their faces.”

Ms. Sherlock added that ”the apparent presence of Palestinian Liberation Organization officials and secret police in the crowd” at a rally that preceded the attack on the bureau “had some observers questioning the authenticity of the demonstrations and whether they truly reflected public sentiment.

More video of the rally and the incident at the Al Jazeera office (above) was shot by a Danish journalist and blogger, Mikkel Bahl.

In a post on his Web site Korrespondenterne.dk, Mr. Bahl explained that at one stage in the confrontation between uniformed Palestinian police officers protecting Al Jazeera’s journalists and the crowd, one protester could be heard telling an officer that he was an off-duty member of the same police force.

Ms. Sherlock also reported that while this “small group violently hammered the office door, smashed security cameras and scrawled graffiti” on the walls outside the Al Jazeera office, there were signs that other Palestinians were more upset with their own leadership for what the leaked documents revealed than with the news channel.

Mohammed Jaradat, a Palestinian journalist, told Ms. Sherlock: “On Facebook, Twitter and online blogs, Palestinians are going crazy criticizing Abbas and the Palestinian Authority.”

The Definition of a Dictator

Mubarak 'Our Democratic Friend' - Jo Biden, US Vice President

Jo Biden, the vacuous Vice-President of the USA, a position that Harry Truman once described as not being worth a bucket of warm spit, just doesn't get it. He couldn't understand the grouse of the Egyptian people. Why they didn't like going hungry whilst the Mubarak and his regime thieved Egypt's wealth and tortured those who dissented.

Jo Biden first came to my attention about 20 years ago when he passed off a speech of Neil Kinnock's as his own!! Someone forced to pinch Kinnock's strained rhetoric is clearly not someone at ease with himself.

But then Biden and the USA operate in a parallel universe. Words to them don't mean the same to us.

Didn't you know that the definition of a dictator is whether or not he is friendly to the United States? A friend of the West, by definition, can't be a dictator, however he is elected, whereas someone like Chavez who is elected, is still a dictator, because he opposes us, the West.
If people were to use these definitions then it would be much easier to understand the world!

tony greenstein

"Mubarak has been an ally of ours in a number of things and he's been very responsible on, relative to geopolitical interest in the region, the Middle East peace efforts; the actions Egypt has taken relative to normalizing relationship with Israel.. I would not refer to him as a dictator" US Vice President Je Biden ( a lackey of AIPAC)

I first visited Egypt 30 years ago in 1981 to do research for my master's thesis which was later published in my first book "The Bats of Egypt". I visited Egypt twice since then and I recall vividly police abuse of their own people and yet the Egyptians I encountered mocked and joked about dictatorship. We tried at least from a distance to support our Egyptian brothers and sisters as they struggle for freedom. Arabs everywhere (yes even here in occupied Palestine) are talking about a transformation and about revolution. But all such transformations carry pain. Over 200 Egyptians were killed, thousands injured, and there is much destruction. Yet in a nation of 85 million people this is still a relatively peaceful transformation. While dealing with the present is critical we must also at this juncture start to look post dictatorship in the Arab world and plan the future.

I recall vividly a talk by a self-described "Liberal Zionist" (an oxymoron) at Duke University on 1 March 198l; at 77 year old he had no inhibitions in saying "Zionists do not want democracy in the Arab world." He explained that if Egypt was a democracy, it would not have signed a peace deal with Israel since the sentiments of the Arab people does not accept such arrangements that could be done with someone like President Sadat or King Hussein. On this point he was absolutely correct but in the long run such short-sighted perspective is self-destructive (1).

As I watched last night Hosni Mubarak make his (hopefully last) speech, I was very much reminded of the last speech of the Shah of Iran, Marcos of the Philippines, Bin Ali of Tunisia. They all claimed after so many years of torturing their own people that they now want to "reform". The US funded and supported the brutal Mubarak regime for over 30 years even as plenty of evidence from human rights organizations documented its abuse of its own citizens. See example videos of torture by Egyptian police (2). This is also the same police who, on the instruction of the Mubarak dictatorship, beat international activists trying to provide humanitarian relief to besieged Gaza (3). Mubarak then went on to for the first time appoint a vice president (his intelligence chief and ex-army buddy Omar Suleiman) and appoint another army officer as prime minister. It is now recognized that his reign is ending and a new era is beginning.

It is rather amusing that the brutal dictator of "Saudi" Arabia (a country named after a ruling family!) called to support Mubarak and stated that the demonstrators are hooligans and criminals. Anyone who knows anything about Egypt knows that this amazing and inspiring mostly nonviolent revolution is a true expression of the will of the Egyptian people regardless of their political or religious persuasions (leftist, Muslim Brotherhood, Nasserite Arab Nationalist, Christians, Muslims, etc).

In other news in brief for those who don't keep up with internet news or those who watch mainly the (supine) Western Media: -Large demonstrations by Egyptians and human rights defenders at Egyptian embassies around the world all demanding democracy -Israeli embassy in Cairo essentially emptied (an apartheid state embassy in the largest Arab country is an abomination) -Israeli pundits very worried about how Egypt might look after Mubarak. There are many signs that the Egyptian military (like the Tunisian military) may be critical in this struggle. Already there are instances where the demonstrators were protected from the Egyptian police by the Egyptian military. See footage (4)
-A number of human rights groups and Egyptian community representatives abroad all called for ending the Egyptian police brutality. By contrast EU and US government officials are making feeble statements to hedge their bets and at best call for "peaceful" actions from "all sides". Slowly they were forced to modify their retorhic to talk about "change" but must finally call on their puppet Mubarak to leave power and insist that he and his sons and family return the billions stolen from the Egyptian people.

-A number of religious and civil organizations in Egypt broke their silence to support the ouster of the "last Pharaoh"
-The dictatorship cutting of web and mobile phone services and banning reporting by groups like Al-Jazeera did little to stem the tide of protest because people are living it daily in their homes and on the streets and they are not being incited from outside. -Protests spread to Jordan and Yemen (two other Western supported governments). There are now plans for large protests in Syria and other countries.

-On the Palestinian Authority TV news, they noted that Mahmoud Abbas called Mubarak and stated his support for stability of Egypt. Other news outlets stated that he fully supports the Mubarak regime. Hamas then came in to say
that they support the Egyptian people. Sadly, I think all rational human beings know which horse to bet on in this struggle between people and a western-supported dictator who accomplished nothing for his people and instead enriched his family (his sons are billionaires in a country in which tens of millions of people live on less than $1 a day).

I wrote seven months ago that "The political leadership in the fragmented Arab countries and Palestinian authority have convinced themselves that they have no option but to endlessly try to talk to politicians from Tel Aviv and
Washington (the latter also Israeli occupied territory) hoping for some 'gestures'..I know most politicians like to feel 100% safe (mostly for their position of power) and are afraid of any change. But I wish they would realize that daring politicians make the history books and those who hang around trying to protect their seats will be forgotten. Cowardice is never a virtue." And then I concluded that "In the demonstrations yesterday, a child in Gaza was carrying a sign that says 'we demand freedom' and a child in Cairo that says 'children in Egypt and in Gaza want the siege lifted'. That is our future - not elderly politicians meeting to do media damage control with empty words. "(5)

But make no mistake about it: no power transformation happens without a period of unrest, instability, and pain. I believe in these difficult periods, humans are tested. Some are weak and may even try to use the situations to make some quick personal profit. Others are of strong and decent character and this shows in their watching for their neighbors and their community. I have seen countless pictures and heard countless stories of acts that can only be described as heroic (e.g. people protecting the national museum in Cairo or their neighbors' houses). Intellectuals are
stepping forward to articulate rational scenarios for the future. People helping other people. So I think we will weather the transition. As to what the future holds. Clearly, the era of ignoring the masses is gone. It will not be easy since we have a legacy of decades of poor education (one that does not emphasize civic and individual responsibility etc). Getting rid of dictators is not enough. Building a civic participatory society is not easy (Europe's enlightenment did not come just from removing a few dictators).

People's expectation raised for change will dash against the reality that it will take decades to create systems of governance, accountability, economic justice, etc to allow for unleashing the great potential in the Arab world.
And there is great potential (natural resources, water, educated hard-working middle class etc). It is critical that people begin to chart this future honestly and pragmatically. Slogans will not work. We the people must take responsibility for our own lives and for our communities. We need to take time to educate children in a very, very different way than we were educated. The beginnings may be simple. For example, in many Arab countries, people were thinking that as long as the country is not theirs (ruled by dictators), they can only watch over their own personal space and literally dump trash in the public space. In the new era, they have to learn that public space is theirs too. Order and respect for fellow citizens and for the country will have to be taught very early to our children. This is but one example for laying a brick in the road to real freedom and real prosperity. The bricks though are many and they will have to be fashioned and laid by the people. It is very hard work but it is the only way forward.

(1) I challenged him on this in the Q&A and then wrote a follow-up letter that was published in the Duke Chronicle. See http://www.qumsiyeh.org/zionistpositionfailstorecognizeotherside/

(2) Torture at Egyptian police stations, here are three examples (warning disturbing content!)

3) Egyptian police beat Free Gaza convoy activist on December 30, 2009

4) See this associated press story about role of Egyptian military
and this interesting footage of military shielding demonstrators

5) Mazin Qumsiyeh "Of Cowardice, Dignity and Solidarity"

Mazin Qumsiyeh, PhD

28 January 2011

2 States Plan – It Never Died Because It Never Lived

This is an important article by well respected Palestinian journalist Ali Abunimah who was granted access to the 1,600 documents that were leaked to Al Jazeera. The article analyses how Obama has reneged even on the Bush administration’s pathetically weak Road Map and effectively accepts the Israeli position of a swap of peoples, i.e. Israeli Arabs into an ‘independent’ Palestinian state. It also documents the record of the Palestinian Authority in accepting that Israel can annex the settlements it has established to itself.

We can also see how the slogan ‘2 States for 2 Peoples’ has fed into the demands of the ultra-racists in the Israeli state – from Tsipi Livni to Avigdor Lieberman – for Israeli Arabs to be ‘transferred’ out of Israel and into a Palestinian Reservation We call on socialists, even the social-chauvinist Alliance for Workers Liberty, which supported the Occcupation of Iraq by US and British military forces, to accept that the slogan which they have used is now a transfer slogan, a slogan to expel the Palestinians who live in Israel into the Occupied Territories. It is the slogan of the most virulent racists and no self-respecting socialist should use this apartheid slogan.

And the reason why 2 States for 2 Peoples is the slogan of the transfer supporters in Israeli is because it neatly fits in with the Zionists' plan to effect the 'transfer' of the Palestinians out of Israel. Socialists who use it completely misunderstand the nature of the conflict in Palestine. It isn't, and never has been, a conflict between 2 peoples but a simple case of European settlers coming to expel the indigenous population and set up their own society. In fact when the Zionists came there was no Palestinian people. Nationalism was in its infancy in what became known as Palestine after the British established their Mandate in 1920.

Although the area was also referred to as Palestine by many people, not least Victorian imperialists, it was a diffuse geographical concept. It certainly didn't refer to a homogenous people. The Palestinians were a creation of Zionism and the Jewish settlers and it is to the latter that the Palestinian Arabs are bound.

The conflict in Israel/Palestine is about land, water and the rights of the indigenous to equal political, social and economic rights in one Palestine. It is not a national conflict.
And just as the South African Whites have had to accept that they are African and the Ulster Protestants are Irish, however much they try to deny it, so the Israeli Jews are Jewish Palestinians not a separate Israeli Jewish nation.

I intend to cover the Palestinian Papers in more depth in a later article.

Tony Greenstein

Ali Abunimah

A dangerous shift on 1967 lines.

One of the more astonishing revelations in The Palestine Papers - detailed records and minutes of the Middle East peace process leaked to Al Jazeera - is that the administration of US President Barack Obama effectively repudiated the Road Map, which has formed the basis of the "peace process"since 2003. In doing so it has backed away even from commitments made by the George W. Bush administration and blown an irreparable hole in the already threadbare "two-state solution."

But even worse, the US position perhaps unwittingly opens the door to dangerous Israeli ambitions to transfer - or ethnically cleanse - non-Jewish Palestinian citizens of Israel in order to create an ethnically pure "Jewish state."

Shortly after it took office in January 2009, the Obama administration publicly called on Israel to freeze all settlement construction in the occupied West Bank, including East Jerusalem. After months of grueling shuttle diplomacy by US envoy George Mitchell, Obama eventually made do with an Israeli promise of a ten-month partial settlement moratorium excluding Jerusalem.

While those talks were ongoing, frustrated Palestinian negotiators tried repeatedly to wrestle a commitment from Mitchell that the terms of reference for US-brokered peace negotiations that were to begin once the settlement moratorium was in place would be for the establishment of a Palestinian state on the 1967 line with minor, agreed land swaps between the Israeli and Palestinian sides. This, the Palestinians argued, was the position the Bush administration had endorsed and was contained in the Road Map peace plan adopted by the Quartet (US, EU, Russia and the UN) in 2003.

But in apparently contentious meetings between Mitchell and Palestinian chief negotiator Saeb Erekat and their respective teams in September and October 2009 -- whose detailed contents have been revealed for the first time -- Mitchell claimed the Bush administration position was nonbinding. He pressed the Palestinians to accept terms of reference that acquiesced to Israel's refusal to recognize the 1967 line which separates Israel as it was established in 1948 from the West Bank and Gaza Strip where Palestinians hoped to have their state.

Dropping the 1967 border

On 23 September 2009, Obama told the UN General Assembly that his goal was for "Two states living side by side in peace and security -- a Jewish state of Israel, with true security for all Israelis; and a viable, independent Palestinian state with contiguous territory that ends the occupation that began in 1967, and realizes the potential of the Palestinian people."

But this did not satisfy the Palestinians. The next day during a meeting at the US Mission to the United Nations in New York, Erekat refused an American request to adopt Obama's speech as the terms of reference for negotiations. Erekat asked Assistant Secretary of State for Near Eastern Affairs David Hale why the Obama administration would not explicitly state that the intended outcome of negotiations would be a Palestinian state on the 1967 borders with a third party security role and a staged Israeli withdrawal. Hale responded, "You ask why? How would it help you if we state something so specific and then not be able to deliver?" according to Palestinian minutes of the meeting.

At the same meeting, which Mitchell himself later joined, Erekat challenged the US envoy on how Obama could publicly endorse Israel as a "Jewish state" but not commit to the 1967 borders. Mitchell, according to the minutes, told Erekat "You can’t negotiate detailed ToRs [terms of reference for the negotiations]" so the Palestinians might as well be "positive" and proceed directly to negotiations. Erekat viewed Mitchell's position as a US abandonment of the Road Map.

On 2 October 2009 Mitchell met with Erekat at the State Department and again attempted to persuade the Palestinian team to return to negotiations. Despite Erekat's entreaties that the US should stand by its earlier positions, Mitchell responded, "If you think Obama will force the option you’ve described, you are seriously misreading him. I am begging you to take this opportunity."

Erekat replied, according to the minutes, "All I ask is to say two states on 67 border with agreed modifications. This protects me against Israeli greed and land grab – it allows Israel to keep some realities on the ground" (a reference to Palestinian willingness to allow Israel to annex some West Bank settlements as part of minor land swaps). Erekat argued that this position had been explicitly endorsed by Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice under the Bush administration.

"Again I tell you that President Obama does not accept prior decisions by Bush. Don’t use this because it can hurt you. Countries are bound by agreements – not discussions or statements," Mitchell reportedly said.

The US envoy was firm that if the government of Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu did not agree to language in the terms of reference the US would not try to force it. Yet Mitchell continued to pressure the Palestinian side to adopt formulas the Palestinians feared would give Israel leeway to annex large parts of the occupied West Bank without providing any compensation.

At a critical 21 October 2009 meeting, Mitchell read out proposed language for terms of reference:

"The US believes that through good faith negotiations the parties can mutually agree on an outcome that achieves both the Palestinian goal of an independent and viable state encompassing all the territory occupied in 1967 or its equivalent in value, and the Israeli goal of secure and recognized borders that reflect subsequent developments and meets Israeli security requirements."

Erekat's response was blunt: "So no Road Map?" The implication of the words "or equivalent in value" is that the US would only commit to Palestinians receiving a specific amount of territory -- 6258 square kilometers, or the equivalent area of the West Bank and Gaza Strip -- but not to any specific borders.

"Two states for two peoples"

This is an earthquake. It not only up-ends the two-state solution as it is conventionally understood, but opens the door to possible future American acceptance of Israeli aspirations to create an ethnically-pure Jewish state by "exchanging" territories where many of Israel's 1.4 million Palestinian citizens are concentrated. This would be a violation of these Palestinians' most fundamental rights and a repudiation of the universally-accepted self-determination principles established at the Versailles Conference after World War I. It potentially replaces the two-state solution with what Israeli officials call the "two states for two peoples solution."

Then Israeli Foreign Minister Tzipi Livni elaborated what this would look like during a November 13, 2007 negotiating session with Palestinian officials, confidential minutes of which were also revealed among The Palestine Papers:

"Our idea is to refer to two states for two peoples. Or two nation states, Palestine and Israel living side by side in peace and security with each state constituting the homeland for its people and the fulfillment of their national aspirations and self determination."

Livni stressed, "Israel [is] the state of the Jewish people - and I would like to emphasize the meaning of 'its people' is the Jewish people -- with Jerusalem the united and undivided capital of Israel and of the Jewish people for 3007 years."

Livni thus makes clear that only Jews are guaranteed citizenship in Israel and that Palestinian citizens do not really belong even though they are natives who have lived on the land since before Israel existed. It negates Palestinian refugee rights and raises the spectre of the expulsion or "exchange" of Palestinians already in the country. Yet Livni's troubling statement appears to reflect more than just her personal opinion.

A 29 October 2008 internal Palestinian memorandum titled "Progress Report on Territory Negotiations" states that Palestinian negotiators rejected the notion that Palestinians could be included in land swaps. But, according to the document, "the Israelis continued to raise the prospect of including Palestinian citizens of Israel" in such swaps, during negotiations between Palestinian officials and the government of former Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert.

In September last year, Israeli Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman presented a plan to the UN General Assembly in which Israel would keep West Bank settlements and cede to a future Palestinian state some lands with highly concentrated populations of non-Jewish citizens. "A final agreement between Israel and the Palestinians," Lieberman said, "has to be based on a program of exchange of territory and populations."

While Lieberman heads the ultranationalist Yisrael Beitenu party, and Livni the Kadima opposition (often inaccurately perceived as more "moderate" than Israel's current government), the two politicians' views are symptomatic of increasingly overt racism within Israeli society.

The Obama administration's failure to press Israel to accept the international consensus that the Palestinian state would be established on all the territories Israel occupied in 1967, except for minor adjustments, dooms the two-state solution. It may well be that a US administration that came to office promising unparalleled efforts to bring peace, ends up clearing the path for Lieberman's and Livni's abhorrent ideas to enter the mainstream.

This is not only catastrophic for Palestinian rights and the prospects for justice, but represents a return to nineteenth century notions, banished in the wake of two world wars, that population groups can be traded between states without their consent as if they were mere pieces on a chess board.

27 January 2011

The Naziification of Israel

The term ‘cleanse’ has a particular resonance in terms of the Holocaust. After the start of Operation Barbarossa in June 1941 an area was ‘cleansed’ when there were no Jews left alive. For example according to a situation report by Himmler in February 1942: ‘While the Jewish question in the Ostland can be seen as practically solved and cleansed, progress continues to be made on the clarification of this problem on other occupied territories in the east."
[Irving v Penguin Books Ltd and another, para. 6.20 of the Judgment of Gray J, 11.4.00]

In a Report for Channel 4 News, Alex Thompson described how soldiers involved in the invasion of Gaza were ordered to ‘cleanse’ Palestinian neighbourhoods.

It is no surprise that, yet again, Nazi terminology of destruction and death is now employed by Israel against the Palestinians. Although Israel is not, yet, a fascist state embarked on extermination of the enemy, the mental attitude vs the Palestinians is extremely similar. Just as Jews were considered vermin to be ‘cleansed’ in by the Nazi state, so Palestinians are also regarded as sub-human, beasts on 2 legs as Menachem Begin once said.

Following on from the call for death camps in a orthodox religious magazine, we now learn that soldiers were ordered to embark on ‘cleansing’ operations, having been promised a ‘shoah’ [holocaust] by Deputy Defence Minister Matan Vilnai.

Tony Greenstein

Israeli Soldiers Ordered to ‘Cleanse’ Gaza During Invasion in 2008/9

Israel's invasion of Gaza deliberately aimed to "cleanse" Palestinian neighbourhoods, former soldiers allege, in claims that will reignite the debate over the campaign's legality, writes Alex Thomson.

Israel's controversial invasion of Gaza deliberately aimed to "cleanse" Palestinian neighbourhoods, former soldiers have alleged, in claims that will reignite the debate over the legality of the three week military campaign two years ago.

Israel invaded Gaza at the end of 2008 in a bid to halt rocket attacks from the territory it ceded in 2005. It says it focused on military targets controlled by Hamas, the Palestinian militant group, and bitterly countered a 2009 UN report that stated civilians had been deliberately targeted.

But in startling interviews with Israeli filmmaker Nurit Kedar for her film Concrete, former soldiers have for the first time allowed themselves to be named while blaming their commanders for encouraging a "disproportionate" response to Hamas's rockets. They said their commanders used to "psych up" soldiers before an operation so they were ready to shoot indiscriminately.

One soldier says he was told to shell every house in a neighbourhood. Richard Goldstone’s report for the UN alleged that war crimes and possible crimes against humanity committed by both sides, but highlighted the moral and legal severity of the IDF's attacks.

The IDF [Israel Defence Forces] has said its operational orders during the war emphasised "proportionality" and "humanity". The importance of minimizing harm to civilians was made clear to soldiers, the IDF said at the time. By the end of the 22 day long operation some 1,400 Palestinians had been killed and large areas of Gaza razed. Ten Israeli soldiers and three Israeli civilians also died.

Soldier stories

In a report to be shown on Channel 4 News this week, 24-year-old tank commander Ohad remembers being told the night before the operation that the entry into Gaza was to be "disproportionate". Once into Gaza, he says his orders were unambiguous:

"The order was very clear that if a car came within 200 metres of me I could simply shoot at it. Shoot a shell at it."

Some of the most disputed claims about the operation centre around firing at family homes and mosques.

Ohad also says: "We needed to cleanse the neighbourhoods, the buildings, the area. It sounds really terrible to say "cleanse", but those were the orders....I don't want to make a mistake with the words."

Thirty-year-old Shay who was in the Elite Combat Unit, still appears disturbed by taking over the house of a wealthy Palestinian family to fight Operation Cast Lead. He recalls being disgusted that Israeli conscripts had already defecated all over the bathroom of this family house. The family photos had been scrawled over. Graffiti was on the walls saying "long live Israel".

"All the time we were there you could sense this family with us. Meaning they were there. All the clich├ęs. There was a wooden rocking horse, I remember, you’d be on guard and next to you there's a wooden rocking-horse," Shay says.

Last year, the UN criticised Israel and Hamas for failing to adequately investigate the findings of its report.

Today, the Israeli Embassy said: "Over 12,000 rockets and shells rained down on Israeli civilians from Gaza forcing the IDF to carry out a military operation. "Unlike much of the region, the open society within Israel allows for all allegations such as these to be aired and investigated. Israel has already authorised over 100 separate investigations into the operation, five broader investigations, and close to 50 criminal investigations are also taking place. Our judicial process is renowned across the world for its independence."

The Egyptian Revolution Begins - Is Mubarak On The Way Out?

The Overthrow of Mubarak is the Best Present the Palestinians Could Receive

Egypt is, after Saudi Arabia and Israel, the United States closes ally in the Middle East and the recipient of the largest amount of US aid after Israel itself. The Tunisian revolution, itself only half-finished, is beginning to take off. These are early days, but we may be beginning to see the first cracks in over 30 years of stability in these reactionary Arab regimes.

Mubarak’s regime, dependent on torture and repression, may be nearing its final days. Note the contrast between Hilary Clinton’s appeal for calm (presumably the demonstrators are getting too excited!) and the American reaction were say Chinese police to engage in the same brutalities.

The Abbas clique in Ramallah have been joined at the hip with Mubarak’s regime. They have urged it and Israel, as the Palestine Papers show, to increase the severity of the blockade on Gaza. This utterly corrupt group of despots, the equivalent of the Judenrat (Jewish Councils) in Nazi occupied Europe is beginning to seek less secure as it is shown to have offered Israel’s leaders everything and in return gained nothing except their deserved contempt.

Below are two videos which show both the desperation and determination of the demonstrators.

Tony Greenstein

24 January 2011

Palestinian Lapdog Tortures its Own People to please Israel and the United States

Palestinian Solidarity Campaign Should Cut All Links with PA

This shocking report comes from the Arab Organisation for Human Rights in Britain and the London-based Middle East Monitor. It outlines abuse of detainees in the West Bank, including the types of torture used by Palestinian Authority (PA) security services against detainees, as well as a description of US and Jordanian participation in the training of the perpetrators, and a critique of the EU's role in funding PA security services. The report covers cases from October 2007 to October 2010.

It is important to understand that the European Union is the largest funder of these security services and the United States provides them with training at its Police International Training Centre near Amman in Jordan. Recruits are vetted for any links with ‘terrorist’ groups, i.e. any Palestinian resistance organisations. The Palestinian security services therefore consist of the scum of Palestinian society, the most degenerate and criminal types, hand picked by the United States and Israel.

Apart from being shocking in itself, 95% of security service detainees are tortured and all of them, without exception are subject to some ill-treatment, this Report should have political consequences. No longer can or should Palestinian solidarity organisations in Britain turn a blind eye and pretend nothing untoward is happening. This is a quisling regime which has been sub-contracted by the United States and Israel in the not-so-gentle arts of repressing their own peoples. To give the creatures who run the Palestinian Authority any support whatsoever is to undermine the Palestinian struggle still further. The Palestinian Authority, the bastard child of the Oslo Accords, is one more weapon that Zionism and Western Imperialism employ in the subjugation of the Palestinian people.

As the Wiki Leaks documents have shown 'Palestinian Leaders Weak and Increasingly Desperate' [Observer 23rd January 2011] the Palestinian Authority have been treated with all the contempt they deserve by the Zionists. Saeb Erekat goes into negotiations willing to sign everything away because he has no cards to play except increasing the misery and torture of his own people. Erekat, Abbas and co. are interested in nothing more than becoming yet another Arab regime, preying and leaching on its people.

But they are not the only guilty ones. Those who deliberately and consciously foster illusions in these parasites and seek to pretend that nothing is amiss, are equally complicit. In particular the leadership of Palestine Solidarity Campaign in Britain, whose silence is becoming deafening. Our demands should be simple – the complete dismantling of the Palestinian Authority as an arm of the Israeli State and the distribution of its weapons to ordinary Palestinians so they may defend themselves against the settlers and Israeli army.

Those who say we should not criticise the PA for fear of playing into Zionist hands miss the point - the PA is itself the rabid offspring of Zionism.

And they also miss the point that supporters of the Palestinians can hardly condemn Israel for its use of torture and then ignore the barbaric practices of the security forces of the Palestinian Authority, whose operations are directed solely at other Palestinians in the service of Israel.

Tony Greenstein

Documenting the crime of torture in the Palestinian Authority’s Territories


The Arab Organization for Human Rights in Britain has issued several reports on human rights violations in the territory of the Palestinian Authority highlighting the practice of torture in prisons. It is clear that the Palestinian security services have been using torture on a wide and systematic basis for several years using, inter alia, the following techniques: shabh (hanging) of all kinds, beating with cables, pulling out nails, suspension from the ceiling, flogging, kicking, swearing and cursing, electric shocks, sexual harassment and the threat of rape. At least six people have been killed while undergoing torture in Palestinian Authority centres: Shadi Shaheen, Ramallah; Majd Barghouti, Ramallah; Mohammed al-Haj, Jenin; Kamal Abu Taima, Hebron; Haitham Amro, Hebron; Fadi Hamadna, Nablus. Many ex-detainees have permanent disabilities. Mass arrests have taken place on political grounds.

Given the ongoing torture in the prisons of the Palestinian Authority, on a large scale and systematically, the Arab Organization for Human Rights in Britain has documented such crimes for the three years from October 2007 to October 2010. The work was based on several primary sources:

1. Meetings with victims or their relatives to find out what happened to them in custody and written testimonies of the victims explaining what they had been subjected to.

2. Distributing a questionnaire, in secret, to detainees in prisons.

3. The analysis of data and figures about detention and torture during the period mentioned.

Video testimonies of victims or their relatives.

We have taken these steps discreetly, away from the eyes of the security services. Where requested, some of the victims or witnesses have been promised anonymity so that they will not face further persecution.

An analysis of the data shows that in the period under review, the security services detained almost 8,640 people at a rate of 8 arrests per day; on occasions, there were between 600-900 arrests in the space of a few days. Every one of those detainees has been subject to humiliating and degrading treatment and stayed in cells for more than ten days. Many have spent the prime of their youth behind bars. The analysis also shows that an astonishing 95% of the detainees were subjected to severe torture, others feeling the detrimental effects on their health for varying periods. Seventy-seven percent of the detainees had been in the custody of the occupation before being released and rearrested by the Palestinian Authority on the same charges.

Men and women from all sectors of Palestinian society have been subject to arrest and torture: students, workers, teachers, doctors, engineers, university professors and lawyers. Like their Israeli counterparts, the Palestinian security services also detain minors.

There is no sanctity for the house, university or school; even hospitals are violated. Raids with personnel wearing civilian and military clothing take place in the middle of the night; citizens are abducted from their places of work or study in broad daylight. Arrests themselves are harsh and often accompanied by verbal insults and physical beatings; detainees’ homes are ransacked and all too often valuables are stolen by the security forces. It is rare for an arrest warrant to be shown, the reasons for the arrest to be explained or the detainees’ rights to be read out. The mandatory court hearing within 24 hours of arrest does not usually take place and the victim is subject to torture and interrogation from the moment he is detained.