29 June 2015

Israel’s Lies Catch up With It – Now it’s helping Al Qaeda to Protect the Druze!

Defense minister says Jerusalem assists insurgents in exchange for promise Druze will be kept out of harm’s way
By Raphael Ahren June 29, 2015, 2:26 pm 10
Druze watching fighting over border
 When your whole existence is one long lie, it’s no surprise if your lies begin to catch up with you.   In my first article on collaboration between Israel and ISIS Israel Supports ISIS and Al Qaeda in Syria 
Syrian-rebels-in Idlib

I wrote about the arrest of Sedki al-Maket, a Druze living on the Golan Heights (which Israel illegally annexed from Syria) for exposing Israel’s duplicity. 

Sedki filmed Israel soldiers handing over boxes of ammunition to al-Nusra and this footage was given to the Syrian regime which broadcast it on TV.  I based this on an article from Richard Silversteine Israel Secretly Arrests Golani Druze, Accusing Him of Exposing Rebel-IDF Collaboration

Israeli military vehicle fired on

I also quoted from an article in Ha’aretz  in which a senior officer in the Northern Command was quoted as saying that ‘IDF Northern Command officer says he thinks the U.S.-led coalition intervened too early against the Sunni militants, and 'not necessarily in the right direction.' 

I also cited an article from the Jerusalem Post quoting the commander of the Syrian Armed forces Lt. General Ali Abdulla Ayoub that Israel working with ISIS and al-Qaida 

Aftermath of Israeli airstrike nr Damascus

There is no doubt that Israeli leaders and military were unhappy about the United State focussing on ISIS when in their eyes the enemy was Iran and what they called the Shi’ite Crescent.  This has become crystallised around the nuclear agreement that Obama is trying to negotiate with Iran.  During the Israeli election campaign, Netanyahu made an unprecedented attempt to undermine Obama by openly allying with his Republican critics by addressing Congress directly.

FSA fighters

The problem for the US is of course Iran is crucial to the defence of the Iraqi state.  Only the Shi’ite militias and their Iranian sponsor stands between an ISIS victory and the demise of the Iraqi state.  The Iraqi state has proved itself incapable of defeating ISIS for a whole series of reasons.  It’s army consists of thousands of ghost soldiers who don’t exist, many of those who do exist pay part of their salaries to officers in order not to have to actually take part in its activities, the supply of weapons and provisions to those who do fight often leaves a lot to be desired, it lacks motivation etc.  Iraq is a Shi’ite sectarian state that has failed to incorporate its Sunni citizens and has, in many cases, forced them into the tender hands of ISIS.  Until the US cuts its losses in Iraq it is caught between a rock and a hard place.

The same is true, to a lesser extent in Syria.  The ‘moderate’ armed opposition doesn’t exist and apart from the Kurds in the North, the anti-Assad coalition is made up of ISIS and al-Qaeda.  Israel is not unhappy about this, the US is unhappy but it unable to do a great deal    apart from bomb ISIS.  A strategy that is useless without forces on the ground.

Israel has always wanted to see a Syria divided into its confessional components.  The US may indeed settle for this but it is not happy about ISIS coming out on top, not least because the Saudi regime may be next on ISIS’s menu.

Tony Greenstein

Israel acknowledges it is helping Syrian rebel fighters

Defense minister says Jerusalem assists insurgents in exchange for promise Druze will be kept out of harm’s way
By Raphael Ahren June 29, 2015, 2:26 pm 10

Defense Minister Moshe Ya’alon said Monday that Israel has been providing aid to Syrian rebels, thus keeping the Druze in Syria out of immediate danger. Israeli officials have previously balked at confirming on the record that the country has been helping forces that are fighting to overthrow Syrian President Bashar Assad.

During a briefing with Israel’s diplomatic correspondents at the IDF’s headquarters in Tel Aviv, Ya’alon said that Israel’s ongoing humanitarian assistance to Syrian rebel fighters, a source of growing conflict between Israel and its own Druze population, safeguards the minority population in Syria.

“We’ve assisted them under two conditions,” Ya’alon said of the Israeli medical aid to the Syrian rebels, some of whom are presumably fighting with al-Qaeda affiliate al-Nusra Front to topple Syrian President Bashar Assad. “That they don’t get too close to the border, and that they don’t touch the Druze.”

The Druze on Israel’s side of the Golan, Ya’alon charged, acted “irresponsibly” last week by attacking an Israeli ambulance carrying wounded Syrian rebel fighters. One person was killed and another wounded during what Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu termed a “lynching.” The person in the Israeli ambulance was not affiliated with the al-Nusra Front, and his death would provoke calls for revenge, Ya’alon asserted.

Israel has treated over 1,000 wounded Syrians in its hospitals since the onset of the civil war in 2011.
Israel will continue to act with sensitivity regarding the Druze, Ya’alon said. “On the other side — the rebels on the other side feel that we’re acting sensitively,” he said.

Israel has provided humanitarian assistance to wounded Syrian fighters located near the shared border since the civil war stated, the defense minister said. He said that such aid is extended under two conditions – that the fighters don’t let Islamic extremists to get close to the border, and that they don’t hurt the local Druze population.

An IDF ambulance that was attacked by Druze Israeli residents in the Golan Heights as it ferried Syrian war casualties for medical treatment in Israel, June 22, 2015. (Basel Awidat/Flash90)
Jerusalem’s policy vis-à-vis the Druze in Syria “is very complicated and sensitive,” Ya’alon said, adding that it is not in the rebels’ interest to publicize the fact that Israel assists them.

“Our general policy is that we’re not getting involved in the Syrian war,” he stressed, although there were certain red lines Israel would act to maintain, such as the smuggling of so-called game-changing weapons to Israel’s enemies.

”We will not tolerate any violation of our sovereignty or even accidental fire from Syria into our territory. We will act immediately to strike at those who plant explosives near the border or fire at us,” he declared.

Ya’alon also reiterated his position on the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, repeating his belief that there will not be a permanent peace deal “in our generation.”

This, he said, was not because of any Israeli objection to Palestinian statehood, but rather due to the refusal of the Palestinian leadership to negotiate or make the necessary concessions.

Over the years, Jerusalem has taken several steps in a bid to renew the diplomatic process, including freezing settlement construction and releasing Palestinian terrorists, and has accepted in principle a US-brokered framework agreement, but Ramallah was and remains unwilling to negotiate earnestly, he said.

“The ball is not in our court,” Ya’alon declared. “There is much to do to advance issues, but whoever believes that with all kinds of pressure [from the international community] a permanent agreement can be imposed is mistaken.”

Rather than merely maintain the “status quo,” Ya’alon said, both sides could do much to find a “modus vivendi” to improve the lives of Palestinians living in the West Bank.

On the Iranian nuclear negotiations, Ya’alon said that he believes the world powers will sign a “bad” deal with Tehran, “if not this week then in the near future.”

The prospective agreement would not freeze Iran’s military nuclear program for a decade, as not a single facility would be closed and no centrifuges would be dismantled, he said.

“Even if there are inspections, they will only be in those facilities that the Iranian agree to,” he said, adding that Tehran has for decades managed to mislead inspectors, for instance by building a large secret enrichment facility in Qom.

“If this regime is emboldened by the sanctions relief [it is to receive as part of the deal, which will pump billions of dollars into the economy] before the 10-year period is over, then who will guarantee that they won’t try to break out to [reach for a bomb]?” he said.

Israel and the US differ fundamentally on the Iranian issue, he said. “They see Iran as a part of the solution; we see it as part of the problem.”

Israeli Lies About Support for Al Qaeda Fighters Exposed

by Richard Silverstein on June 26, 2015

Munther Khalil - Al Qaeda terrorist Israel was conveying in ambulance, who was killed
This post expands on my original one reporting this incident.  Some of the material in it may look familiar to those who read the original post.  This one names, for the first time outside of Syrian sources, Munther Khalil, the Syrian Islamist killed by Golani Druze this week.  It also confirms that the IDF lied in claiming he was a civilian.

When Israel conquered the Golan in 1967, it launched a 50-year occupation of the Syrian Golan in which tens of thousands of Syrian Druze lived.  Though an armistice line now separates the Druze in Syrian and Israeli-occupied zones, both communities are deeply intertwined.  The sense of solidarity now, in the midst of a raging civil war, is no different than Diaspora Jews felt in 1967 before the war broke out.  Millions rallied around the world concerned about Israel’s fate.  Now the Druze in Israeli-held Golan are fearful for the fates of their brothers and sisters.
Israel's friends in al-Qaeda
Israel claims, falsely, that it is neutral in the Syrian civil war.  Unfortunately, the world media are taken in by this charade.  Israel intervenes regularly on behalf of the Syrian Islamist rebels.  The UN observed the IDF unloading supplies in boxes at the armistice fence, which were then picked up by Islamist fighters.  Al Monitor even reported that the IDF shells government positions inside Syria.  The Israelis meet regularly with al-Nusra commanders (who are affiliated with al-Qaeda) to offer intelligence.  A Syrian Druze videotaped one such meeting, which was aired on Syrian TV.  He was promptly secretly arrested by the Shabak.  The Israeli media was forbidden from reporting his name, Sedki al-Maket, thanks to a security gag order (I was the only journalist outside Syria who reported his name and story).
Netanyahu gives a pep talk to wounded al-Nusra terrorist
Israeli TV reported that Israel has built a camp for Syrian army deserters in Israeli occupied Golan.  Israel has also bombed Hezbollah and Iranian convoys inside Syria carrying advanced weaponry meant for the Lebanese front. It has assassinated several senior Iranian generals and Hezbollah commanders on Syrian soil as well.  It opposes Assad not so much for political or ideological reasons, but because the regime’s chief allies are Israel’s arch-nemeses, Iran and Hezbollah.
Israel's allies in al-Nusra
Israel’s alliance with Islamists makes for some strange bedfellows.  Prime Minister Netanyahu is the first to raise the rallying cry for western resistance to the tyranny of Islamism.  He regularly invokes the specter of the savagery of ISIS in counterpoint to the civilizing force of Israel.  But when it’s in Israel’s interest, it’s more than willing to make common cause with such forces.
Israeli soldiers stand on tanks in the Golan Heights
Not only is it hypocritical for Israel to join forces with Islamists; it’s likely that today’s allies will turn into tomorrow’s enemies.  Maariv journalist Jacki Hugi said it well:

…Jerusalem must ask itself some difficult questions: can its bet on the rebels pay off?  Or does stability on the northern border depend on the continuation of the regime?  Support for these sectarian groups carries many dangers.  Their trustworthiness fluctuates, as do the figures who lead them.  He who today will not act against Israel may change his spots [literally “shed his skin”] tomorrow.

…Israeli policy over the past few decades has been characterized by a series of bad bets.  At the end of the 1980s, it enabled Hamas to rise from the midst of Gaza’s Islamist groups.  It did this out of the flawed assumption that this was the proper way to weaken Fatah…As a result [Israel] created its own Trojan Horse [within Palestine].

With the IDF’s entrance [sic] into Lebanon in 1982, Israel disregarded the Shiites and rushed to ally itself with those it saw as the most powerful in the land: the Christians.  So it paved the way for Tehran to offer protection to the disadvantaged and enable the rise of Hezbollah.

Something very similar happened in Afghanistan when the mujahedeen were first our friends, and then morphed into the Taliban and became our sworn enemies.

So far, the Syrian Islamists have deliberately not targeted Israel.  This is no doubt due to the aid it offers them on the battlefield.  Further, al-Nusra knows that Hezbollah is Israel’s primary opponent.  The Lebanese militia constantly probes in this sector and mounts attacks against Israeli forces.  Al-Nusra doesn’t seek or need to compete with Hezbollah in that regard.  It would rather confine is efforts to the Syrian theater, than expand to attack Israel itself.

Recently, fighting on the Syrian side of Golan has heated up. There, the Druze villages have been largely loyal to the Assad regime over the decades.  When al-Nusra and FSA forces attacked Druze villages in northern Syria, killing 20 residents, those living on the Israeli-occupied side of the Golan became restive and angry.  They couldn’t sit back and watch as their cousins died at the hands of Islamists.

Not to mention that their religion, though an offshoot of Islam, is considered heretical by fundamentalist Islamists.  The Druze under threat rightly believe that they and their ancient religious traditions are in grave jeopardy.  Thus, Israel’s alliance with the al-Nusra front puts it diametrically at odds with the Golani Druze under Israeli Occupation.

In recent days, Israeli TV aired an interview (Hebrew, at the 2:00 mark) with a wounded Syrian fighter who was treated in Israel after being evacuated from the combat zone.  What he said raised the ire of the local Druze to the boiling point:

TV interview: “What would you do if you captured a Druze?” “It depends.”

In this context, the interview I mentioned above was a lightning bolt through the Druze community.  The interviewer asked the fighter (who was affiliated with the FSA):
Interviewer: [What would u do] if you caught an Alawite?
A: I would kill him
I: And if you caught a Druze?
A: It depends
I: And if you caught a Shiite?
A: I would kill the Shiite

This answer didn’t go down well among the Druze.  Sandwiched between this vow of murder directed at Syrian Alawites, the traditional Druze ally, is a temporizing claim that he might or might not kill a captured Druze.  This, with the backdrop of 20 Druze murdered only a few days earlier, was enough to mount a mini-revolt among Golani Druze.

Munther Khalil, Syrian Islamist fighter killed by Golani Druze
Israel regularly evacuates Islamist fighters wounded in the fighting against the regime in the region.  Angry local Druze intercepted an IDF ambulance carrying two wounded Syrians, whom the IDF claimed were civilians.  They beat the army medics, who were forced to flee.  They then beat one of the wounded Syrians to death and severely wounded the other, before the authorities intervened and rescued him.

Munther Khalil: the IDF’s Faux Syrian “Civilian”
Syrian Islamists calling themselves the Revolutionary Command Council in Quneitra and the Golan, published a Facebook memorial to the victim who was killed in the attack.  The page says in Arabic:
Munther Khalil – the wounded man who was killed by Druze people from  Majdal Shams in Israel
May Allah have mercy on you, and accept you as one of the Shahids

His picture features him brandishing a gun in full rebel garb.  He is clearly not a civilian.
Haaretz reporter Amos Harel also reports (Hebrew) that the two Syrians were Islamist rebels:
The two wounded were from one of the Syrian rebel organizations fighting in the heart of the Golan against the Syrian army.

The IDF lied in order to conceal its own contributing role in this tragic incident.  A common occurrence in such circumstances.

The Israeli military is aghast at the Druze attack, since it infringes on its right to meddle in Syrian internal affairs unmolested.  Defense minister Yaalon called the killing a “lynch.”  This is Israeli code for ‘Arab savagery.’  It is used to differentiate Israeli behavior, supposedly civilized and humane, from that of Palestinian (or Arab) militants.

In the case of the Golan killing, the IDF is attempting to paint the Golani Druze as uncivilized beasts when, in fact, they are legitimately angry at Israel’s new alliance with their enemies, the al-Nusra Front.  When Israel first occupied the Golan did it figure that the inhabitants would embrace the occupiers and become like them?  Did it give any thought to the views and interests of the occupied and how they differed from those of Israelis?  It’s doubtful.  Now they are paying the price for their obliviousness and for fifty years of military occupation of Syrian Druze.

The latter are now demanding that Israel intervene in the civil war to save their brethren under attack from al-Nusra.  This is the sort of insanely complex strategic dilemma that comes from playing with fire.  If Israel continues its “arrangement” with al-Nusra and the latter conquers Syrian Druze villages and imposes fundamentalist Islam replete with revenge killings and beheadings, then it risks igniting a tinderbox inside Israeli-occupied Golan.  If it takes the side of the Druze against al-Nusra it risks the leverage it has with the only viable force opposing Israel’s most dangerous enemies, Hezbollah and Iran.

When you play with matches, you’re bound to get burned.

Land – the Basis of Israeli Apartheid

In which other country would one group of citizens be prevented, through planning laws, from building houses, whilst the dominant group is allowed to build?  In Israel not only are half the Palestinian villages ‘unrecognised’ and liable to instant demolition, but even those which are recognised are not permitted to expand.

Apartheid?  Perish the thought.

Tony Greenstein

Israel’s Arab citizens fight for a roof over their heads

Jonathan Cook, 25 June 2015

Official ‘Judaisation’ policy blamed for severe housing crisis as anger mounts over family made homeless twice in two months

Middle East Eye – 24 June 2015

 The start of the Muslim holy fasting month of Ramadan has been bitter for Tareq Khatib.

The Israeli authorities razed his home for the second time in two months last week. Now under house arrest, he is confined to a friend’s home and separated from his wife and children.

His lawyer has warned that he should expect a bill from the state for hundreds of thousands of dollars to cover the costs of the demolitions and security operations.

Arab Israelis take part in a rally organized by the High Follow-Up Committee for Arab Citizens of Israel, in protest against the demolition of homes in Arab communities, at Rabin Square, Tel Aviv, April 28, 2015. (AFP/JACK GUEZ)
Fingering prayer beads, the 48-year-old father of five looked disconsolate, his hopelessness compounded by fatigue from the afternoon heat and a long day without food or water.

           A relative of Abdelrahman Shaludi, a Palestinian who killed two Israelis with his car last month, displays his portrait inside his family home after it was razed by Israeli authorities in east Jerusalem Silwan neighborhood on November 19, 2014, (Photo: AFP/Ahmad Gharabli)
“Where are my family and I supposed to live?” he asked. “It seems the government thinks the only place for us is out on the street, without a roof over our heads. It’s like they are waging a war against their own citizens.”

A relative surveys the ruins of Tareq Khatib’s home / Photos: Jonathan Cook
In the darkness before dawn on June 15, hundreds of Israeli police entered the Galilee town of Kafr Kana, close to Nazareth, to destroy Khatib’s almost-completed house.

It was carried out like a military operation, he told Middle East Eye. Police, some on horse-back, sealed off the roads to the area while others fired stun grenades and rubber bullets as dozens of neighbours and relatives tried to stop the demolition. Four people were arrested, including Khatib himself.
Residents of Kafr Kanna stand in the rubble of a demolished home (Photo: Hassan
Treated like an enemy
Khatib’s long and unsuccessful battle to build his family a home legally has come to symbolise a much larger struggle by Israel’s Palestinian minority against decades of land confiscations, severe planning restrictions and an ever-escalating housing crisis.

Israel’s 1.5 million Palestinians, a fifth of the population, have citizenship but their leaders say they are treated more like an enemy population.

A man walks amidst the rubble of a house belonging to an Arab-Israeli family .
The formation in May of an ultra-nationalist coalition under Benjamin Netanyahu has further raised fears that the destruction of Khatib’s home will herald a wave of house demolitions in the Galilee.
Interior ministry officials are evasive about figures for unauthorised building in Israel, but experts say the number of such homes is believed to have reached around 30,000 in Israel’s Palestinian communities.

“That means one in 10 Arab homes in Israel is treated as illegal by the government and faces the threat of demolition,” said Hana Swaid, who was until recently an Arab member of the Israeli parliament.

He heads the Arab Centre for Alternative Planning, an organisation promoting fairer land and housing allocations for the Palestinian minority.

According to Swaid, the housing problems faced by Khatib and thousands of other Palestinian families in Israel derive from an official Zionist policy of “Judaisation”.

“The goal since the state’s creation has been to Judaise territory. That doesn’t mean just building communities for Jews but tightly restricting where Arab citizens can live. They are trapped with no options for the future for themselves or their children.”

The result has been rampant overcrowding in Arab communities, with a chronic lack of open spaces, proper roads, and industrial and commercial centres offering employment opportunities.

100,000 homes needed
Khatib’s troubles gained public attention in April when he, his wife and three of his children were evicted. The house he had built two years earlier in his family’s olive grove, on the edge of Kafr Kana, was destroyed.

Some 26 other homes in the town are threatened with immediate demolition. Despite repeated appeals from the local municipality, planning officials have refused to expand the town’s residential area for more than 15 years.

Arfan Khatib, a local councillor, told the Haaretz daily that parts of Kafr Kana – the place where Jesus reputedly performed his first miracle, turning water into wine – now looked more like “refugee camps”.

Tareq Khatib said: 
I have been trying for years to get a permit to build on my land without success. We couldn’t keep living in a small rented apartment for ever, so I decided it was time to build.”
A recent study, according to Haaretz, showed that approval of at least 100,000 additional homes was needed over the next decade to avert a deepening housing crisis among the Palestinian minority.
Based on the housing ministry’s current estimates, barely a fifth of the necessary building permits will be issued to Palestinian citizens. In recent years approval rates have actually fallen.
The demolition of Khatib’s house in April, along with five homes in three buildings in the village of Dahmash in central Israel, triggered a general strike by the country’s Palestinian minority and a protest by thousands in central Tel Aviv under the banner “Fighting for our homes”.

Ayman Odeh, leader of the Joint List, the main Arab party in the Israeli parliament, told the demonstrators: “A family which loses its home, built on its own private land, is shattered.”

Simultaneous efforts to hold an emergency debate in parliament on the minority’s housing problems were blocked by opposition from the Jewish parties.

The attorney general, Yehuda Weinstein, meanwhile, has warned that a failure to enforce demolitions would be “irreconcilable” with the rule of law.

House built in six days
Angered by the demolition in Kafr Kana, local residents rallied to Khatib’s side and rebuilt his house this month in just six days.

Their efforts now lie in ruins. A large mound of rubble and twisted steel wires marks the spot where his second house briefly stood.

A torn green canvas and crumpled metal frame close by are all that is left of a large tent the family had been living in while they finished the house. Friends were able to salvage only mattresses, blankets and chairs before the bulldozers set to work.

“They chose their moment carefully,” Khatib said. “That day we were due to get the house connected to water and move in. Now nothing’s left.”

Will he try to build his house a third time? He shrugged, the mammoth task one he is apparently not yet willing to contemplate. “The system is rigged against us,” he said.

The interior ministry, which oversees building permits, was unavailable for comment. Government officials, however, regularly claim that Palestinian citizens like Khatib are refusing to abide by planning rules and prefer to build illegally.

Jeff Halper, director of the Israeli Committee Against House Demolitions (ICAHD), said thousands of Palestinian families in Israel were trapped in what he termed the same “matrix of control” that operates in the occupied territories of East Jerusalem and the West Bank, where demolitions also regularly take place.

“People are surprised that Israel demolishes three times more homes inside Israel, against its Palestinian citizens, than it does in the occupied territories,” he told MEE. “The number of demolitions in Israel undermines the idea that the policy is simply a problem of the occupation.”

ICAHD, he said, had launched a new campaign called “Judaising Palestine” to emphasise that Israel’s goal was confinement and displacement of all Palestinians wherever they were living in historic Palestine.

Despite a slow-down in Jewish immigration in recent years, Judaisation is still being actively pursued.

In late 2013 the Jewish National Fund, an international Zionist charity with semi-governmental status, announced it would invest $1 billion over the next decade to encourage 250,000 Jews from the US and Europe to move to the Galilee and Negev.

Jewish-only communities
The land and housing problems faced by Israel’s Palestinian citizens, note experts, have a long history that started in the immediate wake of the 1948 war that established Israel as a Jewish state.

Israel confiscated most of its new Palestinian minority’s lands, as well as that of the hundreds of thousands of Palestinians freshly made refugees. It then nationalised 93 per cent of its total territory on behalf of worldwide Jewry.

Israel built hundreds of rural, land-hungry communities for Jews, including farming collectives like the kibbutz, that exclude Palestinian citizens through admission committees, said Swaid.
The Palestinian minority has been mostly confined to some 130 separate communities occupying just 2.5 per cent of Israel’s land.

“While over 1,000 new Jewish communities have been established [since Israel’s creation], not a single Arab settlement has been authorized,” notes the website of Adalah, a legal centre for Israel’s Palestinian minority.

The Or Commission, an Israeli judicial-led inquiry, concluded in 2003 that systematic discrimination in land and housing had been a major cause of unrest in the Galilee three years earlier. Israeli police shot dead 13 unarmed Palestinian citizens and wounded hundreds more during demonstrations in Israel at the start of the second intifada.

The commission observed that waves of massive land expropriations had been viewed by the Palestinian minority as a “dispossession enterprise”. Despite a sevenfold increase in the Palestinian minority’s numbers since the state’s founding, it added, zoning for residential areas had barely increased.

Destroyed 80 times
The picture in Israel’s south, in the semi-desert Negev, is particularly extreme, Maysanna Morany, a lawyer with Adalah, told MEE.

There, several dozen Bedouin villages have been unrecognised by the state and 10,000 homes are automatically under threat of demolition.

The small village of al-Araqib, near Beersheva, has become a test case for the government, with the authorities destroying the entire village more than 80 times over the past five years.
Last month the Israeli Supreme Court also approved the demolition of another Bedouin village, Umm al-Hiran, to make way for an exclusive Jewish town on its land.

But there are severe problems too in the 120 or so recognised Arab communities in the Galilee and Triangle areas in the north and centre of the country, where 20,000 homes are ruled illegal.

In most cases it is because they are built in communities either lacking a state-approved master plan or with a long out-dated master plan that fails to take account of the Palestinian minority’s growth, said Morany.

Umm al-Fahm, the second largest Palestinian town in Israel after Nazareth, with a population of 50,000, has no master plan, making all its homes illegal.

A change in approach has been blocked because planning committees, dominated by Jewish officials, have refused to abandon the state’s Judaisation policy, said Swaid.

Recent research based on interior ministry data showed that no Palestinian citizen held a professional position on any of Israel’s planning committees, which oversee and approve community master plans. Further, none of the 74 staff of the interior ministry’s Planning Authority was Arab.

26 June 2015

The Israeli Government’s Campaign to Silence Breaking the Silence

Legislation Proposed to Stop Foreign Funding of Israeli Human Rights Organisations

No government likes to be taken to task over human rights abuses.  Most deny, as a matter of instinct, that any such abuses have taken place.  But it is only the worst of the worst governments seek to destroy or cripple the very organisations that have been criticising their human rights record. 

Even the United States government of George Bush didn’t seek to destroy its critics over Iraq.  Even the British government didn’t try and destroy those organisations that criticised its use of torture in Ireland. 

Only police states like Egypt and Saudi Arabia target the human rights organisations themselves in their efforts to cover up their abuses.  Israel describes itself as ‘the only democracy in the Middle East' but in its attack on human rights organisations, as well as other forms of dissent (Israeli Arab, cultural) it is demonstrating that its democratic veneer covers a police state practice.

No organisation has been demonised more in recent weeks than ‘Breaking the Silence’ [BTS].  Why?  Because it has taken and publicised the testimony of soldiers in the attack on Gaza last summer, Protective Edge, which contradicts the official version that all was sweet and light and that Israel bent over backwards to protect the human rights of the civilian population.
These were just some of the testimonies

“Worst case they’ll ask what we shot at, we’ll say it was a ‘suspicious spot’ ”

testimony catalog number: 470948
rank: Staff Sergeant
unit: Armored Corps
area: Deir al-Balah area
period: 2014

But everything else that they didn’t specifically instruct us to avoid shooting at – and except for a few other places, where nearby [IDF] forces were located to avoid friendly fire – you could shoot anywhere, nearly freely. There are also times when we said, “Let’s fire over there, worst case they’ll ask what we shot at, we’ll say it was a ‘suspicious spot,’ that it looked threatening.” That happened a few times

“From what we knew, that area was supposedly devoid of civilians”

testimony catalog number: 453039
area: Gaza strip
period: 2014
It was all scorched, burned to the ground. Entire streets where one building is half-destroyed, the next one totally destroyed, the next one half-destroyed. Entire streets that were totally shelled.
Entire streets that were totally shelled, and I needed to verify a certain target that had clearly been obliterated. I opened up the footage and saw that it was taken right after the strike had been carried out, and there were lots of people there, and lots of ambulances, and a whole lot of smoke and lots of commotion. And from what we knew, that area was supposedly devoid of civilians.

You said earlier that you did know the neighborhood was supposed to be empty of civilians?
Yes. That’s what they told us. They told us – maybe really so we wouldn’t think the IDF does immoral things – they told us the civilians had been informed via leaflets scattered in the area, and that it was supposed to be devoid of civilians, and civilians who remained there were civilians who apparently chose to be there.

Who told you that?
The commanders, in off-the-record type conversations, or during all kinds of briefings. Just so we’d know, for our general knowledge, that this is what’s going on. That there’s no civilians supposed to be there, and any who are – are there because they chose to be. In conversations between us it was summed up as, “There’s nothing we can do, war is war.” You don’t really talk about it – any discourse or opinions that are slightly ‘deviant’ are pretty much silenced. http://www.breakingthesilence.org.il/images/end.jpg

“Lots of people with white flags came over and [warning] shots were fired near them, too”

testimony catalog number: 679071
rank: Staff Sergeant
unit: Infantry
area: Northern Gaza strip
period: 2014

At one point early on an older woman came near, and one of the officers said she should be shot. They told him to fire [warning shots] in her direction, and after a few shots she backed off. Later on, lots of people with white flags came over and [warning] shots were fired near them, too.

During the first entrance [to the Gaza Strip] we were near Beit Lahia, in a place called the Bedou’iyya. We were there for a few days. When we got there, there were white flags on all the rooftops. We had been prepared for something very… For some very glorious combat, and in the end it was quiet. We set ourselves up in our spot and slowly, slowly, [the Palestinians] started returning.

The Israeli government, apart from running an (unsuccessful) campaign to ban a BTS exhibition in Zurich, has found that the White House arranged a meeting with people from BTS.  The next stage in the campaign is to hit its funding, on the ground that BTS is dependent on mainly foreign funding.  That of course is true and funders include ‘soft’ Zionist groups like the New Israel Fund.  What is so hypocritical is that Netanyahu’s election campaign to remain leader of Likud was funded from abroad!
What has been particularly irksome to the Zionists is that BTS has been invited to speak in places normally reserved for Israeli government and hasbara speakers such as the Hillel centres, which cater for Jewish students.  

 Although there has been a recent breakaway from the Hillel movement, launched by the Open Hillel movement [see Hillel's SwarthmoreChapter Rejects Zionist Impositions on Students] these invitations to speak have also come from the mainstream Zionist Hillels, suggesting dissension in the ranks.

The Likud lobby in the United States has not been slow to respond and its response is interesting.

Executive Director of the absurdly named Scholars for Peace in the Middle East (SPME), Asaf Romirowsky, wrote against Breaking the Silence in June 2013 in the aftermath of former IDF Spokesman Barak Raz's criticism :

Barak Raz, spokesman for the IDF’s Judea and Samaria Division, correctly blasted the group and its actions, stating that “Breaking the Silence is an organization that engages in nothing – but nothing – other than a smear campaign targeting the IDF. This smear campaign has nothing to do with rooting out their observed problem. Furthermore, none of their work helps the IDF (or Israel, for that matter) provide a solution.”

… BtS has become the poster child for groups like J Street [a slightly less hawkish version of Aipac but still very much pro-Zionist and anti-BDS - TG] and others on many North American campuses that want to engage in “honest debate” about the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. In reality, these groups do nothing more than fuel a skewed view of Israel in order to pressure Israel to succumb to Palestinian demands, thereby only contributing to the isolation of the Jewish state. Further, it is also the pervasive tactic employed by the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions movement (BDS) in their political warfare against Israel.

The adaptation of soft power by the pro-Palestinian camps and far-left Jewish groups is one of the main vehicles used in this political warfare. Breaking the Silence plays a central role in this agenda, now spearheaded by J Street."

Note how broad brush assertions such as ‘smear campaign’ are not backed with even an iota of evidence.  Instead the Israeli army spokeman ‘correctly blasted the group’ even though SPME is not in a position to make such a judgement.  BTS are attacked, not because of the inaccuracy of what they have said but because of the effect such criticisms will have in ‘contributing to the isolation of the Jewish state’ and  isolating Israel and fueling ‘a skewed view of Israel’.  And of course there is the mandatory Guilt by Association techniques, so beloved of McCarthyists through the ages.  Scholarly?  Barely high school stuff.

Another anti-free speech group is NGO Monitor, whose President, Gerald Steinberg also indulges in guilt-by-association.  Apparently BTS ‘receives part of its budget from individuals who support the BDS.’   The clinching argument of course, although we are not enlightened as to who these wicked individuals are!  Apparently the ‘The central issue is how tainted money buys preferential influence and skews the Israel debate on campus’.  There is the word ‘skew’ again.  No mention of the ‘tainted money’ of Sheldon Adelson, the billionaire backer of Netanyahu who owns the Israeli free sheet Israel Hayom  which is driving the rest of Israel’s press out of business.

Apparently ‘Tiny radical groups like "Breaking the Silence" are able to flood the market of ideas’.  Far more preferable that people like Adelson buy peoples’ opinions instead.

Not to be outdone, Russell Robinson, CEO of the Jewish National Fund, which administers and buys land in Israel only for Jews, i.e. it is an openly Apartheid organisation, in "Hillel is Not The Place For Anti-Israel Discussion," expressed concern about anti-Israel events in Hillel.  Apparently, in the Zionist police state that should be Hillel, ‘I have witnessed time after time, speakers that condemn Israel do so without being properly vetted and fact-checked. Often listeners absorb every word as though it were based on facts when it is nothing more than biased opinion and misinformed rhetoric.’  Clearly there is a problem here having speakers who are not thoroughly vetted and ‘fact-checked’ beforehand!

But these are the hurdles one must clear in order that Israel can remain the only democracy in the Middle East.

Tony Greenstein

From the Breaking the Silence exhibition, photo of captured Palestinians, with blindfolds, handcuffs and forced to kneel.
By Tia Goldenberg, Associated Press
June 14, 2015

JERUSALEM — An organization of former Israeli soldiers dedicated to shedding light on the dark side of the country’s military is coming increasingly under fire, roiling a country in the grips of a battle against the burgeoning threat of international isolation and boycotts.

The group, Breaking the Silence, says that without its work, stories of improper or even illegal behaviour against Palestinians would remain hidden from an Israeli public that reveres the military. But the group has come under attack from legislators who threaten its funding and say it could help turn Israel into a pariah state.

Since its founding in 2004, Breaking the Silence has collected the testimonies of more than 1,000 veterans in a bid to expose the underbelly of the decades-old occupation of the West Bank. It has taken those accounts to audiences in Israel and around the world, including a recent 10-day photo exhibit in Zurich, Switzerland.

This comes as Israel confronts a growing boycott movement focused on companies doing business in its West Bank settlements.

The European Union also has ratcheted up measures against settlement products. The settlements, built on land captured in the 1967 Mideast war which the Palestinians want for a future state, are seen as illegitimate by the international community.

Breaking the Silence does not call for a boycott of Israel. But critics say it feeds into a global trend that unfairly singles out Israel and is bent on “delegitimizing” the world’s only Jewish state. In contrast to other rights groups, Breaking the Silence presents a unique threat because its members were devoted soldiers before coming out with their claims.

“We will not ignore the fact that an organization, whose sole purpose is to tarnish (Israeli) soldiers, is operating internationally in order to cause serious damage to Israel’s image,” said Tzipi Hotovely, Israel’s deputy foreign minister.

The group was created by soldiers who served during the Palestinian uprising in the early 2000s. It has since built an organization of some 60 active members that, beyond collecting testimonies, holds lectures and meetings and organizes trips for Israelis to the West Bank to expose them to the daily realities of Palestinians living under Israeli rule. Military service is largely compulsory for Jewish Israelis.

Breaking the Silence often makes waves with its reports, and in May, it released the accounts of dozens of soldiers who fought in last year’s Gaza war.

The group concluded that “a troubling picture arises of a policy of indiscriminate fire” that killed innocent civilians. The Israeli military, which has launched dozens of investigations into alleged wartime misconduct, rejected the report, saying the claims lacked proof and could not be investigated as the group grants soldiers anonymity for their testimony.

Yehuda Shaul, Breaking the Silence’s co-founder, described its critics as hard-line Israelis bent on perpetuating Israeli rule over the West Bank.

“So long as we are in uniform and are going to kill and die for settlements and for the occupation, then everything is fine, but the moment we break the silence, suddenly we are traitors. That’s the hypocrisy of the Israeli right-wing,” Shaul said.

Shaul said that the majority of Breaking the Silence’s work is in Israel, but it has been lambasted for taking its message abroad.

A group of pro-Israel Swiss lawmakers last week criticized the Zurich exhibition, saying it “instigates evil propaganda, disinformation and furthers ideologies that run counter to peace.” The Swiss Foreign Ministry said its support for the group is “consistent” with its goal of supporting “a fair and lasting peace between Israelis and Palestinians.”

Israel attempted unsuccessfully to have the Swiss Foreign Ministry pull its funding of the exhibit. But an exhibition planned at a fair on Israel-German relations in Cologne, Germany, was canceled following an Israeli request.

Top: Ayelet Shaked: BTS is slandering Israel; 
Bottom: Tzipi Hotoveli, we will not ignore the fact that they are acting to damage Israel’s image.

The Zurich exhibit comes at a time of surging panic over the possible economic effect of boycotts, which Palestinians say are necessary after more than 20 years of failed peace efforts.

Hotovely, the deputy foreign minister, called for an urgent ministry meeting to examine how to rein in Breaking the Silence. Israeli opposition legislator Yair Lapid said that “extremist organizations” like Breaking the Silence “harm Israel’s efforts in the struggle” against the boycott movement. More than 7,000 people are part of a Facebook group called “My Truth,” which attempts to counter Breaking the Silence and staged a protest in front of the Swiss Embassy in Tel Aviv last month.

Much of the criticism comes over the group’s foreign funding. Many of its international projects are supported by European bodies, and opponents see that as a way to influence the very citizens and governments who could one day choose to boycott Israel.

“It’s a world tour funded by the European governments under the facade of human rights that is so damaging,” said Gerald Steinberg, who heads NGO Monitor, which tracks the funding of Israeli rights groups like Breaking the Silence.

Breaking the Silence and other rights groups face a looming threat from a bill expected to be introduced in Israel’s Knesset that could limit their foreign funding by requiring senior government officials to approve the donations.

Israeli Justice Minister Ayelet Shaked, who is behind the bill, said this month that Breaking the Silence is “slandering and harming the state of Israel.”

Shaul said the group is determined to continue its work.

“What harms Israel more than anything is the occupation and what harms Israel the most is the settlement enterprise and our unwillingness to end the occupation,” he said.

Associated Press writer Kirsten Grieshaber in Berlin contributed to this report.