Palestine/Israel Apartheid News: 4/14/11: Interview with BDS leader Omar Barghouti

INDEX (articles following)

The WikiLeaks News & Views Blog for Thursday, Day 138

from The Nation Blogs: Media Fix by Greg Mitchell
EVENTS

Humiliation of Goldstone reaches US Congress again

Interview with BDS leader Omar Barghouti

from The Only Democracy? by Jesse Bacon

Ukrainian Newspaper Identifies Abusisi Kidnap Witness, Charges Deputy Intelligence Chief With Complicity

Amnesty Int’l: United Nations Must Reject Israeli Campaign to Avoid Accountability for Gaza War Crimes

from Informed Comment by Juan


ZIONISM = RACISM

HISTORY & ANALYSIS

Headlines for April 14, 2011

from Democracy Now! | Healthcare Reform by mail@democracynow.org (Democracy Now!)

The WikiLeaks News & Views Blog for Thursday, Day 138

from The Nation Blogs: Media Fix by Greg Mitchell

Greg Mitchell

EVENTS

Interview with BDS leader Omar Barghouti

from The Only Democracy? by Jesse Bacon

Democracy Now! shared this interview with a Palestinian leader of the Boycott, Divestment, and Sanctions movement, Omar Barghouti. Jewish Voice for Peace was part of an international campaign to get the U.S. State department to reverse the decision to deny him a visa. Thankfully, the campaign was successful and the U.S. granted him a visa after unconscionably delaying. Hear what you almost missed below.
Popout
From the trancript, here’s Omar on Juliano Mer-Khamis’s death.

OMAR BARGHOUTI: It’s very hard to say who killed him, because no Palestinian group or individual had any interest in killing him. I mean, any patriotic Palestinian lost Juliano, because Juliano did a great service to the people of Jenin, especially the refugee camp, and on the front of cultural resistance. When I talked about nonviolent popular resistance, people forget that Palestinians have been resisting Israel’s occupation and apartheid in many forms, including culture—dance, music, poetry, theater and so on. And Juliano was really one of the people at the forefront of that cultural resistance.

American Christian settlers in Palestine

“Will US Christians settle in Samaria? About 1,000 Americans have signed a document requesting to convert to Judaism, move to Israel, and settle in Samaria. The group members are seeking to serve in the IDF and later establish communities based on the Kibbutz movement model.”

Israel: desperate for visiting celebrities: no matter who they are

“Some international artists, like Elvis Costello and the Pixies, have refused to perform in Israel for political reasons in recent years, adding to the Israelis’ sense of isolation. The arrival of other stars, including Joan Armatrading, Rihanna, Elton John and Rod Stewart, has been celebrated as a sign of normalcy and acceptance.”


HUMAN RIGHTS

Anti-Defamation League and SF Jewish Community Relations Council Embarrass Selves: Try to police thought at UC Hastings Law School

from MuzzleWatch by Cecilie Surasky

The growing campaign to criminalize pro-justice Israeli-Palestinian campus activism and even thought has come to UC Hastings.

The Anti-Defamation League, the American Jewish Committee and the San Francisco Jewish Community Relations Council are probably crowing over their successful effort to get UC Hastings Law school to distance itself from a March 24 conference devoted to the legal rights of Palestinians called “Litigating Palestine: Can Courts Secure Palestinian Rights?” (Read an excellent piece on the events by Lisa Hajjar over at Jadaliyya.)

But the truth is that their efforts to stop–in the name of Jews– a conference promoting legal and human rights for an oppressed people is a profound embarrassment to any of us who consider ourselves part of any Jewish community.

According to the San Francisco Chronicle, in an email to supporters, JCRC head Doug Kahn called the conference, which featured an impressive range of human rights lawyers and professors from leading law schools, “anti-Israel”. (The conference was organized by the brilliant and highly regarded legal scholar George Bisharat whose primary crime seems to be that he is Palestinian.) Kahn said the JCRC and the ADL, plus the American Jewish Committee met privately with UC Hasting leaders days before the Hastings’ Board of Directors decided at a closed-door, emergency meeting to “take all steps necessary to remove the UC Hastings name and brand” from the conference. This included canceling a planned welcoming talk by dean and chancellor Frank Wu.

But the pressure didn’t just come from these groups.

Another campaigner against the conference was the prolific anti-free speech crusader, UC Santa Cruz Hebrew lecturer Tammi Rossman-Benjamin, who infamously led a successful effort to cancel a UC Santa Cruz speaking engagement by Israeli and Palestinian peace activists who wanted to talk about the negative impact of militarism on Israeli society. She said that allowing such a talk to happen on campus created the same intimidating environment for Jewish students that a noose created for African American students. (The peace activists were not amused. )

Benjamin, building on longtime and successful efforts of the Zionist Organization of America to get the US Department of Education to reinterpret the Civil Rights Act so that it could be used to stop pro-justice Israeli-Palestinian activism, recently filed a nearly 30 page complaint about anti-Semitism at UC Santa Cruz dwelling almost entirely on programming related to Israel and Palestine. The Office of Civil rights opened an investigation based on her complaint, and in a sharply worded letter to UC Hastings’ Wu, which she ccd to every Jewish pro-occupation group she could think of, she threatened the same including the possible withdrawal of federal funds.

The pressure campaign also succeeded in getting the Cummings Foundation to withdraw funding for the conference, though the ADL continued to bitterly complain that attendees could still earn higher education legal credits and that the UC Hastings logo hadn’t been removed from materials fast enough.

Meanwhile, advocates for legal rights for Palestinians are likely writing private thank you notes to Kahn and company for politicizing an entirely new group of students, administrators and academics who were profoundly ticked off by such a clumsy McCarthyite attempt to use far-right talking points to smear lawyers and police thought in an academic setting. The San Francisco Chronicle reports that the UC Hastings’ board decision to yield to the external pressure campaign produced few good feelings:

The directors’ action dismayed Hastings’ faculty. Nearly all of its tenured professors signed a letter to the board last week saying that academic freedom includes providing forums for controversial topics, and that the attempt to disavow the conference “undermines our commitment to maintaining both the college’s fiscal viability and its high standards.”

Way to go Rossmore-Benjamin, ADL, AJC and JCRC! Next time you all shout anti-Semitism! in a crowded room, I’m sure we can REALLY count on these folks (not) to come running for help.

Presumably, while the ADL, AJC and JCRC insist on perpetuating the myth that such embarrassing moves represent the will of the Jewish community, they would have absolutely no trouble with a conference on the legal rights of the Israeli government to build settlements on Palestinian land. Because that is exactly what they stand for when they take these actions.

The only word for the growing anti-human rights campaigns driven by old-school Jewish organizations is Shandah, shame.

Messengers shoot the self-shot messenger

from Jews sans frontieres by Levi9909

Phew, this is getting confusing. First there was the Goldstone Report produced by Judge Goldstone, Hina Jilani, Christine Chinkin and Desmond Travers. Then Goldstone distanced himself from the report but in a way that was so disingenuous, only the most staunch of Israel advocates could take any satisfaction from his re”think”. Now his co-reporters have gone on record in The Guardian (and presumably elsewhere) to say that the original report still stands:

In recent days some articles and comments appearing in the press with respect to the report of the United Nations (UN) fact-finding mission on the Gaza conflict of 2008-2009 have misrepresented facts in an attempt to delegitimise the findings of this report and to cast doubts on its credibility.

The mission that comprised four members, including Justice Richard Goldstone as its chair, came to an end when it presented its report to the UN human rights council in September 2009. The report of the mission is now an official UN document and all actions taken pursuant to its findings and recommendations fall solely within the purview of the United Nationsgeneral assembly which, along with the human rights council, reviewed and endorsed it at the end of 2009.
Aspersions cast on the findings of the report, nevertheless, cannot be left unchallenged. Members of the mission, signatories to this statement, find it necessary to dispel any impression that subsequent developments have rendered any part of the mission’s report unsubstantiated, erroneous or inaccurate.
We concur in our view that there is no justification for any demand or expectation for reconsideration of the report as nothing of substance has appeared that would in any way change the context, findings or conclusions of that report with respect to any of the parties to the Gaza conflict.

So what was Goldstone on about?

This is how The Guardianis now reporting the statement from Goldstone’s co-reporters:

Though they do not mention Goldstone by name, they shoot down several of the main contentions in his article and imply that he has bowed to intense political pressure.

So again, what was Goldstone on about?

Italian Peace Activist Murdered in Gaza

“A man does what he has to do, whatever the personal consequences, whatever the obstacles, the dangers or the pressure. This is the basis of all human morality. (Giovanni Falcone)*

vittorio arrigoniVittorio Arrigoni with girl in Gaza

I don’t know how to write this post. There are some things about this conflict that make no sense. There are some things about this conflict that are just plain evil. Today, Hamas security forces found the body of Vittorio Arrigoni, an International Solidarity Movement activist, in an abandoned house in Gaza. He’d been kidnapped by a Salafist group, whose leader had been arrested by Hamas last month. The kidnappers said Vittorio would be killed if their leaders wasn’t released, and by God, they were true to their word.

Vittorio arrived in Gaza in 2008 aboard a boat bringing humanitarian supplies and attempting to break Israel’s Gaza blockade. He was utterly dedicated to the cause of Palestinian freedom.

Does it make sense to kill a family of five in Itamar, including babies? Does it make any sense to kill an Italian pacifist who devoted his life to the Palestinian cause? Does it make any sense to kill a gifted Israeli-Palestinian theater director dedicated to using culture to fight for Palestine? What kind of world do these killers want? Do they want to eat their own young like some wild animals? Do they want to return the human race to darkness?

Vittorio’s killers, what can one say about them? Let these odious people speak for themselves and let the world judge for itself regarding what they represent:

“The Italian hostage entered our land only to spread corruption.” It described Italy as “the infidel state.”

What do these people want? That Palestinians should eat locusts and live in caves? Would that satisfy them? Do they think anyone will care for the Palestine they envision? Or Muslim Caliphate or whatever? They are beasts. I don’t know which emotion I should give freer reign: rage or sorrow.

Of course, the Israeli far-right will be dancing the hora with this news. It will be plastered in big headlines across Rotter, Debka Files and the like, not to mention the nutcase blogs we all know. This will confirm every prejudice they hold, reinforce every fear every Israeli might have. It doesn’t matter that the Salafists are a tiny group within Gaza. It doesn’t matter that Hamas has waged implacable battle against them before and killed many of their members. In situations like this people don’t look for nuance. They see blood and blood speaks louder than words or thought.

* Thanks to Lawrence of Cyberia for quoting this “Thought of the Day” at Vittorio’s blog, Guerilla Radio. May this quotation stand as a testament for the thoughtfulness, love and valor of international peace activists like Vittorio Arrigoni (Alav ha-shalom). They cannot kill peace, they cannot kill love. They can kill a man, but they cannot kill what he believes especially if others follow in his path.

I cannot ever remember crying while I wrote a post. I am close to doing so now.

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Humiliation of Goldstone reaches US Congress again

from Jews sans frontieres by Levi9909

From Ha’aretz but with links added by me:

The controversy over Richard Goldstone’s Washington Post opinion piece has reached the floor of the United States Congress, with new legislation calling on the United Nations to rescind the Goldstone Report on the 2009 Gaza war….

Goldstone’s report on Israel’s 2009 war with Gaza angered many with its accusation that Israel had committed war crimes and intentionally targeted civilians. In a recent op-ed piece for the Washington Post, the judge wrote that Israel had investigated many of the allegations brought forth by the report, while Hamas had not done the same.

“If I had known then what I know now, the Goldstone Report would have been a different document,” Goldstone wrote.

This is not the first time the Goldstone report has come up in the U.S. congress. In 2009, the House passed a resolution calling on the president and secretary of state to ignore the report.

Did they ignore it? If so, have they read it now that Goldstone has jumped through hoops to distance himself from it? If not, how can they call for the rescission of something they haven’t read? Only in America….

The more I think about Goldstone, and I think about it/him a lot, the more it all reminds me of the Dreyfus case. Dreyfus was falsely accused of treason, apparently because he was Jewish. Goldstone too has been accused of treason because he is Jewish. The fact that it was antisemites accusing Dreyfus and zionists accusing Goldstone is yet another example of the close relationship between antisemitism and zionism.

Israeli cluster crimes

“Both Bennike and Fehmi advised poloff that the strike data provided by the Israeli Defense Forces (IDF) in May 2009 to UNIFIL and passed along to NGOs in the field had not improved the pace or quality of demining operations. Fehmi described the data as “useless,” especially after the deaths of 45 persons (many of them children) and three years of clearing minefields while the IDF refused to release the information. He also cast doubt on Israeli claims of ignorance regarding the type and quantity of munitions used in artillery and aerial bombardment, given the sophistication of Israel’s armed forces and weapons. “How could the IDF not know; they are not a militia,” Fehmi remarked. Although the LMAC knew most of the strike locations before the Israelis shared their records, Fehmi reported, the LMAC found 51 confirmed contaminated sites that do not appear on the “fire dispersion” data spreadsheet and 289 locations that lack the…

Secret Arrests in Itamar Murder Case, IDF Pogroms in Awarta Continue

mass arrests in awartaPalestinian journalist arrested in Awarta

Yesterday, I reported that Israel had secretly arrested three Palestinian suspects in the murder of the Fogel family in Itamar. The arrests were under a blanket gag designed to deny access to Israelis (or Palestinians) of the news. The gag was issued by military judge, Maj. Yariv Navon of the Samaria district. It justifies issuance of the ban by claiming:

Identification of the detainees and information about their interrogation is likely to damage the investigation and security in the area.

Palestinians clearly have access to this information as you’ll note below. So the only ones denied access to it are Israelis. It isn’t clear to me how Israelis might damage this investigation unless the IDF is worried that settler vigilantes might take matters into their own hands. But it seems to me that the IDF is currently behaving little better than such vigilantes would. Another clear example of the often nonsensical basis of Israeli gag orders and censorship.

Today, AFP and Maan have further reported on this story and the three detainees mentioned below are likely the ones referred to by my source in yesterday’s post:

The latest arrests included several members of the Awad family, including three who were detained in the town of Beitunia, on the outskirts of the city of Ramallah.

On Monday, village officials said three other members of the Awad family had been detained, including a 15-year-old girl and her mother.

It is common practice in such situations for Shabak to arrest female family members to exert pressure on the suspects to be more pliant.

Maan reports in greater detail on the living hell experienced by this particular family:

Rights group Addameer said that one group of soldiers held the family of Jibril Awad captive in their home until 11:30 a.m. Tuesday.

A statement from the organization said soldiers rounded 20 members of the family into a single room of the home, and during an apparent search destroyed internal walls of the home, broke furniture and uprooted trees around the house to set up clear lines of view. Those kept in the room for hours included 10 children and a pregnant woman, the group said, citing one family member Nauf Awad, who said he was also being detained. He said an ambulance was permitted to evacuate a sick woman and the pregnant woman from the home.

As of noon, however, soldiers remained in the home, with 18 members of the family remaining inside.

…Rights workers told Ma’an that heavily-armed Israeli forces surrounded [a] Ramallah-area building at 3 a.m. and forced all residents to evacuate their apartments and wait outdoors as inspections and questioning took place.

Soldiers…detained 40-year-old Nu’man Salim Awwad, his brother 29-year-old Noah, and 19-year-old Yazid Hasan Awwad all from Awarta. They were all taken to the nearby Israeli Ofer detention center.

According to locals, Noah is a physician and moved to live in Ramallah to monitor his brother Nu’man who suffers from kidney failure.

Noah’s sister said Nu’man, 42, had been placed under house arrest by Palestinian security services several months earlier, and noted that Yazid had been released from Israeli prison the month before, after serving six years.

The AFP article expands on the pogrom-like behavior inflicted on Awarta by the IDF. According to the mayor:

“There isn’t a house in the village that hasn’t been subjected to breaking and smashing of things, from washing machines and fridges to satellite dishes and sinks,” he said.

“Electricity was cut off, they confiscated thousands of dunums [hundreds of hectares, acres] of village land,” he said, adding that water had also been sporadically cut off along with power…

This is how one mother described the treatment accorded to her sons:

“They brutally beat my sons; Majdi, who is 21, Amhad, who is 19, and 17-year-old Hakam. They beat them for no reason, they handcuffed my husband and broke everything inside the house; windows, the refrigerator, the washing machine and kitchen appliances. The spilled oil, sugar, salt and flour all together on the floor.”

Maan reports that 71 village residents, including two elderly women and a teenage girl remain in detention without charge and without access to counsel or visitors. Such treatment is a clear violation of the Geneva convention against collective punishment. Israel will eventually solve the Itamar murders, but in the process it will create ten times the former animosity in this village to its oppressive rule. No crime, no matter how heinous merits wholesale violations of internationally accepted human rights provisions.

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Interview with BDS leader Omar Barghouti

from The Only Democracy? by Jesse Bacon

Democracy Now! shared this interview with a Palestinian leader of the Boycott, Divestment, and Sanctions movement, Omar Barghouti. Jewish Voice for Peace was part of an international campaign to get the U.S. State department to reverse the decision to deny him a visa. Thankfully, the campaign was successful and the U.S. granted him a visa after unconscionably delaying. Hear what you almost missed below.
Popout
From the trancript, here’s Omar on Juliano Mer-Khamis’s death.

OMAR BARGHOUTI: It’s very hard to say who killed him, because no Palestinian group or individual had any interest in killing him. I mean, any patriotic Palestinian lost Juliano, because Juliano did a great service to the people of Jenin, especially the refugee camp, and on the front of cultural resistance. When I talked about nonviolent popular resistance, people forget that Palestinians have been resisting Israel’s occupation and apartheid in many forms, including culture—dance, music, poetry, theater and so on. And Juliano was really one of the people at the forefront of that cultural resistance.

Ukrainian Newspaper Identifies Abusisi Kidnap Witness, Charges Deputy Intelligence Chief With Complicity

NOTE: After originally publishing this post, two Russian-speaking readers (thanks to Leonid Levin and another reader) provided a more precise translation of the Pravda article and I’ve expanded and updated it accordingly.

The Ukrainian independent newspaper, Pravda published a major new story (Google Translate version) on the Abusisi kidnapping, in which it identified a new witness to the event who was was sleeping in the bunk just under the victim when he was snatched. The witness, Andrej Makarenko, saw two heavy-set men who looked like beat-cops, and accosted Abusisi taking him away. The abductee was going to follow them in bare feet, but knowing they planned to remove him from the train, they told him to put on his shoes. Later, a third individual returned to the car and began rifling through Aubisi’s belongings. Makarenko, thinking he might be a thief, demanded to see his ID. Makarenko says that he got a good look both at the man and his ID and says that he was an officer of the Ukrainian SBU (successor to the KGB), or equivalent of the FBI:

“He wore a short leather flight-jacket. He was a thin man with sunken cheeks. Hair color light brown, maybe a little red…about 40 years old. If I was shown a photo, I might be able to recognize him.

…I asked him to show me his ID. He took a card and showed it to me for five to seven seconds. The only thing I remembered was that it was an SBU ID. I even flashed the thought that if he was with the Security Service, then the whole matter was better left alone.

There it stated he was with SBU. I do not remember his job title. I didn’t record and don’t remember the name. It’s enough for me and what I saw that it was the SBU.”

A representative of the SBU would only comment that the investigation of the incident was a police matter.

A separate Pravda Ukraine article quotes a former SBU officer saying it would very well be possible for the Mossad to pay a lower-ranking SBU official at the oblast (county) level to participate in the abduction. This individual would have only thought about the money to be earned and not understood the national implications involved in the act.

Makarenko also saw the train conductor who witnessed the abduction and spoke freely about it at first, only to recant what he’d first said upon likely being pressured by authorities. This railway officer, according to Pravda, has gone on leave for a month and is no longer at his home.

vladimir rokitskyDeputy SBU chief Vladimir Rokitsky, accused of masterminding Abusisi kidnapping

The article also includes accusations supported by claims of a Ukrainian MP, Anatoly Gritsenko, to the BBC Ukraine service, that the SBU orchestrated the abduction on behalf of the Israeli Mossad:

“According to what I know unofficially, but that has yet to be confirmed, counter-intelligence services of the SBU have been involved in rendering this man to the Israeli side.”

A confidential Ukrainian source involved in politics told an Abusisi family member that the deputy head of the intelligence agency, Vladimir Rokitsky, personally organized the abduction and rendition. This publication of his name here is the first time a specific Ukrainian official has been implicated in this incident. If any readers can identify a photo of him I’d like to honor him here accordingly.

The Pravda story also is the first MSM mention of the Jordanian connection to this story, which I reported a few weeks ago. Jordanian intelligence detained Abusisi during an airport layover and refused to allow him to board his flight to the Ukraine for seven days. During this time, I maintain Israel was organizing the subsequent abduction of Abusisi that would take place on the train outside Poltava. Or else it was bargaining with the Jordanians in the hope that they would transfer him directly to Israel.

The Jordanian newspaper Assabil (Arabic) queried a Jordanian government spokesperson, who asked the paper not to report it prematurely and to wait for an official government response. Unsurprisingly, one was not forthcoming.

The Pravda article closes with an ironic quotation from the mission statement of the SBU:

The statement lists among the SBU’s responsibilities “counter-intelligence and counter-terrorism activities, as well as countering other activities of special services of foreign states.”

I didn’t notice among its responsibilities serving the interests of foreign intelligence agencies within Ukraine’s borders. If this article isn’t a smoking gun, I don’t know what is.

There will be a demonstration tomorrow outside the Ukrainian foreign ministry in which Abusisi’s wife, Veronika will participate.

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UN General Assembly Campaign for Palestinian State Gathers Momentum

declaring palestinian stateA new campaign to declare a Palestinian state by the UN General Assembly this coming fall is gathering momentum. Both supporters and detractors are already in full battle dress. Israeli president Shimon Peres has already met with Ban Ki-Moon to tell him that such a proposal would be disastrous. Salam Fayyad and Mahmoud Abbas are scouring European capitals for support for the proposal. Barring any unforseen developments, it seems clear that supporters would find overwhelming support in the GA. Unlike in the Security Council, this type of resolution could not be vetoed. So even if the U.S. or European countries lobbied hard against it, they couldn’t stop it. The only thing that could is a full court press in which we call in all our chits and attempt to use our muscle to prevent other countries from joining in the effort. But I doubt even this can stop this train.

Ironically, this would be the same GA which in 1948 voted for Israeli statehood. All this would mean that Palestinian statehood for the first time has been recognized by an international body. Once this happens, it puts enormous political pressure on Israel to do the same. Given that the GA resolution will recognize Palestine within 1967 borders, this will mean that this will be the starting point for any serious negotiation to resolve the conflict. If Israel temporizes as it has for decades, it can no longer duck responsibility. Such delay and obfuscation could now be met with legitimate, sustained and muscular international sanctions which might even have the weight of the UN behind them. It would be at this point that the global BDS movement could combine with UN resolutions to bring overwhelming pressure on Israel to end the Occupation and withdraw from territory conquered in 1967.

Another specter lurks if Israel fails to heed these international resolutions. There could very well be a third Intifada in which hundreds or even thousands of Palestinians are killed along with scores of Israelis. We’ve seen the precursor of this with the recent launching of scores of Hamas missiles into southern Israel and counter-attacks which killed 18 Gazans over the past few days. This would be kids’ stuff compared to what might happen if there was a general uprising in both Gaza and the West Bank against Israel. It should be noted that the PA leadership of Abbas and Fayyad is quite different to that of Arafat, who orchestrated the first Intifada. The current leaders are much more quiescent and less prone to support such an insurrection. But in the right circumstances, if they prove inadequate to the task of mounting a vigorous defense of Palestinian prerogatives, then an uprising might find universal favor within Palestine.

The train of Palestinian statehood is gathering steam and come September will leave the station. I hope as many nations as possible get on board. As Curtis Mayfield sang:

People get ready, there’s a train a comin’…
You don’t need no baggage, you just get on board

There ain’t no room for the hopeless sinner
Who would hurt all mankind just to save his own…

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Messenger shoots himself

from Jews sans frontieres by Levi9909

Another article on Goldstone, this time The Guardian editorial titled, Goldstone: the unanswered questions:

It is difficult, in this digital world of instant claim and rebuttal, to say that you were wrong. But Richard Goldstone’s retraction of one of the claims of the report that he chaired – that Israel targeted civilians in the war onGaza as a matter of policy – is one such instance. Mr Goldstone deserves credit for honesty.

I doubt if there’ll be a whole lot of credit for his “honesty” from hasbara quarters. But has he been honest?

The retracted allegation refers to the attack which killed 22 members of the Samouni family, who, following instructions from Israeli soldiers, were sheltering in a house in Zeitoun. But there are 35 other incidents that Goldstone’s team investigated. It found seven cases where civilians were shot leaving their homes waving white flags; a direct and intentional attack on a hospital which may amount to a war crime; numerous incidents where ambulances were prevented from attending to the severely injured; nine attacks on civilian infrastructure with no military significance, such as flour mills, chickens farms, sewage works and water wells – all part of a campaign to deprive civilians of basic necessities. The key paragraph of the report states: “The Mission finds that the conduct of the Israeli armed forces constitute grave breaches of the Fourth Geneva Convention in respect of wilful killings and wilfully causing great suffering to protected persons and as such give rise to individual criminal responsibility.” On the Samouni killings it states that even if it amounted to an operational error and the mission concludes that a mistake was made, “state responsibility of Israel for an internationally wrongful act” would remain.

It seems that Goldstone, given his professed zionism, which in his case is unambiguously expressed as a love of the State of Israel, was a bad choice for the task at hand. See the Magnes Zionist blog for how he openly sought to distance himself from the report that his panel produced.

At appearances following the report, Judge Goldstone showed his discomfort and displeasure with those who wanted to use the Goldstone Report to “delegitimize Israel.” He was deeply offended by those who questioned his love of Israel. One incident is particularly telling. At Yale, a banner was unfolded with listed the Dreyfuss Affair, the Protocols of the Elders of Zion, and the Goldstone Report. Now imagine if that had happened to Norm Finkelstein. Finkelstein would have known how to react and what to say; he would be eminently non-plussed. But the act not only flustered Judge Goldstone; he virtually lost his composure. After that speech, the judge was accosted by the Chabad rabbi, Rabbi Shmuely Hecht, who asked him, “What are you going to do when the facts are unraveled and the evidence is clear that Goldstone report was a sham and not credible based on video and audio coverage of the war?” The judge replied, much to the puzzlement of the rabbi, “Should that occur, I will rejoice.” (Read about ithere.)

Poor guy. It’s put a terrible strain on his family. But then look what happened to far bigger and poorer families in Gaza. But Goldstone does appear to have tried to undermine the report of the panel he chaired. Magnes Zionist gets into answering why but this Guardian editorial deals with the if.

Clear to one side the superheated flak of the debate today. It arises from Israel’s current international isolation, of which the Gaza operation formed only a part. It is now said that the Goldstone report became the cornerstone of a campaign to delegitimise Israel. None of this is relevant to what happened in Gaza between 27 December 2008 and 18 January 2009, events which led to the deaths of 1,396 Palestinians, 763 of whom, according to the Israeli human rights group B’Tselem, were not taking part in hostilities when they were killed. The report did not in fact claim that Israel set out deliberately to murder civilians. It said that Operation Cast Lead was “deliberately disproportionate” and intended to “punish, humiliate and terrorise”. That charge stands unanswered. Indiscriminate warfare, as opposed to deliberate killing, was undoubtedly state policy. Shooting the messenger is always easier than dealing with the message itself. This time, the messenger had the grace to shoot himself. It does not change what happened in Gaza, nor what will happen the next time war breaks out.

So The Guardian is claiming that Goldstone’s disclaiming doesn’t change anything but that it does amount to shooting himself. Again I say, poor guy. Of course the toll taken on his family has been immense but it is nothing up against what the Palestinians have been suffering, certainly considering cast lead but look what his zionist sympathies and fellow zionists have made him do to his own credibility.

And still the hasbaraniks aren’t happy. On the subject of “delegitimisation” of Israel, Engage has the Washington Post article tagged with “anti-zionism”. Bizarre!

Finally, I was going to note how Goldstone had hawked his op-ed around the American media. Well, that he had offered the piece to the New York Times anyway but got rejected. Ernie Halfdram made a comment to this effect linking to Angry Arab News Service which in turn linked to YNET. Well the YNET link is now broken and the report is now denied by the NYT, on YNET thus:

In an official response to the claims, NYT’s Elaine Murphy said that Goldstone had indeed submitted an opinion piece to the newspaper on March 22, which was rejected. Nevertheless, she stressed, the piece did not resemble the one published by the Washington Post.
Still, the New York Times refused to subject the original pieces sent by Goldstone to any comparison with the one published by the Washington Post; claiming they had no right to forward an unpublished submission to a third party. [typos corrected]

What to make of it all?

Amnesty Int’l: United Nations Must Reject Israeli Campaign to Avoid Accountability for Gaza War Crimes

from Informed Comment by Juan

This came to me as a news release from Amnesty International:

Amnesty International Public Statement
Tuesday, April 5, 2011
United Nations Must Reject Israeli Campaign to Avoid Accountability for Gaza War Crimes, Says Amnesty International

Statements by Leading Israeli Politicians Are Based on “Deliberate Misinterpretation” of Justice Goldstone’s Comments in Newspaper Opinion Article

Contact: Suzanne Trimel, 212-633-4150, strimel@aiusa.org

Recent Israeli government calls for the United Nations to retract the 2009 report of its Fact-Finding Mission on the Gaza Conflict are a cynical attempt to avoid accountability for war crimes and deny both Palestinian and Israeli victims of the 2008-2009 conflict the justice and reparations they deserve, Amnesty International said today.

Statements by leading Israeli politicians that Israel’s conduct in the 22-day conflict in Gaza and southern Israel has been vindicated, following the publication of a Washington Post opinion piece by Justice Richard Goldstone on April 1, 2011, are based on a deliberate misinterpretation of Justice Goldstone’s comments. The international community must firmly reject these attempts to escape accountability and act decisively for international justice, as it has done on Libya, Sudan and other situations where war crimes and possible crimes against humanity have been committed.

The UN Fact-Finding Mission on the Gaza Conflict, composed of Justice Goldstone and three other eminent international jurists, examined violations of international humanitarian and international human rights law committed by all sides during the 2008-2009 conflict. Its September 2009 report echoed the findings documented by Amnesty International, other human rights organizations and independent observers, and called on the Israeli and Palestinian authorities to conduct credible, independent investigations into alleged war crimes and possible crimes against humanity within six months or face potential U.N. Security Council referral to the International Criminal Court.

The report’s recommendations concerning potential international justice mechanisms remain unimplemented more than 18 months later, despite the fact that the Israeli authorities and Hamas de facto administration have both failed to conduct investigations that are prompt, thorough, independent, impartial, and effective, as required by the U.N. General Assembly.

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman, Defense Minister Ehud Barak, and other senior Israeli politicians have seized on Justice Goldstone’s new statement that the Israeli military did not intentionally target civilians during the conflict and has conducted some investigations to call for the entire Fact-Finding Mission’s report to be retracted – or, as Prime Minister Netanyahu put it, “tossed into history’s trash can.” The U.S. State Department has supported this position, with a spokesperson saying that the U.S. government did not see any evidence that the Israeli government had committed any war crimes during the conflict.

As a spokesperson for the Human Rights Council made clear today comments made in an opinion piece do not provide a sufficient legal basis for overturning a U.N. report that has been discussed and endorsed by both the Human Rights Council and the General Assembly. Nor are the self-serving calls of Israeli political leaders, some of whom were members of the Israeli war cabinet which made the policy decisions during Operation “Cast Lead,” the 22-day conflict in which some 1,400 Palestinians, including some 300 children, were killed by Israeli forces. Aborting the process towards an international justice solution would also preclude any possibility of justice or reparations for Israeli victims of the conflict, who suffered from hundreds of indiscriminate rockets and mortars launched into southern Israel by Hamas’ military wing and other Palestinian armed groups in Gaza.

Amnesty International has monitored and critiqued the Israeli military investigations into its actions during Operation “Cast Lead” and has condemned both the continuing failure of the Hamas authorities to investigate alleged violations committed by Palestinian armed groups during the conflict and the ongoing firing of indiscriminate rockets into southern Israel.

In consequence of the failure of both the Israeli and Palestinian sides to conduct proper independent investigations and ensure accountability and justice for the victims, Amnesty International has called on a range of international actors to now bring international justice mechanisms to bear in order to meet these objectives and end impunity.

In particular, Amnesty International has called on the General Assembly to consider the Fact-Finding Mission’s report at its 66th session starting in September 2011, and submit the report to the UN Security Council with a recommendation that the latter body consider referring the situation to the Prosecutor of the International Criminal Court (ICC). This recommendation was also included in a resolution passed by the Human Rights Council on 25 March 2011.

Amnesty International also urged the ICC Prosecutor to seek a legal determination from the Pre-Trial Chamber on whether an investigation could be launched on the basis of a 2009 declaration by the Palestinian Authority accepting the Court’s jurisdiction over crimes committed on the Palestinian territories. Finally, we have consistently called for national authorities of other states to exercise universal jurisdiction over war crimes committed during the 2008-2009 Gaza conflict, just as we urge states to exercise universal jurisdiction over war crimes in other conflicts where the domestic authorities are unwilling or unable to act.

Background

In a personal op-ed, Justice Goldstone contrasted the investigations conducted by the Israeli military into alleged violations by Israeli forces with the Hamas de facto administration’s failure to investigate alleged violations by Palestinian armed groups in Gaza. He also commented that the Israeli military investigations indicate that civilians in Gaza “were not intentionally targeted as a matter of policy” by Israeli forces. The op-ed is available at:

http://www.washingtonpost.com/opinions/reconsidering-the-goldstone-report-on-israel-and-war-crimes/2011/04/0

While Justice Goldstone’s comments question one of the Fact-Finding Mission’s conclusions – that certain Israeli attacks during Operation “Cast Lead” intentionally targeted civilians – the op-ed in no way constitutes a retraction of the entire Fact-Finding Mission report. The other three members of the UN Fact-Finding Mission have not issued similar public comments questioning any of the report’s conclusions.

The Fact-Finding Mission report examined 11 incidents in which Israeli forces launched direct attacks against civilians that resulted in civilian deaths, and found that in these incidents, “the conduct of the Israeli armed forces constitutes grave breaches of the Fourth Geneva Convention in respect of wilful killings and wilfully causing great suffering to protected persons and, as such, give[s] rise to individual criminal responsibility.” Justice Goldstone’s op-ed mentions only one of these incidents, an Israeli attack on 5 January 2009 which killed 21 members of the al-Sammouni family, which is the subject of an ongoing Israeli military investigation. Assessing whether specific Israeli attacks on civilians during the conflict were deliberate is extremely difficult because the Israeli military has not released the evidence that would allow independent parties to evaluate its conclusions. Amnesty International has not argued that the Israel Defense Forces (IDF) targeted Palestinian civilians “as a matter of policy”, but rather that IDF rules of engagement and actions during the conflict failed to take sufficient precautions to minimize civilian casualties. Justice Goldstone’s recent comments do not dispute this assessment.

Amnesty International, the Fact-Finding Mission, and other human rights organizations documented many other serious violations by Israeli forces, including war crimes, during the conflict. These include indiscriminate attacks and the use of weapons such as white phosphorus and flechettes in civilian areas; wanton destruction of civilian property and infrastructure; attacks on UN facilities, medical facilities and personnel; and the use of Palestinian civilians as “human shields”. While the Israeli authorities have investigated some of these incidents, all the investigations have been conducted by the Israeli military, and overseen by the Military Advocate General Corps, the same body which was responsible for providing legal advice to the IDF during Operation “Cast Lead”.

As noted in the recent report of the UN Committee of Independent Experts appointed to monitor and assess the investigations, Israel has failed to investigate the actions of “those who designed, planned, ordered and oversaw Operation Cast Lead”, the Israeli military investigations have lacked transparency, and more than one third of the incidents highlighted by the Fact-Finding Mission are still “unresolved or unclear”. To date, only four Israeli soldiers have been indicted on criminal charges relating to Operation “Cast Lead”, and only one has served prison time for credit card theft.

Amnesty International’s own assessment of the Israeli investigations concurred with the Committee of Independent Experts’ report. More than two years after the conflict, there is no way for objective, impartial observers to view Israel’s investigations as adequate, independent, or effective in bringing perpetrators of alleged violations to justice.

The Committee of Independent Experts’ report, released on 18 March 2011, is available at:
http://www2.ohchr.org/english/bodies/hrcouncil /docs/16session/A.HRC.16.24_AUV.pdf

Amnesty International’s latest assessment of the Israeli and Palestinian investigations into the Gaza Conflict, released on 18 March 2011, is available at:
http://www.amnesty.org/en/library /info/MDE15/018/2011/en

See also John Dugard’s response in The New Statesman;

and the Society of Friends’ response, “Goldstone Retractions vs. the Facts;

and what the Goldstone op-ed Doesn’t Say at Mondoweiss.

ZIONISM = RACISM

Tarabin’s Nakba in the Negev

tarabinTarabin mosque obliterated by wealthy Israeli Beersheba neighborhood

Neve Gordon reports on a new Nakba organized by the wealthy Jewish residents of the Beersheva neighborhood of Omer, which absorbed (that is, “stole”) the lands of the Bedouin village of Tarabin as it expanded. The new goal of the Jews of Omer is to make the area Bedouinrein by removing the last vestige of Arab presence, that is the local mosque. This triumphalist statement accompanies the Before and After image at right featured in the Omer neighborhood newspaper:

After a prolonged battle, we are reaching the last stage in the removal of the [Tarabin] tribe. The last group will finally be transferred to Rahat [a government sponsored city for Bedouin forcibly removed from their native lands]. The mosque which, for the members of the tribe, stood for their solidarity and connection to this place has been dismantled and transferred to the new settlement. The last stragglers, a handful of holdout families, will be dealt with in a legal framework.

Soon not a single original [Bedouin] family will remain on this land [Omer].

You can see the ‘immaculate conception’ of the image, which shows the mosque there one day and gone the next. I’d ask my readers to imagine a Polish shtetl which, as it expanded in the post-war period, eradicated every last remnant of Jewish presence, except the local synagogue. What would you say to its destruction?

Ynet reports a January “agreement” between Omer, the tribe and the Israel Lands Authority, which forced the Bedouin to give up their village and move to a new one just outside Rahat. Six families have refused to leave. The article makes clear that those who did leave did so under extreme duress:

“I wanted to remain in Omer but there were heavy pressures placed upon us and finally I had to give up. There were the police and the ILA. For years I fought them in court, but I saw that I stood against an entire State. I could no longer continue fighting and decided to give up. Every family made its own calculations. It was a very hard process. But we couldn’t continue fighting the State,” one Bedouin villager said.

The Israeli government’s plans for the Negev Bedouin are to forcibly remove them from their scattered traditional villages into Indian-like reservations like Rahat, where they will be concentrated. This would leave all the vacated lands for new Jewish settlements. This parallels similar policies in the West Bank used to displace native Palestinian villages, thus allowing rooms for expansion of the Jewish footprint. It should be noted that these are blatant land grabs which violate international law and will have to be unwound as part of any peace agreement between Israel and the Palestinians.

Similarly, Israel will eventually have to make restitution to its indigenous Bedouin citizens whose villages are being eradicated in a latter-day version of the Nakba. The fact that Israel is providing alternate sites for these Bedouin to live doesn’t lessen the injustice committed against them. After all, the U.S. government in the 19th century forcibly removed Native Americans from their indigenous lands to make way for white settlers, placing the former on reservations. It should be noted that these communities remain among the poorest in the U.S. and their residents are mired in poverty, and enjoy substandard medical care and educational opportunities. This is what Israel is bequeathing to the Bedouin, whose presence in the Negev far predates the creation of the State.

In fact, those leaving Tarabin said they were promised jobs in their new community and instead face nothing but unemployment:

“We have nothing there. They promised us employment, but people are all out of work. The police there treat us with disrespect.

Does ‘making the desert bloom’ mean extirpating the presence of the indigenous Bedouin inhabitants from their native lands? Is that the price that must be paid to bring progress and western civilization to this so-called land without a people?

Related posts:

  1. Video: GOD-TV’s Nakba Against Bedouin Negev Village GOD TV and Jewish National Fund’s Forest Of Hate from…
  2. Haaretz Discovers al-Araqib Nakba (Finally), GOD-TV Says It’s Not Responsible (GOD TV’s and all other trademarks are the property of…
  3. Israel Eradicates Bedouin Village in Negev How desolate sits the city that was full of people,…

Zionism is racism, always

“The Education Ministry’s plan for the coming school year does not include civics, democratic values or Jewish-Arab coexistence, according to copies circulated among principals. It states schools’ two main objectives are to reinforce Jewish and Zionist values, and to improve scholastic achievements, and instructs principals how to fulfill these goals.

If a Muslim school did that anywhere around the world, they would be mocked on every late night show in the US

“A religious school principal in central Israel has expelled a student for taking part in a local beauty pageant and winning the contest.”
HISTORY & ANALYSIS
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This entry was posted in Apartheid, Background & Analysis, BDS, Events, Goldstone, Human Rights, Israel, Zionism. Bookmark the permalink.

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