Palestine/Israel Apartheid News: 6/6/11: Israeli Troops kill 20, wound Hundreds at Golan

INDEX (stories follow)

 EVENTS

HUMAN RIGHTS

HISTORY & ANALYSIS


Headlines for June 6, 2011

 

EVENTS

The US responds to Israeli terrorist shooting at civilians at the Golan heights

 “”We are deeply troubled by events that took place earlier today in the Golan Heights resulting in injuries and the loss of life,” the State Department said in a statement.  “We call for all sides to exercise restraint. Provocative actions like this should be avoided.”  The US statement emphasized that “Israel, like any sovereign nation, has a right to defend itself.” (thanks Sarah)

On Naksa Day, unarmed resistance sends Israel into violent contortions

from Max Blumenthal by Max

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Demonstrators in Qalandia block an Israeli army jeep on June 5 (photo by Ahmad al-Nimer)Demonstrators in Qalandia block an Israeli army vehicle on June 5 (photo by Ahmad al-Nimer)

Last week, I interviewed Rami Zurayk, an agronomist at the American University of Beirut and Palestinian refugee rights activist, about the planning of the May 15 and June 5 demonstrations in Lebanon. Zurayk described to me a meeting that took place in Beirut before the Fatah-Hamas unity deal took where the May 15 movement planned its strategy. All Palestinian factions were represented, however, each leader received only a single vote on the motions being deliberated. “It was unbelievable to see the Hamas guy who represents 100,000 people have the same power as an independent person from the camps,” Zurayk told me. “In this setting, the lines began to blur and you could not tell who was from what faction any more. In the past, it was impossible to get people from the camps to agree on rallying under one flag and one symbol. But in this meeting everything changed.”

Zurayk said the refugees and their Lebanese allies (the involvement of Lebanese youth and civil society also reflected a new trend) resolved to carry out a mode of resistance that was “pacifistic in nature.” “Like the demonstrations in Tahrir Square and throughout Tunisia, the [May 15] demonstrators were audacious, tenacious and most of all, repetitive,” he explained. “Repetition is why Tahrir worked — you put your body on the line against repression. So that became our modality.” Zurayk described scenes he witnessed of refugee youth rushing the Israeli controlled frontier at Maroun al-Ras with nothing but Palestinian flags in their hands, and of the Israeli response: soldiers shot the youth dead, killing one almost every five minutes.

After an international outcry, Israel blamed the Syrian regime and Iran for the demonstrations at the frontiers (it had little to say about the killings it committed in Maroun al Ras, Lebanon, however). I asked Zurayk about the Israeli claim. He remarked, “No amount of Syrian money can make people run to a border knowing they will be shot at. If the Syrians are being clever, that is their consideration. But do you really think Palestinians need Syrians to make them want to return to Palestine? They are living in camps with sewage running openly, with no jobs and no opportunities.”

While evidence that the Syrian regime directly organized the demonstrations is scant to non-existent, the regime clearly enabled the demonstrators to reach the fence by neglecting to repel them with its own troops. Not only does this fact fail to excuse Israel’s wanton killing, it highlights the irony of Israel and its allies condemning the Syrian regime for its brutal repression of Syrian citizens rising up against it (of course, the whole world should deplore Assad’s draconian rule), while at the same time demanding that the regime repress the Palestinian refugees who are protesting for their own internationally recognized rights.

Yesterday, on June 5, the commemoration of Naksa Day, Palestinian refugees and their supporters returned to the Israeli controlled frontiers to protest the 44th anniversary of the occupation. Protests swelled at the Qalandia checkpoint between Ramallah and Jerusalem, where according to Joseph Dana Israeli forces tested out new and unusual weapons on demonstrators, and spread to Nablus, where Israeli forces fired teargas shells at a group of people protesting the occupation by planting trees. The most intense protests took place at the Quneitra crossing near the occupied Golan Heights, where Israeli forces gunned down at least 20 unarmed demonstrators as they approached the frontier fence (be sure to watch the video at the link). “We could have taken the easier route of uncontrolled fire, but we decided to operate in a very limited manner,” an army spokesman said afterward, reassuring the world that Israel could have killed hundreds more, but chose to pick off about 20 unarmed civilians in the name of restraint.

Would you buy a used car from this man? "The Syrian Chalabi" Farid Ghadry claims demonstrators at Quneitra were in fact "Syrian farmers" paid $1000 by Assad to show upWould you buy a used car from this man? “The Syrian Chalabi” Farid Ghadry claims demonstrators at Quneitra were in fact “Syrian farmers” paid $1000 by Assad to show up

In the hours following the bloodshed, the Israeli response grew increasingly contorted. Army spokespeopleclaimed the demonstrators “were responsible for their own deaths,” claiming they stepped on landmines. No evidence of landmine deaths was provided by the unnamed military sources, only conjecture. Next, Israel turned to its favorite Syrian cut-out in Washington, Farid Ghadry, an AIPAC member and discredited “serial entrepreneur” who is widely regarded as the Syrian version of Ahmed Chalabi — Ghadry actually met Chalabi in Richard Perle’s living room. In a statement published on the website of his astro-turfed Reform Party of Syria, Ghadry claimed that the protesters at Quneitra were not actual Palestinian refugees, but impoverished “Syrian farmers” who had been paid $1000 each by the Assad regime just to show up, and $10,000 to die. Ghadry claimed he gleaned the information from “intelligence sources close to the Assad regime in Lebanon.”

Israeli military spokespeople appear to be pushing Ghadry’s press release, because the canard immediately showed up in a report by Yediot Aharnoth’s Hanan Greenberg, one of the many military correspondents in the Israeli media who dutifully report any claim by any flack in an olive uniform as though it were a substantiated fact. “Syrian Opposition: Anti-Israel Rioters paid $1000,” read the Yediot headline. But the story has not graduated beyond the pro-Israel blogosphere, probably because Ghadry and his shell of an opposition group — it is quite clearly a neocon front organization — have no credibility in Syria or anywhere else.

Leaving aside the allegations about Syria’s role in the demonstrations on the Israeli occupied frontiers of Golan, it is worth questioning whether Israel actually wants to see Assad step down. Yaakov Katz, another military correspondent who serves as a tool for Israeli securitocrats and army spokespeople, making him occasionally useful as a window into the army’s thinking, wrote in the Jerusalem Post in March:

As Israel watches the ongoing demonstrations in Syria against President Bashar Assad, its greatest concern for the moment is the uncertainty that change in Syria would bring to the region. Israel has gotten used to Assad and he is almost predictable.

A new regime, led by a new actor, would likely be unpredictable and when considering the large arsenal of long-range Scud missiles Syria has stockpiled over the years and the accompanying chemical warheads, Israel needs to be considered…

But when Israel looks at Syria it also sees the possible development of a new enemy, far more radical and extreme than the Assad they are familiar with. While not as strong and large as the Egyptian military, the Syrian military has obtained some advanced capabilities which, if the country falls apart, could fall into terrorist hands or be used by the country against Israel…

In the meantime, Israeli intelligence services are cautious in trying to predict how the riots in Syria will end and whether Assad will be prepared to cede power as easily as Hosni Mubarak did in Egypt.

By this logic, Israel is trying to calibrate its approach to the anti-Assad protests, taking into account the fact that the opposition movement is likely to be more antagonistic to it than Assad has been. The military-intelligence apparatus will determine how and when Israel responds, seeking to derive maximum gain from Syria’s internal crisis. But since the Arab Spring arrived on Israel’s doorstep, Israel’s strategy has depended on lethal violence and little else. And it may be that it has no other strategy, that there is no Plan B. Meanwhile, as I write, the demonstrators who camped out at Quneitra are waking up.

Israeli Naksa Day War Crimes at Majdal Shams

naksa day wounded protesterNaksa Day wounded protester dragged to safety (Nir Elias/Reuters)

Today and Nakba Day may go down in the recent history of the Israeli-Arab conflict as two days in which Israel massacred unarmed Arab civilians in cold blood thus meriting a war crime investigation.  Approximately 600 Palestinian supporters massed today at Quneitra and Majdal Shams on Israel’s Golan border and attempted to repeat their earlier crossing of the border on Nakba Day a few weeks ago.  They were met with three battalions of IDF soldiers, police and attack dogs.  When the protesters were still on the Syrian side of the border, IDF snipers opened fire on those within 200 meters (600 feet).  Arab children approached the fence as a group and they too were fired upon and wounded.

The IDF is claiming, as usual with no supporting evidence, that a demonstrator threw a Molotov cocktail which landed in a mine field and ignited a mine, which killed most of those who died.  The video of the event should easily prove or disprove this claim.

Here is the typical lame, mealy-mouthed garbage that passes for IDF justification for its murderous behavior:

“Our firing was measured and cautious,” a senior Northern Command officer said. “We tried to avoid casualties, but at the same time, we’re not willing under any circumstances to allow them to damage the border [fence] or cross it.”

The use of live fire was justified, he added, because this is an international border, and “sovereignty must be upheld at any cost.”

qalandia protesters non violent resistanceQalandia activists place their bodies between IDF ‘skunk truck’ and protesters in act of non-violent resistance (Ahmad al-Nimer)

Interesting that the officer mistakenly claims that this is an “international border,” which it isn’t.  It is a disputed border with Israel clinging to territory it conquered and stole from Syria and which it refuses to return despite the fact that Syria has expressed multiple times its willingness to resolve all differences.  Under international law, I believe a case can be made that Israel was not defending its own border, and that it was firing on the protesters from territory which once was Syrian and will again be as soon as Israeli leaders come to their senses and return it in exchange for long-term peace.  How do you justify killing Syrians because they’re attempting to cross intoterritory that international law deems to be Syrian?  I think Israel has stuck its fist into a hornet’s nest on this one.

Let’s be clear, given the previous massacre on Nakba Day, to kill another 22 demonstrators as Syria is claiming, while wounding hundreds more, is an out and out war crime.  What’s more, there will ample video documentation of Israel’s slaughter by Syria TV.  For those who may argue there simply was no other way, it must be noted that the Quneitra protest was quelled largely with non-lethal means.

Though the IDF succeeded in preventing a mass border crossing Sunday, officers voiced fears that Israel has lost the initiative

Gee d’ya think?

The slaughter at Majdal Shams is like déjà vu all over again.  How many times have we seen the IDF repeat virtually the same bloody scenario (Lebanon 2006, Gaza 2009, Mavi Marmara, etc.)?  It seems useless to remind the international community that repeating the same action which failed the first time (and all previous times it’s been attempted) is the definition of insanity.  How long will the world allow this bloody insanity to continue before it puts its foot down and intervenes?  For the love of God, vote for Palestinian statehood come September.  And if Obama undermines this effort shame upon him.  He presents no viable alternative.  Does he want to go down in history as the American Nero, fiddling while Israel and the frontline states burn?

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Israeli Troops kill 20, wound Hundreds at Golan

from Informed Comment by Juan

Israeli troops on Sunday fired live ammunition into unarmed crowds of protesters who moved toward the barbed wire fence marking the Israeli-occupied Golan Heights (which is Syrian territory). Aljazeera reports:

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Israeli troops have a lot of experience with crowd control and have tear gas and other non-lethal measures at their disposal, argues UN special envoy Richard Falk, and one can only therefore conclude that they were deliberately ordered to kill protesters with live ammunition as a lesson to anyone who wanted to try to stage such demonstrations in the future. That is, these shootings and woundings of unarmed protesters are a crime against humanity. Note that the soldiers were standing on Syrian territory (occupied) and shooting into Syrian territory.

Popout

There is no reason to question the sincerity of those who risked their lives. Israel captured the Golan Heights in 1967 from Syria. It is illegal according to the UN Charter for a state to permanently acquire territory from another nation-state, or for the occupying power to introduce significant change into the occupied territory. The population living in the occupied Golan is cut off from relatives in Syria. Some 400,000 Palestinian refugees, deprived of citizenship in any state by their families’ expulsion from their homes by Israelis in 1948, live in Syria.

Israeli officials charge that Syria is promoting the protests to divert attention from its own violence toward protesters. But there is no evidence for this allegation, and Palestinians have every reason to protest their fate.

It would be fairer to say that Syria’s execrable behavior is diverting attention from the Netanyahu government’s crimes against Palestinians. The Arab Spring has made most governments in the region look bad, and Israel has not behaved better than the others.

Meanwhile, some 5000 Israelis of the Mensch variety marched in Tel Aviv in favor of a Palestinian state on Sunday. They were opposed by counter-demonstrations by the schlemiel faction.

No matter what Palestinians do, they would always be considered violent: look at this headline in the AP story

“Israeli troops battle protesters in Syria, 20 dead”. (thanks Daniel)

HUMAN RIGHTS

Bassem Tamimi speaks out in Israeli Court at the beginning of his trial

from The Only Democracy? by TheOnlyDemocracy

 from the Popular Struggle Coordination Committee

Bassem Tamimi, the subject of an action alert by Jewish Voice for Peace, speaks up for freedom on the 44th anniversary of Israel’s Occupation of the West Bank, East Jerusalem, and Gaza, June 5th, 2011.

Tamimi’s full statement:

Your Honor,

I hold this speech out of belief in peace, justice, freedom, the right to live in dignity, and out of respect for free thought in the absence of Just Laws.

Every time I am called to appear before your courts, I become nervous and afraid. Eighteen years ago, my sister was killed by in a courtroom such as this, by a staff member. In my lifetime, I have been nine times imprisoned for an overall of almost 3 years, though I was never charged or convicted. During my imprisonment, I was paralyzed as a result of torture by your investigators. My wife was detained, my children were wounded, my land was stolen by settlers, and now my house is slated for demolition.

I was born at the same time as the Occupation and have been living under its inherent inhumanity, inequality, racism and lack of freedom ever since. Yet, despite all this, my belief in human values and the need for peace in this land have never been shaken. Suffering and oppression did not fill my heart with hatred for anyone, nor did they kindle feelings of revenge. To the contrary, they reinforced my belief in peace and national standing as an adequate response to the inhumanity of Occupation.

International law guarantees the right of occupied people to resist Occupation. In practicing my right, I have called for and organized peaceful popular demonstrations against the Occupation, settler attacks and the theft of more than half of the land of my village, Nabi Saleh, where the graves of my ancestors have lain since time immemorial.

I organized these peaceful demonstrations in order to defend our land and our people. I do not know if my actions violate your Occupation laws. As far as I am concerned, these laws do not apply to me and are devoid of meaning. Having been enacted by Occupation authorities, I reject them and cannot recognize their validity.

Despite claiming to be the only democracy in the Middle East you are trying me under military laws which lack any legitimacy; laws that are enacted by authorities that I have not elected and do not represent me. I am accused of organizing peaceful civil demonstrations that have no military aspects and are legal under international law.

We have the right to express our rejection of Occupation in all of its forms; to defend our freedom and dignity as a people and to seek justice and peace in our land in order to protect our children and secure their future.

The civil nature of our actions is the light that will overcome the darkness of the Occupation, bringing a dawn of freedom that will warm the cold wrists in chains, sweep despair from the soul and end decades of oppression.

These actions are what will expose the true face of the Occupation, where soldiers point their guns at a woman walking to her fields or at checkpoints; at a child who wants to drink from the sweet water of his ancestors’ fabled spring; against an old man who wants to sit in the shade of an olive tree, once mother to him, now burnt by settlers.

We have exhausted all possible actions to stop attacks by settlers, who refuse to adhere to your courts’ decisions, which time and again have confirmed that we are the owners of the land, ordering the removal of the fence erected by them.

Each time we tried to approach our land, implementing these decisions, we were attacked by settlers, who prevented us from reaching it as if it were their own.

Our demonstrations are in protest of injustice. We work hand in hand with Israeli and international activists who believe, like us, that had it not been for the Occupation, we could all live in peace on this land. I do not know which laws are upheld by generals who are inhibited by fear and insecurity, nor do I know their thoughts on the civil resistance of women, children and old men who carry hope and olive branches. But I know what justice and reason are. Land theft and tree-burning is unjust. Violent repression of our demonstrations and protests and your detention camps are not evidence of the illegality of our actions. It is unfair to be tryed under a law forced upon us. I know that I have rights and my actions are just.

The military prosecutor accuses me of inciting the protesters to throw stones at the soldiers. This is not true. What incites protesters to throw stones is the sound of bullets, the Occupation’s bulldozers as they destroy the land, the smell of teargas and the smoke coming from burnt houses. I did not incite anyone to throw stones, but I am not responsible for the security of your soldiers who invade my village and attack my people with all the weapons of death and the equipment of terror.

These demonstrations that I organize have had a positive influence over my beliefs; they allowed me to see people from the other side who believe in peace and share my struggle for freedom. Those freedom fighters have rid their conscious from the Occupation and put their hands in ours in peaceful demonstrations against our common enemy, the Occupation. They have become friends, sisters and brothers. We fight together for a better future for our children and theirs.

If released by the judge will I be convinced thereby that justice still prevails in your courts? Regardless of how just or unjust this ruling will be, and despite all your racist and inhumane practices and Occupation, we will continue to believe in peace, justice and human values. We will still raise our children to love; love the land and the people without discrimination of race, religion or ethnicity; embodying thus the message of the Messenger of Peace, Jesus Christ, who urged us to “love our enemy.” With love and justice, we make peace and build the future.

Background
Bassem Tamimi is a veteran Palestinian grassroots activist from the West Bank village of Nabi Saleh, north of Ramallah. He is married to Nariman Tamimi, with whom he fathers four children – Wa’ed (14), Ahed (10), Mohammed (8) and Salam (5).

As a veteran activist, Tamimi has been arrested by the Israeli army 11 times to date and has spent roughly three years in Israeli jails, though he was never convicted of any offence. He spent roughly three years in administrative detention, with no charges brought against him. Furthermore, his attorney and he were denied access to “secret evidence” brought against him.

In 1993, Tamimi was falsely arrested on suspicion of having murdered an Israeli settler in Beit El – an allegation of which he was cleared entirely. During his weeks-long interrogation, he was severely tortured by the Israeli Shin Bet in order to draw a coerced confession from him. During his interrogation, and as a result of the torture he underwent, Tamimi collapsed and had to be evacuated to a hospital, where he laid unconscious for seven days.

As one of the organizers of the Nabi Saleh protests and coordinator of the village’s popular committee, Tamimi has been the target of harsh treatment by the Israeli army. Since demonstrations began in the village, his house has been raided and ransacked numerous times, his wife was twice arrested and two of his sons were injured; Wa’ed, 14, was hospitalized for five days when a rubber-coated bullet penetrated his leg and Mohammed, 8, was injured by a tear-gas projectile that was shot directly at him and hit him in the shoulder. Shortly after demonstrations in the village began, the Israeli Civil Administration served ten demolition orders to structures located in Area C, Tamimi’s house was one of them, despite the fact that it was built in 1965.

If Muslim religious leaders in the US did something of this sort, this would be front page stories

“A lawyer for a man who was badly burned at his home in a Hasidic Jewish village is seeking a federal investigation into what he calls “hate crimes” by the community’s religious leadership.
He said the attack evoked “the Ku Klux Klan and Nazi Germany.”” (thanks Therese)

Comrade Amer at the Lebanese-Palestinian border

Comrade Amer sent me this (I cite with his permission):  “Went to Maroun al-Ras and saw Palestine today. I should have done it earlier. Everytime I look across the borders, it revitalizes my certainty that we shall inevitably pass to the other side: so close, so easy.”
ZIONISM = RACISM

Can you imagine the uproar if a US member of Congress said that about “Jewish culture”?

“House Majority Leader Eric Cantor (R-VA) on Friday blamed a hateful Palestinian culture for the bloody half-century long Arab-Israeli conflict in the Middle East.  “Sadly it’s a culture filled with resentment and hatred,” Cantor said at the Faith and Freedom Conference, as first reported by TPM’s Benjy Sarlin. “It is that culture that underlies the Palestinians’ and broader Arab world’s refusal to accept Israel’s right to exist, and this is the root of the conflict between Israel and the Palestinians.””
HISTORY & ANALYSIS

Israel kills civilians and Isabel Kershner justifies–as usual, of course. Notice how Palestinian non-violence becomes attacks

I never ever accepted or believed Western liberal calls for Palestinians to resort to non-violence.  I knew that those calls aim only at the total surrender of Palestinians.  I also know that the Palestinians (foolishly if you ask me) resorted to non-violent struggle against Israel from 1948 to mid-1960s.  During that period, according to right-wing Israeli historian Benny Morris in his book Righteous Victims, Israeli terrorists managed to kill thousands of Palestinians at the border area–many were just wanting to check on their lands and farms and homes.  So look how the West reacts to Palestinian non-violence, and notice how they manage to make Palestinian non-violence violent, while they make Israeli violence/terrorism as non-violence.  Look carefully at the language of the New York Times.  First, note the headline (in the hard copy of the paper but not the on-line version: it talks about protests “draw” Israeli fire.  So the blame for violence is non-violence. That is the cause and effect for New York Times.  So if Isabel Kershner or her Zionist bosses were reporting on the holocaust, she would have said: “Jewish communities draw concentration camps.”  Now the civilian protesters yesterday were clearly non-violent, so how do you make them violent? You insert verbs of violence to the story.  Look at this:  “and tried to attack the border fence.”  So they tried to attack a fence.  Can you imagine the outrage if in the West, protesters who were trying to “attack” a…wall, were shot at with live ammunition?  That is not it.  In the opening paragraph, the story talks about “deadly confrontations”.   And notice how Israeli propagandists are permitted to dispute casualty figures without any evidence or basis:  “By nightfall, the Syrian news agency SANA reported that 22 protesters had been killed and more than 350 had been wounded. Israeli officials said that they had no information on casualties but suggested that the Syrian figures were exaggerated.”    In another section of this most journalistically laughable story, it refers to non-violent protests as “assaults,” as in:  “The protest, on the anniversary of the start of the 1967 Middle East war, followed a larger, coordinatedassault by demonstrators three weeks ago on four fronts…”    And when you know, as Isabel Kershner must know, that her propaganda efforts are so blatant and her language and the language of her bosses are so laughable, they basically resort to what the New York Times does on those occasions: they either have someone lie for Israel (just as in a story on the first border protest cited the account of a a Syrian in Washington, DC, who is quoted in every story on Syria in the New York Times, when he claimed that he saw buses loading protesters), or they themselves lie for Israel.  Look at this section:  “Still, the protesters said they counted the day a success because they drew Israeli fire on unarmed demonstrators.”  When, O Isabel Kershner, did the protesters say that they counted their dead and injured as “success”??? And when did those protesters say that they “drew” Israeli fire??? Did you just make that up, or did you editing boss for Zionism make it up??   And finally, notice that the story quoted so many Israelis and yet quoted one Palestinian protesters who talked about a master “plan.” I won’t be surprised if this unknown guy is linked in a later story to Hitler’s Final Solution, and if a picture is produced for this 25-year old shaking hands with Himmler.  Are you kidding? With the New York Times, all sorts of lies are to be expected on Arab-Israeli issues.   It is to be trusted as much as one trusted Goebbels’ Der Angriff on Jewish matters.

Mordechai Vanunu seeks permission to leave Israel

from Jews sans frontieres by Levi9909

Here’s a piece by Duncan Campbell in The Guardian on the treatment of nuclear whistle blower, Mordechai Vanunu, by the Israeli authorities:

Britain has a responsibility towards Vanunu, a man who gave his story to a British newspaper – the Sunday Times – and whose kidnap and removal from Italy started on the streets of London; Israel had not wanted to embarrass Margaret Thatcher’s government by carrying out the deed in the UK. It is time that the British government recognised the British link and spoke up for a man who risked his freedom and his sanity because of his hatred of nuclear weapons. And high time that a peaceful man in a violent world was allowed to live his own life in peace.

I have always wondered why the successive UK governments have been so cavalier about a kidnap that was initiated in London.

Dagan, Ashkenazi, Diskin, Peres Likely Foiled 2010 Netanyahu-Barak Attack on Iran

iranian attack on israelMeir Dagan’s nightmare vision

Amir Oren is one of Haaretz’s most artful journalists when he addresses sensitive security-related matters.  In his current story (Hebrew, English here), if you read between the lines and put 2+2 together, you’ll understand that Oren is telling us with a wink and a nod that a few of Israel’s Wise Old Men (not all are old, and some haven’t always been wise, but in this case they were) frustrated a plan by Bibi Netanyahu to attack Iran in 2010.  This accords with statements made recently by Meir Dagan in which he frets that with the removal from office of virtually the entire military and intelligence leadership over the past few months, there remains no one who will represent an honest and pragmatic voice regarding Israeli policy toward Iran.

Oren’s story is a partially imaginary account of the aftermath of Bibi Netanyahu’s 2011 attack on Iran (which he ominously calls the “first” Iran war).  He imagines a national commission of inquiry appointed to examine why Bibi insisted on going to war despite the warnings of his military and intelligence echelons; and why he violated established law and precedent in doing so.  Among the tidbits that reveal the outline of the real attack is Oren’s statement that Bibi got his cabinet council to approve a limited military operation, while his real intent was to commence a war against Iran.

I say the account is “partially imaginary” because Oren slips into his account events that really did happen.  For example, he reveals that in 2010 Meir Dagan, Gabi Ashkenazi, Yuval Diskin, Shimon Peres and IDF senior commander Gadi Eisenkrot tried to foil a plan by Bibi to attack Iran (in reality they appear to have succeeded at least at the time, in Oren’s imaginary plot they failed).

Through liberally quoting portions of the Winograd Commission findings about the 2006 Lebanon War dealing with the responsibilities of the national military and political leadership to conduct war responsibly, Oren makes clear that in the eyes of Bibi’s opponents his actual Iran war plans would’ve caused Israel to fall into the same trap it faced in Lebanon.  And that’s precisely why the Wise Men opposed Bibi.  Now, these are some of the same guys I’ve railed against in the past for their various crimes of omission and commission.  But if they did what Oren alludes to, then they performed precisely the role that leaders should–they stood in the way of a monomaniacal leader intent on taking Israel into a war that promised potentially disastrous consequences for Israel.

The Haaretz reporter implies that when Bibi and Barak presented their military plans to these leaders they balked and questioned their “legality.”  They invoked the dramatic refusal of Gen. Yisrael Tal to accept an order from Defense Minister Moshe Dayan to resume Israel’s war against Egypt, a refusal which led to cancellation of the plans.

Oren adds a profound touch of irony when he notes that the deliberations of the fictional commission were interrupted when the din of air raid sirens and the thunderous roar of incoming Iranian Shihab missiles forced them to scramble into an air raid shelter.

In case any of you are wondering why the reporter couldn’t write the story straight, consider how many ways in which such news would violate Israeli censorship and gag orders.

Maariv fleshes out the real events (Hebrew) on which Oren bases his imaginary story, saying that Dagan’s real break with Bibi and Barak occurred a year ago during discussions among the senior ministerial committee of an attack on Iran (which the Mossad chief opposed).  The report says that during these deliberations Dagan came to believe that the two leaders were intent on getting Israel into a “dangerous military adventure in Iran.”  Now that those who opposed the attack have departed the scene Israel’s former top spy worries that “there is no one to stop them.”

Dagan has been attacked viciously by Bibi’s henchman as someone who is “insane” (a term apparently used by the prime minister himself to describe his formerly trusted intelligence chief) and seeking to topple the government; and that he’s destroyed whatever deterrent Israel had over Iran by opposing such a war.  As a loyal servant of the State, the veteran Israeli intelligence officer would have to have weighed this possibility seriously and carefully.  No one could dismiss lightly such criticism, nor would Dagan.  There can only be one reason why he would take such a drastic step by criticizing Bibi so intensively (in three separate statements) and publicly: he really believes the prime minister intended and still intends to go to war against Iran.  And he believes such a war would be an utter disaster should it happen.

The split we’re seeing here rarely happens in Israeli politics.  Usually, at least superficially, the military, intelligence and political echelons circle the wagons when it comes to the important life or death issues.  There is rarely anyone with the guts or courage to stand against the prevailing consensus.  So what we’re seeing with Dagan’s cri de coeur may be historic and certainly is dramatic.  The question is–can Dagan prevail?  Can he derail a government plan to attack Iran?  But even if he can’t, he is setting himself up as the sole sane one who resisted temptation and tried to speak truth to power.  This should stand him in good stead politically if there is anything left of Israel to lead should Bibi-Barak take Israel into its next foolhardy military adventure.

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Move Over Nakba, Naksa is Here

from Tikun Olam-תקון עולם: Make the World a Better Place by Richard Silverstein

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1967 warPalestinians surrender during Naksa, 1967 War

Until a few  years ago, it seemed that the narrative of the Israeli-Arab conflict was determined mostly by Israel: there was the miraculous vote in the UN General Assembly recognizing the partition.  Then the even more miraculous 1948 War of Independence, which established the State of Israel.  Yes, there was the momentary setback of the 1956 Suez War, whose victorious territorial prize of the Sinai was wrenched from Israel’s hands by Pres. Dwight Eisenhower.  But the Lord’s miracles continued in 1967 as Israel reunited the nation’s eternal capital, Jerusalem.  The sparks of Messianic redemption were also sown by the return to our Biblical ancestral lands in places that came to be called by many in Israel, Judea and Samaria.  Israel affirmed its rendez-vous with Jewish destiny by returning its sons and daughters to these Biblical holy places in Shechem and Hebron, where they became latter-day versions of the pioneers of the 1920s who “cleared the land and drained the swamps.”

There wasn’t much room in all this history, destiny, and messianic redemption for the narrative of the “loser.”  Israelis, the most humane among them, could afford to acknowledge the sins that enabled the triumphs of Israel.  These visionaries bucked the national consensus, but they were swimming upstream and against the prevailing winds.  Over time, their voice became thinner and thinner until it was mostly snuffed out in the shouts of triumph from the Israeli nationalist camp.

But over the past decade or more, the tables have turned.  With the onset of the Intifadas, Palestinians began to make a claim to a narrative of their own.  It wasn’t just a story they proclaimed for themselves.  They asked the rest of the world to acknowledge it as well.  Slowly, ever so slowly, the world has turned from intense admiration of Israel’s achievements to recognition of the moral cost of those victories.

In the past 11 years, we have gone through two Intifadas, wars in Gaza in (2009) and Lebanon (2006).  With each of these new developments in the Palestinian national struggle, Israel’s narrative receded and the Palestinian’s advanced.

Though the term Nakba has existed for decades, few outside the Arab world have been willing to acknowledge either it or the historical event it denotes.  Until now.  The historical truth of this tragedy can no longer be mitigated or denied as it has been for so long.  Israel has tried to stick its finger in the dyke in order to suppress awareness.  It was sung the praises of its own national myth attempting to drown out those who paid the price for Israel’s joy.  But there is about the Nakba, what James Joyce called an “ineluctable modality of the visible,” something which can no longer be denied, a fundamental truth that has been repressed far too long.

Now, the tender shoots of the Arab Spring have burst forth.  On Nakba Day last month, Palestinian supporters overwhelmed four Israeli borders demanding that the injustice of the Nakba be redressed.  Tomorrow, many of these same protesters will do it again, this time to commemorate the Palestinian loss represented by the 1967 War.  They’re calling it Naksa, the Setback.  Perhaps slightly less tragic than Nakba, or Catastrophe.  But the aggregation of these terms strengthens the sense of a wrong that cannot be denied.

News stories today indicate that Hezbollah has asked for protests on the Lebanese border be cancelled.  So we don’t quite know what the dimensions of the event will be.  But there is one thing of which you can be sure.  The dimensions of this struggle will grow day by day, protest by protest.  And as they do, Israel’s case will grow weaker and weaker.

Later this month, a Turkish flotilla consisting of peace activists from the Arab world along with Israelis and American Jews will set sail for Gaza.  This voyage is a follow-up to the Mavi Marmara catastrophe in which Israeli commandos killed nine Turks last year.  Turkish media reports that the U.S. has dangled a carrot in front of the Turkish government, promising to host an Israeli-Palestinian peace conference in Turkey if it will call off the flotilla and normalize relations with Israel.

The very notion of such a bribe is insulting both to Turkey and to the Israeli-Arab peace process.   Can a nation be bought?  Can peace be bought?  For a mess of porridge?  What does Obama take Turkey for?  This is a proud nation that can’t be taken in by charades.  Its leader, Pres. Erdogan is no fool.  He ought to tell the U.S. and Israel that it knows what the price of peace is and when those two are ready to pay, then they have his phone number, as Secretary of State Baker said during the Bush administration, and should call.  Until then, they should stop wasting everyone’s time with makeshift measures and blandishments like peace conferences.  What good is such a meeting when Israel isn’t ready to deal?

As I wrote in my latest contribution to Truthout, a September date with destiny is looming for Palestine in the UN General Assembly.  This is yet another incremental advance of the cause of Palestine and another nail in the coffin of the Occupation.  From my reading of UN processes, the Security Council can delay but not deny Palestinian statehood.  It’s only a matter of time.  As Meir Dagan has been saying lately, time is not on Israel’s side.  The longer it delays the worse the deal it will get.

I should make clear that I’m not talking about erasing the Israeli narrative or expecting Israelis to grovel at the feet of those they’ve injured.  The Israeli narrative is still valid.  All those achievements are laudable, something Israel and the Jewish people can be proud of.  But not at the expense of Palestine.  Not if Palestine must be denied.  What the world demands is that there be two legitimate narratives neither of which eclipses or demeans the other.  Two equal narratives.  When Bibi Netanyahu or whoever is the Israeli PM at the time can do that, he knows Mahmoud Abbas’s phone number.  He can call.

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This entry was posted in Background & Analysis, Events, Human Rights, Imperialism, Israel, War Crimes, Zionism. Bookmark the permalink.

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