ISRAHELL 2DAY: Settlers blamed for mosque blaze

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Israeli settlers are reported to have set fire to a mosque in a Palestinian town in the occupied West Bank, damaging prayer rugs and a large number of copies of the Quran, as well as spraying anti-Arab graffiti on the walls.According to witnesses, five Jewish settlers broke into a mosque in Beit Fajjar in the early hours of Monday and set it alight before the morning prayers, Ahmad Thawabteh, the town’s mayor, told Al Jazeera.

The Israeli military told Al Jazeera that primary investigations showed Hebrew graffiti and burnt carpets at the mosque, located south of Bethlehem.

Avital Leibovitch, a spokeswoman for Israel’s military, said Israeli authorities will bring the guilty parties to justice.

“The Israeli police … have opened a very widespread investigation; the other security forces in Israel will be a part of [it], as well as Palestinian information that has some contribution to this investigation,” she told Al Jazeera.

“We see this incident in a very severe manner. We will do the utmost to find these lawbreakers and bring them to court.”

Emotions running high

Al Jazeera’s Nour Odeh, reporting from the mosque, said emotions are quite high in the town.

“It was a little before three in the morning when residents saw smoke coming out of the mosque, that they rushed in to put out the fire,” she said.

“We heard residents [break] into chants about revenge. Much of the talk here is [calling this a] religious type of attack rather than a politically motivated one.”

Meanwhile, Al Jazeera’s Mike Hanna, reporting from Jerusalem, said: “Certainly this is something that is ratcheting up tensions at a time when the Israeli cabinet are meeting to decide on extending the settlement freeze.

“A mosque was burned in the West Bank earlier this year by settlers who say it was on their land – land that they claim and occupy.

“There is certainly a pattern here. There will be a settler demonstration north of the West Bank today which is also linked to a mosque that the settlers want destroyed.”

Illegal settlements

Vandals occasionally spray-paint the words “price tag” on buildings and cars, suggesting that the attacks are the “price” for any attempt by the Israeli government to curb the growth of illegal settlements.

Human-rights groups say the Israeli government does not take the attacks seriously enough.

A report by Amnesty International, the London-based rights group, found that “impunity remains the norm” for settlers accused of vandalism and physical attacks on Palestinians.

The incident in Beit Fajjar comes as Israeli and Palestinian officials prepare to resume indirect negotiations.

Palestinian leaders are pushing for a complete freeze in new Israeli construction in both the West Bank and East Jerusalem.

Binyamin Netanyahu, the Israeli prime minister, approved last year a temporary halt in West Bank settlement growth – but it does not apply to East Jerusalem.

Many communities in the West Bank have ignored the order and continued new construction.

Source:
Al Jazeera

ISRAHELL TODAY: Rise of the Right (nazi-zionists)

Ilan Mizrahi has spent 16 years photographing and filming right wing Israeli settlers in the West Bank city of Hebron. His film, Israel: Rise of the Right, looks at the followers of Rabbi Meir Kahane, an American-born rabbi and politician who proposed the mass expulsion of Arabs from Israel before he was assassinated in 1990.

UPRISING: Expecting a third Intifada

The next Intifada could see the Palestinian people in struggle not only against Israel but also against the Palestinian Authority, writes Khaled Amayreh in Ramallah

Observers in occupied Palestine are increasingly of the opinion that a fresh Intifada or uprising is in the offing as the Israeli authorities keep provoking Palestinians, including stepping up efforts to gain Jewish prayer rights at Al-Aqsa Mosque, Islam’s third holiest shrine.

The Organisation of the Islamic Conference (OIC) has warned that provocative Israeli actions at Haram Al-Sharif (the Noble Sanctuary) could trigger a religious war between Jews and Muslims. The organisation called on the world community to stop Israeli aggression before it was too late.

The warning came after Israeli security forces attacked Muslim worshipers during Friday’s congregational prayers on 5 March. Israeli paramilitary police fired tear gas and stun grenades, injuring as many 50 Palestinians, many of them elderly. Some of the injured were transferred to the two main hospitals in East Jerusalem, but many had to be treated on site as Israeli troops impeded emergency medical efforts.

The Israeli police said it “intervened” in reaction to stone throwing towards the nearby Al-Buraq Wall, which Jews call the “Western Wall plaza”. Palestinians have been protesting a series of Israeli provocations, including efforts by Jewish religious groups to gain a foothold at Al-Aqsa Mosque. Last week, Israeli troops escorted a number of Jewish fanatics into the Haram Al-Sharif esplanade where they started holding religious rituals. Muslim worshipers in the area hurled stones towards them, prompting soldiers to attack the Muslims.

The overall atmosphere was further galvanised by a recent decision by Israeli Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu to add two Islamic sites — the Ibrahimi Mosque in Hebron, which Jews call the Cave of the Patriarch, and the Bilal bin Rabah Mosque in Bethlehem, known to the Jews as Rachel’s Tomb — to a newly-founded list of Jewish heritage sites.

Another source of tension has been a decision by the Israeli mayor of Jerusalem, Nir Barkat, to destroy an entire Arab neighbourhood in the eastern part of the city in order to build tourist facilities. Deemed an “act of rape” and “ethnic cleansing”, Palestinians argue that the demolition of dozens of homes in the Silwan neighbourhood is but a further attempt to judaise Arab East Jerusalem.

Some conscientious Jewish figures acknowledge the malicious intent of the Israeli authorities and Mayor Barkat. Abraham Burg, former speaker of the Knesset, has accused Barkat of allowing oppression and injustice to run wild in a city where “justice once dwelt”.

Writing in Haaretz on 7 March, Burg pointed out that “the Israeli-Jewish and Arab-capital” is “becoming the capital of the hallucinatory, dangerous fanatics. This is not the city of all its residents. It is a sad city that belongs to its settlers, its ultra orthodox, its violent residents and its messiahs… the Israeli spirit of justice is being run roughshod by politicians, settlers and judges. The national soul is being slain with red tape and bureaucratic indifference.”

In fact, government-backed Jewish organisations, mostly funded by wealthy Jews from the United States, have been creating a foothold in the Arab neighbourhood of Sheikh Jarrah where Palestinian families have been forcibly evicted from their homes in coordination with the police apparatus. Settlers claim that some homes belonged to Jews prior to 1948 while others were purchased in secret deals. When aggrieved Palestinians go to Israeli courts for redress, the Israeli judge routinely sides with the settler squatters.

Settler lawyers often claim that homes in such towns as Hebron and Jerusalem belonged to Jews during the British Mandate era. The same lawyers overlook the fact that tens of thousands of homes in what is now Israel belonged to Palestinian families whose members were either massacred, as in Deir Yassin, or ethnically cleansed and forced into exile, as happened in Jerusalem’s neighbourhoods of Lifta, Ain Karm, Talbiyeh and Al-Malha, to name a few.

When this writer asked an Israeli lawyer involved in efforts to arrogate Arab real estate in East Jerusalem why it was legal for Jews to reclaim their presumed property in the West Bank while it was not for Palestinians relative to property in what is now Israel, the lawyer said, “because we are strong and you are weak”.

Standing up to oppression, several thousand pro-peace Palestinians and Israelis gathered in Jerusalem Saturday night, 6 March, to protest against the growing evictions of Arab families by police-backed Jewish settlers. It is unlikely, however, that demonstrations will force the Israeli government to rethink its drive to judaise Arab East Jerusalem.

Actually, far from showing the slightest consideration for Palestinian concerns, Israeli Defence Minister Ehud Barak this week approved the construction of 112 new settler units in the West Bank. The decision makes a mockery of the Israeli government decision earlier this year to freeze settlement expansion for eight months. It also reveals that promises and undertakings by the Netanyahu government have little credibility.

With a conspicuously helpless Palestinian Authority (PA) doing next to nothing — and arguably capable of nothing — in the face of Israel’s arrogance of power, frustration among ordinary Palestinians is building. It is not unlikely that the seeds are being sown of a full-fledged Intifada if the present trend continues. However, a fresh Intifada would confront the Western-backed PA with a real dilemma that could put into question not only its legitimacy — such as it is — but also its very survival.

This week, Israel delivered a stern warning to the PA: “Stop the stone throwers, or we will.” The problem, however, is that a crackdown by PA security forces on Palestinians reacting to Israeli provocations and aggression would be very unpopular, as it would show PA security forces repressing their own people on Israel’s behalf. On the other hand, should the PA decide to side with the masses against Israel it would risk its own survival, as the Israeli army would be forced to retake Palestinian population centres as happened in 2001 and 2002.

Ref: Al Ahram

http://www.intifada.com/

WELCOME TO ISRAHELL: Fully supported by whiteness building the apartheid state

Israel ‘using tourist sites to assert control over East Jerusalem’

Peace groups say government’s secret plans with settler groups could prevent two-state solution

Israel is quietly extending its control over East Jerusalem in alliance with rightwing Jewish settler groups, by developing parks and tourist sites that would bring a “drastic change of the status quo in the city”, according to two Israeli groups.

Ir Amin, a group working for a shared Jerusalem, said the purpose of the “confidential” plan was to link up several areas of East Jerusalem surrounding the Old City with the goal of asserting Israeli control and strengthening its claim to Jerusalem as its capital city. Israel captured East Jerusalem in 1967 and later annexed it, a move not recognised by the international community.

The accounts come ahead of the visit of Pope Benedict XVI, who arrives in Jerusalem tomorrow for a week-long pilgrimage, during which he is likely to hear detailed concerns from Palestinians over their future in Jerusalem and the West Bank.

Under an eight-year plan, worth 75m shekels a year (£12m), a series of nine national parks, trails and tourist sites based on apparent Jewish historical spots would be established, most under the control of settler groups working together with the Israeli government. The sites would also create a link to Jewish settlements in East Jerusalem and the West Bank. The parks would be a “biblical playground” built on public and private land and would be fenced in, the group said.

“This act will limit the possibility of territorial compromise in Jerusalem to its northern and southern parts only, outside of areas surrounding the Old City,” said Daniel Seidemann, an Israeli lawyer and founder of Ir Amin.

He said the programme was supported by the Israeli prime minister’s office and was being conducted without any public debate or transparency. “This policy fans the flames of the conflict and threatens to change it from a national conflict that can be controlled and solved, into a pointless regional confrontation,” Seidemann said.

Both Israel and the Palestinians claim Jerusalem as their capital. Palestinians, who live in the east, make up a third of the city’s population.

Peace Now, another Israeli group, released similar information about the plan, based on a government budget document, saying it feared the proposal was “possibly preventing the ability to reach a two-state solution”.

An Israeli government official told AP the new development was to benefit all Jerusalem. “The government will continue to develop Jerusalem, development that will benefit all of Jerusalem’s diverse population and respect the different faiths and communities that together make Jerusalem such a special city,” the official said.

Ref: Guardian

Also read the report – Israeli Government’s Plans to Deepen hold over Jerusalem – May 2009

VIDEO: A People’s History of American Empire by Howard Zinn

Bush´s parting gift to Israel (Warehousing Pals)

Tel Aviv has long seen itself as a military ally of the U.S., sharing in the realization of the U.S.’s objectives.

By Jonathan Cook

Almost unnoticed, Israel and the White House signed a deal over the summer to station an early-warning missile radar system, staffed with U.S. military personnel, in Israel’s Negev desert. The media here described the Joint Tactical Ground Station, which brings Israel under the U.S. protective umbrella against missile attack, as a “parting gift” from President Bush as he prepared to leave office.

The siting of what is likely to become America’s first permanent base on Israeli soil was apparently not easily agreed by local defense officials. Aware of the country’s vulnerability to missile strikes, they have been trying to develop their own defenses – so far without success – against the varying threats posed by Palestinian Qassam rockets, Hizbullah’s Katyushas, and Iran and Syria’s more sophisticated arsenal.

In finally accepting that it must rely on the U.S. shield, Israel may have answered the Middle East’s biggest question of 2008: will it launch a go-it-alone strike against Iran’s presumed nuclear weapons program?

The local media reported that the early-warning station would limit Israel’s freedom to attack Iran since it would be the prime target for a retaliatory strike, endangering the lives of U.S. personnel. Or as the Haaretz newspaper noted, Israeli officials viewed the radar system “as a signal of Washington’s opposition to an Israeli strike on Iran’s nuclear program”.

Although ostensibly the warm relations between Israel and the US are unchanged, in reality recent events are forcing a reluctant Israel to submit to the increasingly smothering embrace of Washington.

Tel Aviv has long seen itself as a military ally of the U.S., largely sharing and assisting in the realization of Washington’s strategic objectives. But it has also prized a degree of independence, especially the right to pursue its own agenda in the Middle East.

For some time, the key point of difference between the two has been over the benefits of “stability.” U.S. planners have promoted regional calm as a way of maintaining American control over the flow of oil. In practice, this has meant keeping the Arab peoples, and Arab nationalism, in check by bolstering reliable dictators.

In contrast, Israel has preferred instability, believing that weak and fractious neighbours can be more easily manipulated. A series of invasions of Lebanon to accentuate ethnic divisions there and the fueling of civil war in the occupied Palestinian territories have been the template for Israel’s wider regional vision.

The implicit tension in the Israeli-U.S. alliance surfaced with the ascendance under President George W. Bush of the neocons, who argued that Washington’s agenda should be synonymous with Israel’s. The U.S. occupation and dismemberment of Iraq was the apotheosis of the White House’s application of the Israeli doctrine.

The neocons’ partial fall from grace began with Israel’s failure to crush Hizbullah in Lebanon more than two years ago. All the evidence suggests that both Israel and the neocons regarded Hizbullah’s defeat as the necessary prelude to a U.S. attack on Tehran. Israel’s loss of nerve during the month-long war – attributed by critics like the former defense minister, Moshe Arens, to the general softening and feminisation of Israeli society – proved the country’s once-celebrated martial talents were on the decline.

In the war’s immediate wake, there was much discussion in Israel about how such a high-profile failure might damage the country’s standing in the eyes of its US sponsor. Penance arrived in the form of the exculpations of the Winograd post-mortem – and with it the inevitable undoing of Ehud Olmert as prime minister. Washington’s stables, meanwhile, were cleaned out less ostentatiously.

But where does this leave Israel? Certainly not friendless in Washington, as cheerleaders like AIPAC and the fawning of U.S. presidential candidates amply demonstrate. But the relationship is changing: it looks increasingly as though Israel is turning from U.S. ally to protectorate.

The consequences are already visible in the buckling of Israel’s commitment to launch a unilateral attack on Iran. Months of bellicose talk have been mostly stilled. A few believe this is the quiet before the storm of a joint U.S. and Israeli strike. More likely it is the sign of an Israeli-fueled war agenda running out of steam.

Washington, already overstretched in the Middle East and facing concerted opposition to its policies from China and Russia, seems resigned to living with an Iranian nuclear bomb. In the new climate that means Israel will have to accept that it is no longer the only bully on the Middle East block. Israel is on the verge of its very own regional Cold War.

As in the earlier Cold War, this one will be played out through alliances and proxies. But there the similarity ends. Iran is emerging as a regional superpower, quickly developing the financial and military clout to sponsor other actors in the region, most obviously Hamas and Hizbullah. Israel, on the other hand, is losing ground – quite literally, as the radar base reveals. It can no longer impose its own agenda or build alliances on its own terms. Its strength is becoming increasingly, and transparently, dependent on U.S. approval.

The most immediate and tangible effects will be felt by the Palestinians, though their plight is not likely to let up any time soon. Just as before, Israel needs a long-term solution to the Palestinian problem, but cannot concede on the creation of a viable Palestinian state. Now, however, it no longer has the luxury of biding its time as it dispossesses the Palestinians. It needs to find a solution before an Iranian bomb – and an ever-more confident Hamas and Hizbullah – force a settlement on Palestine not to its liking.

Israel is therefore engaging in a frenzy of West Bank settlement building – up six times on a year ago – not seen since Oslo. It only appears paradoxical that, just as Israel’s leadership is intoning the end of a Greater Israel, the most influential and optimistic supporters of a two-state solution on both sides – including Sari Nusseibeh and Shlomo Ben Ami – have been reading the last rites of Palestinian statehood.

This disillusionment, it might be expected, would provoke a new resolution towards a one-state solution among Israeli and Palestinian peace activists. Nothing could be further from the truth. Even the Palestinian leadership’s growing threats that it might adopt a one-state campaign are little more than that: blackmail designed to galvanize Israeli public opinion behind “warehouses”.

Instead of a fledgling state, however, Israel is creating a series of holding pens for the Palestinians – or “warehouses,” as the Israeli peace activist Jeff Halper has referred to them – on the last vestiges of the occupied territories. For Halper, warehousing means containing the Palestinians at minimal economic and political cost to Israel as it steals more territory.

But is the warehousing of the Palestinians intended by Israel to be the equivalent of storing unwanted books? Or, to continue this disturbing metaphor, are the Palestinians being warehoused so that at a later date they can be given away – or, worse still, pulped?

The answer again suggests Israel’s growing dependence on the U.S. Washington has for some time been strong-arming the Sunni Arab world, especially loyal regimes like Egypt and Jordan, against Shia Iran. With its back to the wall, Israel appears willing to use this leverage to its own advantage.

Its leaders are increasingly thinking of “peace” terms that, passing over the heads of the Palestinians, will be directed at their neighbours in Jordan and Egypt. A regional solution requires a further entrenchment of the physical and political divisions between the two “halves” of the occupied territories, with control over the Palestinian parts of the West Bank handed to Jordan and Gaza to Egypt.

It is a sign of the terminal loss of faith in their leaders and Israeli good faith that the latest poll of Palestinians shows 42 percent want their government-in-waiting, the Palestinian Authority, dismantled. More than a quarter are ready to abandon the dream of independent nationhood, preferring instead the establishment of a joint state with Jordan.

Palestine’s fate, it seems, rests on the resolve of the Arab world. It is not a reassuring prospect.

Ref: Al jazeera magazine
— Jonathan Cook is a writer and journalist based in Nazareth, Israel. His latest books are “Israel and the Clash of Civilisations: Iraq, Iran and the Plan to Remake the Middle East” (Pluto Press) and “Disappearing Palestine: Israel’s Experiments in Human Despair” (Zed Books). His website is http://www.jkcook.net. A version of this article originally appeared in Adbusters Magazine.