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/

ANALYS: The Dubai Hit

THE TWO classic intelligence disasters occurred during World War II. In both, the intelligence agencies either provided their political bosses with faulty assessments, or the leaders ignored their accurate assessments. As far as the results are concerned, both amount to the same.

Comrade Stalin was totally surprised by the German invasion of the Soviet Union, even though the Germans needed months to assemble their huge invasion force. President Roosevelt was totally surprised by the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor, even though the bulk of the Japanese Navy took part in it. The failures were so fantastic, that spy aficionados had to resort to conspiracy theories to explain them. One such theory says that Stalin deliberately ignored the warnings because he intended to surprise Hitler with an attack of his own. Another theory asserts that Roosevelt practically “invited” the Japanese to attack because he was in need of a pretext to push the US into an unpopular war.

But since then, failures continued to follow each other. All Western spy agencies were totally surprised by the Khomeini revolution in Iran, the results of which are still hitting the headlines today. All of them were totally surprised by the collapse of the Soviet Union, one of the defining events of the 20th century.  They were totally surprised by the fall of the Berlin wall. And all of them provided wrong information about Saddam Hussein’s imaginary nuclear bomb, which served as a pretext for the American invasion of Iraq.

* * *

AH, OUR people say, that’s what’s happening among the Goyim. Not here. Our intelligence community is like no other. The Jewish brain has invented the Mossad, which knows everything and is capable of everything. (Mossad – “institute” – is short for the “Institute for Intelligence and Special Operations”.)

Really? At the outbreak of the 1948 war, all the chiefs of our intelligence community unanimously advised David Ben-Gurion that the armies of the Arab states would not intervene. (Fortunately, Ben-Gurion rejected their assessment.) In May 1967, our entire intelligence community was totally surprised by the concentration of the Egyptian army in Sinai, the step that led to the Six-Day war. (Our intelligence chiefs were convinced that the bulk of the Egyptian army was busy in Yemen, where a civil war was raging.) The Egyptian-Syrian attack on Yom Kippur, 1973, completely surprised our intelligence services, even though heaps of advance warnings were available.

The intelligence agencies were totally surprised by the first intifada, and then again by the second. They were totally surprised by the Khomeini revolution, even though (or because) they were deeply imbedded in the Shah’s regime. They were totally surprised by the Hamas victory in the Palestinian elections.

The list is long and inglorious. But in one field, so they say, our Mossad performs like no other: assassinations. (Sorry, “eliminations”.)

* * *

STEVEN SPIELBERG’S movie “Munich” describes the assassination (“elimination”) of PLO officials after the massacre of the athletes at the Olympic Games. As a masterpiece of kitsch it can be compared only to the movie “Exodus”, based on Leon Uris’ kitschy book.

After the massacre (the main responsibility for which falls on the incompetent and irresponsible Bavarian police), the Mossad, on the orders of Golda Meir, killed seven PLO officials, much to the joy of the revenge-thirsty Israeli public. Almost all the victims were PLO diplomats, the civilian representatives of the organization in European capitals, who had no direct connection with violent operations. Their activities were public, they worked in regular offices and lived with their families in residential buildings. They were static targets – like the ducks in a shooting gallery.

In one of the actions – which resembled the latest affair – a Moroccan waiter was assassinated by mistake in the Norwegian town of Lillehammer. The Mossad mistook him for Ali Hassan Salameh, a senior Fatah officer who served as contact with the CIA. The Mossad agents, including a glamorous blonde (there is always a glamorous blonde) were identified, arrested and sentenced to long prison terms (but released very soon). The real Salameh was “eliminated” later on.

In 1988, five years before the Oslo agreement, Abu Jihad (Khalil al-Wazir), the No. 2 in Fatah, was assassinated in Tunis before the eyes of his wife and children. Had he not been killed, he would probably be serving today as the President of the Palestinian Authority instead of Abu Mazen (Mahmoud Abbas). He would have enjoyed the same kind of standing among his people as did Yasser Arafat – who was, most likely, killed by a poison that leaves no traces.

The fiasco that most resembles the latest action was the Mossad’s attempt on the life of Khalid Mishal, a senior Hamas leader, on orders of Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu. The Mossad agents ambushed him on a main street of Amman and sprayed a nerve toxin in his ear – that was about to kill him without leaving traces. They were caught on the spot. King Hussein, the Israeli government’s main ally in the Arab world, was livid and delivered a furious ultimatum: either Israel would immediately provide the antidote to the poison and save Mishal’s life, or the Mossad agents would be hanged. Netanyahu, as usual, caved in, Mishal was saved and the Israeli government, as a bonus, released Sheik Ahmed Yassin, the main Hamas leader, from prison. He was “eliminated” by a hellfire missile later on.

* * *

DURING THE last weeks, a deluge of words has been poured on the assassination in Dubai of Mahmoud al-Mabhouh, another senior Hamas officer.

Israelis agreed from the first moment that this was a job of the Mossad. What capabilities! What talent! How did they know, long in advance, when the man would go to Dubai, what flight he would take, in what hotel he would stay! What precise planning!

The “military correspondents” and “Arab affairs correspondents” on screen were radiant. Their faces said: oh, oh, oh, if the material were not embargoed…If I could only tell you what I know…I can tell you only that the Mossad has proved again that its long arm can reach anywhere! Live in fear, oh enemies of Israel!

When the problems started to become apparent, and the photos of the assassins appeared on TV all over the world, the enthusiasm cooled, but only slightly. An old and proven Israeli method was brought into play: to take some marginal detail and discuss it passionately, ignoring the main issue. Concentrate on one particular tree and divert attention from the forest.

Really, why did the agents use the names of actual people who live in Israel and have dual nationality? Why, of all possible passports, did they use those of friendly countries? How could they be sure that the owners of these passports would not travel abroad at the critical time?

Moreover, were they not aware that Dubai was full of cameras that record every movement? Did they not foresee that the local police would produce films of the assassination in almost all its details?

But this did not arouse too much excitement in Israel. Everybody understood that the British and the Irish were obliged, pro forma, to protest, but that this was nothing but going through the motions. Behind the scenes, there are intimate connections between the Mossad and the other intelligence agencies. After some weeks, everything will be forgotten. That’s how it worked in Norway after Lillehammer, that’s how it worked in Jordan after the Mishal affair. They will protest, rebuke, and that’s that. So what is the problem?

* * *

THE PROBLEM is that the Mossad in Israel acts like an independent fiefdom that ignores the vital long-term political and strategic interests of Israel, enjoying the automatic backing of an irresponsible prime minister. It is, as the English expression goes, a “loose cannon” – the cannon of a ship of yore which has broken free of its mountings and is rolling around the deck, crushing to death any unfortunate sailor who happens to get in its way.

From the strategic point of view, the Dubai operation causes heavy damage to the government’s policy, which defines Iran’s putative nuclear bomb as an existential threat to Israel. The campaign against Iran helps it to divert the world’s attention from the ongoing occupation and settlement, and induces the US, Europe and other countries to dance to its tune.

Barack Obama is in the process of trying to set up a world-wide coalition for imposing “debilitating sanctions” on Iran. The Israeli government serves him – willingly – as a growling dog. He tells the Iranians: The Israelis are crazy. They may attack you at any moment. I am restraining them with great difficulty. But if you don’t do what I tell you, I shall let go of the leash and may Allah have mercy on your soul!

Dubai, a Gulf country facing Iran, is an important component of this coalition. It is an ally of Israel, much like Egypt and Jordan. And here comes the same Israeli government and embarrasses it, humiliates it, arousing among the Arab masses the suspicion that Dubai is collaborating with the Mossad.

In the past we have embarrassed Norway, then we infuriated Jordan, now we humiliate Dubai. Is that wise?  Ask Meir Dagan, who Netanyahu has just granted an almost unprecedented eighth year in office as chief of the Mossad.

* * *

PERHAPS THE impact of the operation on Israel standing in the world is even more significant.

Once upon a time it was possible to belittle this aspect. Let the Goyim say what they want. But since the Molten Lead operation, Israel has become more conscious of its far-reaching implications. The verdict of Judge Goldstone, the echoes of the antics of Avigdor Lieberman, the growing world-wide campaign for boycotting Israel – all these tend to suggest that Thomas Jefferson was not talking through his hat when he said that no nation can afford to ignore the opinion of mankind.

The Dubai affair is reinforcing the image of Israel as a bully state, a rogue nation that treats world public opinion with contempt, a country that conducts gang warfare, that sends mafia-like death squads abroad, a pariah nation to be avoided by right-minded people.

Was this worthwhile?

REF: Counterpunch

Uri Avnery is an Israeli writer and peace activist with Gush Shalom. He is a contributor to CounterPunch’s book The Politics of Anti-Semitism.

Zionism Laid Bare

The essential point of M. Shahid Alam’s book, Israeli Exceptionalism: The Destabilizing Logic of Zionism, comes clear upon opening the book to the inscription in the frontispiece.  From the Persian poet and philosopher Rumi, the quote reads, “You have the light, but you have no humanity.  Seek humanity, for that is the goal.” Alam, professor of economics at Northeastern University in Boston and a CounterPunch contributor, follows this with an explicit statement of his aims in the first paragraph of the preface.  Asking and answering the obvious question, “Why is an economist writing a book on the geopolitics of Zionism?” he says that he “could have written a book about the economics of Zionism, the Israeli economy, or the economy of the West Bank and Gaza, but how would any of that have helped me to understand the cold logic and the deep passions that have driven Zionism?”

Until recent years, the notion that Zionism was a benign, indeed a humanitarian, political movement designed for the noble purpose of creating a homeland and refuge for the world’s stateless, persecuted Jews was a virtually universal assumption.  In the last few years, particularly since the start of the al-Aqsa intifada in 2000, as Israel’s harsh oppression of the Palestinians has become more widely known, a great many Israelis and friends of Israel have begun to distance themselves from and criticize Israel’s occupation policies, but they remain strong Zionists and have been at pains to propound the view that Zionism began well and has only lately been corrupted by the occupation. Alam demonstrates clearly, through voluminous evidence and a carefully argued analysis, that Zionism was never benign, never good—that from the very beginning, it operated according to a “cold logic” and, per Rumi, had “no humanity.”  Except perhaps for Jews, which is where Israel’s and Zionism’s exceptionalism comes in.

Alam argues convincingly that Zionism was a coldly cynical movement from its beginnings in the nineteenth century.  Not only did the founders of Zionism know that the land on which they set their sights was not an empty land, but they set out specifically to establish an “exclusionary colonialism” that had no room for the Palestinians who lived there or for any non-Jews, and they did this in ways that justified, and induced the West to accept, the displacement of the Palestinian population that stood in their way.  With a simple wisdom that still escapes most analysts of Israel and Zionism, Alam writes that a “homeless nationalism,” as Zionism was for more than half a century until the state of Israel was established in 1948, “of necessity is a charter for conquest and—if it is exclusionary—for ethnic cleansing.”

How has Zionism been able to put itself forward as exceptional and get away with it, winning Western support for the establishment of an exclusionary state and in the process for the deliberate dispossession of the native population? Alam lays out three principal ways by which Zionism has framed its claims of exceptionalism in order to justify itself and gain world, particularly Western, support.  First, the Jewish assumption of chosenness rests on the notion that Jews have a divine right to the land, a mandate granted by God to the Jewish people and only to them.  This divine election gives the homeless, long-persecuted Jews the historical and legal basis by which to nullify the rights of Palestinians not so divinely mandated and ultimately to expel them from the land.  Second, Israel’s often remarkable achievements in state-building have won Western support and provided a further justification for the displacement of “inferior” Palestinians by “superior” Jews.  Finally, Zionism has put Jews forward as having a uniquely tragic history and as a uniquely vulnerable country, giving Israel a special rationale for protecting itself against supposedly unique threats to its existence and in consequence for ignoring the dictates of international law.  Against the Jews’ tragedy, whatever pain Palestinians may feel at being displaced appears minor.

The ethnic cleansing of the Palestinians that came as the result of Zionism’s need for an exclusivist homeland was no unfortunate consequence, and indeed had long been foreseen by Zionist thinkers and the Western leaders who supported them.  Alam quotes early Zionists, including Theodore Herzl, who talked repeatedly of persuading the Palestinians “to trek,” or “fold their tents,” or “silently steal away.”  In later years, the Zionists spoke of forcible “transfer” of the Palestinians. In the 1930s, David Ben-Gurion expressed his strong support for compulsory transfer, crowing that “Jewish power” was growing to the point that the Jewish community in Palestine would soon be strong enough to carry out ethnic cleansing on a large scale (as it ultimately did).  In fact, the Zionists knew from the start that there would be no persuading the Palestinians simply to leave voluntarily and that violent conquest would be necessary to implant the Zionist state.

The British knew this as well.  Zionist supporter Winston Churchill wrote as early as 1919 that the Zionists “take it for granted that the local population will be cleared out to suit their convenience.” In a blunt affirmation of the calculated nature of Zionist plans and Western support for them, British Foreign Secretary Arthur Balfour, like Churchill another early supporter and also author of the 1917 Balfour Declaration, which promised British support for the establishment of a Jewish homeland in Palestine, wrote that Zionism “is rooted in age-long traditions, in present needs, in future hopes, of far profounder import than the desires and prejudices of the 700,000 Arabs who now inhabit that ancient land.”  It would be hard to find a more blatant one-sided falsity.

Alam traces in detail the progression of Zionist planning, beginning with the deliberate creation in the nineteenth century of an ethnic identity for Jews who shared only a religion and had none of the attributes of nationhood—neither a land, nor a common language or culture, nor arguably a common gene pool. Here Alam covers briefly the ground trod in detail by Israeli historian Shlomo Sand, whose book The Invention of the Jewish People, appearing in English just months before Alam’s book, shattered the myths surrounding Zionism’s claim to nationhood and to an exclusive right to Palestine.  But Alam goes further, describing the Zionist campaign to create a surrogate “mother country” that, in the absence of a Jewish nation, would sponsor the Zionists’ colonization of Palestine and support its national project.  Having gained British support for its enterprise, Zionism then set about building a rationale for displacing the Palestinian Arabs who were native to Palestine (who, incidentally, did indeed possess the attributes of a nation but lay in the path of a growing Jewish, Western-supported military machine).  Zionist propaganda then and later deliberately spread the notion that Palestinians were not “a people,” had no attachment to the land and no national aspirations, and in the face of the Jews’ supposedly divine mandate, of Israel’s “miraculous” accomplishments, and of the Jews’ monumental suffering in the Holocaust, the dispossession of the Palestinians was made to appear to a disinterested West as nothing more than a minor misfortune.

Addressing what he calls the “destabilizing logic” of Zionism, Alam builds the argument that Zionism thrives on, and indeed can survive only in the midst of, conflict. In the first instance, Alam shows, Zionism actually embraced the European anti-Semitic charge that Jews were an alien people.  This was the natural result of promoting the idea that Jews actually belonged in Palestine in a nation of their own, and in addition, spreading fear of anti-Semitism proved to be an effective way to attract Jews not swayed by the arguments of Zionism (who made up the majority of Jews in the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries) to the Zionist cause.  Early Zionist leaders talked frankly of anti-Semitism as a means of teaching many educated and assimilated Jews “the way back to their people” and of forcing an allegiance to Zionism.  Anti-Semitism remains in many ways the cement that holds Zionism together, keeping both Israeli Jews and diaspora Jews in thrall to Israel as their supposedly only salvation from another Holocaust.

In the same vein, Alam contends, Zionists realized that in order to succeed in their colonial enterprise and maintain the support of the West, they would have to create an adversary common to both the West and the Jews.  Only a Jewish state waging wars in the Middle East could “energize the West’s crusader mentality, its evangelical zeal, its dreams of end times, its imperial ambitions.” Arabs were the initial and enduring enemy, and Zionists and Israel have continued to provoke Arab antagonism and direct it toward radicalism, to steer Arab anger against the United States, to provoke the Arabs into wars against Israel, and to manufacture stories of virulent Arab anti-Semitism—all specifically in order to sustain Jewish and Western solidarity with Israel.  More recently, Islam itself has become the common enemy, an adversary fashioned so that what Alam calls the “Jewish-Gentile partnership” can be justified and intensified.  Focusing on Arab and Muslim hostility, always portrayed as motivated by irrational hatred rather than by opposition to Israeli and U.S. policies, allows Zionists to divert attention from their own expropriation of Palestinian land and dispossession of Palestinians and allows them to characterize Israeli actions as self-defense against anti-Semitic Arab and Muslim resistance.

Alam treats the Zionist/Israel lobby as a vital cog in the machine that built and sustains the Jewish state.  Indeed, Theodore Herzl was the original Zionist lobbyist.  During the eight years between the launch of the Zionist movement at Basel in 1897 and his death, Herzl had meetings with a remarkable array of power brokers in Europe and the Middle East, including the Ottoman sultan, Kaiser Wilhelm II, King Victor Emanuel III of Italy, Pope Pius X, the noted British imperialist Lord Cromer and the British colonial secretary of the day, and the Russian ministers of interior and finance, as well as a long list of dukes, ambassadors, and lesser ministers.  One historian used the term “miraculous” to describe Herzl’s ability to secure audiences with the powerful who could help Zionism.

Zionist lobbyists continued to work as assiduously, with results as “miraculous,” throughout the twentieth century, gaining influence over civil society and ultimately over policymakers and, most importantly, shaping the public discourse that determines all thinking about Israel and its neighbors.  As Alam notes, “since their earliest days, the Zionists have created the organizations, allies, networks, and ideas that would translate into media, congressional, and presidential support for the Zionist project.”  An increasing proportion of the activists who lead major elements of civil society, such as the labor and civil rights movements, are Jews, and these movements have as a natural consequence come to embrace Zionist aims.  Christian fundamentalists, who in the last few decades have provided massive support to Israel and its expansionist policies, grew in the first instance because they were “energized by every Zionist success on the ground” and have continued to expand with a considerable lobbying push from the Zionists.

Alam’s conclusion—a direct argument against those who contend that the lobby has only limited influence: “It makes little sense,” in view of the pervasiveness of Zionist influence over civil society and political discourse, “to maintain that the pro-Israeli positions of mainstream American organizations . . . emerged independently of the activism of the American Jewish community.”  In its early days, Zionism grew only because Herzl and his colleagues employed heavy lobbying in the European centers of power; Jewish dispersion across the Western world—and Jewish influence in the economies, the film industries, the media, and academia in key Western countries—are what enabled the Zionist movement to survive and thrive in the dark years of the early twentieth century; and Zionist lobbying and molding of public discourse are what has maintained Israel’s favored place in the hearts and minds of Americans and the policy councils of America’s politicians.

This is a critically important book.  It enhances and expands on the groundbreaking message of Shlomo Sand’s work.  If Sand shows that Jews were not “a people” until Zionism created them as such, Alam shows this also and goes well beyond to show how Zionism and its manufactured “nation” went about dispossessing and replacing the Palestinians and winning all-important Western support for Israel and its now 60-year-old “exclusionary colonialism.”

Ref: counterpunch

Kathleen Christison is the author of Perceptions of Palestine and the Wound of Dispossession and co-author, with Bill Christison, of Palestine in Pieces: Graphic Perspectives on the Israeli Occupation, published last summer by Pluto Press.  She can be reached at kb.christison@earthlink.net.

How we became a night unto the nations (Israelis crying for the imaginary dream that never was true)

The first prime minister, David Ben-Gurion, is the one who said Israel should be a light unto the nations. The great powers, who didn’t lift a finger to destroy the death camps during World War II, were not only sympathetic to Israel’s establishment, but admired its valor in repulsing the Arab states’ onslaught.

Renowned foreign journalists came here and wrote glowing reports about this war of David against Goliath, about the young immigrants who were taken from the boat straight to the battlefield, about the Jewish volunteers who arrived to help establish this state that was fighting for its life. They also described the hatred of the Arabs, who in their stupidity refused to reach peace agreements with Israel. Because of this, the Rhodes armistice agreements awarded Israel far more territory than the UN did in its resolution of November 29, 1947.

The second wave of admiration for Israel stemmed from the speed with which it defeated the Arab armies in the 1967 war. The Six-Day War is taught in military academies worldwide, and the international media once again described the campaign as a war of David against Goliath. Israel proved that it was in no danger of being destroyed, desite what its fund-raisers in America liked to claim.

But admiration for Israel’s strength gradually turned into resentment over the side effects of the prolonged occupation. Don’t speak Hebrew in public places overseas, tourists to Europe are warned today. Indeed, the days when someone could ask what language we were speaking and we would answer “Hebrew” with pride are long gone.

Israel’s military might and its unrestrained use of this might have turned the David-versus-Goliath analogy into an asset for the Palestinians. Israel is no longer described as at risk of being destroyed, but as a strong country, aggressive and domineering, as Charles de Gaulle once said. President Shimon Peres was recently greeted by angry demonstrations in Argentina and Brazil. Many countries boycott Israeli products, and Israeli lecturers on college campuses throughout the West endure catcalls. During Ehud Olmert’s recent lecture tour of the United States, he was greeted almost everywhere he went with cries such as “child killers!”

Of greatest concern is what is happening on American campuses, which are slowly becoming pro-Palestinian and anti-Israeli. That is dangerous because this is where America’s future leaders are bred. But our opponents are not motivated by anti-Semitism, as our political hacks like to claim. If patriotism is the last refuge of the scoundrel, then anti-Semitism is the last refuge of the occupier.

Control over the territories is also taking a heavy toll on Israelis’ conduct. On one hand, there is the increasingly brutal treatment of the Palestinians; on the other, there are growing doubts among our soldiers about whether to carry out missions to evacuate settlers. Today, no one is interested in how we became embroiled in the 1967 war, how we survived the Yom Kippur War by the skin of our teeth or how, despite peace with Egypt and Jordan, Palestinian terror continued, producing intifada after intifada.

From a light unto the nations, Israel has become a maligned and ostracized nation. The UN Security Council doesn’t condemn Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad for announcing his intention to destroy Israel, but Israel, which has been fighting for its life for six decades, has become the most denounced and criticized country on the face of the globe.

Ever since Operation Cast Lead in Gaza, officers in the Israel Defense Forces have been at risk every time they land in an international airport.

Former defense minister Moshe Arens said last week that while a civilian defense minister is preferable to a military one, that doesn’t mean every idiot is capable of being defense minister. Though Arens named no names, Amir Peretz took offense. But on the other hand, a former IDF chief of staff such as the current defense minister, who views military overreaction as the solution to the state’s problems, is not necessarily the ideal man for the job, either. It is not for nothing that the United States bars retired senior generals and admirals from serving as secretary of defense for 10 years after leaving the service.

Before sticking our noses into the problem of Iran’s nuclear program, which is a source of international concern, it would be preferable for our government to discuss how we got to where we are – no longer a light unto the nations – and what needs to be done to stop the freefall in our international image before it’s too late.

Ref: Haaretz

VIDEO: Swedish Journalist on Israeli organ harvesting + Our Sons Plundered for Their Organs

Palestinian Mothers interview of the Swedish Journalist Donald Bostrom about the Israeli organ harvesting, threats on his life, and ethics of journalism and democracy


Our Sons Plundered for Their Organs
You could call me a ‘matchmaker,’ said Levy Izhak Rosenbaum, from Brooklyn, USA, in a secret recording with an FBI-agent whom he believed to be a client. Ten days later, at the end of July this year, Rosenbaum was arrested and a vast, Sopranos-like, imbroglio of money-laundering and illegal organ-trade was revealed. Rosenbaum’s matchmaking had nothing to do with romance. It was all about buying and selling kidneys from Israel on the black market. Rosenbaum says that he buys the kidneys for $10,000, from poor people. He then proceeds to sell the organs to desperate patients in the States for $160,000. The accusations have shaken the American transplantation business. If they are true it means that organ trafficking is documented for the first time in the US, experts tell the New Jersey Real-Time News.

On the question of how many organs he has sold Rosenbaum replies: “Quite a lot. And I have never failed,” he boasts. The business has been running for quite some time. Francis Delmonici, professor of transplant surgery at Harvard and member of the National Kidney Foundation’s Board of Directors, tells the same newspaper that organ-trafficking, similar to the one reported from Israel, is carried out in other places of the world as well. 5–6,000 operations a year, about ten per cent of the world’s kidney transplants are carried out illegally, according to Delmonici.

Countries suspected of these activities are Pakistan, the Philippines and China, where the organs are allegedly taken from executed prisoners. But Palestinians also harbor strong suspicions against Israel for seizing young men and having them serve as the country’s organ reserve – a very serious accusation, with enough question marks to motivate the International Court of Justice (ICJ) to start an investigation about possible war crimes.

Israel has repeatedly been under fire for its unethical ways of dealing with organs and transplants. France was among the countries that ceased organ collaboration with Israel in the nineties. Jerusalem Post wrote that “the rest of the European countries are expected to follow France’s example shortly.”

Half of the kidneys transplanted to Israelis since the beginning of the 2000s have been bought illegally from Turkey, Eastern Europe or Latin America. Israeli health authorities have full knowledge of this business but do nothing to stop it. At a conference in 2003 it was shown that Israel is the only western country with a medical profession that doesn’t condemn the illegal organ trade. The country takes no legal measures against doctors participating in the illegal business – on the contrary, chief medical officers of Israel’s big hospitals are involved in most of the illegal transplants, according to Dagens Nyheter (December 5, 2003).

In the summer of 1992, Ehud Olmert, then minister of health, tried to address the issue of organ shortage by launching a big campaign aimed at having the Israeli public register for post mortem organ donation. Half a million pamphlets were spread in local newspapers. Ehud Olmert himself was the first person to sign up. A couple of weeks later the Jerusalem Post reported that the campaign was a success. No fewer than 35,000 people had signed up. Prior to the campaign it would have been 500 in a normal month. In the same article, however, Judy Siegel, the reporter, wrote that the gap between supply and demand was still large. 500 people were in line for a kidney transplant, but only 124 transplants could be performed. Of 45 people in need of a new liver, only three could be operated on in Israel.

While the campaign was running, young Palestinian men started to disappear from villages in the West Bank and Gaza. After five days Israeli soldiers would bring them back dead, with their bodies ripped open.

Talk of the bodies terrified the population of the occupied territories. There were rumors of a dramatic increase of young men disappearing, with ensuing nightly funerals of autopsied bodies.

I was in the area at the time, working on a book. On several occasions I was approached by UN staff concerned about the developments. The persons contacting me said that organ theft definitely occurred but that they were prevented from doing anything about it. On an assignment from a broadcasting network I then travelled around interviewing a great number of Palestinian families in the West Bank and Gaza – meeting parents who told of how their sons had been deprived of organs before being killed. One example that I encountered on this eerie trip was the young stone-thrower Bilal Achmed Ghanan.

It was close to midnight when the motor roar from an Israeli military column sounded from the outskirts of Imatin, a small village in the northern parts of the West Bank. The two thousand inhabitants were awake. They were still, waiting, like silent shadows in the dark, some lying upon roofs, others hiding behind curtains, walls, or trees that provided protection during the curfew but still offered a full view toward what would become the grave for the first martyr of the village. The military had interrupted the electricity and the area was now a closed-off military zone – not even a cat could move outdoors without risking its life. The overpowering silence of the dark night was only interrupted by quiet sobbing. I don’t remember if our shivering was due to the cold or to the tension. Five days earlier, on May 13, 1992, an Israeli special force had used the village’s carpentry workshop for an ambush. The person they were assigned to put out of action was Bilal Achmed Ghanan, one of the stone-throwing Palestinian youngsters who made life difficult for the Israeli soldiers.

As one of the leading stone-throwers Bilal Ghanan had been wanted by the military for a couple of years. Together with other stone-throwing boys he hid in the Nablus mountains, with no roof over his head. Getting caught meant torture and death for these boys – they had to stay in the mountains at all costs.

On May 13 Bilal made an exception, when for some reason, he walked unprotected past the carpentry workshop. Not even Talal, his older brother, knows why he took this risk. Maybe the boys were out of food and needed to restock.

Everything went according to plan for the Israeli special force. The soldiers stubbed their cigarettes, put away their cans of Coca-Cola, and calmly aimed through the broken window. When Bilal was close enough they needed only to pull the triggers. The first shot hit him in the chest. According to villagers who witnessed the incident he was subsequently shot with one bullet in each leg. Two soldiers then ran down from the carpentry workshop and shot Bilal once in the stomach. Finally, they grabbed him by his feet and dragged him up the twenty stone steps of the workshop stair. Villagers say that people from both the UN and the Red Crescent were close by, heard the discharge and came to look for wounded people in need of care. Some arguing took place as to who should take care of the victim. Discussions ended with Israeli soldiers loading the badly wounded Bilal in a jeep and driving him to the outskirts of the village, where a military helicopter waited. The boy was flown to a destination unknown to his family. Five days later he came back, dead and wrapped in green hospital fabric.

A villager recognized Captain Yahya, the leader of the military column who had transported Bilal from the postmortem center Abu Kabir, outside of Tel Aviv, to the place for his final rest. “Captain Yahya is the worst of them all,” the villager whispered in my ear. After Yahya had unloaded the body and changed the green fabric for a light cotton one, some male relatives of the victim were chosen by the soldiers to do the job of digging and mixing cement.

Together with the sharp noises from the shovels we could hear laughter from the soldiers who, as they waited to go home, exchanged some jokes. As Bilal was put in the grave his chest was uncovered. Suddenly it became clear to the few people present just what kind of abuse the boy had been exposed to. Bilal was not by far the first young Palestinian to be buried with a slit from his abdomen up to his chin.

The families in the West Bank and in Gaza felt that they knew exactly what had happened: “Our sons are used as involuntary organ donors,” relatives of Khaled from Nablus told me, as did the mother of Raed from Jenin and the uncles of Machmod and Nafes from Gaza, who had all disappeared for a number of days only to return at night, dead and autopsied.

“Why are they keeping the bodies for up to five days before they let us bury them? What happened to the bodies during that time? Why are they performing autopsy, against our will, when the cause of death is obvious? Why are the bodies returned at night? Why is it done with a military escort? Why is the area closed off during the funeral? Why is the electricity interrupted?” Nafe’s uncle was upset and he had a lot of questions.

The relatives of the dead Palestinians no longer harbored any doubts as to the reasons for the killings, but the spokesperson for the Israeli army claimed that the allegations of organ theft were lies. All the Palestinian victims go through autopsy on a routine basis, he said. Bilal Achmed Ghanem was one of 133 Palestinians killed in various ways that year. According to the Palestinian statistics the causes of death were: shot in the street, explosion, tear gas, deliberately run over, hanged in prison, shot in school, killed at home etcetera. The 133 people killed were between four months to 88 years old. Only half of them, 69 victims, went through postmortem examination. The routine autopsy of killed Palestinians –  of which the army spokesperson was talking – has no bearing on the reality in the occupied territories. The questions remain.

We know that Israel has a great need for organs, that there is a vast and illegal trade of organs which has been running for many years now, that the authorities are aware of it and that doctors in managing positions at the big hospitals participate, as well as civil servants at various levels. We also know that young Palestinian men disappeared, that they were brought back after five days, at night, under tremendous secrecy, stitched back together after having been cut from abdomen to chin.

It’s time to bring clarity to this macabre business, to shed light on what is going on and what has taken place in the territories occupied by Israel since the Intifada began.

– Donald Boström is a Swedish photojournalist, graphic artist and writer. He is a contributor to the Social-democratic evening paper Aftonbladet. He contributed this article (originally published in Swedish, August 17th, in Alfonbladet) to PalestineChronicle.com.

ISRAELI ORGAN TRAFFICKING: Two Haifa men sentenced to jail for organ trafficking

Prof. Yehuda Hiss, the director of the Institute of Forensic Medicine at Abu Kabir was under police investigation in 2002 for removing organs from deceased persons without familial consent. He was dismissed by the Health Ministry for a while until Hiss agreed to a plea bargain. He admitted to being involved in the removal of body parts from 125 bodies and was reprimanded for this.


T
he stories about Palestinian Intifada dead arriving home with organs removed began soon after the outbreak of the Intifada in 1987. Palestinian pathologist Dr Hatem Abu Ghazaleh said there were many credible reports about this.
Roughly at the same time there was a flurry of news about successful transplants. It scared many people. And now we have the revelations about an organ traficking network with brokers in the USA, Turkey, Brazil and South Africa. The don of the whole operation is one Ilan Peri in Israel. Whether it is a matter of perception or fact, the question of organ theft should be addressed.

Ref: Haaretz comment

Two Haifa men sentenced to jail for organ trafficking

In a precedent-setting ruling yesterday the Haifa District Court yesterday sentenced two Haifa men to jail for trafficking in humans for the purpose of harvesting their organs.

John Allan (formerly Mohammad Gheit), 59, was sentenced to four years in jail with a three-year suspended sentence. Allan was also ordered to pay each of his six victims NIS 15,000. Hassan Zakhalka, 32, was sentenced to 20 months in prison and 12 months suspended sentence for aiding and abetting human trafficking for the harvest of organs.
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This is the first time an Israeli court has issued a conviction for this offense, based on a law passed at the end of last year.

The pair confessed to the charges against them in a plea bargain with the prosecution.

Allan and Zakhalka admitted that at the end of 2006, they persuaded Arabs from the Galilee and central Israel who were developmentally challenged or mentally ill to agree to have a kidney removed for payment. They located their victims by placing ads in the newspaper offering money for organ donation. According to the indictment, the pair gave false information to the donors, and also pressured and threatened them to give up their kidney. After the surgery, Allan and Zakhalka did not pay the donors as promised.

One of the victims was an illiterate 32-year-old single mother from an Arab village in central Israel. The pair told her she would undergo a simple operation, and she would be back on her feet in two days. At one point, the woman changed her mind, and in response Allan and Zakhalka threatened to report her to the police, telling her it was a crime to agree to donate a kidney. Like the other victims, the woman was flown to Ukraine where she underwent the surgery. When she returned home, the victims refused to pay her the $7,000 they had promised her.

Allan and Zakhalka were part of a criminal ring that included an Israeli surgeon, Dr. Michael Zis, who also worked at Assaf Harofeh Medical Center. According to the indictment, Zis sold the kidneys he harvested for between $125,000 and $135,000, of which Allan received $10,000 dollars. The State Prosecutor’s Office is preparing an extradition order against Zis, who is being held in prison in Ukraine.

The conviction of Allan and Zakhalka was made possible by an amendment to the criminal code that was passed in October 2006, which added a number of clauses prohibiting trafficking in humans for the purpose of harvesting organs. Judges Josef Elron, Ron Sokol and Menahem Raniel decided to accept the plea bargain because they said clear legal interpretation had not yet been formulated with regard to the crime of human trafficking for the purpose of harvesting organs, Lacking such clear interpretation of the clause, they said, “the parties might be dragged into presenting much complex evidence.”

Ref. Haaretz

Also read… Israel-Ukraine Organ Trafficking Ring, Romania probes Israeli adoption agency link in organ trafficking and Israeli suspected of organ trafficking

Yes, enough is enough – unite against ISRAEL- Global INTIFADA!!!

res

PARIS

TEL AVIV

LONDON

STOCKHOLM

TURKEY

WORLD CAPITALS – From Egypt to Iraq, thousands of demonstrators took to the streets across the Arab world on Sunday to show solidarity with their fellow brethren and protest against Israel’s assault on the impoverished civilians of Gaza.

The protests took place as Israel launched more air strikes on the strip and the death toll reached 300 in the worst attacks in 60 years of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.

Palestinians in Dubai In the United Arab Emirates, where demonstrations are restricted, hundreds of Palestinian residents in Dubai demonstrated inside their consulate.

Dubai police banned protesters from demonstrating outside the consulate premises but nevertheless the group called upon Arab countries to help end the Israeli onslaught on Gaza and support its people.

“We don’t want slogans or conferences, we want action,” protesters shouted, while some carried banners saying: “Save Gaza” and “Stop the killing.”

Other demonstrators urged President Hosni Mubarak to open Egypt’s borders with the besieged territory controlled by the Islamist Hamas movement.

“Mubarak, open a passage for Hamas,” they shouted.

Egypt

In Egypt, more than 50,000 people took to the streets of a dozen cities. The largest protest was 8,000 people on the streets of Assiut, a city in southern Egypt of 400,000, a security official said, with another 3,000 gathering in Minya, south of Cairo.

A security official said 4,000 people took part in another pro-Gaza demonstration in the Mediterranean port city of Alexandria, the security official said.

“Where is the Arab army?” some demonstrators shouted in Minya, calling for the Israeli embassy in Cairo to be shut down as other demonstrators burned the Israeli flag.

Eight thousand people demonstrated at Cairo University, with another 5,000 involved in another demonstration at Ein Shams University, outside the capital.

Students and passersby then swelled the demonstrations in a dozen Egyptian cities, the official said, with a rough tally of those involved reaching 55,000 people.

Morocco

Thousands of people marched in the Moroccan capital and called for revenge. A crowd estimated at 3,000 carried signs denouncing the Israeli aggressors and chanted that “with our soul, with our blood, we will sacrifice for you, Gaza!”

Several Islamist organizations and political parties took part in the protest, including the opposition Justice and Development party (PJD).

PJD party chief Abdelillah Benkirane criticised in particular the reticence of Arab states.

“Where are they? Will they let people go to support the Palestinians?” he said.

The Moroccan government condemned the Israeli strikes and called for “an immediate end to hostilities” and for talks between the two sides, the foreign ministry said in a statement.

Yemen

Tens of thousands of Yemenis protested in Sanaa as crowds filled a sports stadium in the north of the city and many more people thronged the surrounding area.

The demonstration was backed by the ruling party, opposition groups and other organizations.

“How long will the silence last? Arabs wake up!” read one banner brandished by demonstrators, who also chanted anti-Israeli slogans.

Iraq

In the war-torn Arab nation of Iraq, protestors burned Israeli flags and fired AK-47s into the air, demanding a stronger response from Arab nations to the Israeli assault of Gaza.

A teenage boy was killed in one protest in the volatile northern city of Mosul when a suicide bomber on a bicycle detonated explosives in a crowd of around 300 protestors.

It was not clear why the bomber would have targeted an anti-Israeli rally. Police said 17 people were wounded in the attack in Mosul.

In Baladiyat, a Baghdad district that is home to many Palestinians given refuge in Iraq under Saddam Hussein, men waved banners and condemned Arab nations for not doing enough to support Palestinians.

“We have been waiting for an action from Arab leaders for almost 60 years,” Jaleel al-Qasus, the Palestinian envoy to Iraq, said during the protest of several hundred people.

“Our efforts have been in vain.”

Several thousand people protested in the city of Samarra, north of Baghdad, and a few hundred took to the streets in Fallujah.

“Arab silence is behind the bombings,” one banner read.

Iraq hosted some 30,000 Palestinian refugees before the U.S.-led invasion of Iraq in 2003. Many of them found themselves victim of attacks or threats once the war began, partly because they were seen as clients of the deposed leader Saddam.

Syria

Syria said it would suspend peace talks with Israel as thousands of people marched in the capital of Damascus, burning Israeli and American flags.

In Yussef al-Azmeh square protesters waved flags in Palestinian and Syrian colors as well as the green flags of the Hamas movement which controls the Gaza strip and the yellow flags of the Lebanese Shiite group Hezbollah.

Other demonstrators carried pictures of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad.

A major security operation was put in place around the U.S. embassy, around two kilometers (1.5 miles) from the scene of the protest, an AFP correspondent said.

Jordan

Israeli flags were also burned in the Jordanian capital Amman, where hundreds of people led by Islamist MPs gathered to demand the closure of the Israeli embassy.

With Egypt, Jordan is one of only two Arab governments to have signed peace treaties with Israel.

The demonstrators in Amman rallied outside the Egyptian embassy, angry at Cairo’s refusal to open its border with Gaza to deliveries of basic supplies to the aid-dependent territory or to civilians wishing to flee.

“The Egyptian regime has taken the decision to be part of a conspiracy against Gaza,” the secretary general of Jordan’s Islamic Action Front, Zaki Beni Rsheid, told the crowd.

In Beirut, the Egyptian embassy was attacked by stone-throwing demonstrators and police used tear-gas to disperse the crowd.

Lebanon

Thousands of people demonstrated in Beirut and angry demonstrators called on Egypt to open Rafah crossing, and voiced anger towards Arab silence over the “massacres in Gaza.”

Most of the demonstrators are Palestinians who get out of their refugee camps move in areas under Hezbollah control.

The Shiite resistance group Hezbollah called for prompt global and U.N. action against Israel and called on the Muslim world to “stand against Israeli barbarism to stop the ongoing massacre.”

“What is happening in Gaza Strip is an Israeli war crime and a genocide,” a Hezbollah statement said.

London

British police made three arrests as a demonstration outside the Israeli embassy in London over the bombardment of the Gaza Strip became increasingly heated.

Traffic in the up-scale central London district of Kensington where the embassy is located was brought to a halt by around 700 protesters on both sides.

Those opposed to the Israeli action waved Palestinian flags and placards, shouting in unison: “Five, six, seven, eight — Israel is a terror state!”

At one point, barriers containing the demonstrators were torn down and riot police were deployed to restore order — with several protesters forcibly removed.

“Yesterday was the bloodiest day in my homeland’s history,” said 68-year-old Gamal Hamed, whose 23-year-old son lives in Gaza.

“We will do what we can to make the world take notice,” he said.

“I am delighted by the number of people who have pledged their support today — we are all worried about where the conflict goes from here.”

France and Spain

Hundreds of protesters took to the streets of Paris slammed Israel’s “terrorist” and “inhuman” bombardment of Gaza and called for a rapid end to the conflict.

“What’s happening is inhuman. We don’t want any more deaths on either side, but the Israeli reaction is disproportionate,” said one protester, who gave his name as Jamel and said he was an Algerian national living in France.

He was demonstrating along with about 200 others at the foot of the landmark Arc de Triomphe at the top of the chic Champs Elysees avenue.

“Gaza –the New Shoah,” (the Jewish term for the Holocaust), read one banner.

“We are all Palestinians,” was one of the slogans chanted by the crowd, as well as “Sadists, fascists, racists, it’s you (the Israelis) who are the terrorists.”

“Israel terrorist, Sarkozy complicit,” was another slogan, referring to the French President Nicolas Sarkozy, chanted by the crowd.

Hundreds of people also demonstrated outside the Israeli embassy in Madrid to condemn the raids.

Protesters held up placards saying “Israel terrorist”, “Stop state terrorism” and “No to the Palestinian holocaust.”

The head of the United Left coalition, Cayo Lara, who attended the rally, said that “Israel’s action was unjustified from all points of view.”

Ref: Palestine Chronicle