A sure sign of desperation among the Zionist tribalists is their hysterical attack on any decision maker in government who expresses any concern for the cause of the Palestinians. The Israeli government and the trolls they hire have gone batshit crazy as they realise they have lost the moral argument on Palestine.They are busy smearing anybody who dares show any solidarity with the indigenous victims of Israel. Their shocking attack on British Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn was unconscionable, and particularly the shocking behaviour of the chief rabbi of Britain, Ephraim Mirvis.
As only he can Gideon Levy, reminded the world what happens when a rabbi loses sight of Judaic universal values and becomes a tribalist perpetrates. who places a political movement, Zionism at the heart of his ministry. His column of Nov.28, 2019 once again shows us that “the Spirit blows where it wills” and the Jewish prophetic, the greatest gift of Judaism most often moves beyond the confines of court rabbis like Mervis and finds voice where it always does on the margins.Levy below ============================================================
Corbyn is not an anti-Semite. His real sin is to fight against injustice in the world, including the version Israel perpetrates.
The Jewish establishment in Britain and the Israeli propaganda machine have taken out a contract on the leader of the British Labour Party, Jeremy Corbyn. The contract was taken out a long time ago, and it was clear that the closer Corbyn came to being elected prime minister, the harsher the conflict would get.
On Tuesday it reached its climax in an article by the chief rabbi of Britain, Ephraim Mirvis, in The Times. Mirvis has decided that the anxiety of British Jews over Corbyn is justified and he is not fit to be prime minister. He called on Jews not to vote for Labour in the election on December 9
Born in South Africa and a graduate of Har Etzion Yeshiva in the settlement of Alon Shvut, Mirvis is the voice of British Jewry. In Capetown, Johannesburg and Har Etzion, he should have learned what apartheid was and why one should fight it. His parents did so, but one doubts that he learned the moral lesson from the regions of disenfranchisement in which he lived in South Africa and the West Bank.
As opposed to the horrid Corbyn, Mirvis sees nothing wrong with the continued occupation; he does not identify with the struggle for Palestinian freedom and he doesn’t sense the similarity between the South Africa of his childhood, Har Etzion of his youth and Israel of 2019. That is the real reason that he rejects Corbyn. The Jews of Britain also want a prime minister who supports Israel – that is, supports the occupation. A prime minister who is critical of Israel is to them an exemplar of the new anti-Semitism.
Corbyn is not an anti-Semite. He never was. His real sin is his staunch position against injustice in the world, including the version Israel perpetrates. Today this is anti-Semitism. The Hungarian Viktor Orban, the Austrian Freedom Party and the extreme right in Europe are not the danger to Jews. Corbyn is the enemy. The new and efficient strategy of Israel and the Zionist establishment brands every seeker of justice as an anti-Semite, and any criticism of Israel as hatred of Jews. Corbyn is a victim of this strategy, which threatens to paralyze and silence Europe with regard to Israel British Jewry might not be faking its anxiety, but it is certainly magnifying the danger. There is anti-Semitism, though less than what is presented, certainly on the left. About half of British Jews are considering fleeing if Corbyn is elected. Let them flee. The survey that showed this could actually encourage anti-Semitism: Are the Jews of Britain conditionally British? To whom is their loyalty?
The future of all British Jews is much more secure than the future of any Palestinian living under the occupation, and even more secure than that of any Arab living in Israel. Jews are persecuted and are victims of discrimination and racism less so than the Palestinians in the Israel they hold dear. Moreover, Islamophobia in Europe is more common than anti-Semitism, but people talk about it less.
Mirvis presents no evidence of Corbyn’s anti-Semitism. It sufficed for him to note the fact that Corbyn described as “friends” those who “endorse the murder of Jews” – a reference to Corbyn’s comments on Hezbollah and Hamas. Corbyn is indeed a very harsh critic of the occupation, supports the boycott and compares the closure of Gaza with the siege of Stalingrad and Leningrad. These are anti-Israeli positions, but not necessarily anti-Semitic. The Jews of Britain are blurring this difference as are many Jews throughout the world, intentionally. One can (and should) be a harsh critic of Israel without being anti-Semitic.
If the Jews of Britain and their chief rabbi were more honest and courageous, they would ask themselves: Isn’t Israel’s brutal occupation policy the strongest motive for anti-Semitism today? There is anti-Semitism, it must be fought, but it must also be recognized that Israel supplies it an abundance of excuses and motives.
The Jews and Israel’s true friends should hope that Corbyn is elected. He is a statesman who can change international discourse about the occupation and the struggle against it. He is a ray of hope for a different world and a different Israel – and what more could we want.
The only democracy in the Middle East which privileges one group over any other long ago had its coup by letting terrorists like Begin, Shamir and Sharon become prime ministers and let soldiers beat up and murder with impunity.on a daily basis. The “only democracy” denies justice and dignity to the indigenous people from whom they stole their country seventy years ago.
Israeli writer B.Michael (Michael Brizon) proves that not all citizens buy this version of democracy.His articles are laced with sardonic observations and the one below is a good example. In Israel, the tone deaf and racist base is already in power.
It is important that Mr Michael can only say these things on the high quality Haaretz newspaper, read by only 4% of Israel. Most Israelis get their ant-news from the rag called Israel Hayom which the late Sheldon Adelson bankrolled and which was a conduit for the poison that Netanyahu and Trump spewed.
Follow Adelson’s money! In Israel it purchased a lot of Kool Aid.
============================================================ A vigorous debate has been taking place in all of the media outlets. There isn’t a single newspaper, television channel, website, radio program or social media platform that hasn’t engaged in it. And it all revolves around one single question: Could it happen here? That is, will we, too, have the privilege of looking on blindly as a savage mob storms the legislature to punish it and impose its will on it.
The debate is fascinating. Invigorating. Thorough. Expansive. It’s just too bad that it’s completely unnecessary. Because in Israel it won’t happen. In Israel, it can’t happen. Nor is there any need for it to happen.
Because here, it already has happened – long ago. Our revolution is behind us. The “base” took control of the government a decade or more ago. Our legislature has long since become the “base legislature.”
Our revolution needed no violence. After all, why use force when it’s possible to do it peacefully, through deceit? Our parliament, for instance, castrated itself voluntarily, without damaging the furniture. And our thugs took power without breaking any windows, dirtying the carpets or stealing computers. Nor did they need ridiculous costumes or fur hats with horns (okay, there are fur hats here as well, but without the horns).
And recently, when it seemed as if the revolution’s accomplishments were in some danger, our revolutionaries quickly gave it a stimulating blood transfusion. Not by force, heaven forbid. Not by violence. Solely by bluff. By deception. By an extensive campaign of vote theft and deceit. A sting operation virtually without parallel in human history. And the revolution indeed immediately regained its full power.
That is how we reached this point – a government that’s entirely dependent on a gang of egotistic evangelicals who educate their children to believe that slavery is freedom and ignorance is strength; on a gang of delusional, avaricious thugs who have convinced themselves and others that war is peace and that the eyes of Big Brother in the heavens are always watching; and on a herd of corrupt people who see the state treasury as their private purse from which money is available for the taking.
And that’s how we merited a government that is headed by a person who has been charged with crimes and various misdemeanors. A government, one of whose members – not long ago, while serving as the speaker of the Knesset – peed, figuratively speaking, on an order issued by the High Court of Justice, with neither hesitation nor shame. A government, at least two members of which are living under the shadow of indictments that could land on top of them at any moment.
A government, nearly all of whose members are busy with carrying out the will of the base that rules them, with diligence and dedication. In order to teach us that everything the American base sought to obtain through violence, our base has achieved peacefully.
Yet another wonder: The will of the base here and the base there are as alike as two drops of snot. All the foreigners should be kicked out, all the elites should burn, all the Arabs should die and everyone should come back to God. And that’s it. You don’t need to do it by force. The resemblance between these two bases is already so great that we even have our own Hilltop Bullies (a fitting Israeli answer to American hillbillies), who think they have the right to beat up soldiers and police officers to their heart’s desire. Not, heaven forbid, to seize power, since that is already in their hands, simply for purposes of entertainment.
In fact, all of the above could be summed up in one short sentence: In a country where Amir Ohana is the minister of public security, there’s no longer anything to overturn. Because everything in it has already been turned upside down long ago.
f there is one blatant example of how prophecy has fled the ranks of the Catholic episcopacy the deadly silence on on the rights of Palestinians is it. Again and again they have turned their backs on the decades long abuse of the Palestinian indigenous. Michel Sabbath the former Catholic archbishop of Jerusalem, pleads once again, this time on the pages of the Jesuit Magazine, America
Former Jerusalem archbishop: How long will Catholics keep ignoring the suffering of Palestinians?
Israel’s military occupation of Palestine continues in its 53rd year. In particular, Palestinians in Gaza are suffering under a callous siege. The U.S. administration has withdrawn aid for Palestinian hospitals in East Jerusalem and for the United Nations’ humanitarian work in the occupied Palestinian territory. President Trump’s so-called peace proposal is little more than a justification for the occupation and a false promise of prosperity to Palestinians at the cost of their freedom and independence. In spite of promises to the contrary in recent peace deals with the United Arab Emirates and Bahrain, Israel’s annexation of Palestinian land and resources continues with the recent approval of 3,000 new settlement homes in the West Bank.
Palestinian Christians join the Hebrew prophet Habakkuk in his cry for justice:
O Lord, how long shall I cry for help, and you will not listen? Or cry to you “Violence!” and you will not save?
It is a question of humanity in the Holy Land. Human beings continue to kill or be killed. The power of the stronger, not the power of God, continues to prevail. Moreover, in regarding the state of Israel as a fulfillment of biblical prophecy, Christian Zionists believe that Israel should receive special status, thereby using the word of God to support policies and practices that privilege one people over another—with deadly consequences.
We say that the word of God is a word of life for all. Our God is one of love, not war. God’s word, even spoken in the midst of the conflict, must lead all of us to respect one another as equally created—Israelis and Palestinians having equal rights, freedom and independence. So we turn to the media, the global Catholic Church and civil society asking, “Will you help?” Can you help both Israelis and Palestinians achieve a just, definitive peace? Or will you keep looking with indifference toward the Holy Land, a land in which one people continues to oppress another people, resulting in continued bloodshed and hatred?
To again quote Habakkuk: “Destruction and violence are before us. The law has become slack and justice does not prevail.”
It is a question of humanity in the Holy Land. The power of the stronger, not the power of God, continues to prevail.
In 2009, Palestinian Christians from diverse churches, institutions and walks of life called for an end to the Israeli occupation. We at Kairos Palestine issued the document “A Moment of Truth: A Word of Faith, Hope and Love From the Heart of Palestinian Suffering.” This Christian Palestinian cry, a bold theological document grounded in the Scriptures, was welcomed by some but misunderstood and rejected by others. The heart of the document is an invitation for Christians to join Palestinians in their nonviolent resistance shaped by the “logic of love.” Sadly, this document and further pleas did not achieve the kind of solidarity we expected from our sisters and brothers in U.S. churches.
We realize that many have been led to believe a false narrative that the source of trouble is a religious conflict between Muslims and Jews. We say: The heart of the unrest is a prolonged military occupation that abuses human rights and has been declared illegal under international law.
Some Western European and North American churches are hesitant to act boldly for fear of being charged as anti-Semitic. We say: Speak as Christians, behave as Christians, concerned with what happens in your Holy Land, to save all of us, and perhaps yourself. Other church leaders, desiring to be “balanced” in their views, seek to put the victims and the perpetrators on an equal footing. We say: Look at us both as we are—the one, oppressor; the other, oppressed. Help us both to achieve peace and justice in our land, the land of God.
Earlier this year, representatives from 20 countries across five continents joined Palestinian Christians to issue “Cry for Hope: A Call for Decisive Action.” This document has been translated into 13 languages and endorsed by more than 350 Christian leaders, scholars and organizations around the world, and it has been signed by more than 12,400individuals and churches.
We have made this call out of concern for the future of the people in the Holy Land and beyond—people of every faith and of no expressed faith at all. As we wrote of both Israelis and Palestinians in “A Moment of Truth”: “Our future and their future are one.” Together, we face “either the cycle of violence that destroys both of us or peace that will benefit both.”
In Palestine, as in Israel, there are human beings who wait to be saved from the evil that now prevails. Those who kill need to be healed. Those who are oppressed and threatened with death need to be healed. Our common healing is in the prayers and actions of the church and civil society, acting toward a just and lasting peace that restores dignity, freedom and security to all.
As we declared in “A Moment of Truth,” we believe in God, good and just. We believe that God’s goodness will finally triumph over the evil of hate and of death that still persist in our land. We will see here “a new land” and “a new human being,” capable of rising up in the spirit to love each one of his or her brothers and sisters.
Real Jews are filing for divorce from Zionism, an ersatz religion totally devoid of the universal ethics of Judaism. One can easily sum up the situation in this sentence: Torah and occupation are mutually exclusive, the replacement of the dedication to israel for the dedication toGod and the demands of Torah is a tragedy that continues to haunt diaspora Jews.The hysterical attacks on a real Torah Jew like Peter Beinart by American Zionists like Bret Stephens, Jeffrey Goldberg and Bari Weiss.
Israel could have been rid of the stench of Netanyahu had it not been such a racist country.Gantz, hardly an improvement could have been Prime Minister simply by accepting the votes of the Palestinian Joint List/
The Joint List is a political alliance of the main Arab-majority political parties in IsraelGantz could have toppled Netanyahu by taking these 15 votes as part of coalition. The List comprises citizens of Israel,…but for racists like Netanyahu and others, members of the List are “terrorists.” ’It is of course to laugh.Such a shining democracy, now headed for a fourth election.
To many diaspora Jews Zionism is indeed their religion, having long ago junked the universal ethics of Torah Judaism. These American and Canadian landsmen have no understanding of the colossal pain and suffering visited on the country’s indigenous. They choose not to know.They are accomplices, as are Justin Trudeau, Bob Rae, Erin O’Toole and Annamie Paul, the new leader of the Green Party. They are today’s “blind guides.”
Levy I trust. A life long sabra with impeccable credentials he has long been my guide here. He has
Zionism contradicts human rights, and is thus indeed an ultranationalist, colonialist and perhaps even racist movement, as proponents of justice worldwide maintain”.
Israeli society is today by far too brainwashed. Life in Israel is by far too good. Israel is, let’s face, it a society which lives in denial, totally disconnected from realit
Levy wrote on March 6
I know some Israelis who agonized for days whether to vote for the Joint List, who talked about crossing the Rubicon and the end of the world, and at the last moment their hand betrayed them and they voted for Gantz or Peretz. They say they just couldn’t do it
What exactly prevented them? After all, they support justice and equality and peace for two states – and the Joint List offers them all of this good stuff. But they found excuses for themselves: Balad is too nationalist, Ra’am too religious, Tibi too glib and Odeh too charming. Others who did vote for the Joint List after a lot of soul-searching, likened the feeling to coming out of the closet.
This reluctance does not necessarily derive from racist motivations. The Arab character of the Joint List was far less off-putting than its being non-Zionist. That’s just going too far, an unforgiveable crime. Voting for a party that doesn’t have the Zionist banner flying over it is a painful, almost impossible step. That’s the result of 100 years of indoctrination that is practically unmatched.
With the exception of North Korea, no other country has such a ruling ideology that is not to be doubted or deviated from. Aside from Iran, no other country has a mandatory religion. In Israel, Zionism is a religion, and it is mandatory.
A Jew who votes for the Joint List is still considered a traitor, or at least a person who has some kind of screw loose. In our childhood, this is how we viewed activists from Rakah and Matzpen, and we shunned them like lepers. The Rakah office on Maza Street in Tel Aviv was like a mysterious, menacing headquarters of an enemy army. You didn’t want to be seen anywhere near it. I remember the first time I went there: I was terrified.
These were the adolescent growing pains of a young country. But when a strong, thriving country disqualifies a legal ideology and makes it illegitimate, something has gone wrong with its democracy.
Zionism is a worldview like any other. One can see its attractive and unattractive sides. It is not a religion in which doubters are denounced as heretics – yet it is forbidden to reject Zionism. Why? Because Zionism is not sure of itself. It knows that it brought a catastrophe upon another people and it knows that the fire of evil and injustice is burning beneath the carpet upon which it treads.
If Zionism were certain of its righteousness, it would put itself to the test like any other worldview and it would be permissible to doubt it. Israel in 2020 is not yet ready for that. A true left will only arise here when we wean ourselves of the addiction to Zionism and free ourselves from its chains.
The “Palestinian-Israeli conflict” has often been presented as one of the most intractable in modern world history.
But one reason for this is precisely that it has been wrongly analyzed as a conflict and thus the “solutions” offered and the “peace processes” for getting there fail.
This is not a conflict. There are not two sides fighting over some issue that can be resolved through technical negotiations and compromise. Rather, Zionism was – and is – a settler-colonial project.
Jewish settlers arrived in Palestine from Europe with the intention of taking over the country and making it their own. Like all settler movements they came equipped with a narrative of why the country actually belonged to them, and they pursued their claim to entitlement unilaterally. The indigenous Palestinian population (which included Sephardi, Mizrahi and ultra-Orthodox Jews) had no voice in the process; they were not a “side,” but simply a population to be disposed of.
That remains true to this day as the settler Zionist project has virtually completed its task of Judaizing Palestine, of transforming an Arab country into a Jewish one. Its inescapable conclusion is apartheid: confining Palestinians into disconnected and impoverished enclaves scattered over 15 percent of their country.
Settler-colonialism and apartheid, however, cannot be resolved through negotiations and compromise. A people cannot negotiate their fundamental human, national, political and civil rights. The only way out of a colonial f situation is through a process of decolonization.
What does that entail? It entails a fundamental readjustment to the current reality. It entails the return of Palestinain refugees and their reintegration into society. It entails the dismantling of all structures of domination and control, be they political, economic or ideological and cultural.It requires acknowledging that the colonized population has the right to an equal say in the construction of the post-colonial polity. It necessitates the formation of a new political system and civil society that guarantees equal rights to all its citizens as well as to the national, ethnic and religious groups that comprise it.
It further demands an equitable redistribution of resources, especially land, the prime target of settler-colonialism, along with an acknowledgment by the colonizers of the suffering they have brought, and consequent reparations.
It is such fundamental change that is needed to generate a new, shared political community. And that, in turn, is the only possible way settler-colonialism can be transcended.
A political program
Settler-colonial analysis is well-developed in academic circles and offers genuinely new horizons for a just peace in Palestine/Israel. But it has not yet penetrated popular or political discourses, which are still mired in necessarily fruitless attempts to negotiate – or, more precisely, manage – a conflict.
Attempting to replace conflict resolution with the more appropriate and just process of decolonization, a Palestinian-led initiative has emerged out of Haifa over the past three ye
The One Democratic State Campaign (ODSC), though still in its infancy, comprises Palestinians from every major community (citizens of the areas that in 1948 became Israel, the occupied West Bank and Gaza Strip, the refugee camps and the Diaspora/Exiles), together with their anti-colonial Israeli Jewish allies. It has issued a call for the establishment of a single democratic state between the Jordan River and the Mediterranean Sea, one that will also witness the return of the Palestinian refugees to their homeland.
Building on the work of others, the ODSC has also formulated a 10-point political program that “thinks through” the entire process of decolonizing the settler-colonial entity of Israel through the establishment of a post-colonial polity and political community. They are, in brief:
• Decolonization. • A Single Constitutional Democracy. One democratic state shall be established between the Mediterranean Sea and the Jordan River belonging to all its citizens, including Palestinian refugees who will be able to return to their homeland. All citizens will enjoy equal rights, freedom and security. The State shall be a constitutional democracy, the authority to govern and make laws emanating from the consent of the governed. • Right of Return, of Restoration and of Reintegration into Society. The single democratic state will fully implement the Right of Return of all Palestinian refugees who were expelled in 1948 and thereafter, whether living in exile abroad or currently living in Israel or the Occupied Territory.
• Individual Rights. No State law, institution or practices may discriminate among citizens on the basis of national or social origin, color, gender, language, religion or political opinion or sexual orientation. • Collective Rights. Within the framework of a single democratic state, the Constitution will also protect collective rights and the freedom of association, whether national, ethnic, religious, class or gender. No group or collectivity will have any privileges, • Economy and Economic Justice. Our vision seeks to achieve justice, and this includes social and economic justice. Economic policy must address the decades of exploitation and discrimination which have sown deep socioeconomic gaps among the people living in the land. • Commitment to Human Rights, Justice and Peace. The State shall uphold international law and seek the peaceful resolution of conflicts through negotiation and collective security in accordance with the United Nations Charter. • International responsibility. On a global level, the ODSC views itself as part of the progressive forces striving for an alternative global order that is just, egalitarian and free of any oppression, racism, imperialism and colonialism.
Considerable work still needs to be done to flesh out our program, which is very much a participatory work in progress. A democratic state in historic Palestine is no utopian vision. It is doable, it is critical and it is urgent.
Awad Abdelfattah is the Coordinator of the One Democratic State Campaign (ODSC). He is the former Secretary-General, Balad/Tajamo party.
Jeff Halper is the head of the Israeli Committee Against House Demolitions (ICAHD) and a founding member of the ODSC.
After Israel’s mad rampage in Lebanon in 1982 Haaretz reporter Yoel Marcus commented that “most us realize that killing of Arabs in general and Palestinians in particular is quite popular or at least doesn’t bother anyone.” 28 years later ”the only democracy in the Middle East” still gets away with murder even of children.
This rampant and shocking abuse gets little play in Canada while we are always reminded of the Nazi holocaust which serves to shield Israel from its daily oppression of its indigenous.
Gideon Levy, intrepid reporter, once again reminds us of the importance of the Fourth Estate’s role in speaking truth to power.
Israel’s War on Palestinian Children
Last week, we were in the Al-Arroub refugee camp, searching for an open area in which to sit, for fear of the coronavirus. There wasn’t one. In a camp in which house touches house, whose alleys are the width of a man and strewn with garbage, there’s nowhere to sit outside. One can only dream of a garden or a bench; there isn’t even a sidewalk. This is where Basel al-Badawi lives. A year ago, soldiers shot his brother dead, before his eyes, for no reason. Two weeks ago, Basel was snatched from his bed on a cold night and taken, barefoot, for questioning. We sat in his family’s cramped home and realized there was no “out” to go to. While we were there, Israeli soldiers blocked the entrance to the camp, as they occasionally do, arbitrarily, and the sense of suffocation only grew.
This is Basel’s world and this is his reality. He is 16, a bereaved brother, who was abducted from his bed in the dark of night by soldiers. He has nowhere to go to except for school, which is closed for part of the week due to COVID-19. Basel is free now, more fortunate than certain other children and teenagers. Around 170 of them are currently detained in Israel. Other children are shot by soldiers, wounded and sometimes killed, with no distinction made between children and adults – a Palestinian is a Palestinian – or between a life-threatening situation and a “public disturbance.”
On Friday they killed Ali Abu Alia, a 15-year-old boy. It was a lethal shot to the abdomen. No one could remain indifferent to the sight of his innocent face in photographs, and his last picture – in a shroud, his face exposed, his eyes closed, as he was carried to burial in his village. Ali, as he did every week, went with his friends to demonstrate against the wild and violent outposts that sprouted out of the settlement of Kokhav Hashahar, taking over the remaining land of his village, al-Mughayir. There is nothing more just than the struggle of this village, there is nothing more heinous than the use of lethal force against protesters and there is no possibility that shooting Ali in the abdomen could have been justifiable. In Israel, of course, no one showed any interest over the weekend in the death of a child, one more child.
Up until the current school year, around 50 children from the shepherding community of Ras a-Tin studied at the school in al-Mughayir, the village of the deceased boy. They had to walk about 15 kilometers (9.3 miles) each day, round trip, to attend. This year their parents, with the help of a European Commission aid organization based in Italy, built them a modest, charming school in the village. Israel’s Civil Administration is threatening to demolish it, and in the meantime it is harassing the pupils and teachers with surprise visits to check whether the toilets had been, God forbid, connected to a water pipe – in a village that was never connected to the power grid or the water supply. The children of Ras a-Tin must have known Ali, their former classmate, now dead.
The children did not know Malek Issa, of Isawiyah, in East Jerusalem. The 9-year-old boy lost an eye after it was hit by a sponge-tipped bullet fired by an Israeli police officer. On Thursday the Justice Ministry department that examines allegations of police misconduct announced that no one would be charged in the shooting, after 10 months of intensive investigation. It was enough for the policemen involved to claim that stones had been thrown at them, perhaps one of them hit the boy. But no video shows stones being thrown, nor is there any other evidence of this. Ali’s killers can also sleep in peace: No one will prosecute them. All they did was to kill a Palestinian child.
These and many other incidents are taking place during a period that is among the quietest in the West Bank. This is the terror taking place, committed by the state. When we hear of such incidents in vicious dictatorships – children who are snatched from their beds in the middle of the night, one boy who was shot in the eye, another who was shot and killed – it sends shivers down our spine. Shooting at demonstrators? At children? Where do such things happen? Not in some faraway land, but rather just an hour’s drive from your home; not in some dark regime, but in the only democracy.
What would you think of a regime that allows the shooting of children, that abducts them in their sleep and razes their schools? That’s exactly what you must think of the regime here in our country.
More signs of Zionism’s desperate attempts to forestall criticism of Israel. Trudeau now has his team in place to turn history backward. Cotler’s wife worked for Menachem Begin, his daughter is in the Knesset, Bob Rae is a longtime Zionist who will act as Israel’s goaltender at the UN. Such brave champions of “the rule of law, human rights and international laws.” Israel the great democracy must always be shielded from breaking the agreed-upon rules of international behaviour. And don’t expect anything from this guy
Justin Trudeau taps top Israel lobbyist to police speech in Canada
Nora Barrows-Friedman Lobby Watch
Prime Minister Justin Trudeau on Wednesday named prominent Israel lobby figure Irwin Cotler as Canada’s “special envoy” for combatting anti-Semitism.In that role, Cotler will lead the country’s implementation of the International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance’s (IHRA) “working definition” of anti-Semitism.
The definition conflates criticism of Israel with anti-Jewish bigotry.
Independent Jewish Voices Canada, a group that opposes imposition of the IHRA definition, said it was “deeply troubled” by the appointmen
The group noted that Cotler “is one of the leading proponents of the ‘new anti-Semitism’ movement, which seeks to label criticism of Israel as anti-Semitic.”
Trudeau’s announcement sends a clear message to civil society in Canada: Criticism of Israel will not be tolerated, and Israel’s lobby can set the terms of the debate.
This comes just weeks after Ontario’s premier Doug Ford forced through a measure to adopt the IHRA definition without allowing the public to voice concerns or lawmakers to cast a vote. . Trudeau said last year that Canada would use the IHRA definition as part of its strategy to “combat racism and discrimination.” Cotler, Trudeau said on Wednesday, “will support advocacy and outreach efforts with Canadians, civil society and academia to advance the implementation of this definition across the country and its adoption internationally.”
Israel and its lobby have been pushing for the IHRA definition to be codified into law in the US, Canada and European countries in order to shield Israel from criticism over its human rights violations.
In the past, Trudeau has acknowledged Cotler’s influence on the Canadian government’s extreme pro-Israel policies, including its smear campaign against the nonviolent boycott, divestment and sanctions (BDS) movement for Palestinian rights.
Cotler’s role “will be to stifle dissent in civil society about Israeli human rights violations,” Michael Bueckert, vice president of Canadians for Justice and Peace in the Middle East, said. they are trying to ban Palestine activism, They just don’t want you to talk about it,” Bueckert tweeted.
Make no mistake: the #IHRA definition of antisemitism is a racist endeavour, designed to deem Palestinian narratives as antisemitic and eliminate speech and protest of Israel. Cotler’s role as Envoy will be to stifle dissent in civil society about Israeli human rights violations.
This is only the latest effort to try to block organizing for Palestinian rights by smearing human rights defenders as anti-Semites.
Many had prepared testimonies opposing its adoption into Ontario law.
The testimonies were to be presented before the legislature’s Standing Committee on Justice Policy in a public hearing. “It was anti-democratic to just shut down the hearings,” Corey Balsam, national director of Independent Jewish Voices Canada, told The Electronic Intifada.
“We were really gaining momentum. When the committee was announced, people started showing up and organizations were taking an interest,” he added.
Adoption of the IHRA definition has been opposed by hundreds of Canadian scholars who warn of its chilling effects on academic freedom and free speech.
There have been dozens of examples around the world where the IHRA definition has been used to smear Palestinians and advocates of Palestinian rights, Independent Jewish Voices Canada notes, including at least three incidents in Canada. Moreover, adopting the IHRA definition conflicts with the beliefs of most Canadians.
Just last month, a national survey found that the majority of Canadians don’t believe that criticism of Israel is anti-Semitic, despite well-financed efforts by Israel lobby groups.
Three major Canadian cities – Calgary, Montreal and Vancouver – have rejected or declined to adopt the definition.
Since the Ontario government left it unclear whether the IHRA definition’s “illustrative examples” – most of which focus on Israel – are included in the executive order, “we can expect to see powerful actors interpreting the definition as they see fit,” Hammam Farah, a Toronto activist and board member of the Palestinian Canadian Community Centre – Palestine House, told The Electronic Intifada.
Farah expects more cases of institutions denying jobs to scholars or refusing to give organizations funding and access to resources in fear of violating the vague IHRA guidelines.
Palestine House and allied groups have condemned the order, saying that “the Israeli government knows that it lost the public debate and that it must resort to cowering behind anti-democratic laws to protect its colonial endeavor against the Palestinian people.”
Farah explained that ever since Israel’s “long-term campaign against BDS reached the Canadian government, we’ve found ourselves on the defensive, having to scramble to declare our opposition against government attacks on our freedom of speech.” Human rights and civil society organizations say that while they consider legal options to challenge Ford’s order, they will continue to expose Israel’s apartheid system and resist censorship efforts. “We want to encourage other people to not be silent either,” Balsam told The Electronic Intifada.
“The fear is the institutionalization of that chill.”
Corey Balsam IJV hopes that solidarity groups will continue to “open up doors to talk about racism in Israel, Zionism’s relationship to racism and the impact that this definition has on Palestinians and on people of color.”
“We can’t let them dictate the terms of the debate,” he said.
One huge benefit of the recent US election is watching appalling Trumpers leave public disservice for ever. Start with the destroyer of public education Betsy Devos, then the bankruptcy lawyer of the settlements David Friedman and finally “the worst secretary of state in American history,” Mike Pompeio Here’s P.eter Beinart’s salute ======================================================================================
Imagine you’re in a kid in school. You have a history of being bullied, which makes you anxious about your safety. But, recently, your fortunes have improved. And now you watch with amazement as the school’s newest tough guys not only befriend you but cater to your every desire. To prove their devotion, they turn mercilessly on someone with whom you’ve had a dispute, someone even weaker than you. “We won’t let anyone threaten you,” they cry, as they beat him to a pulp
It’s an imperfect analogy. But it captures some of how I felt watching Secretary of State Mike Pompeo’s visit last week to the West Bank. Given Jewish history, I understand why some Jews feel comforted, even exhilarated, when the Christians who run the world’s most powerful country shower the Jewish state with affection. I just wish the affection were not laced with sadism and lies.
Settlements like Psagot, where Pompeo sipped wine named in his honor, don’t just appear. They are generally the product of land theft. It works like this. The Israeli government employs Ottoman, Jordanian, British mandatory and Israeli military law (pretty much whatever it can find) to declare chunks of the West Bank “state land.” In other words, ownerless. Then it parcels that land out for Jewish settlement. The dispossessed Palestinians can lodge legal challenges, but as non-citizens, they almost always lose. The Israeli government is accountable to Jewish settlers, not to them.
By any reasonable definition, this is institutionalized bigotry. In a single territory, two ethno-religious groups live under a different law. Jews enjoy citizenship, due process, free movement and the right to vote for the government that controls their lives. Palestinians enjoy none of these rights.
But, in an Orwellian irony, mainstream American political discourse describes as bigoted not Israel’s dual legal system in the West Bank—but opposition to it. This irony falls particularly cruelly on Black politicians, who are particularly quick to notice the parallels with American segregation. (When former Maryland Congresswoman Donna Edwards visited Hebron in 2012, she said “it looked like the stories that my mother and my grandmother told me about living in the [Jim Crow] South.”) Thus, Raphael Warnock, the pastor of Martin Luther King’s old church, who is now seeking a senate seat in Georgia, is under attack for alleged anti-Semitism. The reason: Last year he travelled to the West Bank with a group of Black American and South African ministers. He and his colleagues witnessed “The laws of segregation that allow one thing for the Jewish people and another for the Palestinians” and felt compelled to demand “justice, equality and human rights.” For this, Warnock now stands accused of anti-Semitism by conservative American Christians and Jews whose own trips to Israel generally shield them from the brutal realities that stirred his conscience. The whole dynamic is deeply depressing.
After his trip to Psagot, Pompeo issued a statement declaring that “anti-Zionism is anti-Semitism” and the “Global BDS Campaign” is “a manifestation of anti-Semitism.” But if you were a Palestinian who had her land stolen, wouldn’t you support boycotting the government that took it from you? And if you were a Palestinian, wouldn’t you oppose Zionism, a movement designed to create a state that privileges Jews over you?
Last year I wrote an essay trying to dissect the arguments equating anti-Zionism and anti-Semitism. One point I made was that the equation doesn’t only render Palestinians anti-Semites simply for seeking equality with Jews, it turns a lot of Jews into anti-Semites too. For most of Jewish history, most Jews have interpreted the Talmud (the key text is Ketubot 111a, for all you Talmud nerds) as prohibiting Jews from trying to reestablish a Jewish state in the land of Israel before the coming of the Messiah. The Zionist movement, and the creation of the state of Israel, have led many Jews to abandon that view. But not all. There remain large ultra-Orthodox communities that still consider Jewish statehood a violation of Jewish law.
Monsey, New York is one of those communities. Last year, a deranged man attacked a Hanukah party there. An ultra-Orthodox man, Joseph Gluck, chased the assailant outside and wrote down the license plate of his car, thus saving many lives. Wanting to honor this Jewish hero, the Anti-Defamation League and Jewish Federation of Rockland County tried to give Gluck an award. But he refused. The reason: He won’t accept money from Zionist groups.
So, according to Mike Pompeo, Joseph Gluck is an anti-Semite. In the name of full disclosure, I should acknowledge that, according to the Anti-Defamation League, I’m kind of an anti-Semite too. This summer, after I wrote a column arguing for equality between Palestinians and Jews, the ADL’s deputy national director wrote a letter to The New York Times claiming that “such calls are themselves anti-Semitic.”
I keep waiting for my kids to use this information against me. I can just hear their argument now: “Who the heck is an anti-Semite to tell me I can’t use my phone on Shabbat?”
The Cohens(Cohanim) were the priestly caste in biblical Israel.Here, Stanley Cohen has the nerve to “priest” the new Catholic American president Joe Biden. He challenges him to live out his faith when it comes to Palestine where brother Joe has been silent and cowardly for his whole career, sadly identifying himself as a Zionist. A long one but emblematic of simply another Jew of Conscience.
Joe Biden takes pride in his Irish roots, as well he should. He finds comfortable repose in the romantic words of Irish tradition. He speaks of Irish bonds… words of warmth and love and hope. Irish is all that … but it is so much more. It is a journey of 800 years of occupation, of resistance at its finest, resistance at its purest, resistance at its deadliest. It is a chronicle Joe Biden has never lived nor learned.
Education is, for some, a privilege, for others a right, for more than a few a selective tailored read. Joe Biden is one such browser; a head-note sort of guy. Like his ignore of the necessarily militant, fierce chronicle of the Irish journey, Joe Biden prefers the packaged, heavily redacted narrative of another occupied people… Palestinians.
To Joe Biden, Palestinians are essentially little more than gate-keepers; visitors tasked by some biblical assign to safeguard the land awaiting the rightful return of relics from an Old Testament psalm long rewritten to serve the geopolitical needs of a Euro/Western colonial project. Of course, when it comes to Palestinians, like so many other political theists across the aisle, Joe Biden typically says all the right things: “except for Hamas terrorists, Palestinians are decent people… good people… honest people who must be treated with dignity and respect.” As for Israeli Jews, Biden’s cerebral tattoo is an echo of the crude international talisman that they are “entitled to live in peace and security.” How profound and deflective. And on those all too familiar occasions when the perpetual victim becomes the ever-lurking victimizer… by burning to death a Palestinian family, or running over a Palestinian toddler, or attacking farmers, damaging chicken coops and killing over 300 chickens or through “settler’ pogroms that ravage entire Palestinian communities… Joe Biden is among the first to denounce the deadly targeted assaults with the all too convenient preach “there are very fine people on both sides.”
It’s not difficult to discern Joe Biden’s myopic cheer for Israel over the course of almost half a century of his legislative applause. Anything but nuanced, or disguised, time and time again he voted aye for all pro-Israeli resolutions and nay for any that might begin to temper the systemic corrupt imbalance between the occupier and the occupied. To Biden and his generation of legislative pander, votes which might suggest, let alone facilitate, any modicum of equity or justice between Palestine and Israel were viewed as political surrender… if not suicide.
Here, eight years as vice president speaks volumes of Joe Biden’s heretofore zeal to protect Israel at all cost and to deny Palestine any safeguard of consequence whatsoever.
In the often uncomfortable world of reality, executive political power must be measured not by the echo of appealing words but, rather, the pound of deeds. Who better to measure the reach of Joe Biden when he reigned as the second most powerful man in the United States than Barack Obama. According to Obama, for eight years Biden was the last to leave the room of tough decisions and among the most active in shaping what they were to be and just where they were to go. And what were those decisions regarding Palestine?
With, by then, settled norm, Obama/Biden refused to accept the Israeli drive to annex land seized from the West Bank of Palestine. Likewise, the Zionist remake of al Quds into the recognized capital of a European implant went no further than their long standing holiday wish list… as did the transplant of the US Embassy to there from Tel Aviv. There was nothing remarkable about this political “intransigence,” nor did it slow the rapacious Zionist appetite to steal more and more occupied land in rank violation of settled international law. Indeed, in the half century since the on-set of Israel’s second wave of land snatch begun in 1967, American presidents have followed a fairly rote policy of “freeze” and wait while Israel, imbued with blanket U.S. legislative cover and a limitless checkbook, found little reason to pause in increasing its “settler’’ population in the occupied territories from the 10,000 of 1967 to more than 600,000 by 2016.
What, then, deciphers the political rhetoric of Obama/Biden to display the true nature of their largely unbounded support of a European colonial project committed to the eradication of an age-old indigenous population… whether by siege, violence, or categorical expulsion? During the eight years of Obama/Biden, that translate was not at all hard to find. There was, after-all, nothing subtle about Israel’s drive to punish Palestinians, for little more than their mere existence, during the time that Joe Biden readied himself to move from front row seat to oval office desk. Just several weeks before taking power in 2008, the future President got a primer on Israeli brutality through the lens of “Operation Cast Lead.”
With an opening salvo of war crimes on December 27, 2008, the first day of the operation, Israel bombed the main police headquarters in Gaza City, killing 42 police cadets standing in formation without weapons. Later that day, it bombed some 18 other police stations throughout the Gaza Strip. In total, 248 police officers were killed that day having not fired a single round at Israeli forces. Over the twenty one days of the Israeli onslaught that followed, it deliberately targeted civilians and civilian infrastructure and made widespread use of prohibited weapons, such a white phosphorous, in highly populated areas in clear violation of international law.
During the attack Israeli fire targeted 23 U.N. buildings and/or compounds killing numerous civilians who had taken shelter there. In the most deadly case, 43 Palestinian civilians were killed by an Israeli shelling in one such compound.
Palestinian schools were also targeted. On January 5, an aerial strike killed three men who had sought shelter at the Asma Elementary Co-Ed A School. On January 17, a military ordinance struck the Beit Lahia Elementary School while it was being used as an emergency shelter… killing two young boys and injuring 13 others. Human Rights Watch documented at least seven instances where Israeli soldiers shot and killed civilians… including five women and four children who were in groups waving white flags to convey their civilian status. In one such incident, Israeli soldiers shot and killed several members of the al-Najar family in Khuza’a village, east of Khan Yunis. Following orders from soldiers to leave their neighborhood, and while waving white flags, Rawiya al-Najjar and her family were gunned down.
When the carnage ended, some 1440 Palestinians were killed and more than 5,000 injured… most of them civilians. According to the Israeli Human Right s group B’Tselem, 252 minors under age 16 (boys and girls) who did not take part in any fighting were killed along with 111 women and girls over 16. Nine Israeli soldiers were killed and 340 wounded.
Five years later, in the summer of 2014, Joe Biden got another stark, deadly reminder of just what it is to be a Palestinian in the cross hairs of a colonial fiend hell bent on relegating them en masse to the history of the disappeared. During Israel’s unhinged six week rampage on Gaza it dropped 40,000 tons of explosives on more than 5200 “targets”. At its end, some 2200 were slaughtered, including 550 children, and some 10,000 injured. Almost all the victims were civilians. More than 1900 children were orphaned, hundreds of thousands of civilians internally displaced with 20,000 homes, 26 NGO service providers, a half-dozen UNRWA facilities, 23 hospitals and health-care facilities, 133 schools, 360 factories, 50,000 acres of crop lands and half of Gaza’s poultry stock targeted and destroyed or damaged by Israel.
In the years since “Operation Protective Edge”, as so much a brazen dare to the rest of the world, Israel’s assault upon Palestinians has been as public as it has been relentless and diverse. In its 21 month-long attacks on tens of thousands of Palestinians during the Great March of Return, it met peaceful demonstrators in Gaza with tear gas canisters, some of them dropped from drones, or rubber bullets and live ammunition, mostly fired by positioned, hilltop snipers. The Israeli carnage resulted in the murder of 217 civilian protestors, including 48 children, 2 women and 9 persons with disabilities. Another 36,100 demonstrators were injured… including 8800 children. Of the 7,000 injured by live fire, 207 became permanently disabled with 156 requiring amputations. Among those killed and wounded were dozens of prominently identified journalists and medical staff.
Throughout Gaza, soon entering its fifteenth year of a choking siege, life remains a daily suffer for those living in one of the most densely populated areas of the world …all the while denied the minimal, essential guideposts of a healthy society. With large swaths of its infrastructure still in ruins and Israeli air attacks very much the norm, its two million residents live lives of isolated deprivation and despair subject to Israeli and Egyptian embargos of food stuffs, clean water, electricity and crucial medical supplies. For many in need of sophisticated medical treatment or equipment, the wait to exit the shuttered civilian prison becomes too little too late as they pass awaiting their turn. Others, including children, take their final breath alone in Israeli hospitals with families but 50 miles away denied passage with their loved ones not knowing if they will again see them alive.
In the West Bank armed “settlers” rampage daily attacking the young, the elderly, the frail, or those who dare to go for a walk or a drive. Not a day goes by without a report of another farm or grove attacked with century old olive trees destroyed for no reason but to tatter local economies and to devastate often elderly tree tenders, tasked with the protection of an age old tradition. According to the United Nations, 11,000 olive trees have been damaged or destroyed in a calculated settler strategy for dispossessing Palestinians of their land.
On November 3, 2020, the Israeli Civil Administration arrived suddenly at the Khirbet Humsah community, in the Northern Jordan Valley, with a military escort and two bulldozers and diggers. With but a few moments notice, they destroyed dozens of tents, sheds and livestock pens, water containers, solar panels, feeding troughs and tractors, and 30 tons of livestock fodder. By the time they moved on to the next village, they had smashed a community that was home to 74 people including 41 minors and numerous sheep and newborn lambs. Its destruction was ordered as one of 38 such villages that sit on land the Israeli military wants for training… training to destroy countless other villages, homes, lives with greater speed and proficiency.
Several day before Israel destroyed a water supply line in Masafer Yatta, South Hebron Hills, which provided water supply to the communities of Maghayir al-‘Abid and Khirbet al-Majaz. In late September of this year, Israeli bulldozers descended upon the community of She’b al-Batem, in the Masafer area of the South Hebron Hills. Before they left, they destroyed the home of two families… leaving 14 people homeless, including 10 children… one of them with a physical disability. Later that day, they proceeded to the community of Khirbet a-Rakeez where they demolished the homes of four families, leaving 17 people, including 10 minors and a woman with special needs, without any shelter. The week before, Israeli Civil Administration arrived at the community of Khalet Taha, in the Hebron District, accompanied by a military escort and Border Police. When they left, the homes of three families had been destroyed along with a large water reservoir, a well under construction, a power grid that stretched over 600 meters and razed land intended for building another water reservoir and a cattle pen.
These demolitions are by no means an anomaly. They occur daily throughout Palestinian Bedouin districts leaving countless families homeless, modern infrastructure destroyed, international development and improvement grants wasted and a tradition of the millennium struggling to see but another tomorrow. Yet they are not limited to distant desert outposts.
Very much the quiet, public face of an unbroken tear of ethnic cleansing, civil Israeli society aspires to undertake, in relative silence, what its military has long accomplished by unleashed bomb and bullet. Indeed, in its rush to erase generations of cultural and religious diversity, over the last few years Israeli demolitions in the greater East Jerusalem area have caused the destruction of several hundred residential and commercial structures… leaving hundreds of Palestinians homeless and dozens of businesses in ruins. This drive to turn Jerusalem into one huge Euro/American synagogue is but a continuum of the last fifteen years during which more than one thousand- five hundred residential and commercial units have been demolished by Israel… leaving more than three-thousand Palestinians homeless… including some one thousand- five hundred minors. But, then again, with history, at times, a precursor of what is yet to come and almost 10,000 Palestinian children detained… largely uncharged, unprosecuted and unrepresented over the last two decades… Zionists might argue, with straight face and determined purge, in Palestine there’s really no need for permanent housing.
Joe Biden has spent 50 years fleeing necessary friction; slapping backs trying in the name of some useless call for collegiality, to be all things to all people… that is, to those like him who find comfort in the myth of labor but, in reality, the privilege of birth. And now, Joe Biden, it is your time. What will you do? You are 77 years old, surely but a one term president who owes nothing to anyone or anything but to history. But for you that is a debt long overdue and riddled with the liberty and life of others. To get a flavor of your crossing, it would be easy to walk down the lane of history and stop at the headstones of your Criminal Justice Act of 1996, your pillage of Anita Hill, your support of an Iraqi sanction that starved the final breath from half a million children. These were your personal gold stars to own… ones that forged a political pathway which took a true believer to the apex of power… and, now, you are there.
To millions of Palestinians, their nightmare is a parallel travel in time to that of yours. Though you have felt the unfortunate sting of personal pain and suffer, imagine that of a stateless people, long abandoned, left to fend for themselves against an unbroken volley of Israeli violence and world indifference. You have played a role in that tragedy. Your votes have enabled and your silence empowered unspeakable and undeniable crimes. It is not enough to say “no” to Israeli plans to annex lands that are not theirs… and never have been. Money, once again, for UNRWA will be but crumbs on a table long smashed by an occupation now in its seventh decade. To reopen the shuttered Palestinian consulate in Washington D.C. will surely help thousands of Palestinians to navigate a world of documents yet do nothing to unfold a state that is no less legitimate, than the one you are about to lead.
Be daring, be bold, be decent, be humane. Israel must understand that until the siege on Gaza ends, the theft of Palestinian lands done, and political prisons shuttered, the US checkbook remains closed.
You speak often of your faith… one that welcomes all; a community of love, compassion and embrace. Words can become reality if only you dare.
In moving closer to the sage in action, as well toward a personal end of days, keep an eye and mind on Ecclesiastes for guidance.
“Give justice to the weak and the fatherless; maintain the right of the afflicted and the destitute,” (Psalm 82:3). “Learn to do good; seek justice, correct oppression; bring justice to the fatherless, and please the widow’s cause,” (Isaiah 1:17).
Stanley L. Cohen is lawyer and activist in New York City.This appeared on Counterpunch
Who thinks children should be tortured or prosecuted systematically in a military court? Who believes children should be shoved into crowded jail cells during the coronavirus pandemic and denied family visits? Me neither. Yet Israel, that supposed solitary beacon of democracy in the Middle East, does exactly that to Palestinian children, and more.
Much of this has been reported on by the UN and human rights groups for some time, but it is brought into sharp focus following a report from Save the Children (SCF), published last week, titled:
‘The impact of the Israeli military detention system on Palestinian children.’ It is a searing indictment of the Israeli authorities, and a worthy addition to the voluminous but damning high-quality research into this issue.
“SCF surveyed more than 470 Palestinian children across the West Bank. They were 12-21 years old at the time, and had all been arrested or detained as children, between the ages of 10 and 17 years.
“’A majority reported they had endured a distressing or violent arrest or detention, in most cases at night; a coercive interrogation environment; physical and emotional abuse in detention; and a denial of essential services including an adequate education — all of which constitute a breach of their rights enshrined in international law,’ SCF said.
“The report somewhat surprisingly backs off when using the term coercive interrogation. It is torture, plain and simple. SCF is not the first to make this charge, but Palestinians wonder why American and European ministers, among others, say nothing?
“The report states that the occupation has ‘impacted every aspect of their lives, from their safety and development to their psychosocial wellbeing and mental health.’ Even going to school, past settlements and military checkpoints, can be traumatic. Over 10,000 Palestinian children have gone through Israeli detention in the last 20 years.
“The impact is huge, with the children suffering from “anxiety, depression, behavioral changes, eating and sleeping disorders, and physical symptoms including chest pains, exhaustion, and numbness,” SCF said.
According to international law, detaining children should be an option of last resort. What is seen consistently with the Israeli occupation is that this is systematic, used not just as a means of controlling a subject population, but dominating and intimidating it.
One of the reasons the Israeli military does not require a huge presence in the West Bank to control 2.7 million people is the way in which the courts and detention process break the will and spirit of the occupied population, starting from childhood.
Arrests of children are frequent. Around half of Palestinian children detained are arrested at night. Often a child will wake up to find fully armed Israeli soldiers in their bedroom. That is frightening enough, but then typically they are taken from their homes with no adult and stuffed in the back of a military jeep. They get taken to a settlement usually, to await interrogation.
Most children report that they were not allowed any sleep prior to interrogation, with 89 percent reporting being blindfolded or hooded during detention. Nearly all the children get strip-searched.
One boy, Issa, was shot at a checkpoint. He was interrogated before being taken to hospital. A gun was placed on the table in front of him when he was questioned. No child reported having a lawyer present during interrogation. Typically, the children sign confessions in Hebrew, which they cannot understand.
The majority of children are arrested for stone throwing. This typically happens close to Israeli settlements or checkpoints, which are hard to distance oneself from in today’s West Bank. These are friction points. According to Military Court Watch, the Palestinian children who were detained in 2019 lived on average within 900 meters of a West Bank settlement.
If an Israeli settler child throws a stone, it is dealt with through the Israeli civilian legal process, with all the proper safeguards one should expect. Two peoples, two different legal systems exist in one territory.
In many cases, the local Israeli commander picks up Palestinian children almost at random every time there is a stone-throwing incident. They need to do this to maintain the climate of deterrence, or there will be riots every day. Not once in numerous visits to Israeli military courts have I seen evidence being presented to demonstrate that a particular child was the one guilty of throwing a stone.
Israel is the only country in the world that systematically prosecutes children through military courts. It would seem that these are mightily successful. Ofer military court, one of two in the West Bank, boasts a 99.74 percent conviction rate based on its own figures. The period of detention is shattering for the children. About 60 percent are imprisoned in Israel, a violation of Article 76 of the Fourth Geneva Convention. Conditions are poor in overcrowded cells, but children are also placed in solitary confinement.
Detention has become normalized for Palestinian children. It is a painful rite of passage from childhood to adulthood. What has also become normalized is the international reaction. The Israeli-Palestinian conflict is far from being resolved, but surely the minimum one should expect is clear, principled opposition to the abuse of children.
Chris Doyle is director of the London-based Council for Arab-British Understanding.