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Liberal arrogance and some Palestinian non-violent martyrs

Guardian America editor Michael Tomasky thinks he’s being clever and original by asking: “why don’t the Palestinians just imitate Ghandi?“.

Self-satisfied liberals ask this from time to time. From Michael Moore in “Stupid White Men” to occasional Haaretz editorials. It seems every liberal who asks this thinks they are the first to ever do so. Apparently, the Palestinians are supposed to thank them for bringing them the enlightenment of non-violence resistance.

The answer to the question is: “actually, they do all the time: idiot. But you’re too busy kissing Barack Obama’s behind to notice. Too busy to report on the Palestinian victims of Israeli soldiers’ frequent attacks against unarmed demonstrations.” Hell: an American was shot in the head by Israeli soldiers last month just after such a demonstration (he was not even protesting at the time). Did you even report on that Tomasky? That says a lot: you won’t even report on unarmed victims in Palestine when they are the privileged White Man.

Here is a list of 17 names (10 of whom minors). It is a list of unarmed Palestinians murdered by Israeli terrorist soldiers during popular demonstrations against Israel’s apartheid wall in the West Bank in the last 5 years.

Take note that this list does not even include the hundred of civilians (926 according to Palestinian hospital sources) murdered by Israel during their latest massacre in Gaza — they were mostly sitting at home, in hospitals or UN schools acting as makeshift shelters or trying to flee the Israeli onslaught. It does not include other unarmed Palestinian demonstrators murdered by Israeli terrorist soldiers during the second intifada, those who were demonstrating about things other than the wall. It does not include the victims of the ruthless Israeli repression of the first intifada: which on the Palestinian side was almost entirely a popular non-violent struggle. It does not include the 3000 victims of Sabra and Shatila, murdered by Israel’s sectarian rightist death squad allies in Lebanon, brought into the Palestinian refugee camps by Israeli soldiers in 1982. It does not include the many returning Palestinian farmers shot dead by Israeli soldiers for checking on their farms between 1948 and 1967. It does not include many many thousands of Palestinian and other Arab civilians murdered by Israel for far less than demonstrating non-violently over the last 100 years of Zionist colonialism in Palestine.

Nevertheless, here is the list. Remember these names before you start preaching to the Palestinians, Tomasky. They know far more about non-violent resistance than you ever will.

February 26th, 2004
Muhammad Fadel Hashem Rian, age 25 and Zakaria Mahmoud ‘Eid Salem, age 28
Shot dead during a demonstration against the wall in Biddu.

Abdal Rahman Abu ‘Eid, age 17
Died of a heart attack after teargas projectiles were shot into his home during a demonstration against the wall in Biddu.

Muhammad Da’ud Saleh Badwan, age 21
Shot during a demonstration against the wall in Biddu. Muhammad died of his wounds on March 3rd 2004.

April 16th, 2004
Hussein Mahmoud ‘Awad ‘Alian, age 17
Shot dead during a demonstration against the wall in Betunya.

April 18th, 2004
Diaa’ A-Din ‘Abd al-Karim Ibrahim Abu ‘Eid, age 23
Shot dead during a demonstration against the wall in Biddu.

Islam Hashem Rizik Zhahran, age 14
Shot during a demonstration against the wall in Deir Abu Mash’al. Islam died of his wounds April 28th.

February 15th, 2005
‘Alaa’ Muhammad ‘Abd a-Rahman Khalil, age 14
Shot dead while throwing stones at an Israeli vehicle driven by private security guards near the wall in Betunya.

May 4th, 2005
Jamal Jaber Ibrahim ‘Asi, age 15 and U’dai Mufid Mahmoud ‘Asi, age 14
Shot dead during a demonstration against the wall in Beit Liqya.

February 2nd, 2007
Taha Muhammad Subhi al-Quljawi, age 16
Shot dead when he and two friends tried to cut the razor wire portion of the wall in the Qalandiya Refugee Camp. He was wounded in the thigh and died from loss of blood after remaining a long time in the field without being treated.

March 28th, 2007
Muhammad Elias Mahmoud ‘Aweideh, age 15
Shot dead during a demonstration against the wall in Um a-Sharayet – Samiramis.

March 2nd, 2008
Mahmoud Muhammad Ahmad Masalmeh, age 15
Shot when trying to cut the razor wire portion of the wall in Beit Awwa.

July 29th, 2008
Ahmed Husan Youssef Mousa, age 10
Killed while he and several friends tried to remove coils of razor wire from land belonging to the village.

July 30th, 2008
Youssef Ahmed Younes Amirah, age 17
Shot in the head with rubber coated bullets during a demonstration against the wall in Ni’lin. Youssef died of his wounds August 4th 2008.

December 28th, 2008
Arafat Khawaja, age 22
Shot in the back with live ammunition in Ni’lin during a demonstration against Israel’s assault on Gaza.

Mohammad Khawaja, age 20
Shot in the head with live ammunition during a demonstration in Ni’lin against Israel’s assault on Gaza. Mohammad died in the hospital on December 31st 2008.

This list, based on eyewitness accounts, is maintained in English by the ISM and the AATW. A slightly older version has been published on the ISM website, since when there have been two more murdered.

UPDATE: On 17th April 2009, this grizzly list became 18 when Basem Abu Rahme was murdered by a Israeli terrorist soldier in Bil’in.

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Subversion in Gaza

The recent hostilities between Palestinian factions Hamas and Fatah in Gaza and the West Bank have been presented in the media as a sort of small-scale Palestinian civil war, ending (for now) with a Hamas coup in the Gaza Strip.

It is far more accurate to understand it as a failed coup attempt against the elected government by US-sponsored gangs in Gaza — “the Palestinian Contras” as Ali Abunimah puts it. Chief among their leaders was Gaza warlord Mohammed Dahlan, who earned the contempt of Hamas during the Oslo years with round-ups and torture of their activists.

Furthermore, it’s not only Hamas who sees things this way. Hani al-Hassan, one of the founders of the Fatah movement recently supported this view during an interview with al-Jazeera TV. In the current Al-Ahram weekly, veteran Palestinian journalist Khaled Amayreh reports from Ramallah that: “He argued that the recent showdown in Gaza was not a confrontation between Fatah and Hamas but one between Hamas and the Dahlan faction. Referring to Dahlan’s supporters as ‘the Dayton group’, a reference to the American General Keith Dayton who was in charge of arming and financing the former Gaza strongman, Al-Hassan said that Hamas had to do what it did in order to protect the overall national cause”. After he spoke out, al-Hassan’s house was shot at by unknown gunmen.

US backing of Dahlan via General Dayton is a matter of record as reported in the New York Times on the 18th of May:

Israel has made no secret of backing Fatah and attacking only Hamas targets. When a Fatah leader, Muhammad Dahlan, needed to bring in reinforcements on Tuesday — a brigade of guards undergoing training in Egypt — Israel made sure in a widely publicized move that the Rafah bordere crossing would be open to admit them.

The training of the guards is being supervised under an American program devised by the American security coordinator, Lt. Gen. Keith W. Dayton, which is being financed by some $40 million from Congress and more from Western allies.

There is currently a theory popular those among Palestinian supporters of Fatah, who nevertheless recognise that Dahlan and his ilk are US stooges — those that Hamas refers to as “genuine Fatah” and that a Palestinian friend of mine calls “the Fatah of the first intifada”. The theory goes that Palestinian President, and Fatah leader Mahmoud Abbas actually conspired with Hamas to rid Gaza of Dahlan, since the violent chaos his armed gangs caused there was (presumably) becoming too much of an embarrassment. Once it succeeded, and Hamas by default ended up in control of the whole of Gaza, Abbas then turned on Hamas and used it as an excuse to dismiss the democratically elected government and install a government comprised of his and the US government’s favourites.

Whether or not this part is true (that Abbas wanted rid of Dahlan), the fact that Fatah-tending people in the West Bank believe it shows just how unrepresentative Dahlan and his gangs are. But a story published in Israel’s most popular paper Yedioth Ahronoth yesterday, that the PA emergency government has confiscated millions of dollars from Dahlan would seem to support the theory.

Also well worth reading is this op-ed on YA about Israel’s hypocrisy when it claims to want “Palestinian democracy” whilst saying it supports Abbas. It is worth remembering (as most media reports about the “new” government seem to forget or ignore) that this government is, according to Palestinian law, only supposed to be an “emergency government,” lasting one month.

Let’s see what anti-democratic steps are taken to extend it when this runs out…

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Gideon Levy: “A Black Flag”

I was thinking of writing something on the re-invasion of Gaza (and I still might) but, really, Gideon Levy says most of what needs to be said in today’s Ha’aretz.

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“A Black Flag”

by Gideon Levy, Ha’aretz 2nd July 2006

A black flag hangs over the “rolling” operation in Gaza. The more the operation “rolls,” the darker the flag becomes. The “summer rains” we are showering on Gaza are not only pointless, but are first and foremost blatantly illegitimate. It is not legitimate to cut off 750,000 people from electricity. It is not legitimate to call on 20,000 people to run from their homes and turn their towns into ghost towns. It is not legitimate to penetrate Syria’s airspace. It is not legitimate to kidnap half a government and a quarter of a parliament.

A state that takes such steps is no longer distinguishable from a terror organization. The harsher the steps, the more monstrous and stupid they become, the more the moral underpinnings for them are removed and the stronger the impression that the Israeli government has lost its nerve. Now one must hope that the weekend lull, whether initiated by Egypt or the prime minister, and in any case to the dismay of Channel 2’s Roni Daniel and the IDF, will lead to a radical change.

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The Wall as Walls

Hi-res version was lost, sorry

I came across this cartoon on the ISM Canada website. I’m posting it here, because it sums up so well what is incorrect with the image most people have of Israel’s Wall. It is NOT a “separation barrier” built between Israelis and Palestinians. It is an annexation barrier, the vast majority of which is built or is being built within Palestine. The primary aim of this project is to take more land away from Palestinians and add it to the state of Israel. For a long time, the Israeli government denied this, and claimed it was “only for security”, and that the route of the Wall could be moved in the event of a final status agreement. To anyone on the ground suffering from the effects, this was a transpartent lie. It is now conceded by high Israeli officials (including Tzipi Livni) that the Wall is going to be “the border”, within the framework of “convergence”.

Still, the cartoon is not the whole picture. It would be more acurate to show a series of fences being built within the Palestinian house, separating the mother from the father, from the children. Because this is what is being done – Palestinians are being divided into isolated, unliveable ghettos. Consulting some of the various maps available, demonstrates this plainly. Palestinian Reservations, modeled on the North American manifest destiny example are the ultimate aim.

So, what can we do to stop this? From outside, the boycott, divestment and sanctions (BDS) campaign (similar to that of the boycott of apartheid era South Africa) is, in my judgement, one of few hopes left for any kind of future for Palestine. This article by a British academic who worked in Beirzeit University (near Ramallah, in the West Bank) during the early 80s, brilliantly argues for the academic boycott, and speaks from first hand experience about the denial of academic freedom that Israel routinely enforces on Palestinians. This article by a friend of mine is a good summary of the current state of the campaign.

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Ethnic Cleansing in Slow-Motion

Watching the invasion live on al-Jazeera

On the 24th of May the Israeli army invaded the West Bank city of Ramallah, my current home. In the middle of the day, undercover Israeli forces performed an “arrest operation” on a Palestinian militant in the centre of Ramallah. When their cover was blown, a large force of Israeli soldiers were sent in so that they could shoot their way out of the city past the angry crowds of Palestinians that had assembled. The Palestinian fighters were, for the most part, nowhere to be seen during the invasion. It was left to crowds of youths to defend the city from this act of aggression, using whatever came to hand. Stones, tins of paint, scrap metal – all of it was thrown at the soldier’s jeeps from the rooftops of Ramallah. In the course of events, the Israeli army martyred three civilians and one Policeman (who was apparently unarmed at the time) and injured about thirty others, shooting rubber-coated and live ammunition at the crowds of civilians. In this act of war, Israel violated the entirely one-way ceasefire that Hamas and all the other armed Palestinian factions (apart from Islamic Jihad) had been sticking to since February 2005, despite regular Israeli military operations and killings in the Palestinian territories.

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My pick of recent press on Palestine

Hi everyone. Apologies for the recent drying-up of my journal entries. I have several different items in the pipline, so look for something new here soon. Meanwhile, it’s been far too long since my last post so you should check the ISM site for all the latest stuff that I’ve been up to. Since I spend most of my time posting to the ISM site, I thought I would post some of the best stuff I’ve read recently on the site and in the press in general. Although most of the following links are to our site, many are are reposts of articles from the Israeli and international press (the Ha’artez english website for example is not the best and articles on it often disappear after a few days).

This op-ed piece from the International Herald Tribune by Fareed Taamallah, about checkpoints and the repressive nature of the Israeli occupation is simply beautiful. That radical anarchist, anti-semite Jimmy Carter seems have recently started telling something resembling the truth about the situation here, most recently about Israel’s “convergence” plan.

An Israeli involved in the ISM has been translating a lot of articles from the Hebrew press recently – although both Yedioth Ahronoth and Ha’aretz (two of the main Hebrew language Israeli papers) have English editions (both in print and online) not everyting is translated. The choice of what is and is not translated is often a political one. One of the most interesting pieces he has translated is about recent comments by Brigadier General (retired) Ilan Paz, who until recently was the head of the District Coordinating Office (DCO) in the West Bank. It’s called “Mr. Occupation Saw the Light” and is very reveiling. Also from the Israeli press is this op-ed about the recent high court decision that prevents Palestinian citizens of Israeli (the decendents of those who in 1948 choose not to flee and were not directly driven out) from living with their husbands, wives and children if they happen to come from the West Bank or Gaza strip. A law excluding people from the “only democracy in the middle east” based purely on race and nationality – all in the name of “security” (the magic answer). Finally from the Israeli press, Ha’aretz has been getting all hot and bothered recently about the boycott of Israeli academics and academic institutions that do not publicly condemn the occupation. Considering that Ha’aretz is so Zionist, this is a good sign!

As you probably know, I go to demonstrations in the village of Bil’in most weeks. If you want to know the background as to why the villagers are demonstrating, read “Wall of Shame” in a recent edition of the excellent SchNEWS. Also check these two photos, which show the truth about the “self defence” Israeli soldiers are “forced” to use in Bil’in every week. Recently, there has been an upsurge in violence used against the demonstrators. Two of my friends were shot at close range with rubber bullets (against even the regulations of the Israeli army) a few weeks ago. If they had used the rubber-coated steel bullets that they use against Palestinians, they would probably have been dead now. Thankfully they are now fine, and getting back to ISM work.

For people who tell you nonsense like “the Palestinians are uniquely violent – other anti-occupation movements have used non-violence”, it is worth noting that the almost instinctive reaction of the Israeli military to mass non-violent demonstrations by the Palestinians is violence. In Ar-Ram recently, just such a large, organised, peacefull protest against the Aparthied Wall that Israel has built right through the main street of their town was simply attacked. The Israeli military later told the press that they had to do this because the demonstrators threw stones as they approched. I was there and I know this was a total lie. We also have video footage that proves this, which we offered to the press. After they were attacked by the army, some of the youth did retaliate with stones, but this was mostly symbolic in that they were too far away to hit anything. This is the standard practice of the Israeli army – attack non-violent demonstrations and then afterwards claim they were “violent riots”, instead of demonstrations demanding basic human rights. They get away with this becase the Israeli and international press regularly reports these claims as fact. They attack tiny demonstrations even more freely. Palestinian demonstrations without media presence or Israeli and international support are met with lethal force. Finally, to illustrate the fundamentally racist nature of the Israeli military and their occupation, check out this account and pictures on how the military reacts to stone throwing by Jewish settlers.

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Terror and Occupation in Nablus

Eyewitness accounts from a friend of mine who has been based up Nablus for the past week. Originaly published on Electrontic Intifada, with more pictures.

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Linda Spence writing from Nablus, Occupied Palestine, Live from Palestine, 21 April 2006.

Tanks and soldiers roll into Balata refugee camp during the invasion of April 2006. (Dylan Bergeson)

17 April 2006 — This is just one personal account of a shocking situation I witnessed in in Nablus. In the week I have been here, Nablus and Balata refugee camp have been under regular daily and nightly attack from the IDF. All of the incursions have involved live ammunition, demonstrating little care for the hundreds of civilians in these highly populated areas.

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