Family of Mohammed Abu Khdeir continues to wait for justice as Israeli court again postpones trial for his killers


Four months after the grisly slaying of Mohammed Abu Khdeir, his killers faced Jerusalem district court judges today to enter their pleas. Instead of responding to the charges, Yosef Haim Ben-David, the 29-year old settler from the Adam settlement and ringleader of the abduction, and two 16-year-old Israeli accomplices were all granted continuances. The trial was set to begin over the summer, however it was pushed back after defendants switched representation.

Today, lawyers for the three accused each presented their own arguments to stymie the court again.

Ben-David’s legal advocate asked for more time to order a mental health workup. Though Ben-David confessed to the crime in great detail including pre-meditation, he asserted that he may not be liable due to mental illness. His advocate requested an additional five-months from the three-judge panel. They granted him three weeks. The other two defendants sought procedural delays.

The lawyer for one of the teenage defendants said he was hired days ago by his client and was not briefed. The second youth’s attorney said while he was prepared to enter a plea, because the others were withholding pleas, he too would wait in the chance that their answers to jurists would influence his.

“Until now they are in jail, but is doesn’t mean they are going to stay in jail,” said the state’s attorney Uri Korv of the three defendants remand during the hearing. Korv is seeking a maximum sentence for Ben-David and a harsh conviction for the minors.

“I do not hope for anything from the Israeli court because it is a racist court,” said the deceased’s father Hussein Abu Khdeir, continuing, “It judges for the Israelis, not the Arabs.”

After his son’s killing, the elder Abu Khdeir’s life has been turned upside down. Israeli border police are perched outside of his house nightly. Until now, clashes continue disrupting the semblance of a quiet home life they once enjoyed in their leafy East Jerusalem suburb. Dozens of youngsters from the family have been arrested on charges of stone throwing. And to the family whose tragedy became intertwined with the war in Gaza, the court’s delay in moving past pre-trial signifies another let down.

“It is getting worse every day since Mohamed was kidnapped and killed,” said Hussein Abu Khdeir. His grief stricken wife, Suha Abu Khdeir called for the homes of the three killers to be demolished like those of Palestinians who commit crimes against Israel.

Until this past summer punitive home demolitions had been a retired policy of deterrence for the Israeli Defense Forces operating in the West Bank. But around the time of Abu Khdeir’s killing the policy was reinstated. It, however, has only been used against Palestinians as a punishment for the murder of Israelis.

“If they do it to the Arabs, I want the same thing,” said Suha Abu Khdeir leaving court distressed, “I want the rights of my son,” she continued.

Under police escort, while in the court’s corridors the two teens lifted their loose tee shirts overhead. Ben-David exited the trial room first, wearing a black and white tracksuit with sunny yellow sandals, and thick socks. His hair and beard were unkempt. He looked straight on to network cameras. This time Ben-David was silent. The last time he was before media at the arraignment he declared that he was “the messiah,” leading to questions whether spectators witnessed a performance or an actual display of insanity.

The two minors in the case have not yet been named because a gag has been placed on disclosing the identities of arrested youths. In court, they were simply each called “the defendant.”

Chomsky at 85


This is part of Marc H. Ellis’s “Exile and the Prophetic” feature for Mondoweiss.

In our post-Gaza malaise – or is it rather our post-Gaza back-to-business-as-usual? – last week’s passage of a divestment resolution by 400 delegates at the Connecticut Conference of the United Church of Christ (CTUCC) and Noam Chomsky’s appearance at the United Nations seem to be opposite sides of the spectrum.

The UCC and the churches in general are belatedly coming face to face with the future of Israel-Palestine. Chomsky at 85 years of age is, at least partly, dwelling in the past.

Clearly Chomsky is aging and though his mind and memory remain sharp, his physical appearance tells another story. At some point, the second major pillar of the Israel-Palestine narrative – the Jewish complement to the Palestinian Edward Said – will be departing the scene.

At least privately, some critics on the Left think Chomsky is passé. But with Gaza’s – and Palestine’s – future still-born, Chomsky’s aging visage is worth reconsidering. Here I’m thinking less of Chomsky’s controversial stance on BDS which he reiterated in his UN appearance, than his overall narrative sensibilities which were in full play.

When most people think of Chomsky, they think intellect and perseverance. But like Said’s Palestinian sensibility, Avram Noam Chomsky can’t be understood outside his Jewishness. Chomsky’s Jewishness was at play at the UN when he responded to a question about the charges of anti-Semitism and Jewish self-hate leveled at critics of Israeli policy. Usually adverse to employing Jewish symbolism, Chomsky unexpectedly employed the Biblical story of the Prophet Elijah’s confrontation with King Ahab. Viewing Ahab as the “epitome of evil” in the Hebrew Bible, Chomsky recalled Ahab’s baiting of Elijah with the epitaph “hater of Israel.” For Chomsky the choice was clear. As a Jew, he would rather be identified with Elijah than Ahab.

Chomsky may have been dipping into his quite extensive Jewish upbringing for a simple and easily understood response to the issue at hand. Yet his venue was the UN not a synagogue or a church. Could Chomsky’s response have been a heretofore unannounced summing up of his life-long stance as a Jew of Conscience with his obvious standing in direct relation to the Jewish prophetic tradition?

As with Said, whose general philosophical and deconstructive identity-centered narrative was legendary, Chomsky’s universalist narrative structure concentrating on the critique of American imperial power is known throughout the world. Like Said in his later years, Chomsky is by now entirely and productively predictable. One listens knowingly, anticipating his political analysis, intonations, often employed examples and dry and penetrating wit.

Like Said in his later years, Chomsky has his critics on the Left. Chomsky has been around for so long, remains so prolific – in short, Chomsky takes up narrative space other interpreters seek. Some think that not only has his time passed, Chomsky may, especially with reference to the “next-step” BDS, be a brake on the progress of Israel-Palestine activist movements.

It isn’t just Chomsky’s controversial views on BDS. Chomsky remains a qualified two-state advocate when many question the viability or desirability of such a resolution of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.

Having opened Chomsky to critique and with commentators passing over him in silence as a more or less irrelevant figure for the future, think of what is left. Surely, narrative structures without activism are empty philosophical luxuries. But activism without an overall narrative can be illusory. In this narrative vacuum, forward movement may occur but a future without an articulated destination is hard to mobilize around or draw others into a mobilization that isn’t only about fulfilling immediate self-interest. Without relying on or overemphasizing deep structures of meaning, which without active struggle are empty, narrative in the service of achievable justice is important.

Since Edward Said’s death activism on the Palestinian issue has increased dramatically. Nonetheless, without Said, an overall Palestinian sensibility is yet to be articulated. Likewise as Chomsky has ceased to be on the cutting edge of the Israel-Palestine discussion, Jewish activism has increased dramatically. In some ways, however, this exploding activism has both Said and Chomsky as their progenitors. As time passes and no one takes their place, and with the situation in Israel-Palestine continuing to worsen, the question remains as to whether activism may become misdirected or, losing a framework for hope, languish.

Today, democracy and the one-state solution are the cutting edge of Israel-Palestine activism. In some ways they are fitting extensions of both Said’s and Chomsky’s legacy, even if neither thinker went there completely. But these are long range hopes rather than grand narratives. Palestinians and Jews have histories that encompass and also transcend ways of organizing their cultural and political life in Israel-Palestine.

Listening to Chomsky at 85, we are reaching – have we already reached? – another end. Is this end also a new beginning?

NYT takes on Europe’s recognition of a Palestinian state


The question of Palestine, or rather the question of Palestinian statehood is plaguing the Israeli government and now the pages of the New York Times. In a round table of op-eds Nadia Hijab, Avital Leibovich, Efraim Halevy, Nathan Thrall, Caroline B. Glick, Richard Ottaway, and Omar Barghouti, weigh in on the domino effect of declarations of sovereignty over the occupied territories from the past month. Sweden recognized the state of Palestine, which was followed in a week’s time by the symbolic vote of the British House of Commons and an unexpected nod of approval from France. Indeed while “Palestine” was announced by the governing body of Palestinians, the P.L.O. (Palestinian Liberation Organization) back in 1988, this is Western Europe’s first major foray into sizing up the future of Israel/Palestine since Britain’s drafting of the Balfour Declaration in 1917.

While the impact of recognizing a Palestinian state has not caused any sharp or meaningful changes on the ground, and bears no authority to alter the status of the West Bank, Gaza and East Jerusalem, it is raising questions and puncturing holes into the long-standing, Oslo-initiative two-state framework. In the pages of the Times, for example, pro-Israel and pro-Palestinian rights experts both shrug over the usefulness of recognizing the state of Palestine.

For the pro-Israel commentators, recognizing Palestine is “premature” and detracts from Israel’s longstanding position of only allowing for a Palestinian state as the fruit of a negotiated agreement. Leibovich, formally the Israeli Defense Forces spokesperson and presently with the American Jewish Committee, thinks recognizing Palestine is preemption,

“Any nation wishing to declare independence should meet three essential elements: a strong central government, control of defined territory and security.”

Leibovich goes on to explain Palestinian efforts are better-spent state-building and addressing Israeli security concerns. But, because “the Palestinian Authority does not yet meet any of them,” she finds them ill-prepared for self-government. Of course prepared or not for emancipation, this line of reasoning is moot as Leibovich herself noted the recognitions were “nonbinding.”

Paternalism aside, Leibovich then outlined a sort of doomsday scenario where the rockets from Hamas could spill over into attacks from the West Bank—and nipping that in the bud takes precedent over any call to statehood, she wrote. The other pro-Israel voices more or less concured. Efraim HaLevy, former Mossad chief wrote,

“There is a distinct possibility that the new ‘state,’ devoid of effective organs, will fail to function and the entire edifice of the Fatah-led ‘government’ will collapse.”

And Caroline Glick of the Jerusalem Post played it fast and loose and stated, inaccurately that Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas has never recognized Israel. Therefore, she claimed, he is undeserving of recognition himself.

However, since the P.L.O.’s 1988 declaration of statehood, their official position is for two states, meaning an acceptance of the state of Israel for an out of touch Glick. This position has been re-stated on numerous occasions, in a multitude of mediums.

After publication, the Times made a correction to Glick, The newest version reads, “Mahmoud Abbas has pledged, repeatedly, over decades that he will never, ever recognize Israel as the Jewish state, meaning he will never recognize Israel.” They post-scripted her article with the following note: “An earlier version said Abbas had pledged never to recognize Israel itself.”

While the most convincing argument mustered against Europe’s recognition trend is that Palestine should only come into fruition vis-à-vis negotiations, the argument in favor of statehood is no more convincing. This is because the pro-Palestinian rights analysts are not too keen on recognition of statehood either.

“The problem lies in how Palestinian rights are defined and who is doing the defining,” wrote Nadia Hijab as she notes that while Europe is pledging support to Palestinians on one hand, in the other, “Britain and Sweden’s trade with Israel is on the rise.” Although ultimately she concludes “European recognition of a Palestinian state could well pressure Israel to behave in accordance with international law.”

“If it is the first step toward recognizing the irrefutable right of the Palestinian people to self determination, then it would be a positive contribution,” wrote Omar Barghouti taking a more critical line,

“But, if it is, as implied, solely meant to resuscitate the comatose version of the ‘two state solution’ which, as dictated by Israel, omits basic Palestinian rights, then it would be yet another act of British complicity in bestowing legitimacy on Israel’s unjust order.”

And herein lies the complication of Europe’s recognition of Palestinian statehood. No one is quite sure just what type of state is being recognized. Is it the one based on international law, which guarantees Jerusalem as part of this state and a just outcome for refugees based on return and compensation? Or is it the state of Bantustans threaded together by a convoluted double lane highway system and country roads that run underneath settlements?

However, what is clear is that recognizing Palestine is seen as a strike against Israel. And perhaps it’s not as much about a future independent Palestine as it is Europe’s reprimand for Israel’s summer war in Gaza.

‘Settlement endorsement should be put on a par with racism, sexism, homophobia and anti-Semitism’ –British pol


Last week Sir Alan Duncan, who is a minister for international development in the Conservative government of Britain, voted to recognize a Palestinian state, joining an overwhelming majority in the House of Commons. A day later he gave a speech describing “apartheid” conditions in the Israeli occupation and calling on western countries to marginalize as racist extremists those who support settlements:

Over the years we have made a firm stand against racism, sexism, homophobia, and anti-Semitism. It is time now that we added ‘settlement endorsement’ to that list of extreme undemocratic attitudes which we are not prepared to tolerate.

Anyone who considers settlements acceptable places themself outside the boundaries of democratic principle.  Settlement endorsement should be put on a par with racism, sexism, homophobia and anti-Semitism. Indeed, just as we quite rightly judge someone unfit for public office if they refuse to recognise Israel, so we should shun anyone who refuses to recognise that settlements are illegal.

No settlement endorser should be considered fit to stand for election, remain a member of a mainstream political party, or sit in a Parliament. How can we accept lawmakers in our country, or any country, when they support lawbreakers in another?  They are extremists, and they should be treated as such.

Lawmakers who support lawbreakers– this policy, adopted, would have the effect of cashiering 90 percent of the American Congress!

Duncan also lashed out at those who brand criticism of Israel as anti-Semitic.

Criticising Israel for its conduct neither questions its right to exist, nor is it anti-Semitic.

Similarly, standing up for justice for Palestinians is not in any way anti-Semitic either….

Laurie Penny, who is herself half-Jewish, spoke for many Jewish people when she wrote in the New Statesman that ‘The moral basis for Israel’s persecution of the Palestinian people is eroding fast. It is not anti-Semitic to say “not in my name”.

One of the most incisive letters in The Times was written last month by Mr Dominic Kirkham, responding to comments from Rabbi Sacks. He said ‘……it is Israel’s belligerence, growing sectarian nature, aggressive colonisation and indifference to international law which are the real cause of so much concern and hatred. Events do not happen in a vacuum and by conflating Zionism, anti-Semitism and criticism of Israel, Rabbi Sacks seems to be condoning what is happening in Israel.’

When some British Jewish organisations unreasonably accuse people of anti-Semitism, more often than not as a diversion from the actual issues in question, they do a disservice to the necessary and valid fight against anti-Semitism.

The speech has generated controversy in England, with Jewish groups objecting to his remarks.

It appears the letter-writer Dominic Kirkham was saying precisely what the Rev. Bruce Shipman of Yale said in a letter to the New York Times last month, and lost his job for saying.

The Alan Duncan speech has been published at the Royal United Services Institute, where it was delivered. Thanks to John Mearsheimer. Here it is:

Middle East Peace: The Principles behind the Process


May I start by expressing my gratitude to RUSI for providing me with a platform from which I can express my considered thoughts on an issue that has concerned – not to say, troubled – me for over thirty years.

No one who has travelled to Israel and Palestine, as I have done so often, can fail to become emotionally engaged in the rights and wrongs of the arguments between the two. The Israeli-Palestinian dispute is one of the most polarising and vexed issues in the world. What’s more, it creates fury and indignation way beyond the immediate vicinity of the region. Far more than just an Arab issue, it angers millions in the wider Muslim world.

I want today to examine one fundamental component of this issue, try to put its importance into context, and then explain the stand I believe we, as engaged citizens, should take about it.

Year after year, in cycles of hope and despair, we dwell incessantly on what we all call the Peace Process. And we go on talking about it even when it is in intensive care, and deemed by some to have died altogether. There is no need to rehearse today all of the ins and outs and ups and downs of the failed negotiations and near successes of the past.

I expressed my thoughts while I was a Minister, in a letter to the Foreign Secretary and Prime Minister, in June last year. I will today release that letter as it succinctly encapsulates my point of view, and I want to explain in greater depth the serious argument in it.

At its heart is this. I think we have been looking at the entire issue of Israel and Palestine from the wrong end of the telescope. Our policy, and that of many other countries, has been that on no account should we ever rock the boat by talking in tough language to Israel for fear of jeopardising the so-called Peace Process.

I certainly shared that view – albeit temporarily – while John Kerry, as Secretary of State, worked so valiantly to secure a lasting agreement.

His objectives were genuine and attainable, and it was not his fault that talks collapsed when last April the Israeli cabinet declined to respond constructively. While Secretary Kerry was trying his best we were all duty bound fully to support him.

His efforts could have succeeded. Everything for a sensible agreement was offered by the Palestinians – borders, land swaps, the retention of some major settlements, a shared Jerusalem, a demilitarised Palestine. They even started by offering all these main components of a sustainable agreement, yet the Israeli Government finished by having offered absolutely nothing substantial. In my view, as I said in that letter, I don’t think they ever had any intention of doing so. But we all stuck by the process.

But the price we have paid for focussing only on the process is that we have increasingly lost sight of the principle. The principle that has been sacrificed and subordinated to the false dawn of process is the stand we ought to make on Israel’s illegal settlements.

Part One

It has been the position of every British government since 1967 that the West Bank, East Jerusalem and Gaza have not been lawfully part of the State of Israel, whether at its creation or at any point thereafter. Indeed, that is the view of every foreign government, including the United States.

And since 1967, a clear line has been drawn in international law which defines which territory is occupied and which is not.

Yet relentlessly, every week, every month, and every year for decades, Israelis have built illegal constructions on Palestinian land.

The construction of settlements in the Occupied Palestinian Territories is contrary to Article 49 of the Fourth Geneva Convention which prohibits the occupying power from transferring parts of its own population into the territories it occupies. This is a position held by the international community and confirmed by the International Court of Justice. Indeed, the Supreme Court of Israel itself has repeatedly found that the West Bank is held in belligerent occupation.

But since 1967 Israel has continuously and systematically built outside its legitimate borders and has claimed its neighbours’ land as its own.

Israeli settlements are the worst, most destructive, aspect of the military occupation, an occupation which has become the longest in modern international relations.

The continued expansion of settlements demonstrates that the occupier has little or no intention of ending that occupation or of permitting a viable Palestinian state to come into existence.

Back in 1993 when the Oslo Peace Process started there were, in the West Bank- not including Jerusalem- 110,000 settlers. Today there are 382,000- around 10% of the entire population of the West Bank. Israel’s Housing Minister Uri Ariel, himself a settler, wants to see the number grow by 50% over the next five years. Crucially, not only would the number of settlers increase, but so too would the proportion of settlers, so therefore further entrenching the occupation.

This illicit expansion did not even diminish while the Kerry initiative was at its height. Just last year, new housing starts in West Bank settlements rose by over 120%. During the nine months of the Kerry initiative, according to the Israeli group PeaceNow, ‘the Netanyahu Government promoted plans and tenders for at least 13,851 housing units within the existing settlements and in East Jerusalem – an average of 50 units a day.’

There are now over half a million settlers living in around 120 settlements and 100 unauthorised outposts in the West Bank and East Jerusalem. And to compound the intrusion, the population growth of settler communities during the past decade has been almost three times that of the Israeli population as a whole.

This illegal construction and habitation is theft, it is annexation, it is a land grab – it is any expression that accurately describes the encroachment which takes from someone else something that is not rightfully owned by the taker. As such, it should be called what it is, and not by some euphemistic soft alternative.

Settlements are illegal colonies built in someone else’s country. They are an act of theft, and what is more something which is both initiated and supported by the state of Israel.

We need to be clear about what settlements actually are. To many they are thought to be nothing more than a little tent, set up as a harmless protest, and thus no more than a temporary camp. If that’s what anyone really thinks, then it could not be further from the truth.

Settlements might start as an outpost, something which might indeed be little more than a portable cabin on a hill with the Israeli flag on top. However, they are no less illegal, just because they might be small. But they then become guarded encampments, and then housing estates, and then entire towns.

They are often linked by settler-only motorways, and in the name of security are out of bounds to Palestinians. Many are now massive Israeli colonies located well into the West Bank some distance from Israel proper. Maale Adummim has 37,000 inhabitants, Modi’in Illit 55,000, Beitar Illit 43,000, and Ariel 18,000.

Over the years, the wood and canvass has turned into concrete, the tents have turned into towns, the towns have turned into fortified cities. Nowhere in the modern age has the wider world so tolerated such brazen and repeated illegality.

As if enormous towns in the middle of the West Bank were not offensive enough, other settlements are even worse. If Israel were to build on area E1 east of Jerusalem, it would cut off the capital city from any future Palestinian state. The recently proposed development of 1000 acres to the west of Bethlehem is doubly illegal because not only is it for settlements, but it has also unilaterally been designated by Israel as state land, an action by an occupying power which is forbidden in international law.

And, apart from the calculated insult to President Obama, it is impossible to overstate the criminal intent and strategic importance of Israel’s settlement plan, announced a fortnight ago, for Givat Hamatos. It would finalise the severing of Bethlehem from Jerusalem; it is to be built on Palestinian lands owned by the villagers of Beit Safafa; and it would destroy any easy connection between Palestinian neighbourhoods in south Jerusalem and a future Palestinian state.

It is not just the physical constructions themselves that matter. Building them has a much wider detrimental impact on Palestinians. Their construction is often accompanied by the displacement of Palestinians from their historic farmland, the demolition of their homes, the bulldozing of their ancient olive groves, and the destruction of their water wells.

Rightful Palestinian citizens are reduced to having nothing: while illegal Israeli colonisers get everything. Water, electricity, access, protection: illegal settlers get the lot, the Palestinians next to nothing.

Settlement activity is not carried out by some minority group outside the orbit of the Israeli state. Settlement activity is systematically initiated, implemented and supported by the Israeli Government, who authorise, implement and protect the relentless illegal expansion of the borders of Israel. This is reprehensible.

In addition to being illegal, settlement activity is very often violent, nasty, and brutal. Not all, but many settlers are heavily armed and aggressive.

It is no exaggeration to say that many settlers are state-supported militia, defying international law, driving out the rightful inhabitants from their land, and creating an illegal economy at the expense of those who have been cruelly displaced.

There are all too many accounts of people who have witnessed criminal violence by illegal settlers against the legitimate inhabitants of Palestinian land while the Israeli Defence Force merely looks on.

The IDF are required to be the guardians of illegal Israeli settlers, not the protectors of Palestinian victims. A dual system exists where illegal settlers are subject to civil law while Palestinians are subject to military law. The principal casualty is the Rule of Law.

According to the Israeli group Yesh Din, of all legal cases brought by Palestinians against settlers 91% are closed without indictment.

Occupation, annexation, illegality, negligence, complicity: this is a wicked cocktail which brings shame to the Government of Israel. It would appear that on the West Bank of the Jordan the rule of international law has been shelved.

Perhaps the most vivid example is Hebron. No decent person visiting Hebron can fail to be disgusted by what they see.

In the centre of this amazing city, settlers have occupied the main central residences, driving out Palestinian families who have lived there for centuries. There is a new one this year – Rajabi House. Protected by the IDF, and forced to face billboards saying ‘Palestine has never existed, and never will’ and ‘Gas the Arabs’, all Palestinians are confined to the rest of the city, and risk being shot if they step over a painted line.

While some Israeli settlers throw human excrement and rubbish out of their back windows onto the Arab souhk below, busloads of US tourists visit the Old City while their organisations back home such as the New York Hebron Fund take advantage of their tax-exempt status to fund the settler families who illegally move in.

One should not use the word ‘apartheid’ lightly, but as a description of Hebron it is both accurate and undeniable. In South Africa it meant pass cards, no free movement, forbidden areas, and first and second class citizens. So it is in Hebron.

It’s not just the acreage of settlements themselves which offends. Israel also exercises complete control over most of the Palestinians’ land, life and economy.

The Oslo Accords divided Palestine into three areas. Area C constitutes 61% of the West Bank and is the only contiguous land amid a sea of 227 smaller separate Palestinian areas. The 1993 Accords stipulated that Area C should be transferred to the Palestinian Authority by 1999. Over 20 years after the Oslo Accords, that transfer has never taken place. Instead Palestinians are occupied, repressed, controlled and restricted.

To any rational, well-meaning observer, the actions of Israel defy all logic. And the logic is painful. Doesn’t Israel understand that the occupation of Palestine is not in their interests? Doesn’t the Israeli Government appreciate that their country’s long-term security is not best served by stoking widespread hatred through its actions?

Surely Israelis should consider it wise only to do unto others what they would have others do unto them.

Let me, however, make one thing crystal clear. Israel is Israel. It is a country. It is a nation. It is a legitimate state and, since1948, is a full member of the international community, on a par with any other country. Nobody can or should challenge its right to exist.

Over a decade ago, Crown Prince Abdullah, now King Abdullah, of Saudi Arabia, spoke for the Arab world when he offered full and unconditional recognition of Israel after decades of Arab opposition. Even though his principled initiative was churlishly rebuffed by Israel, it is today the considered view of nearly every Arab and Muslim government across the world.

It should be everyone’s view that it is unacceptable not to acknowledge and respect Israel’s legitimate existence.

It is simply not acceptable to question Israel’s right to exist: but it is also unacceptable for Israel to deny that their extra-territorial settlements are illegal. This is a fundamental issue of principle from which all other moral judgments follow. Israel’s attitude to settlements is the litmus test of their, and anyone else’s, decency and moral standing.

In the past, the world has taken a clear stand on illegal territorial expansion, even when the aggressor might describe the area as disputed. We sent the Navy to repel General Galtieri’s claim to the Falkland Islands. We sent an army to repel Saddam Hussain’s claim to Kuwait. We are imposing sanctions on Russia for their annexation of Crimea, and their subterfuge in Eastern Ukraine.

But there is no punitive action taken against Israel for their persistent annexation of the West Bank and East Jerusalem. It is a cruel irony that Russia’s embrace of Crimea might be said to enjoy a modicum of popular consent: whereas the unpunished Israeli land grab in Palestine most certainly does not.

It is a poor reflection on the international community, and on the United States in particular, that Israel persists with the building of settlements largely because it believes that it can get away with doing so. The vision of Greater Israel, a country stretching by divine right from the Mediterranean Sea to the River Jordan, is unfortunately seen by some as a respectable political objective.

Settlements are wrong. Settlements are illegal. Settlements are immoral. This illegality, and all the impropriety that goes with it, is the fulcrum of morality in global affairs. No amount of political funding and no degree of lobbying can ever convert wrong into right.

Israel is of course a democracy. And because it asserts its moral superiority as a democratic state, it is imperative that it should also behave like one. Just stating it is a democracy does not in any way excuse it from behaving in violation of the fundamental principles of democracy. It is not Israel’s political system that is being judged, but rather its conduct.

Israel, by its deliberate policy of settlement expansion, is consistently acting in defiance of democratic norms, and in so doing it forfeits the moral high ground.

If Israel does not adhere to the rule of law, then it puts itself on the wrong side of the difference between right and wrong. It puts itself on the wrong side of democratic principles. It pollutes its own standing as a democracy.

There is another link between process and principle. If you look at every stage of past negotiations, no step forward or Palestinian concession has ever been taken without Israel then committing to build more settlement units. Any step in any direction under the ‘Process’ is invariably accompanied by Israel announcing a further tranche of illegal settlement units as a part of its intended Greater Israel. They have invariably acted in bad faith, and they have done so with impunity.

Israel’s defiance should not be left unchecked. The world should stop and think; the Arab world should unite and speak out; and the western world, including America, should combine to protest against this deliberate violation of decent values. It is high time that we persisted with the process, but also made a stand against Israel’s underlying violation of principle.

In all they do, whatever their other arguments, whatever their deliberate attempts to divert attention from the issue, the continuing gradual annexation by Israel of their neighbour’s land is an ever-deepening stain on the face of the globe.

This is the point of fundamental principle. So fundamental, and so much a matter of principle is it, that it can no longer be treated as subordinate to the illusory process of peace.

No end of diversion, deceit or delay should be allowed to detract from this undeniable principle. Israeli settlements are illegal, and until Israel admits as much, and behaves accordingly, Israel forfeits its moral standing.

Whatever Israel’s approach may be, the rest of the world can and should make its own stand. If it fails to do so, then there is little morality left in international politics.

The US has vetoed 42 UN Security Council resolutions that are critical of Israel- it has only exercised its veto 83 times in total. And the resolutions that have been passed are being flouted.

Part Two

So let me move on.

If Israel’s illegal settlements are an offence to democratic principles and the rule of law, then so therefore is anybody’s support for settlement building.

In our normal politics, we make a stand against extremism – and so we should. An opinion can most certainly be labelled as extreme, and a person can be defined as an extremist, if they defy the rule of law, promote illegality, advocate the oppression of innocent victims, or use the power of the state cruelly to persecute and abuse others. But this is exactly what is happening with Israel’s settlement activity.

So, anywhere in the world, be it in Israel or beyond, all must now embrace this important principle. Settlement endorsement, meaning the denial that they are illegal and the support for their consequences is a form of extremism which we should not tolerate. Be it tacit, or be it explicit, such an attitude is simply not acceptable,

Over the years we have made a firm stand against racism, sexism, homophobia, and anti-Semitism. It is time now that we added ‘settlement endorsement’ to that list of extreme undemocratic attitudes which we are not prepared to tolerate.

Anyone who considers settlements acceptable places themself outside the boundaries of democratic principle. Settlement endorsement should be put on a par with racism, sexism, homophobia and anti-Semitism. Indeed, just as we quite rightly judge someone unfit for public office if they refuse to recognise Israel, so we should shun anyone who refuses to recognise that settlements are illegal.

No settlement endorser should be considered fit to stand for election, remain a member of a mainstream political party, or sit in a Parliament. How can we accept lawmakers in our country, or any country, when they support lawbreakers in another? They are extremists, and they should be treated as such.

What I am trying to say is as much an issue of justice as it is a matter of principle. Nothing motivates me more in politics than our duty to redress injustice. The pursuit of justice should be one of the main motivations for anyone who goes into politics.

Such is the injustice meted out on the Palestinian population – occupied, contained, deprived and repressed – that ‘Justice for Palestine’, like all the ‘isms’ which define our moral being, should now be a cross-party, international cause.

The Holy Land is an area and not a country, but it is being reprehensibly treated by the state of Israel. How can any Christian not be ferociously indignant about the encroachment on Bethlehem? How can any Christian not be appalled by life in Hebron? Yet many evangelical Christians in the United States are amongst those who most excuse and justify the improper actions of Israel. They should reconsider their position. Their blind endorsement of Israeli conduct has become perverse, and their unquestioning acceptance of Israeli injustice to Palestinians is warped.

For instance, intoning the words ‘Judaea and Samaria’ as a justification for an Israel stretching from the Mediterranean Sea to the Jordan River has become a vulgar heresy. The Bible is not a travel guide to modern national boundaries. Those US Christians who endorse and enable the expansion of Israel into Palestinian land should realise where morality and justice lie.

Part Three

So let me move on to a further aspect of this issue. It is one which requires sensitive yet firm handling.

To assert Israel’s legitimacy as a state entity and its unquestioned right to exist and be secure – a view I fervently share – does not require anyone also to defend everything Israel does.

Many who defend the state of Israel have worked themselves into a muddle. Too often, any critic of Israeli conduct is accused either of wanting to see the destruction of Israel or of being anti-Semitic. Neither opinion is forgivable, nor is any unfounded accusation against someone for supposedly holding such views when they do not.

It is offensive when such accusations are made against those who in no way hold either such view but who, from a decent position, have thoughtfully concluded that the behaviour of the Government of Israel is wrong.

This is all the more worrying when, more likely than not, the belief that settlements are acceptable and that critics of Israel’s settlement policy should be roundly opposed, is an opinion which is not shared either by the majority of Israelis or by the majority of the Jewish community in the UK.

In assessing this issue over three decades I think that most Israelis are uneasy about settlement activity, but that the nature of Israeli politics smothers their voice. I also think that most Jewish people in the UK are similarly unhappy about Israeli settlements. The majority are fair and reasonable, but are forced to submit to an aggressive nationalist attitude. Both such groups, quite sensibly, see settlements as not just wrong, but also as a threat to Israel’s reputation and long-term security.

A major problem is that too many public representatives of Jewish groups seem to feel obliged to defend Israel for everything it does, and are pressed to confront any criticism as if it were a challenge to the very existence of Israel as a country and Jewish homeland. This is both illogical and counter-productive. Even worse, is when they warp all argument by unreasonably accusing people of anti-Semitism.

Criticising Israel for its conduct neither questions its right to exist, nor is it anti-Semitic.

Similarly, standing up for justice for Palestinians is not in any way anti-Semitic either.

I find it astonishing – indeed rather sickening – that the Editor of the Jewish Chronicle, Stephen Pollard, should have been roundly attacked by some of his readership in the UK for his simple humanity and decency, not to say editorial right, in publishing an advert in the paper for the Gaza humanitarian appeal.

In contrast, Laurie Penny, who is herself half-Jewish, spoke for many Jewish people when she wrote in the New Statesman that ‘The moral basis for Israel’s persecution of the Palestinian people is eroding fast. It is not anti-Semitic to say “not in my name”.

One of the most incisive letters in The Times was written last month by Mr Dominic Kirkham, responding to comments from Rabbi Sacks. He said ‘……it is Israel’s belligerence, growing sectarian nature, aggressive colonisation and indifference to international law which are the real cause of so much concern and hatred. Events do not happen in a vacuum and by conflating Zionism, anti-Semitism and criticism of Israel, Rabbi Sacks seems to be condoning what is happening in Israel.’

When some British Jewish organisations unreasonably accuse people of anti-Semitism, more often than not as a diversion from the actual issues in question, they do a disservice to the necessary and valid fight against anti-Semitism.

Jewish representative organisations are not obliged to, and nor should they, stand up for the illegal and excessive conduct of the Israeli Government.

Whereas Israel has adopted a policy of making itself a self-defined Jewish state that should not mean that all Jews in all other countries should be required to become spokesmen for all that Israel does.

I deplore anti-Semitism. It should be crushed in all its forms and we should never seek to diminish its significance or downplay its impact on the Jewish community, particularly in the light of the worrying increase in anti-Semitism that we have seen recently across Europe.

In the same way as it is wrong to correlate Israel with all Jews: so is it also wrong to conflate all Jews with Israel. 263,000 Jews are British. Jewish people don’t just play an important part in British life: they are crucial to it. All should value the UK’s Jewish community and its deep contribution to the fabric of Britain. As such they should, and do, play a full part in or politics.

But our politics has rules. And one important such rule is that our political funding should not come from another country or from citizens of another country, or be unduly in hock to another country. This rule seems to apply to every country except when it comes from Israel. Jewish voters in the UK should be welcomed as supporters of, and donors to, their favoured political party.

Of course, the support of any British Jew for any political party can hinge on whatever they want, including on a politician’s stance on Israel. But we should stop conflating, as we have for too long, British Jews with the Israeli lobby. They are distinct, and failing to recognise this treats the entire Jewish community as if they are homogenous, when of course they are not.

We need British Jews for the Conservative, Labour, or other UK parties; not the Israeli lobby for any party. The time has come to make sure above any doubt that the funding of any party in the UK is clearly decoupled from the influence of the Israeli state.


For far too long, those who have made a moral stand against Israeli misconduct and in favour of justice for Palestinians have been trashed, traduced and bullied. This, and the character assassination of critics, cannot be allowed to continue.

The time has come for us to make an international stand on the principle of illegal Israeli settlements. All who converse, all who interview, and all who debate are entitled to ask their interlocutor for a simple answer to a simple question. ‘Do you agree that Israeli settlements outside the 1967 borders are illegal – yes or no?’

If they give no answer at all, or equivocate, or actually say ‘no’, then we are entitled to brand such a person morally complicit in illegality, and therefore an extremist.

Anyone who supports illegal Israeli settlements in Palestinian land is an extremist who puts themself outside the boundaries of democratic standards. They are not fit to stand for election or sit in a democratic parliament, and they should be condemned outright by the international community and treated accordingly.

Truth, principle, justice, morality, legality: they are all enduring values and they cannot and must not be bought or bullied into submission. For too long we have been too submissive on the principle of illegal settlements, and it is high time we stopped being so, and reasserted clearly and without fear, exactly what is legally and morally right and what is legally and morally wrong.


The Rt Hon Sir Alan Duncan KCMG MP is the Conservative Member of Parliament for Rutland and Melton, and served as Minister of State for International Development from 2010 to 2014. Previously an oil trader, he held a raft of Shadow Cabinet positions, including Shadow International Development Secretary and Shadow Foreign Office Minister. He is now the Prime Minister’s Special Envoy to Oman and Yemen, developing his previous ministerial focus. He has been visiting Israel and Palestine, as well as the wider region, for over thirty years and is regarded as one of the Conservative Party’s most experienced voices on the Middle East.

‘I know how the brainwashing works’


Recently Jerome Slater passed along the following statement from a London friend named David, saying, “I think it should be widely read.” The writer requested anonymity because of relatives in Israel. He comments on our site as “Bornajoo.” –Editor.

I was born into a poor Jewish family in the slums of the East End of London in the early 60’s, one of four brothers. My father was an Indian Jew and my mother an Iraqi one. They met in India and moved to London in 1960. We lived right in the middle of the Haredi community in Stamford Hill. I was sent to Hebrew and Jewish studies classes nearly every evening until I was around 13.

My first visit to Israel when I was 5 years old just a year after the Six Day War. I was taken to the Wailing Wall and the Old Town in Jerusalem which was only in Israel’s possession less than a year at that point. When I was 11 years old my first cousin was killed in the Maalot School Massacre of 1974. After that point we grew up hating the Arabs even more than before, there was Jewish influence all around me. There was no crack where the light could get in, it was a closed bubble and no other thoughts were possible. So I know how the brainwashing works.

Then my older brother who went on holiday to Israel when he was 19 (I was 17) visited our family who lost their daughter/sister in Maalot. The 3 brothers (not surprisingly) all had careers in the army.

Instead of coming home they convinced him to join the Israeli army. So he enlisted and was trained in the Golani regiment. These same cousins tried to get me to join up. They told me that “you get a gun, you can kill Arabs!” That’s when I realized what the cycle of hate is. Just as these cousins were hurting at the loss of their sister and could only think about Arab blood, then so did each Palestinian who had his brother, father, uncle killed by the Israelis.

Less than a year later Ariel Sharon sent my brother to Lebanon to fight in the 1982 “war”. While he was there I decided to go and travel around Israel for a few months on my own. I literally went everywhere. It was this trip that first opened my eyes and made me realize that the story wasn’t quite adding up. I will provide just a few examples of many:

–Waiting at a bus stop in Netanya I saw dozens of Palestinians walking in from the West Bank (the days before the Wall and checkpoints) to wait around in the heat for Israeli building contractors to come and pick them up to go and work on some building site for a cash pittance. I still remember the way that they were chosen and poked with a stick and herded onto an open backed pick up truck. It reminded me of images from a previous era in Europe. Then I noticed that it was the Palestinians (both Israeli and occupied) working in the toilets, cleaning the streets, doing the hard slog on building sites, cleaning tables….they were the convenient sub-human slave class.

–While in a hostel in Eilat I was sharing a room with an Israeli and a German. The Israeli told us that we should hide our wallets and passports well because there were Arabs working in the hostel who would try and steal them while we slept. He suggested putting them under our pillows. When we woke up the German realised his cash and passport was gone – and so was the Israeli. We called the police. When they arrived they rounded up the 3 young Palestinian boys who worked at the hostel and began punching them and beating them right in front of us. I was shocked and deeply upset. The whole time we were trying to explain that it was the Israeli who was the real culprit but the poor Palestinians had to take a beating until the police finally understood what we were telling them.

–Later when visiting my family in Haifa my cousin said to me (I’ll never forget these words) “Why you don’t come and live in Israel? We can open a car wash. It’s a good business here. You just need a piece land, 1 machine, 2-3 buckets, 1-2 Arabs….”. Well at least the Arabs made it to number 4 on the list.

–While visiting my uncle in Ashkelon, who was a police commander in Gaza, I told him that I was not feeling comfortable about the way that the Palestinians were being treated. He said to me that these Arabs are simple naïve people, it’s impossible to give them their own country. They are too stupid to have their own country. It was better for them to work for us here. We give them jobs and security. What else do they want?

I think that to be honest my uncle, who was actually a nice man in all other ways, summed up the attitude of the majority of the Israeli public at that time and was the attitude of so many I was speaking to. They felt that they could deal with the Palestinians with impunity. It was already an apartheid state at that time. Since then they have learned to steal more of their land and kill them with impunity. And they wonder why and how they have ended up with the situation today with Hamas et al.

I spent a couple of months on a Kibbutz in the Gilboa region and while I was there a friend and I wanted to go hiking in the hills and visit some Palestinian towns and villages. Even the moderate lefty Kibbutzniks told us that we were crazy and we would probably be killed. We ignored them and went off for a few days. We went to Jenin, we hiked, we hitched rides, we visited several small towns and villages and also went to Nablus. All of the people we met were warm, kind, gentle, lovely and hospitable human beings. To be honest it was a breath of fresh air after living with the hard, aggressive and brash Israelis for so long. These were just normal human beings with the same dreams, hopes and aspirations as the rest of us. I’m not sure I’ve ever met a friendlier, kinder and more hospitable people. After that I regularly visited the Palestinian areas on my visits to Israel, which are more or less impossible now. If anyone asked I always told them the truth that I was Jewish. My head is still attached to my body.

After spending a few horrid months in Lebanon and with just 6 months to go of his army service, my brother decided to desert and come home. We hid his rifle in a place which would be revealed after he got home, we picked up some clothes and bought an air ticket from Cairo to which we were going to get the bus. But he made one mistake. He told our cousins about what he was going to do and to say goodbye. Unfortunately they called the military police and had him arrested. He was sent to a hard labour prison for 6 months and then had to complete his final 6 months after that which was increased by a further 3 months. When he finally got home we heard some of the horror stories of the Lebanon “war” or should I say slaughter. I wont go into details but numerous crimes were committed and there was no mercy, rules or justice for a whole number of innocent civilians. So when I see the slaughters in Gaza I know that the purpose is to pummel the population into submission. Infrastructure is purposely destroyed, civilian casualties are purposely high. The aim is to place the poor wretched inhabitants into a state of utter hell to create a sense of hopelessness and disillusionment with their leaders. This is what they did in Lebanon and what they have done 3 times in Gaza.

I am very open with my own views which have changed considerably since my early brainwashed days. However I am NOT popular with any of my Jewish family and friends in Israel or here in the UK. I travel to Israel a couple of times a year. I have loads of family there and many friends. I have noticed that the Israelis have become increasingly more racist and right wing, especially since the influx of Russian immigrants and the Netanyahu governments. Even my 74 year old auntie said while the Gaza slaughter was going on that “they should kill them all, they are all worms!” I find it increasingly more difficult to have a proper debate because it ends up with you being shouted at and it feels extremely threatening. I have been told to leave quite a few Israeli houses in my days. When I read Gideon Levy’s description of what he has to deal with I have nothing but total respect for him and his courage and bravery. My brief and insignificant experiences there gave me a glimpse of what he must endure just to try and do his job and report the TRUTH.

My frustration is sometimes unbearable. It leads to anger. Why can’t they see that if you treat other human beings in this oppressive, brutal and humiliating way that apart from being morally and ethically disgraceful it can only lead to a radical reaction? I was telling them 30 years ago that if I was one of them and was treated like that I would be making bombs to kill Israelis (that didn’t go down too well). Why is it that they have learned to dehumanize these poor people to such an extent that they can now just drop 1 ton bombs on apartment blocks and kill anyone with impunity because “a terrorist was seen nearby”? There is no feeling, no empathy at all for these poor people from most Israelis. When one group of humans loses the ability to feel empathy for another group of humans then genocide is just a step away. The current Israeli regime has betrayed everything I stand for as a Jew. We have to be better than everyone else. But these days Israelis and other Jews are, as an excuse, increasingly comparing their own brutality to the supposedly even worse brutality of other regimes. The very fact that this is being used as an argument only demonstrates just how severe the moral and ethical decay really is.

I have predicted nearly every move that Netanyahu is going to make when so-called peace discussions are about to take place; either announcements of more settlements or a provocation to bring about a reaction which in turn provides the smoke screen for slaughter. Why is it that just a few of us can see it but the majority of Israelis cannot see that they are being brainwashed by fear, fear of Hamas, fear of Iran and now conveniently ISIS.

My prediction for the future? This might sound too far fetched…but I honestly believe it’s more of a possibility than anything else IF this government or an even more right wing version stays in power. There will be no two state solution and there will not be an inclusive one state solution. Israel has no intention of giving up land, they want to annex all of it. I believe that they will find a “legitimate” way to “transfer” as many Palestinians as possible under the pretext of security. It will be based on terror cells operating in the West Bank and ISIS or similar group will be implicated. Some bombs may go off. This will lead to an increased military presence and eventually the expulsion of the Palestinians from those areas which they will say is “crucial for security”. They want to do this in order to achieve the Greater Israel which is the goal they have always wanted to achieve regardless of how many Palestinians they have to kill or remove in one way or another. After all we have seen a 1000 acres of West Bank land being stolen as punishment for the kidnapping of the teens. Any excuse will do, inch by inch, yard by yard, acre by acre.

Is there hope? Only if the Americans stop them. They are too far gone to stop themselves. This is why in my opinion all efforts have to be focused on educating the Americans and especially the American Jews. But I’m not optimistic at all.

Soldiers prevent dozens of Palestinians and int’l activists from sowing field under occupation


Violence / Raids / Clashes / Illegal arrests

Palestinians, activists attacked and prevented from rehabilitating agricultural land
IMEMC /Agencies 18 Oct by Saed Bannoura — Israeli soldiers attacked, Saturday, dozens of Palestinian residents and international peace activists, and prevented them from rehabilitating agricultural land in al-Harabala Hill, in Surif town, northwest of the southern West Bank city of Hebron. Yousef Abu Maria, an activist with the Popular Committee against the Wall and Settlements, stated that the soldiers fired gas bombs at the residents and solidarity activists as they tried to plant the land, the Palestine TV has reported. Abu Maria added that several persons suffered the effects of teargas inhalation, while a Palestinian identified as Firas Awad suffered various cuts and bruises after being assaulted by the soldiers. The army forced the residents and activists out of the Palestinian land, and threatened harsh consequences should they return.

5-year-old Palestinian girl hit by settler car succumbs to wounds
RAMALLAH (Ma‘an) 19 Oct — A young Palestinian girl who was struck by an Israeli settler vehicle earlier Sunday has succumbed to her wounds, medics told Ma‘an. Einas Khalil, five, died after being hit by a car driven by an Israeli settler near the central West Bank town of Sinjil, medical sources at Palestine Medical Complex in Ramallah said. The girl and young Nilin Asfour were walking on the main road near the village when they were hit, and were taken to the hospital in Ramallah where their wounds were described as serious. Einas passed away hours later. Residents of Sinjil accused the settler of deliberately hitting the girls. Israeli police arrived at the scene shortly after the incident and opened an investigation into whether it was deliberate, locals said. [Nilin is said to be in critical condition]  Photo of Einas

Video: report (Arabic) on killing and death of Einas Khalil
Palestine TV 19 Oct – includes interview with the child’s mother ‘She wanted to sleep longer and didn’t have breakfast’ Scenes of her death in the hospital and the street where she was hit

Clashes as Israeli forces raid Salfit city center

SALFIT (Ma‘an) 19 Oct — Clashes broke out around dawn in the northern West Bank city of Salfit on Sunday as Israeli forces conducted a raid in the city center and launched dozens of tear gas canisters into residential areas. Eyewitnesses said that an armed military convoy consisting of five patrol cars entered the city center and deliberately fired tear gas canisters and stun grenades into crowds, injuring a number of people, including a journalist on the scene named Khaled Maaleh. Palestinian youths gathered around the military vehicles and pelted them with stones and empty bottles in response, chanting slogans against the Israeli military occupation and recent attacks on the Al-Aqsa Mosque compound in Jerusalem. Eyewitnesses said that the Israeli military convoy had deliberately provoked the crowd, stopping locals in the street and checking ID cards.

Five, including a physically challenged man, kidnapped in Hebron
IMEMC/Agencies 19 Oct by Saed Bannoura — Several Israeli military vehicles invaded, on Sunday at dawn, Hebron city, in the southern part of the West Bank and Beit Ummar nearby town, broke into a number of homes, and kidnapped five Palestinians, including a paralyzed man. Mohammad Awad, spokesperson of the Popular Committee Against the Wall and Settlements in Beit Ummar, stated that the soldiers invaded a number of homes, searched them, and kidnapped two identified as Ziad and his brother Mahmoud Bader Ekhlayyel, 35 and 28 years of age. Awad added that, in 1994, Ziad was shot by an Israeli soldier in his spine, causing paralyses, while his brother is a former political prisoner, who spent two years in Israeli prisons. The soldiers also invaded Ras al-Joura area, north of Hebron city, and kidnapped Suheib ‘Ali Jneid, 20, after searching and ransacking his home. Abdul-Rahman al-Juneidi and Mohammad Ayad Awad, 27, were abducted in the Hebron area as well. In both instances, soldiers smashed the doors of the homes of those abducted. The kidnapped Palestinians were cuffed, blindfolded and were moved to the Etzion Israeli military and security base…
In related news, a number of military vehicles invaded the Deheishe refugee camp, south of Bethlehem, and handed Mohammad Abdullah al-Ja‘fari, 43, a military order for interrogation at the Etzion military base. The soldiers also searched and ransacked his home.

Israeli forces detain 2 Palestinians from Bethlehem-area village
BETHLEHEM (Ma‘an) 19 Oct — Israeli forces detained two Palestinian men from the southern West Bank village of Husan west of Bethlehem early on Sunday morning, according to the Palestinian Prisoner’s Society. The group identified the detainees in a statement as Majdi Hamamra and Nasri Hamamra. The pair were detained after Israeli troops ransacked their homes in the village.

West Bank checkpoint closed after suicide bombing scare
Times of Israel 19 Oct — Israeli security forces determined that a Palestinian man who was detained Sunday near the northern West Bank city of Jenin on suspicion that he was planning to carry out a suicide bombing was, in fact, unarmed. The man was apprehended at a checkpoint next to the Palestinian town of Jalameh on the northern border of the West Bank, after security forces noticed what appeared to be an explosive vest strapped to his torso, Israel Radio reported. Sappers were attempting to dismantle what they thought was an explosive device while police interrogated the man at a facility adjacent to the checkpoint, according to the report. The device was later found not to contain any explosives, Israel Radio reported.

Israeli forces detain Palestinian teen in Beit Ummar
HEBRON (Ma‘an) 18 Oct — Israeli troops detained a young Palestinian man from the town of Beit Ummar in the southern West Bank Friday evening, a local activist said. Muhammad Ayyad Awad of Beit Ummar’s Popular Committee against the Settlements told Ma‘an that Israeli soldiers detained 19-year-old Osama Bassam Khlayyil while he was sitting in his car at the northern entrance to the town.  The soldiers, he added, asked Khlayyil to exit the vehicle and show his license and registration documents of the vehicle, before they assaulted him. Awad said that the soldiers took him into custody and transferred him to Gush Etzion detention center.

Clashes renew in Occupied Jerusalem
IMEMC/Agencies 19 Oct by Saed Bannoura — Palestinian medical sources said several residents have been injured by army fire in renewed clashes that took place with Israeli soldiers invading various neighborhoods and towns in the occupied city. At least five, including a child, have been kidnapped. Dozens of soldiers and police officers invaded the Chain Gate (Bab al-Silsila), the town of at-Tour, and the Shu‘fat refugee camp, in addition to a number of neighborhoods in the Old City. The soldiers invaded Asaliyya and Sharha neighborhoods in the Old City, and attacked several Palestinians before kidnapping four. One of the Palestinians, identified as Hamza Khalaf, was injured in the head when the soldiers assaulted him before kidnapping him. Another kidnapped Palestinian has been identified as Mohammad Sharha; soldiers also kidnapped two of his relatives. In the at-Tour town, soldiers kidnapped a child identified as Ibrahim al-Hedra, after the army invaded the town, and clashed with local youths. Shortly before midnight, dozens of soldiers invaded Aqabat as-Saraya, al-Waad Street, Bab Hatta, Sa’diyya neighborhood, and al-Jabsha Street, in the Old City, leading to clashes between the invading soldiers and local youths.

Land, property theft & destruction / Ethnic cleansing

Photos: Al-Amin Abdul Haq demolishes his own house with an ax
Palestine TV FB Page 18 Oct — Al-Amin Abdul Haq demolished his own house in the Ras al-Amud quarter of East Jerusalem with an ax, after receiving demolition orders from the municipality of occupation. Cinematographer: Afif Amira

Settlers take over 2 buildings in East Jerusalem
JERUSALEM (Ma‘an) 20 Oct — Armed Jewish settlers took over two buildings in the East Jerusalem neighborhood of Silwan on Monday, a local group said. The Wadi Hilweh Information Center said that a group of armed settlers raided Silwan at 2 a.m. and occupied two buildings consisting of 10 apartments. The owners of the buildings, Salah al-Rajabi and Imran al-Qawasmi, sold the properties to a Palestinian man identified as Shams al-Din al-Qawasmi, who in turn sold the buildings to Jewish settler groups, the center said. The previous Palestinian tenants left the buildings over four months ago. There are now four settlement outposts in the heart of the Palestinian neighborhood of Silwan, the center said, increasing fears of a gradual Jewish takeover of the strategic area.
The settler news site Arutz Sheva quoted Jerusalem Councilman Arieh King as saying: “This morning the Jewish population in the Yemenite Village doubled.” He encouraged further Jewish settlement of the area.

Does ‘the thief of Jerusalem’ deserve US aid?
Mondoweiss 18 Oct by Annie Robbins — Hell’s been breaking out in East Jerusalem, exacerbated by Israeli settlers occupying 23 more homes in the Palestinian neighborhood of Silwan on September 30th. We’re late on this, but Rabbi Jill Jacobs (of the human rights group T’ruah) wrote a killer article published in the Washington Post last week. “You, American taxpayer, are helping to fund Israeli settlements,” is a hard-hitting, no-holds-barred informative article that’s fresh and very timely. Jacobs takes a teeth-grindingly long-argued topic and makes it fresh. I’m not sure I’ve ever even read an article in the mainstream media challenging the legality behind the US tax status of American donations that non profits funnel to Elad, buying up East Jerusalem and placing illegal Jewish settlements on occupied land. Elad, the settler group that organized this incursion, raises $6 million a year in the United States through the Friends of Ir David Foundation. As a nonprofit, donations to FIDF are tax deductible; funders can write off their gifts, which means that all of us who pay U.S. taxes helped subsidize the new settlement. That’s in direct opposition to official U.S. policy, which seeks a two-state solution and prohibits American aid to settlements over the Green Line. If U.S. policy prohibits American aid to illegal settlements, why can’t it challenge nonprofits using tax subsidies to fund the takeover of occupied Palestine? After calling Elad’s appropriation of Palestinian property in Jerusalem a “hostile takeover,” Jacobs unleashes a full throttle assault characterizing Elad as representing “the worst kind of thief” in the Torah, and then saying Americans are complicit!

PHOTOS: Dispossession and displacement with no end in sight
Middle East Monitor 18 Oct — 13 EXCLUSIVE IMAGES An estimated 90,000-100,000 Palestinian Bedouin lived in Palestine before the Nakba. In the late 1940’s and early 1950’s all but about 10,000 were driven from their lands by Zionist militias and – after the establishment of the State of Israel – the Israeli army. The Bedouin fled to different areas. Some went south from their homes in the Naqab to Egypt, others fled to Gaza and many to the areas around Hebron and East Jerusalem – lands east of the Green Line. The Jahalin tribe re-established various communities-in-exile around the Jerusalem periphery. Today, it is the largest of the exiled Bedouin tribes in the West Bank. n ‘Area C’ of the West Bank and sandwiched between the Israeli settlements of Ma’ale Adumim and Kfar Adumim, the village of Khan al-Ahmar is one of the Jahalin’s villages. Since its establishment, residents have lived without the most basic of infrastructure and amidst the ongoing demolition of their houses. Israel carries out these demolitions under the pretext of the Bedouin having built their structures ‘illegally’ despite the fact that all their requests by the community for development of their village including construction and connection to infrastructure have been rejected by the Israeli Civil Administration. The ever-present fear of individual demolitions has now been overshadowed by the spectre of another mass-displacement project. Khan al-Ahmar is amongst the communities that are threatened with ‘Forced Population Transfer’ within Israel’s E1 development plan. ‘Forced Population Transfer’ is in contravention of the Fourth Geneva Convention and the Rome Statute of the International Criminal Court (ICC) defines it as ‘a crime against humanity’. More than half of Khan al-Ahmar’s population are children and according to UNRWA many of them ‘display signs of psychological trauma such as speech defects, insomnia and bed-wetting’.

Otherwise Occupied: The commandment to expel / Amira Hass
Haaretz 20 Oct — …After the big expulsion of between 700,000 and 800,000 Palestinians in 1948, we have made do with smaller expulsions, and excel in camouflaging them under various legal definitions or varying circumstantial theories. The Israeli civil-military bureaucracy does not attempt to bathe its acts in any single guiding ideology … Here is an inventory of the methods of expulsion in their various concealments: 1. “Stop being a resident.” Israel’s control of the Palestinian Population Registry allowed it to expel some 250,000 Palestinians from the West Bank and Gaza Strip between 1967 and 1994 by revoking their status as residents (because they remained overseas for over seven years). These figures were provided by the Defense Ministry … We must add about 100,000 Palestinians (at least) to this number, who fled or were expelled from the West Bank and Gaza during the June 1967 war and were not present during the census conducted that summer. They have not been allowed back to their homes. The Israelis who have emigrated to Los Angeles, it should be noted, continue to be Israelis. 2. “Trickery.” The Oslo Accords speak of a mechanism for the gradual return to the West Bank and Gaza of those who “lost” their identity cards in 1967. Later, Israeli representatives in the negotiations claimed that the intention was for those who had physically lost their ID cards, not residency status itself … 3. The continued control of the Palestinian Population Registry in the West Bank and Gaza, 20 years after the establishment of the Palestinian Authority, allows Israel to continue and prevent hundreds of thousands from returning to their homes and families. Also, to approve only a few tens of thousands to return through the goodwill gesture of “family reunification.” 4.  Defining the Palestinians born in East Jerusalem as “permanent residents” whose status is a sort of favor the country grants – like the favor it grants to a priest from the Philippines, for example, who wants to live in the Holy Land under Israeli rule. However, this is a favor with a condition: Whoever lives abroad for seven years will see this favor revoked. His status as a permanent resident will be revoked. … Since 1967 through the end of 2013, Israel expelled 14,309 Jerusalem-born Palestinians that way (according to information that the Interior Ministry gave to HaMoked). Not so many? Think about the 7,000 “victimized” settlers from the Gaza Strip and the noise they are still making because their project of land theft and water robbery came to an end in 2005. 5. Bedouin. Who counts them? They are always being expelled. From water sources, pasture lands, because of military firing ranges. Because of nature reserves   6. Bedouin. Who counts them (II)? Under media silence, a few dozen Bedouin from the Kaabneh tribe, who had lived in East Jerusalem since the 1950s, were expelled to the West Bank. 7.  “Area C.” Even before being defined as such, the Israel Defense Forces and Civil Administration implemented draconian rules (for Palestinians only) on housing, construction and agriculture. This is the reason that only some 300,000 Palestinians – 12% of the residents – live on some 60 percent of the area of the West Bank. 8. In 2002, Israel expelled 26 of the Palestinians who were besieged in the Church of the Nativity in Bethlehem, to Gaza. They were promised they could return after two years… 9. Making life in the enclaves insufferable. The chances of a young Palestinian finding work are shrinking, mostly because of Israeli control over most of the territory of the West Bank, and because of the limitations on movement it imposes. Twenty percent of the residents of the West Bank, and 40 percent of the residents in the Gaza Strip, say they would like to emigrate.

The forgotten exiles of the Church of the Nativity
Haaretz 18 Oct by Amira Hass — In 2002, 26 Palestinians were exiled to Gaza after an Israeli five-and-a-half-week siege on the Church of the Nativity in Bethlehem. Twelve years later, the exiles and their families are still awaiting their promised return to the West Bank, their hopes pinned on the faltering Israeli-Palestinian negotiations. Two key figures in the efforts to rebuild the Gaza Strip are the head of Palestinian intelligence, Majid Faraj, and Civil Affairs Minister Hussein al-Sheikh. Both of them are trusted by Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas, and they are the ones in direct, constant contact with representatives of foreign states (Egypt, the United States, etc.) and their intelligence services, as well as representatives of the Israeli occupation apparatus (the IDF, the Defense Ministry, the Civil Administration and Shin Bet security service). Last week, Faraj and al-Sheikh visited the Gaza Strip (at the time of the reconciliation government meeting) and found time to meet with people who had no direct connection with the reconstruction project: those deported from Bethlehem’s Church of the Nativity in 2002 … As senior Fatah officials and Abbas representatives – and not just representatives of the PA – Faraj and al-Sheikh are among those who bear the heavy collective responsibility for the fact that 26 individuals who were under the siege in the church were sent to Gaza in May 2002 (while 13 others were exiled abroad, one of whom subsequently died from disease). They did not discuss returning home during last week’s meeting. All the two Palestinian officials could promise was that they would ask the Israelis to allow the exiles’ relatives to make the 70-kilometer trip into the Gaza Strip through the Erez checkpoint for regular visits. Undocumented promise The agreement to exile them and drop the Palestinian demand for an international investigation into the Israeli attack on the Jenin refugee camp in April 2002 was reached in exchange for ending the siege on Yasser Arafat. The exiles themselves were told by Mohammed Dahlan, then head of the PA’s Preventive Security Service in Gaza, and his colleague Mohammed Rashid, Arafat’s money man, that they would be allowed to return to their homes in two years’ time.

PHOTOS: Palestinians watch harvest season disappear before their eyes
Activestills 18 Oct  Photos and text by: Ahmad Al-Bazz — As every year in October, Palestinian families in the West Bank head to their groves in order to begin the olive harvest season. The harvest for any given family might take a few days or several weeks depending on the number of olive trees they have. In the village of Salem, near Nablus, the daily olive harvest routine is for families to go out at 6:00 in the morning and work until sunset. All family members participate in the harvest, from children to the elderly.  The families that have groves near their houses and far from settlements can work freely. Families that have groves near Israeli settlements, military bases or bypass roads can only harvest according to a schedule imposed by Israeli authorities. This year, Israeli authorities gave only five days to Salem residents who have lands behind the Israeli bypass road and nearby settlement outposts of Elon Moreh. These families have to finish their harvest in this limited time regardless of their number of olive trees. Some families decided to start harvesting on the days before those dictated by the Israeli authorities’ schedule in order to be able to finish all of their trees. Some succeeded, while others were caught by Israeli authorities and forced to stop working and leave their land. At the same time, other residents said that soldiers forced them to stop the harvest at noon even on days that were supposed to be allowed according to the schedule. In areas such as these, Israeli authorities allow these farmers to reach their lands only two times per year: Once in April for tilling soil, and again in October for the olive harvest. After months of being prevented from reaching their land, farmers might discover new problems. Some reported that they found dozens of damaged olive trees, which they assume were vandalized by Israeli settlers. Others have discovered new settlement outposts being built nearby. The growth of settlements can mean increased movement restrictions in years to come.

Palestinians dismantle illegal settler outpost
[with photos] SUSIYA, Occupied Palestine (ISM, Khalil Team) 12 Oct — Today Palestinians and international activists participated in a Palestinian village community action which involved reaching an area of their land which has been declared a closed military zone. The action also consisted of dismantling a new illegal settlement outpost built by settlers. Over the past month the settler outpost has been dismantled by the Palestinians and rebuilt by settlers three times. According to Palestinians living in the area, Israeli forces have permanently stationed a military jeep in this area to survey and protect the illegal settler outpost. The illegal outpost is right next to a water well which the Palestinians rely on for daily use and livestock. Each time the Palestinians go near this piece of land the area is declared a closed military zone by Israeli forces and the Palestinians have been prevented from reaching it many times in the past. Palestinians from the local community and international activists successfully and peacefully dismantled the outpost. A Palestinian child also removed an Israeli flag from a military outpost nearby. Settlers were present in small numbers watching and shouting at the Palestinians and activists. After a short time, the Israeli armed forces forced the Palestinians and international activists to leave the area, declaring it a closed military zone.

Settlers cut around 50 olive trees near Bethlehem
IMEMC/Agencies 18 Oct by Saed Bannoura — A number of extremist Israeli settlers invaded, on Saturday, Palestinian olive orchard in the al-Jab‘a village, southwest of Bethlehem, and cut [down] nearly 50 olive trees. Resident Ibrahim Abu Lateefa said he went to his orchard in the al-Jamjoum area, east of the village, to find out that the settlers cut 14 olive trees, and around 36 olive trees belonging to residents Mohammad Ahmad Masha’la and Ali Abu Lateefa. The al-Jab’a village has been subject to frequent Israeli settler attacks, and attacks by the army, including bulldozing agricultural lands, uprooting and cutting dozens of trees. Although such attacks happen frequently around the year, and also include burning lands and trees and flooding them with sewage, they usually escalate during the olive harvest season.


Israel restricts Palestinian access to Al-Aqsa for third week in a row
Anadolu/Al-Akhbar 17 Oct — For the third week in a row, Israeli forces have imposed restrictions on Palestinians seeking to enter Al-Aqsa Mosque compound in occupied east Jerusalem, while facilitating the access of Zionist settlers. Israeli occupation forces have deployed 1,000 troops and erected roadblocks at Jerusalem’s Old City ahead of the weekly Friday prayers. Under the fresh Israeli restrictions, male worshipers under 50 were banned from performing the weekly prayers in Al-Aqsa Mosque. “All Muslim men under 50 and West Bankers will be barred from entering the Al-Aqsa Mosque compound for Friday prayers while women of all ages were granted access,” Sheikh Azzam al-Khatib, head of the Jordan-run Organization for Muslim Endowments and Al-Aqsa Affairs, told Anadolu Agency. Elderly men and women have had to leave their identity cards with the police officers at the entrances of the compound. Al-Khatib said that while Israeli forces restrict the entry of Palestinians into Al-Aqsa mosque compound, they facilitate the access of Zionist settlers into the holy site. He said that at least 1,300 Zionist settlers and 350 Israeli soldiers had forced their way into the holy site during Jewish holidays in the past ten days. “Meantime, Israeli police banned more than 5,000 Muslims from entering the Al-Aqsa Mosque during the same period,” he said.

Video (Arabic) Palestinians excluded and removed from Al-Aqsa
Palestine TV FB Page – Christine Rinaoa reports – Women try to study – Jews enter with military protection –  Israeli forces actually inside the mosque with weapons, etc.

Official: PA should carry more influence in Jerusalem
JERUSALEM (Ma‘an) 18 Oct — An official said Saturday that if any power besides the Palestinian Authority ended up in control of East Jerusalem’s Al-Aqsa Mosque, the Palestinian national project would be “destroyed.” Mahmoud al-Habbash, the Minister of Religious Affairs, told Ma‘an that the PA needed to redouble its efforts to assert control in East Jerusalem. “We should start working with the Jerusalem district … and all the people of Jerusalem to bring back the weight of the PA in Jerusalem,” al-Habbash said. He said a “religious war” would erupt in the area if Israel continued carrying out its plans in Jerusalem. “For Palestine, it is an open battle; even if Israel imposes a new reality in Jerusalem we will not give it legitimacy.”

Abbas vows legal measures to prevent Al-Aqsa ‘attacks’
RAMALLAH (Palestinian Territories) (AFP) 18 Oct — Palestinian leader Mahmud Abbas said Saturday legal measures would be taken to prevent Jewish settlers from attacking Jerusalem’s flashpoint Al-Aqsa mosque compound, having said their presence desecrates the site. His remarks follow a recent spate of clashes between Palestinian youths and Israeli police, which erupted when Jews were to visit the complex. Muslims fear Jewish presence on Al-Aqsa is aimed at usurping the site. “The Palestinian leadership will be taking the necessary legal measures, at the international level, regarding the aggression of settlers on the Al-Aqsa mosque,” Abbas said in a speech to the Revolutionary Council of his Fatah party. “We will not allow settlers to attack the mosque,” he added, referring to the entire compound, which is the third holiest site in Islam. Non-Muslim visits to Al-Aqsa complex are permitted and regulated by police, but Jews are not allowed to pray at the site for fear it could trigger major disturbances, nor do they enter the mosques there.

PA cracks down on rallies in support of Al-Aqsa Mosque
Middle East Monitor 18 Oct — Palestinian Authority (PA) security services cracked down on two Palestinian rallies which took to the streets of the West Bank on Friday in support for Al-Aqsa Mosque. Witnesses said that hundreds of official and undercover PA security forces flooded the streets where the rallies, which were called for by Hamas, were organised and attacked the protesters. One of the rallies was attacked in front of Al-Nasr Mosque in the city of Nablus. Witnesses said that security forces used batons to beat the protesters when they arrived into Hitteen Street. They also fired tear gas and arrested at least ten protesters and journalists, including journalist Tariq abu-Zaid, correspondent for Gaza-based Al-Aqsa TV. Palestinian protective security services arrested two Hamas members in Al-Beerah city, near Ramallah, while they were on their way to the Grand Mosque in the city. One of them is Sa’ed abul-Bahaa, Hamas spokesman in the city. Sources in the city said that the PA could not crackdown on the rally which took off from the Grand Mosque in Al-Beerah. The rally headed to Al-Manarah Square in central Ramallah.

Official accuses PA of targeting Hamas members in West Bank
RAMALLAH (Ma‘an) 18 Oct  — A Hamas official on Saturday denounced what he called attempts by the Palestinian Authority to “silence” and marginalize members of the movement after security forces “attacked” rallies the day before. Ramallah-based leader Saed Abu Bahaa urged officials in the Palestinian government of national unity to investigate the “attacks,” which occurred during rallies organized by by Hamas supporters to condemn Israeli attacks on the Al-Aqsa mosque compound. “We consider oppressing rallies in support of Al-Aqsa — despite the fact that they had obtained the needed licenses — as a major and serious breach of freedoms,” he said in a statement. “Hamas views the practices of PA security services against supporters of al-Aqsa and Jerusalem as attempts to silence any voice opposing the judaization of the holy Aal-Aqsa Mosque,” he said, adding that some Palestinian circles are against those who oppose the Israeli occupation authorities’ plans to take control of Jerusalem and its holy places. Abu Bahaa warned that the attacks on the rallies was indicative of a wider crackdown against the movement, suggesting that leaders in the security forces of the previously Fatah-dominated West Bank were targeting Hamas.


Heavy rains displace residents of mobile homes in Khuza‘a
GAZA (PIC) 20 Oct — Dozens of Gazan families who were displaced by Israel’s last war were forced to leave their prefabricated homes in Khuza‘a area, east of Khan Younis, after they were flooded by rainwater. Local sources said that the area, where the residents live in mobile homes in Khuza‘a, was inundated by rising waters because of the heavy rain that fell over Gaza for several days. The sources noted that the residents of this area had complained several days ago before it started to rain heavily that the location where their mobile homes were placed could be vulnerable to flood waters. All the homes also sustained electrical short circuits and power failures caused by their exposure to lightning strikes.
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Hamas blasts PA for failing to begin Gaza reconstruction
GAZA CITY (Ma‘an) 19 Oct — The Hamas movement on Sunday urged the Palestinian Authority to facilitate the entry of construction material into the besieged Gaza Strip in order to speed up the reconstruction ahead of winter, as the first major rain of the fall season highlighted the challenges still facing tens of thousands of displaced Gazans. “Reconstruction of Gaza is one of the most important tasks the PA should carry out according to the reconciliation agreement, but on the condition that there be no obstacles, physical or legal, to the entry of construction material,” senior Hamas official Moussa Abu Marzouq said in a statement.
The statement points to growing frustration with the PA’s failure to pressure Israel to open the border into Gaza, despite two different negotiation meetings with Israeli officials where it promised to do just that. It also underlines tension between Hamas and the Fatah-dominated PA despite working together in a technocratic government of national reconciliation, as Hamas has in recent days accused PA security forces of cracking down on members and attacking rallies. Abu Marzouq reiterated in the statement that Hamas had no problem with the PA coming into Gaza and carrying out reconstruction, expressing frustration that the unity government was failing to fulfill its duties.

A week after Cairo conference, UNRWA steps up recovery and reconstruction efforts in Gaza
October 19, 2014 Official UNRWA Press Release — We are focusing on providing food, water and sanitation services to over 40,000 displaced people in 18 of our installations, psycho-social support particularly for children, cash grants to the homeless for rent, as well as urgent repairs to 118 UNRWA installations, so that we can bring our services to full capacity. Our immediate aim is to help ensure that some of the most seriously affected families are able to improve their situation rapidly. The critical priority remains urgently needed reconstruction for large numbers of people. As assessments continue, we have revised upwards figures of homes destroyed and people affected. We now estimate that over 100,000 homes were damaged or destroyed, affecting more than 600,000 people. These are the latest figures and are likely to rise as UNRWA social workers and engineers continue their homes visits and inspections … Access for building materials is critical. We have consistently called for the lifting of the blockade and again stress that this is an essential parameter to enable Gaza to emerge from years of suffering, joblessness and a lack of prospects….

Gaza still needs rebuilding. Here’s what lies ahead
Huffington Post 19 Oct by Charlotte Alfred — The WorldPost turned to Tony Laurance, CEO of U.K.-based charity Medical Aid for Palestinians, to discuss the reconstruction effort and the scale of the challenges ahead. It’s been nearly two months since Israel and Palestinians in Gaza reached a ceasefire deal. Has the rebuilding of Gaza started yet? Not in any meaningful sense. At the moment they’re mainly clearing unexploded ordnance. People were waiting for the Cairo donor conference and on an agreement on how materials will get into the enclave to start the rebuilding process. Substantial amounts were indeed pledged during the conference. However, after the last confrontation, Operation Cast Lead in 2008-2009, there were also a lot of pledges but nothing was delivered. While the agreement reached by the United Nations on the entry of goods into Gaza is promising, there have been many promises over the last five years to resolve that same problem. Nothing ever happened in a very wide scale. Will it be different this time? The UN deal will need to be accompanied by enormous intentions. The challenges lie in the details and the success of the deal depends on relationships and trust, which are very sorely absent. Israeli-Palestinian relations don’t really exist at the moment. Will the promised aid be enough, if it does arrive? Getting the materials in is one thing. There are very complicated projects ahead — like repairing the water, sewage and power systems — which not only require goods entering Gaza but also expertise and equipment. Additionally, unless you create opportunities for export you cannot get the economy running again. One-off aid may help kickstart the economy but it won’t create longer term opportunities or jobs. Where does that leave people in Gaza in the meantime? People aren’t starving, but that’s about the best you can say. Many are not able to go home, many don’t have electricity. There’s an awful lot of people with injuries. Gaza will need to cope with people who have severe disabilities, offering physical therapy and finding opportunities for them. Additionally, unless you create opportunities for them….

Israeli navy boats open fire at Palestinian fishermen off Gaza coast
GAZA (PIC) 18 Oct — Israeli navy gunboats opened machinegun fire at Palestinian fishermen while fishing off the coast of Gaza on Saturday morning. Nizar Ayyash, the chairman of the Palestinian fishermen syndicate, said that the gunboats opened fire at dawn on fishing boats off the central coast of Gaza. “The shooting did not cause any casualties, but the fishermen were forced to abandon fishing and return to shore,” he added. The shooting is the latest in a series of Israeli violations of the truce agreement brokered by Egypt between Israel and Palestinian factions.
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What it’s like to fight for Hamas
Al-Monitor 18 Oct by Asmaa al-Ghoul — As soon as the war ended, Abu Abdel Rahman, not his real name, a 26-year-old fighter in the Izz ad-Din al-Qassam Brigades, emerged from the tunnels where he had directed operations against Israeli forces. He returned to his normal life, splitting his time between work in the Palestinian police force, studying and his family. The war, however, has not left Rahman. “Since the end of the war, I’ve been plagued by nightmares. I dream that they’ve opened the tunnel and found us inside, and kill us,” he told Al-Monitor. Sitting with Rahman is not easy. He watches everything around him, noting every movement, and he falls silent when a stranger approaches nearby. “I can’t [let anyone] recognize the sound of my voice,” he said. Before taking a seat, Rahman removes all his electronic devices and leaves them at a distance from where he eventually comes to rest. Rahman offered a number of details about the war. “We were able to blow up six military vehicles from inside a tunnel that was only 70 centimeters [27 inches] wide and 140 centimeters [55 inches] high. Every bomb planted in the ground had a number. When a military vehicle stopped above the bomb, we would detonate it based on the number. If it was above a no. 1 bomb, the wire connected to it had one node. If the vehicle was above a no. 2 bomb, it had two nodes,” he said, explaining how fighters knew which detonator was paired with which bomb … Rahman continues to record his wartime memories in a small notebook. One this day, he remembered how he and the other mujahedeen divided the little food and water they had. He also recalled how they prayed sitting only on their knees. His head is crowded with such memories as he goes about the daily routine that he returned to as if the war had never happened. He is somewhat absent-minded because he is still caught up in moments of war, not always paying attention to what is around him.

Palestinian sources: Israel seized bodies of two Hamas fighters in Gaza conflict
Ynet 20 Oct — Palestinian sources on Sunday told Turkish news agency Anatolia that Israel is holding the bodies of two Hamas field commanders missing since the end of the 50-day conflict in Gaza during the summer.  According to the sources, Anatolia said, the fate of the two bodies, both belonging to members of Hamas’ military wing, was uncovered after a month-long intensive investigation. The Palestinian sources named the Hamas men as Basel Abu al-Naja, and Ibrahim al-Amur, saying they were both members of the Hamas elite forces, the news agency said. The claim comes amid efforts by Israel to negotiate with Hamas for the return of the bodies of two its soldiers, both declared fallen in action by the IDF during Operation Protective Edge. The remains of Lieutenant Hadar Goldin and Staff Sergeant Oron Shaul are believed to be in the possession of Hamas.,7340,L-4581952,00.html

Gaza Lives — Statues eternalize the massacre in Shejaia district
Artist Sabbah Iyad in the Gaza Strip eternalizes the Israeli massacre committed in the Shejaia district in the north of the Gaza Strip. Those that tried to survive, those that carried their pain and hopes and who tried to walk out, those that had the right to be more than ghosts, those that are still among us are eternalized forever.

Activism / Solidarity / BDS

Los Angeles activists block unloading of Israeli cargo ship for two days
Electronic Intifada 19 Oct by Charlotte Silver — The Block the Boat coalition of Los Angeles claimed another victory this weekend after an Israeli cargo ship, the Zim Savannah, delayed docking at the port of Long Beach for at least 34 hours. Cookie Partansky, an organizer with the LA Block the Boat coalition, told The Electronic Intifada that approximately 150 activists gathered at the Los Angeles port at 6am on Saturday, 18 October. The morning’s action followed weeks of communication with the longshoremen’s union and educating workers about Israel’s brutal occupation of Palestine, as well as the group’s reasons for targeting Zim, an Israeli shipping line. The coalition — representing nineteen different activism groups — showed up at the port Saturday morning despite being informed at 5am by a member of the International Longshore and Warehouse Union (ILWU) Local 13 that the ship was still at sea and no workers had been called in to unload it. “The fact that the boat is delayed for 24 hours is already costing Zim shipping a significant amount of money because they’re entire schedule will be delayed. This is already a victory for us,” Partansky said Saturday afternoon.

Student workers at University of California support Palestine
IMEMC/Agencies 19 Oct — The Joint Council of the Union of Academic Workers – UAW 2865, a body made up of 83 elected officers who oversee the affairs of the 13,000 member-strong student-worker union in the University of California system, has published an open letter which outlines its intent to support the Boycott, Divestment, and Sanctions (BDS) movement against public institutions and corporations that profit from occupation and apartheid, with direct implication to the state of Israel. Teaching assistants, tutors, and other student-workers at the University of California represented by UAW 2865 have chosen to assume their responsibility as educators “to both learn about and teach the social issues of our time, including pressing global struggles such as the struggle of the Palestinian people for liberation from settler-colonialism and apartheid.”

Political, other news

Legislative Council to hold vote of confidence for unity government
GAZA CITY (Ma‘an) 19 Oct — Hamas and Fatah have both agreed to hold a session of the Palestinian Legislative Council before Nov.15 to give a vote of confidence to the unity government and form a unified body to lead the council. Hamas lawmaker Salah al-Bardaweel said Sunday that a vote of confidence should have been given to the government a month after its announcement but was delayed. Bardaweel added that employees in the two previous governments will be merged in order of priority starting with the ministries of education and health.

Official: PA forces regularly conduct politically motivated arrests
BETHLEHEM (Ma‘an) 19 Oct — Palestinian Authority police regularly detain people in the West Bank due to their political affiliation, an official said Sunday. Khalil Assaf, a member of the subcommittee on civil liberties formed after the West Bank-Gaza unity government was sworn in in June, told Ma‘an that regardless of the committee’s formation, none of its recommendations have been implemented. “Every day people are being detained in the West Bank because of their political affiliation, though in most cases they are released within days,” Assaf said. Though he could not give an exact number of political detainees, he said “we are talking about dozens” of people. The subcommittee, which was tasked with maintaining and monitoring civil liberties in the West Bank and Gaza, has not been summoned for any meetings with the rest of the unity government so far, Assaf said.

International Middle East Media Center back on-line after DoS attack
nsnbc Int’l 18 Oct — The website of the International Middle East Media Center (IMEMC) is back online after the Palestinian news service, under the auspices of the Palestinian Centre for Rapprochement between People, was forced off-line by a DoS [denial of service] attack and apparently let down by Hosting provider Bluehost. IMEMC and other new media came under increased attack during the Gaza war, while mainstream media were bleeding viewers, listeners and readers to new, alternative and independent news services.  A several hundred percent increase in readers of news about the Gaza war may, ultimately, have prompted the UK parliament’s recognition of Palestine. The IMEMC website is under constant attack of one sort or the other, but these attacks increased significantly since the Gaza war, said the editor-in-chief Saed Bannoura to nsnbc. IMEMC’s website ultimately succumbed to a DoS attack on October 14, after the end of armed hostilities, but against the backdrop of the Swedish recognition of Palestine and the UK parliament’s yes vote to the recognition of Palestine on October 13 … IMEMC, which specifically covers Palestine and the Palestinian – Israeli discourse, experienced a significant increase in its number of readers and read articles. Saed Bannoura noted that IMEMC also experienced an increased interest in IMEMC’s Facebook page and Twitter account, adding, however, that there was a particular increase in interest for the IMEMC website. Bannoura said: “Our readership increased from two million hits per month to ten million hits per month … We have seen more and more reprints of our articles….

MK Zoabi: Israeli combat pilots are no better than Islamic State beheaders
Haaretz / Jonathan Lis 19 Oct — MK Haneen Zoabi (Balad) equated fighters of Islamic State with Israeli soldiers on Sunday. “They [IS] kill one person at a time with a knife and the IDF at the press of a button [kills] dozens of Palestinians,” Zoabi told Channel 2 Online in an interview. Zoabi added that an Israeli pilot “is no less a terrorist than a person who takes a knife and commits a beheading.” Zoabi said she believes that “both are armies of murderers, they have no boundaries and no red lines.”

Most Jewish Israelis oppose Palestinian state, new poll shows
872mag 19 Oct by Mairav Zonszein – No poll is perfect, but this one happens to be an accurate reflection of the Israeli  government’s policies, much of its rhetoric, and the reality on the ground – A large majority of Jewish Israeli citizens (74 percent) oppose the establishment of a Palestinian state along the pre-1967 borders, according to a new poll conducted by the Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs, a right-wing think tank. The organization also found that 76 percent oppose a Palestinian state if it means dividing Jerusalem … On the issue of the Jordan Valley, a large majority of Jewish Israelis, including those identified as left (42.6 percent), oppose withdrawal for the establishment of a Palestinian state.

if Gaza had been allowed to develop normally, it wouldn’t need to send its people elsewhere for treatment
Israel hospital treats daughter of Palestinian arch-foe
JERUSALEM (AFP) 19 Oct  – An Israeli hospital said on Sunday that it has treated a daughter of Gaza Hamas leader Ismail Haniya, who is a sworn enemy of the Jewish state. A spokesman at Ichilov hospital in Tel Aviv told AFP that the daughter had been admitted for emergency treatment last month, although he was unable to name her due to patient privacy. A senior official in the Gaza health ministry confirmed a relative of Haniya had received treatment at the hospital, but identified her as a sister of the former Palestinian prime minister. She had been in “critical, life-threatening condition” when she arrived at the facility two weeks ago, the official said. Both sources said the patient had been discharged after a few days and returned to Gaza. The Palestinian official said she is now in “stable” condition. Israel, which fought a devastating 50-day war with Gaza militants which ended on August 26, controls the movement of Palestinians from Gaza to Israel but allows the passage of humanitarian cases. Last year, a granddaughter of Haniya was hospitalised in Israel in a critical condition.

Israel’s Yaalon in US after spat over Kerry remarks
JERUSALEM (AFP) 19 Oct — Israeli Defence Minister Moshe Yaalon sought to calm fresh tensions with Washington on Sunday as he began a five-day trip to the United States. In a statement released ahead of his departure, Yaalon warned that no dispute should be allowed to “cast a shadow” over Israel’s crucial relationship with its closest ally … On Friday, two senior Israeli cabinet ministers took aim at US Secretary of State John Kerry over remarks linking the growth of Islamic extremism to Israel’s decades-long conflict with the Palestinians. At issue was a statement by Kerry in which he said regional leaders approached him over the need to broker peace between Israel and the Palestinians “because it was a cause of recruitment and of street anger and agitation”. The two ministers seized on his words as linking the Middle East conflict to the rise of the Islamic State group (IS) in Iraq and Syria … Their outbursts drew a sharp retort from State Department spokeswoman Marie Harf, who said they had taken his comments out of context.

Missile boat crisis ends as Germany gives Israel $382 million discount
Haaretz 19 Oct by Barak Ravid — Agreement is a reversal of Berlin’s earlier decision to withhold the discount because of Israel’s settlement construction — The talks between Israel and Germany to purchase three fast missile boats to protect the gas rigs off Israel’s shore began a year ago. Haaretz reported that the deal was worth about €900 million. Israel asked for a 30 percent reduction on the price, like it had received in previous deals on German submarines …In the beginning of May, about two weeks after the talks between Israel and the Palestinians stalled, German’s national security adviser Christoph Heusgen told his Israeli counterpart Yossi Cohen that Israel would not receive the discount and would have to pay their full price. Heusgen said that following the breakdown in the peace talks with the Palestinians and the harsh criticism in Germany of Israel’s construction in the settlements, the Bundestag would not approve a grant of hundreds of millions of euros to subsidize the boats….

Egyptian soldiers die in Gaza tunnel collapse
CAIRO (AFP) 18 Oct — Two Egyptian army officers and a soldier were killed Saturday when a smuggling tunnel connecting Sinai and the Palestinian Gaza Strip collapsed as they were preparing to blow it up, officials said. One army soldier was injured and another missing in the collapse, which happened as troops were planting explosives. The army says it has destroyed more than 1,600 such tunnels — most of them since the ouster of President Mohamed Mursi last year — which the Palestinian Hamas militant group uses to smuggle in arms, food and money.  Cairo has poured troops into the Sinai Peninsula to counter an insurgency since Mursi’s overthrow that has killed scores of policemen and soldiers. Israel went to war with Hamas this summer, in part with the objective of destroying such tunnels, including ones under the border with Israel.

Opinion / Analysis / Arts

‘Tell me, are you OK with yourself?’
Electronic Intifada 18 Oct by Maureen Clare Murphy — “How can you raise your weapon at your brother?” asks a new song which aims to challange Israel’s attempts to recruit Palestinian citizens of the state to its occupation army. Titled “Tell me, are you OK with yourself?” (The Electronic Intifada’s translation), the track was released last week by Ehna TV, an independent Palestinian media group inside present-day Israel. The video for the track, which can be viewed at the top of this page, shows scenes of singer Mira Azar, wearing a traditional embroidered shawl, in what appears to be a destroyed Palestinian village, as well as archive footage of Israeli violence. Some of those scenes include slain Jerusalem teenager Muhammad Abu Khudair’s funeral and Israeli bombing in Gaza and its bloody aftermath, as well as Palestinians fearlessly confronting heavily armed Israeli soldiers. “Tell me, have you seen the pictures? Tell me, have you heard the news,” the song asks, referring to the terrible atrocities carried out by the military in the occupied West Bank and Gaza Strip. “And still you want to serve?” the lyrics, written by Azar, implore..Sectarianism The track is the latest cultural intervention pushing back against Israel’s attempts to divide and rule Palestinian citizens by fomenting sectarianism. Israel’s renewed effort to enlist young Palestinian Christian citizens into its army was the subject of Project X, a short film featuring Omar star Samer Bisharat released earlier this year. The Electronic Intifada reported earlier this week on denunciations of Nazareth priest Jibril Nadaf’s claims at the United Nations that Israel is the only country in the region where Christians are “not persecuted.”

Tunnel vision: How the Egyptian army ‘won’ the war over Gaza / Paul Mutter
Foreign Police Assn blog 17 Oct — The Egyptians may not be receiving fulsome applause at the U.N. this week for their diplomacy to date, but quietly, Israeli, Gulf, and American leaders are clapping, in large part due to Cairo’s reaffirmation of a hardline stance against Hamas this past summer. When the Egyptian government, led by the Muslim Brotherhood, brokered a ceasefire in 2012 between Hamas and Israel, I predicted — wrongly — that as a result, Arab governments “will be less likely to knuckle under in response to an Israeli move in Gaza or the West Bank.” This has not happened, and it will not happen now. Popular disappoint in Gaza over this was well-captured over the summer by an (unattributed) statement going around the Internet that went along the lines of “If I die tonight [in Gaza], donate all of my organs to those in need. Except for my middle finger, give it to the leaders of the Arab world.” As Nathan J. Brown and Michele Dunn have noted, President Adbel Fattah el-Sisi cares less about being a broker than his predecessors did because Egypt has new priorities in handling Gaza. The Islamist imperative is the overriding security concern. An active domestic insurgency lasted from the 1980s to the late 1990s, waged by Islamist organizations such as Egyptian Islamic Jihad and al-Gama’a al-Islamiyya. After this campaign died down, fears of internal war receded even as tourist sites in the Sinai were targeted throughout the 2000s. But today, the concern is much greater with the Brothers disenfranchised and parts of the Sinai lost to smugglers, Bedouin gangs, and the terrorist group Ansar Bait al-Maqdis A return to the 1990s (when mass shootings and assassinations reached their height) is greatly feared, so draconian measures are being implemented nationwide — and especially on the border with Gaza.

Book of the month: The Fauna and Flora of Palestine by Henry Baker Tristram
This Week in Palestine reviewed by Mahmoud Musa — …First published in 1884, this volume of the Survey of Western Palestine is considered the best-illustrated record of the fauna and flora of the region. And it was much-welcomed news back in 2013 when Cambridge University Press announced its intention to reproduce the text of the original edition. The volume contains details on more than 3,000 species; the most important of them are accompanied by detailed descriptions of their appearance and environment. After almost 150 years of the original research, we know today that Palestine is home to a stunning variety of plants and animals, in fact many more than the 3,000 species identified in the book. There are more than 100 species of mammals native to Palestine, more than 500 kinds of birds, almost a hundred of types of reptiles and a dozen types of amphibians. The landscape of Palestine is full of flowers and plants that change suddenly according to the different geographical regions – mostly affected by the sun, water, and altitude. So while the natural woodlands of oaks carpet the upper Galilee and Mount Carmel, in spring, rockrose and thorny broom turn the hillsides pink, yellow, and white. (listserv) (archive)

The Connecticut Conference of the United Church of Christ passes divestment resolution


More great news for BDS. 400 delegates at the Connecticut Conference of the United Church of Christ (CTUCC), representing 240 churches and 97,000 members throughout the state of Connecticut, voted to divest from all companies “profiting from the occupation of the Palestine Territories by the State of Israel” at their 147th annual statewide conference on Friday.

The Hartford Courant:

Connecticut Conference Of UCC Votes In Support Of Palestinians

The resolution, submitted by the board of deacons of the First Congregational Church of Old Lyme, also contained a provision urging individual church members to boycott Israeli products made in the “occupied Palestinian territories.”……

The divestiture resolution states: “Past General Synods have identified the Israeli Occupation of Palestinian land and its human rights abuses committed therein to be a major source of conflict and have called for the end of construction and expansion of settlements,” and that “Palestinians in the West Bank have lived since 1967 under Israel military occupation which subjects them to many human rights abuses.”

It calls for “the Connecticut Conference to divest any Consolidated Trust Fund holdings in companies profiting from the occupation of the Palestinian Territories by the state of Israel,” listing Caterpillar Inc., Motorola Solutions, Hewlett-Packard Development and several other companies as examples of those that would be affected by the action.

The resolution calling for a boycott of Israeli companies listed Ahava skin care products, SodaStream products and Hadiklaim dates.

More from the Courant in the lead up to the convention :

Steven Jungkeit, senior minister of the First Congregational Church of Old Lyme, acknowledged Thursday that the resolution would be controversial, but said that his congregation proposed it after members made numerous trips to Israel and Palestine through the years.

“We believe it’s the right thing to do,” Jungkeit said. “It’s a tricky issue to talk about, but I think that it’s one that we need to raise our voices on.”

The Connecticut Conference of the United Church of Christ is one of 39 regional conferences in the U.S. that makes up the 1.5 million-member United Church of Christ.


It’s spreading.

Identities of minors who admitted to killing Mohammed Abu Khdeir to be revealed Monday


On Monday three Israelis who admitted to the killing of Mohammed Abu Khdeir, the 16-year old Palestinian who was burned to death over the summer after being abducted from behind his East Jerusalem home in a revenge killing for the unrelated kidnapping and slaying of three Israeli youths a month prior, will give their pleas in district court.

Yosef Haim Ben-David, a 29-year old settler is expected to plea insanity and is the assumed ringleader. The other defendants identities have been sealed by a gag order as they are minors. However, an Israeli judge will allow media and the public to attend tomorrow’s hearing, in effect lifting the ban on concealing their identities.

“Because of this special circumstances in this case, that the case became a case to the whole world, and the Gaza war occurred because of this case, I think the Israeli Ministry of Justice wants to make it more than a regular case.” said Mohanned Jabara, the lawyer representing the Abu Khdeir family.

Jabara is hopeful the state will take seriously the gruesome crime that was the lightening rod for clashes across every Palestinian neighborhood in Jerusalem. After the young Abu Khdeir’s body was found charred and deposited in a field hours after he was taken, his home community of Shuafat erupted. Clashes between Palestinians and Israeli police unfolded nightly for months, earning the title the “Jerusalem Intifada.” The light rail stop in Shuafat, to Palestinians a symbol of Israeli control over East Jerusalem, was torched several times during the upheaval. Police barricaded the road entrances in and out of Shuafat for weeks.

Criticisms of police methods persisted from the moment Abu Khdeir’s remains were discovered. Initially, while the autopsy was underway to determine if foul play had occurred—and whether the motivation was criminal or national—Jerusalem police manufactured a rumor to defame the victim. The authorities told journalists that the deceased was gay and likely killed by a family member in an honor crime. Abu Khdeir’s father, Hussein Abu Khdeir was even interrogated at the medical complex and asked to surrender for questioning several of the male members of the family. This scandalous fabrication later led to the resignation of the Jerusalem police chief.

Despite a police investigation marred with soap drama misinformation and missteps, the state attorney’s office will prosecute Abu Khdeir’s killers to the fullest extent—not shying away from the nationalistic motivation of the crime. In advance of the trial the state released a deposition from the eldest defendant, settler Yosef Haim Ben-David who admitted he “planned to hurt a soul, meaning to kill… to torture him and kill him.”

Although Ben-David has claimed a mental health disorder the extent of his duress is unknown. During arraignment in July he reportedly stated that he is “the messiah.” His deposition released after the pre-trial is macabre and displays cold premeditation. He told police:

“I took three empty bottles from home, we found two more and we drove to the Hizmeh gas station. There, I filled five bottles with fuel, because we were furious and determined to burn something that belongs to Arabs.”

In a surprising move Israel’s state’s attorney office selected Uri Korv to prosecute Ben-David and the other two accused. Korv is an intrepid attorney with a record of bringing heavy sentences to embattled high profile criminals. He prosecuted the hearing against former Prime Minister Ehud Olmert, where the head of state was handed down a six-year prison term after being convicted of corruption over the Holyland apartment row.

Even with Korv, a signal Israel is leaning to unfurl a heavy hand against Abu Khdeir’s killers, Jabara thinks the trial will be lengthy. He said the defendants are being represented individually and have already switched lawyers a number of times. Ben-David in particular is poised to push back trial dates over his assertion of mental instability. “If they claim this matter, the court must go to a medical committee for a report before continuing with the court,” said Jabara indicating such delays could cause the trail to go on for a year and a half.

Anti-semitism charge is increasingly being leveled against Israel’s mainstream critics


Maybe you saw that a top minister in Israel’s government accused John Kerry, the US secretary of state, of anti-Semitism? John Kerry made the mistake of saying that if only Israel made peace with the Palestinians, that would cut down on extremism in the region. From Haaretz:

Economy Minister Naftali Bennett attacked U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry over his comments Friday connecting the Israeli-Palestinian conflict and extremism in the Middle East.

“It turns out that even when a British Muslim decapitates a British Christian, there will always be someone to blame the Jew,” he said.

Here are Kerry’s original remarks, on Thursday:

As I went around and met with people in the course of our discussions about the ISIL coalition, the truth is we – there wasn’t a leader I met with in the region who didn’t raise with me spontaneously the need to try to get peace between Israel and the Palestinians, because it was a cause of recruitment and of street anger and agitation that they felt – and I see a lot of heads nodding – they had to respond to. And people need to understand the connection of that. And it has something to do with humiliation and denial and absence of dignity

Bennett’s accusation is not singular. As Israel grows more isolated in world opinion in the wake of the Gaza slaughter, the anti-Semitism charge is being thrown around  in a new way, at a new crowd. It’s now slung whenever westerners are too critical of Israel.

Ari Shavit, the writer who’s a darling of liberal Zionists, accused westerners of anti-Semitism at the end of the Gaza onslaught:

“In the final week of the war in Gaza this summer that took the lives of 72 Israelis and more than 2100 Palestinians, Shavit wrote that strong objection to Israeli conduct was illegitimate and amounted to anti-Semitic bigotry: ‘We’re a tiny minority nation under attack, and sweeping criticism of this nation is like sweeping criticism of the black, gay or Yazidi minority.’”  –Nathan Thrall in the London Review of Books.

A very similar charge was made by Matti Friedman, a former AP reporter in Jerusalem, who accused international media, including American outlets, of anti-Semitism for the way they told the story of the Gaza onslaught, as being Israel’s fault, when the real story was that Israel was taking on Hamas just as the US is taking on ISIS. At On the Media (minute 5):

What we’re seeing is extremely critical coverage of the actions of the Israeli government, and I would argue that this [alleged media] interest in the holy land– I think that there’s a very thin line between that and development of a hostile obsession with the moral failings of Jews, which as we know is a very deep thought pattern in the west.

Also in the context of Gaza, Human Rights Watch director Ken Roth was accused of a “deepseated hostility to the Jewish state” and an “immoral anti-Israel obsession.” Roth (whose father escaped Nazi Germany) has said that the charge is a charge of anti-Semitism.

Also in the context of Gaza, religion writer Mark Oppenheimer wrote at Tablet that liberal Protestants who support Palestinian rights seem to him to be anti-Semitic because they have a caricature of Jews as the Israel lobby and

“feel that there are no good Jews left. Except the ones that are entirely secular and anti-Zionist.”

I do wonder if the anti-Semitism charge is being exhausted by this extensive service, that it’s losing its sting. More wild accusations of anti-Semitism:

Rabbi Shmuley Boteach has accused Penelope Cruz and Javier Bardem of being anti-Semites, in the Jerusalem Post, for saying that the Gaza slaughter amounted to a “genocide.”

David Horowitz has said that Barack Obama is anti-Semitic because he supports the Palestinian Authority, which includes Hamas.

Mike Huckabee said that Obama is anti-Semitic in his response to violence in the West Bank last summer.

Einat Wilf, a former member of the Israeli Knesset, accused former British foreign secretary Jack Straw of anti-semitism for stating that the Israel lobby has too much control over US policymaking. Chuck Hagel and John Mearsheimer and Steve Walt were all meretriciously accused of anti-Semitism for that allegation.

Had enough?

Does ‘the thief of Jerusalem’ deserve US aid? (Update)


Hell’s been breaking out in East Jerusalem, exacerbated by Israeli settlers occupying 23 more homes in the Palestinian neighborhood of Silwan on September 30th.

We’re late on this, but Rabbi Jill Jacobs (of the human rights group T’ruah) wrote a killer article published in the Washington Post last week. “You, American taxpayer, are helping to fund Israeli settlements,” is a hard-hitting, no-holds-barred informative article that’s fresh and very timely. Jacobs takes a teeth-grindingly-long-argued topic and makes it fresh. I’m not sure I’ve ever even read an article in the mainstream media challenging the legality behind the US tax status of American donations that non profits funnel to Elad, buying up East Jerusalem and placing illegal Jewish settlements on occupied land.

Elad, the settler group that organized this incursion, raises $6 million a year in the United States through the Friends of Ir David Foundation. As a nonprofit, donations to FIDF are tax deductible; funders can write off their gifts, which means that all of us who pay U.S. taxes helped subsidize the new settlement. That’s in direct opposition to official U.S. policy, which seeks a two-state solution and prohibits American aid to settlements over the Green Line.

Rabbi Jill Jacobs, of T'ruah human rights org

Rabbi Jill Jacobs, of T’ruah human rights org

If U.S. policy prohibits American aid to illegal settlements, why can’t it challenge nonprofits using tax subsidies to fund the takeover of occupied Palestine?

After calling Elad’s appropriation of Palestinian property in Jerusalem a “hostile takeover,” Jacobs unleashes a full throttle assault characterizing Elad as representing “the worst kind of thief” in the Torah, and then saying Americans are complicit!

While it will take some time to sort out the legal issues, we can say this: A person who has legally purchased a new home does not generally move in under cover of night, flanked by riot police.

There is a special category in Jewish law for this kind of action. In the Talmud, the students of Rabbi Yochanan ben Zakkai ask why the Torah deals more severely with a burglar than with a mugger. Their teacher’s response: A mugger, who robs face-to-face, fears neither human beings nor God. But a burglar, who sneaks in when no one is looking, is afraid of human beings but shows no fear of God. In its use of subterfuge, shadow companies, and dead-of-night incursions, Elad represents the worst kind of thief.

And Americans, Elad donors and pilgrims to Israel, are, in some indirect but important way, complicit. Jewish law strongly forbids aiding or abetting a thief. In one of the most important guides to Jewish law, Moses Maimonides rules that “It is forbidden to purchase stolen goods from the thief. . . for anyone who does such things or similar ones strengthens the hands of sinners. . . it is [also] forbidden to derive any benefit from a stolen object.” Those of us who donate to Elad, or pay admission to the Ir David archaeological site, aid and abet those who steal homes and land in order to prevent peace. As we ooh and aah over the excavations, we derive pleasure from these thefts.

Note that former Clinton ambassador Marc Ginsberg has landed on the same tax giveaway to Ir David, in a piece at Huffpo slamming the “runaway train” of settlement construction.

Every penny donated to non profits is money stripped from our federal budget. And contrary to the idea we’re continually bombarded with by the media, Americans are not enthralled by the amount of ‘aid’ we shovel to Israel as it is.

A recent Google Consumer Survey (interactive) of nearly 1700 respondents fielded by Institute for Research: Middle Eastern Policy (IRmep) revealed that over 60% of Americans think the 3 billion we give Israel annually is either “Too much” or “Much too much”.

Screenshot: Google Consumer Survey 09/27/14 US Aid to Israel

Screenshot: Google Consumer Survey 09/27/14 US Aid to Israel (interactive options here)


We urge everyone to interact with the Google Consumer Survey and check out the results for the varying demographics of age groups as well as results for distinct regions of the country. For example, 66% of young American adults (25 – 34) said U.S. aid to Israel was excessive. And in rural American over 67% of respondents agreed.

IRmep released a survey of the report American Public Opinion on U.S. Aid to Israel (pdf) by Grant Smith for further analysis.