Who Broke the Ceasefire?


By Max Blumenthal, Allison Deger

A beleaguered looking President Barack Obama appeared before the Washington press corps Friday to lash into Hamas for supposedly violating the 72-hour humanitarian cease-fire that his Secretary of State John Kerry and the United Nations had labored so tirelessly to secure.

“I have unequivocally condemned Hamas and the Palestinian factions that were responsible for killing two Israeli soldiers and abducting a third minutes after a cease-fire was announced,” Obama said.

But evidence supporting Obama’s claim of Hamas responsibility has been difficult to come by. Indeed, even the Israeli Army news desk was unable to provide AlterNet with a clear narrative or substantial evidence regarding the incident in question. Moreover, accounts published in Arabic by Hamas’s military wing along with details provided by the PLO indicate that the killing of two soldiers and disappearance of another actually occurred before the cease-fire went into effect — when Israel was assaulting Rafah.

“Today at 9:30, terrorists executed an attack from which two soldiers were killed and an additional is now missing and therefore he is suspected to have been abducted,” an Israeli army spokesperson told AlterNet. The army spokesperson went on to state that Hamas and the army “exchanged shelling,” yet they were unable to provide details on the source of the Palestinian fire. “They used several forms of fire simultaneously,” was all the spokesperson could divulge.

“I cannot confirm at the moment as we are still looking into it, but it may have been live bullets and a suicide belt,” which killed the soldiers, the army spokesperson said.

When asked why the army did not have a solid account of the events that broke the promised 72-hour cease-fire, the army spokesperson maintained, “There were terrorists and they attacked the soldiers, two soldiers didn’t just drop dead.”

Tweets from Gaza contradict official US-Israeli claims

The PLO and Palestinian Authority both insisted to AlterNet that Hamas fighters engaged Israeli soldiers inside Gaza well before the cease-fire took effect – and during an Israeli assault on Rafah leading up to the 8am cease-fire.

“They aborted the cease-fire from the beginning,” said Nabil Shaath from the PLO’s Central Committee.

A veteran negotiator, Shaath has become the de facto liaison between the PLO and Hamas. He confirmed to AlterNet that PA President Mahmoud Abbas received a briefing from Hamas this morning on the incident near Rafah. Shaath’s account reflects details provided directly by Hamas officials in the Gaza Strip.

According to Shaath, at 6am Hamas fighters engaged Israeli forces in Rafah. He maintained that it was then — almost two hours before the cease-fire went into effect — that the two Israeli soldiers were killed and the other went missing.

Shaath’s account was supported by dispatches published before the cease-fire went into effect by the official Twitter account of Hamas’s Qassam Brigades military wing. In a tweet published at 7:34 a.m. on August 1, the Qassam Brigades stated, “At 7 a.m. a group [of Hamas fighters] clashed with [Israeli] forces east of Rafah and caused many injuries and death to them.”

In a separate tweet published at 6:22 a.m. on the say day, the Qassam Brigades declared, “At 6:30 a.m., a group of the Qassam infiltrated behind enemy lines at east Rafah and bombed a house that the enemy had taken as a stronghold with a Tandem missile after the enemies bombed the whole area.”

The following day, Qassam Brigades reiterated its description of the incident in an official statement: “The clashes began at 7.00am, before the proposed truce was in effect, while the enemy launched its attack on civilians at 10 a.m, blatantly violating the truce in aims of finding a missing soldier.”

Qassam Brigades added that it had “no knowledge regarding the soldier missing in action [Lt. Hadar Goldin] or his location or the circumstances of his disappearance” — a departure from previous instances when it trumpeted claims that it had captured Israeli troops. Despite the denial, Obama vehemently demanded that Hamas unconditionally release Goldin.

The cease-fire was first violated at 8:30 a.m., according to Shaath, when the Israeli army destroyed 19 buildings in an operation to demolish tunnels. “Destroying tunnels is destroying houses,” Shaath said, noting that the cease-fire allowed hostile Israeli forces to continue to operate inside the Gaza Strip, making violence almost inevitable. “We do not accept a cease-fire that allows the invader to attack and murder,” he declared.

Conflicting claims and evidence ignored

In announcing the brief cease-fire, Kerry said its terms authorized Israeli forces to carry out“defensive” operations against tunnels. He seemed unaware of the ramifications of such an agreement, or what Israel’s attacks on tunnels actually entailed. A glimpse at Human Rights Watch’s bracing report on the Israeli army’s brutal assault on Rafah in 2004, “Razing Rafah,” which it conducted under the auspices of anti-tunnel operations, would have offered a glimpse of what was to come. (American activist Rachel Corrie was killed by an Israeli bulldozer during the 2003 attack on Rafah).

Following the incident in Rafah that left two Israeli soldiers dead and one presumed missing, Kerry immediately declared that Hamas had committed an “outrageous violation of the cease-fire.” White House Press Secretary Joshua Earnest echoed Kerry by accusing Hamas of “a barbaric violation of the cease-fire agreement.”

But sources offer starkly conflicting accounts of the incident in question. The Israeli army claimed to AlterNet that Lt. Hadar Goldin went missing at 9:30 a.m., an hour and a half after the cease-fire was declared. Yet Obama claimed that the attack occurred “minutes after the cease-fire began.” For their part, Qassam reported engaging and killing Israeli soldiers well before 8 a.m.

So when did the incident actually occur? And why was Obama’s information so dramatically different from details the Israeli army was furnishing journalists with?

More importantly, why was the Obama administration so quick to jump to conclusions?

Framing Hamas, driving the death toll

Perhaps the answer was credulousness or sheer laziness, with its diplomatic corps and intelligence services neglecting to examine sensitive details from sources on the ground. But the more likely explanation is that Washington has sought to frame Hamas as the aggressor to enable Israel to intensify military operations disproportionately directed against a besieged civilian population.

Since violence escalated in mid-July, the Obama administration has demonstrated a disturbing pattern of legitimizing suspect Israeli claims about Hamas’s malevolence and bad faith. In each case, the administration provided political cover for disproportionate Israeli violence, deepening the damage to civilian life in the West Bank and Gaza. And in each case, Washington’s claims were ultimately discredited — but only after Israel had ratcheted the violence up to a frightening new stage.

The first case of irresponsible enabling by the Obama administration occurred in the immediate wake of the kidnapping of three Israeli teens in the occupied West Bank on June 12. It was on June 15, before evidence was made public about the kidnapping suspects’ identities, that Kerry pointed the finger at Hamas, suggesting that the organization’s leadership had authorized the crime. His words helped justify Operation Brother’s Keeper, an army rampage through the West Bank in which thousands of Palestinian homes were raided, over 500 were arrested without charges, and 6 civilians were killed.

A month later, Israeli Police Spokesman Mickey Rosenfeld finally admitted what was widely known and had been extensively documented: Hamas leadership had no role in or advance knowledge of the kidnappings. But by then, the damage to the West Bank had already been done. Kerry has yet to retract his demonstrably false and damaging claim.

The next case of Obama administration enabling came on July 15 as the military regime of Egypt – a ferocious antagonist of the Muslim Brotherhood and Hamas – introduced a cease-fire proposal developed in intimate collaboration with Israel that would not have lifted the 8-year-long siege of Gaza. Hamas had not been consulted on the proposal or even briefed on its details, exposing it as a hollow document conceived as a ruse to frame the Palestinian faction as rejectionists. Kerry brought the Israeli-Egyptian scheme to its fulfillment when he launched into an indignant condemnation of Hamas for rejecting the Egyptian proposal, accusing the group of “purposely playing politics.”

Kerry’s statement was a political boon to Netanyahu, providing the Prime Minister with all the cover he sought to initiate and expand ground invasion of Gaza. Hamas’s refusal to accept the proposal “gives Israel full legitimacy to expand the operation to protect our people,” Netanyahu declared on July 15.

Human catastrophe with no end in sight

Some thousand civilian deaths later, with morgues filled with the bodies of children and the UN no longer able to care for the 25% of the Gaza Strip forced to flee from sectors of the Gaza Strip that resemble post-apocalyptic moonscapes, the Obama administration was at it again. As before, they blamed Hamas without the benefit of anything remotely resembling substantial evidence.

In turn, Washington provided political legitimacy to military operations aimed at an occupied and vulnerable civilian population with nowhere to flee, allowing the killing to continue unabated. Following the collapse of the cease-fire, Israel bombarded Rafah with US-supplied F-16’s and tank artillery, decimating the center of the city and killing over 70. At the time of publication, the death toll is rapidly rising.

Meanwhile, the talks scheduled to take place in Egypt over the next 72 hours seem to have fallen into shambles.

Obama has described the scenes of human misery pouring out of the Gaza Strip as “heartbreaking.” If only he and his administration had demanded evidence before enabling Israeli aggression, he might have been able to forgo the empty displays of hand-wringing. More importantly, hundreds of innocent lives might have been spared from a marauding army operating behind a shroud of impunity.

More Comedy


There’s something to be said for comedy in these times.  It can remove you from what is troubling, or it can make you reflect more, become more introspective with the issues surrounding your life.  Jon Stewart fills the gap nicely for the latter, using his routines to provoke a stinging response to the plain idiocy of the world today.

Sometimes however you just find something that is off the charts; it neither makes you laugh nor think, but rather it’s so comically insane all you can do is shout out in anger over the absoluteness craziness of what the author most likely wants you to take seriously.  This news story about al-Qaeda’s magazine for women falls into this category.  It is something out of a Hollywood script

There are exclusive interviews with martyrs’ wives, who praise their husbands’ decisions to die in suicide attacks.

The slick, 31-page Al-Shamikha magazine – meaning The Majestic Woman – has advice for singletons on ‘marrying a mujahideen’.

Readers are told it is their duty to raise children to be mujahideen ready for jihad.

And the ‘beauty column’ instructs women to stay indoors with their faces covered to keep a ‘clear complexion’.

They should ‘not go out except when necessary’ and wear a niqab for ‘rewards by complying with the command of Allah Almighty’.

No doubt this is a government  intelligence operated rag designed to gather as much information as it can from those who buy, read or write to it for future operations, so my advice to you is don’t even ‘go there’.  Who’ve read here all that you need to know about it here which is, laugh, bellow or ignore it, but don’t touch it.

Meanwhile on a serious note, Lesley Hazelton continues to impress.  We spotlighted her video here on the Quranic interpretation of Paradise, but now she weighs in on the matter of the Islamophobia insanity that’s gripping the world today, by equating it with anti-Semitism.  To anyone who has felt the brunt of racist injustice, it is clear it’s the same…that is to say racism directed towards Jews is the same as the kind directed towards Arabs…a social injustice that must be eradicated.

I recognize that anti-Semitism and Islamophobia are two sides of the exact same coin:  the stereotyping of millions of people by the actions of a few.  That is, prejudice.So it’s particularly painful, let alone absurd and self-defeating and dumb, to see that some Islamophobes are Jewish.  And equally painful – and absurd and self-defeating and dumb – to see that some Muslims are anti-Semitic.

“Islam” did not attack the US on 9/11;  eighteen people with a particularly twisted and distorted idea of Islam did.  “The Jews” do not shoot Palestinian farmers in the West Bank;   Bible-spouting settlers with a particularly twisted and distorted idea of Judaism do.

The Quran is no more violent or misogynistic than the Bible.  In fact it’s less so.  If you insist, as Islamophobes do, on highlighting certain phrases, then you should turn around and do the same with the Bible, which you will find ten times worse, with repeated calls for the destruction of whole peoples.  Only the dumbest, most literal, hate-filled fundamentalist, Jewish or Muslim, takes the rules of ancient warfare as a guide to 21st-century life.

Clarity, finally; there’s nothing about this pronouncement that’s funny.   It’s short and sweet, to the point and really shames those who’ve given in to the dark side of human behavior and ascribe collective guilt on entire groups of people because of self-harbored hatred, distrust or dislike, and yes it is true every one can be racist if that is what they do.

Stick and Carrot diplomacy


The wingnut “right” does have a place in American politics.  If one is perceptive enough you can vaguely see an outline of the foreign policy objectives of Washington spewing from the mouthpieces of right wing pundits/racists. Despite the apparent “hate” relationship between the present occupant of the White House and those on the vociferous “right” the pundits of insanity, plunder and racism give government an idea of just how far it, government, can go in its never ending battle for empire and dominion. It is not necessary for diplomacy or policy to be carried out in just the same way the racist homo/Islamophobes express but it probably comes close.  Case in point, Sean Hannity’s latest imperialistic diatribe.

With rising gas prices and a stagnant economy, Hannity’s solution of taking over another country’s natural resources because we can most likely strikes a chord in the minds of many a besieged listener who wants to settle scores with the Islamic/Muslim hordes they’ve so assiduously been warned about this last decade.  Current Washington probably has entertained the same ideas while former Bush administration officials said as much when making their case for war with Iraq.  The Obama administration on the other hand, supposedly carries a carrot not a stick, unlike its predecessor.  It must have the appearance of  remaining true to the kinder, gentler prescription for diplomacy, hence this from the Secretary of State, Clinton.

Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton delivered a scalding critique of Arab leaders here on Thursday, saying their countries risked “sinking into the sand” of unrest and extremism unless they liberalized their political systems and cleaned up their economies.

Speaking at a conference in this gleaming Persian Gulf emirate, Mrs. Clinton recited a familiar litany of ills: corruption, repression and a lack of rights for women and religious minorities. But her remarks were striking for their vehemence, and they suggested a frustration that the Obama administration’s message to the Arab world had not gotten through.

Secretary Clinton, taking a page from the wingnuts, makes many in the Middle East who are victims the cause of their victimization.  Lest one forget, there were no WMDs in Iraq which was invaded after a decade long blockade that resulted in the deaths of hundreds of thousands of Iraqis; Gaza is an outdoor prison camp, with the West Bank merely an enclave within the modern state of Israel with no territorial sovereignty or integrity and the second largest recipient of US aid is a 30 year long dictatorship.  Notice the tone of the above article.  Words like “vehemence” and “frustration” are designed to send signals that unless things change diplomacy may give way to something harsher.  Let’s not forget that in the 80s Saddam Hussein was Washington’s leader of choice for Iraq, but only 20 years later encouraged and cheered on his execution.  That shouldn’t be lost on the leaders of oil producing countries that serve an insatiable American public the oil which fuels the American economy.  Hannity’s arrogant bluster and frustration regrettably is probably  an outline for future American policy.

Comment!


No matter how many pictures published of the inhumane conditions Palestinians are forced to live under Israeli occupation; no matter how many wars of aggression Israel starts with her neighbors, regardless of the number of Palestinians murdered by the IDF it just doesn’t reach the American public that what we are witnessing there is no less than genocide by the hands of an American ally.  The accompanying video points out only one of the daily injustices Palestinians face when trying to move throughout their “country”.  The video shows people, mostly women, trying to move from the West Bank to Jerusalem for the Friday prayers.  It will not soften the hard hearts of Israel’s most ardent supporters, but it’s just another piece of evidence to show the world of Israeli war crimes against the people whose land it occupies.

Old News, or a ‘I told you so’ moment


Search for transplant here at Miscellany101 and you’ll see several references to stories similar to this news, stretching back a year or more. In some ways it explains Israel’s blood lust….shooting people is a way to harvest organs, especially a well placed head shot.

Israel has admitted that in the 1990s, its forensic pathologists harvested organs from dead bodies, including Palestinians, without the permission of families.The issue emerged with the publication of an interview with the then-head of Israel’s Abu Kabir forensic institute, Dr. Jehuda Hiss. The interview was conducted in 2000 by an American academic, who released it because of a huge controversy last summer over an allegation by a Swedish newspaper that Israel was killing Palestinians in order to harvest their organs. Israel hotly denied the charge.

Parts of the interview were broadcast on Israel’s Channel 2 TV over the weekend. In it, Dr. Hiss said, “We started to harvest corneas … . Whatever was done was highly informal. No permission was asked from the family.”

 

No accountability for the Israeli government…it was all informal, and Hiss is no longer in a position of authority will be the official party line, but they’ve already been caught in one lie, so don’t believe the next one that comes out.

 

No Comment


Human trophies


Much has been written about the photo appearing here of the female Israeli soldier sitting next to a bound and blind folded Palestinian prisoner.  You can read where she defends the pictures taken, claiming she doesn’t see anything wrong with what she did here; meanwhile not much outraged was sparked with the release of the photos in Israel.   In fact there are a series of photos taken which include the one to the left, that you can find here.  For Israelis, steeped in a war culture, posing with live or dead Palestinians is  normal, they or the attitudes behind taking the pictures are not an anomaly for Israeli soldiers.  Witness what these former soldiers had to say about their experience serving in the IDF.

No Comment


Netanyahu Speaks with Forked Tongue


It won’t make that much difference in people’s attitudes about Israel, although it should be extremely embarrasing to official Washington, the admission or rather revelation that Benjamin Netanyahu lied in order to sabotage the Oslow Accords back during the Clinton Administration.  It’s no small foot note that Netanyahu is now the Prime Minister of Israel and  no doubt still lies; it’s hard to teach an old dog new tricks, dontcha’ know.

What’s also interesting to this observer is the revelation comes from a news outlet other than the US main stream media, that darling of Israel and any US administration that is in power.  I don’t entirely agree with the reporter’s assertion in the piece that the video which contains the damning details was shot unbeknownst to Netanyahu; I think Netanyahu and most other Israeli officials don’t give a damn whether Americans or anyone else knows what they really think or believe, because they know it will be smoothed over for them by corporate media.  Witness the rather arrogant behavior of the Israelis during Joe Biden’s recent stop in Israel where they announced new settlements at a time it was hoped they would freeze settlements.  What Netanyahu admits to is

he deceived the US president of the time, Bill Clinton, into believing he was helping implement the Oslo accords, the US-sponsored peace process between Israel and the Palestinians, by making minor withdrawals from the West Bank while actually entrenching the occupation. He boasts that he thereby destroyed the Oslo process. He dismisses the US as “easily moved to the right direction” and calls high levels of popular American support for Israel “absurd”.

He also suggests that, far from being defensive, Israel’s harsh military repression of the Palestinian uprising was designed chiefly to crush the Palestinian Authority led by Yasser Arafat so that it could be made more pliable for Israeli diktats.

Many within the Israeli leadership as well as the apparatchiks here in America were opposed to the Oslow Accords because they claimed, as usual, Israel was being asked to give up too much.  Netanyahu’s conniving position was no doubt taken so he could appear to be the more moderate and acceptable leader for Israel….a diplomatic version of good cop, bad cop, the bad cop being the bloodthirsty Ariel Sharon.  In reality Netanyahu is much worse.  The video which contains these statements by Netanyahu, which also appears below, has been circulating around in Israel for a period of time yet no one of the so called liberal Israeli public opinion, which we are told is far more open to criticism of  Israeli leadership because they get better media coverage and a more critical viewpoint  of Israeli government shenanigans; no one from this elite society of free thinkers has uttered a call for Netanyahu to resign.  No one seems the least bit concerned about the effect this news will have on Israel’s international relations.  One wouldn’t really expect them to be concerned at all; the Israelis have positioned themselves so far to an extreme nothing short of a war in which they are alone on one side facing everybody else would make them rethink positions they have come to hold so dearly today.   But it is interesting to this observer that the video appears after Netanyahu’s visit to the US just a few short days ago and is just one more ‘in your face’ statement made to belittle and demean the ‘world’s only superpower’.  Somehow, that expression- world’s only superpower,  just doesn’t have the ring to it it once did.

Perhaps this also gives people in the west, if they care to stop and reflect just once, an idea of the frustration the Palestinians have felt toward the Israeli government and people.  The leaders of Israel openly admit their signature on treaties, commitments, agreements aren’t worth the paper they are written on, and this deceit is carried out with the full knowledge and approval of Israeli citizenry.

No Such thing as Israeli transparency


Israel being transparent would result in the Goldstone report all over again, or worse something like  this

In a 116-page document, entitled I Lost Everything: Israel’s Unlawful Destruction of Property in the Gaza Conflict , the report documents the complete destruction of orchards and farms as well as 189 buildings. These included 11 factories, eight warehouses and 170 residential buildings, rendering 971 people homeless during Operation Cast Lead which began on December 27th, 2008 and ended on January 18th, 2009.

The report said that a dozen specific targetings documented in the report account for only 5 per cent of the homes, warehouses and factories destroyed during the conflict. The report stated: “These cases describe instances in which Israeli forces caused extensive destruction of homes, factories, farms and greenhouses in areas under [Israeli] control without any evident military purpose”.

The human rights group said there had been no evidence of fighting in the vicinity of these facilities at the time of the attacks and Israeli bulldozers demolished the property after fighting had ceased and Israel had taken full control.

In “many cases, the destruction was carried out during the final days of the campaign when an Israeli withdrawal was imminent”, HRW said. “Individuals responsible for committing or ordering such destruction should be prosecuted for war crimes.”

What Israel has agreed to do, in investigating itself is so weak and designed to paint the perpetrator as the victim is this

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu spent the last two weeks searching for a process that would win the endorsement of the U.S. and appear credible to the international community, but not spiral out of the government’s control.

To that end, the five-member panel will have a narrow mandate. It is chiefly tasked with evaluating the legality of Israel’s naval blockade of Gaza, imposed three years ago when the Islamic militant group Hamas established full control over the coastal strip, and whether the use of force during the raid was consistent with international practices. The commission also will look into the identity and motivations of activists aboard the ship, some of whom Israel has accused of having links to terrorist groups.

So what we will see emanate from the Israeli report will be ‘the devil made me do it’ excuses for their infringement on international law. Meanwhile as if to underscore the point that the blockade is not about stemming the flow of weapons into Gaza, nor of securing the state of Israel from any threat posed by Hamas comes  this

..

in response to a lawsuit by Gisha, an Israeli human rights group, the Israeli government explained the blockade as an exercise of the right of economic warfare.”A country has the right to decide that it chooses not to engage in economic relations or to give economic assistance to the other party to the conflict, or that it wishes to operate using ‘economic warfare,'” the government said.

Sari Bashi, the director of Gisha, said the documents prove that Israel isn’t imposing its blockade for its stated reasons, but rather as collective punishment for the Palestinian population of Gaza. Gisha focuses on Palestinian rights.
Whatever findings come from the Israeli report will be purely about state interests for Israel, and that’s to be expected and even welcomed.  There is enough evidence to indict Israel for illegal activity and it’s only natural for the state of Israel to do what it can to countermand that body of evidence.  What is shameful is that they will get away with it while everything else will be ignored, forgotten, or flushed down the memory hole. The victims of Israeli rage on that morning as well as the people of Gaza deserve better than that from a 21st century world citizenry.

‘Arab women need not apply’


Israel’s finance minister was accused last week of trying to deflect attention from discriminatory policies keeping many of the country’s Arab families in poverty by blaming their economic troubles on what he described as Arab society’s opposition to women working.

A recent report from Israel’s National Insurance Institute showed that half of all Arab families in Israel are classified as poor compared with just 14 per cent of Jewish families.

Yuval Steinitz, the finance minister, told a conference on employment discrimination this month that the failure of Arab women to participate in the workforce was damaging Israel’s economy. Eighteen per cent of Arab women work, and only half of them full time, compared with at least 55 per cent of Jewish women.

He attributed the low employment rate to “cultural obstacles, traditional frameworks and the belief that Arab women have to remain in their home towns”, adding that such restrictions were characteristic of all Arab societies.

But researchers and women’s groups pointed out that employment of Arab women in Israel is lower than almost anywhere else in the Arab world, including such employment blackspots for women as Saudi Arabia and Oman.

“Most Arab women want to work, including a large number of female graduates, but the government has refused to tackle the many and severe obstacles that have been put in their way,” said Sawsan Shukha of Women Against Violence, a Nazareth-based organisation.

That assessment was supported by a survey this month revealing that 83 per cent of Israeli businesses in the main professions – including advertising, law, banking, accountancy and the media – admitted being opposed to hiring Arab graduates, whether men or women.

Yousef Jabareen, an urban planner at the Technion technical university in Haifa, who has conducted one of the largest surveys on Arab women’s employment in Israel, said the problems Arab women faced were unique.

“In Israel they face a double discrimination, both because they are women and because they are Arabs,” he said.

“The average in the Arab world [for female employment] is about 40 per cent. Only women in Gaza, the West Bank and Iraq – where there are exceptional circumstances – have lower rates of employment than Arab women in Israel. That gap needs explaining and the answers aren’t to be found where the minister is looking.”

He said a wide range of factors hold Arab women back, many of them the result of discriminatory policies by successive governments to prevent the 1.3-million Arab minority, which comprises one-fifth of Israel’s population, from benefiting from economic development.

These included widespread discrimination in hiring policies by both private employers and the government; a long-standing failure to locate industrial zones and factories in Arab communities; a severe lack of state-supported childcare services compared with Jewish communities; a shortage of public transport in Arab areas that prevented women reaching places of work, and a lack of training courses aimed at Arab women.

According to a study by Women Against Violence, 40 per cent of Arab women with degrees are unable to find work. When interviewed, Mr Jabareen said, 78 per cent of non-working women blamed their situation on a lack of job opportunities.

Maali Abu Roumi, 24, from the town of Tamra in northern Israel, has been looking for a job as a social worker since she finished training two years ago. She said cash-strapped Arab schools, unlike Jewish schools, could not afford to employ a social worker, and that Israel’s Arab minority lacked the equivalent of the welfare institutions and foundations funded by wealthy overseas Jews that offered work to many Jewish social workers.

“Most of the Jews I studied with have found work, while very few of the Arabs on my course have been employed,” she said. “When a job comes up, it’s usually part time and there are dozens of applicants.”

The Alternative Planning Centre, an Arab organisation that studies land use in Israel, reported in 2007 that only 3.5 per cent of the country’s industrial zones were in Arab communities. Most attracted such small businesses as workshops for car repairs or carpentry that offered few opportunities for women.

“Israel’s private sector is almost entirely closed to Arab women because of discriminatory practices by employers who prefer to employ Jews,” Mr Jabareen said. He added that the government had failed to provide leadership: among governmental workers, less than two per cent were Arab women, despite repeated pledges by ministers to increase Arab recruitment.

Ms Shukha said: “The civil service is a major employer, but many of these jobs are in the centre of the country, in Tel Aviv or Jerusalem, a long way from the north where most Arab citizens live.”

She noted that there were no regular buses from Nazareth, the largest Arab town in the country, to Jerusalem. “The transport situation is even worse in the villages where most Arab women live.”

In addition, she said, most could not travel long distances to find work because of the scarcity of child-care provision. Only 25 government-run daycare centres have been established for preschool children in Arab communities out of 1,600 operating across the country. Ms Shaukha also criticised the trade and industry ministry, saying that, although it had invested heavily in training for Jewish women, only six per cent of Arab women were attending courses, and then mostly for sewing and secretarial work.

Mr Jabareen said Arab men faced massive discrimination, too, but found work because they filled a need in the economy by doing hard manual labour that most Jews refused, often travelling long distances to work on construction sites. “Women simply don’t have that option,” he said. “They cannot do that kind of work and they need to stay close to their communities because they have responsibilities in the home.”

Expected to lie or coverup


It’s said Muslims, when asked questions about their activities, are expected to lie and/or coverup their involvement in anything illegal.  I don’t know about that, but it does seem that’s what some who enlist in the Israeli Defense Force are expected to do when asked about their abuse of Palestinians.

Far-right activists distributed fliers to fresh draftees at the Israel Defense Forces induction center in Tel Hashomer on Tuesday urging them not to confide in their commanders and to refrain from cooperating with investigators if they physically abuse Palestinians in the territories.

The notice was intended for enlistees into the Kfir infantry brigade, most of whose operations take place in the territories.

It cites the case of First Lieutenant Adam Malul, an officer in the Kfir brigade who is standing trial for beating a Palestinian. In addition, the pamphlet mentions the Kfir brigade commander, Colonel Itai Virov, who was censured for making statements which justified the use of violence against unarmed Palestinians in certain instances.

The brochure stated that these two incidents were cases in which “foreign considerations were involved in the system’s chain of command.”

The bottom of the notice is signed by “students of Rabbi Ginzburg” – a reference to Yitzhak Ginzburg, who is viewed as a leader of extremist settlers in the West Bank. Ginzburg is the author of “Baruch the Man,” a book honoring Baruch Goldstein, the settler who massacred Palestinians at the Tomb of the Patriarchs in Hebron.

The two examples mentioned in the article only saw the light of day because non-Israelis pressed for the prosecution of the offending parties, otherwise, the implication goes, nothing would have happened to them and the brutality of the Israelis towards the Palestinians under their control would continue unabated. With regard to the latter, of  that you can be sure.

The shape of things to come


Israel is NOT a democratic state, and the people who live there are not interested in democracy.  In the “old days” saying that made one an enemy of America, or at the least, a place to be colonized and brought democracy, but our special relationship with Israel simply doesn’t allow such solutions be applied to the Israeli problem.  What is surely a sign of things to come is this news coming from that troubled country

A community in northern Israel has changed its bylaws to demand that new residents pledge support for “Zionism, Jewish heritage and settlement of the land” in a thinly veiled attempt to block Arab applicants from gaining admission.   Critics are calling the bylaw, adopted by Manof, home to 170 Jewish families in Galilee, a local “loyalty oath” similar to a national scheme recently proposed by the far-Right party of the government minister Avigdor Lieberman.   Other Jewish communities in the central Galilee — falling under the umbrella of a regional council known as Misgav — are preparing similar bylaws in response to a court petition filed by an Arab couple hoping to build a home in Misgav.

Reading the article at the link above is like being taken back into the early 1900s in American history.  The language used to justify such racist actions is steeped in fear and bigotry from a group of people who promised, at least indirectly, never to be apart of such action and or speech again.  How quickly they’ve forgotten and how pathetic their reality has become.  America should not enable such “hate speech” any longer.

Peace is not an option for the occupiers of the West Bank


MIDEAST-ISRAEL-PALESTINIAN-WEST BANK-SHOOTING-VIDEOFollowing up on the story posted below about the Global Peace index and how low Israel ranks comes this story that underscores that ranking and demonstrates how a country is sometimes its own worse enemy.

Two Israeli officers have testified that troops in the West Bank beat, bound and blindfolded Palestinian civilians as young as 14.

Both the soldiers, from the Harub battalion, highlighted the tight tying of the plastic hand restraints placed on detainees. “There are people who think you need to tighten the restraints all the way, until no drop of blood will pass from here to there,” one soldier said. “It doesn’t take much time until the hands turn blue. There were a lot of people that you know weren’t feeling anything.”

“The soldiers who took [detainees] to the toilet just exploded [over] them with beatings; cursed them with no reason. When they took one Arab to the toilet so that he could urinate, one of them gave him a slap that brought him to the ground. He had been handcuffed from behind with a nylon restraint and blindfolded. He wasn’t insolent, he didn’t do anything to get on anyone’s nerves … [it was] just because he’s an Arab. He was something like 15 years old.” The soldier said he saw a lot of soldiers “just knee [Palestinians] because it’s boring, because you stand there 10 hours, you’re not doing anything, so they beat people up.

There were a lot of reservists that participated, and they totally had a celebration on the Palestinians: curses, humiliation, pulling hair and ears, kicks, slaps. These things were the norm.”

This is systematic violence against people for the most part are under the authority of the Israeli government and it is this type of government sanctioned violence that keeps Israel in much the same company as Sudan, Somali, and Iraq, and it is all done with the knowledge and blessings of the US government.

We are committed to censorship and racism


Well at least that’s what we’re saying when we support the current government of Israel whose foreign minister has said he wants to ban Arab Israelis from marking the anniversary of the dispossession of hundreds of thousands of Arab Palestinians in 1948.  How does that go over in a country, the US, which allows Jews to mark and commemorate the Holocaust?

Another in your face moment, brought to you by the Likudiniks


The Israeli Prime Minister, Benjamin  Netanyahu visited the US this week amid all sorts of speculation surrounding the US/Israeli “special relationship”.  One thing is certain, despite all the talk of “change” coming to Washington, Israel still runs the show when it comes to US foreign policy, and especially policy regarding the Middle East.  Casting all doubts whether the current Israeli government is for a two state solution, which Obama has said he favors, Netanyahu’s visit came on the eve of the announcement Israel was going to expand settlements in the West Bank which goes to show you a US president can say whatever he wants but it has no basis in reality as far as Israel is concerned.  Take that, Obama!!

Simple pleasures are the best


There’s nothing simple or pleasurable about giving birth.  Under the best of circumstances it’s arduous and stressful for all concerned, but especially for the mother.  In free societies all attempt is made to allow the expecting mother to have as safe and carefree delivery as possible.   That is not possible for Palestinian mothers who are regularly forced by Israeli policy to give birth at Israeli checkpoints.  The Israelis are ratching up their genocide of Palestinians by making it almost insanely possible for Palestinian mothers to carry their babies to term.  Stories abound where pregnant women denied access to healthcare facilities beyond Israeli checkpoints had to give birth in cars and then tragically watch their babies die.  In 2002,  more than half the babies born at checkpoints died and the year before just a little over half died under similar circumstances.  These statistics are normal and have piled up while the world has turned a blind eye toward the health hazards being carried out daily in the occupied territories.  The Israeli policy is no doubt fostered by their mistaken belief that this type of abortion, or murder of the unborn is one way to influence the demographics of the region, reduce the numbers of their foes.

During the time Israel was feeling victorious and happy counting 1,300 massacred Palestinians in cold blood, Palestinian women retaliated by giving birth to 3,570 babies. The Palestinian woman is considered a demographic bomb, a highly fertile creature as fertile as the soil of Palestine. The more Israel sends Palestinian on a one way trip to the womb of the land, the more Palestinian women’s wombs show generosity, giving birth to more heroes.

At a time the average fertility in Israel is 2.6 babies per woman, Gaza is considered one of the most fertile in the whole wide world with an average of 6 babies per woman. Israel suffers a high percentage of senior citizens while Gaza has an abundance of youngsters and according to UNICEF’s report on the 3rd of March 2009 the total number of children in Gaza is approximately 793,520, or 56 per cent of the population (PCBS). This was one of the main reasons that forced Israel to stop its military incursions, for there are 4,170 humans per every square Kilometre in Gaza, to imagine how densely populated Gaza is, one should know that Lebanon is 29 times the area of Gaza.

This brings us back to Israel’s devious methods of trying to kill women who are considered as factories of men, without being blamed directly for that by its policies of blockades, and checkpoints where sick women or women about to give birth suffer for not being able to reach hospitals, by denying them the right to travel or import foods and medicines, by bombing their infrastructure leaving them with no water to drink or use for hygiene, by depriving them of fuel leading to total arrest of the sewage system refineries, by spraying them with chemicals from above and burning them with white phosphorus, and by killing them indirectly out of sorrow and deep grief after losing their family members especially their young ones, but as Yasser Arafat once said we Palestinians are an undefeatable nation we are ‘Shaab Aljabbare.

Whatever the motivation or reason behind such barbarity, the idea that women in labor should be denied access to medical care is one more feather in the cap of Israeli genocide directed towards its Palestinian citizens as well as neighbors.  It should be roundly condemned by its major sponsor and ally the U.S.  Nothing short of that is acceptable.

Zionism is the problem


The political movement which asserts the supremacy of Israeli Jews over all others will lead the world into another world war, so it is that the editorial below which appeared in the Los Angeles Times is a particularly good one beckoning the world to take heed of this problem and solve it.  Several bloggers have mentioned the editorial below but it wasn’t until I read it in its entirety that I felt it was worth mentioning here at Miscellany101.  It is rather long, so I’ll excerpt it but strongly encourage everyone who reads this post to go to the link and read it.

Israeli policies have rendered the once apparently inevitable two-state solution less and less feasible. Years of Israeli settlement construction in the West Bank and East Jerusalem have methodically diminished the viability of a Palestinian state. Israel’s new prime minister, Benjamin Netanyahu, has even refused to endorse the idea of an independent Palestinian state, which suggests an immediate future of more of the same: more settlements, more punitive assaults.

All of this has led to a revival of the Brit Shalom idea of a single, secular binational state in which Jews and Arabs have equal political rights. The obstacles are, of course, enormous. They include not just a powerful Israeli attachment to the idea of an exclusively Jewish state, but its Palestinian analogue: Hamas’ ideal of Islamic rule. Both sides would have to find assurance that their security was guaranteed. What precise shape such a state would take — a strict, vote-by-vote democracy or a more complex federalist system — would involve years of painful negotiation, wiser leaders than now exist and an uncompromising commitment from the rest of the world, particularly from the United States.

Meanwhile, the characterization of anti-Zionism as an “epidemic” more dangerous than anti-Semitism reveals only the unsustainability of the position into which Israel’s apologists have been forced. Faced with international condemnation, they seek to limit the discourse, to erect walls that delineate what can and can’t be said.

It’s not working. Opposing Zionism is neither anti-Semitic nor particularly radical. It requires only that we take our own values seriously and no longer, as the book of Amos has it, “turn justice into wormwood and hurl righteousness to the ground.”

Establishing a secular, pluralist, democratic government in Israel and Palestine would of course mean the abandonment of the Zionist dream. It might also mean the only salvation for the Jewish ideals of justice that date back to Jeremiah.

No comment: Life under occupation


First they came for the……


The effects of letting a rabid state like Israel get away with murder, literally, is that they consume everything and everyone in their path.  Their hatred for Palestinians is widely known and easily documented despite the protestations that their actions are only a reaction to what befalls them.  They have also issued an indirect and veiled threat towards those states that are neighbors as well as distant that they have the power to strike their capitals and reap the same destructive power against them they unleash on the Palestinians should such countries insist Israel adhere to universally accepted standards of conduct.  Despite all this aggression and hostility they still have allies among those people they’ve threatened.  Perhaps the hope is that by feeding the Israeli blood lust for others they somehow can escape their wrath?  Think again.

A few weeks ago, a senior Greek Orthodox clergyman in Israel attended a meeting at a government office in Jerusalem’s Givat Shaul quarter. When he returned to his car, an elderly man wearing a skullcap came and knocked on the window. When the clergyman let the window down, the passerby spat in his face.

The clergyman prefered not to lodge a complaint with the police and told an acquaintance that he was used to being spat at by Jews. Many Jerusalem clergy have been subjected to abuse of this kind. For the most part, they ignore it but sometimes they cannot.

On Sunday, a fracas developed when a yeshiva student spat at the cross being carried by the Armenian Archbishop during a procession near the Holy Sepulchre in the Old City. The archbishop’s 17th-century cross was broken during the brawl and he slapped the yeshiva student.

Both were questioned by police and the yeshiva student will be brought to trial. The Jerusalem District Court has meanwhile banned the student from approaching the Old City for 75 days.

But the Armenians are far from satisfied by the police action and say this sort of thing has been going on for years. Archbishop Nourhan Manougian says he expects the education minister to say something.

“When there is an attack against Jews anywhere in the world, the Israeli government is incensed, so why when our religion and pride are hurt, don’t they take harsher measures?” he asks.

According to Daniel Rossing, former adviser to the Religious Affairs Ministry on Christian affairs and director of a Jerusalem center for Christian-Jewish dialogue, there has been an increase in the number of such incidents recently, “as part of a general atmosphere of lack of tolerance in the country.”

I’d say that last quote is an understatement. Here is another manifestation of that lack of tolerance.

In a society which sees its neighbors as inhuman and treats them accordingly, and which demands citizenship tests for its own citizens who are not Jewish, a throwback to the days of Jim Crowism in America and the final solution of Nazi Germany, their behavior towards Christian is only a natural evolution of fascism. That the largest Christian community, the US,  continues to give support and comfort to such flagrant abuses against its own brethren is nothing short of amazing………. and dangerous.