Wednesday, March 25, 2009

Gaza Seige Continues and More Israeli War Crimes & Israeli Critics Accused of being Anti-Semitic

Trendy "T" Shirts for the Israeli Defence Forces(IDF) which show contempt for Palestinians : that is that all Palestinians men, women and children including toddlers and infants are all viewed as being legitimate military targets. What critics of IDF argue is that over the past several years and especially during the Gaza invasion a harsh, uncompromising , racist mentality among the IDF has been tolerated if not encouraged by the commanders in the field and by some members of the Israeli government.

The unfortunate thing about such an attitude is that it is shared by the extremist on both sides. So is Israel in its defense willing to abandon any rule of law or common decency in order to defend themselves. To thereby gain the world as it were but to lose one's soul- what sort of victory is that. From what US veterans of the Iraq War have testified that this attitude was prevalent among a significant proportion of American soldiers including their commanders in Iraq.

See article below.

Israeli T-shirts mock Gaza killings - 23 March 2009

Gaza war crimes investigation: Israeli drones- The Guardian Investigations- March 24, 2009
Clancy Chassay asks why Israeli drones with optics capable of seeing the colour of a target's clothes killed so many Palestinian civilians during the recent Gaza invasion

Israeli troops admit abuses in Gaza/ US Israeli Relations/
the Israeli lobby March 23, 2009 Real News network

Siege of Gaza Continues:

"Richard Falk, the UN's special rapporteur on human rights in the Palestinian territories, said Israel had confined Palestinian civilians to the combat zone in Gaza, a unique move which should be outlawed." March 24, 2009

In other conflicts such as Iraq average citizens were not usually prevented from leaving an area of intensive fighting. Some four million Iraqis left their areas of residence fleeing to quieter areas within the country or chose to leave the country itself. What the Israelis did was to prevent Gaza citizens from leaving the Gaza itself or moving to areas which might have been safer . In fact as many humanitarian and human rights groups observed the Israelis encourage or pushed the citizens of Gaza into highly populated areas and then proceeded to bomb these areas. So it appears to have been a deliberate policy to ensure the most damage and casualities.

Spokespersons for the Obama administration claim that Robert Falk along with the United Nations and groups such as Amnesty International, Human Rights Watch, The Red Cross , B'Teselem and others are biased and are anti-Israel and basically anti-Semitic and hate America so much that they also hate America's allies including Israel . Obama, Biden and Hillary Clinton have made it clear that criticisms of Israel will not be tolerated. Israel they claim is permitted to do whatever it takes to defend itself including the 20 month blockade of Gaza and possibly in the near future an attack on Iran, Syria and Lebanon. It saddens many who thought Obama might bring a fresh perspective on the Middle East issues but instead his first response is to defend Israel and to ignore the suffering of the ordinary people of Gaza who are non-combatants.

Israel accused of 'new Gaza crime' Media With Conscience, March 24, 2009

A senior UN official has suggested that Israel should be held accountable for a "new crime against humanity" during its January assault on the Gaza strip.

Richard Falk, the UN's special rapporteur on human rights in the Palestinian territories, said Israel had confined Palestinian civilians to the combat zone in Gaza, a unique move which should be outlawed.

"Such a war policy should be treated as a distinct and new crime against humanity, and should be formally recognised as such, and explicitly prohibited," Falk said in a report to the UN Human Rights Council in Geneva on Monday.

Palestinian civilians were prevented from leaving the Gaza Strip during the three-week bombardment by the Israeli authorities.

Falk also called for an investigation into Israel's attack on Gaza, in which more than 1,300 Palestinians were killed and homes destroyed.

Israel said it carried out the assault to stop Palestinian rocket attacks on southern Israel.

" War on Gaza ghetto enters new phase "
PRESSTV Mar 23,2009

The Israeli campaign to deny the 1.5 million residents of Gaza their basic right to food has in recent days been showing signs of success.

" Egypt nabs sheep headed for Gaza ", March 23, 2009

Cairo, an accomplice in the imposition of a 20-month blockade on Gaza, has stopped a flock of sheep from entering the Palestinian ghetto.

Egyptian police said that on Sunday night they discovered and seized a flock of 560 sheep set to be transported into Gaza through underground tunnels -- the main artery for food entry into the strip.

Israel unleashes sonic booms on Gaza by PRESSTV,March 22, 2009

Israeli warplanes return to the skies of the Gaza Strip and evoke memories of the three-week onslaught on the blockaded territory.

At least two sonic booms hit Gaza City and northern areas of the strip earlier on Sunday, Xinhua cited witnesses as saying.

Tel Aviv has previously resorted to sonic boom attacks on the Gazans for weeks on end, causing psychological disorders for thousands of Gazans -- mainly children.

"Around 50 percent of the children in Gaza are in need of mental health interventions," Gaza-based psychologist El Sarraj told Fars News Agency in a previous interview.

(and once again Israeli forces are firing on Palestinian fishing boats - these Gazan fishermen have the audacity to go out trying to get fish to sell or to eat . Surely a Goliath like Israel would be undermined if these fishermen were to be gainfully employed or caught enough fish to feed their families)

Israeli gunboats also opened fire on Palestinian fishing boats near the coast of Rafah city south of the territory. A number of the boats were reportedly damaged.

Similar attacks happen on Palestinian boats on a regular basis with a 20-month blockade being in place on the coastal sliver.

Dead Palestinian babies and bombed mosques - IDF fashion 2009
By Uri Blau Haaretz, March 20, 2009

Dead babies, mothers weeping on their children's graves, a gun aimed at a child and bombed-out mosques - these are a few examples of the images Israel Defense Forces soldiers design these days to print on shirts they order to mark the end of training, or of field duty. The slogans accompanying the drawings are not exactly anemic either: A T-shirt for infantry snipers bears the inscription "Better use Durex," next to a picture of a dead Palestinian baby, with his weeping mother and a teddy bear beside him. A sharpshooter's T-shirt from the Givati Brigade's Shaked battalion shows a pregnant Palestinian woman with a bull's-eye superimposed on her belly, with the slogan, in English, "1 shot, 2 kills." A "graduation" shirt for those who have completed another snipers course depicts a Palestinian baby, who grows into a combative boy and then an armed adult, with the inscription, "No matter how it begins, we'll put an end to it."

There are also plenty of shirts with blatant sexual messages. For example, the Lavi battalion produced a shirt featuring a drawing of a soldier next to a young woman with bruises, and the slogan, "Bet you got raped!" A few of the images underscore actions whose existence the army officially denies - such as "confirming the kill" (shooting a bullet into an enemy victim's head from close range, to ensure he is dead), or harming religious sites, or female or child non-combatants.

In many cases, the content is submitted for approval to one of the unit's commanders. The latter, however, do not always have control over what gets printed, because the artwork is a private initiative of soldiers that they never hear about. Drawings or slogans previously banned in certain units have been approved for distribution elsewhere. For example, shirts declaring, "We won't chill 'til we confirm the kill" were banned in the past (the IDF claims that the practice doesn't exist), yet the Haruv battalion printed some last year.

...Evyatar Ben-Tzedef, a research associate at the International Policy Institute for Counter-Terrorism and former editor of the IDF publication Maarachot...

"These days the content on shirts is sometimes deplorable," Ben-Tzedef explained. "It stems from the fact that profanity is very acceptable and normative in Israel, and that there is a lack of respect for human beings and their environment, which includes racism aimed in every direction."

...Sociologist Dr. Orna Sasson-Levy, of Bar-Ilan University, author of "Identities in Uniform: Masculinities and Femininities in the Israeli Military," said that the phenomenon is "part of a radicalization process the entire country is undergoing, and the soldiers are at its forefront. I think that ever since the second intifada there has been a continual shift to the right. The pullout from Gaza and its outcome - the calm that never arrived - led to a further shift rightward.

"This tendency is most strikingly evident among soldiers who encounter various situations in the territories on a daily basis. There is less meticulousness than in the past, and increasing callousness. There is a perception that the Palestinian is not a person, a human being entitled to basic rights, and therefore anything may be done to him."

Could the printing of clothing be viewed also as a means of venting aggression?

Sasson-Levy: "No. I think it strengthens and stimulates aggression and legitimizes it. What disturbs me is that a shirt is something that has permanence. The soldiers later wear it in civilian life; their girlfriends wear it afterward. It is not a statement, but rather something physical that remains, that is out there in the world. Beyond that, I think the link made between sexist views and nationalist views, as in the 'Screw Haniyeh' shirt, is interesting. National chauvinism and gender chauvinism combine and strengthen one another. It establishes a masculinity shaped by violent aggression toward women and Arabs; a masculinity that considers it legitimate to speak in a crude and violent manner toward women and Arabs."

In this next article we are told that there is in fact no difference between criticizing Israel and anti-Semitism. Somehow the author Judea Pearl claims that Judaism, Jews and Israel are one in the same. What's odd about this is that it sounds like the sort of argument made by fanatical anti-Semites but the author here is defending Judaism, Jews and Israel & Zionism. He claims that these strands can not reasonably be disentangled. Israel is the natural home of the Jews given to them by God and the return to Israel is the right of all Jews as part of the destiny of the Jews or Israelites. So the Zionist movement which was born in the 19th century is a culmination of Jewish destiny. If one attacks Israel than one is attacking the very foundation not just of Zionism but also of Judaism. He claims the Jews are a people , a religion and a race tied spiritually to the very real state of Israel. Those who insists on redrawing the map of Israel in such a way that it does not conform to the ideal boundaries of Israel as found in the Torah are in fact enemies of Israel, Zionism and the Israelites or Jews.

One of the things to note is that he bases part of his argument on the Biblical traditions or legends that God promised to Moses and the Israelites after leaving Egypt that all of Palestine would be theirs and that those who lived there were to be driven out or slaughtered. The he claims that even secular or atheists Jews are themselves part of God's Covenant with the Jewish People.

But it seems that Christains could make similar claims about ancient Judea where the Nazarene known as the Christ was born , raised , lived, was crucified and ressurrected. Muslims have also made similar claims about Jerusalem and Palestine .
So as our hero in the film The Kingdom Of Heaven when Jerusalem was surrounded by the Great Saladin's ( more properly, Salah al-Din Yusuf Ibn Ayyub (meaning Righteousness of Faith, Joseph, Son of Job)*, army proclaimed ( paraphrasing) All have claim or none have claim. He leaves the city believing it was an illusion that one should claim that only in Jerusalem or in Palestine one could find or be close to God and the Kingdom of Heaven. Anyway just a little side-bar as it were.

* Saladin

"Is anti-Zionism hate?
Yes. It is more dangerous than anti-Semitism, threatening lives and peace in the Middle East".By Judea Pearl March 15, 2009

on the discriminatory, immoral and more dangerous character of anti-Zionism.

Anti-Zionism rejects the very notion that Jews are a nation -- a collective bonded by a common history -- and, accordingly, denies Jews the right to self-determination in their historical birthplace. It seeks the dismantling of the Jewish nation-state: Israel.

Anti-Zionism earns its discriminatory character by denying the Jewish people what it grants to other historically bonded collectives (e.g. French, Spanish, Palestinians), namely, the right to nationhood, self-determination and legitimate coexistence with other indigenous claimants.

Anti-Semitism rejects Jews as equal members of the human race; anti-Zionism rejects Israel as an equal member in the family of nations.

Are Jews a nation? Some philosophers would argue Jews are a nation first and religion second. Indeed, the narrative of Exodus and the vision of the impending journey to the land of Canaan were etched in the minds of the Jewish people before they received the Torah at Mt. Sinai. But, philosophy aside, the unshaken conviction in their eventual repatriation to the birthplace of their history has been the engine behind Jewish endurance and hopes throughout their turbulent journey that started with the Roman expulsion in AD 70.

More important, shared history, not religion, is today the primary uniting force behind the secular, multiethnic society of Israel. The majority of its members do not practice religious laws and do not believe in divine supervision or the afterlife. The same applies to American Jewry, which is likewise largely secular. Identification with a common historical ethos, culminating in the reestablishment of the state of Israel, is the central bond of Jewish collectivity in America.

First, anti-Zionism targets the most vulnerable part of the Jewish people, namely, the Jewish population of Israel, whose physical safety and personal dignity depend crucially on maintaining Israel's sovereignty. Put bluntly, the anti-Zionist plan to do away with Israel condemns 5 1/2 million human beings, mostly refugees or children of refugees, to eternal defenselessness in a region where genocidal designs are not uncommon.

Secondly, modern society has developed antibodies against anti-Semitism but not against anti-Zionism. Today, anti-Semitic stereotypes evoke revulsion in most people of conscience, while anti-Zionist rhetoric has become a mark of academic sophistication and social acceptance in certain extreme yet vocal circles of U.S. academia and media elite. Anti-Zionism disguises itself in the cloak of political debate, exempt from sensitivities and rules of civility that govern inter-religious discourse, to attack the most cherished symbol of Jewish identity.

Finally, anti-Zionist rhetoric is a stab in the back to the Israeli peace camp, which overwhelmingly stands for a two-state solution. It also gives credence to enemies of coexistence who claim that the eventual elimination of Israel is the hidden agenda of every Palestinian.

It is anti-Zionism, then, not anti-Semitism that poses a more dangerous threat to lives, historical justice and the prospects of peace in the Middle East.

Judea Pearl is a professor at UCLA and the president of the Daniel Pearl Foundation.

Here's another neocon condemning Galloway while making excuses for Israel he also sees anti-Zionism all around him esp. Universities which we assume the author believes is part of the Great Liberal conspiracy ( or Secular Humanists) as defined by Right Wing Pundits such as Ann Coulter or Rush Limbaugh- what he wants is for universities to teach that the Palestinians are evil and the Israelis are good. Academia is supposed to be dedicated at least in part to the search for truth. Academia also deals in shades of grey which Ideologues right or left don't like. Sometimes an issue isn't clearly defined as Good v Evil.

Whereas for instance one may not agree with a group like Hamas whether their public statements or their tactics which may seem brutal and barbaric but does that mean that every man , woman and child in Gaza is the Enemy and therefore can be legitimately seen as justifiable military targets of the IDF. Is every Iraqi responsible for the actions of Saddam or of the insurgents and terrorists in Iraq. There are many who believe that is in part because of this attitude on the part of the US and British forces which helped to fuel the insurgency.

"Canada should let British MP speak "
By Lorne Gunter, The Edmonton JournalMarch 22, 2009

Galloway was as vehement a critic of George Bush as anyone in the world -- and still the Americans have admitted him to speak in their country several times. They have banned the same terror organizations we have. Indeed, we largely copied their list (and the Brits'), and Galloway was to come to Canada this month at the end of a speaking tour in the U.S.

One of the reasons, supposedly, that the Canada Border Services Agency has issued its ban is Galloway's support for the Taliban's cause; the Taliban being the very insurgents currently blowing up Canadian soldiers in Afghanistan.

His Canadian appearances were to be sponsored by the Canadian Peace Alliance, the same group who, during Israel's recent raids on Gaza, organized a rally in Toronto during which several demonstrators shouted for the death of Jews around the world.

Galloway is a nasty piece of work and has plenty of rotten friends, but if we are to begin banning everyone who sympathizes with the Palestinians' grievances, or argues against the war on terrorism in Iraq and Afghan- istan, or shows interest in Islamists' motivations, then we need to begin roundups on every university campus in the country, in every faculty and teachers' lounge, in newsrooms, mainline churches and political conventions.

( But what's the writers point in this statement - that Galloway is a dangerous buffoon and those who support him are mean spirited anti-Israel and anti-Semitic- he goes from this sort of character assassination to claim that anyone who questions the policies on the War On Terror is sympathetic to the terrorists or anyone who has any sympathy for the citizens of Gaza or the West Bank or Iraq or Afghanistan is also pro-terrorists - he paints a black and white picture which is an echo of Bush's claim after 9/11 " that you are either with us or against us" so if someone objects to indiscriminate killing and detentions and the abuse and torture of so-called detainees then that person is soft on terrorism - in other words we can't discuss strategy and tactics but must support the US government or the British government no matter what. To criticize the Bush Regime or Tony Blair etc. is to be on the side of the terrorists. For instance there are those who believe we would be better served by engaging in talks with groups like Hamas and Hezbollah or groups in Afghanistan and Pakistan . It may be that such talks turn out to be futile but many believe that such a dialogue should at least be tried and not ruled out .

The other thing to note is that the author believes that there is a sort of conspiracy at work on University Campuses by those who he claims are anti-Israel. Again any criticism of the IDF during its recent invasion of Gaza is by definition anti-Israeli and anti-Semitic.

Now comes a strange statement about the Anti-Islamic Dutch MP Geert Wilders. Gert Wilders does not argue that there some Muslims living in Europe who are extremists who should be dealt with by the authorities but rather he believes that all Muslims are evil and anti-Western and anti-Christian and so should be expelled from European countries in the same way that in earlier time Christian countries in Europe expelled the Jews and the Muslims ie from England , Spain etc.

So part of his argument is that if Galloway is kept out of Canada then those in authority could also keep out someone like Geert Wilders whom he seems to suggest has analyzed the issue correctly that is that all Muslims are out to destroy Christendom and Western Civilization.)

Five weeks ago, the British government banned Dutch MP Geert Wilders, as vocal an opponent of radical Islam as Galloway is a supporter. That move was wrong, too.

Wilders has produced a controversial 17-minute movie on what he sees as Islam's threat to Western values. He has advocated a ban on public readings of the Qur'an, on Islamic attire, on Islamic schools in his homeland, the Netherlands, and has proclaimed that "moderate Islam does not exist."

Those who would cheer the prohibition against Galloway from entering Canada should realize that the same powers used by government to bar him could just as easily be used to keep Wilders out, too.

"L.A. Times Op-Ed: Anti-Zionism Is Hate Crime:UCLA professor conflates Judaism and political doctrine of Zionism in an attempt to argue criticism of Israel is racist Paul Joseph Watson Prison Tuesday, March 17, 2009

" Why Avigdor Lieberman is the worst thing that could happen to the Middle East " by By Robert Fisk The Independent , March 19, 2009

...Only days after they were groaning with fury at the Israeli lobby's success in hounding the outspoken Charles Freeman away from his proposed intelligence job for President Obama, the Arabs now have to contend with an Israeli Foreign Minister whose – let us speak frankly – racist comments about Palestinian loyalty tests have brought into the new Netanyahu cabinet one of the most unpleasant politicians in the Middle East.

The Iraqis produced the hateful Saddam, the Iranians created the crackpot Ahmadinejad – for reasons of sanity, I leave out the weird ruler of Libya – and now the Israelis have exalted a man, Avigdor Lieberman, who out-Sharons even Ariel Sharon.

A few Palestinians expressed their cruel delight that at last the West will see the "true face" of Israel. I've heard that one before – when Sharon became prime minister – and the usual nonsense will be trotted out that only a "hard-line extremist" can make the compromises necessary for a deal with the Palestinians.

This kind of self-delusion is a Middle East disease. The fact is that the Israeli Prime Minister-to-be has made it perfectly clear there will be no two-state solution; and he has planted a tree on Golan to show the Syrians they will not get it back. And now he's brought into the cabinet a man who sees even the Arabs of Israel as second-class citizens.

Lieberman's first visit to Washington will be a gem. AIPAC – posing as an Israeli lobby when in fact it works for the Likudists – will fight for him and Lady Hillary will have to greet him warmly at the State Department. Who knows, he might even suggest to her that she imposes a loyalty test for American minorities as well – which would mean demanding an oath of faithfulness from Barack himself. The horizon goes on forever.

Robert Fisk concludes the situation is becoming catastrophic:

The New York Times when it attempted last week to explain why Lady Hillary was frightened of offending the Israelis during the formation of the Netanyahu government when she described the destruction of 1,000 Palestinian homes as "unhelpful".

Her caution in the Middle East, it explained, was "a reflection of the treacherous landscape in the Middle East, where a misplaced phrase can ruffle feathers among constituencies back home". You bet it can – and when Mr Lieberman comes to town, we'll see who those feathers belong to.

Their owners would do well, however, to dwell on the incendiary language of Avigdor Lieberman. He speaks like a Russian nationalist rather than the secular Israeli he claims to be.

I covered the bloodbath of Bosnia in the early Nineties and I can identify Lieberman's language – of executions, of drownings, of hell and loyalty oaths – with the language of Messrs Mladic and Karadzic and Milosevic.

Lady Hillary and her boss should pull out a few books on the war in ex-Yugoslavia if they want to understand who they are now dealing with. "Unhelpful" will not be the appropriate response.

" Israelis Using 'Excessive' Force Against Protesters " by Mel Frykberg Inter Press Service at CommonDreams March 19, 2009

RAMALLAH - The critical wounding of a U.S. activist has highlighted the excessive use of force by Israeli forces.

The activist, Tristan Anderson, 38, was shot in the head by Israeli soldiers during a protest against Israel's separation barrier in the Palestinian West Bank last week. He remains in intensive care in Tel Hashomer Hospital in Tel Aviv.

Anderson was one of approximately 400 international, Palestinian and Israeli protestors taking part in a demonstration in the village of Ni'ilin, near the central West Bank city Ramallah, when he was hit by a teargas canister.

Since Israel's devastating three-week war on Gaza, human rights organisations and activists have accused the Israeli Defence Forces (IDF) of using indiscriminate violence and testing new weapons on unarmed protestors.

The teargas canister which hit Anderson is a new variety being used by the IDF, and is particularly lethal if fired directly at protestors.

The gas canister can travel over 400 metres. It does not make a noise when fired, or emit a smoke tail, and has a propeller for mid-air acceleration. A combination of velocity and silence increases the danger it poses.

Witnesses gave testimonies to the media and to human rights organisations that they saw Israeli soldiers aiming at Anderson before they shot the canister from a distance of about 60 metres. It hit him directly on the forehead. The impact of the canister caused severe damage to the right eye, and Anderson has had to undergo critical brain surgery.

Israeli soldiers continued to fire teargas canisters towards the wounded man and the people surrounding him as he lay critically injured on the ground and Palestinian medics tried to give him first aid.

Later, a Palestinian ambulance trying to rush Anderson to hospital was blocked at least five minutes by Israeli soldiers. Only after other foreigners engaged the soldiers in heated debate did they allow the ambulance to pass.

Anderson was then delayed another 15 minutes while an Israel ambulance was called, because Palestinian ambulances are not allowed to cross into Israeli territory without special permit.

and so it goes,

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