The Myth of Israel’s quest for peace

“The conflict with Syria [in ’67] was eminently avoidable. Israel wanted to expand into southern Syria.”

We have been highlighting the importance of Jerome Slater’s new book that reveals a long pattern of Israeli rejection of the two-state solution.

The idea that Israel simply wants peace is a myth purveyed to western audiences to cloak territorial expansion, Slater shows. Titled, “Mythologies Without End: The U.S., Israel, and the Arab-Israeli Conflict, 1917-2020“, this big book is a go-to source on such questions as the Israeli offer at Camp David under Clinton and on the geopolitics of the conflict, especially the Soviet Union role in the 70s.

I interviewed Slater last month and pressed him about a number of famous historical incidents of Israeli intransigence, and also asked why he regards the attitudes of the American Jewish community as key to the conflict.

“The main mythology that I’m examining,” Slater says, “is I quote the famous Abba Eban quote which goes back to the early 1970s, the Arabs never miss an opportunity to miss an opportunity. My argument is that that is almost precisely wrong.

There have been many opportunities, even before the 1948 war, in which the main Arab states did not want to get into a war with Israel, and they put forward compromises… [on] territorial issues, and the Israelis were not interested in that…

“The central mythology is lost opportunities for peace.”

Slater chronicles a forgotten history of peace initiatives. For instance, the Fahd plan put forward by the Saudi Crown Prince in 1981, preceded the Arab Peace Initiative, and called for a normalization of relations with Israel if it returned to the ’67 lines and allowed a Palestinian state to be created– and Fahd plan supporters included Iran!

But Slater demonstrates that without American pressure Israel would make no territorial concessions and– it didn’t make any concessions.

“Even in 1948 the Egyptians were reluctant to get into the war,” he says. “They would have stayed out if Israel had made minor concessions.

There were a number of overtures for a political settlement after that and Israel rejected them, and wouldn’t even send representatives… They [Arab states] met a stone wall… The Israelis were not willing to negotiate… They weren’t even prepared to negotiate till Sadat came to Israel…

“The conflict with Syria [in ’67] was eminently avoidable. Israel wanted to expand into southern Syria.

They could have had peace if they had been willing to give up their territorial aspirations in southern Syria. [Syrian President] Hafez al-Assad was willing, anxious to make an agreement.”

Another fascination of the book is about American pressure. In 1992, President George H.W. Bush tilted Israeli politics.

The Israeli public perceived that Bush preferred Rabin to Shamir, and they went with Rabin.

“Bush did more than urge… He was one of the few who imposed economic sanctions [on settlement activity]…and that was certainly symbolically powerful,” Slater says.

“He wanted to defeat Shamir, there was no question about it, they let that be known to the Israeli public.”

Could Joe Biden do the same with Netanyahu in the March election

“The circumstances have changed such that … I don’t think Biden is going to do it and I don’t think it would work if he did.

The Israelis…have become so rightwing that they are much less willing even in principle to agree to a two state settlement…. I don’t think pressures like that are going to be forthcoming nor they are going to work.”

Israel has gotten U.S. presidents to back down again and again over settlements.

“[Israeli leaders] think they have a vital interest in preventing a two state settlement. I don’t think they’re right, but Obama… was stonewalled and he backed down.”

Reagan was opposed to the settlements, and he backed down. Biden was also opposed to settlements, and he backed down.

Another revelation is Slater’s discussion of the former Soviet Union’s influence in the Middle East.

Israel offered itself as the U.S. aircraft carrier in the Cold War, but Slater says the Soviets wouldn’t have been in the Middle East if the U.S. hadn’t supported Israel so vigorously.

That American bias left Arab states no choice but to align with the Soviet pole; and the U.S. thwarted reasonable Soviet initiatives for peace aimed at lowering the temperature.

“It’s an easy case to make that it was the United States, specifically Nixon and Kissinger… who sabotaged, and I think that’s the only reasonable word, deceitfully, Soviet initiatives that I think were very fair for a two state settlement guaranteed by the super powers,” Slater says.

“Many members of the State Department and foreign policy establishment thought that the Soviet initiative made a lot of sense.”

But if the U.S. had joined with the Soviet Union in seeking to impose such a deal, this would constitute a recognition by the U.S. “that the Soviet Union had a legitimate interest… an undeniable central role in the Middle East,” and Kissinger refused to acknowledge as much.

“If Kissinger had been prepared to accept the Soviet role, there would have been a comprehensive agreement in the 1970s,” Slater says.

Even Nixon was tempted to accept the Soviet role. “But Kissinger talked him out of it. Kissinger was simply deceitful.

He simply denied the public record which showed that the Soviet proposal was the same basic two state settlement with guarantees for Israeli existence as everyone else was making,” Slater says.

Slater says the Soviets sought to counterbalance the US influence in the Middle East throughout the 70s and 80s because they were afraid that a Middle East conflict could detonate a global superpower conflict.

“The cold war record of the Soviets has been widely misunderstood,” Slater says. After the ’67 and ’73 wars, the Soviets were worried about war.

“The Soviets did not want any part of that, correctly so.” That’s why they tried to forge a peace deal that the U.S. ignored but that “would have been in America’s real interests and the interests of peace,” Slater says.

Slater also exposes Yitzhak Rabin, the liberal Zionist hero. Settlements increased under Rabin in the 90s more than they had under his Likud predecessor, Yitzhak Shamir, and Rabin was never interested in a Palestinian state, but an “entity.”

“He was a hawk but he was changing [before he died],” Slater says. “In order to sell the Oslo accords to the Knesset, Rabin didn’t exclude a Palestinian state, but he said, I see it more as an entity than a state.

And he made other qualifications.” Even in that very minimal form, Oslo passed the Knesset by two votes, which shows how rightwing the Knesset was even in the 90s.

Speaking personally, Slater says that as a liberal Zionist he accepted Israel’s mythologies for many years and actually volunteered, as a former Navy officer, to help Israel out in the ’67 war.

“I didn’t know that there was any other legitimate position to be, than a wholehearted supporter of Israel and its military victories in 1948 and 1967,” Slater says. “All that was based on the premise that Israel wanted peace and was prepared to make compromises, had agreed to the UN Partition [of 1947] and the Palestinians hadn’t, which was a large part mythology.

“All the mythologies– I believed, I accepted– they weren’t really being challenged much. Even Noam Chomsky has said that in 1967 he was afraid… I felt the same way.”

Slater changed when he began looking into the history as an academic in the 1980s and went down a path many Jews have gone down since.

“I began to have serious doubts about whether what was widely accepted as true was really true.”

Slater’s big book includes an appeal to the American Jewish community. It needs to dispense with these mythologies and accept the truth of Israel’s conduct or there won’t be progress toward peace.

We talked about Zionism as a Jewish ideology. Slater said, “The other main mythology that I examine is the Zionist argument that not only must there be a Jewish state, which I accept with some qualifications– certainly in the aftermath of the Holocaust and given the history of murderous antisemitism, there was a very good argument for a Jewish state.

But the issue is, where can you put it. I examine all the arguments that have been made by Zionists and Zionist supporters for the need for a Jewish state in Palestine, and most of those arguments are very poor frankly, they don’t stand up to any kind of serious examination.”

I asked him about his feelings about Israel today.

“I’m still a Zionist, but I’m on the extreme leftwing of Zionism… You cannot say definitively there’s no longer any need for a Jewish state…

“[But] I am gravely disillusioned with Israel… I took seriously the idea [of Jews as]… a light unto the nations… At one level that seems preposterously parochial… but it didn’t seem preposterous to people at the time, even to much of the non-Jewish world….

“Israel was not doing that, it was doing the opposite. There was a vast gap between how we Jews saw ourselves, not without reason [and Israel’s behavior].”

The discourse of Israel in the west is changing forever, he says. For a time Israel was regarded as beyond criticism. “It was adored in the west,” Slater says. “It was only after that promise became empty, which is the correct word now, that there came strong criticism of Israel in the west.”

Israeli ‘sex tourism’ is the fruit of normalization with the UAE

Nobody enjoys Israeli tourists. They think they can do whatever they want…because Israelis are not properly raised in occupied Palestine. They are a menace everywhere and defile everything and everybody. Like a disease.

Israel yesterday officially opened its embassy in the United Arab Emirates (UAE), its Foreign Ministry announced.

The controversial move comes after the UAE and Israel agreed to establish full diplomatic, cultural and commercial relations following the signing of the Abraham Accords on 15 September at the White House.

Since then Bahrain, Sudan and Morocco have all agreed to establish ties with Israel in deals brokered by the administration of former US President Donald Trump.

The Palestinians condemned the agreements as a “stab in the back”.

Israel tourist behaviour in UAE ‘shameful’—
A new development is that the tourist advertisements and posters about Dubai conceal a dark reality, represented by gangs of Israeli men who set out for the new holiday destination with prostitution in mind. They fill their pockets with thousands of dollars and with little or no conscience spend their time in the UAE moving from one woman to another.

The newspaper quoted sources stating that some Israeli visitors were: “Cooking inside their hotel rooms in violation of the laws of administration, stealing towels and other items from their rooms and holding inappropriate parties.”

“The UAE is very accessible to the Israeli visitors now,” the travel expert noted, urging that Arabic-speaking Israelis must “respect the hotel workers.” She warned: “Things would end badly if this behaviour continued.”

Over 50,000 Israelis were reported to have visited the UAE since the joint normalisation pact between the two countries, signed on 15 September.—

The Israeli Foreign Ministry claimed the new embassy “will advance the range of relations between the countries in all areas and expand ties with the Emirati government, economic bodies and the private sector, academia, media and more.”

Israel’s government regards Jerusalem as its capital, although that is not recognized by most of the international community. Palestinians claim East Jerusalem as the capital of a future Palestinian state. Most countries have their embassies in Tel Aviv.

The Israeli embassy in Abu Dhabi will be operating from “temporary offices” until locating a permanent facility, the statement said.

READ: Israel tourist behaviour in UAE ‘shameful’

The mission will “expand the ties with the Emirati government, financial bodies and the private sector, universities, the media and more,” it added.

Israel and the UAE have already signed treaties on direct flights and visa-free travel, along with accords on investment protection, science and technology.

Israeli Foreign Minister Gabi Ashkenazi welcomed the move, saying the embassy would “enable the expansion of bilateral relations between Israel and the Emirates for a swift and maximal implementation of the potential in these ties.”

Ashkenazi also thanked the UAE “heir to the throne, His Highness Sheikh Mohammed bin Zayed, and my colleague and friend, Foreign Minister Sheikh Abdullah bin Zayed, for their leadership and hospitality towards our representatives.”

Bibi goes MAGA

Trump and Netanyahu don’t wanna go

The prime minister is thus laying the groundwork for the day after the election, particularly for a scenario in which he loses. In April 2020, he threatened that were he to be disqualified from office, “there would be a call here to boycott the elections.”

Two years earlier, David Amsalem, one of the prime minister’s closest allies and then-chairman of the coalition, stated: “I understand that the prime minister is being set up and we cannot accept this… if someone decides to put the prime minister on trial over these delusional cases, millions of people will not accept it.”

January 13, 2021

“If, God forbid, Bibi loses, who supports doing what Trump’s supporters are doing?” asked a Facebook user last Wednesday on the popular “Likud Voters” group online, home to more than 14,000 members who support the ruling party in Israel. The storming of Capitol Hill in Washington D.C. was still taking place and Israelis, like the rest of the world, were watching the events mouth agape.

Since then, Israelis have been wondering aloud — including on social media — whether a storming of the legislature could take place here as well, should Netanyahu lose the upcoming elections on March 23.

Netanyahu himself has a vested interest in reversing this narrative; he has quickly sought to spin the story on its head and portray the protesters who have been demonstrating against him for months as violent extremists, a la the insurrectionists at the Capitol.

It is a spin that has further revealed the near-symbiotic relationship between the pro-Netanyahu right in Israel and Trumpist right in the United States.
donate now

The new wave of demonstrations that began on July 14, 2020 was of course not the first against the prime minister.

But unlike previous rounds, the latest wave has been continuing on a weekly basis with tens of thousands of protesters taking to bridges and intersections across the country, with the most vocal taking place directly in front of the Prime Minister’s Residence on Balfour Street in Jerusalem.

The protesters have one thing in common: they all demand that Netanyahu resign over both his criminal cases and his failure to manage the COVID-19 crisis, which have created deep social and political polarization among Israelis.

From the moment the demonstrations began, the Netanyahu family has waged a stubborn campaign in an attempt to criminalize and delegitimize the protesters. They have been accused of anarchy, violence, hypocrisy, arrogance — even defecating at the entry to the Prime Minister’s Residence. Despite these attacks, police violence, constant harassment, and the coronavirus lockdowns, the demonstrations refuse to die down.

The recent events in Washington have once again shown the similarities between Netanyahu and Trump, and serve as a reminder of the degree to which Trump has directly affected politics in Israel in recent years. Like Trump, Netanyahu knows how to spot potential landmines, recover quickly, and turn them into opportunities to throw mud at whomever he perceives as his opponents.

A few hours after the beginning of the insurrection in Washington, at 10:30 p.m. Israel time, Yair Netanyahu, the prime minister’s son, began to send a clear message to his followers: the anti-Netanyahu protesters are no different from those who broke into the Capitol — and they are dangerous. For months, he claimed, they have been threatening to break into the Prime Minister’s Residence and damage it.

Meanwhile, false rumors began circulating among Likud WhatsApp groups, social media sites, and right-wing sites that Antifa and Black Lives Matter activists had infiltrated the Capitol insurrectionists in order to frame the right.

These rumors were orchestrated by all the well-known channels and mouthpieces of the Netanyahu family — whether journalists associated with the family, Twitter users, news anchors, and hardline Netanyahu supporters. The ground was effectively being laid for what was about to come.

Two days later, on Friday night, what began as Netanyahu’s spin became a major news item on Israel’s flagship television stations. The three Friday evening news shows simultaneously broadcasted a shocking report that a week earlier, Netanyahu and his wife Sara were taken by Shin Bet agents to a secure compound in the residence, after protesters broke through a barrier at the entrance. The message was clear: just like in Washington, protesters are trying to breach the cradle of Israeli democracy, with security officials fearing for the lives of the prime minister and his family. Following the investigation, security was reportedly beefed up around the residence.

The media published the information — which they likely received directly from the Netanyahu family’s publicists — without checking its credibility. It was soon discovered that this was spin based on half-truths at most. While the protesters did get closer than usual to the prime minister’s house, they did not break through any barricades — because there were no barricades. They did not break through fences, nor did they climb walls or gates. They certainly were not armed, since these protesters have long ago declared their commitment to nonviolence, even in the face of police brutality. Sources within the police and the Shin Bet later clarified that the incident did not occur as presented by the media.

Needless to say, it is unlikely that anti-Bibi protesters will be storming any buildings should Netanyahu win.
‘Stalinist witch hunt’

Netanyahu’s spin may have been exposed, but the lie has still managed to convince his diehard base of supporters that something nefarious is afoot. They are now claiming they have further “proof” that, like his American counterpart, Netanyahu is being unjustly persecuted by a violent left-wing conspiracy that is trying to oust a sitting prime minister by all means necessary, including through lies, incitement, and silencing.
Israeli police arrest an anti-Netanyahu demonstrator during a protest outside the Prime Minister’s Residence in Jerusalem, December 27, 2020. (Oren Ziv)
Israeli police arrest an anti-Netanyahu demonstrator during a protest outside the Prime Minister’s Residence in Jerusalem, December 27, 2020. (Oren Ziv)

That is precisely why the decision by Twitter and other media corporations to shut down Trump’s ability to promote fake news led to an outcry among the Israeli right. Just like Trump supporters, the pro-Netanyahu right in Israel views the prime minister as an eternal underdog (even though he has been in power for the past 11 years). The social media shutdown has allowed the right to return to its familiar and beloved perch as the ultimate victim.

“The great advantage of this Stalinist witch hunt, which is now culminating, is that everything is finally on the table,” wrote Erez Tadmor, a prominent right-wing media figure and former Netanyahu spokesperson. “The masquerade is over and even the last of the eternally-astonished, naive, and purist right wingers will have to understand what we have been screaming for years: the left is all about the silencing and persecution of right-wingers to the bitter end.”

Tadmor linked the events at the Capitol to “the Stalinist witch hunt that the Saladin gang [a derogatory nickname for Israel’s Justice Ministry] and the media are conducting against the leader of the right-wing camp.”

Like Trump, who sicced his followers against so-called traitorous Republicans — and even his own vice president — Tadmor’s wrath was mainly targeted at right-wing Israeli politicians who do not openly stand behind Netanyahu. These, Tadmor says, are “the greatest asset of left-wing fascism. They are what enables the violent minority that controls the centers of power to divide and conquer the right-wing majority…”

The following day Tadmor warned:

The fascists of Silicon Valley managed to get Parler off the internet. Other companies are afraid to provide them with servers and cloud services for fear of a violent reaction from Apple, Google, and Amazon.

The left is now fulfilling its fantasy of completely silencing the right on the platforms under its control and suffocating to death any independent platform. Make no mistake, it’s on its way here too.

Ariel Kahana, political correspondent for the Sheldon and Miriam Adelson-owned newspaper Israel Hayom and one of Trump’s biggest supporters in Israel, took the debate to the next level, linking the riot in Washington to Yigal Amir — the Israeli right-winger who assassinated Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin in 1995:

If after the raid on Congress many Republicans went on the defensive and [displayed] regret, now the [social] networks are actually pushing them to unify in the basic struggle for their right to express themselves. In addition (as per the Israeli experience in 1995) when venting becomes forbidden, deterioration into violence is only a matter of time.

According to Kahana’s logic, if only the left had allowed Amir to express himself freely and spread lies, disinformation, and incitement 25 years ago (as was possible until recently on Twitter), he would not have murdered Rabin.
Preparing for the day after

Today, Netanyahu is more vulnerable than ever. He is ruling over a crumbling coalition in the midst of the most serious health and economic crisis Israel has known; he is under constant criticism for his failure to manage the COVID-19 pandemic, and even top Likud members are abandoning him.

The prime minister is thus laying the groundwork for the day after the election, particularly for a scenario in which he loses.

In April 2020, he threatened that were he to be disqualified from office, “there would be a call here to boycott the elections.”

Two years earlier, David Amsalem, one of the prime minister’s closest allies and then-chairman of the coalition, stated: “I understand that the prime minister is being set up and we cannot accept this… if someone decides to put the prime minister on trial over these delusional cases, millions of people will not accept it.”

Netanyahu’s supporters are already embracing the Trumpian idea that should he be forced to leave Balfour Street, it will be because of widespread election fraud. The Israeli judiciary is entering this election cycle after years of being battered by Netanyahu’s efforts to undermine its authority in the public eye.

Meanwhile, the country is hobbled by a list of vacant positions — including a police chief and senior posts in the Justice Ministry — that leave the professional top brass enfeebled and dependent on politicians.

One can only hope that whatever is left of Israel’s democratic institutions, whose strength has always been in doubt, will know how to deal with such a situation.

Complaint regarding the repeated Israeli violations against Lebanon’s sovereignty

For the record:

January 14, 2021

Lebanon submitted a complaint to the Security Council late Wednesday after Israeli occupation forces kidnapped Lebanese shepherd Hassan Zahra from a border town earlier this week.

Through Lebanon’s permanent representative to the United Nations, Ambassador Amal Mudallali filed the complaint regarding the repeated Israeli violations against Lebanon’s sovereignty, National News Agency reported.

Ambassador Mudallali raised the complaint to both Secretary-General of the United Nations, Antَnio Guterres, and Permanent Representative of Tunisia to the United Nations and President of the Security Council, Ambassador Tarek Ladeb.

Earlier on Tuesday, Israeli occupation forces kidnaped Zahra from Mazraet Bastara in Kfarshouba.

 

Pentagon arming the Talibans

The Pentagon is still going after the Rumsfeld/Cebrowski strategy

Officially the Pentagon is fighting the Taliban in Afghanistan, but according to the Washington Post [1], it is secretly arming them, professedly to help them fight ISIS (aka Daesh), another official enemy of the United States.

At the same time, however, numerous testimonies from several countries of the “Greater Middle East” reveal that the very same Pentagon, who is officially fighting ISIS there, is covertly arming it.

These facts prove that the Pentagon is still going after the Rumsfeld/Cebrowski strategy: to provoke “endless wars” aiming to deprive all states in the “Greater Middle East” of the ability to stand up against financial imperialism.

War may be a racket, as General Smedley Butler claimed long ago, but who cares these days since business is booming?

And let’s add to such profits a few other all-American motivations. Start with the fact that, in some curious sense, war is in the American bloodstream.

As former New York Times war correspondent Chris Hedges once put it, “War is a force that gives us meaning.”

Report: Israel’s Military Drawing Up Plans to Strike Iran

Historically, we Americans are a violent people who have invested much in a self-image of toughness now being displayed across the “global battlespace.” (Hence all the talk in this country not about our soldiers but about our “warriors.”)

As the bumper stickers I see regularly where I live say: “God, guns, & guts made America free.” To make the world freer, why not export all three?

CHANEL” – Vietnam Anti-War Poster Project

Add in, as well, the issue of political credibility. No president wants to appear weak and in the United States of the last many decades, pulling back from a war has been the definition of weakness.

No one — certainly not Donald Trump — wants to be known as the president who “lost” Afghanistan or Iraq.

As was true of Presidents Lyndon Johnson and Richard Nixon in the Vietnam years, so in this century fear of electoral defeat has helped prolong the country’s hopeless wars.

Generals, too, have their own fears of defeat, fears that drive them to escalate conflicts (call it the urge to surge) and even to advocate for the use of nuclear weapons, as General William Westmoreland did in 1968 during the Vietnam War.

Washington’s own deeply embedded illusions and deceptions also serve to generate and perpetuate its wars.

Lauding our troops as “freedom fighters” for peace and prosperity, presidents like George W. Bush have waged a set of brutal wars in the name of spreading democracy and a better way of life.

The trouble is: incessant war doesn’t spread democracy — though in the twenty-first century we’ve learned that it does spread terror groups — it kills it.

At the same time, our leaders, military and civilian, have given us a false picture of the nature of the wars they’re fighting.

They continue to present the US military and its vaunted “smart” weaponry as a precision surgical instrument capable of targeting and destroying the cancer of terrorism, especially of the radical Islamic variety.

Despite the hoopla about them, however, those precision instruments of war turn out to be blunt indeed, leading to the widespread killing of innocents, the massive displacement of people across America’s war zones, and floods of refugees who have, in turn, helped spark the rise of the populist right in lands otherwise still at peace.

Lurking behind the incessant warfare of this century is another belief, particularly ascendant in the Trump White House: that big militaries and expensive weaponry represent “investments” in a better future — as if the Pentagon were the Bank of America or Wall Street.

Steroidal military spending continues to be sold as a key to creating jobs and maintaining America’s competitive edge, as if war were America’s primary business. (And perhaps it is!)

Those who facilitate enormous military budgets and frequent conflicts abroad still earn special praise here.

Consider, for example, Senator John McCain’s rapturous final sendoff, including the way arms maker Lockheed Martin lauded him as an American hero supposedly tough and demanding when it came to military contractors. (And if you believe that, you’ll believe anything.)

Put all of this together and what you’re likely to come up with is the American version of George Orwell’s famed formulation in his novel 1984: “war is peace.”
The War the Pentagon Knew How to Win

READ MORE…

How Can “Israel” Find Peace?

This building [of the Holy Land] is nothing but destruction… but such a group is very dangerous to the Jewish people, and we must stay as far as possible from them… Worse than all of the above is Zionism and their shekels that they give to strengthen the sinners in Jerusalem, who anger G-d in His palace and His city.

Satan himself disguises himself at the head of the Zionist organization.

(Mishkenos Haro’im volume 6)

Report: Israel Plotting How to Sabotage Biden’s Return to Iran Deal

Israel’s PM and defense minister at odds over Biden’s Iran policy

With the incoming Biden administration expected to return to diplomacy with Iran, Israeli officials are working on ways to sabotage a revival of the 2015 nuclear deal, known as the JCPOA.

An Israeli source told Bloomberg that Israeli officials are weighing their options and deciding between a public crusade against the JCPOA or a quieter strategy through behind-the-scenes engagement with the Biden administration. In the coming weeks, Israel is expected to send a stream of envoys to Washington to discuss the JCPOA.

Israeli officials, including Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, have made their opposition to Biden’s known. Reports from Israeli media said Netanyahu is at odds with Defense Minister Benny Gantz over handling Biden’s Iran policy.

Netanyahu is looking to box Gantz out of Iran talks with the Biden administration. Gantz was set to take over as prime minister in November 2021 as part of a power-sharing deal between his Blue and White party and Netanyahu’s Likud. But the coalition collapsed, and Israelis are heading back to the polls for another election in March.

The upcoming election could cause Netanyahu to move hard and fast against Biden’s attempts at diplomacy with Iran. Considering he likely signed off on the November assassination of Iranian scientist Mohsen Fakhrizadeh, an aggressive move is not out of the question for Netanyahu.

Any hardline moves from Netanyahu could impede Biden’s plans. It might require Biden to take a strong public stance against Netanyahu and Israel early in his administration.

House bill seeks to give “Israel” veto authority over US arms sales to M.E.

The legislation seeks to guarantee Israel’s military advantage by requiring the president to first gain approval from the Israeli government before striking regional arms deals

This is why it is so important that we support Israel and help to preserve its Qualitative Military Edge (QME), to ensure the safety of the Israeli people and maintain stability in the region,” Fitzpatrick was quoting as saying in Friday’s statement, echoing language used in the bill.

middleeasteye.net

The American Israel Public Affairs Committee (AIPAC), a prominent Israel lobby in the US, supports the new measure, according to Israeli newspaper Haaretz.

A bill introduced in the House of Representatives last week by Brad Schneider, a Democrat, aims to guarantee Israel’s qualitative military edge in the Middle East.

The issue has been highlighted in recent months, as the Trump administration has vowed to move forward with a sale of F-35 jets to the United Arab Emirates (UAE) despite Israel’s objections.

The bill “would require the President to consult with the Israeli government to ensure [qualitative military edge] concerns are settled”, a statement released by Schneider’s office said on Friday

The United States already has legislation on the books that guarantees Israel’s edge in the Middle East, but Congress has the authority to make the distinction, not Israel, as this recently introduced legislation would require.

Specifically, the bill states that the US President would need to “consult with appropriate officials of the Government of Israel for information regarding Israel’s qualitative military edge before making a determination” on Middle East weapons sales.

Most of the bill’s co-sponsors are Democrats, including Middle East Subcommittee Chairman Ted Deutch; Brad Sherman; Debbie Wasserman Schultz; Josh Gottheimer; Ami Bera; Ted Lieu; Stephanie Murphy; David Trone; Jimmy Panetta; Tom Suozzi; Elaine Luria; Max Rose; Gil Cisneros; and Xochitl Torres Small.

Republican lawmakers Brian Fitzpatrick, John Katko and Tom Reed also co-sponsored the bill.

“The United States is committed to ensuring Israel’s security, and Congress will continue to uphold our commitments in US law to ensure Israel’s qualitative military edge.

As well, the recently established ties between Israel and Arab partners create new opportunities that can contribute to the security and stability in the region,” said Congressman Deutch in Friday’s statement.

“As these developments take shape, Congress will exercise all appropriate authority and oversight over any future security arrangements.”

While not the only arms sale of concern, in September US Ambassador to Israel David Friedman said that even if the US-UAE F-35 deal is finalised in the coming months, it may be another six to seven years before deliveries are made. He also pointed out that ensuring Israel’s military advantage in the region was a “matter of law, not a matter of policy”.

For his part, Congressman Fitzpatrick highlighted the recent normalisation deal between the UAE, Bahrain and Israel as “a historic step towards a lasting peace in the Middle East”, but stressed the need for Israel to retain its advantage in the region.

“Despite the incredible steps towards peace that have been made, there are still plenty of entities that wish to harm Israel.

This is why it is so important that we support Israel and help to preserve its Qualitative Military Edge (QME), to ensure the safety of the Israeli people and maintain stability in the region,” Fitzpatrick was quoting as saying in Friday’s statement, echoing language used in the bill.

The American Israel Public Affairs Committee (AIPAC), a prominent Israel lobby in the US, supports the new measure, according to Israeli newspaper Haaretz.

Israeli high school students refuse to join the Israeli military citing the “continuing Nakba”

Young people our age are required to take part in enforcing closures as a means of “collective punishment,” arresting and jailing minors, blackmailing to recruit “collaborators” and more– all of these are war crimes which are executed and covered up every day.

Sixty Israeli high school students sign letter refusing their compulsory enlistment in the Israeli military – “The Zionist policy of brutal violence towards and expulsion of Palestinians from their homes and lands began in 1948 and has not stopped since.”

We are a group of Israeli 18-year-olds at a crossroads. The Israeli state is demanding our conscription into the military.

Allegedly, a defense force which is supposed to safeguard the existence of the State of Israel.

In reality, the goal of the Israeli military is not to defend itself from hostile militaries, but to exercise control over a civilian population.

In other words, our conscription to the Israeli military has political context and implications.

It has implications, first and foremost on the lives of the Palestinian people who have lived under violent occupation for 72 years.

Indeed, the Zionist policy of brutal violence towards and expulsion of Palestinians from their homes and lands began in 1948 and has not stopped since.

The occupation is also poisoning Israeli society–it is violent, militaristic, oppressive, and chauvinistic.

It is our duty to oppose this destructive reality by uniting our struggles and refusing to serve these violent systems–chief among them the military.

Our refusal to enlist to the military is not an act of turning our backs on Israeli society. On the contrary, our refusal is an act of taking responsibility over our actions and their repercussions.

The military is not only serving the occupation, the military is the occupation.

Pilots, intelligence units, bureaucratic clerks, combat soldiers, all are executing the occupation.

One does it with a keyboard and the other with a machine gun at a checkpoint.

Despite all of this, we grew up in the shadow of the symbolic ideal of the heroic soldier.

We prepared food baskets for him in the high holidays, we visited the tank he fought in, we pretended we were him in the pre-military programs in high school, and we revered his death on memorial day.

The fact that we are all accustomed to this reality does not make it apolitical. Enlistment, no less than refusal, is a political act.

We are used to hearing that it is legitimate to criticize the occupation only if we took an active part in enforcing it.

How does it make sense that in order to protest against systemic violence and racism, we have to first be part of the very system of oppression we are criticizing?

The track upon which we embark at infancy, of an education teaching violence and claims over land, reaches its peak at age 18, with the enlistment in the military.

We are ordered to put on the bloodstained military uniform and preserve the legacy of the Nakba and of occupation.

Israeli society has been built upon these rotten roots, and it is apparent in all facets of life: in the racism, the hateful political discourse, the police brutality, and more.

This military oppression goes hand in hand with economic oppression.

While the citizens of the Occupied Palestinian Territories are impoverished, wealthy elites become richer at their expense.

Palestinian workers are systematically exploited, and the weapons industry uses the Occupied Palestinian Territories as a testing ground and as a showcase to bolster its sales.

When the government chooses to uphold the occupation, it is acting against our interest as citizens– large portions of taxpayer money is funding the “security” industry and the development of settlements instead of welfare, education, and health.

The military is a violent, corrupt, and corrupting institution to the core.

But its worst crime is enforcing the destructive policy of the occupation of Palestine.

Young people our age are required to take part in enforcing closures as a means of “collective punishment,” arresting and jailing minors, blackmailing to recruit “collaborators” and more– all of these are war crimes which are executed and covered up every day.

Violent military rule in the Occupied Palestinian Territories is enforced through policies of apartheid entailing two different legal systems: one for Palestinians and the other for Jews.

The Palestinians are constantly faced with undemocratic and violent measures, while Jewish settlers who commit violent crimes– first and foremost against Palestinians but also against soldiers- are “rewarded” by the Israeli military turning a blind eye and covering up these transgressions.

The military has been enforcing a siege on Gaza for over ten years.

This siege has created a massive humanitarian crisis in the Gaza Strip and is one of the main factors which perpetuates the cycle of violence of Israel and Hamas.

Because of the siege, there is no drinkable water nor electricity in Gaza for most hours of the day.

Unemployment and poverty are pervasive and the healthcare system lacks the most basic means. This reality serves as the foundation on top of which the disaster of COVID-19 has only made things worse in Gaza.

It is important to emphasize that these injustices are not a one-time slippage or straying away from the path.

These injustices are not a mistake or a symptom, they are the policy and the disease.

The actions of the Israeli military in 2020 are nothing but a continuation and upholding of the legacy of massacre, expulsion of families, and land theft, the legacy which “enabled” the establishment of the State of Israel, as a proper democratic state, for Jews only.

Historically, the military has been seen as a tool which serves the “melting pot” policy, as an institution which crosscuts social class and gender divides in Israeli society.

In reality, this could not be further from the truth.

The military is enacting a clear program of ‘channeling’; soldiers from upper-middle class are channeled into positions with economic and civilian prospects, while soldiers from lower socioeconomic backgrounds are channeled into positions which have high mental and physical risk and which do not provide the same head start in civil society.

Simultaneously, women’s representation in violent positions such as pilots, tank commanders, combat soldiers, and intelligence officers, is being marketed as feminist achievement.

How does it make sense that the struggle against gender inequality is achieved through the oppression of Palestinian women?

These “achievements” sidestep solidarity with the struggle of Palestinian women. The military is cementing these power relations and the oppression of marginalized communities through a cynical co-opting of their struggles.

We are calling for high school seniors (shministiyot) our age to ask themselves: What and who are we serving when we enlist in the military? Why do we enlist? What reality do we create by serving in the military of the occupation? We want peace, and real peace requires justice.

Justice requires acknowledgment of the historical and present injustices, and of the continuing Nakba.

Justice requires reform in the form of the end of the occupation, the end of the siege on Gaza, and recognition of the right of return for Palestinian refugees. Justice demands solidarity, joint struggle, and refusal.

The letter is addressed to Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, army Chief of Staff Aviv Kochavi, Minister of Defense Benny Gantz and Education Minister Yoav Galant.

In Israel, conscientious objectors like these are often jailed. In 2003 five male conscientious objectors were sentenced to about 2 years prison.

The longest-serving female conscientious objector is Hillel Kaminer, who was released from prison after 150 days, in 2016.

It is doubtful that those to whom the letter is addressed to will be very affected by it.

The most ‘liberal’ among them is probably Benny Gantz, former army chief of staff, who has boasted of bringing Gaza back to the “stone age” as his entry card into politics two years ago.

Gantz is precisely a depiction of what these ingenious and courageous youths are speaking about when they say that Israeli society is “violent, militaristic, oppressive, and chauvinistic”.

Yet there are many among us who listen very closely to what these young people are saying.

And here they are defining a critical discourse.

The 1967 occupation is not the start and it is not the end.

It is part of Israel’s overarching project of occupation, it’s the state in its entirety, enacting “Apartheid policies” as part of its very nature. The “proper democratic state” is a sad joke, it is for Jews only.

Palestine in 2020: Reflections on a turbulent year

 

People already living precarious and insecure lives were and continue to be more vulnerable to infection.

[Over 80 percent of the population in Gaza relies on international assistance to survive, and cases of disease and malnutrition are on the rise. More than 50 percent of the population is unemployed, and 90 percent of businesses closed as a result of the blockade. Hospitals are out of up to 40 percent of needed supplies and medicine. Approximately 96 percent of water is undrinkable. And electricity is only available for approximately four hours per day. Gaza contains the refugees from the 1948 Zionist terrorism and expulsion and the 1967 terrorism and expulsion. The Zionists kill and harass fisherman, farmers and children.
Prevailing systems of inequality, oppression and other forms of domination exasperated the situation and, in many cases, rendered them systems of co-morbidity. The rest of the Palestinians live in villages under menacing occupation.]

In Palestine, the lockdowns, curfews and inability to travel were not new.

The pandemic simply added another layer of precarity to the lives of Palestinians under Israel’s military occupation. 

But Covid-19 was not the only thing that happened this year in Palestine.

Rather, it became the backdrop for Israel’s accelerated territorial expansion and the political normalisation of its settler colonial project.

Christianity meltdown in its own birthplace? Western churches ignore multiple warnings – Redress Information & Analysis

“We are still suffering because of one political declaration from a Western Empire, based on a twisted theological premise. Even some churches and few Christian leaders supported the establishment of the colonial state in our land, and totally ignored – even dehumanized – the nation, our people that had already existed here for centuries and paid the price for atrocities committed in Europe.”

The year started with the Trump administration’s ‘Deal of the Century’, or officially “Vision for Peace, Prosperity and a Brighter Future for Israel and the Palestinian People“.

The ‘peace plan’ effectively proposed encasing Palestinians in the West Bank in a series of Bantustans (excluding Area C – 60 percent of the land) with Israel holding on to its illegal settlements.

Gaza, meanwhile, would be maintained as a besieged enclave while the rights of Palestinians in exile, including those of refugees, would be forsaken.

In exchange they would be granted some economic incentives to “boost” the Palestinian economy.

The Palestinian leadership outright refused it, with President Mahmoud Abbas declaring “a thousand times no”.

Just another white man’s occupation

Other reactions were rather muted, including many EU states who simply declared their commitment to the two-state solution, whilst the UK considered it a “serious proposal“.

Despite the pomp and ceremony describing the deal as ground-breaking, this was not a new formula for “peace”.

In fact, the ‘Deal of the Century’ was merely a culmination of US foreign policy which has consistently trampled on fundamental Palestinian rights in favour of maintaining Israeli domination.

Read more: The day after annexation: Israel, Palestine
and the one-state reality

A few months later the deal seemed to dissipate, not because of a lack of support from the international community but rather (as many Palestinians pointed out) because it presented nothing new – already reflecting the de facto reality on the ground. 

Later in the summer, Israel threatened to pass legislation that would enable the de jure annexation of large swathes of Palestinian land in the occupied West Bank on 1 July.

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu shrewdly created a huge crescendo leading up to the date and many in the international community, particularly EU states, rushed to provide statements of “concern” and “condemnation,” whilst simultaneously offering no consequences should the annexation go ahead.

For its part, the Palestinian Authority responded by “halting” security coordination with Israel.  

The 1st of July came and went without annexation and the international community breathed a sigh of relief, declaring it a win for the international legal regime and for Palestinian rights.

Yet the reality of both the de jure and de facto annexation of Palestinian land, from East Jerusalem to Israeli settlements, were ignored.

“Look! Shoot faster! I am in a rush to move in.”

Since then, Netanyahu has continuously reiterated his intentions to annex more and more of the West Bank.

All the while Israeli policies of disOne day after the UN vote to partition Palestine, Menachem Begin, the commander of the Irgun and Israel’s future Prime Minister between 1977-1983, proclaimed: “The Partition of Palestine is illegal. It will never be recognized …. Jerusalem was and will for ever be our capital.

Eretz Israel will be restored to the people of Israel. All of it. And for Ever.” (Iron Wall p. 25)possession and territorial expansion continued apace.

We will establish ourselves in Palestine whether you like it or not…You can hasten our arrival or you can equally retard it. It is however better for you to help us so as to avoid our constructive powers being turned into a destructive power which will overthrow the world. -Chaim Weizmann

2020 saw the highest number of home demolitions in more than four years, with nearly 900 Palestinians displaced.

At the same time, Israel approved over 12,000 West Bank settler homes, the highest on record for eight years.

The early political theatrics of the ‘Deal of the Century’ continued into the year when a series of normalisation agreements with various Arab states, including the UAE, Bahrain, Sudan and Morocco, were announced.

These agreements by the signatory regimes were dubbed as historic.

Yet, official and unofficial Arab normalisation with Israel, and the undermining of the Palestinian cause, has been ongoing for decades.  

Egypt was the first Arab country to normalise in 1979 in return for the Sinai Peninsula, which Israel had captured in 1967.

Jordan followed suit in 1995 and in return got substantial economic aid and diplomatic support from the West.

Read more: Israel normalisation deals reflect the rupture between repressive regimes and Arab societies

The UAE and Saudi Arabia have held increasingly frequent meetings with Israeli officials and experts over the last decade regarding security technology, most of which has been used to spy on political opposition and activists.

 Similarly, Morocco has had relations with Israel dating back to the 1950s, including arms deals and Israeli training for Moroccan security forces and intelligence agents. 

It is therefore unsurprising that these countries should officialise long standing relations. What is worrying is that the agreements include weapons deals and security collaboration, a boon for authoritarianism.

Whilst a renewed era of human rights abuses looms across the region, the internal situation is equally challenging for Palestinians, who are increasingly fragmented socially, geographically, and politically.

Such divides were acutely accentuated under Covid-19, with increased restrictions on movement for different categories of Identity Card holders and an increasing gap between the wealthy and the poor.  

Official and unofficial Arab normalisation with Israel, and the undermining of the Palestinian cause, has been ongoing for decades

The Palestinian leadership has proved impotent amidst the external political manoeuvres of this year, with a strategy limited to rhetorical outrage and holding out for a Joe Biden victory in US presidential elections.

The Palestinian leadership’s impotence has also been coupled with increasing authoritarianism, as was demonstrated with the arrest and interrogation of an activist who criticized the resumption of Palestinian Authority (PA) security coordination with Israel. 

The election of Biden to the White House presents the prospect of returning to “normal” and “business as usual” in terms of US foreign policy, and his team have already expressed the desire to return to the prior framework of peace process negotiations.

Meanwhile, they have also stated that they will not be reversing several landmark policy changes under the Trump administration, including moving the US embassy to Jerusalem, recognizing Israeli sovereignty over the occupied Golan Heights, and US-backed normalisation deals with Arab states.

Read more: Palestine’s olive harvest marred by rising
Israeli settler violence

Biden, who has described himself as a Zionist, has a mainstream establishment US foreign policy perspective on the Middle East, which includes a pro-Israel stance.

Indeed, as vice-president in the Obama administration he oversaw the largest military aid package in US history – $38 billion – to Israel. 

This does not bode well for Palestinian rights. Biden has promised to reverse Trump’s huge aid cuts to Palestinians, meaning US money will flow back into the coffers of the Palestinian Authority.

But this model of an “economic peace” is antithetical to Palestinian liberation, coercing the Palestinian leadership into political surrender via economic incentives.

The reality of 2020 and its challenges, from global and regional political shifts to internal stagnation, have rendered it even more difficult to imagine Palestinian liberation.

Yet the pandemic also presents us with a “portal” and an opportunity to be hopeful, as Arundhati Roy wrote earlier this year: “We can choose to walk through [the portal], dragging the carcasses of our prejudice and hatred, our avarice, our data banks and dead ideas, our dead rivers and smoky skies behind us.

Or, we can walk through lightly, with little luggage, ready to imagine another world. And ready to fight for it.”

This will necessitate conversations on radical change, and Palestinians have no choice but to abandon the “dead ideas” that have long been a smoke screen for the continued colonization of Palestine.

SOURCE

Lydda Air Port. Palestine Airways plane close-up

1948: The British commander of Transjordan’s Arab Legion, had toured Palestinian Arab towns, including Lydda and Ramle, urging them to prepare to defend themselves against the Zionist horde.

The PLUNDER and LOOTING of Palestinian homes, farms, plantations, banks, cars, ports, railroads, schools, hospitals, trucks, tractors, etc. in the course of the 1948 war were a crime on a massive scale. For example, the looting of Lydda City was described by the Israeli Ministerial Committee for Abandoned Property in mid-July, 1948:

“From Lydda alone, the army took out 1,800 truck-loads of property.” (1949, The First Israelis, p. 69)

It should be noted that the great majority of the Palestinian people have been dispossessed for the past five decades, meanwhile, their properties are being used by mostly European Jews (who were victims of similar war crimes committed by anti-Semitic Europeans). Prior to being ethnically cleansed in 1948, the Palestinian people owned and operated 93% of Palestine’s lands, and contributed up to 55-60% of its national Gross Domestic Product (GDP).

Zionists capture Lydda: Palestine’s main railway junction and its airport (now Ben Gurion International Airport) were in Lydda, and the main source of Jerusalem’s water supply was 15 kilometers away.

American President Bill Clinton and wife Hillary are welcomed at the Gaza airport by President of the Palestinian National Authority Yasser Arafat and wife Soha. (Photo by Ira Wyman/Sygma via Getty Images)

“The airport used to be packed with thousands of travelers and we received presidents and world leaders,” he said, pointing to parts of the site in various stages of decay.
“Now it’s turned into a ruin, a waste dump. It’s a tragedy.”

Daifallah Al-Akhras, the chief engineer of the airport, admitted he wept on a recent visit to the terminal.

“We built the airport to be the first symbol of sovereignty,” he said. “Now you don’t see anything but destruction and ruin.”

When the airport opened in late 1998 it was one of the most tangible symbols of the Oslo accords.

Many saw the deals as paving the way to the creation of an independent Palestinian state, but their five-year transitional period expired without a resolution to the conflict.

The airport was opened despite the assassination of the most senior Israeli signatory to Oslo, prime minister Yitzhak Rabin, by a Jewish ‘radical’ opposed to the agreements.

By 1998 the accords were fraying, but Clinton, along with his wife Hillary, still attended the ceremony to inaugurate the Yasser Arafat International Airport.

Built with funding from countries across the globe, it hosted the newly formed Palestinian Airlines and was able to handle hundreds of thousands of passengers a year, with many airlines opening up routes there.

Once a commercial airport was established, the Palestinian Authority moved forward with a plan to establish a flag carrier for the embattled country.

The airline was officially announced in 1995 with financial backing coming from the Netherlands and Saudi Arabia, who donated two Fokker 50s and a Boeing 727 to help start operations.

The newly-formed Palestinian Airlines would also join the Arab Air Carriers Organization, with its introduction to the alliance coming in 1999.

While the airline officially started operations in 1997, limits were quickly established on where it could fly.

The Yasser Arafat International Airport was still under construction in Gaza, leaving the airline to commence service in the Egyptian towns of Port Said and Arish to Jeddah, Saudi Arabia and Amman, Jordan.

Once the airline’s home in the Gaza Strip was completed, all operations were transferred to the new airport.

Palestinian Airlines quickly expanded to include service to additional countries including Turkey, Bahrain, Qatar, Egypt and the United Arab Emirates.

The airline would also come to take hold of an Ilyushin Il-62 to help with their expansion plans.

While the airline was expanding, it was not completely free of Israeli restrictions.

Under the Oslo II Accord, Israel had the right to restrict the airport’s schedule, which frequently saw the airport shuttered during the nighttime hours.

The airport’s security was also administered by the Israeli government due to fears that the Palestinians would lapse on security due to the economic instability of Gaza.

Unfortunately, the Oslo II Accord soured over time and increased tensions between the Israelis and Palestinians led to the breakout of the Second Intifada in the early 2000s.

Palestinian Airlines was forced to suspend operations while Israel and Palestine escalated their conflict.

Fearing that the Palestinians would use Yasser Arafat Airport for weapons smuggling into the Gaza Strip, Israel made the airport a primary target, destroying both the radar and control towers in 2001 before carving up the runway using bulldozers in 2002.

In addition to its smuggling fears, Israel also claimed that the dismantling was in response to a Palestinian raid that killed four Israeli soldiers.

The destruction of Yasser Arafat International Airport did not sit well with Palestinians or the International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO).

For Palestinians, the ruins of the airport were a symbol of a potential nation now reeling from the Second Intifada and a sign that Israel and Palestine may never trust each other.

Meanwhile, the ICAO saw Israel’s destruction of the airport as a violation of Palestine’s right to operate a commercial airport and strongly condemned the Israelis for their actions.

The ICAO called for Israel to pay for any repairs from the damages caused to the airfield, which Israel ignored.

With no home airport inside Palestine, the flag carrier fled back across the border and restarted operations at El Arish International Airport in Egypt.

However, getting Palestinians to Arish was a struggle, as Egyptian security could take up to a day processing those traveling into and out of the country.

To attempt to ease the issue, the airline still manned the ticket counters at Yasser Arafat Airport, hoping to sell tickets to passengers inside Gaza and simplify their flying experience.

With this restriction, and the flag carrier operating 30 miles from its home opposite a major international border, the consumer base for Palestinian Airlines slowly dried up. The airline removed the Boeing 727 and Ilyushin Il-62 from its fleet before suspending operations outright in 2005.

The Palestinian Authority would hold on to the two Fokker 50s and lease them to other airlines while they waited for a chance to restart operations.

That chance would finally come in 2012, when the airline announced it would restart service using its Fokker 50s and a route map that would, yet again, be based in Arish, Egypt with flights to Cairo, Amman and Jeddah.

But much like their previous experience at Arish, Palestine was at too much of a disadvantage to make use of their airline.

The airline would last less than two years before re-suspending operations.

The Palestinian Authority returned to leasing their Fokker 50s, with Niger Airlines currently being the home for the two aircraft.

Despite having no current operations, the airline is still an active member in the ICAO, IATA and Arab Air Carriers Organization.

While Palestine hopes to have the airline flying again, the prospect of coming home to Gaza grows bleaker and bleaker.

The airport sustained more damage in recent years, with the terminal and ramps areas taking heavy bombings by Israeli forces in 2014.

Given that the Egyptian rehabilitation attempts have proven too costly for the airline, Palestinian Airlines is currently a flag carrier with no home, no service and no clear future.

When “israeli” doctors tested Yemenites for ‘Negro blood’

Between 1946 and 1960, Israel undertook a mass deadly mass experimentation campaign. The campaign received financial assistance from UNICEF and used ionising radiation to treat about 17 000 children—mainly newly arrived immigrants from north Africa and the Middle East. UNICEF also supported the same campaign in Yugoslavia.

On the basis of Israeli tinea capitis research, late health consequences (mainly cancer in the irradiated area) can be expected in the treated Serbian population.

The “ringworm” campaign was the initiative of the American Jewish Joint Distribution Committee together with the Jewish health maintenance organization OZE (The Society for the Protection of Jewish Health).

The Jewish virtual library confesses that Mizrahi and Sephardim Jews of Morocco enjoyed greater equality with Muslims.

Blood samples drawn from Yemenites in the 1950s were tested to determine whether they had “Negro blood.” Photographs of children showed their organs marked. And 60 hearts were harvested from the bodies of new immigrants from Yemen post-mortem for purposes of medical research, in a project purportedly funded by the US.

In the 1950s, waves of new immigrants swept into Israel. To the dismay of the country’s Ashkenazi leaders (those originating from Europe and the US), the great majority were from Arab countries.

Levi Eshkol, a later prime minister, expressed a common sentiment when he called them “human rubbish”.

https://www.jewishvirtuallibrary.org/jsource/images/refs.gif

Israel, deprived of “good-quality” Jews, was being forced to bring to its shores Arab Jews, seen as just as primitive and dirty as the Palestinians whom Israel had recently succeeded in ethnically cleansing.

Into this deeply racist atmosphere stepped Dr Chaim Sheba, a eugenicist, who believed that the Arabs Jews were bringing along with them diseases that threatened the Ashkenazi Jews.

His obsession was ringworm, an innocuous childhood disease that affects the scalp.

The Mass Campaign to Eradicate Ringworm Among the Jewish Community in Eastern Europe, 1921–1938

He went to the US, collected old military X-ray equipment and zapped tens of thousands of these children’s heads with potentially lethal doses of radiation.

The survivors tell of their horrifying experiences during and after the treatment, and of the brothers and sisters they lost at a young age.

But this isn’t just a history lesson exploring an unusual aspect of Israel’s racist underpinnings.

The documentary exposes a massive cover-up by the state: many of the children’s medical files – long thought to have been lost – were actually held by one of the doctors involved.

Even after this disclosure, the state has continued to refuse the victims access to the files, despite the fact that such access may be vital in helping them receive the correct life-saving treatment, as well as proper compensation.

The final shocking twist is the discovery that all these experiments cost the equivalent of hundreds of millions of dollars in today’s terms – in fact, more than Israel’s entire annual budget at the time. How could Israel have afforded it?

The documentary suggests persuasively that the US, with its own long fascination with eugenics, most likely sub-contracted these experiments to Israel as a way to bypass the increasing domestic legal impediments it faced. The US presumably footed the huge bill.

There are a couple of troubling omissions in the documentary itself. The first is that Dr Sheba did not carry out these experiments on Arab Jews only.

He also exposed many Palestinian children in Israel to the same huge doses, for the same racist reasons.

The other is that Dr Sheba is still venerated to this day in Israel and has one of the country’s most famous hospitals, the Chaim Sheba Medical Center, named after him. As the documentary makes clear, there was plenty of evidence by the 1950s of the extremely dangerous effects of radiation on humans.

What Dr Sheba did was a form of genocide. That he is still honoured in Israel is, to my mind, no different from Germany naming a hospital in Berlin the Josef Mengele Medical Center.

But keeping Dr Sheba’s reputation unblemished is, I suspect, important to those who wish to prevent other, even more unseemly skeletons being unearthed over this affair.

(UPDATE BELOW)

The documentary, from 2003, is in five 10-min parts:

UPDATE:

I often talk about “hasbara” (which Israelis translate as “explanation” but really means “propaganda”) but rarely have I found an example of it quite as blatant as the entry on the Ringworm Affair on Wikipedia.

By the look of it, it has been written by an Israeli government hasbara team.

One can almost hear the indignation in the text of the entry as the documentary’s claims are dismissed.

Interestingly, however, no attempt is made to refute the two accusations at the heart of the film: that the medical files are still being withheld from the victims, and that the sum needed for the experiments was astronomical and way beyond Israel’s means. So who paid for them and why?

Zionist forces seize vehicle belonging to Palestinians building a hiking trail

A Palestinian campaign group is calling for funds after Israeli forces confiscated its car.

The car was confiscated on 16 November, in Wadi Al Maleh in the northern Jordan Valley. The Jordan Valley makes up the eastern third of Palestine’s West Bank, along the border with Jordan.

Israeli forces have occupied the West Bank since 1967.

The Israeli state sees the colonisation of the valley as a priority, through the establishment of Israeli ‘settlements’ and marginalisation of Palestinian communities.

The Israeli state wants to control the border region and the fertile agricultural land of the Valley.

During Trump’s presidency, Israel had been planning to annex the Valley.

These plans are shelved for the moment, but the Israeli state’s ethnic cleansing policies are continuing nonetheless.

Israeli confiscations

On 16 November, JVS volunteers were helping to build a hiking trail in the Wadi Al-Maleh area. Wadi Al-Maleh is within an area which has experienced repeated home demolitions by Israeli forces, and where Palestinians are not allowed to build anything under the Israeli occupation’s discriminatory restrictions.

The Zionist “homeland” was ready for ‘move in’.

Israeli forces came and detained the JVS volunteers and Rashed Khudairy’s car. JVS wrote at the time:

before the hiking trail is even opened, the occupation forces have tried to sabotage it. On 16th November they came to the area whilst volunteers were building a small wooden-framed hut for the visitor centre, detained them and demanded that they stop the building. They forced the coordinator of Jordan Valley Solidarity to drive his car to a nearby military base, where they confiscated the car and ordered him to attend Huwwara military base the following day.

On the same day, Israeli forces confiscated tractors from Palestinian farmers in the nearby community of Makhoul.

The Canary has received word from JVS that, despite the military’s attempts to thwart its efforts, the hiking trail is now complete, and a group of Palestinians came together last week to walk across the area.

We contacted Khudairy in December to ask him about what happened. He told us:

About my car,  well you know the story. This is how Israel harasses us and tries to prevent our activities and our projects in the Jordan Valley. Even if those projects are about arts, or culture or learning about the beauty of the Valley. This is how they try to stop us from doing anything in the Jordan Valley, But of course we will keep going and continue all of our projects, even if it is hard in this moment because I still don’t have a car.

Ongoing harassment


JVS’ coordinators and volunteers have faced arrest and imprisonment by Israel before for their opposition to the Israeli occupation. One example is Rashed’s sister Sireen Khudairy, who is also part of JVS and has been arrested and imprisoned twice by occupation forces. The confiscation of Rashed’s car is part of an ongoing pattern of harassment.

Call for support

JVS is fundraising to buy a new car, so it can continue its important work:

Without a vehicle Jordan Valley Solidarity cannot bring together and support the many local communities it works with throughout the whole area. Experience from when other vehicles have been seized from Palestinians indicates that the car is likely to be kept by the occupation forces for at least 1 -2 months.

If they do return it, they are likely to enforce conditions. In the Jordan Valley they often force vehicle owners to sign an agreement that they won’t use their vehicle in the Jordan Valley – the place where they live and work.

We need your help to buy the campaign a new vehicle, so they can carry on supporting communities in the Jordan Valley.

JVS is part of a popular grassroots movement that challenges Israel’s colonial occupation of Palestine on a daily basis. Grassroots people’s movements like JVS are the only thing that stands in the way of Israeli colonisation. Right now they need our support more than ever.

Tom Anderson is part of the Shoal Collective, a cooperative producing writing for social justice and a world beyond capitalism.