Saturday, 24 January 2009

UN: Gaza evoca memórias do Gueto de Varsóvia.24/01

fonte:Haaretz fotos:Al Akhbar

UN human rights official: Gaza evokes memories of Warsaw Ghetto
There is evidence that Israel committed war crimes during its 22-day campaign in the Gaza Strip and there should be an independent inquiry, UN investigator Richard Falk said Thursday.

The mental anguish of the civilians who suffered the assault is so great that the entire population of Gaza could be seen as casualties, said Falk, UN special rapporteur on human rights in the occupied West Bank and Gaza Strip.
Falk, speaking by phone from his home in California, said compelling evidence that Israel's actions in Gaza violated international humanitarian law required an independent investigation into whether they amounted to war crimes.
"I believe that there is the prima facie case for reaching that conclusion," he told a Geneva news conference.
Falk said Israel had made no effort to allow civilians to escape the fighting.
"To lock people into a war zone is something that evokes the worst kind of international memories of the Warsaw Ghetto, and sieges that occur unintentionally during a period of wartime," Falk, who is Jewish, said, referring to the starvation and murder of Warsaw's Jews by Nazi Germany in World War II.

"There could have been temporary provision at least made for children, disabled, sick civilians to leave, even if where they left to was southern Israel," the U.S. professor said.

Falk said the entire Gaza population, which had been trapped in a war zone with no possibility to leave as refugees, may have been mentally scarred for life. If so, the definition of casualty could be extended to the entire civilian population.

Falk, who was denied entry to Israeltwo weeks before the assault started on Dec. 27, dismissed Israel's argument that the assault was for self-defense in the light of rocket attacks aimed at Israel from the Hamas-ruled Gaza strip.

"In my view the UN charter, and international law, does not give Israel the legal foundation for claiming self-defense," he said.

Israel had not restricted fighting to areas where the rockets came from and had refused to negotiate with Hamas, preventing a diplomatic solution, Falk said.

A Foreign Ministry official rejected Falk's accusations.

"There's no need to lose one's temper. Falk is a well-known Israel hater," he told Army Radio.

About 1,300 Palestinians, many of them civilians, were killed and 5,000 wounded in the assault. Ten Israeli soldiers and three civilians, hit by cross-border rocket fire, were killed.

Forças israelitas prenderam 7 crianças na Cisjordânia.23/01

fonte:EI; foto: al Akhbar

Israeli forces arrest seven children in West Bank
Report, Addameer and DCI-Palestine, 23 January 2009

Seven children from Toura al-Gharbeiah village (near the West Bank city of Jenin) were arrested on Tuesday by the Israeli authorities; they are currently detained in Salim detention and interrogation center, in the northern West Bank. Two of the children are only 12 years old; two are 13; another two are aged 15; and the seventh is 17.

A Defense for Children International (DCI)-Palestine lawyer yesterday visited the children. According to information collected by the lawyer, between midnight and 4:00am on Tuesday 20 January, the Israeli intelligence, police and army entered Toura al-Gharbeiah village and arrested the seven children from their respective homes.

The children were then assembled in a public building in the village, and interrogated there. They were alleged to have thrown stones at the Wall and were intimidated into confessing. The eldest, Murad (17), was accused of possessing weapons, but he denied the allegation. Murad told the DCI-Palestine lawyer what happened on Tuesday morning.
Shortly after midnight, Murad was watching television at home when he heard noise outside. He got up to look through the window and saw four jeeps belonging to the Israeli police guards.

Less than a minute later, someone knocked and Murad opened the door. An Israeli police officer, accompanied by two soldiers, asked Murad his name and told him "Do not try to escape, the house is surrounded." He asked him to wake up other family members.

After the rest of the family was up, the soldiers took Murad outside, laid him on the ground, tied his hands behind his back with plastic cords, and blindfolded him. Murad lay on the ground for half an hour while the soldiers searched the house. Then, they walked him to the military jeep. While they were walking, a soldier started beating him on the face and hands. Murad reported that one of his fingers started to swell as a result of the beating.

They shoved him into the jeep, and drove for 20 minutes. Then Murad was taken out of the jeep and brought to a billiards room. He was still in the village. His blindfold was removed and an interrogator told him that they had found weapons in his house. He pressured Murad to confess to owning them; all the while screaming at him and threatening him. The interrogation went on for 40 minutes. Murad did not confess.

When the interrogation was over, Murad was blindfolded again, and left in the room until 9:00am. ... During that time, he heard the voices of other young detainees, including his brother Bashir (15). Some of the children were crying.

At 9:00am Murad was transferred to Salim detention and interrogation center. During the journey, a soldier was shouting at him and insulting him; he felt very scared.

After being interrogated in the billiards room in the village, the children were transferred to Salim detention and interrogation centre, near Jenin. When the DCI-Palestine lawyer met them on Wednesday, 21 January, the children had already confessed, under duress, to throwing stones at the Wall. Murad had still not confessed.

DCI-Palestine and their partners Addameer believe that such young children are particularly vulnerable to abuse in the Israeli military justice system and should be released immediately, all the more so, in light of the trivial nature of the alleged offense. The children's lawyer has requested a hearing today, Thursday 22 January, in order to ask the military judge for the release of the young children.

The children are: Morad Q. (17), Bashir Q. (15), Osaid Q. (12), Subhi A. H. (12), Amer Q. (13), Mohammad A. (13) and Emad A. (15).

At the end of December 2008, there were 342 Palestinian children held in Israeli prisons and detention/interrogation centers, including seven girls, and five administrative detainees. The December 2008 figures reveal the highest reported numbers of child detainees in 2008. In addition, on 17 January, DCI-Palestine issued a statement expressing concern that numbers of children arrested by the Israeli authorities in the West Bank has doubled in the first two weeks of January.

Friday, 23 January 2009

Contra o terror... humor

Mark Steel é comediante, colunista do "The Independent" socialista e activista em Inglaterra. Neste texto, publicado nesse jornal britânico, Mark Steel desmonta de uma forma humorística a argumentação construída pela propaganda israelita sobre a guerra de Gaza.

The real source of terror

If Israel is so worried about rockets supposedly fired by Hamas, why doesn't it swap an F-16 for some of them?

THE WORRYING part about whether the ceasefire in Gaza can hold together will be whether the international community can stop the flow of arms to the terrorists.

Because Israel is getting its planes and tanks and missiles from somewhere, and until this supply is cut off, there's every chance it could start up again.

The disregard for life from these terrorists and their supporters is shocking. For example, Thomas Friedman, the New York Times columnist, wrote that the purpose of the Israeli attack must be to "inflict a heavy death toll and heavy pain on the Gaza population."

Replace "Gaza" with "Western," and that could have been written by al-Qaeda. Maybe this is the problem: The Israelis are writing their policies by downloading statements from an Islamic Jihad Web site, and just changing the place names. Also, if the Israelis think the Hamas rockets are as lethal as they say, why don't they swap their F-16 fighters and Apache helicopters for a few of them?

These things are capable of terrorizing a whole nation for years apparently, yet the Israelis have neglected to buy any, wasting their money on gunboats and stuff. Given that their annual arms budget is $7.2 billion, plus $2.2 billion in "aid," they'd save enough to buy a selection of banks in every country in the world.

The military advantages would be enormous because the Israelis' complaint about Hamas is the use of tunnels to smuggle arms. But if Israel gave Hamas a few planes and tanks and helicopters, they could probably be persuaded to shut down those tunnels that seem to be the cause of such bad feeling.

Whatever you say about Israel, at least it moves its weapons about legally--except for when it secretly built a nuclear arsenal, in violation of an array of international agreements. But they did it above ground and not in a tunnel, and that's the main thing.

- - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -

WATCHING THE reports from Gaza, another reason why the ceasefire may break down becomes apparent. The Israelis might claim that their satellite pictures now show Palestinians in possession of huge mounds of rubble--lethal if thrown over the border.

Luckily, these weapons are easy to spot. Most of them are next to women howling, "Look what they've done to my house," but perhaps the air force should bomb them again--just in case.

The Israelis say they fear Hamas will once again break the ceasefire by sending over those rockets. But the whole point of the operation was to make that impossible. Because they must have asked themselves the question, "If we slaughter 1,300 people, including 300 children, is that likely to make people: A. less cross or B. more cross?" And presumably, they concluded it will make them much less likely to grow up full of hatred and determination to retaliate.

Perhaps they saw medical research that shows when someone is suffering from anxiety and bouts of irascible ill-tempered behavior, the best treatment is to pen them in with no food or medicine and then kill some of them, and that calms them down a treat.

Another way to allay their worries about Hamas breaking the ceasefire is to read the report from their government's own Intelligence and Terrorism Information Center. This states that during the ceasefire "Hamas did not take part in any rocket fire, and sometimes prevented other organizations from attacking." Still, with all that's been going on, I suppose they haven't had time for reading.

Despite all this, there might be one cheery sign, which is that never before have so many people seen through the Israeli government's excuses for handing out mass destruction. The demonstrations in support of Palestinians have been bigger than ever before, and even the United Nations and the Wall Street Journal have suggested Israel has committed war crimes. One poll in America suggested that 60 per cent of people opposed the bombardment, and the change of opinion reached the point that an Israeli diplomat has admitted that "the harm to civilians in Gaza is causing us huge damage."

Maybe, best of all, was genetics expert Steven Rose, who appeared on Radio 4's Today program to talk about a new study that's located "morality spots," the part of the brain that deals with our morality. Asked how we could know whether this was true, he said in a marvelously posh academic Radio 4 voice, "Well, we could test the brains of the Israeli cabinet and see if they've got no morality spots whatsoever."

And the most immoral part of all is the perfectly cynical timing, as if three weeks ago Bush shouted: "Last orders please. Any last bombing, before time's up? Come along now, haven't you got homes to demolish?"


Thursday, 22 January 2009

No Comment.22/01

fonte: The Telegraph

Israel accused of executing parents in front of children in Gaza

Israel has refuted allegations of war atrocities in Gaza after Palestinian children described how their parents had been "executed" by Israeli troops.

One nine-year-old boy said his father had been shot dead in front of him despite surrendering to Israeli soldiers with his hands in the air.

Another youngster described witnessing the deaths of his mother, three brothers and uncle after the house they were in was shelled.

He said his mother and one of his siblings had been killed instantly, while the others bled to death over a period of days.

A psychiatrist treating children in the village of Zeitoun on the outskirts of Gaza City, where the alleged incidents took place, described the deaths as a "massacre".

Rawya Borno, a Jordanian doctor, said civilians, including children, were rounded up and killed by Israeli troops.

Israel has denied the claims, dismissing them as Hamas propaganda, but said that an investigation is being conducted into soldiers' conduct in the area.

In interviews with ITV News, Palestinians claimed that Israeli forces knowingly killed civilians in Zeitoun on the morning of Jan 14.

Abdullah Samouni, nine, described the moment his father was allegedly "executed" by Israeli soldiers.

Holding his arms in the air, he said: "He was surrendering like this. My father came out and they shot him right away."

A boy named Ahmed said he was trapped for days in the wreckage of the shelled Samouni family's house.

He said: "My mother was dead beside me, she was clutching my brother Nasser and they were dead. My brother Itzaq was bleeding for two days and then he died. My brother Izmael bled to death in one day. My uncle Talal was bleeding for two hours and he died. God bless them."

Dr Borno said: "It's a massacre. They collected them from their houses. They knew that they were civilians. They were children."

When asked if Hamas had been in Zeitoun, Dr Borno replied: "Suppose that there is one of the fighters around, what is it to do with all these? Is the price to kill the family as a whole? Is this baby carrying a machine gun?"

Israeli spokesman Mark Regev suggested the claims could be Hamas propaganda and said an investigation was under way. However, he said that Israeli troops had reported that Zeitoun was "full of Hamas" militants and that soldiers encountered booby traps in "every house" in the village.

He said: "When people live in an authoritarian regime, when it's clear there is an official message and the message is to give out atrocity propaganda, [then] at least I think we should ask questions.

"Hamas has an interest in sending out this sort of atrocity propaganda.

"What happened in that village is under investigation. I know from speaking to IDF officers that there was very serious combat in that village, that every house was booby-trapped, there were guns. Very difficult military operation.

"If there is any Israeli solder that has done something inappropriate of course that will be discovered and there will be law, but I am very concerned about a situation where children are manipulated, where everyone is on the same message.

"We know that village was full of Hamas fighters. It's against the rules of engagement of the Israeli army to shoot innocent civilians."

Pior do que um terremoto.22/01


Worse Than an Earthquake


Rafah, Gaza.

Traffic on Sea Street, a major thoroughfare alongside Gaza's coastline, includes horses, donkeys pulling carts, cyclists, pedestrians, trucks and cars, mostly older models. Overhead, in stark contrast to the street below, Israel's ultra modern unmanned surveillance planes criss-cross the skies. F16s and helicopters can also be heard. Remnants of their deliveries, the casings of missiles, bombs and shells used during the past three weeks of Israeli attacks, are scattered on the ground.

Workers have cleared most of the roads. Now, they are removing massive piles of wreckage and debris, much as people do following an earthquake.

"Yet, all the world helps after an earthquake," said a doctor at the Shifaa hospital in Gaza. "We feel very frustrated," he continued. "The West, Europe and the U.S., watched this killing go on for 22 days, as though they were watching a movie, watching the killing of women and children without doing anything to stop it. I was expecting to die at any moment. I held my babies and expected to die. There was no safe place in Gaza."

He and his colleagues are visibly exhausted, following weeks of work in the Intensive Care and Emergency Room departments at a hospital that received many more patients than they could help. "Patients died on the floor of the operating room because we had only six operating rooms," said Dr. Saeed Abuhassan, M.D, an ICU doctor who grew up in Chicago. "And really we don't know enough about the kinds of weapons that have been used against Gaza."

In 15 years of practice, Dr. Abuhassan says he never saw burns like those he saw here. The burns, blackish in color, reached deep into the muscles and bones. Even after treatment was begun, the blackish color returned.

Two of the patients were sent to Egypt because they were in such critical condition. They died in Egypt. But when autopsies were done, reports showed that the cause of death was poisoning from elements of white phosphorous that had entered their systems, causing cardiac arrests.

In Gaza City, the Burn Unit's harried director, a plastic surgeon and an expert in treating burns, told us that after encountering cases they'd never seen before, doctors at the center performed a biopsy on a patient they believed may have suffered chemical burns and sent the sample to a lab in Egypt. The results showed elements of white phosphorous in the tissue.

The doctor was interrupted by a phone call from a farmer who wanted to know whether it was safe to eat the oranges he was collecting from groves that had been uprooted and bombed during the Israeli invasion. The caller said the oranges had an offensive odor and that when the workers picked them up their hands became itchy.

Audrey Stewart had just spent the morning with Gazan farmers in Tufaa, a village near the border between Gaza and Israel. Israeli soldiers had first evacuated people, then dynamited the houses, then used bulldozers to clear the land, uprooting the orange tree groves. Many people, including children, were picking through the rubble, salvaging belongings and trying to collect oranges. At one point, people began shouting at Audrey, warning her that she was standing next to an unexploded rocket.

The doctor put his head in his hands, after listening to Audrey's report. "I told them to wash everything very carefully. But these are new situations. Really, I don't know how to respond," he said.

Yet he spoke passionately about what he knew regarding families that had been burned or crushed to death when their homes were bombed. "Were their babies a danger to anyone?" he asked us.

"They are lying to us about democracy and Western values," he continued, his voice shaking. "If we were sheep and goats, they would be more willing to help us."

Dr. Saeed Abuhassan was bidding farewell to the doctors he'd worked with in Gaza. He was returning to his work in the United Arab Emirates. But before leaving, he paused to give us a word of advice. "You know, the most important thing you can tell people in your country is that U.S. people paid for many of the weapons used to kill people in Gaza," said Dr. Saeed Abuhassan. "And this, also, is why it's worse than an earthquake."

Kathy Kelly, a co-coordinator of Voices for Creative Nonviolence, is writing from Arish, a town near the Rafah border between Egypt and Gaza. Bill Quigley, a human rights lawyer and law professor at Loyola New Orleans and Audrey Stewart are also in Egypt and contributed to this article. Kathy Kelly is the author of Other Lands Have Dreams (published by CounterPunch/AK Press). Her email is

ignorar as raízes do conflito.22/01

fonte: EI

Ignoring the roots of conflict
Dalila Mahdawi, The Electronic Intifada, 22 January 2009

A Palestinian boy stands behind a fence at a UN school in Gaza where his family was forced to seek refuge. Israel's attacks on Gaza have affected all 1.5 million Palestinians in the besieged territory. (Hatem Omar/MaanImages)

My uncle, aunt and cousins in Gaza have not showered for more than two weeks now. I make a point of this because Samuel Wurzelbacher, otherwise known as "Joe the Plumber" who was propelled into the limelight for questioning then US President-elect Barack Obama, has become a so-called "war correspondent" in the southern Israeli town of Sderot. Talking to The Guardian from his new beat, he spoke with sympathy about how difficult life must be for Sderot's residents. "The people of Sderot can't do normal things day to day, like get soap in their eyes in the shower, for fear a rocket might come in. I'm sure they're taking quick showers. I know I would."

I wonder what Wurzelbacher would make, then, of the "day to day" lives of the people in Gaza, whose water tanks have run dry, who have no electricity, and where many are struggling to pay for flour, the price of which has jumped to around 160 shekels (around $40) a sack due to the recent onslaught. I wonder, too, what Wurzelbacher would think of my uncle's recent argument with his wife about the family's sleeping arrangements. When Israel began its latest military campaign on 27 December, my aunt had wanted everyone to sleep in one room so they could all die together if the house was struck. However, my uncle meanwhile thought they should spread out to increase the chance of someone surviving.

Wurzelbacher is amongst many who either do not know or choose to ignore the essence of the Palestine-Israel conflict. What the Israelis unleashed on Gaza is not, as our debutant journalist friend would have us believe, simply about rockets falling on the homes of Israelis. Has Wulzerbacher ever thought to ask himself what would compel a human being to launch a rocket in the first place? In plain language, Israelis live under rocket fire because their government has for the last 41 years pursued a policy of occupation and ethnic cleansing against the Palestinians. It is irrational and hypocritical to think that the people of the occupied West Bank or Gaza, many of whom are refugees from villages where Israeli towns like Ashkelon and Sderot now stand, have no right to resist their extermination. To borrow that tired phrase so often used by the Israelis, no people could tolerate for so long those who are attacking them. And yet, this is precisely what is expected of the Palestinians.

It must not be forgotten that long before Hamas was a feature on the Palestinian political landscape, the Apartheid state of Israel was doing everything it could to make life unbearable for the Palestinians in the West Bank and Gaza Strip, as part of a concerted plan to rid historical Palestine of its native inhabitants.

According to the Israeli human rights group B'Tselem, between 1967 and 2007, Israel erected 121 settlements in the West Bank, with an additional 100 illegal "outposts," in which the most right-wing Jewish settlers live. "Twelve other settlements are located on land annexed by Israel in 1967 and made part of Jerusalem," the group says. Even while claiming to be negotiating a peace deal last year, Israel was busy planning and building new settlements. No Palestinian can enter these exclusive Jewish colonies, which are heavily guarded by soldiers, nor can they use the roads that lead to them, built on confiscated Palestinian land.

Israel has tried to undermine the possibility of a contiguous and viable Palestinian state ever emerging by erecting an Apartheid Wall that snakes through the West Bank and eats away at more Palestinian land. This potent symbol of apartheid, which is considered unlawful by the International Court of Justice, has divided families, separated farmers from their land, students from their schools and universities, workers from their jobs, and the sick from their medical treatments. To get anywhere in the West Bank, Palestinians must pass through a myriad of road blocks and checkpoints, transforming an otherwise simple journey into a time-consuming, frustrating and humiliating experience. Palestinians are subject to arbitrary detention, luggage and body searches and interrogation at the will of Israeli soldiers. They are required to obtain a special permit to enter Jerusalem, making it virtually off limits to Palestinians living in the West Bank and Gaza.

Palestinians are subject to curfews, some lasting up to 40 days, during which they are forbidden from leaving their houses. They are granted few permits to build or repair their houses, and Israel punishes those who build without approval by demolishing their homes. In an act of collective punishment, Israel also bulldozes the houses of families of suspected resistance fighters, often without warning those inside beforehand. The Israeli Committee against House Demolitions estimates that more than 19,850 Palestinian homes in the West Bank have been torn down since 1967.

A "law of return" means that anyone in the world who claims to be of Jewish descent can gain Israeli citizenship. At the same time, Palestinians like my own father have no right to return to the place where they were born, let alone pass on their nationality to their children. The movement of Palestinians is closely monitored and controlled by the Israelis. My cousin, who traveled from Gaza to live in his home village in the West Bank has been missing for two weeks now. It is likely he has been arrested for this so-called violation (as he only had a permit to visit), but the Israelis haven't even bothered to inform anyone of his whereabouts.

These tedious lists of grievances, which could go on for pages, illustrate that no Palestinian, whether they choose to resist Israeli oppression or not, can escape the ritual humiliation and degradation of occupation. It should now be clearer to Wurzelbacher that it is this daily regime of confiscation, desperation, humiliation and discrimination that compels Palestinians to resist Israel's policies of exclusion, just as Native Americans and black South Africans were compelled to resist their oppression. Even Ehud Barak, Israel's Defense Minister, who played a crucial role in designing the Gaza onslaught, acknowledges this fact. In 1998 he told the Israeli daily Haaretz that "If I were a Palestinian of the right age, I'd eventually join one of the terrorist organizations."

No family in Gaza has emerged physically or psychologically unscathed from Israel's latest push to crush the Palestinians. Through their wanton use of extraordinary military force, the Israelis have sown the seeds of the next generation of Palestinian resistance fighters. The children who witnessed their parents and siblings torched by white phosphorus, crushed by a bomb, or riddled with bullets will never forget such horrors. This is to say nothing of the total blockade Israel continues to impose on Gaza. However, the Palestinians will not be beaten, shelled or starved into submission. Violent and nonviolent Palestinian resistance will continue until Israel uncurls its iron fist and agrees to a fair and just peace. After all, justice for the Palestinians is the only way for Israel to be a "State" rather than an Apartheid State and in so doing truly ensure the safety of its own citizens.

Dalila Mahdawi is a journalist with The Daily Star in Lebanon.

Wednesday, 21 January 2009

não em meu nome.21/01

UK Jewish MP: Israel acting like Nazis in Gaza
fonte: Youtube

aquilo que Israel não quer que você veja.21/01

fonte:CBC, youtube

razão pela qual não é fácil ser um dissidente em Israel.21/01

fonte: the guardian

How Israel drowns dissent

Firefighters turned their hoses on a peaceful anti-war protester last week. Their attitude reflects a worrying shift in public opinion

by Seth Freedman

Last week, at the height of Operation Cast Lead, a group of Israeli firemen threw their hats into the political ring, albeit in somewhat undiplomatic and uncivilised fashion. During a peaceful anti-war vigil outside a Tel Aviv air force base, several members of the fire brigade turned on one protester, drenching her relentlessly with water from their hoses, before approaching her and ordering her into the station in order to "give us all head".

Their actions were, while wholly illegal, none the less emblematic of a massive shift in Israeli public opinion over the last few years, according to Sharon Dolev, the woman on the receiving end of the assault. A veteran activist, Dolev has suffered a great deal during her 20 years of campaigning in the Israeli peace camp ("death threats, being shot with rubber bullets, hate mail, beatings"), but said that this incident was "the first time that the establishment felt safe in [taking action such as this]".

"It used to be a big deal if bus drivers criticised protests and vigils in public," she recalls, "since as employees of the state, they were not allowed to express political opinions in uniform." Now, however, the firemen felt so secure of escaping punishment that they even bombarded her with firecrackers during the attack, telling her "now you know what it's like to live in Sderot".

When video evidence emerged on an Israeli news website of her ordeal, readers' comments were predictably scathing of Dolev and her fellow protestors for daring to speak out in the first place against the IDF's operation. "Of the 380 comments, all but 10 were in support of the fire brigade," said Dolev. "Some readers even called openly for our murder, urging the police to shoot us, or saying 'Why use water – use acid instead'."

In her view, the inexorable shift of the Israeli public towards out and out hostility and hyper-defensiveness was inevitable from as far back as 1967, when the West Bank was first conquered. "We used to hold signs at protests reading 'The occupation will corrupt'," she told me. "Now, we can see that it has [come to pass]. As a society, we have lost our ability to see clearly; we have let fear blind us. Once, calling someone a racist was the harshest accusation you could make. Later, you began to hear people say 'I know I'm a racist, but...'; nowadays [during Cast Lead], we heard 'I know I'm talking like a Nazi, but at least the Nazis knew how to deal with their enemies'."

Despite others employing Nazi comparisons to describe Israeli military actions, Dolev isn't comfortable with such terminology herself, not least because it derails the debate about the issues at hand. "It's all too easy for the Israeli authorities to say 'we didn't build an Auschwitz for the Palestinians, so everything's ok', but in reality everything is not ok." She believes that history has come full circle, and that instead of learning the lessons of the Holocaust, "we have become the racists ourselves".

"Isn't Gaza a ghetto?" she continues. "OK, we don't use the Palestinians' hair for cushions, but the [stage is being set for the] same kind of process of dehumanisation here." Working in a joint Israeli-Palestinian organisation in Gaza in 1989 gave Dolev her first exposure to "the banality of evil", she says. "It wasn't seeing a soldier get scared and shoot into a crowd, but rather seeing a girl sitting in her house and getting shot by a stray bullet. And then, when she needed to be transferred to a Cairo hospital, the Shabak officers saying only she could cross, and no one else. A 12-year-old girl, in a vegetative state, and they wouldn't even let her mother accompany her. That is the banality of evil."

In her eyes, the Israeli public has allowed its leaders and military to get away with such punitive measures simply because they have allowed fear to override all other emotions: "Fear turns us into beasts," she says flatly. "I remember in my first week at school, aged six, we were taught how to blockade the classroom in case a terrorist got into the playground. While some fear is justified, there is not enough reason to make the public terrified on a daily basis." The media are just as responsible as the government for perpetually scaring ordinary Israelis, she believes. "Fear sells papers," she says cynically.

Such defensiveness allowed the police to get away with imprisoning some 700 activists over the course of Operation Cast Lead, she believes; many on the most spurious of charges. "They arrested some on the charge of disturbing public order, others on even vaguer charges. And some were even detained for 'damaging the nation's morale' – a charge which doesn't even exist [in the statutes]. There is no law in Israel anymore."

As well as her experience at the hands of the fire brigade, Dolev also points to the kind of sloganeering in the election campaign as proof that the bedrock of democracy on which Israel is founded is beginning to look far less solid. "When you have Lieberman declaring 'No loyalty, no citizenship', you start to worry about what point we've come to." However, she is undeterred in her struggle on behalf of the peace camp, believing that hope is not lost in terms of convincing the Israeli public of an alternative to perpetual war and aggression. A firm promoter of the Arab Peace Initiative, she is convinced that the proposal is the best way to resolve the decades-old conflict.

"It's the biggest carrot ever offered to the Israeli people," she says. "One-state or two-state is a non-issue; whatever the two peoples agree on I would take with both hands. All that matters is that there are borders, and that those living within the borders are given full rights and citizenship. However, I worry about [Israeli Jews] becoming a minority, because after all we've taught them over 60 years of how to treat minorities, it's become dangerous to be a minority ourselves ... "

Gaza: «Eu vi um soldado israelita matar as minha duas meninas".21/01

fonte: the independent

Gaza: 'I watched an Israeli soldier shoot dead my two little girls'

Grieving Palestinian father says children were killed after family obeyed order from troops to leave Gaza home

By Donald Macintyre in Gaza City
Wednesday, 21 January 2009

Khaled Abed Rabbo in the remains of his family house, destroyed during the three-week Israeli offensive


Khaled Abed Rabbo in the remains of his family house, destroyed during the three-week Israeli offensive

A Palestinian father has claimed that he saw two of his young daughters shot dead and another critically injured by an Israeli soldier who emerged from a stationary tank and opened fire as the family obeyed an order from the Israeli forces to leave their home.

Khaled Abed Rabbo said Amal, aged two and Suad, seven, were killed by fire from the soldier's semi-automatic rifle. His third daughter, Samer, four, has been evacuated to intensive care in a Belgian hospital after suffering critical spinal injuries which he said were inflicted in the attack early in Israel's ground offensive.

Mr Abed Rabbo stood near the wreckage off his subsequently destroyed home on the eastern edge of the northern Gaza town of Jabalya yesterday and described how a tank had parked outside the building at 12.50pm on 7 January and ordered the family in Arabic through a megaphone to leave building. He said his 60-year-old mother had also been shot at as she left waving her white headscarf with her son, daughter in law and her three grandchildren.

"Two soldiers were on the tank eating chips, then one man came out of the tank with a rifle and started shooting the kids," Mr Abed Rabbo, who receives a salary as a policeman from the Fatah-dominated Palestinian Authority in Ramallah said. The family say they think the weapon used by the soldier was an M16 and that the first to be shot was Amal. Mr Abed Rabbo said that Suad was then shot with what he claimed were 12 bullets, and then Samer.

The soldier who fired the rifle had what Mr Abed Rabbo thought were ringlets visible below his helmet, he said. The small minority of ultra-Orthodox Jews who serve in the army are in a unit which did not take part in the Gaza offensive and only a very small number of settlers who also favour that hairstyle serve in other units.

It has so far been impossible independently to verify Mr Abed Rabbo's claim and the military said last night Israeli Defence Forces "does not target civilians, only Hamas terrorists and infrastructure". It added: "The IDF is investigating various claims made with regard to Operation Cast Lead and at the end of its investigation will respond accordingly."

The district is named Abed Rabbo after the clan who live in most of it. The dense concrete roof of the house now hangs at more at more than a 45-degree angle, and at least three other substantial buildings have been flattened in the agricultural, semi-rural immediate neighbourhood. Khaled Abed Rabbo said that there had been a delay before the ambulance could reach the building because the road from the west had been made impassable by the churning of the tanks.

The soldiers had in the end let the family leave on foot, he said. He added that they walked two kilometres before finding a vehicle to take them to Kamal Adwan Hospital. He said: "I carried Suad, who was dead, my wife carried Amal and my brother Ibrahim carried Samer."

He added: "We are not Hamas. My children were not Hamas. And if they were going to shoot anyone it should have been me." He added: "I want the international community and the International Red Cross to ask Israel why it has done this to us. They talk about democracy but is it democracy to kill children? What did the kids do to them? What did my house do to them? They destroyed my life?

Gaza City is showing signs of returning to a form of normality as more shops reopen. The offices of the main Palestinian telephone company Jawwal reopened though this has not eased severe problems of connectivity on the Palestinian mobile network.

Some Hamas policemen were back directing traffic, though in smaller numbers than before the offensive. Unconfirmed figures are that 270 Hamas policemen were killed, mainly in the air attacks during the first week. In a victory rally in Gaza city yesterday, Hamas supporters converged on a square near the remains of the bombed parliament building..

'Heartbreaking': The ugly face of war

The UN secretary general, looking distressed, described the devastation of Gaza as "heartbreaking" on a visit to the area yesterday after the 22-day Israeli assault.

"I have seen only a fraction of the destruction," said Ban Ki-moon, as he stood in front of a UN warehouse set on fire by Israeli shells last Thursday. "This is shocking and alarming. These are heartbreaking scenes I have seen and I am deeply grieved by what I have seen today." he said.

Mr Ban demanded a full investigation into the Israeli shelling of the UN Relief and Works Agency compound. UN officials say the compound, still smouldering yesterday, was targeted by white phosphorus munitions which are not supposed to be used in densely populated areas because of the harm to civilians. Mr Ban said the Israeli attacks on UNRWA headquarters and two UN schools in Gaza, one of which killed 40 sheltering Palestinians, were "outrageous".

Amnesty International said Israel's repeated use of the munitions despite evidence of their indiscriminate effects and harm to civilians "is a war crime". The Israeli army has launched an investigation but says Hamas fighters operate from densely populated areas, and used UN buildings as cover for attacks.

Mr Ban said: "It has been especially troubling and heartbreaking for me as secretary general that I couldn't end this faster," he said. He urged Israel and Hamas to "exercise maximum restraint and nurture the ceasefire".

Anne Penketh

Robert Fisk: sobre as declarações de Mahmoud Abbas

Robert Fisk: Posturing and laughter as victims rot

Mahmoud Abbas stepped further into humiliation by saying the only option for Arabs isto make peace with Israel

Tuesday, 20 January 2009

The front page of the Beirut daily As-Safir said it all yesterday. Across the top was a terrible photograph of the bloated body of a Palestinian man newly discovered in the ruins of his home while two male members of his family shrieked and roared their grief. Below, at half the size, was a photograph from Israel of Western leaders joking with Ehud Olmert, the Israeli Prime Minister. Olmert was roaring with laughter. Silvio Berlusconi, arms on the back of Olmert's shoulders, was also joshing and roaring – with laughter, not grief – and on Olmert's right was Nicolas Sarkozy of France wearing his stupidest of smiles. Only Chancellor Merkel appeared to understand the moral collapse. No smiles from Germany.

Europe laughs while Palestinians mourn their dead. No wonder that in the streets of Beirut, shops were doing a flourishing trade in Palestinian scarves and flags. Even some of Palestine's most serious enemies in Lebanon wore the Palestinian keffiyeh in solidarity with the people of Gaza. Over and over again, Al-Jazeera television strapped headlines on to their news reports of Palestinians carrying the decomposing corpses of their dead: "More than 1,300 dead in Gaza, 400 of them women and children – Israeli dead in the war 13, three of them civilians." That, too, said it all.

All day, the Arabs also had to endure watching their own leaders primping and posing in front of the cameras at the Arab summit in Kuwait, where the kings and presidents who claim to rule them also smiled and shook hands and tried to pretend that they were unified behind a Palestinian people who have been sorely betrayed. Even Mahmoud Abbas was there, the powerless, impotent leader of "Palestine" – where is that precisely, one had to ask? – trying to suck some importance from the coat-tails and robes of his betters.

Slipping and sliding on the corpses of Gaza, these assembled supreme beings should perhaps be pitied. What else could they do? Saudi King Abdullah announced £750,000 to rebuild Gaza; but how many times have the Arabs and the Europeans been throwing money at Gaza only to see it torn to shreds by incoming shell-fire?

It has to be said that the two cowled Hamas gunmen who announced that they had won a "victory" in the ruins of Gaza were only fractionally less hypocritical. Still they had not understood that they were not the Hizbollah of Lebanon. Gaza was no longer Beirut. Now, it seemed, Gaza was Stalingrad. But whose uniforms did Hamas think they were wearing: German or Soviet?

"Israel has to understand," the good king said – as if the Israelis were listening – "that the choice between war and peace will not always stay open and that the Arab initiative (for Arab recognition in return for an Israeli withdrawal to the 1967 borders of Israel) that is on the table today will not stay on the table." He knew that "an eye for an eye ... did not say an eye for the eyes of a whole city". But how many times – how many bodies have to be pulled from the ruins – before the Saudis realise that time has run out?

The Israelis briskly dismissed land for peace in 2002 but yesterday they suddenly showed their interest again. "We continue to be willing to negotiate with all our neighbours on the basis of that initiative," the Israeli government spokesmen said – as if his own country's original rejection had never been thrown at the Arabs.

President Bashar al-Assad of Syria, of course, dismissed the whole initiative in Qatar last week as dead, insisting that Israel be declared a "terrorist entity". But Mahmoud Abbas stepped further into humiliation yesterday by announcing that the "only option" for Arabs was to make peace with Israel. It was Arab "shortcomings" that led to the failure of the 2002 Arab initiative. Not Israel's rejection, mark you. No, it was all the fault of the Arabs. And this from the leader of "Palestine".

No wonder America's man in Egypt – a certain Hosni Mubarak – repeated the tired old slogan that "peace in the Middle East is an imperative that cannot be delayed". And then the Emir of Kuwait invited Bashar and Hosni and King Abdullah of Jordan and the other King Abdullah of Saudi Arabia to have lunch together – the menu was not disclosed – to end their feuding.

Al-Jazeera showed the ever-more putrid bodies being tugged from beneath cross-beams and crushed concrete as these mighty potentates debated their little disputes. There was really no adequate comment for this charade.

Fonte: the independent

Tuesday, 20 January 2009

Israel queria uma crise humanitária.20/01

fonte:the Guardian

Israel wanted a humanitarian crisis

Targeting civilians was a deliberate part of this bid to humiliate Hamas and the Palestinians, and pulverise Gaza into chaos.

author: Ben White

The scale of Israel's attack on the Gaza Strip, and the almost daily reports of war crimes over the last three weeks, has drawn criticism from even longstanding friends and sympathisers. Despite the Israeli government's long-planned and comprehensive PR campaign, hundreds of dead children is a hard sell. As a former Israeli government press adviser put it, in a wonderful bit of unintentional irony, "When you have a Palestinian kid facing an Israeli tank, how do you explain that the tank is actually David and the kid is Goliath?"

Despite a mass of evidence that includes Israel's targets in Operation Cast Lead, public remarks by Israeli leaders over some time, and the ceasefire manoeuvring of this last weekend, much of the analysis offered by politicians or commentators has been disappointingly limited, and characterised by false assumptions, or misplaced emphases, about Israel's motivations.

First, to what this war on Gaza is not about: it's not about the rockets. During the truce last year, rocket fire from the Gaza Strip was reduced by 97%, with the few projectiles that were fired coming from non-Hamas groups opposed to the agreement. Despite this success in vastly improving the security of Israelis in the south, Israel did everything it could to undermine the calm, and provoke Hamas into a conflict.

Israel broke the ceasefire on 4 November, with an attack in the Gaza Strip that killed six Hamas members, and the following day severely tightened its siege of the territory. Imports were reduced to 16 trucks a day, down from 123 daily just the previous month (and 475 in May 2007). Following the unsurprising surge in Palestinian attacks, Israeli officials claimed that an all-out war was unavoidable; without mentioning that an operation had been planned for some months already.

Second, the current operation is only in a limited sense related to both the upcoming Israeli elections and restoring the IDF's so-called deterrence. While it has been pointed out that a hardline approach to Palestinian "terrorism" can play well with the Israeli public, wars are not necessarily Israeli politicians' tactic of choice – the Lebanon war was fought a few months after one.

Israel is also supposed to be restoring the reputation and "deterrence factor" of its armed forces, after their humiliation in Lebanon in 2006. Suffice to say that until this weekend's unilateral ceasefire, in an aid-dependent enclave defended by an almost entirely isolated militia, Israel's operation had already lasted three times longer than the 1967 war when Israel defeated its Arab neighbours and occupied the rest of Mandate Palestine.

These three suggested motivations have sometimes reached the level of assumed knowledge, providing the background for further comment and reporting. Based on this kind of analysis, then, criticism of Palestinian civilian casualties is framed as "disproportionate" or "heavy-handed", but fundamentally a case of self-defence. It is understood that any democratic nation would have to respond to terrorist rocket fire, but Israel has gone a bit too far.

There is, however, no shortage of evidence available that points to rather different Israeli aims. Estimates for the proportion of civilian deaths among the 1,360 Palestinians killed range from more than half to two-thirds. Politicians, diplomats and journalists are by and large shying away from the obvious, namely that Israel has been deliberately targeting Palestinian civilians and the very infrastructure of normal life, in order to – in the best colonial style – teach the natives a lesson.

Given the enormous scale of what Palestinians have described as a "war of extermination" – it appears that some 15% of all buildings in the Gaza Strip were completely destroyed or collapsed and there is an estimated $1.4bn worth of destruction to vital civil infrastructure – it is impossible to list every atrocity. Israel has repeatedly hit ambulances, medics, clinics, and hospitals, while last week, aid volunteers who tried to douse a fire in a Red Crescent warehouse (attacked by Israel) were then shot at by Israeli forces.

UNRWA facilities have also been attacked, including several schools sheltering civilians – just this last weekend, a civilian refuge was repeatedly shelled. Last week, the UN headquarters was also shelled, hitting a vocational centre, a workshop, food warehouse, and fuel depot. Like the massacre of 6 January, Israeli officials quickly began to produce a confusing fog of denials, apologies, promised enquiries and contradictions.

Those are just some of the more shocking examples from a military operation that has targeted everything from schools, money-changers and a bird farm, to entire apartment blocks, harbours, and a market. Palestinians have been killed when Israeli tanks fired shells at residential neighbourhoods. Every day has brought fresh horrors; last Wednesday, for example, 70 unarmed civilians including 18 children were killed by the Israeli military. This week's Observer carried a story alleging Israel bulldozed homes with civilians inside (not for the first time) and shot those waving white flags. Little wonder that Israeli officials predicted with concern that "negative sentiment" towards the state would "only grow as the full picture of destruction emerges".

Much of this is widely known, and easily accessible; yet still the analytical emphasis has remained on Palestinian rockets, Israeli elections, and deterrence. I would like to suggest three alternative purposes for Israel's Operation Cast Lead that go beyond the usual perspectives, and presuming with Yale professor David Bromwich that "if Israel in 2009 reduces to rubble a large portion of the Gaza Strip and leaves tens of thousands homeless, there is a strong chance that this was what it intended to do".

The first aim is to humiliate and weaken Hamas. On the one hand, this seems obvious, but contrary to how the goal is often understood, this is not primarily to protect the Israeli public – as pointed out previously, ceasefires and negotiations are far more likely to deliver security for Israeli citizens – but rather it is a political goal. Hamas had withstood isolation, a siege, mass arrests, and an attempted western-backed coup. Moreover, cracks were appearing in the international community's resolve to parrot Israel's line on Hamas. The group, with its resilience and ability to deliver on negotiated ceasefires, was threatening the chance to make a deal with the Ramallah "moderates", and so:

A hammer blow that shattered the movement, launching some of the resulting splinters in directions that once again put all of them beyond the pale, was the most effective way to keep at bay those third parties reaching the conclusion that engaging rather than excluding Hamas could enhance the prospects of peace.

Back in December, before both the end of the six-month truce and the start of Operation Cast Lead, foreign minister Tzipi Livni stated that an extended truce "harms the Israel strategic goal, empowers Hamas, and gives the impression that Israel recognizes the movement". By the end of the month, Livni would be telling a press conference that "Hamas wants to gain legitimacy from the international community" and stressing that it is "important to keep Hamas from becoming a legitimate organisation" (apparently winning a democratic election isn't enough to confer legitimacy).

Just as Israel chose "blood over diplomacy" in order to avoid enhancing "Hamas's image as a responsible interlocutor", so this weekend, Israel chose a unilateral ceasefire for the same reason, "hoping to send the message that Hamas is not a legitimate actor". A war begun in order to delegitimise Hamas would not make way for a ceasefire in which Hamas was a partner at the negotiating table.

Hence Israel decided to shortcut the Egyptian-driven efforts at securing a ceasefire, and opt for a unilateral approach that allows Israel, the US, Egypt, Mahmoud Abbas, Britain – in fact, every interested party, except the Gaza Strip authorities – to work together on an apparent solution. It is also worth pointing out that the unilateral nature of the ceasefire frees Israel to define an infringement or collapse on its own terms.

The second aim of Israel's war is to teach a lesson to the Palestinians in Gaza, and elsewhere, that the only way to avoid the wrath of the Israeli military is to accept Israel's idea of a two-state solution, a generous concession to be gratefully received by Abbas and fellow moderates. It is a reflection of the approach outlined by the IDF chief of staff, Moshe Ya'alon, in 2002 that "the Palestinians must be made to understand in the deepest recesses of their consciousness that they are a defeated people".

On 4 January, Israeli President Shimon Peres said that Hamas needed "a real and serious lesson"; days later, he was more explicit, reportedly declaring Israel's aim to be "to provide a strong blow to the people of Gaza so that they would lose their appetite for shooting at Israel". The next day, the Washington Post also described how Israeli officials were hoping that the attacks would mean "that Gazans become disgusted with Hamas and drive the group from power".

This Israeli strategy was previously deployed in Lebanon in 2006, when senior military commanders redefined civilian villages as "military bases" which would be subjected to "disproportionate force" causing "great damage and destruction". As I previously noted, the lessons learned in Lebanon were not just wrong, but criminal: a retired IDF major general and former adviser to the prime minister, Giora Eiland, reflected in a paper that "the destruction of homes and infrastructure and the suffering of hundreds of thousands of people are consequences that can influence Hezbollah's behaviour more than anything else".

Ironically, the same Peres who now justifies collective punishment, in 2002 chastised Avigdor Lieberman for suggesting that the IDF should bomb civilian targets, warning the minister that such a tactic would be a war crime. The last three weeks show that proposals made by Israel's political extremists and originally considered outlandish, do not take long to become normal policy.

Deliberately targeting civilians and vital infrastructure for political purposes links smoothly, into the post-conflict phase, with the Israeli and US plan to try and rescue the deeply discredited image of the Palestinian Authority through a politicised reconstruction of the Gaza Strip. As US state department spokesman Sean McCormack coyly put it, the "military solution" must be followed up by investing in infrastructure and helping the population "so that they can make a different kind of political decision".

The third aim of Israel's attack on the Gaza Strip is to further "catastrophise" the territory, reducing the capacity for continued existence to the barest of minimums – perhaps to bring about "an end to the persistence of Gaza's ordinary people in wanting the chance of a peaceful and dignified life". One obvious benefit to Israel of pulverising "civilian Palestinian infrastructure" is that "people who lack collective institutions and are reduced to scrabbling for their very survival are easier to dominate".

Yet, there is more going on here. Israel seeks to turn the Gaza Strip into a depoliticised humanitarian crisis, always on the brink of catastrophe, always dependent; its population reduced to ration-receiving clients of international aid. Yitzhak Rabin famously wished that Gaza "would just sink into the sea", but perhaps the best Israel can do is to share the problem with the international community, possibly to the extent of troops on the ground.

Increasingly focusing on Egyptian responsibility is also part of this, whether in terms of arms smuggling, aid supplies, or for some, direct rule.

In all of this, the Gaza Strip has become a laboratory for future possible scenarios in the West Bank (where a process of "development-isation" and NGO-funded occupation is well established). All three of these Israeli aims – to delegitimise and sideline Hamas, to persuade Palestinians to give up their resistance and to shirk responsibility for a shattered Gaza Strip – require the deliberate commission of war crimes and gross human rights abuses. As time will tell, they are also doomed to fail.

Amnesty International em Gaza.20/01

fonte: Amnesty report

Amnesty International team reports from the rubble of Gaza

© Amnesty International">A wrecked a classroom in Gaza, 19 January 2009

A wrecked a classroom in Gaza, 19 January 2009

© Amnesty International

© Amnesty International">The rubble of the American School in Gaza, 19 January 2009

The rubble of the American School in Gaza, 19 January 2009

© Amnesty International

© Amnesty International">Smouldering food supplies in the main UNRWA Field Office in Gaza City, 19 January 2009, after it came under Israeli fire

Smouldering food supplies in the main UNRWA Field Office in Gaza City, 19 January 2009, after it came under Israeli fire

© Amnesty International

© Amnesty International" style="display: none;">An ambulance made into a roadblock by the Israeli army at the al-Quds Hospital, Gaza City

20 January 2009

The Amnesty international fact-finding team that arrived in Gaza City on Saturday, has continued to collect evidence of the extent of destruction in the area.

In a post on Amnesty International's Livewire blog, the team described how "previously busy neighbourhoods have been flattened into moonscapes," and "how there is no camera lens wide enough to embrace the sheer dimensions of the devastation."

The team also described how power lines have been torn down, and water mains ripped up. Gaza's infrastructure is now in dire condition. Prolonged blackouts are the norm, tens of thousands of people have no access to clean water and sewage is now flowing in the open from the broken conduits.

On Monday, the team learnt that during the past three weeks there was nowhere for people to go where they could feel safe. Schools, medical facilities and UN buildings all took direct hits from the Israeli army's indiscriminate shelling. Artillery shells for use on conventional battlefields, not for pinpoint targets, have been fired into dense residential areas.

In an UNRWA primary school in Beit Lahiya, where 1,898 people were sheltering from the fighting, an artillery shell hit a classroom on the second floor where 35 people were sleeping at 6am one morning. Two brothers, aged five and seven, were killed.

"Their 18-year-old sister was grievously injured and had to have her leg amputated. Their mother lost a hand and sustained a serious head injury. Twelve others were injured. Their relatives told us that they had fled their homes to escape the bombardments and had come to the school hoping to find safety."

By the rubble of the American School in Gaza, the team spoke to the father of school guard Mahmoud Mohammed Selmi Abu Qleiq, killed when Israeli F16 aircraft bombed the school campus. Gaza's only international school and "part of the vision for the future of Palestine", is now a huge mass of tangled wire and gigantic concrete slabs.

"The old man sat overlooking the rubble and explained how he tried to call his son's mobile phone when he heard the huge explosions, but he never answered… His son’s body was found 50 metres from the school."

The team also visited the UNRWA Field Office in Gaza City, which came under Israeli fire on 15 January. Warehouses full of food, medicine and other humanitarian aid were destroyed when white phosphorus and high explosive Israeli artillery shells hit the compound.

"Four days later, the fire is still burning – the charred and smouldering remnants of millions of dollars' worth of food and medicine all destroyed. The ground outside the warehouses is still slick with the thousands of litres of burning cooking oil that spilled out. Several UN vehicles were also destroyed in the attacks."

The al-Quds hospital in Gaza City was also hit in the attacks. Medical stores were burnt and Israeli tanks had crushed ambulances to make roadblocks.

"Hundreds of people from nearby buildings had taken shelter in the hospital buildings, just as others elsewhere in the city had sought refuge in the UN compound or schools, believing that they were places safe from Israeli attacks. They were wrong.

UE, Gaza e o tratado de Lisboa.20/01

fonte: Counterpunch

An Irish Ace?

The EU, Gaza and the Lisbon Treaty


The increasingly forceful tone of statements critical of Israel issuing from certain European Union governments during the current Gaza crisis, plus the news that Israel has decided to send ministers on a tour of six insufficiently docile European countries as a kind of propaganda “blitzkrieg”, should not lull us into assuming that the EU will maintain a strong stand against Israeli state terrorism once there is a ceasefire.

A sorry portent of what we can expect is the decision by EU countries represented on the UN's Human Rights Council (HCR) to abstain on its resolution of January 12th which, among other things, condemned the Israeli military operation, called for a cessation of both Israeli and Hamas attacks, and called “for immediate international protection for the Palestinian people... in compliance with International Human Rights Law and International Humanitarian Law...”

In a statement complaining that this carefully balanced motion “presents only one side of the conflict” (an assertion belied by its call for a cessation of Hamas attacks), the German representative Reinhard Schweppe announced that EU countries not represented on the HRC “aligned themselves” with the abstention by Germany and its EU “partners”. The motion was passed with 33 in favour, 1 against (Canada), and 13 abstentions.

No doubt Herr Schweppe felt that he was living up to the German state's obligations towards the Jewish people. However, since 1948 Germany's interpretation of these obligations has entailed unconditional support for the state of Israel – which is not identical to the Jewish people – and unconditional scapegoating of the victims of that state. The pro-Palestinian American intellectual Norman Finkelstein, a son of Holocaust-survivors, has berated this stance as “counterfeit courage” and defined “the challenge in Germany today” as “to defend Jews from malice and to condemn their overwhelmingly blind support for Israel's brutal occupation.”

In private, German and Austrian politicians apparently claim that for convenient “historical reasons” they cannot change their stance as long as Britain continues to offer unconditional support to Israel. Britain, however, has never shown much interest in rectifying the nefarious consequences of its past imperial and colonial machinations, whether in Palestine, Iraq, India/Pakistan, or indeed Ireland, now a fellow EU member.

In 1919, two years after his infamous Declaration that Britain would “view with favour” the establishment of a Jewish “national home” in Palestine, Arthur Balfour stated to Lord Curzon, his successor as British Foreign Minister, that “in Palestine we do not propose to go through the form of consulting the wishes of the present inhabitants ... The four great powers are committed to Zionism and Zionism, be it right or wrong, ... is... of far profounder import than the desires and prejudices of the 700,000 Arabs who now inhabit that ancient land.” This dismissal of the Palestinian Arabs' right to have rights (in Hannah Arendt's phrase) typifies UK policy on the Middle East to this very day, and re-echoes through the sickening rhetoric of Tony Blair and Foreign Secretary David Miliband..

Among other EU states, Poland, the Czech Republic, and the Baltic States have all similarly found “historical reasons” for supporting Israel. There is little doubt, however, that the major “historical reason” is blackmail and bribery from the USA, which has turned to Israel's advantage the delusion prevalent in those countries that America is a bulwark against a resurgent Russia.

The question naturally arises: given that EU countries have vastly different historical backgrounds, in some cases relatively unblemished by participation in past imperialist or colonial crimes, should their foreign policy on the question of Palestine be determined by perceived German or British historical imperatives?

Ireland, for example, engaged in Western Europe's last colonial struggle and, like Palestine and India/Pakistan, suffered partition with its attendant “carnival of reaction” (in the words of the socialist revolutionary James Connolly, executed by the British in 1916) as a consequence of British occupation. In the Republic's early years, there was much emotional sympathy for Israel's self-styled “War of Independence”, until the 1967 war exposed such “independence” as a process of colonisation and ethnic cleansing. Prominent Irish political figures like Frank Aiken and Brian Lenihan Sr drew up a Middle-East policy based on the “land for peace” formula that was progressive within the context of its time, and became the basis of EU policy until the collapse of the Oslo process. Now, unfortunately, it is the combined weight of Germany, Britain and the Eastern European countries that determines the EU's disastrous and inequitable policy of unconditional support for Israel, and Ireland has abandoned its traditionally pro-Palestinian stance (which nonetheless lives on in much of the rhetoric favoured by Irish politicians) in favour of “alignment” with the most powerful EU nations and hence with Israel.

Therefore, although Israel has never more nakedly displayed its true barbarism than in the pogrom against Gaza, we may fully expect the EU to continue plying the Zionist state with ever more generous trading privileges once this campaign is over and the Paletinians have counted their dead. Rumour has it that the current Czech EU presidency is eager to continue with the process of upgrading Israel's already privileged status as soon as the awkward fuss has died down...
It is at this point that the campaign for Palestinian rights and that against the Lisbon Treaty unexpectedly intersect. This “reform treaty”, as its proponents like to call it, supposedly aims to “streamline” the cumbersome workings of the European Union, while in the process – according to its detractors – cementing the militarisation of the EU and its drift towards the transference of national sovereignty to unelected bureaucrats based in Brussels. The initial version of this treaty, described as a “European Constitution”, was rejected in 2005 in referenda in Holland and France. This rejection had many different motivations, not all of them progressive. However, objective analysis of the result suggests that in both countries the majority of voters were influenced by fear of the loss of democratic accountability, and unwillingness to see neo-liberalism enshrined – for the first time anywhere – in a binding constitution.

The document was revamped and redesignated as a mere “treaty” in order to bypass the necessity for national referenda. The Irish government, however, was prevented from playing this game by the requirements of the Irish Constitution, and the Lisbon Treaty was duly rejected by the Irish electorate in June 2008, to the dismay and horror of the EU elites. There are now plans afoot to repeat this referendum – without any substantive changes – in the hopes of gaining the desired result in October 2009. Such is EU democracy.

This means that concerned Irish citizens have an ace in their hands, one that they can play in the interests of the hundreds of million fellow Europeans who have been deprived of a vote on the evolution of the Union to which their nations belong. A second “no” to this de facto constitution would check the headlong rush of the EU towards a common foreign policy characterised by contempt for international law and nostalgia for imperial and colonial values, as reflected in its unconditional support for the Israeli state. A common EU voice in international affairs is only desirable if that voice speaks the language of human rights and political justice, a language that has no vocabulary to express support for racism, ethnic cleansing and genocide.

Raymond Deane, here writing in a personal capacity, is a composer, a founding member and former chairperson of the Ireland Palestine Solidarity Campaign, and a patron of the People's Movement, an organisation campaigning against an EU “federal super-state”.

o que é o direito de Israel a se defender.J.Massad.20/01

fonte: EI

Israel's right to defend itself
Joseph Massad, The Electronic Intifada, 20 January 2009

Palestinians inspect a mosque in Gaza City destroyed by Israel during its 22 days of attacks on the Gaza Strip that killed more than 1,300 Palestinians, 18 January 2009. (Wissam Nassar/MaanImages)

Common Western political wisdom has it that when Western countries support Israeli military action against Arab countries or the Palestinian people, they do so because they support Israel's right to defend itself against its enemies.

This has always been established wisdom in Israel itself, even before the colonial settlement was established, wherein its predatory army is ironically named the Israel Defense Forces, not unlike the South African apartheid army, which was also known as the South African Defense Forces. This defensive nomenclature is hardly exclusive to Israel and South Africa, as many countries rushed after World War II to rename their Ministries of "War" as Ministries of "Defense." Still, Israel's allegedly defensive actions define every single war the colonial settlement has ever engaged in, even and especially when it starts these wars, which it has done in all cases except in 1973.

Thus the war of 1948 which Zionist militias started against the Palestinian people on 30 November 1947, a day after a Western-controlled Untied Nations General Assembly issued the Partition Plan, is presented as "defensive," as was its expulsion of about 400,000 Palestinians before 15 May 1948, i.e. before the day on which three Arab armies (the Egyptian, Syrian, and Iraqi armies) invaded the area that became Israel (Lebanon hardly had an army to invade with and hardly managed to retrieve two Lebanese villages that Israel had occupied, and Jordanian forces only entered the areas designated by the UN plan for the Palestinian state, and East Jerusalem which was projected to fall under UN jurisdiction).

Yet until this very day, Israel, its Western and Arab and Palestinian allies, seem to agree with the major Israeli lie that the refugee "problem" resulted from the 1948 war which Israel fought as a "defensive" war and that the responsibility of the refugees lies with the Arab governments who "started" the war. While the remaining 370,000 Palestinians Israel expelled were driven out after 15 May 1948 and before the end of January 1949 (when armistice talks began), they could ostensibly be included in the argument that their expulsion was a result of the war, but it remains unclear why the first 400,000 would be included in that category. The thousands of Palestinians who would be expelled after the armistice agreements were signed, especially those of the city of Majdal, now Ashkelon, whose population was loaded onto trucks and expelled to Gaza, does not even enter these calculations.

The argument in fact must be extended to the post-15 May refugees. After all, it was Zionist expulsions of the Palestinians for over five months prior to the Arab armies' intervention in May 1948 that was used as a casus belli for the Arab armies whose intervention was carried out under the banner of defending Palestine and the Palestinians against Zionist aggression. None of this however seems to matter and Zionist aggression against the Palestinian people and their UN-designated state continues to be presented as part of "Israel's right to defend itself."

Ironically, Israel's unprovoked invasion of Egypt in 1956 and occupation of Sinai also seems to fall under the category of Israel's right to defend itself as far as the Israelis were concerned, although United States President Dwight Eisenhower and the Soviet Union thought otherwise at the time, which forced Israel to withdraw. Israel's massive invasions of three Arab countries in 1967 was/is also presented as another defensive war, wherein if it is ever admitted that Israel is the party that started the war, the admission is quickly followed by the "explanation" (hasbara in Hebrew, which is also the word for "propaganda") that it was a "preemptive" war in which Israel was "defending" itself. This also applies to Israel's 1978 and 1982 and 2006 invasions of Lebanon, its continued occupation of the West Bank and East Jerusalem and the Golan Heights, its siege of Gaza, and its massacres against the Palestinians there in the last three weeks.

The logic goes as follows: Israel has the right to occupy Palestinian land, lay siege to Palestinian populations in Bantustans surrounded by an apartheid wall, starve the population, cut them off from fuel and electricity, uproot their trees and crops, and launch periodic raids and targeted assassinations against them and their elected leadership, and if this population resists these massive Israeli attacks against their lives and the fabric of their society and Israel responds by slaughtering them en masse, Israel would simply be "defending" itself as it must and should.

Indeed, as The New York Times columnist Thomas Friedman, the best friend of Israel and the Saudi ruling family, has argued recently, in doing so, Israel is engaged in a pedagogical exercise of "educating" the Palestinians. Perhaps many of the Arab businessmen's associations who regularly invite Friedman to speak to their organizations in a number of Arab countries and pay him an astronomical speaking fee can invite him back to educate them on Israel's pedagogical methods and on The New York Times' war propaganda on behalf of Israel.

The major argument here is two-fold, namely that while Israel has the right to defend itself, its victims have no similar right to defend themselves. In fact, the logic is even more sinister than this and can be elucidated as follows: Israel has the right to oppress the Palestinians and does so to defend itself, but were the Palestinians to defend themselves against Israel's oppression, which they do not have a right to do, Israel will then have the right to defend itself against their illegitimate defense of themselves against its legitimate oppression of them, which it carries out anyway in order to defend itself legitimately.

This is why, not only does Israel have the right to arm itself and to be a nuclear power and to have a military edge over the combined militaries of the entire region in which it lives, but it also must ensure that the military power of its neighbors is used to quell the Palestinians and not Israel, indeed to help Israel lay siege to the resisting Palestinians. When and if Palestinians try to arm themselves to defend their lives against Israeli invasions and slaughter, Israel makes every effort to prevent them from doing so and considers this "illegal smuggling."

The recent signing of an agreement between Israel and its US sponsor and the volunteering of European countries (France, Britain, Germany, Italy, and Spain) to police the waters and borders of Gaza with Egypt to prevent the Palestinians from "smuggling" arms to defend themselves is the most recent application of this understanding. Israel's US sponsor and European allies are horrified by the Palestinians' attempts to arm themselves (to which they have no right) in order to defend their very lives against Israel's right to slaughter them in order to defend itself.

Indeed, Israel has included the erstwhile Palestinian leadership for the last 15 years in its efforts to repress all Palestinians who resist its right to defend itself by oppressing them. This is precisely why the Palestinian Authority (PA) was created in the first place. The PA that the Oslo Agreement established on paper in autumn 1993 and came to life in the form of institutions and a collaborating Palestinian elite in 1994 has finally, however, come to an end in the winter of 2009. While the PA tried its best to be a repressive force on behalf of Israel and has killed scores of Palestinians who resisted the occupation and PA collaboration since 1994, its ability to control the surge of Palestinian resistance was checked by its failure to win the last elections and its failure to defeat Hamas militarily. Fifteen years after its establishment, the PA has run its course. In Gaza, Israel destroyed all the bureaucratic and administrative offices of the PA run by Hamas and thus has returned Hamas by default to its erstwhile status as the major Palestinian guerrilla group resisting Israel's illegal occupation of the West Bank and East Jerusalem, Israel's criminal siege of Gaza, and Israel's ongoing ethnic cleansing of the Palestinian people.

In the West Bank, the process of finishing off the PA has been more gradual. While an ambivalent war against the PA started with Israel's reinvasion of West Bank cities and towns (around which it had redeployed earlier) in 2002, a reassessment occurred after Yasser Arafat's death and after his successors promised to collaborate with Israel as much as Arafat used to before the Camp David talks in the summer of 2000. Israel's kidnapping of Hamas officials elected in January 2006 to the Palestinian Legislative Council and its government ministers, followed by the war launched against Hamas officials and rank and file members by the Fatah leadership who lost the elections, and by the illegal coup d'etat staged in collaboration with the US and Israel against Hamas with success in the West Bank and with utter failure in Gaza by Mahmoud Abbas and his cronies, have sealed the fate of the PA. The final coup de grâce came in the last few days when the term of Abbas in office ended on 9 January 2009, his ongoing illegal attempts to extend his term for one more year notwithstanding.

Abbas was the only member of the collaborating group in the West Bank that still had any legitimate and legal status given to him by the elections. Today, as a result, there is no longer a Palestinian Authority as a legal entity or as one that has any popular or juridical legitimacy. The PA was born by Israeli fiat and a collaborating Palestinian elite and has died by Israeli fiat and the actions of the collaborating Palestinian elite. Mahmoud Abbas's absence from the Arab summit in Qatar a few days ago, which convened to support the resisting Palestinians in Gaza, and his characterization of the summit as an "ambush" to divide the Palestinians have exposed him further in the eyes of the Palestinian people as an unrepentant collaborator with the Israeli occupation and with the Arab dictators allied with Israel and the United States. His subsequent attendance of the Sharm al-Sheikh summit with European powers that seek to help Israel decimate the Palestinian people is therefore hardly surprising.

As the PA continues to usurp political power in the West Bank, it remains clear that nothing short of a third Palestinian uprising there will end the illegitimate rule of the PA whose collaborators continue to refuse to pack up and leave. Indeed, the new move by the US and European allies of Israel is to shower money on the PA in the form of reconstruction funds slated for Gaza in the hope of seducing the Israeli-impoverished, -butchered, and -devastated Palestinians in Gaza to stop supporting Hamas and switch allegiance to the illegitimate and collaborationist PA whose European funds will be dangled before them as bait.

If a generation of Palestinian and Arab intellectuals came to believe since the 1970s that armed struggle would not be able to end the Israeli occupation and that negotiations would be the only way to do so, a whole new generation of Palestinian and Arab intellectuals (some of whom are liberal) now understand that negotiations with Israel have only served to intensify the occupation and will only serve to do so in the future. The benefits of 18 years of negotiations with Israel, as is evident for all to see, has been not only more Jewish colonial settlement and more massacres and more confiscation of land, but also the destruction of the Palestinian national movement through imploding it from within. It is true that negotiations have enriched the Palestinian business class in the West Bank and Gaza as well as the comprador intellectuals and the bureaucratic and military class that were inducted in the PA game of non-governmental funding via the so-called peace-process, but these benefits have been delivered to the few by taking away the livelihoods of the many.

What has ended then with Israel's ongoing butchery in Gaza is not only the Palestinian Collaborationist Authority but also negotiations as a viable or a credible path to ending the occupation. This is the situation that the incoming rabidly pro-Israeli American President Obama will be facing soon. The half-white and fully Christian Obama, who, when denying the accusation of being a Muslim assured Americans that not only was he raised by his white Christian mother and her family but also of his belief that the blood of Jesus Christ will "redeem" him, and that he prays to Jesus every night, will continue, along with his pro-Israel operatives, to support Israel's war crimes and to buttress the illegal authority of the Palestinian collaborators in the West Bank.

Israel destroyed the PA in Gaza because it could no longer ensure its collaboration there after Hamas was elected and assumed political power there. After Hamas won the free elections, Israel arrested the majority of Hamas elected officials to ensure that the Fatah leadership continues to collaborate unhindered. The PA survives as an illegal entity in the West Bank today, because Israel still banks on its collaboration, most evident in PA police repression of demonstrations across the West Bank which sought to show solidarity with Palestinians in Gaza. Injecting the illegitimate and illegal PA with more funds with which to torture the Palestinian people and stuff the pockets of its collaborators will hardly make it a more attractive choice to the majority of poor Palestinians who have been the ultimate losers of PA rule and the Oslo Accords.

In the meantime, the West and Israel will continue to defend Israel's right to defend itself and to deny the Palestinians the right to defend themselves. While some call this international relations, in reality it is nothing short of inter-racial relations wherein Jews, who since World War II have been inducted into the realm of whiteness, have rights that the Palestinians, like their counterparts elsewhere in the non-European world who are forever cast outside the realm of whiteness, do not. Thomas Friedman is right; Israel has been trying to educate the Palestinians that it will punish all their attempts to check its white colonial power to oppress them and that they must understand that they deserve to be punished and defeated for not being white.

The problem is that the Palestinians, students of a universal humanism in which they consider themselves equal to everyone else, keep failing Israel's racial lessons and tests. What the Palestinians ultimately insist on is that Israel must be taught that it does not have the right to defend its racial supremacy and that the Palestinians have the right to defend their universal humanity against Israel's racist oppression. Will Israel and its allies ever learn that lesson? Israeli history tells us that as students of racial supremacy, Zionists have always failed the test of universal humanism.

Joseph Massad is Associate Professor of modern Arab politics and intellectual history at Columbia University in New York. He is the author of The Persistence of the Palestinian Question (Routledge, 2006).
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