(Yeppers, it’s longish, but needs must, as they say. Feel free to pick and choose titles that seem of keen interest to you.)
‘We will not wait 70 years more’: scenes from Gaza’s March of Return’, AhmadKabariti, March 31, 2018, mondoweiss.net (with photos)
“Amid thousands of semi-cultivated wheat and barley fields in the area of Abu Safia, east of Jabalia in North Gaza, around 30 beige canvas tents have been set up within 700 meters of the adjacent Israeli border fence, ahead of a six-week protest camp under the gaze of wary Israeli soldiers.
Those crops could hardly be seen due to tens of thousands of participants joining the encampment, an unprecedented number according to the organizers of the Great March of Return.
On the first day of the exceptional event, which was called by the Palestinian factions for the past several weeks, the Gaza Health Ministry reported that 15 Palestinians were killed by Israeli troops along the eastern border of the besieged strip.”
“Palestinians have long demanded that as many as five million of their compatriots be granted the right to return to their homes and lands. Israel rules this out, fearing an influx of Palestinians would eliminate its Jewish majority. Israel argues the refugees should be resettled in a future state that the Palestinians seek in West Bank and the Gaza Strip.”
And yet, in a burst of defiant optimism was a wedding. The groom, Aala Shahin, siad that the rally was the best place to start his new life. Let’s assume that his bride, Maryam Hamdouna, must have agreed.
Nazareth-based journalist Jonathan Cook writes that ‘With more Palestinians than Jews, Israel is waging a numerical war of attrition’, April 2, 2018
“The Israeli army’s trigger-finger against Palestinian protesters close to the fence surrounding Gaza at the weekend, killing at least 18 and injuring hundreds more, has an explanation rooted in more than normal conceptions of security.
Last week, ahead of the Gaza protests, the Israeli army made an unexpected admission. It told parliamentarians that for the first time Jews are outnumbered by Palestinians living under Israeli rule, both inside Israel as citizens and in the territories under occupation.
It was a moment whose significance was not lost on Israeli legislators. Many were appalled, refusing to accept the army’s assessment that there are now half a million more Palestinians than Jews between the Mediterranean Sea and the river Jordan.”
“The Israeli human rights group B’Tselem issued a warning last week that dozens of Palestinian farming communities were facing imminent expulsion from Area C, which forms two-thirds of the West Bank.
Israel has stepped up home demolitions, torn up roads, denied Palestinians electricity and water, encouraged settler violence and conducted military and live fire training on Palestinian land. The aim, said B’Tselem, is to avoid international censure as Israel makes “life unbearable to force them to leave, as if by free choice”.
In his March 18 ‘Israel has accelerated its annexation of the West Bank from a slow creep to a run’, Cook writes:
“The [Likud] government is already working on legislation to bring some West Bank settlements under Jerusalem municipal control – annexation via the back door. This month officials gave themselves additional powers to expel Palestinians from Jerusalem for “disloyalty”.
Yousef Jabareen, a Palestinian member of the Israeli parliament, warned that Israel had accelerated its annexation programme from “creeping to running”.
Notably, Mr Netanyahu has said the government’s plans are being co-ordinated with the Trump administration. It was a statement he later retracted under pressure.
But all evidence suggests that Washington is fully on board, so long as annexation is done by stealth.
The US ambassador to Israel, David Friedman, a long-time donor to the settlements, told Israel’s Channel 10 TV recently: “The settlers aren’t going anywhere”. Settler leader Yaakov Katz, meanwhile, thanked Donald Trump for a dramatic surge in settlement growth over the past year. Figures show one in 10 Israeli Jews is now a settler. He called the White House team “people who really like us, love us”, adding that the settlers were “changing the map”.
“With a Palestinian “state” effectively restricted to Gaza, the humanitarian catastrophe there – one the United Nations has warned will make the enclave uninhabitable in a few years – needs to be urgently addressed.
But the White House summit also sidelined the UN refugee agency UNRWA, which deals with Gaza’s humanitarian situation. The Israeli right hates UNRWA because its presence complicates annexation of the West Bank. And with Fatah and Hamas still at loggerheads, it alone serves to unify the West Bank and Gaza.
That is why the Trump administration recently cut US funding to UNRWA – the bulk of its budget. The White House’s implicit goal is to find a new means to manage Gaza’s misery.
What is needed now is someone to arm-twist the Palestinians. Mike Pompeo’s move from the CIA to State Department, Mr Trump may hope, will produce the strongman needed to bulldoze the Palestinians into submission.”
Here Cook explains ‘The lies and self-deceptions at work within Israel’s ‘moral’ army’, March 4, 2018
And what of press coverage of Gaza’s March of Return? Let’s start with:
‘CNN: Blaming the Palestinian Victim’, Robert Fantina, April 6, 2018, counterpunch, April 6, 2018
“On April 1, CNN’s loftily titled ‘International Diplomatic Editor’, Nic Robertson, offered his pearls of wisdom on this situation. He wasted no time in both showing his ignorance of the current events, and his desire to blame the victim.
“Like so many battles of yesteryear, both sides arrive to this current field of conflict carrying a weight of historic grievances, armed with today’s political imperatives.”
Let’s look for a moment at some of these ‘historic grievances’. Palestinians were driven from their homes so the United Nations could establish the state of Israel. Hundreds of ancient Palestinians villages were bulldozed, leaving not a trace. Sacred shrines and cemeteries received the same fate. Since that time, using the advanced weaponry that the U.S. provides to Israel, thousands of additional Palestinian men, women and children have been killed, arrested, illegally jailed, displaced, beaten, abused and disregarded by Israeli law. This is ongoing to this day.
On the other hand, Israel must contend with Palestinians throwing stones at its occupying soldiers, and occasionally even slapping one of them. Yes, as Robertson said, there are grievances on both sides.
“Israeli officials are convinced Hamas is challenging the status quo of Gaza’s limits and is ready to throw down civilian lives to achieve it.”
Yes, the murders of at least 18 unarmed Palestinians by Israeli snipers, and the injury to at least 700 more, injured with live ammunition, is all Palestine’s fault!
“In public statements before the confrontation, Israeli officials said an attack on the border fence is an attack on Israel’s sovereignty and pulled no punches on what a response could look like.”
“To make their message clear, the Israel Defense Forces’ Arabic website posted a video of a young man being shot in the leg; it was accompanied by the caption: ‘This is what will happen to you if you try to get close to our border.’”
Robertson neglects a few pertinent facts here, so we will inform him. The vast majority of the protesters were hundreds of yards away from the fence, ON PALESTINIAN LAND. Yet many were shot by Israeli snipers. To read Robertson’s words, one would think that hundreds or even thousands of Palestinians stormed the fence. Yes, a few dozen did approach the fence, but at all times they remained on Palestinian land. And, as mentioned earlier, some of the pesky Palestinians actually threw stones at the ‘brave’ Israeli snipers, who were heavily armed and outfitted against them. All this was happening while Israeli drones dropped tear gas on unarmed and defenseless Palestinians on their own land.”
Well, you get the gist; this is the CNN’s Roberton op-ed page, with their own video, plus an inset one with Bernie Sanders noting that the Israelis had over-reacted [Ya think?], and calling for the US to head a peaceful solution. In which parallel universe, Senator Sanders, would Amerika be an honest broker for peace?
Having bingled for any coverage at the Paper of Record (NYSlimes), I stopped when I’d hit this from electronicintifada.net: ‘New York Times sides with Israel as it kills Gaza marchers’, Michael F. Brown, 31 March 2018.
“Writing from Jerusalem, Isabel Kershner dismissed Palestinian nonviolence and emphasized a rapid descent into “chaos and bloodshed.” (Iyad Abuheweila and Ibrahim El-Mughraby contributed reporting from Gaza.)’
He then narrates her/their several iterations/devolutions of changes made…and finally:
““Soon after the campaign began Friday morning, the Israeli military said Palestinian protesters were rioting in six places along the border, rolling burning tires and hurling stones at the fence and at Israeli soldiers beyond it.”
The article’s final version moved this language to the third paragraph and remained profoundly problematic. “But as some began hurling stones, tossing Molotov cocktails and rolling burning tires at the fence, the Israelis responded with tear gas and gunfire.”
Killing at dawn
There is no reporting from the newspaper as to whether the march started as nonviolent and was pitched into violence after Israeli forces used deadly force.
According to the Gaza-based human rights group Al Mezan, the first death of the day occurred around 5 am, when Israeli forces fired an artillery shell killing farmer Omar Samour in his field some 700 meters inside Gaza.
Videos that subsequently emerged showed clear evidence of Palestinians being shot when they posed no plausible danger to anyone. In one case, a young man was shot dead a long distance from the boundary fence and as he ran away from it.
Whatever the timeline, Israeli occupation forces denying Palestinians the right of return to stolen lands and properties killed and injured Palestinian demonstrators on what Human Rights Watch called a “shocking” scale.”
And surprisingly, Human Rights Watch, ME and North Africa director Srah Leah Whitson…said it right. There’s far more, but this stuck in my mind:
Israel’s Bull Connor
“Had The New York Times been as friendly to segregation enforcer Eugene “Bull” Connor’s violent response in Birmingham, Alabama in 1963, the American civil rights movement might have faced an even more daunting path. [snip]
“But Israel’s modern-day Bull Connor, defense minister Lieberman, manages to get quoted without reference to his history of anti-Palestinian bigotry and calls for ethnic cleansing and violence against Palestinian citizens of Israel. Kershner mildly describes him as “hard-line.”
On the right sidebar is his ‘Bolton’s plan to make Palestine disappear’, March 26 .
“Bolton has proposed a “three-state solution”: Israel, giving Gaza to Egypt, and giving the West Bank to Jordan.”
His ‘Voice of America claims Israel seeks to help Gaza’, also on the right sidebar.
On the other hand, some coverage at the Guardian has been far better. For instance:
‘The Gaza march is a wake-up call to the world’, A planned peaceful protest ended in the deaths of 16 Palestinians. The international community can no longer ignore Israel’s intransigence, Tareq Baconi April 2 (and yes, it’s published at comment is free)
“But perhaps the greatest driver of this march is the tragedy of the Gaza Strip itself. Under an Israeli-Egyptian blockade for more than 10 years, Palestinians have experienced electricity shortages and a water supply crisis, with only a very few able to leave the tiny coastal enclave. They have been subjected to military assaults that make daily life seem like a post-apocalyptic vision.
Rather than address the political issues that underpin Gaza’s misery, the US and Israel recently embarked on a humanitarian mission to alleviate suffering in Gaza while paradoxically sustaining the blockade. That is because Israel believes it can manage the situation in the Gaza Strip indefinitely, while also maintaining control over the remainder of occupied territories.
With this march, Palestinians in Gaza are reminding the world that they cannot be “managed”. They and their fellow Palestinian refugees continue to hold rights under international law. UN resolution 194 affirmed the Palestinian right of return.
Also from the Guardian: ‘Palestinians say over a dozen killed in Gaza border protest’; Israeli military dismisses demonstration as Hamas ploy to ‘carry out terror attacks’, on March 31. It’s certainly more even-handed, save for a few assertions…not in evidence. I most especially like that they feature these quotes:
“At one of the protest camps near Gaza City, a few dozen tents had been erected and residents were walking around, some carrying the Palestinian flag.
Fatima Nasser, 65, said she had come with her seven children, all of whom were unemployed. “To die with dignity is better than living a life full of humiliation. We will return to our land, we will return to our homeland,” she said. “Israel kills us anyway, whether it’s by shooting or blockade.”
Eighteen-year-old Mahmoud Younis said he had come to show the world that Gazans “deserve to live”. “No one looks at us, no one thinks about us, we will continue to camp here and come daily until someone looks at us and there is a solution to this difficult and miserable reality.”
In his April 6, 2018 essay at counterpunch , ‘70 Years Later: Palestinians Are Still Denied the Easter Promise of Hope’, Raouf Halaby reflects on his memories of being a Greek Orthodox Christian Palestinian under Israeli occupation between 1948 and April 9, 1959, the day his family was forced to leave their ancestral Jerusalem and Palestine.
After reading the rich tapestry of his experiences, the long history of his family’s first church, Semaa’n, their second one after 1948, and his lengthy descriptions of the interior and rituals, through the bmbing of the King David hotel (that call’s ‘Palestine’s 9/11’), having stones thrown at him by Jews on his arduous walk to church, one gets a shiver at the end when he declaims:
“Finally, to the Israeli fascists and their ardent Zionist supporters around the world, you will never be free until you grant Palestinians their freedom; you will never be legitimate until you give legitimacy to Palestinian statehood; you will never claim a moral ground until you atone for your 70 years of sins of ethnic cleansing and occupation. And, please don’t tell me “Never Again.”
But it’s so inspirational to see that US Ambassador to the UN Nikki Haley is so concerned about Christian religious freedom in China. “It’s one of our most precious rights, one that should be enjoyed by all no matter where they are born.”
‘US only Security Council member to block UN inquiry into Gaza violence’, via RT this morning, 7 April, 2018
“For the second week in a row, the US has vetoed a UN Security Council (UNSC) statement calling on Secretary General Antonio Guterres to launch an independent inquiry into the Gaza violence. Put forward by Kuwait, a non-permanent UNSC member, it also reaffirmed the Palestinians’ right to peacefully oppose Israeli policies on the occupied lands.
Fourteen of the 15 Security Council members agreed to the statement, but the United States, Israel’s closest ally, voted against, Palestinian UN envoy Riyad Mansour told reporters at the UN headquarters in New York on Friday evening. He said the UN rejection was “very irresponsible,” and that it gives Israel “the green light to continue with their onslaught against the civilian population” in Gaza.”
“Commenting on the Friday vote, Israeli Ambassador to the UN Danny Danon said the council “should condemn Hamas, which uses children as human shields while risking their lives, and must call for the end of these provocations which only increase the violence and tensions,” as cited by the Times of Israel.
In an opinion piece for the New York Times, he claimed that during the Gaza clashes, “armed terrorists were dispersed among the protesters,” adding that numerous efforts were made to breach the fence that “separates a sovereign, democratic state and a murderous terrorist entity.”
‘Abby Martin interview critical of Israel is blocked by YouTube in 28 countries’, 6 Apr, 2018, RT
And last but not least, you’ll no doubt remember that one of Susan Rice’s new gigs is becoming a Netflix board member. Yanno, Netflix of the award winning psyop the White Helmets? From Telesur English, April 3, ‘BDS Movement Calls on Netflix to Remove Series ‘Sanitizing’ Israeli Occupation’
“Pro-Palestinian groups including the Boycott, Disinvestment, and Sanctions (BDS) Movement along with the Palestinian Campaign for the Academic and Cultural Boycott of Israel (PACBI) have called on Netflix to discontinue the series ‘Fauda’ (Chaos in Arabic) for “sanitizing and normalizing war crimes” and “promoting and justifying these grave human rights violations.”
Calling the series, “racist propaganda material for the Israeli occupation army,” the BDS movement wrote a letter to Netflix, the United States-based entertainment company to remove the series.
The series produced by the two former Israeli Defense Forces, IDF officers is scheduled to be broadcast in May, which also marks the 70th anniversary of the 1948 Nakba (catastrophe) of the Palestinian people.
“The two authors [of the series], who are graduates of one of these teams, without any ambiguity have collaborated with the occupation, colonization and the Apartheid regime,” the letter noted, referring to the series’ creators, Lior Raz and Avi Issacharoff’s former service in elite IDF units.”
I just booted up Mondoweiss.net’s I/P tab, and there are numerous new and egregious reports. Snipers shooting six Paletinian journlalists; killing one, Israeli forces killing a protestor in Gaza with a drone-delivered missile…whooosh.
…OMG, how unsurprising, but so additionally fukked up.
This is the trailer from Michael Franti’s film, he’d travelled to Iraq, the West Bank and Gaza in 2006, and in an effort to share his experiences from his trip and to explore the human cost of war, he’d produced a movie entitled I Know I’m Not Alone; the full film is here.
(cross-posted at caucus99percent.com)