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OPROEP AAN INTERNATIONAAL STRAFHOF: “ONDERZOEK GEWELD GAZA”

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Oud-premier Dries van Agt, de voormalige ministers Frans Andriessen, Laurens Jan Brinkhorst, Hans van den Broek, Hedy d’Ancona, Jan Pronk, Bert de Vries, oud-ambassadeur Koos van Dam en de hoogleraren internationaal recht Karin Arts, Theo van Boven, John Dugard en Paul de Waart vragen het Internationaal Strafhof in Den Haag een onderzoek in te stellen naar het grootschalige en dodelijke geweld in Gaza. Zij dringen daarop aan in een brief aan Fatou Bensouda, aanklager van het Internationaal Strafhof, dat oorlogsmisdaden onderzoekt en vervolgt.

Hieronder de brief aan aanklager Bensouda:

 

De Hoogedelgestrenge Vrouwe Fatou Bensouda
Aanklager van het Internationaal Strafhof
Postbus 19519
2500 CM   Den Haag

 

Betreft: situatie Gaza

29 juli 2014

Hooggeachte Aanklager,

Volgens de Verenigde Naties zijn tijdens Israëls militaire operatie in en tegen Gaza tot heden 1.065 Palestijnen gedood. De overgrote meerderheid van de doden zijn burgers: minstens 795, volgens de meest recente gegevens van de VN. Minstens 229 van de doden zijn kinderen.

Volgens de VN zijn bovendien meer dan 6.000 Palestijnen, onder wie bijna 2.000 kinderen, gewond geraakt, velen van hen ernstig. 215.000 Palestijnen zijn ontheemd. Tientallen ziekenhuizen en klinieken zijn beschadigd geraakt, evenals 133 scholen. Wij vertrouwen erop dat U het met ons eens bent dat deze cijfers van immens en diep menselijk leed getuigen.

Sinds de vijandelijkheden op 7 juli begonnen, zijn 47 Israëli’s gedood. Drie van hen zijn burgers, onder wie één buitenlander. De overige doden zijn soldaten, van wie de meesten in Gaza om het leven kwamen tijdens Israëls grondoffensief. Een onbekend aantal Israëlische soldaten en burgers is gewond geraakt.

Ontzet en geschokt door deze ontwikkelingen, vooral door Israëls felle aanval op de burgerbevolking van Gaza, vragen wij, voormalige ministers en ambassadeurs van Nederland en hoogleraren internationaal publiekrecht aan Nederlandse universiteiten, U met klem om onmiddellijk een voorlopig onderzoek in te stellen naar de situatie in Gaza.

Wij zijn van mening dat het Parket van de Aanklager over de mogelijkheid beschikt een dergelijk onderzoek in te stellen, op basis van de Verklaring in 2009 van de Palestijnse Autoriteit overeenkomstig Artikel 12(3) van het Statuut van Rome. Die verklaring is nooit ingetrokken en onlangs bevestigd door een brief aan U van de minister van Justitie van Palestina, die U verzocht heeft een onderzoek in te stellen naar internationale misdaden gepleegd in Gaza.

De aankondiging van een dergelijk onderzoek zou de conflictpartijen duidelijk te verstaan geven dat zij voor hun daden aansprakelijk gehouden zullen worden en zou eraan kunnen bijdragen dat een eind wordt gemaakt aan het momentele geweld en leed.

Hoogachtend,

 

DRIES VAN AGT voormalig minister-president van Nederland

FRANS ANDRIESSEN voormalig minister van Financiën, voormalig vice-voorzitter van de Europese Commissie, o.m. verantwoordelijk voor Handel en Buitenlandse Betrekkingen

KARIN ARTS hoogleraar internationaal recht en ontwikkeling, International Institute of Social Studies, Erasmus Universiteit Rotterdam

THEO VAN BOVEN honorair hoogleraar Internationaal Recht Universiteit Maastricht, voormalig VN Speciaal Rapporteur inzake Marteling, voormalig Nederlands Vertegenwoordiger VN Commissie Mensenrechten en voormalig directeur van het VN Mensenrechtencentrum

LAURENS JAN BRINKHORST voormalig staatssecretaris van Buitenlandse Zaken, voormalig minister van Economische Zaken, voormalig vice-premier

HANS VAN DEN BROEK voormalig minister van Buitenlandse Zaken, voormalig Europees Commissaris voor Externe Betrekkingen

KOOS VAN DAM voormalig Nederlands ambassadeur in Irak, Egypte, Turkije, Duitsland en Indonesië, Lid van de Commissie Vrede en Veiligheid van de Adviesraad Internationale Vraagstukken

HEDY D’ANCONA voormalig staatssecretaris van Sociale Zaken en Werkgelegenheid, voormalig minister voor Welzijn, Volksgezondheid en Cultuur

PROF. DR. JOHN DUGARD Emeritus professor Internationaal Recht aan de Universiteit Leiden, voormalig VN Speciaal Rapporteur inzake de mensenrechtensituatie in de bezette Palestijnse gebieden, voormalig Voorzitter van de Onafhankelijke Fact-finding Missie inzake Gaza van de Arabische Liga (2009)

JAN PRONK voormalig minister van Ontwikkelingssamenwerking, voormalig minister van Volkshuisvesting, Ruimtelijke Ordening en Milieubeheer, voormalig bijzonder VN-gezant voor Soedan

BERT DE VRIES voormalig minister van Sociale Zaken en Werkgelegenheid, voormalig fractievoorzitter van het CDA in de Tweede Kamer

PROF. DR.  PAUL DE WAART Emeritus professor Internationaal Recht aan de Vrije Universiteit Amsterdam, voormalig Lid van de Onafhankelijke Fact-finding Missie inzake Gaza van de Arabische Liga (2009)

(Source / 29.07.2014)

Written by altahrir

July 29, 2014 at 9:33 pm

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Attacks on hospitals expose Israel’s “self-defense” claims as lies

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Displaced Palestinians seek refuge at al-Shifa hospital in Gaza City on 27 July

A baby was delivered at al-Aqsa hospital in Gaza last Thursday. That should not be news; babies are born all the time. What was remarkable about this birth is that the child’s mother had been killed by the Israeli military.

The delivery of this child is a testament to the professionalism and dedication of the hospital’s staff. Three days earlier, Israel attacked the hospital with tank shells. At least five Palestinians were reported dead.

Last Wednesday, Israel completely leveled al-Wafa rehabilitation and geriatric hospital to the ground, after two weeks of missile strikes and threats of heavier attacks.

On Friday afternoon, Israel began shelling the Beit Hanoun hospital and continued shellinginto Saturday morning, trapping dozens of patients and medical workers and several international solidarity activists inside. Three medical workers were reportedly injured, and the building sustained heavy damage.

Israel claims that its latest offensive against Gaza is an act of “self-defense.” Mark Regev, spokesperson for the Israeli prime minister’s office, has tried to “justify” the attacks on al-Aqsa hospital by alleging — without producing a shred of credible evidence — that Hamasuses hospitals to hide rockets.

The eyewitness accounts from doctors here in the town of Deir al-Balah, where al-Aqsa hospital is located, expose such claims as blatant lies.

“Are children terrorists?”

When I spoke to staff in the hospital on Friday, they said that all of the eight dead bodies received so far that day were of women and children.

“What kind of war against terror has Israel launched?” Muhammad Duaidar, a doctor in the intensive care unit, asked. “Are these women and children terrorists?”

Israel may be using weapons such as white phosphorous, flechettes and Dense Inert Metal Explosives (DIME) in this attack, judging by what doctors in this and other hospitals in Gaza have observed. This suggests that Israel is deliberately testing new or relatively new weapons on civilians.

Although these weapons are not banned, it is illegal under international law to fire them at non-combatants.

“The injuries we receive are unfamiliar to us,” said Duaidar. “We have noticed bodies that look melted. We are calling for investigations into such injuries, which we have not [seen] in previous Israeli attacks.”

“Severe shortages”

Last Monday’s attack on the hospital caused serious damage to its oxygen production unit, which is essential for the performance of critical operations. Three ambulance crew members were injured. The building struck in the attack was close to the hospital’s ambulance station.

The attack has worsened the already dire situation at the hospital. Electricity sometimes cuts out while vital operations are underway. There are “severe shortages” of medicines, according to Duaidar.

Heba Zaqout, a woman from the Nuseirat refugee camp, was in the intensive care unit at al-Aqsa on Friday. She had shrapnel in her left foot, her lower back and other parts of her body.

Um al-Abed al-Rouqy — the woman’s mother — said that Heba called her just before shells landed on her house. “She told me, ‘I am so scared, Mom, there is a fire around my house.’ I tried to calm her down. I called her back after ten minutes but she did not answer.”

On Sunday, Gaza’s health ministry reported a new crisis affecting the Strip’s hospitals. Scores of patients in al-Shifa hospital in Gaza City are ready for discharge — but are unable to leave their beds because they have no homes to which they can return, or because they live in areas where Israel has ordered all civilians to evacuate.

Trauma

Similar problems have been founded in other hospitals.

Dr. Sobhi Skaik, chief surgeon at al-Shifa, said that while such patients are taking up beds required for the incoming wounded, “we can’t force them out.”

He added that the situation has been complicated by the fact that several members from the same family can often be found in different units of the hospital, while other relatives have camped near the hospital after their homes have been destroyed.

“The hospital grounds have become like a refugee camp,” he said, in the health ministry’s statement. “The conditions are deteriorating, with rubbish piling up — it is quite dirty and unsanitary, and we cannot discharge our patients into those conditions.”

The United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs has reported a sharp increase in trauma cases in Gaza, noting that hospitals lack the resources to cope. Last week, it cited estimates that 125,000 children required direct and specialized psychological help as a result of losing parents or their home.

No doubt, these estimates are conservative and the true figure is considerably higher.

Israel’s latest offensive against Gaza is hitting the most vulnerable hardest. How can attacks on hospitals be considered as acts of “self-defense?”

(Source / 29.07.2014)

Written by altahrir

July 29, 2014 at 9:26 pm

Posted in Terrorism

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Hamas Denies Agreeing to 24-hour Ceasefire

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Hamas leadership denied, on Tuesday, that it had accepted a deal for a 24-hour “humanitarian” ceasefire, contrary to earlier claims by Palestinian leadership.

A Palestinian boy rides his bicycle past a damaged building following an Israeli air strike which preceded a five-hour truce, on July 17, 2014 in Gaza City.(AFP/Mohammed Abed)
A Palestinian boy rides his bicycle past a damaged building following an Israeli air strike which preceded a five-hour truce, on July 17, 2014 in Gaza City

According to Ma’an News Agency, Dr. Sami Abu Zuhri, speaking for Hamas, said that “Yasser Abed Rabbu’s statement that Hamas agreed to a ceasefire for 24 hours is not true and has nothing to do with the resistance’s stand.”

“We will consider a ceasefire when Israel commits to it with international guarantees,” Abu Zuhri reportedly added to his statement.

Mr. Rabbo was reported to have said later that Hamas chief Khaled Mashal (see article linked above, for more on Mashal) had agreed to the ceasefire proposal.

Furthermore, Ma’an reports that all major Palestinian political factions have declared, in a statement, that they were willing to “react positively” towards a 72-hour temporary ceasefire proposed by the United Nations, during an emergency meeting in Ramallah, on Tuesday, which was headed by President Mahmoud Abbas.

The PA, along with Hamas and Islamic Jihad, said that a united Palestinian delegate will be going to Cairo to discuss such a move.

(Source / 29.07.2014)

Written by altahrir

July 29, 2014 at 9:21 pm

Posted in Revolution Palestine

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Collective Punishment in Gaza

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Three days after the Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu launched the current war in Gaza, he held a press conference in Tel Aviv during which he said, in Hebrew, according to the Times of Israel, “I think the Israeli people understand now what I always say: that there cannot be a situation, under any agreement, in which we relinquish security control of the territory west of the River Jordan.”

It’s worth listening carefully when Netanyahu speaks to the Israeli people. What is going on in Palestine today is not really about Hamas. It is not about rockets. It is not about “human shields” or terrorism or tunnels. It is about Israel’s permanent control over Palestinian land and Palestinian lives. That is what Netanyahu is really saying, and that is what he now admits he has “always” talked about. It is about an unswerving, decades-long Israeli policy of denying Palestine self-determination, freedom, and sovereignty.

What Israel is doing in Gaza now is collective punishment. It is punishment for Gaza’s refusal to be a docile ghetto. It is punishment for the gall of Palestinians in unifying, and of Hamas and other factions in responding to Israel’s siege and its provocations with resistance, armed or otherwise, after Israel repeatedly reacted to unarmed protest with crushing force. Despite years of ceasefires and truces, the siege of Gaza has never been lifted.

As Netanyahu’s own words show, however, Israel will accept nothing short of the acquiescence of Palestinians to their own subordination. It will accept only a Palestinian “state” that is stripped of all the attributes of a real state: control over security, borders, airspace, maritime limits, contiguity, and, therefore, sovereignty. The twenty-three-year charade of the “peace process” has shown that this is all Israel is offering, with the full approval of Washington. Whenever the Palestinians have resisted that pathetic fate (as any nation would), Israel has punished them for their insolence. This is not new.

Punishing Palestinians for existing has a long history. It was Israel’s policy before Hamas and its rudimentary rockets were Israel’s boogeyman of the moment, and before Israel turned Gaza into an open-air prison, punching bag, and weapons laboratory. In 1948, Israel killed thousands of innocents, and terrorized and displaced hundreds of thousands more, in the name of creating a Jewish-majority state in a land that was then sixty-five per cent Arab. In 1967, it displaced hundreds of thousands of Palestinians again, occupying territory that it still largely controls, forty-seven years later.

In 1982, in a quest to expel the Palestine Liberation Organization and extinguish Palestinian nationalism, Israel invaded Lebanon, killing seventeen thousand people, mostly civilians. Since the late nineteen-eighties, when Palestinians under occupation rose up, mostly by throwing stones and staging general strikes, Israel has arrested tens of thousands of Palestinians: over seven hundred and fifty thousand people have spent time in Israeli prisons since 1967, a number that amounts to forty per cent of the adult male population today. They have emerged with accounts of torture, which are substantiated by human-rights groups like B’tselem. During the second intifada, which began in 2000, Israel reinvaded the West Bank (it had never fully left). The occupation and colonization of Palestinian land continued unabated throughout the “peace process” of the nineteen-nineties, and continues to this day. And yet, in America, the discussion ignores this crucial, constantly oppressive context, and is instead too often limited to Israeli “self-defense” and the Palestinians’ supposed responsibility for their own suffering.

In the past seven or more years, Israel has besieged, tormented, and regularly attacked the Gaza Strip. The pretexts change: they elected Hamas; they refused to be docile; they refused to recognize Israel; they fired rockets; they built tunnels to circumvent the siege; and on and on. But each pretext is a red herring, because the truth of ghettos—what happens when you imprison 1.8 million people in a hundred and forty square miles, about a third of the area of New York City, with no control of borders, almost no access to the sea for fishermen (three out of the twenty kilometres allowed by the Oslo accords), no real way in or out, and with drones buzzing overhead night and day—is that, eventually, the ghetto will fight back. It was true in Soweto and Belfast, and it is true in Gaza. We might not like Hamas or some of its methods, but that is not the same as accepting the proposition that Palestinians should supinely accept the denial of their right to exist as a free people in their ancestral homeland.

This is precisely why the United States’ support of current Israeli policy is folly. Peace was achieved in Northern Ireland and in South Africa because the United States and the world realized that they had to put pressure on the stronger party, holding it accountable and ending its impunity. Northern Ireland and South Africa are far from perfect examples, but it is worth remembering that, to achieve a just outcome, it was necessary for the United States to deal with groups like the Irish Republican Army and the African National Congress, which engaged in guerrilla war and even terrorism. That was the only way to embark on a road toward true peace and reconciliation. The case of Palestine is not fundamentally different.

Instead, the United States puts its thumb on the scales in favor of the stronger party. In this surreal, upside-down vision of the world, it almost seems as if it is the Israelis who are occupied by the Palestinians, and not the other way around. In this skewed universe, the inmates of an open-air prison are besieging a nuclear-armed power with one of the most sophisticated militaries in the world.

If we are to move away from this unreality, the U.S. must either reverse its policies or abandon its claim of being an “honest broker.” If the U.S. government wants to fund and arm Israel and parrot its talking points that fly in the face of reason and international law, so be it. But it should not claim the moral high ground and intone solemnly about peace. And it should certainly not insult Palestinians by saying that it cares about them or their children, who are dying in Gaza today.

(Source / 29.07.2014)

Written by altahrir

July 29, 2014 at 9:17 pm

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Israel strikes Gaza from air, sea and land

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At least 79 Palestinians were killed in some of heaviest bombardments from air, sea and land since the Israeli offensive began

A Palestinian delegation headed on Tuesday to Cairo to discuss an Egyptian ceasefire plan to end the raging war between Palestinian factions and Israel, sources told Al Arabiya Channel, as Israel dug in for a long war, knocking out a power plant in Gaza and flattening the home of Hamas’ political leader.

The sources said an agreement had been reached for a meeting in Cairo to include the leaderships of Hamas, the Islamic Jihad and Fatah as part of a new push to revive Egypt’s initiative to broker a cease-fire between Gaza-based Palestinian militants and Israel.

One source said that the participants would discuss an Egyptian ceasefire plan used to broker a truce between the warring sides in 2012.

At least 79 Palestinians were killed in some of heaviest bombardments from air, sea and land since the Israeli offensive began in response to Hamas rocket fire, Reuters quoted health officials as saying.

The Israeli assault intensified following the deaths of 10 Israeli soldiers in cross-border attacks on Monday, with Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu warning of a long conflict ahead.

Thick black smoke rose from blazing fuel tanks at the power station that supplies up to two-thirds of Gaza’s energy needs, Reuters said. The local energy authority said initial damage assessments suggested the plant could be out of action for a year.

Electricity was cut to the city of Gaza and many other parts of the Hamas-dominated territory after what officials said was Israeli tank shelling of the tanks containing some 3 million cubic liters of diesel fuel.

Local hospital officials said Israeli tank shells and air strikes killed 10 people in and around Jabalya refugee camp in the northern Gaza Strip, raising the number of Palestinian dead, most of them civilians, to 1,139 in the current conflict.

Before dawn, Israeli aircraft fired a missile at the house of Hamas Gaza leader Ismail Haniyeh, a former Palestinian prime minister, destroying the structure but causing no casualties, Gaza’s Interior Ministry said.

Hamas, whose internal political leadership is in hiding, said its broadcast outlets Al-Aqsa TV and Al-Aqsa Radio were also targeted. The television station continued to broadcast but the radio station went silent.

The escalation in violence came as Israel appeared to leave the door open for reaching a truce.

U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry said Tuesday Netanyahu had asked for fresh U.S. help in trying to broker a ceasefire in Gaza.

“Last night we talked, and the prime minister talked to me about an idea and a possibility of a ceasefire. He raised it with me, as he has consistently,” Kerry said.

Netanyahu had said he “would embrace a ceasefire that permits Israel to protect itself against the tunnels and obviously not be disadvantaged for the great sacrifice they have made thus far.”

Kerry said if there was an agreement on serious negotiations about the wider issues both Israel and Hamas want to address, it would happen in Cairo, “it would be entirely without pre-conditions and it would not prejudice Israel’s ability to defend itself.”
“It is more appropriate to try to resolve the underlying issues at a negotiating table, than to continue a tit-for-tat of violence … which will be much more difficult to recover from,” Kerry said.

Hamas and Israel have in the past set conditions for a ceasefire that appear irreconcilable. Israel wants Gaza’s armed groups stripped of weapons. Hamas and its allies want an Israeli-Egyptian blockade lifted.

Fifty-three Israeli soldiers and three civilians have been killed in the offensive that was launched on July 8.

(Source / 29.07.2014)

Written by altahrir

July 29, 2014 at 9:09 pm

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Video: If you voted for Hamas, Israel has a right to kill you, says president of NY Board of Rabbis

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There was a pro-Israel rally of 10,000 people in New York yesterday, a half block from the United Nations, and Rabbi David-Seth Kirshner, the president of the NY Board of Rabbis, suggested that Palestinians who voted for Hamas are combatants who deserve to be targeted by Israel. He said:

When you are part of an election process that asks for a terrorist organization which proclaims in word and in deed that their primary objective is to destroy their neighboring country and not to build schools or commerce or jobs, you are complicit and you are not a civilian casualty.

The crowd cheered. Kirshner went on to say that the Israeli army is “the most moral army in the history of civilization.” He ended his remarks with the word, Amen.

The rabbi did not make it clear how he would sort out Palestinians who voted for Hamas. In the last election in Palestine, in 2006, Hamas — the “terrorist organization” to which Kirshner was obviously referring– got 440,000 votes, 44 percent of the electorate, according to Wikipedia. Fatah won 410,000, the PFLP 42,000.

Senator Chuck Schumer and many Democratic congresspeople also spoke at the rally, on 47th Street. None were on the stage when Kirshner offered his spiritual counsel near the end of the gathering.

Kirshner, from the Temple Emanu-El site

Below is the context for Kirshner’s remarks, beginning at about 3:00 in the video above. Kirshner (who was introduced as president but identified with three different titles,12, 3. of the New York Board of Rabbis) began by saying that the United Nations was condemning the killing of civilians in Gaza.

Ladies and gentlemen let me make something very, very, very clear to all of you gathered. If you are wearing jeans and a t-shirt and you are carrying an AK-47, you are not a civilian, you are a combatant.

When you welcome Hamas into your living room and allow them to launch rockets next to your sofa, you are not a civilian you are a combatant.

When you are part of an election process that asks for a terrorist organization which proclaims in word and in deed that their primary objective is to destroy their neighboring country and not to build schools or commerce or jobs, you are complicit and you are not a civilian casualty.

And lastly when you fail to heed the pamphlets, the phone calls, the text messages and the warning shots telling you to evacuate a building, and instead use yourself as a shield and use innocent children as a shield, you are not collateral damage. When you ignore those very moral warnings and align yourself with Hamas, you are a combatant.

As Adam notes, the statement could apply to anyone who voted in that election in 2006; I’m interpreting it to apply to Hamas supporters.

Elsewhere in the speech, the rabbi identified himself wholly with the Israeli government, saying that “we gave them freedom nine years ago,” referring to the end of the settlement program in Gaza.

Kirshner hosted Gov. Chris Christie at Temple Emanu-El, his conservative synagogue in New Jersey, last year. He spoke at the Israel lobby group AIPAC in 2009.

(Source / 29.07.2014)

Written by altahrir

July 29, 2014 at 9:01 pm

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Egypt’s propagandists and the Gaza massacre

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Smiling young men on motorbikes give victory sign in front of shelled building in Gaza City

Sisi’s “ceasefire” offered a week into the Gaza slaughter was spurned by Palestinians in favor of a valiant military resistance

As Israel’s murderous machine inflicts terror and death on the Palestinian people with the collaboration of the US government and its principal Arab allies, not least of which is the Saudi clan of 20,000 princes and princesses, a huge campaign of hate on the official and unofficial level has been launched in Egypt.

Egypt’s regime is one of the two principal jailers of Gaza Palestinians in the largest concentration camp in the world.

Hosni Mubarak’s heir on the Egyptian throne, General Abdulfattah al-Sisi, expressed well the lies that the Egyptian ruling class of thieves has been propagating in Egypt since theanti-Arab and anti-Palestinian campaigns of the mid to late 1970s under President Anwar Sadat.

The uncharismatic Sisi, whose oratory abilities rival those of Yasser Arafat, announced with much pomp in his 23 July speech marking the anniversary of the 1952 overthrow of the monarchy that Egypt had already sacrificed “100,000 Egyptian martyrs” for the Palestinian cause.

While few people doubt the sacrifices that Egyptian soldiers have made to defend Egypt in the last 67 years, to claim that these sacrifices were made on behalf of Palestine and the Palestinians is the ultimate in hypocrisy.

It is a line of argument that the ruling class of Egyptian thieves has been propagating in order to claim that Egypt’s terrible economy and state of poverty are not the product of this class’ outright pillage of Egypt with the help of their American and Saudi sponsors since the 1970s, but on account of Egypt’s alleged defense of Palestine and the Palestinians and President Gamal Abdel Nasser’s alleged commitment to liberate the Palestinians from Israel’s colonial occupation.

Tawdry pillaging class

Since the 1970s, Palestinians have been subjected to these lies and to the vacuity and utter tawdriness of this Egyptian class of the ignorant and the illiterate. This class’ lack of education and worldliness was on full display during the last three years of counter-revolutionary propaganda and agitation on its television stations and in its press.

The form and content of this output would embarrass and scandalize any self-respecting community of intellectuals, journalists and artists, except that the majority of Egyptian intellectuals, journalists and artists have either been conscripted or fully bought off to defend this class’ interests (though some of those conscripted in support of the regime, especially academics, started to backpedal more recently and to rewrite their history denying their cheerleading for it).

The degradation of Egyptian intellectual and aesthetic cultures and products in the last four decades is a direct outcome of this class’ tyrannical rule. One only has to sit with these businessmen and women, or visit their homes, or watch their representation in Egyptian serials and films and the culture they want to impose through them, or listen to their conversations in Cairo’s five-star hotel bars and restaurants, or watch their interviews on Egypt’s scandalously substandard television stations, to realize their utter mediocrity on every level of economic and political thinking and of aesthetic taste, not to mention their ignorance of Egyptian, Arabic and world literatures and arts, let alone their utter contempt for Egypt’s poor who constitute more than eighty percent of the population.

That this envious and jealous super-wealthy class resents and begrudges the poorest of the poor for their meager possessions, especially the Palestinians of Gaza, illustrates the kind of moral compass that guides its actions.

I still remember my horror when I had dinner in Cairo in October 2010 with billionaire Nassef Sawiris, the richest man in the country, when he announced with much pride to the small dinner party of seven persons that he keeps three TV screens on at all times, in his office, at home and while traveling, set to three different US news channels simultaneously (if memory serves, he listed CNN, CNBC and Fox News) that clearly function as his major sources of education.

Sawiris, who is much less exhibitionist than either of his two older brothers, seemed in disbelief when I informed him that I opposed the right-wing policies of US President Barack Obama, both domestic and foreign, as he seemed unable to conceive of a political position left of Obama.

In a just-published interview with the pro-Sisi newspaper Al-Masry Al-Youm, Sawiris commended Sisi for lifting fuel subsidies on the poor (while keeping the price of gasoline for luxury cars down for the rich), and made a series of neoliberal recommendations, including devaluing the Egyptian pound further; privatizing public transportation; removing taxes imposed on the rich (which he claims the government of deposed presidentMuhammad Morsi had illegally imposed on his company); shielding ministers and government employees from legal prosecution and allowing coal to be used to fuel cement factories despite the massive opposition of health and environmental activists.

Such measures would surely continue to enrich the rich one percent and impoverish the poor (Nassef’s more flamboyant older but poorer brother Naguib just started to write a weekly column for Egypt’s Al-Akhbar in which he reiterates his brother’s neoliberal recommendations. He also calls on Sisi, in a TV interview, to grant Mubarak amnesty and release him from prison).

“Fiction and fabrication”

What Sisi and this class with which he is allied want to claim is that all of Egypt’s wars with Israel were launched to defend Palestine and the Palestinians and that they were hugely costly to Egypt financially and in the lives of soldiers lost. But none of this is true.

In 1956, Israel invaded Egypt and occupied Sinai, and the Egyptian soldiers who were killed died while engaged in defending their country and their land; in 1967, Israel again invaded Egypt and occupied Sinai, and Egyptian soldiers were killed defending their country against foreign invasion; between 1968 and 1970, Israel and Egypt fought the “War of Attrition” in which Egyptian soldiers were killed defending their country against continuing Israeli aggression and the preservation of Israel’s ongoing occupation of Sinai, a war that was fought on Egyptian soil; and in 1973, Egypt launched a war to liberate Sinai, notPalestine, and Egyptian soldiers were again killed defending their country against foreign occupation.

This leaves us with the 1948 war in which, depending on sources, anywhere from one thousand to two thousand Egyptian soldiers and volunteers were killed. This Egyptian military intervention to stop Zionist expulsion of the Palestinians and the Zionist theft of the land of the Palestinians was launched not by Nasser, who is blamed for his rhetorical support of the Palestinians, but by King Farouq.

As most studies of the motives behind Farouq’s and his government’s intervention in Palestine attest, it was on account of Farouq’s concern about Egypt’s leading regional role and fear of Iraqi rivalry and less so as some form of Arab nationalism or solidarity.

These motives aside, most Palestinians do not doubt that the Egyptian soldiers and volunteer fighters who died had indeed died defending Palestine and the Palestinians even if the soldiers among them were doing so based on orders that sought to defend Egyptian regional hegemony. But this remains the only war where Egyptian soldiers and volunteers died defending Palestine and for whom the Palestinian people and their national movement have expressed much gratitude.

But the way these one to two thousand soldiers and volunteers multiply to the tune of “100,000 martyrs,” as Sisi falsely claimed, is the stuff of fiction and fabrication, which the ruling Egyptian class of thieves and their intellectuals-for-hire and paid propagandists in the press have concocted following Sadat’s 1978 Camp David accords, which sacrificed the rights of the Palestinian people, including the Palestinians of Gaza, in return for Egyptian non-sovereign, partial police control of Sinai.

This is not to suggest that millions of Egyptians, civilians and soldiers, do not or would not support Palestine and the Palestinians, or that they would not fight for Palestine and the Palestinians, as they often avow and declare that they would; it is to say that aside from the 1948 battles, they have never been given a chance to defend the Palestinians on the battleground. This is precisely what galls the Egyptian ruling class of thieves and what propels the ongoing anti-Palestinian propaganda and hate speech on the television stations owned by this class.

Hearing their propaganda, one would think that it was the Palestinians who had occupied Sinai, not Egypt that had taken over and ruled Gaza from 1948 to 1967 and had laid siege to it intermittently since, imposing a full, continuing siege for the last eight years.

Despite these massive media campaigns, Egyptians are not deterred in their support of the Palestinians, whether by demonstrating against the Sisi regime’s complicity in the massacres as they have been doing in the last two weeks, or by sending medical relief convoys to Gaza, which Sisi’s soldiers turn back, refusing them passage.

Intellectual mass suicide

In this context, it is crucial to understand that this Egyptian ruling class of thieves is the primary enemy not of the Palestinian people, but of most Egyptians whom it oppresses, exploits, robs and humiliates on a daily basis. That the enemies of the Palestinians in Egypt are also the enemies of most Egyptians has recently been obscured by the role played by the cheerleaders of Sisi’s regime.

The intellectual mass suicide that the majority of Egypt’s intellectuals and artists (Nasserists, Marxists, liberals and Salafists) have committed in their abdication of their critical faculties when they supported or remained silent on the massacres and repression of the new regime, let alone their silence on the campaigns against the Egyptian poor and the Palestinians, is reminiscent of the suicide committed by Egyptian communists who disbanded their party in 1964 to join Nasser’s Socialist Union.

This class extends from the Marxist economist and indefatigably pro-Sisi Samir Amin to much less illustrious figures like novelist and Mubarak critic Alaa al-Aswany, and everyone in between including economist Galal Amin and writers and poets Sonallah Ibrahim, Abd al-Rahman al-Abnudi, Bahaa Taher, and scores more.

The suicide of Egyptian communists in 1964, however, was staged due to the communists’ understanding that Nasser’s repression, while unwelcome and regrettable, was ultimately aimed to serve their common project of nationalization and socialization of property in order to eradicate Egyptian poverty. It remains unclear what the rationale of Egypt’s contemporary intellectuals is in committing suicide in order to support Egypt’s ruling class of thieves.

Gaza massacre is “plan B”

That Sisi has outdone Mubarak’s policies in allying himself with Israel and coordinating with it against the besieged Palestinians is hardly surprising, since he serves the very same class and interests which Mubarak served. What is different, however, is Hamas’ erstwhile quiescence and submission to Mubarak’s diktat out of a sense of entrapment, which Hamas has since abandoned.

It is now clear that Israel’s ongoing slaughter of the Palestinians turns out to be plan B, wherein plan A had been a possible Egyptian ground invasion of Gaza that Sisi’s government had threatened to carry out a few months ago after it had destroyed Gaza’s lifeline tunnels (and this was before Sisi’s sham elections), presumably with Israeli help, with the ostensible purpose to re-install Muhammad Dahlan as Gaza’s warlord and get rid of Hamas and Palestinian resistance.

That the Egyptian head of intelligence was on a visit to Israel a few days before Israel’s massacres were launched, and that three Israeli intelligence officials visited Egypt a few days later, are only tiny indicators of the high level of coordination between the two countries.

The sadism and narcissism that are traits of mainstream Israeli Jewish colonial culture and which manifest in pervasive street mobs crying “death to the Arabs” and propel segments of the country’s colonial Jewish population to watch from the hilltops and cheer the slaughter of the native Palestinians is only matched by the sadistic and hateful propaganda of the Sisi regime media and that of the Egyptian ruling class of thieves.

Indeed, even while Israel’s slaughter of the Palestinians of Gaza continues, the Egyptian army announced on 27 July that it had just destroyed thirteen more tunnels between Gaza and Egypt, presumably as part of its own heroic contribution to the ongoing Israeli oppression of the Palestinians.

As for the “ceasefire” that Sisi offered a week into the Gaza slaughter, which was dictated to him by his Israeli allies, it has been appropriately spurned by the Palestinian people in favor of a valiant military resistance to their Israeli colonial captors’ criminality and a courageous political and diplomatic resistance in facing up to their Egyptian jailers’ cruelty.

(Source / 29.07.2014)

Written by altahrir

July 29, 2014 at 8:55 pm

Posted in Opinion others

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