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Will 1967 Palestinian refugees ever return?

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Egyptian President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi addresses the United Nations General Assembly meeting in New York, Sept. 20, 2016

In a speech to the UN General Assembly on Sept. 20, Egyptian President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi suggested that Israelis and Palestinians learn from the “wonderful example” of the peace between Israel and Egypt. Indeed, the peace treaty signed in 1979 between Israel and the world’s most important Arab state was joyous news for both sides. This wonderful example, however, also constitutes a grim chapter in the tragic annals of some quarter of a million Palestinians who were dispossessed of their homes in 1967 and whose lands are now being farmed by strangers.

Egypt has been a bitter disappointment to hundreds of thousands of Arab people, specifically, the Palestinians uprooted from their homes in the West Bank, the Gaza Strip and East Jerusalem in the June 1967 Arab-Israeli war. Some 250,000 people, a quarter of the territories’ residents at the time, many of them refugees from the 1948 war, were forced into refugee camps in neighboring Arab states (in addition to some 100,000 Syrian refugees from the Golan Heights). Egypt sold them out for a song.

In the Camp David Accords (1978), Egypt committed to establishing a standing committee — along with Israel, Jordan and a self-governing administration from the territories — that would formulate principles for the return of “persons displaced from the West Bank and Gaza in 1967.” This was made contingent on adopting “necessary measures to prevent disruption and disorder.” To be clear, this obscure article does not apply to the issue of the refugees from the 1948 Israeli War of Independence, the resolution of which was put off to eventual negotiations on a permanent settlement to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict — in other words, until the coming of the Messiah. Not only that, in 1948, the rationale for prohibiting the return of Palestinian refugees to their homes had been the desire to limit the number of non-Jews in the nascent, sparsely populated State of Israel. Since 1967, uprooted Palestinians have been denied the right to go back to places that are not even under Israel’s territorial sovereignty.

The “continuing committee,” as termed in the 1978 agreement, became a mechanism for avoiding implementation of UN Security Council Resolution 237 (1967), which calls for Israel to allow the residents of the territories who had fled at the start of the fighting in early June 1967 to return home. Fifteen years later, the problem of those uprooted in 1967 was inserted in the Israeli-Palestinian Oslo Accords, signed in September 1993.

At a Knesset debate in January 1995, Michael Eitan, a Likud moderate, warned against a loophole that would allow Palestinians uprooted in 1967 and their descendants — some 800,000 people in all — into the Israeli-controlled territories. Deputy Foreign Minister Yossi Beilin explained, “[We] simply copied the exact same sentence that appears in the Camp David Accords, which talks about a quadripartite committee to determine the parameters for the return of the displaced.” Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin’s government and all those that followed adhered to the same tradition of sitting on its hands on this issue.

Unlike Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s imaginary “ethnic cleansing” of settlers from the West Bank, the refugees uprooted in 1967 are a wonderful example of real ethnic cleansing. In “The Bride and the Dowry: Israel, Jordan, and the Palestinians in the Aftermath of the June 1967 War,” the Israeli historian Avi Raz, from Oxford University, describes at length how Israeli soldiers used megaphones and radio broadcasts to tell Palestinians to leave their homes immediately, shooting above their heads to hurry them along. Some 20 towns and villages along the Green Line (delineating Israel and the West Bank) were partially or completely destroyed, and many of their residents headed east, across the Jordan River. In Jerusalem’s Old City, the Mughrabi Quarter, home to 650 Arab residents living in 130 houses adjacent to the Western Wall, was razed. Hundreds of uprooted Palestinians who tried to secretly cross the Jordan to get back to their homes were shot dead. After international protests and American pressure, Israel conceded to the request of 14,000 of the 170,000 uprooted Palestinians to return to the West Bank.

What happened to the 1967 refugees is not only a wonderful example of the injustices of the Israeli occupation and its violation of international law, but taking their land also makes a mockery of the occupation laws that Israel itself has implemented in the territories. A 2005 report by the state comptroller general includes a warning by the office in charge of abandoned property in the territories against handing over private Palestinian lands, including those of absentee owners, to Jewish settlers. The comptroller cites an opinion by the deputy attorney general underscoring that Israel is simply a “guardian protecting the property lest it be damaged while the owners are absent from the area.” He stressed that Israeli authorities “must not conduct any deal pertaining to the property that contradicts said protection obligation, and especially [their] duty to hand back the property to its owners once they return.”

In this regard, the wonderful example reaches truly Orwellian heights in the current push by elected Israeli officials to bypass the absentee ownership law by passing the so-called Regularization Law, which would retroactively legalize unauthorized Israeli outposts in the West Bank, specifically the Amona outpost. The authors of the proposed bill argue that it is designed to “prevent a moral, human and social travesty that would be caused by the evacuation of hundreds and thousands of [Jewish] families that built their homes with the support of successive Israeli governments.” This is not only an attempt to prevent the evacuation of the settlement homes of Amona, erected on private Palestinian lands. The proposed bill also states, “If, one of these days” — in other words, at another stop on the Messiah’s journey — Palestinian landowners return to the territories, they would receive compensation such as that paid to the private landowners who remained in the West Bank and on whose lands settlements were erected. Real ethnic cleansing, with a price tag.

US President Barack Obama referred this week to the settlement issue at his last speech to the UN General Assembly on Sept. 20. He called on Israel to recognize “that it cannot permanently occupy and settle Palestinian land.” Once he leaves office, Obama will have time to tour the West Bank. He should invite Sisi to join him. They will have an opportunity to see up close that it is possible to conquer and occupy for 50 years and still be going strong. Afterward, they should pop into one of the refugee camps housing the uprooted of the 1967 war on the other side of the Jordan River. They will have an opportunity to meet human examples of a wonderful peace.

(Source / 25.09.2016)

Written by altahrir

September 25, 2016 at 6:33 pm

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Netanyahu, all what Palestinians need is to go back home

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No one wanted indigenous Palestinian Jews to leave Palestine

Muslim, Christian and Jewish Palestinians lived peacefully together hundreds of years before the Zionist Israeli occupation. No one wanted to cleans Jews from Palestine.

Muslim, Christian and Jewish Palestinians lived peacefully together hundreds of years before the Zionist Israeli occupation. No one wanted to cleans Jews from Palestine

By Motasem A Dalloul

The Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said on Friday that the Palestinians wanted to establish a state empty of Jewish population, referring to the Palestinian call for dismantling the illegal Israeli Jewish-only settlements in the occupied West Bank and Jerusalem.

He termed his outcry as “ethnic cleansing,” saying in a video: “The Palestinian leadership actually demands a Palestinian state with one pre-condition: No Jews. There’s a phrase for that: It is called ethnic cleansing. And this demand is outrageous.”

As a Palestinian refugee, who father and grandmother were forced out from their home and farms in Haifa in 1948, say no to Netanyahu. We as Palestinians do not eye a Palestinian state out of Jews, not only my faithful words prove this, but history do.

My father, who was born in Haifa in the 1930s and died in Gaza in 2013, and my grandmother, who was born in Haifa in 1900 and died in Gaza in the 1980s, told me hundreds of times that they had Jewish neighbours and they lived peacefully in together.

They also told me several stories they heard from their fathers about how Jews, Muslims and Christians in Palestine were attending each other’s happy and sad times. They told me how a Muslim, a Jew and a Christian were harvesting wheat, barely, corn and olive together.

My father told me how my grandmother hid him inside the house of his Jewish neighbour in Haifa during one of the pre-occupation attacks waged by Zionist gangs.

He also told me how Jews were targeted the same as the Palestinians during that difficult time. My late father, who was humble and simple wanted to find an excuse for the Jewish neighbours who were targeted by the Zionist gangs, saying to me several times that the Zionist did not target them in order to make bridges with them and not push them to leave their homes in order to consolidate their fake narrative about the religious Jewish project.

No Netanyahu, Palestinians have never and will never think of ethnic cleansing regarding any race or religion. Unlike those who survived the Holocaust, we do not believe that we have to inflict suffering on others in order to palliate our suffering.

We survived the Israeli Zionist ethnic cleansing, but we do not think to cleans even those who did it for us. We only think of going back to our homes, out farms, our factories, our historical cities, mosques, coffees, clubs, schools and wedding halls.

We only want our mosques, which were turned into barns to internationally degrade our religion or turned into night clubs to hurt our feelings, back in order to perform our prayers there. We want the cemeteries of our grandfathers back in order to take care with.

Netanyahu, I want to remind you that Palestinians, who have been persecuted by you and your occupation, are not only Muslims, but also Christians. I want to let you know, if you do not yet, that Christian Palestinians have been scattered in diaspora like Muslims and are being besieged in Gaza the same as Muslims. Like Muslims, they call for their churches back.

How to solve the problem when you think of returning Palestinians back to their homes, it is up to you and to those who brought and supported you to come to Palestine. You either go back home to let us go back to our homes, or you agree to live with us in the Palestine state with the same rights and duties like Palestinians, and I promise, we will forget all the hostilities between us.

(Source / 18.09.2016)

Written by altahrir

September 18, 2016 at 3:20 pm

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It’s Almost Palestinian Hunting Season, Again

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A Palestinian barefoot boy stands next to remains of a destroyed house in the town of Beit Hanoun, northern Gaza Strip, Monday, Jan. 4, 2016. (AP Photo/ Khalil Hamra)

A Palestinian barefoot boy stands next to remains of a destroyed house in the town of Beit Hanoun, northern Gaza Strip, Monday, Jan. 4, 2016

May 2017 will mark fifty years of Israeli occupation of Gaza and the West Bank, characterized by institutionalized inequality and injustice toward Palestinians.

At the bidding of the government, the Israeli Defense Force (IDF) routinely and violently confronts Palestinians, but also Israeli and international dissidents who dare challenge the continued expansion and entrenchment of the illegal settlements in the West Bank and the blockade of the Gaza strip. Protesters run the risk of getting cursed, spat on, detained, beaten up, stoned, stabbed, shot, kidnapped, imprisoned, tortured or any combination thereof. Moreover, in an unfortunate yet predictable move, the Israeli government has recently declared war on the nonviolent boycott divestment and sanctions (BDS) movement.

Like clockwork, every few years a cycle of violence disproportionately bathes Palestinian society in blood and tears and serves to further fortify the occupation (see “Israeli Occupation for Dummies“). According to renowned scholar Ilan Pappe, Israeli society needs a regular dose of war not only as a means to justify its excessive military budget and lucrative arms industry, but as a tool to reaffirm itself as a cohesive settler-colonialist entity faced with an existential threat.

The following months afford a unique and dangerous opportunity for Israel’s right-wing government to coax the Palestinians into yet another cycle of violence, which will lead to an escalation in hostilities and tragedy.

The ingredients for such a recipe include a healthy portion of desperate political opportunism mixed with a dash of male macho yet insecure exhibitionism stirred up into an explosive cocktail at just the right timing: now!

Israel's Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu chairs the weekly cabinet meeting in Jerusalem, Sunday, Nov. 30, 2014. (AP Photo/Ronen Zvulun, Pool)

Israel’s Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu chairs the weekly cabinet meeting in Jerusalem, Sunday, Nov. 30, 2014

Benjamin Netanyahu

Benjamin Netanyahu is not doing very well of late. The Israeli Prime Minister (PM) is routinely shunned by foreign politicians and has regular power spats with ministers in his own government,recently with Minister of Transportation Yisrael Katz. In addition, the heat is on in the courtroom: Netanyahu faces a multitude of lawsuits and corruption scandals, including one in which he sued a reporter for claiming in a Facebook post that Sara Netanyahu threw the PM out of the car during an argument, delaying the heavily guarded motorcade.

Finally, a recent poll shows that Yesh Atid (“There is a future”), the centrist party headed by Yair Lapid, surpasses Netanyahu’s Likud party if elections were to be held today. As a well-known political opportunist and sucker for polls, Netanyahu may resort to the solution that has proved successful time and time again in diverting attention from his own inadequacies and has coalesced the Israeli populace behind him: war.

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, right, and Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman shake hands in front the media after giving a statement in Jerusalem. (AP Photo/Bernat Armangue)

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, right, and Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman shake hands in front the media after giving a statement in Jerusalem

Avigdor Lieberman

Israel has a new and inexperienced Minister of Defense, Avigdor Lieberman. Once a night club bouncer and convicted child beater, he has much to prove in an office for which he seems grossly unqualified. Even members of the Likud party, which used to be his political home, are not fans of Lieberman’s credentials, claiming recently that: “The closest thing to a bullet that ever came whizzing past [Lieberman’s] ear was a tennis ball.”

There is nothing like war to prove one’s worth in this new and prestigious position as was made clear by the tenure of Amir Peretz as Minister of Defense in 2006 under then Prime Minister, now convicted prisoner, Ehud Olmert. Peretz presided over the second Lebanon War, an operation that resulted in a staggering death toll of 1200 Lebanese and 160 Israelis and was deemed a severe failureby the The Winograd committee. Further, Lieberman is known for his unabashed racism and has already initiated plans to “color-code good and bad Palestinians.” In concert with his need to prove his worth and his thuggish disposition, Lieberman spells a recipe for disaster.

Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton speaks at the 2016 American Israel Public Affairs Committee (AIPAC) Policy Conference, March 21, 2016, at the Verizon Center in Washington. (AP Photo/Andrew Harnik)

Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton speaks at the 2016 American Israel Public Affairs Committee (AIPAC) Policy Conference, March 21, 2016, at the Verizon Center in Washington

Timing: it’s all about the American elections

As an imperialist surrogate of the United States, Israel is well-versed in Washington’s lingo of do’s and don’ts, and knows well that election season is a time when candidates are particularly vulnerable to extortion, as they are desperate for cash. The pro-Israel right-wing lobbying group the American Israel Public Affairs Committee (AIPAC) has a special monetary role to play here, and Israel has taken advantage of its hefty influence in the corridors of empire during the months that lead up to the inauguration of a new American president. Here are some examples of hostilities waged during the months leading up to a changing of the guards in the White House:

  1. In September 2000, Ariel Sharon decided that visiting the Al-Aqsa Mosque in Jerusalem was a great idea. This inflamed tensions in East Jerusalem, sparking nonviolent and violent protests by Palestinians, who eventually hurt an Israeli security official. Israeli forces severely retaliated and the Second Intifada broke out. Deaths as a result of the Second Intifada included 6371 Palestinians and 1083 Israelis, according to B’Tselem. Sharon became Prime Minister shortly thereafter.
  2. In December 2008, the Israelis discovered tunnels that they claimed were dug by Hamas as a means to capture Israeli soldiers and smuggle them into the Gaza strip. Hamas claimed the tunnels served defensive purposes. The Israelis bombed these tunnels, after which Hamas launched a barrage of its missiles into Israel. Israel then mounted a full-scale and highly destructive attack on Gaza. The Israeli offensive was called “Operation Cast Lead” and deaths (in Gaza) included 1391 Palestinians and 13 Israelis, according to B’Tselem.
  3. In November 2012, Israel assassinated a top Hamas leader. Hamas retaliated by launching its rockets into Israeli towns bordering Gaza. This led to a full-scale Israeli offensive called “Operation Pillar of Defense” in which 167 Palestinians were killed as were 6 Israelis according to B’Tselem.

In addition to Israel’s propensity to wage war during the final months of American election campaigns, the current electoral circus includes two especially weak candidates that have bent over backwards to please Israel and its American allies, with Donald Trump as the unpredictable clownwho has recently set up shop in an illegal settlement in the West Bank and Hillary Clinton spending much of her time at the champagne bar with the ultra rich (e.g. Haim Saban). As the time approaches for Hillary Clinton to face off Donald Trump in a series of televised debates that will likely determine the outcome of the elections, both candidates are particularly vulnerable to extortion and eager to please Israel.

In summary, the present moment leading up to the inauguration of the next president of the United States may serve as an opportune time for a weak Benjamin Netanyahu and an insecure, thuggish Avigdor Lieberman to join forces and wage a new war against the quintessential Israeli scapegoats and victims, the Palestinians. Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump will be only too happy at the distraction from their corrupt and sluggish campaign performances.

Ironically, Barack Obama, who has been missing in action with respect to American arbitration of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, may serve as the Palestinians only defense. The history of his deep-seated dislike of the Israeli PM may finally serve to quell violence by preventing an open season on Palestinians. Then again, Obama never fails to disappoint, and will likely pass on the baton to the next American administration.

(Source / 16.09.2016)

Written by altahrir

September 16, 2016 at 5:34 pm

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Lest We Forget: Sabra and Shatila Massacre 16-17 September 1982

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Article of 

sabra04On 16.09.1982, the Israeli army controlled West Beirut, sealed off the 2 Palestinian refugee camps Sabra and Shatila and fired shells at them. Later, the Israeli military command gave the Israeli-allied Lebanese Phalangist militia the green light to enter the refugee camps. For the next 40 hours the Phalangist militia raped, killed, and injured a large number of unarmed civilians, mostly children, women and elderly people inside the “encircled and sealed” Sabra and Shatila camps. These actions, accompanied or followed by systematic roundups, backed or reinforced by the Israeli army, resulted in dozens of disappearances. During the massacre, the Israeli army prevented civilians from escaping the camps and arranged for the camps to be illuminated throughout the night by flares launched into the sky from helicopters and mortars. (1)

sabra014The number of victims varies between 700 (the official Israeli figure) and 3,500 (in the inquiry launched by the Israeli journalist Amnon Kapeliouk). The exact figure can never be determined because, in addition to the approximately 1,000 people who were buried in communal graves by the ICRC or in the cemeteries of Beirut by members of their families, a large number of corpses were buried beneath bulldozed buildings by the militia members themselves. Also, hundreds of people were carried away alive in trucks towards unknown destinations, never to return. (1)

sabra006“What we found inside the Palestinian Chatila camp at ten o’clock on the morning of 18th September 1982 did not quite beggar description, although it would have been easier to re-tell in the cold prose of a medical examination … there were women lying in houses with their skirts torn up to their waists and their legs wide apart, children with their throats cut, rows of young men shot in the back after being lined up at an execution wall. There were babies – blackened babies because they had been slaughtered more than 24 hours earlier and their small bodies were already in a state of decomposition – tossed into the rubbish heaps alongside discarded US army ration tins, Israeli army medical equipment and empty bottles of whisky …” Robert Fisk (2)

Sabra39“Down a laneway to our right, no more than 50 yards from the entrance, there lay a pile of corpses. There were more than a dozen of them, young men whose arms and legs had been wrapped around each other in the agony of death. All had been shot at point-blank range through the cheek, the bullet tearing away a line of flesh up to the ear and entering the brain. Some had vivid crimson or black scars down the left side of their throats. One had been castrated, his trousers torn open and a settlement of flies throbbing over his torn intestines. The eyes of these young men were all open. The youngest was only 12 or 13 years old … ” Robert Fisk (2)

sabra015_001“On the other side of the main road, up a track through the debris, we found the bodies of five women and several children. The women were middle-aged and their corpses lay draped over a pile of rubble. One lay on her back, her dress torn open and the head of a little girl emerging from behind her. The girl had short, dark curly hair, her eyes were staring at us and there was a frown on her face. She was dead … One of the women also held a tiny baby to her body. The bullet that had passed through her breast had killed the baby too. Someone had slit open the woman’s stomach, cutting sideways and then upwards, perhaps trying to kill her unborn child. Her eyes were wide open, her dark face frozen in horror.” Robert Fisk (2)

47148.imgcacheOn Thursday, there was shelling when the Israelis came, then it got worse so we went down into the shelter. (…) We learned on Friday that there had been a massacre. I went to my neighbours’ house. I saw our neighbour Mustapha Al Habarat; he was injured and lying in a bath of his own blood. His wife and children were dead. We took him to the Gaza hospital and then we fled. When things had calmed down, I came back and searched for my daughter and my husband for four days. I spent four days looking for them through all the dead bodies. I found Zeinab dead, her face burnt. Her husband had been cut in two and had no head. I took them and buried them. Samiha Abbas Hijazi (3)

“When the massacre was over, we went back and saw the corpses of the dead, including that of our neighbours’ son Samir, who had been murdered. And under the corpses, they had placed bombs as booby-traps.” Jamila Mohammed Khalife (3)


“There was an explosion and the people ran, on the way back I saw dead bodies on both sides of the road, women and old people. They had blown up the corpses and the children were dead. I went home and the children weren’t there. I spent four days looking for the children; my brother brought my youngest son’s dead body; I had already seen my eldest son dead in the pit.” Nazek Abdel Rahman Al Jammal (3)

sabra_10“We heard the screams and the massacre through the bathroom window. That’s how we knew that they had gone into the shelter and taken everyone they found there, including my relatives. On the Saturday, we escaped into the inside of the camp. After that, my mother went back to see my brothers and sisters, but she couldn’t recognise them because they were so disfigured. All we knew was that they had been buried in the mass grave. My father taught the child who survived (my father’s nephew) to call him Daddy.” Amal Hussein (3)


“When I came back here I saw my daughter Fatima had been hit with an axe, along with my little girl. I noticed that they had dug a ditch in the ground and they had buried them alive in the ditch. The baby’s throat had been slit. I also saw people who had been killed and pregnant women with their stomachs ripped open. About thirty young people had been massacred near our house, both Lebanese and Palestinian. They didn’t spare anyone; they killed everyone they came across. In the home of our neighbour Ali Salim Fayad, they had killed his wife and children. My God, what can I say, what can I tell you? They had demolished the shops in Sabra road and dug large ditches where they had buried the victims. I saw about 400 children’s corpses. They upturned the earth and buried them. From the twelve members of our neighbour’s family, eleven were killed and only one escaped. ” Muhammad Ibrahim Faqih (3)


“They went into the area and took away about 18 young people, while confining us – men, women and children – to the camp. I saw my brothers and some children among the men they took away. While we were walking, we saw people who had been killed with axes. Among them were doctors from Gaza hospital. They lined them up and slaughtered them; then they started shooting at us and killed a large number of people, including 18 of our neighbours’ sons. While they were shooting, the whole camp was surrounded by Israeli tanks and all the diggers were Israeli. An Israeli patrol presented itself to us and asked us to go to the Sports Centre. The men went, while we women were taken to the Kuwaiti embassy. That’s how we saw them loading the young people into the cars. Among those young people was my brother. They blindfolded them and they loaded my brother in the car. That’s how he disappeared and I have never seen him again since.” Bahija Zrein (3)


The shelter was full of women, men and children; a woman from Tel Al Zaater was crying, saying, “This is what hap-pened at Tel Al Zaater.” A little later, I went out of the shelter, and I saw armed men who were putting the men against the walls. I saw a neighbour; they tore open her stomach. Some woman came out of the house opposite and started waving her scarf around, saying, “We must give ourselves up.” Suddenly I heard my sister shouting, “They’ve cut his throat!” I thought that my parents had been killed. I rushed to see them, carrying my daughter. They killed my sister’s husband in front of me. I went up, I saw them shooting at the men. They killed them all… The armed men left, taking with them the men from the shelter. My husband was among them… a Lebanese woman came; she had seen my husband holding my daughter. She had seen how my husband had been killed by a Phalangist: with the blow of an axe to his head. My daughter was covered in blood.” Nadima Yousef Said Nasser (3)

hhh-20081102-222359“I saw only dead bodies on the ground, and I saw the Israelis and the Phalangists passing by. I went back again and I went in through the garden of our house; that’s when I saw my dead father. I went to the house and I saw a basin. It was full of people’s heads. I fled.” Najib Abdel Rahman Al Khatib (3)

Massacre_of_palestinians_in_shatila“About fifteen armed men positioned themselves at the window, and four of them came in. The children screamed and cried, and we women screamed, too. They put the men against the wall — my husband, my paternal cousin and my brother – and they pumped them full of bullets in front of us. They made us come out and lined us up in our turn against the wall, wanting to pump bullets into us as well, but then they started arguing about who would be the first to shoot. Then they took us to the Sports Centre and took us into a room full of men, women and children. While guarding that room, they were also sharpening their axes and preparing their guns. ” Shahira Abu Roudeina (3)

Image042“.. they had put the men on one side and the women on the other… The armed men ordered us to walk in front, and the men behind. We walked like this until we got to the communal grave. There, the bulldozer started digging. Among us was a man who was wearing a white nurse’s shirt; they called him and filled him with bullets in front of everyone. The women started screaming. The Israelis posted in front of the Kuwaiti embassy and in front of the Rihab station requested through loudspeakers that we be handed over to them. That’s how we found ourselves in their hands. They took us to the Sports Centre, and the men were supposed to walk behind us. But they took the men’s shirts off and started blindfolding them. At the Sports Centre, the Israelis submitted the young people to an interrogation, and the Phalangists delivered 200 people to them. And that’s how neither my husband nor my sister’s husband ever came back.” Sana Mahmoud Sersawi (3)

sabra_and_shatila“… some Israelis and some Phalangists… placed us against the wall and … shot at the men. I was hit and I pretended to be dead. Three or four others fell on top of me. They were dead…. They then resumed their task, 5 or 6 times. They fired more shots to make sure that everyone was dead. At about five in the morning… I heard an Israeli on a microphone saying, “Give up your weapons, you will have your lives spared and those of your family.” I tried to climb up the slope in order to give myself up like they said… I looked and I saw them placing the men on one side and the women on the other. Then I saw them shooting them. That’s why I went back to hide… I stayed there until the evening. They were sitting around a table drinking alcohol, there was only a wall separating me from them. The wall was cracked; I could see what was happening. They were saying to each other, “don’t leave anything that moves.” Hamad Mohammed Shamas (3)

sabra (12)

“I tried to go back to our house, but I found it destroyed. I couldn’t walk because of all the dead people strewn over the road. And every time my hand touched one of them, I felt their flesh between my fingers. I saw Um Bashir who had been killed with her seven children. It was as if she was sleeping with her seven children around her. I went back home and sat down with the dead.” Hamad Mohammed Shamas (3)

_44652088_10“What will always stick in my memory is of a little boy that had come from the camps & his little body had no limbs. I can remember just holding him, holding his little body close. He was covered with blood and the life was running out of him. He was crying for his mother..They had also bulldozed buildings with people still inside, families still watching television, or having dinner. They bulldozed these people. They massacred these people. I saw bodies, piles of bodies, heaped up, mutilated & believe me they hadn’t been shot. It was like a scene from what I would have imagined happened in WWII to the Jews. They had been executed. Children, women, animals, anything that moved-they had massacred…It was horror in there, it was horror. The stench, the massacre. They are war crimes. But I shall certainly never forget. Of all the horrors & atrocities & of the many things that have happened to me when I was in Beirut, nothing can come close to what I witnessed in these camps. Nothing.” Deborah Thornton-Jackson (4)

_44655248_massacre“Despite evidence of what the UN Security Council described as a “criminal massacre,” and the ranking of the Sabra and Shatila massacres in humankind’s collective memory as among the most heinous crimes of the 20th century, the man found “personally responsible” for this crime, as well as his associates and the people who carried out the massacres, have never been pursued or punished.

The United Nations Security Council condemned the massacre with Resolution 521 (19 September 1982). This condemnation was followed by a 16 December 1982 General Assembly resolution qualifying the massacre as an “act of genocide.” (1)

(3) ©2002

all pics from the internet

Written by altahrir

September 16, 2016 at 12:38 pm

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If the Torah is relevant to the Israel-Palestine conflict, shouldn’t the Qur’an be accepted too?

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Family of the 18-year-old Gazan protestor mourn his killing by Israeli soldiers, Gaza, September 10, 2016

Family of the 18-year-old Gazan protestor mourn his killing by Israeli soldiers, Gaza, September 10, 2016

What’s so special about Israel-Palestine? The answer, if you’re a pro-Likud fan of hard-nut security policies and a slow, painful dissolution of a future Palestinian state, is simultaneously nothing at all, and everything at once. It’s one of many baffling ambiguities in the stance of such people, so don’t worry if you’re confused.

Pushing the line that Israel-Palestine is a special conflict are those on the pro-Israel side. They use lines like “Israel is the only Jewish state”; “Israel is a beacon of hope in the Middle East”; and “Israel is the only democracy in the region” and then expect nobody in the West to take a special interest in this, or make critiques of such a unique and extraordinary situation which is — as you might have guessed by now — a situation that pro-Israel activists themselves insist is extraordinary and unique. At the same time, the purist “New Anti-Semite” platoon compound this by arguing that criticism of Israel is anti-Semitic per se. These hardliners claim that Western human rights activists focus too much on Palestine, and the only possible reason for this could be because Israel is the only Jewish state and so critics of Israel are hotly anti-Semitic. I attempted to debunk these kind of claims recently; the “Western left” have many more interests than just Israel-Palestine, and leftist movements outside Britain and the USA focus on other territorial disputes.

A few months back, I had an interesting exchange with a self-confessed hard-line Zionist. He was refreshingly frank about this, and is an intelligent journalist with a wide range of good ideas; he was also perfectly happy to share more about his views. Regarding the 1948 Nakba (Catastrophe) and the creation of the Palestinian refugee crisis, he told me that, “The attendant expulsions, though very nasty, were at the very least no worse than (and much smaller than) those inflicted on Hindus and Muslims during the partition of India.” This is objectively true. He gave other examples: “Those inflicted on ethnic Germans under the Potsdam Agreement around the same time, or the Turkish-Greek exchange in the twenties. Nobody now questions any of those or seeks to reverse them. The victims have been resettled and not turned into hereditary stateless refugees. Why this one exception?” This was again the argument: “What’s so special about Israel-Palestine?”

The problem is that the Israel-Palestine conflict is special because it has a religious dimension, while many of these otherwise compelling counter-examples do not. The only exception I can think of is the Chinese occupation of Tibet, where the selection of the next Dalai Lama will most likely never happen, a desperate tragedy for a great nation and an even greater religion. Certainly, Western activists should take as much interest as they once did in Tibet, but for whatever reason, do not. In any case, Tibetans have been occupied, not displaced. The territories disputed thanks to Indian Partition did not regard territory that was itself religious, even if quite obviously there was a religious aspect to the division of the country. The expulsion of ethnic Germans was not only approved or at least not opposed by a vast majority of interested nations, unlike the Nakba it was perpetrated against a Germany which had inflicted untold harm on its neighbours, and it was done so without violence. It contained no religious elements. The 1923 Greek-Turkish exchange was ethno-nationalist in majority, with a light infusing of religion but which, like Indian Partition, did not contain specific concerns over specific religious sites. The Israel-Palestine conflict is special then, because it is a dispute which is inescapably linked to not just incidental sites of interest to Muslims, but also the place where their great Prophet ascended to the heavens during what they believe was a miraculous night journey.

Somehow and tragically, the pro-Palestinian side has incrementally lost this aspect of the debate to religionists on the opposing side. How many times do we hear, in the West, that the Jewish people have a right to a Torah-inspired “promised land” and how rarely do we hear about Prophet Muhammed being “taken by night from Al-Haram Mosque [Makkah] to Al-Aqsa Mosque whose precincts We did bless” as documented in the Qur’an? If the claim about Torah relevance is accepted as valid, why is Qur’an relevance not equally valid? Is the West taking sides here in terms of which religious text is more holy and acceptable?

How often do we hear arguments from evangelical Christians in support of Zionism, citing the Book of Revelations, the Gospels, the Old Testament and other parts of the Bible, and how rarely do we hear about the Prophet’s Companions who are buried in Jerusalem and its hinterland, or the acknowledgement of Jerusalem-dwellers about Islamic prophets such as Abraham, Moses, David, Solomon and Jesus? When Al-Aqsa Mosque is repeatedly desecrated by Israeli settlers, with sponsorship and desperate excuses from the Israeli political and media establishment, the response from the Western commentariat is hardly one of outrage. Jewish settlers enter the very site from where Prophet Muhammed’s ascension to the heavens took place but it is barely registered in the West, let alone criticised, yet if the Western Wall were daubed with pro-Palestinian graffiti, it would surely be reported and exaggerated as an unprecedented attack by jihadists of the most extreme kind.

The underlying problem here is both simple and ironic. There is something extremely special about Israel-Palestine that makes it stand apart from all the other territorial conflicts that are superficially similar. It is not just any ordinary territorial dispute, it is a religious issue, and not one over which Jews or Christians can claim a monopoly. Muslims have as much a religious right to Jerusalem, on account of their holy texts, as do the Jews or Christians on account of their own holy books.

The irony though is that by far the most popular local approach to resolution of the Israel-Palestine conflict is now Islamism, a religio-political ideology not dissimilar in underlying form, though obviously not practice, to Zionism. You would expect that the rise of Hamas, which makes clear on a local and regional level its religious rights to at least part-ownership of Jerusalem, would have translated to a revival of Western sympathy for the religious claims of Islam to Palestine, including Jerusalem. Of course it has not; the war on terror has put paid to that line of attack. Any Muslims making any religious claim to anything are automatically associated — by the ignorant, bigoted or naïve — with the most extreme forms of political Islam; think Al-Qaeda or Daesh. These slurs are made against religiously-minded political activists of the Muslim faith even if they are making claims based on Qur’anic text which pre-dates by centuries the rise of political Islamist ideology. It seems that while the Israel-Palestine conflict has “Islamised” and moved away from nationalist and Marxist solutions, the rhetoric from the pro-Palestinian movement has stepped back from Islamic arguments.

Perhaps this reticence to use religious rhetoric and its replacement by nationalist arguments couched in Western human rights terminology is not just because of neoconservative and muscular liberal opponents of any form of Islamism, and conservative Islam, but because the greatest support base for Palestine in the West is now from friendly leftists, who have themselves shunned religion. If your enemies say that to cite the Qur’an is violent, and your friends say that to rely on the Qur’an is not modern, is it any surprise that we hear a great more nowadays about religion from one side, the Israeli and Jewish side, and precious little from the Palestinian and Muslim side? It is as much the pro-Palestinian left that may be at fault here.

A concluding remark might be that it is no longer acceptable for pro-Israel activists to claim a religious monopoly on Jerusalem. If that line of attack can be reclaimed by Palestinians, it might also go some way to disputing the argument that there is “nothing special” about Israel-Palestine. It is a very special place indeed, and a very special conflict, incomparable to any other and of prime importance to the future of the Muslim world, the West, and at least three great religions. If you are a pro-Palestinian atheist (like me), don’t forget religion; it’s why we’re all here in the first place.

(Source / 14.09.2016)

Written by altahrir

September 14, 2016 at 4:36 pm

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Editors Note:

This article was first published on the 20th of October, 2015 but it is still relevant to the current situation in Syria and well worth the read.

By Maram Susli

In the few days that Russia has been fighting terrorism, it has achieved more than the US coalition has in years. According to the New York Times, Russian fighter jets are conducting nearly as many strikes in a typical day as the American-led coalition has been carrying out each month this year, a number which includes strikes conducted in Iraq – as well as Syria.

Even though the US has been bombing ISIS for over a year, ISIS has only grown more powerful and gained more ground in Syria. A few months ago ISIS took over the ancient city of Palmyra, a UNESCO world heritage-listed site.

In spite of the fact that the US government acknowledged ISIS cannot be defeated without ground troops, they have refused to work with the Syrian military. The Syrian military is the only UN-recognized legitimate force on the ground and the only force capable and willing to fight ISIS. Conversely, Russia is coordinating with the Syrian military on the ground assisting Syrian troops against terrorism.

The disparity between the US’s proclaimed goal of fighting terrorism and their lack of achievement towards this goal, shows a lack of honesty on the part of the US when it comes to its real agenda in Syria. The US is capable of more owing to the fact its military is the most powerful and technologically advanced force in the world. It is therefore logical to conclude that they are willfully throwing the fight against terrorism in Syria. The reasons for this should be further examined.

ISIS Serves US Geopolitical Interests, Threatens Russia’s

It has become increasingly clear that the US’s main objectives in Syria is not their expressed goal of ‘fighting ISIS’. Their goal are regime change, isolating Russian influence, balkanization of Syria Iraq, and the creation of failed states. US presidential candidate and former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton herself recently stated that ‘removing Assad is the top priority”. The presence of ISIS and other terrorists groups serves these interests.

The US sees the Syrian state as one of the last spheres of Russian influence beyond the borders of the former Soviet Union  and a threat to the US’s Israeli ally in the region. The US has a history of using terrorism to topple governments friendly to Russia. Al Qaeda itself was borne of the US objective to topple the Soviet friendly government of Afghanistan. The dismemberment of Russian-friendly Serbia and the creation of Kosovo was done via the same means.

More recently ISIS was a direct result of the US’s war on Iraq and it was only established in Libya and Syria due to overt US-backed regime change efforts in those countries. Although Libya and Iraq did not have relations with Russia as strong as Syria’s, Russia was still their main weapons supplier. Therefore it is unsurprising that in the days after Russia entered the war in Syria, Saudi clerics and the Muslim Brotherhood – both US state assets – declared ‘jihad’ on Russia.

The former Defence Intelligence Agency (DIA) Chief Michael Flynn said in an interview that he believed the US had made a willful decision to allow ISIS to grow in Syria. A 2012 declassified DIA report, predicted that if the US and its allies continued to destabilize Syria by arming extremist insurgents:

“there is the possibility of establishing a declared or undeclared Salafist principality in eastern Syria… and this is exactly what the supporting powers to the opposition want, in order to isolate the Syrian regime.”

The CIA had trained thousand of ‘rebels’, whom they admit were trained not to fight ISIS, but to fight the Assad government and Syrian military. The Washington Post reports:

“…the CIA has since 2013 trained some 10,000 rebels to fight Assad’s forces. Those groups have made significant progress against strongholds of the Alawites, Assad’s sect.”

This shows that the US’s Agenda in Syria is regime change and it demonstrates their readiness to spawn terrorists groups to that end.

Russia Has More to Gain by Truly Fighting Terrorism 

On the other hand, Russia has clear geopolitical interests behind defending the Syrian state against terrorism. Syria has been an ally of Russia for decades and it hosts Russia’s only Mediterranean naval base. Russian Foreign Minister Lavrov stated that Russia is entering Syria to prevent ‘another Libyan scenario,’ or in other words – to prevent it from turning into a failed state as the US had done to Libya.

Furthermore Russian interests in fighting terrorism are tied directly to Russia’s own national security. Russia has had problems in the past with terrorism within their own borders and in particular, Chechnya. Chechen fighters who have joined ISIS in Syria, have now threatened to take the fight to Moscow. Jabhat Al Nusra, Syria’s Al Qaeda faction, have also called for terror attacks in Russia. In an interview with 60 minutes, Russia’s President Vladimir Putin stated that it is better to fight terrorists in Syria than wait until they return to Russia.

Terrorism poses far greater risks to Russia’s national security than it does to the US. Not only is their proximity closer, but terrorists in Russia have the potential to cleave off part of the state and overrun entire Russian towns. This is not the case for the US, whose only risk to national security would be civilian deaths due to bombings and that is not necessarily something that the US government would find a real ‘problem’. In fact, they might even see it as a possible opportunity.

The US Seeks Only to Contain ISIS

Ignoring the drum beating of the NATO owned media and listening closely to statements by US policy makers, it can be understood that the US’s objective is not to defeat ISIS, but to contain them within Syria and Iraq’s borders indefinitely. This was admitted to by a member of the current US government and Democratic Party Representative, Adam Smith, who stated to CNN:

“…we need to find partners that we can work with in Syria to help us contain ISIS. So it is a difficult problem to figure out the best strategy. I agree, they have safe haven there in parts of Syria and that will have to be part of the strategy for containing ISIS.”

Chairman of the U.S. House Intelligence Committee Representative, Devin Nunes, told CBS news:

“I think we are containing ISIS within the borders of Iraq and Syria. Outside of that we’re not doing much.”

US President, Barack Obama, himself stated that he would like to like to:

“…continue to shrink ISIL’s sphere of influence, its effectiveness, its financing, its military capabilities to the point where it is a manageable problem.”

This suggests that President Obama wants to maintain ISIS’s sphere power to a contained manageable circle, like a diseases that is treated but never cured. Obama perhaps chose this policy on the advice of the Brooking Institute think-tank, which stated:

“Should we defeat ISIS? Rather than defeat, containing their activities within failed or near-failing states is the best option for the foreseeable future.”

 The US is Not Actually Bombing ISIS

The US bombing of ISIS has been mostly nominal, an exercise in perception management. Although the US military makes regular claims to have bombed specific targets, rarely is video evidence of the bombings published. On the other hand the Russian military regularly releases video of most of its strikes on Russia Today. There is no reason to accept US military statements at face value.

Facts indicate that the US refuses to bomb ISIS even when it has the opportunity. Leaked documents show that the US had forbidden its fighter pilots from targeting a long list ofISIS training camps, camps which turn out thousands of fighters a month. Award winning journalist, Robert Fisk, told the Australian program Lateline that the US could have bombed a convoy of ISIS militants who were taking over Palmyra, but instead allowed them to take over a Syrian military post and the ancient City which they have now begun to destroy. Likewise the US has largely avoided bombing ISIS and Al Qaeda targets in the Syrian district of North Hama, in an attempt to prevent Syrian troops from gaining ground. Russia is nowstriking these targets long before the benefactors of US-granted impunity. In the times the US has dropped bombs on ISIS run territory, they have used it as an opportunity to destroy Syria’s oil infrastructure.

The US Has ‘Forgotten’ its War with al Qaeda, Now Protects It

Perhaps the most ironic development of Russia’s involvement in Syria’s fight against terror, is the anger expressed by the US government and its media at Russia’s bombing of Al Qaeda (Jabhat Al Nusra) targets.

Former US National Security Adviser, Zbigniew Brzezinski, the man largely responsible for the creation of Al Qaeda, expressed through twitter his frustration at the fact Russia was targeting Al Qaeda as well as ISIS.

Pro-NATO media have all but forgotten the US’s war with Al Qaeda and in the last year avoided any mention of Al Qaeda’s existence in Syria, preferring to concentrate on ISIS instead. As of 2015, Google news engine reveals 219 million hits for ISIS and only 3 million hits for Al Qaeda. In keeping with this trend, Pro-NATO media has avoided bringing to light the fact Russia is bombing Al Qaeda. Exposing this fact would highlight the US’s inaction against Al Qaeda, while it has been fighting alongside the rebels.

In a CNN article accusing Russia of not targeting ISIS but rather the “Syrian rebels”, two maps displayed from the Institute for the Study of War show a very telling story. The first shows the areas in which Jabhat al Nusra controls or jointly controls parts of Syria, with its allies – the so called moderate rebels receiving US-backing. But on the next map which shows the location of Russian strikes, Jabhat al Nusra territory can scarcely be seen and the jointly controlled areas have been removed completely.

Though it can be said that the Nusra run areas are obstructed by highly concentrated Russian strikes, which showing Russia’s commitment to wiping out of the terrorist group. The fact that the second map does not even show the jointly held Al Qaeda areas and does not make Al Qaeda’s presence clear, reveals an attempt to downplay Russia’s fight against Al Qaeda. The reason for this is to conceal US’s comparative inaction against Al Qaeda, which makes up the bulk of the CIA backed insurgency. It also fits with NATO’s narrative that Russia is only targeting the so called ‘moderate rebels’. The US is angry Russia is bombing its Al Qaeda assets and hence are painting Russia as bombing ‘the good guys’ in order to pressure them to stop.

The US is Continuing to Fund and Arm Terrorists

The map further illustrates how US-backed ‘moderate rebels’ work alongside Al Qaeda, a fact which has become such common knowledge. Former Ambassador to Syria, Robert Ford, admitted to McClatchy news that the rebels supported Al Qaeda.

Recently ‘moderate rebels’ from the so-called “Free Syrian Army” Division 16 joined Al Nusra in their attacks against the Kurdish city of Sheikh Maqsud in Aleppo.  In the past, commanders of rebel groups labeled ‘moderate’ by the US government have even fought alongside ISIS and reiterated their support of ISIS in satellite news interviews. Pro-NATO media have even been reduced to calling the rebels ‘relatively moderate’. Relative to Al Qaeda and ISIS. In any case, ‘moderate’ has always been a relative term, unlike the word secular which is the NATO run media dare not use to describe the rebels.

Last week the US abandoned a Pentagon program training rebels to fight ISIS, after all but five defected to Al Qaeda taking their weapons and training with them. Past attempts by the US to arm ‘vetted rebels’ has resulted in TOW anti-tank missiles ending up in the hands of Al Qaeda. But instead of admitting to the fact that ‘moderate rebels’ do not exist and ceasing the illegal armament of extremist insurgents, the US government has instead chosen to openly back “established rebel groups” who have close ties to Al Qaeda. The US is now sending yet another shipment of TOW missiles to these extremist groups, through their ally Saudi Arabia.

Al Qaeda is not the only terrorist group the US has been accused of arming. This month,footage filmed by the Iraqi military of an oil refinery that had been captured by ISIS, shows US supply crates full of food and weapons delivered to Islamic State militants by parachutedrop. In 2014, footage of another US supply drop to ISIS in Kobane Syria also emerged online. Only a few days ago the US airdropped 50 tons of ammunition into Hasake region of Syria, an area partly run by ISIS. Most of the weaponry used by ISIS is US made. In January this year, an Iraqi MP Majid al-Ghraoui publically accused the US of supplying ISIS with weapons through airdrops.

Iraq Trusts Russia More Than the US in a Real Fight Against Terrorism

The Iraqi government has become increasingly suspicious of the US’ lack of real commitment in fighting ISIS. On the other hand, Russian strikes have thus far been so effective against ISIS that the Iraqi government has asked Russia to take on a bigger role against ISIS, than the US.

Russia has in turn signaled that it may start bombing ISIS in Iraq as well as Syria, with the permission of the Iraqi government. Unlike the US, Russia has not broken international law and has sought permission to enter Iraq and Syria from each respective state’s legitimate government.

With these actions Russia has called the US’s bluff on fighting ISIS, and is effectively forcing the US to do a better job of convincing the Iraqi government that it is truly fighting ISIS. If Russia does enter Iraqi airspace, it will more easily cross into Syrian airspace to provide supplies to the Syrian government, since the US has bullied many countries in the region to close their airspace to Russian aircrafts. Furthermore, if Iraq asks Russia to intervene it is a scenario that would reverse any of the influence the US had gained in Iraq, throughout its lengthy occupation of the country since 2003.

The US has been backed into a corner and in doing so, has exposed itself and its allies as the source of terrorism, not champions truly fighting it. Terrorism has always been a means by which the US has sought to deconstruct Russian spheres of influences. Ironically over the last decade it has also simultaneously perpetuated the myth that it is actually fighting a war against terror. However as its allied states grow increasingly tired of this game, how long can the US continue to juggle this duplicity, before the entire deck of cards crumbles?

(Source / 13.09.2016)

Written by altahrir

September 13, 2016 at 3:13 pm

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Brigitte Herremans over de radicaliserende staat Israël

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Jarenlange inzet om degelijke informatie te combineren met eerlijke inzet werd voor Brigitte Herremans (Broederlijk Delen / Pax Christi) het voorbije weekend “beloond” met een nacht in de cel, uitzetting en een inreisverbod dat 10 jaar duurt. Geen uitzondering, zegt Herremans, maar een duidelijk teken van de richting die Israël uitgaat.

‘Wat Broederlijk Delen betreft; onze passie voor die regio, en vooral onze inzet en onze overtuiging dat wij daar moeten voortwerken met onze partners, die wordt er alleen maar door bevestigd.’

Brigitte Herremans, Midden-Oosten expert van Broederlijk Delen en Pax Christi, arriveerde afgelopen vrijdag om 15 uur op de luchthaven van Ben-Gurion in Tel Aviv. Ze werd er apart genomen en een uur of zes vastgehouden en ondervraagd. De voornaamste vraag die de Israëlische ondervrager bleef herhalen, ging over haar voornaamste contacten in Israël, de Westelijke Jordaanoever en de Gazastrook. Mét hun telefoonnummer.

‘Ik werd gevraagd alle contactgegevens van mijn partnerorganisaties en contacten bloot te geven aan de Israëlische veiligheidsdienst. Dat is een vraag waar ik uiteraard niet op in ben gegaan’, zegt Herremans in een gesprek met MO*.

Brigitte Herremans: De veiligheidsdiensten traceren en volgen mensen, en schrikken ook niet terug voor intimidatie. Ik vreesde vooral voor mijn contacten in de Gazastrook en de Westbank. Omdat zij niet genieten van bescherming waar Israëlische burgers wel van genieten. De vraag was totaal onredelijk en het was onmogelijk om er op in te gaan.

Ik vreesde vooral voor mijn contacten in de Gazastrook en de Westbank. Omdat zij niet genieten van bescherming waar Israëlische burgers wel van genieten.

Die man zei: ‘Je weet wat de consequenties zijn van je weigering om mee te werken?’ Ik heb dat bevestigd. Om zeven uur ben ik dan geïnformeerd dat ik gedeporteerd zou worden en dat ik een inreisverbod van tien jaar zou krijgen. Dan ben ik naar een detentiecentrum weggebracht en heb ik de nacht daar in de cel doorgebracht. Om vijf uur ’s ochtends ben ik op het vliegtuig naar België gezet.

Hebben ze je computer doorzocht?

Brigitte Herremans: Neen, mijn bagage is wel onderzocht. Dat heb ik gezien. Maar van mijn computer zijn ze afgebleven. Als je nog meewerkt, vraagt men meestal: ‘Klap eens je computer open’, ‘Toon ons eens je facebookprofiel, of je twitteraccoun, toon ons je reisprogramma…’ Maar we zijn zo ver niet geraakt, omdat ik van in het begin eigenlijk niet heb willen meewerken.

Brigitte Herremans (Jeruzalem, 2004): ‘Ik reis al 22 jaar naar Israël. Wat is er veranderd? Israël weet dat het weggeraakt met ongeveer alle schendingen van het internationaal recht’

Heb je enig idee waarom je nu plots zo streng aangepakt werd? Na zo veel reizen naar Israël?

Brigitte Herremans: Ik reis al 22 jaar naar Israël. De laatste 15 jaar gemiddeld twee keer per jaar. Wat is er veranderd? Ik zie twee factoren. Israël weet dat het weggeraakt met ongeveer alle schendingen van het internationaal recht, en dat niemand hen een strobreed in de weg legt. Israël weet dat niemand in de internationale gemeenschap de nederzettingenbouw stopt, of de detentie van minderjarigen,…

De regering opent nu een nieuw front: het stilleggen van dissidente stemmen

En de regering opent nu een nieuw front: het stilleggen van dissidente stemmen. Israël is daarin niet uniek, kijk naar Rusland of China.

Israël heeft de jacht geopend op de Israëlische ngo’s, in juni, met de nieuwe NGO Wet. In juli is een task force opgericht in het ministerie van Buitenlandse Zaken, om alle activisten die actief zijn in de BDS-beweging op te sporen. [BDS: Boycot Desinvestering Sancties] Broederlijk Delen behoort niet tot de BDS-beweging. Maar voor Israël maakt het niet uit of je gewoon oproept tot een boycot van nederzettingsgoederen, of dat je volledig voor de BDS gaat. Voor Israël behoren wij tot degenen die onredelijke kritiek geven en stilgelegd moeten worden.

Heb je het gevoel dat de afgelopen maanden meer mensen in die situatie verkeerd hebben? Of is dit voor jou toch nog een beetje een donderslag bij heldere hemel?

Brigitte Herremans: Het was zeker geen donderslag bij heldere hemel. Ik was er op voorbereid en wist ook dat het misschien ging gebeuren. Ook omdat ik al langer werd lastiggevallen door een groep, The NGO Monitor, die heel haatdragende berichten stuurt op Twitter en die heel dicht bij de Israëlische regering staat. En ik weet dat er nog incidenten zijn van mensen, Europese activisten die worden uitgezet.

Maar het is redelijk uitzonderlijk dat met Belgen gebeurt. Vroeger gebeurde het vooral bij activisten en solidariteitsorganisaties. Nu is dus duidelijk dat er een tandje wordt bijgestoken voor de grote ngo’s en dat men die dus ook over één kam scheert met alle activisten.

Betekent dit ook dat de democratische ruimte binnen Israël krimpt?

Brigitte Herremans: Oh ja. Zienderogen. Een paar jaar geleden was mijn stelling: Israël is geen perfecte democratie, ze maakt een onderscheid tussen Arabieren en Joden, met een voorkeur voor die laatsten, maar mensen kunnen toch rekenen op de rechtstaat. Ik beschouw mezelf ook altijd, het klinkt een beetje sentimenteel, een vriendin van Israël. Israël heeft zaken te bieden die andere, omliggende staten niet te bieden hebben.

‘Ze willen ons gewoon via arbeidsintensieve procedures afhouden van ons echte werk.’

Maar ik zie dat die democratische positie de voorbije vier jaar tegen een razend tempo wordt uitgehold. Het is eigenlijk begonnen met deTransparency Law, een vijftal jaar geleden, waarmee ngo’s verplicht werden meer te rapporteren.

Ze moeten nu drie tot vier keer per jaar een boekhouding aangeven bij de Israëlische overheid. Het is goed dat ngo’s transparant zijn, maar of je nu één of vier keer per jaar rapporteert, dat maakt gewoon niet uit.

Brigitte Herremans in Jaffa (2014): ‘Israël wil geen compromissen en daardoor radicaliseert het van binnenuit’

Veel van mijn collega’s zeiden toen: ‘Ze willen ons gewoon via arbeidsintensieve procedures afhouden van ons echte werk.’ Zo is dat begonnen: de pesterijtjes, dan heb je de NGO Bill die bij elke publieke communicatie verplicht aan te geven dat de organisatie middelen uit het buitenland krijgt. En dan zijn er in toenemende mate de fysieke bedreigingen. Bijna al mij Israëlische collega’s hebben al fysieke bedreigingen gekregen, doodsbedreigingen. De verhalen zijn gewoon… tja, ontzettend erg. Ik heb daar ook gezien, de afgelopen jaren op het terrein, als ik met Israëlische vrienden en collega’s rondtrok, dat zij vaak op hun ongemak waren, over hun schouder keken.

En je voelt dat de overheid dat eigenlijk stimuleert. Want een aantal ngo’s, eigenlijk privé gefinancierde organisaties ontsnappen aan de eis tot transparantie en krijgen van de overheid een vrijgeleide om haat te verspreiden. En dan heb je de kolonisten. Het geweld van de kolonisten.

Eigenlijk denk ik dat religieus nationalisten, de fundamentalisten, de Israëlische staat aan het overnemen zijn

Er begint ook in Israël zelf een heel discours door te dringen tot de basisfundamenten van de staat en het leger.. Vroeger heerste in het leger de overtuiging dat als de verkozen overheid een beslissing had genomen, bijvoorbeeld om zich terug te trekken uit Gaza, dat niet kon worden aangevochten.

Nu zie je veel meer officieren vanuit de National Religious Movement, dus de nationalistische kolonisatiebeweging, die tegen de fundamenten van de machtsverdeling in de staat beginnen ingaan. Eigenlijk denk ik dat religieus nationalisten, de fundamentalisten, de Israëlische staat een beetje aan het overnemen zijn. En de staat laat dat gebeuren want zij is bezig met de maximale kolonisatie van Palestijns land.

Wordt deze evolutie gestuurd en geleid door Netanyahu?

Brigitte Herremans: Het is breder dan Netanyahu. Hij is natuurlijk wel een van de aanstichters geweest. Hij is de kolonisten gerust gaan stellen in Jeruzalem, hij heeft de lijn uitgestippeld van redelijke of onredelijke verzettelijkheid. ‘Wij gaan nooit weg uit Groot-Jeruzalem, of uit Eretz Israël (Groot Israël). Dat discours heeft vrij spel gegeven aan die nieuwe radicale krachten zoalsHaBayit HaYehudi (Joods huis) van (Naftali) Bennett. Dat is eigenlijk de voortzetter van die nationaal-religieuze beweging.

Die groepen hebben wel een gemeenschappelijke visie: geen Palestijnse staat en mensenrechtenactivisten afremmen

Maar Bennett vergeet dat die nationaal-religieuzen vroeger wel humanistische waarden hadden. Hij koppelt dat volledig aan Israël als Joodse staat en Arabieren moeten buiten. Dus ik denk dat Netanhayu de wegbereider was en dat we zien dat, door dat verziekt klimaat er een aantal nieuwe groepen zijn kunnen ontstaan, die vooral die kolonistenbeweging versterken. Die groepen zijn het onderling ook niet altijd eens met elkaar, maar ze hebben wel een gemeenschappelijke visie, denk ik. Die visie is: geen Palestijnse staat en mensenrechtenactivisten afremmen.

Zou je kunnen zeggen dat er een radicalisering van de Israëlische staat bezig is?

Brigitte Herremans: Absoluut ja. Europa beschouwt Israël nog altijd als een steunpilaar voor de westerse beschaving in het Midden-Oosten, dat nu volledig aan het radicaliseren en destabiliseren is. En Israël weet dat het een belangrijke partner voor de EU blijft, en dat veel burgers hen nog als een heel democratisch land beschouwen.

Maar wie zich informeert kan niet anders dan toegeven dat Israël twee zaken wil die fundamenteel onverzoenbaar zijn: enerzijds een zo groot mogelijk Israël en een zo klein mogelijke Palestijnse staat en anderzijds vrede en stabiliteit. Israël wil geen compromissen en daardoor radicaliseert het vanbinnenuit, inderdaad. En wij – beleidsmakers en burgers in Europa – hebben enkel aandacht voor Palestijnse radicalisering. Dat is jammer, omdat we daarmee de oorzaken van dat conflict niet blootleggen.

‘Wat Broederlijk Delen betreft; onze passie voor die regio, en vooral onze inzet en onze overtuiging dat wij daar moeten voortwerken met onze partners, die wordt er alleen maar door bevestigd.’

Wat nu? Als jij tien jaar lang niet meer naar Israël mag, kan je dan je werk nog blijven doen? Kan solidariteit met de Palestijnen lamgelegd worden door dit soort optreden?

Israël vergist zich als het gematigde stemmen het land uitzet. Want daardoor zien nog meer mensen waar Israël naartoe gaat.

Brigitte Herremans: Ik was echt verbouwereerd door de massa’s reacties die ik gekregen heb. Dat gaat niet over mij als individu, dat gaat over het feit dat we voor iets staan, als Broederlijk Delen, andere ngo’s of alternatieve media. Het gaat over het feit dat wij staan voor een visie van hoop en verandering. Ik zie vandaag, door die tientallen, honderden zelfs, reacties dat mensen vredeskrachten in Israël en Palestina, willen blijven ondersteunen. Dat zal nog toenemen, denk ik.

Ik denk dat Israël zich toch vergist als het gematigde stemmen als ikzelf, die oog hebben voor zowel Israëlische als Palestijnse bekommernissen, die pleiten voor vrede, het land uitzet. Want daardoor worden nog meer mensen de ogen geopend over waar Israël naartoe gaat.

Wat Broederlijk Delen betreft; onze passie voor die regio, en vooral onze inzet en onze overtuiging dat wij daar moeten voortwerken met onze partners, die wordt er alleen maar door bevestigd. Ik kan mijn werk de komende maanden perfect voortzetten. Ik kan dat ook aanvechten bij de Israëlische ambassade. Voor ons is dit geen einde, integendeel. Voor ons is dat een heel duidelijke bevestiging van de noodzaak om op een gematigde, maar tegelijkertijd ook heel uitgesproken manier onrecht te bestrijden.

(Source / 13.09.2016)


Written by altahrir

September 13, 2016 at 2:49 pm

Posted in Opinion others

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