Press gives Israel pretext to attack Gaza – David Cronin Media Watch (Electronic Intifada)

The kite is now Israel’s most fearsome adversary. 

Dawoud Abo Alkas APA images

Journalists in Britain and Ireland often refer to the summer months as the “silly season.” Little of consequence is happening, the media apparently decide, so we can treat trivia as newsworthy.

I’m not sure if hot weather is to blame but much recent coverage of Gaza is quite silly. Perspective has been discarded as kites and balloons have been depicted as major threats.

These are “weapons that are designed to kill,” according to an Israeli military spokesperson quoted in a Financial Times feature. Fixated on these high-flying incendiary devices, the feature omitted a pertinent fact: nobody has actually been killed by them.

Silly reporting of this nature serves Israel well. An aggressive state that has committed a number of massacres this year alone is cast as a victim.

Intentionally or not, the press is offering pretexts for Israel to launch another major offensive against Gaza. Any such attack would then be presented as an act of retaliation – or even of self-defense.

While every form of Palestinian resistance gets maligned, Israel’s weapons industry is treated with the greatest imaginable respect.

Dozens of Israeli firms took part in a Paris fair earlier this month. Eurosatory – as the event is called – was jointly organized by France’s defense ministry and arms lobby.


Some journalists helped out Israel’s exhibitors in Paris by suggesting that their new weapons could be used in Gaza.

Ynet, an Israeli website, claimed that a new drone on display at Eurosatory had been developed “to counter the threat posed by incendiary kites.”

Although the drone is named Firefly, it is impossible to believe that it suddenly materialized following the very recent discovery that the kite is Israel’s most fearsome adversary. Rafael, the Israeli firm behind the Firefly, did not mention kites or balloons in an announcement about its booth at Eurosatory.

Rather, it stated that the drone had been “designed for urban area warfare,” in which the “enemy is behind cover.” How can kites or balloons be considered as “behind cover” if they are flying in a clear blue sky?

Fox News is similarly known to hype up Israel’s weapons.

A puff piece on Fox’s website about a new Israeli armored vehicle – the Mantis – celebrated its aesthetic appeal. The Mantis looks like it has been built of Lego and has been described as “part aircraft cockpit and part sports car” and as a “space buggy,” Fox reports.

Fashion accessories

Weapons are occasionally portrayed almost as fashion accessories. Army Recognition, an outlet specializing in the arms trade, tells its readers that new Israeli guns are available in four shades, including “flat dark earth” and “sniper gray.”

The maker of these guns, Israel Weapon Industries, supplied rifles used to kill and maim unarmed protesters in Gaza over the past few months. But that fact is nowhere to be found in the aforementioned Army Recognition story.

The color of the weapons has been deemed more significant than the crimes from which their manufacturers seek to profit.

Reporters who fetishize Israeli weapons are failing – perhaps deliberately – to investigate what is really going on. Among the issues that should be probed are Israeli boasts that its weapons are “battle-tested” or “combat proven” – euphemisms for how they have been used to kill and wound Palestinians.

Shir Hever’s latest book The Privatization of Israeli Security sheds light on this sordid reality. Hever demonstrates how Israel has become increasingly reliant on selling its tools of oppression abroad.

A phenomenal 80 percent of all weapons produced by Israel are exported, according to data cited by Hever, a left-wing economist. Relative to population size, Israel is the world’s largest vendor of arms.

Israel’s arms sales rose markedly following Operation Cast Lead, its attack on Gaza in late 2008 and early 2009.

Desmond Travers, a retired Irish colonel, was part of a United Nations team which conducted an inquiry into that offensive. He argues that the Israeli arms industry is cynically exploiting the use of its products against Palestinians for marketing purposes.

“Any company known to have tested weapons on non-combatants should be precluded from exhibiting those weapons in open, democratic countries,” Travers told me.

Governments that buy from Israel’s war industry are allowing Israel to convert the suffering it inflicts on Palestinians into shekels. Surely, that warrants more attention than the threats posed by kites and balloons.


How I Became an Anti-Israel Jew – by Marika Sherwood (MINTPRESS)

Demonstrators wear shirts reading "Boycott Israel" during a protest against President Donald Trump's decision to recognize Jerusalem as Israel's capital at Republique Square in Paris, France, Dec. 9, 2017. (AP/Kamil Zihnioglu)

“Was this what they died for? My relatives, all those Jews, all those thousands of names on the memorials? Was this horror of a racist, repressive state the result of their deaths?”

Bear with me. This is very difficult to write, but write it I must, however much the putting of words on paper intensifies the pain.

When I was a small girl on a street corner in Budapest, watching a convoy of camp inmates being returned, I cried. No, not tears. By then I had learned not to cry, not to be a softie. You had to be tough to survive. So the sobs were inside and there were words to go with them: “Ez nem történhet megint, nem történhet megint” – This can’t happen again, can’t happen again.

That phrase now, some forty and more years later, is still alive in me. It has been a kind of guiding light in my life. However, for me, the words were not, are not, solely about the persecution and murder of Jews. For as long as I can remember, the phrase has always meant, “No more oppression. No more exploitation. No more discrimination against people different in some way from myself. No more enslavement. No genocide.”

In trying to discover the genesis of my Catholic, ecumenical definition, I have only been able to disinter three relevant memories. My mother and I, and my grandparents survived the Second World War by assuming false, Christian identities. A Christian family gave some of their identity papers to us and we had forgeries made to go with the real documents. I must have been taught – by whom? – about the town in which the papers said I had been born –as I was Budapest-bred, as was my mother.

My second glimpse of my much-suppressed past is of the priest who baptized us so that we could have more genuine documents to prove our supposed non-Jewishness. At the ceremony, I remember that my grandmother (a practicing Jew) was fearful of the holy water actually touching her: the priest helped her to fold her shawl about her head and shoulders to protect her from such “contamination”.

The third memory is of my father who, having somehow survived the military labor corps (he would never speak about it), arrived back in Budapest. He had managed to discover our address but not our assumed names. So he came to the huge, partly burned-out block of flats and asked for us by our real names “Oh,” said the concierge, “you mean Mrs… and Marika. Go up to the fourth floor. Flat 14.” So they must all have known, all those gentiles with whom we had shared the bombing of the city, that we were Jews. Though the Nazis offered rewards for information on hidden Jews, no one had given us away. They had protected us with their lives, as anyone harboring Jews could face the firing squad on the banks of the Danube.

So you see, I could never divide the world into Jew and non-Jew. It was always more complex than that.


I grew up, in Budapest and then in Sydney (Australia), with all the scars left by the war; those left directly on me and passed on to me from the remnants of my emotionally damaged family. Because I did not want to be so hurt ever again; because I did not want to be the target of anti-semitism in Australia, I joined a Christian church. This phase did not last long because I discovered that I had no faith in the Christian God, or any god, or organized religion. It could only be the most malevolent of gods that could allow a war such as I had lived through, or the continuing discrimination and wars. At about the same time I also discovered that I did not want to be – could not be – an Australian. I reclaimed my dual heritage: a Hungarian Jew.

What was my relationship to Israel at that time? My first serious quarrel with my father was about Israel. I felt very romantic about Israel and dreamt of going to live there when I “grew up”, although I knew nothing about it. There were no discussions about Israel in my family, as far as I can remember. Then my father (also a secular Jew) began collecting money for tree-planting in Israel. This led to me asking why, if he was really pro-Israel, hadn’t we gone to live there. I accused my father of being a hypocrite, of salving his conscience with money, when we should have been there, fighting for our rights.

Then came 1956. My heart was with both the Hungarian and the Israeli fighters. I also felt proud that Jews were showing the world that they weren’t just lambs led to the slaughter and they could also fight. (I don’t know why I didn’t know about the war of 1948, perhaps because that was the year of our emigration from Budapest.)

Sometime after this – and I have no associated memories to enable me to date the broadcast – I heard a news item about Israelis herding Palestinians into settlement camps. I just could not believe this. Weren’t the Israelis also Jews? Hadn’t we – they – just survived the greatest pogrom of our history? Weren’t [concentration] camps – often euphemistically called “settlement camps” by the Nazis — the main feature of this pogrom? How could Jews in any measure do unto others what had been done to them? How could these Israeli Jews oppress and imprison other people? In my romantic imagination, the Jews in Israel were socialists and people who knew right from wrong. This was clearly incorrect. I felt let down, as if I was being robbed of a part of what I had thought was my heritage. It was all too painful, so I tried to put it out of my mind.

Not, though, for long. I had a distant relative in Sydney, a young woman of my own age. On a long visit to Israel, she fell in love with a Sabra (a Jew born in Israel) and decided to emigrate to Tel Aviv to marry. I have their wedding photo. He was killed in the 1967 war.

I asked Eva about Israel. She told me of the class system: Sabras, Western Europeans, East Europeans, Russians, non-European Jews and then Arabs, in that order. I was then studying for my degree in sociology. I questioned Eva closely, each question eliciting answers more and more painful to hear. So much for Jewish socialism, and for Jews to discriminate on a racial basis! Shall we never learn? We were evidently not a chosen people; we were no different from anybody else, just as greedy and generous, weak and strong, socialist and capitalist, wise and foolish.

Time and history rumbled on. I read a little Jewish history, especially — as by then I was living in London — the history of Jews in England. I learned that there was little cross-class unity among British Jews. Jews are no more homogenous than the much-vaunted (by the Tories) “homogenous English”.

I still put aside a study of the history of Israel. What little I gleaned came from journals and newspapers, which generally carried few articles critical of, or antagonistic towards, Israel. The little I learned of the treatment of the Palestinians was enough to confirm my anti-Zionism. The means used for the securing of a homeland could never, in my eyes, be justified. Palestine had to be the homeland of the Palestinians as much as Israel was the homeland of the Jews. Ousting Palestinians from their homes, bulldozing their villages, annexing their lands, imprisoning them, shooting them, torturing them; no “ends” could be justified by such means. The state of Israel had become a perversion.

a Palestinian girl walks next to destroyed houses, in the Shijaiyah neighborhood of Gaza City

My sense of betrayal grew. A question surfaced: was this what they died for? My relatives, all those Jews, all those thousands of names on the memorials? Was this horror of a racist, repressive state the result of their deaths?

I forced the question aside and turned away from my pain into that of others. I was by then living on the edges of Harlem in New York, working in the local schools and colleges and prisons. When the Israelis allowed/condoned/abetted the massacres at the Sabra-Shatila Palestinian refugee camps in Beirut, I felt that I would explode with anger, disgust and pain. However, I did nothing about these emotions or the nagging feeling that I must do some serious reading about Israel. I worked harder, began research for another book, and returned to London.

Then came the opportunity to give a lecture on a topic of my choice at a summer school where I was to teach. I now had a structure within which I could confront books on Israel and set about preparing for a lecture on the arms trade and the Third World, with case studies on Guatemala, South Africa and Israel.

Let me summarise for you what I had learned about Israel in this context. Guatemala is currently the most repressive regime in Central America: about 60,000 have been killed by the police/military/plantation police forces; about a million Indians have been dislocated by the government and a further 100,000 have sought refuge in Mexico. Israel not only has trading links with Guatemala, it equips, trains and advises the police and the army. Israel, I discovered, also supplies arms to the repressive Contras in Nicaragua.

Though a signatory to the UN arms embargo on South Africa, Israel has continued to supply arms to the apartheid regime to the value of between $400 and $800 million annually. Recently, under pressure from the US Congress from whom it receives $2 billion worth of military aid and credits every year, the Israeli government has announced that it will not make new investments in South Africa or sign new contracts for arms. However, as Israel will honor its existing arms contracts, whose termination dates have not been announced, I do not believe that it will stop this aspect of its lucrative relationship with South Africa. Israel also has about 15,000 of its soldiers and technical experts aiding the South African war against its own peoples and neighbors. Moreover, despite the suppression of Mordechai Vanunu (an Israeli of Moroccan origin) it is now well accepted that Israel and South Africa have jointly developed atomic weapons. Israel also aids the South African economy by re-packaging, finishing and part-assembling South African goods, which, when stamped with the “Made in Israel” label, enjoy duty-free entry into the EEC [the forerunner of the EU] and the USA.

I know, now that I have begun, that not only must I force myself to read more, but I must speak out. I have to say to the Israeli government, which claims to speak in the name of all Jews, that it is not speaking in my name. I will not remain silent in the face of the attempted annihilation of the Palestinians; the sale of arms to repressive regimes around the world; the attempt to stifle criticism of Israel in the media worldwide; or the twisting of the knife labeled “guilt” in order to gain economic concessions from Western countries. Of course, Israel’s geopolitical position has a greater bearing on this, at the moment. I will not allow the confounding of the terms “anti-Semitic” and “anti-Zionist” to go unchallenged.

I am still searching for an answer to my question — what did they die for? — although I have some idea: they died because they were Jews, because of who they were; much as the Armenians died, or the Tasmanians, or the native peoples of Australia and the Americas, and millions of Africans. They were in the way of, or were exploited by, the economic or nationalist or colonialist aspirations of a stronger people. Genocide is genocide, no matter who practices it against whom, or under what pretext.

I asked you to bear with me. These feelings and ideas are very painful, you see. I am not an anti-Semitic Jew, nor do I hate myself. I can even say that I am proud to be a Jew because some of us always have and still do struggle for the equality of peoples and classes and abhor all form of exploitation and oppression.

Top Photo | Demonstrators wear shirts reading “Boycott Israel” during a protest against President Donald Trump’s decision to recognize Jerusalem as Israel’s capital at Republique Square in Paris, France, Dec. 9, 2017. (AP/Kamil Zihnioglu)

Hungarian-born Marika Sherwood is the author of a number of books and articles. Her most recent books are After Abolition; Britain, The Slave Trade and Slavery from 1562 to the 1880s (2007); Origins of Pan-Africanism: Henry Sylvester Williams, Africa and the African Diaspora (2010); Malcolm X: Travels Abroad (2011); World War II: Colonies and Colonials. (2013). Her current research is on the beginning of the Cold War in the Gold Coast in 1948.

Middle East Monitor is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 4.0 International License.

Stories published in our Daily Digests section are chosen based on the interest of our readers. They are republished from a number of sources, and are not produced by MintPress News. The views expressed in these articles are the author’s own and do not necessarily reflect MintPress News editorial policy.

An intimate portrait of Palestine: Ramzy Baroud’s ‘The Last Earth: A People’s Story of Palestine’ – By Vacy Vlazna

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The Last Earth: A People’s Story of Palestine
By Ramzy Baroud
296 pp. Pluto Press, $20.00

Dr Ramzy Baroud’s new book, The Last Earth: A People’s Story of Palestine is described simplistically as a ‘non-fictional narrative of modern Palestinian history.’

It is much, much more. For us readers, it is an intimate encounter, chapter by chapter, wherein we are entertaining new friends; having the privilege of listening to, savouring and indeed cherishing the rarely heard Palestinian stories saturated with the fears, joys, suffering, and triumphs of the human spirit.

Baroud’s approach and praxis of a people’s history debunks the traditional accepted notion of Carlyle’s Great Man theory which proposes, “The history of the world is but the biography of great men,” with the Elite Hero as its absolute focal point.

Baroud, however, by honouring the archetypal hero within our deepest selves connects us to the shared aliveness of the Palestinian Other; of Matsam, Khaled, Jamal Khaleel, Tamam, Um Marwan, KamalHana, Sara, Ali, Leila and many more as well as solidarity friends like Joe.

With alchemical brilliance, he has, in the crucible of his art, purified hours of recorded interviews on love stories, generations of births, childhoods, disappearances, adversity, torment, deaths into the essence of Love and Truth and the magic is – we too are purified and illumined by a powerful knowing that can never be un-known.

As an activist, commentator, author, editor, poet, Baroud’s prodigious energy equals his prodigious sense of responsibility to Palestine’s struggle for political and human rights. His articles have an intellectual discipline to fine analysis and facts, while under the poetic sheen of The Last Earth, honesties are excoriated and refined through a powerful emotional turbulence; tender and intolerable.

The Last Earth presents eight personal stories, I shall touch only upon three stories, The Spirit of the Orchard, Death Note and Letters to Heba and leave the remaining five for your discovery.

The Spirit of the Orchard encapsulates the revolutionary spirit that is rooted in the earth of Palestine, growing upward through Palestinian hearts and rendered a force by family. Across three generations trapped in Israeli brutality, the story of Yousef, Hamda, Salim, Um Marwan, Mahmoud and their children, Marwan, Kamal, Iman proves that, when Palestine and her children are under threat, ordinary people become heroic and women emerge from their kitchens and orchards as lionesses wedging themselves, “between screaming children and angry soldiers” and tend, like Fatima, to the wounds of Palestine’s champions. That this is a true story is both sobering and soaringly inspirational.

Death Note: News of Hana Shalabi’s arrest and her later deportation to Gaza never revealed what happened in between. Her story expands beyond the news bites to the Nakba and her family’s expulsion from Haifa to Burqin near Jenin where her father, Yahya  and mother, Badia met and married, where her teenage neighbour, Mohammed was shot by Israeli soldiers before her eight-year old eyes, where her revolutionary siblings Omar and Amar and sister, Huda were arrested, where nearby Israelis crushed Palestinian resistance and demolished the camp, where her martyred brother Samir is buried, where Hana was arrested without evidence for being a threat to Israel by the Palestinian Authority which turned her over to the Israelis. Hana’s phenomenal defiance is measured above and beyond the humiliation, physical and mental torture she endured for 25 months. The brutality was repeated with her second arrest in 2012 and this time her demand for justice was a hunger strike for 47 days that brought her to death’s edge and exile to Gaza.

Letters to Heba reminds me of the trials of Job for such is the harsh history, the vagrant odyssey and personal, physical and mental sacrifices of Palestine’s freedom fighters. Ali Abumghasib is now an old man, a noble Bedouin and battle scarred veteran soldier of the resistance and his story unfolds through his letters to his daughter, listed as a missing person from Deraa refugee camp in Syria. In 1948, the Abumghasib family were torn from their village Wadi Al-Shalalah in Bir Al-Saba and fled to Gaza. In the 1967 Naksa, Ali escaped to Jordan where at 17 he joined the PLO. Decades later, back in Gaza, Ali clings to the hope of reuniting with Heba. One fervently hopes that with Heba, his odyssey will soon culminate in his return home to Wadi Al-Shalalah.

As I read these beautifully written narratives, I easily relate to the childhood pleasures, teenage crushes, falling in love, connection to place but I wondered at the soul strength of Palestinians for whom normality is the violence of the illegal Israeli occupation and I wondered how would I cope with losing my home and not knowing for decades whether it was blown up, demolished or unlawfully inhabited, sans compensation, by foreign forces? How would I cope with the devastating murders of my parents, or siblings, or neighbours and friends? Could I relinquish my dead child (children) for burial? Could I bear torture? Have I the strength for a 47-day hunger strike? I don’t know the answers but I do know that I bow with great respect to the Palestinian warrior soul.

These stories set in the default position of exile and loss, whether within Palestine or the diaspora, challenge Israel’s monolithic propaganda and rearticulation of Palestinian history, stolen and maimed over decades of savage Zionist colonisation. The Last Earth redresses and reclaims Truth built on the abiding, unfaltering Love for the stolen Palestinian homeland sealed with sumoud in indomitable refugee hearts.

This is a dangerous book because by inviting us into an intimacy with the people of Palestine, it predicates compelling moral action to end the monstrous injustice; for this reason Baroud’s The Last Earth must be read and shared.

About Vacy Vlazna

Dr. Vacy Vlazna is Coordinator of Justice for Palestine Matters and editor of a volume of Palestinian poetry, I remember my name. She was Human Rights Advisor to the GAM team in the second round of the Acheh peace talks, Helsinki, February 2005 then withdrew on principle. Vacy was convenor of  Australia East Timor Association and coordinator of the East Timor Justice Lobby as well as serving in East Timor with UNAMET and UNTAET from 1999-2001.

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Israel Lost in Syria. But It Already Has a Backup Plan – By Paul Kaiser

Israel was betting on “moderate” rebels gutting Syria. Its backup plan is to wear down Hezbollah until it can “deal” with Iran

Sun, Mar 12, 2017 | 7,909 165

They lost the battle for Syria, but the war continues
They lost the battle for Syria, but the war continues

The entire world celebrated after Russian President Vladimir Putin invited Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu to join the real world during the Sore Loser Summit in Moscow on March 9. 

But the Israelis are not so easily convinced, unfortunately. 

Now that it has been denied a nice chunk of Syrian territory (as a buffer zone, of course), Israel has set its sights once again on Lebanon. 

Former U.S. Congresswoman Cynthia McKinney pointed us to Israel’s Plan B:

AlterNet has republished a real eye-opener from The Arab Weekly about growing tensions between Israel and Hezbollah. The thesis of the piece is that while “mutual deterrence”  has provided for an uneasy ceasefire, the conflict in Syria has made it clear that a new war is almost certain — and it will “dwarf” the 2006 conflict:

The focus on Hezbollah in recent years has been on the party’s intervention in Syria rather than its 3-decade struggle against Israel. But Hezbollah’s leadership is acutely aware that an Israeli government may conclude that there will never be a better time to launch an offensive against its old enemy than while Hezbollah is fighting in Syria.

Hezbollah is still very focused on the front with Israel with many of its top fighters, especially anti-tank missile teams and rocket units, remaining in Lebanon rather than being deployed to Syria.

The western media has completely ignored Israel’s role in the conflict, but Israel has never denied that it periodically bombs Syria:

Netanyahu has said that Israel has carried out dozens of strikes to prevent weapons smuggling to the Iranian-backed Lebanese group Hezbollah via Syria. 

Or as the Times of Israel puts it:

Despite Russia’s alliance with Iran and Hezbollah in Syria, Israel has reportedly carried out a number of airstrikes against weapons convoys heading to Lebanon, vowing that it won’t let advanced missile systems or chemical weapons fall into Hezbollah’s hands.

Moscow has repeatedly stated that Hezbollah has played a decisive role in combating ISIS and other terrorist groups in Syria — which will make any future Israeli war against Hezbollah a serious diplomatic crisis. 


Israel has also found other creative ways of trying to impose its will on Syria:

Israel has been providing logistic support and medical assistance to opposition forces – including Jabhet al-Nusra terror organization – fighting President Bashar Assad.

Israeli warplanes have repeatedly targeted Syrian Army positions under the pretext of preventing sophisticated weapons from reaching the Lebanese Hezbollah group.

Yes, Netanyahu came to Moscow and cried about Iran. But if you think Israel is interested in joining the real world — think again. 



When Olives Need Harvesting – by Richard Edmondson


The challenges faced by Palestinian olive farmers during harvest season each year are considerable. This year has been no different.

Report: Israeli Settlers Steal Harvest of 400 Olive Trees

5 Pillars

Occupying Israeli settlers have stolen the harvest of 400 olive trees planted on private Palestinian land, farmers in Nablus told Ma’an News earlier this week.

Ghassan Daghlas, a Palestinian official who monitors settlement activities in the northern West Bank, told Ma’an that more than 30 Palestinian families from the Nablus district village of Deir Sharaf entered their agricultural lands yesterday after being banned since Friday by Israeli authorities.

According to Daghlas, the families “were shocked to find out that Israeli settlers had picked the olives of 400 olive trees planted in their lands,” near the illegal Israeli settlement of Shavi Shamron.

“Israeli settlers stealing olive harvests is a crime against Palestinian farmers and their properties,” Daghlas said, denouncing “the Israeli government’s knowledge [of settlers’ actions] and the complete silence of international society and human rights organisations.”

Daghlas also demanded compensation for the Palestinian families who lost their olive harvest.

The olive harvest is an important economic and cultural event for Palestinians, with nearly half of all cultivated land in the occupied Palestinian territory planted with olive trees, according to the United Nations.

However, due to illegal settlement expansion, land confiscation, mobility restrictions due to Israel’s Separation Wall, and various permit laws, Palestinian farmers are often unable to access their land and the number of olive trees is dwindling.

This year’s olive harvest season, which began in October, has already witnessed attacks by illegal Israeli settlers and Israeli regime’s restrictions on Palestinian farmers and their lands.

The Palestinian government has no jurisdiction over Israelis in the West Bank, and violent acts carried out by illegal occupying Israeli settlers go unpunished.

Israeli human rights groups Yesh Din and B’Tselem have previously condemned the Israeli regime for failing to protect Palestinians from settler violence or to investigate attacks, particularly during olive harvest season when incidents of attacks occur on an almost daily basis.


Gaza Farmers Succeed in Tending to Olive Harvest–With International Support

By Joe Catron

During the recent olive harvest, which lasted from the end of September through October, dozens of Palestinian volunteers joined farmers in their groves near the tense barriers of the Gaza Strip.

The volunteers worked during a week at the height of the harvest season, from 20 to 27 October, in two of the farming districts most often targeted by Israeli forces: Beit Hanoun, around the Erez checkpoint in northern Gaza, and al-Qarara, a town in the Khan Younis area of the southern Gaza Strip.

Along with others near the “buffer zone” separating Gaza from present-day Israel, these areas face regular incursions by Israeli forces, which often send tanks and bulldozers to level farmland. Even more frequent are the bursts of gunfire aimed at farmers or others near the barrier erected by Israel.

These attacks have claimed vast tracts of productive farmland stretching hundreds of meters into the Gaza Strip, converting them to wasteland or fields of low-maintenance crops, most of which are wheat.

Abeer Abu Shawish, project coordinator for the Protection for Better Production campaign — a project of the Arab Center for Agricultural Development — said that more than fifty volunteers joined the effort.

The mobilization involved farmers’ organizations, like the Union of Agricultural Work Committees, and other groups across Gaza.

“Our partner organizations mobilized volunteers to help farmers in the restricted area harvest their olives,” Abu Shawish said. “They’re other farmers, civil society activists, women: all these people joined us this year.”


“We can just plant wheat and wait,” said Abu Jamal Abu Taima, a farmer in the village of Khuzaa outside Khan Younis. “Other crops need to be tended every day.”

Abu Jamal’s 50 dunams (a dunam is equivalent to 1,000 square meters), which he plans to sow with wheat after the November rains begin, once contained olive groves as well as greenhouses for an array of vegetables.

“We used to grow enough olives for seventy large bottles of olive oil,” he said. “Now? Six.”

In 2002, Israeli forces began razing Palestinian agricultural areas near the barrier, as well as along the Philadelphi Route by the Gaza Strip’s border with Egypt.

This included the demolition of Abu Jamal’s olive groves and greenhouses, as well as his home. “The Israelis destroyed them with four bulldozers, five huge tanks and three Hummers,” he said.

Since its occupation of the Gaza Strip and West Bank in 1967, Israel has uprooted 800,000 olive trees in those territories, Oxfam reported in 2011. As the graphic design activism initiative Visualizing Palestine recently illustrated, those trees would cover an area 33 times the size of New York City’s Central Park.

By 2013, according to the Palestinian ministry of agriculture in Gaza, Israeli forces had leveled “some 20,000 dunams of land areas planted with half a million trees” in the Gaza Strip, contributing to a local deficit in olive oil production of 60 percent (“Israeli crimes against farmers cause 60 percent deficit in olive production,” Palestine News Network, 24 September 2013).

In the West Bank, the destruction of olive trees by both Israeli settlers and occupation forces continues. Stop the Wall and the Palestinian Farmers’ Union have organized an accompaniment project there, the You Are Not Alone campaign. By 8 November, its volunteers had documented the burning and uprooting of 1,905 olive trees by settlers during this harvest season alone.

Toxic sewage

A report by Stop the Wall states that its list of attacks does not “pretend to be complete.” Among the problems encountered by farmers trying to reach their olive trees are “settlers pump[ing] toxic sewage water on agricultural land” (“Settlers burn and uproot 1,905 olive trees during the harvest season,” 8 November 2013).

On 28 October, the Israeli newspaper Haaretz published excerpts of a list of settler attacks on Palestinian olive groves and farmers maintained by the Israeli army (“Israeli attacks on Palestinian olive groves kept secret by state.”

The Israeli human rights organization Yesh Din has reported that Israeli occupation police “overwhelmingly failed to investigate the incidents and prosecute offenders,” noting that of 211 investigations actually opened between 2005 and June 2013, only four produced indictments (“97.4 percent of investigative files relating to damage of Palestinian olive trees are closed due to police failings,” 21 October 2013).

On 11 September, the Israeli army’s West Bank commander said his troops would destroy olive groves in the town of Yabad for unspecified “security purposes” (“Israeli authorities to destroy olive groves for ‘security purposes,” Ma’an News Agency, 9 November 2013).

“We are still here”

But the destruction of olive trees in the Gaza Strip is largely complete. For years Israel has used armored Caterpillar D9 bulldozers, accompanied by tanks, to clear away olive trees in the “buffer zone.” Farmers in the area, who face the constant threats of both gunfire and leveling of land, have little reason to plant any crop needing regular attention or significant resources, much less crops that require years of careful cultivation and maintenance.

“I want to plant more olive trees, and other things, but cannot,” Abu Taima said. “For now, I plant wheat.”

With exceptions — most notably a 28 October airstrike on an olive grove near Soudanya in the north of Gaza — the Strip’s olive harvest passed more quietly than most agricultural activities in the territory.

“We try to bring international attention to the farmers and discourage Israeli attacks on them,” the Protection for Better Production campaign’s Abu Shawish said. “By supporting them, we encourage them to access their lands and keep using them. It shows the Israelis we are still here, and we can access our lands without any fears. Farmers in the restricted area can resist the occupation by existing on their own lands.”

The Arab Center for Agricultural Development’s programs for farmers do not end with accompaniment, Abu Shawish explained. The organization has conducted intensive leadership training for 100 farmers from the Gaza Strip’s five governorates, in farmers’ rights as well as skills like public advocacy. It has also held awareness-raising workshops for 500 more farmers.

“We are interested in building a social movement for farmers in Gaza,” she said.

The workshops also aim to build popular support for boycotts of Israeli products and the purchase of Palestinian goods among farmers.

“These workshops are about how to encourage farmers themselves to be involved in the boycott campaign, and how they can help the national economy by boycotting Israeli agriculture,” Abu Shawish said.

“We try to encourage farmers to boycott Israeli agricultural goods and buy Palestinian products to support the local economy. It’s raising awareness. At the same time, it’s about getting farmers involved in the campaign itself.”

Abu Taima, too, has a path of resistance.

“For us, the land is something very important,” he said. “We cannot just leave it. We will not have another 1948. We will not leave our lands again.”

Joe Catron is a US activist in Gaza, Palestine. He co-edited The Prisoners’ Diaries: Palestinian Voices from the Israeli Gulag, an anthology of accounts by detainees freed in the 2011 prisoner exchange. He blogs at and tweets @jncatron.


Poverty-Stricken Gaza Farmers Cheerful with Good Olive Harvest

GAZA, Oct. 18 (Xinhua) — For thousands of farmers in the Palestinian Gaza Strip, olive harvest season is a chance to gain some money amid the dire economic and living conditions caused by Israeli restrictions on the movement of people and goods.

The family of Kamal Obaid, from Gaza City, work shoulder to shoulder in harvesting their eight donum (1 donum is about 1 acre or a little more than 900 square meters) olive garden with much joy amid a cheerful atmosphere.

In the Gaza Strip, a tiny coastal enclave ruled by Islamic Hamas movement, olive industry has been a major business for thousands of farmers.

The harvest season is largely celebrated by farmers who spend a whole year taking care of the trees to ensure a bountiful crop of olive and an excellent produce of olive oil.

Every single member of Obaid’s family, from grandparents to grandchildren, put their efforts together to harvest their olive trees.

While men harvest the olives using tall ladders, women help by taking different tasks. While some prepare tea for the family, others sit on the ground and very thoroughly pick up the crop and pile it up to be sold.

The 56-year-old man believes this season is the best in decades.

“This season is really great. It is way better than last year. Last season’s whole produce of this garden did not exceed 200 kg, but one tree can produce so much this season which is really great,” Obaid said he collected fresh olive fruits.

The olive harvest season in Palestine starts in the beginning of October till the end of November. Most of farmers sell their crops as raw fruit in local markets, while others take the produce to mills for making oil.

Tens of thousands of olive trees, which are considered symbol of Palestinian culture, have been uprooted by Israeli troops during military conflict with Palestinian armed groups in the past decades in Gaza.

The territory has also been under a tight Israeli blockade since Hamas movement violently took over power there after routing government troops in 2007.

The blockade has pushed Gaza’s two million population deeper into poverty as unemployment rates hit 43 percent.

In the recent years, Israel and Hamas have been engaged in three major wars that claimed the lives of thousands of Palestinians.

According to official figures, Israel’s war on Gaza in 2014 destroyed 10,000 donums of land planted with fruits and other crops, 5000 of them were planted with olive trees.

Obaid was one of those farmers who lost some of their olive trees in the war.

“I have another three donum and a half farm of olive trees and it was totally destroyed during the war in 2014,” the man said bitterly as he watched his grandchildren taking part in the harvest.

Obaid added that the uprooted trees were over 60 years of age, saying it was a grave loss since the farm was a respected source of income for his large family.

“It also provided job opportunities for family members who wait for the seasons impatiently,” he explained.

Thanks to this generous season, the Hamas-run agriculture ministry expected that Gaza will not import any olive or olive oil this year.

According to the ministry, Gaza olive farms are expected to produce some 3500 tons of olive oil and 30,000 tons of olive fruits.

The ministry attributed the abundant crops to last winter’s plentiful rain in addition to planting thousands of new blossoming olive trees after the recent wars.

The olive business is considered to be the backbone of Gaza’s agricultural sector as 38,000 donums in the 360 square km seaside territory are planted with olive trees.



How Britain wrought destruction on the Palestinian homeland – By Ramzy Baroud

© Getty Images
“The Zionists claimed Palestine and renamed it ‘Israel'”

When I was a child growing up in a Gaza refugee camp, I looked forward to November 2. On that day, every year, thousands of students and camp residents would descend upon the main square of the camp, carrying Palestinian flags and placards, to denounce the Balfour Declaration.

Truthfully, my giddiness then was motivated largely by the fact that schools would inevitably shut down and, following a brief but bloody confrontation with the Israeli army, I would go home early to the loving embrace of my mother, where I would eat a snack and watch cartoons.

At the time, I had no idea who Balfour actually was, and how his “declaration” all those years ago had altered the destiny of my family and, by extension, my life and the lives of my children as well.

All I knew was that he was a bad person and, because of his terrible deed, we subsisted in a refugee camp, encircled by a violent army and by an ever-expanding graveyard filled with “martyrs”.

© Getty Images
‘Balfour had pledged my homeland to another people’

Decades later, destiny would lead me to visit the Whittingehame Church, a small parish in which Arthur James Balfour is now buried.

While my parents and grandparents are buried in a refugee camp, an ever-shrinking space under a perpetual siege and immeasurable hardship, Balfour’s resting place is an oasis of peace and calmness. The empty meadow all around the church is large enough to host all the refugees in my camp.

Finally, I became fully aware of why Balfour was a “bad person”.

Once Britain’s Prime Minister, then the Foreign Secretary from late 1916, Balfour had pledged my homeland to another people. That promise was made on November 2, 1917, on behalf of the British government in the form of a letter sent to the leader of the Jewish community in Britain, Walter Rothschild.

At the time, Britain was not even in control of Palestine, which was still part of the Ottoman Empire. Either way, my homeland was never Balfour’s to so casually transfer to anyone else. His letter read:

“His Majesty’s government view with favour the establishment in Palestine of a national home for the Jewish people, and will use their best endeavours to facilitate the achievement of this object, it being clearly understood that nothing shall be done which may prejudice the civil and religious rights of existing non-Jewish communities in Palestine, or the rights and political status enjoyed by Jews in any other country.”

He concluded, “I should be grateful if you would bring this declaration to the knowledge of the Zionist Federation.”

Ironically, members of the British parliament have declared that the use of the term “Zionist” is both anti-Semitic and abusive.

The British government remains unrepentant after all these years. It has yet to take any measure of moral responsibility, however symbolic, for what it has done to the Palestinians. Worse, it is now busy attempting to control the very language used by Palestinians to identify those who have deprived them of their land and freedom.

But the truth is, not only was Rothschild a Zionist, Balfour was, too. Zionism, then, before it deservedly became a swearword, was a political notion that Europeans prided themselves to be associated with.

In fact, just before he became Prime Minister, David Cameron declared, before the Conservative Friends of Israel meeting, that he, too, was a Zionist. To some extent, being a Zionist remains a rite of passage for some Western leaders.

Balfour was hardly acting on his own. True, the Declaration bears his name, yet, in reality, he was a loyal agent of an empire with massive geopolitical designs, not only concerning Palestine alone, but with Palestine as part of a larger Arab landscape.

Just a year earlier, another sinister document was introduced, albeit secretly. It was endorsed by another top British diplomat, Mark Sykes and, on behalf of France, by François Georges-Picot. The Russians were informed of the agreement, as they too had received a piece of the Ottoman cake.

The document indicated that, once the Ottomans were soundly defeated, their territories, including Palestine, would be split among the prospective victorious parties.

The Sykes-Picot Agreement, also known as the Asia Minor Agreement, was signed in secret 100 years ago, two years into World War I. It signified the brutal nature of colonial powers that rarely associated land and resources with people that lived upon the land and owned those resources.

The centrepiece of the agreement was a map that was marked with straight lines by a china graph pencil. The map largely determined the fate of the Arabs, dividing them in accordance with various haphazard assumptions of tribal and sectarian lines.

Once the war was over, the loot was to be divided into spheres of influence:

– France would receive areas marked (a), which included: the region of south-eastern Turkey, northern Iraq – including Mosel, most of Syria and Lebanon.

– British-controlled areas were marked with the letter (b), which included: Jordan, southern Iraq, Haifa and Acre in Palestine and a coastal strip between the Mediterranean Sea and the River Jordan.

– Russia would be granted Istanbul, Armenia and the strategic Turkish Straits.

The improvised map consisted not only of lines but also colours, along with language that attested to the fact that the two countries viewed the Arab region purely on materialistic terms, without paying the slightest attention to the possible repercussions of slicing up entire civilizations with a multifarious history of co-operation and conflict.

The agreement read, partly:

“… in the blue area France, and in the red area Great Britain, shall be allowed to establish such direct or indirect administration or control as they desire and as they may think fit to arrange with the Arab state or confederation of Arab states.”

The brown area, however, was designated as an international administration, the nature of which was to be decided upon after further consultation among Britain, France and Russia. The Sykes-Picot negotiations finished in March 1916 and were official, although secretly signed on May 19, 1916. World War I concluded on November 11, 1918, after which the division of the Ottoman Empire began in earnest.

British and French mandates were extended over divided Arab entities, while Palestine was granted to the Zionist movement a year later, when Balfour conveyed the British government’s promise, sealing the fate of Palestine to live in perpetual war and turmoil.

The idea of Western “peacemakers” and “honest-brokers”, who are very much a party in every Middle Eastern conflict, is not new. British betrayal of Arab aspirations goes back many decades. They used the Arabs as pawns in their Great Game against other colonial contenders, only to betray them later on, while still casting themselves as friends bearing gifts.

Nowhere else was this hypocrisy on full display as was in the case of Palestine. Starting with the first wave of Zionist Jewish migration to Palestine in 1882, European countries helped to facilitate the movement of illegal settlers and resources, where the establishment of many colonies, large and small, was afoot.

So when Balfour sent his letter to Rothschild, the idea of a Jewish homeland in Palestine was very much plausible.

Still, many supercilious promises were being made to the Arabs during the Great War years, as self-imposed Arab leadership sided with the British in their war against the Ottoman Empire. Arabs were promised instant independence, including that of the Palestinians.

The understanding among Arab leaders was that Article 22 of the Covenant of the League of Nations was to apply to Arab provinces that were ruled by the Ottomans. Arabs were told that they were to be respected as “a sacred trust of civilization”, and their communities were to be recognised as “independent nations”.

Palestinians wanted to believe that they were also included in that civilization sacredness, and were deserving of independence, too. Their conduct in support of the Pan-Arab Congress, as voting delegates in July 1919, which elected Faisal as a King of a state comprising Palestine, Lebanon, Transjordan and Syria, and their continued support of Sharif Hussein of Mecca, were all expressions of their desire for the long-coveted sovereignty.

When the intentions of the British and their rapport with the Zionists became too apparent, Palestinians rebelled, a rebellion that has never ceased, 99 years later, for the horrific consequences of British colonialism and the eventual complete Zionist takeover of Palestine are still felt after all these years.

Paltry attempts to pacify Palestinian anger were to no avail, especially after the League of Nations Council in July 1922 approved the terms of the British Mandate over Palestine – which was originally granted to Britain in April 1920 – without consulting the Palestinians at all, who would disappear from the British and international radar, only to reappear as negligible rioters, troublemakers, and obstacles to the joint British-Zionist colonial concoctions.

Despite occasional assurances to the contrary, the British intention of ensuring the establishment of an exclusively Jewish state in Palestine was becoming clearer with time.

The Balfour Declaration was hardly an aberration, but had, indeed, set the stage for the full-scale ethnic cleansing that followed, three decades later.

In his book, Before Their Diaspora, Palestinian scholar Walid Khalidi captured the true collective understanding among Palestinians regarding what had befallen their homeland nearly a century ago:

“The Mandate, as a whole, was seen by the Palestinians as an Anglo-Zionist condominium and its terms as instrument for the implementation of the Zionist programme; it had been imposed on them by force, and they considered it to be both morally and legally invalid. The Palestinians constituted the vast majority of the population and owned the bulk of the land. Inevitably, the ensuing struggle centreed on this status quo. The British and the Zionists were determined to subvert and revolutionise it, the Palestinians to defend and preserve it.”

In fact, that history remains in constant replay: The Zionists claimed Palestine and renamed it “Israel”; the British continue to support them, although never ceasing to pay lip service to the Arabs; the Palestinian people remain a nation that is geographically fragmented between refugee camps, in the diaspora, militarily occupied, or treated as second-class citizens in a country upon which their ancestors dwelt since time immemorial.

While Balfour cannot be blamed for all the misfortunes that have befallen Palestinians since he communicated his brief but infamous letter, the notion that his “promise” embodied – that of complete disregard of the aspirations of the Palestinian Arab people – is handed from one generation of British diplomats to the next, the same way that Palestinian resistance to colonialism is also spread across generations.

In his essay in the Al-Ahram Weekly, entitled “Truth and Reconciliation“, the late Professor Edward Said wrote:

“Neither the Balfour Declaration nor the Mandate ever specifically concede that Palestinians had political, as opposed to civil and religious, rights in Palestine.The idea of inequality between Jews and Arabs was, therefore, built into British – and, subsequently, Israeli and US – policy from the start.”

That inequality continues, thus the perpetuation of the conflict. What the British, the early Zionists, the Americans and subsequent Israeli governments failed to understand, and continue to ignore at their own peril, is that there can be no peace without justice and equality in Palestine; and that Palestinians will continue to resist, as long as the reasons that inspired their rebellion nearly a century ago, remain in place.

Ninety-nine years later, the British government is yet to possess the moral courage to take responsibility for what their government has done to the Palestinian people.

Ninety-nine years later, Palestinians insist that their rights in Palestine cannot be dismissed, neither by Balfour, nor by his modern peers in “Her Majesty’s Government”.

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Zionism Exposed: Delving into an Occult, Global Cabal – VIDEO – By Ariyana Love

25 October 2016


By Ariyana Love
Professor Alexander Azadgan and TLB Director, Ariyana Love, explore the occult roots of the most evil ideology on Earth today.
Understanding Zionism is fundamental to understanding the elitist global agenda. It’s also fundamental to understanding the highly criminal and barbaric military occupation of Palestine.
Professor Azadgan is a globally acclaimed specialist and advisor on Middle Eastern Affairs. He is the Editor in Chief of Middle East Rising (MER).
In a series of discussions, we will begin to explore Zionism and its roots, so we can expose the occupation of Palestine and unravel the global, tyrannical agenda we are born into and enslaved by, from cradle to grave.
We start with the evil roots of Zionism.
  • International Red Cross Report Confirms the Holocaust of Six Million Jews is a Hoax
  • 40% of Palestinian Children Sexually Abused By Israeli Authorities
  • Israel Bombs Gaza, Defense Minister Says ‘Next War Will Be The Last’
  • Zionism Exposed: Delving into an Occult, Global Cabal – VIDEO
  • Gaza: Two Million Strong with Nowhere to Grow
  • US Democracy is for Sale to the Highest Zionist Bidders
  • The Suffering of Palestinian Refugees in Jordan
  • 50,000 Refugees Stuck in ‘Open-Air Prison’ in Greece: MSF
  • Another Extrajudicial Execution of a Palestinian Teenage Girl
  • Russian Lt. General: “We’re Teetering on the Brink of War” with the United States



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