Video: “Nikki Haley, the blood is on your hands!” – By Ali Abunimah/ Activism and BDS Beat (Electronic Intifada)

ISUPPORTPALESTINE.jpg

Nikki Haley, the US ambassador to the United Nations, barely uttered a few words of her lecture at the University of Houston on Tuesday before students interrupted her with protests against her complicity in Israel’s recent massacres in Gaza.

“Nikki Haley, the blood is on your hands, you continue to sign off on the genocide of a native people,” one student called out, kicking off the protest.

The video above, which circulated widely online, shows students holding up Palestinian flags and chanting, “Nikki, Nikki can’t you see? You are on a killing spree.”

They also chanted “free Palestine.”

According to The Houston Chronicle, several dozen protesters took part. After a few minutes, police “escorted” the protesters out, “while Haley waited, quiet, at the podium,” the newspaper reported.

Another camera angle shows Haley’s face as the students chant:

Haley’s visit to the University of Houston was sponsored by its administration. “We are privileged to have her visit our university,” President Renu Khator, stated.

Khator’s attitude highlights the vast gulf that typically exists between the corporate and government-aligned elites that run US universities, who generally abhor dissent that challenges the status quo, and students who take seriously calls for equal rights and global justice.

Prior to Haley’s speech, more than a dozen organizations, including Students for Justice in Palestine, the Muslim Student Association and Students for a Democratic Society, had condemned the university’s invitation to Haley, citing her unconditional defense of Israel’s slaughter in Gaza.

Following Israel’s massacre of dozens of protesters in a single day on 14 May, Haley told the UN Security Council that “no country in this chamber would act with more restraint than Israel has.”

She then walked out as the Palestinian Authority representative was about to speak.

The groups also noted Haley’s history of opposing free speech by advocates for Palestinian rights.

“Nikki Haley’s longtime commitment to silencing the voices of those who have spoken out against Israel’s atrocious acts against Palestinians traces back to her tenure as state governor of South Carolina,” the groups said. “Haley spearheaded the unconstitutional anti-BDS (boycott, divestment, and sanctions) movement, making South Carolina the second state in the nation to sign into law a bill that prevents businesses from engaging in their First Amendment right to boycott.”

Campus newspaper The Cougar spoke to students who took part in the protest against Haley:

Omar Barghouti, a human rights defender and co-founder of the BDS movement, welcomed the students’ action.

“Israel’s regime of settler-colonialism and apartheid may think that just because it is in bed with the xenophobic right-wing Trump administration its massacre of Palestinians in Gaza will go unpunished,” Barghouti told The Electronic Intifada.

Barghouti added that “effective measures of accountability” being adopted around the world, including mass protests, waves of new support for BDS and calls for an arms embargo on Israel, were giving “tremendous hope to the tens of thousands of protesters in Gaza who are peacefully demanding their right to return to their homes.”

“The brilliant protest of student activists in Houston against empire and its extremely pernicious symbols is part of this hope,” Barghouti stated.

Tuesday’s protest against Haley recalls similar actions against Israeli and American officials involved in war crimes who have been given platforms by university administrations.

 

Zionism is the Right’s ‘Identity Politics’ – By Corey Schink (Sott.net)

Trump i Netanyahu

© KOBI GIDEON/GPO

In December of 2017 Donald Trump ditched the pretense of ‘US neutrality’ toward the Israel-Palestine conflict and flatly stated that “It is time to officially recognize Jerusalem [the much-hoped for capital of a Palestinian state] as the capital of Israel.” Ever since, it’s been difficult to view the conflict as anything other than two nuclear-armed powers beating the snot out of a weak, under-developed people – which, of course, is what it is.

Way back in the mists of time, in 1988, a Gallup poll showed that 47% of Conservatives and 42% Liberals took Israel’s side in the conflict with the Palestinians. Today Republicans sit at 87% while Democrats sit around 49%. A few decades of embracing Israel’s ‘War on Terror’ have convinced the political Right in the USA that ‘Israel is on our side’ against the Muslims, while the Left still seems to see the conflict through the lens of the mainstream, which is having a difficult time rationalizing the increasingly pronounced episodes of Israeli brutality.

In this divisive political climate, it’s useful to remember that truth transcends any political agenda.

Since the election of Donald Trump, many issues have come to a head: we’ve seen the criminality of the Washington Swamp in action; we’ve seen the true face of Leftist identity politics; and we’re now being treated to the blatant criminality of their ideological brethren in Israel.

The Israeli ambassador to the UN has claimed that those 62 killed and thousands wounded in the recent Gaza demonstration “were not protestors, they were terrorists.” But they were not terrorists; they were people standing in a buffer zone. Sure, their mere presence was antagonistic but that is what protest is, by definition. To Zionists they are all ‘terrorists’ just like, for Feminists, everyone who voted for Trump is a ‘sexist’, or how, for Racialists, all whites are ‘white supremacists’.

Israeli Public Security Minister Gilad Erdan recently said the number of Palestinians killed at Monday’s protest “doesn’t indicate anything – just as the number of Nazis who died in the world war doesn’t make Nazism something you can explain or understand.” But Palestinians aren’t Nazis seeking to eradicate the Jewish nation; they are Palestinians seeking their legitimate right of return, as refugees, to their homes. For Zionists, however, they’re all just ‘Nazis’ because they don’t belong in Israel.

Israeli Minister for Internal Security Avi Dichter stated that “the IDF has enough bullets for everyone.” There is no official precedent for threatening genocide as part of the discourse of Western identity politics – at least not yet. If the skewed thinking of those enamored with identity politics continues gaining traction however, we can probably look forward to hearing similar death threats against anyone accused of being a white supremacist, Nazi, terrorist or sexist etc.

Identity Politics is name-calling and virtue-signaling that poorly conceal what would otherwise be seen as blatant aggression. Just as Feminism is only tangentially concerned with the suffering of women, and in fact enhances it, and Black Lives Matter only tangentially concerned with the fate of African Americans while further victimizing them, Zionism has turned the suffering of Jews into a caricature that inflames an entire region and warps Western discourse. Political Zionism is Judaism’s form of identity politics.

Zionist Identity Politics

In the late 19th century, the original political Zionists clamored for the creation of the state of Israel in order to, as they said, safeguard Jews from anti-Semitism, and as the means by which ‘the hungry and motley mass of Jews could climb out of poverty’. Most Jews at the time, however, were inclined towards assimilation, and took little interest in the ideological mission of a few elite Jews to create a Jewish ‘homeland’. It was clear to most that settling Palestine would require stealing the land from the Palestinians, which in turn would mean conflict with the entire Arab world.

During World War I the British promised the Arabs, under the leadership of Hussein ibn Ali al-Hashimi, an independent nation-state in the Levant, in return for their support in turning against the Ottoman Empire. They agreed, and their contributions to Allied victory were declared, at the time, as significant. But after all was said and done, the British reneged on ‘the Arab Deal’ (sound familiar?), choosing instead to divide the region between themselves and France, while giving Zionists parts of what was then called Palestine under a ‘British Mandate’.

Over the course of British rule in Palestine, the conflict between Arabs and Zionists grew until, after the Holocaust, the war for an independent Israeli state gained much graver significance. Jewish fighters among the WW2 Allies returned to their respective homes in Europe to find their families dead, their land destroyed, their ‘host’ country in ruins, and most of their ‘group’ annihilated. The dream of ‘assimilation’ was wiped out, almost literally. Zionists no longer encountered resistance to the colonization of Palestine and its ‘rebirth’ as the state of Israel.

The ‘never again’ claim had a specific meaning for European and American Jews: never again would a Jew be forced to march to his or her death, corralled, reduced to the status of an animal fit to be slaughtered. Whatever had to be done would be done – anything was justified. And the state of Israel – armed and impenetrable – was founded on this basis.

The state of Israel, therefore, was always a Jewish state, a Jewish refuge – not an Arab one, and not a mixed one.

In November 1947, the United Nations signed off on the partition of Palestine for the creation of Israel. Jewish settlers then ethnically cleansed an estimated 700,000 Palestinians from the new state. These became refugees, while nearly all of urban Palestine was wiped off the map – destroyed, then built over – as up to 70 massacres took place. Israel fashioned for herself an intelligence apparatus and military that would rival those of the most developed nations. The Holocaust would become a new mystery religion, and National Security her hand-maiden. They would be used to justify future massacres, attacks against neighboring states, the stealing of Palestinian land, and Israel’s disproportionate ‘retaliation’ when Palestinians defended themselves.

Since World War II, across the West, Jews have become one of the most successful ethnic groups, and for good reason. IQ is the most powerful predictor of success, and Jews have it in spades. 40% of the Nobel Prize winners are Jewish, and they number 16 in the top 40 wealthiest Americans, rendering absurd the view that anti-Semitism is an ‘existential threat’ to Jews in the West today.

But the threat of anti-Semitism – its mere suggestion, in fact, its mere utterance – remains a driving force in Zionist politics. The Palestinian is, for the Israeli, a permanent reminder of the enemy, the potential Holocaust, and those who would come and take their holy land. The ethnic cleansing of Palestinians is justified because Israel is for Zionists. One of the founders of the IDF, Vladimir Jabotinsky, once said:

To the hackneyed reproach that this point of view [of colonizing and ethnic cleansing] is unethical, I answer – absolutely untrue. This is our ethic. There is no other ethic. As long as there is the faintest spark of hope for the Arabs to impede us, they will not sell these hopes – not for any sweet words nor for any tasty morsel, because this (the Palestinians) is not a rabble but a people, a living people. And no people makes such enormous concessions on such fateful questions, except when there is no hope left, until we have removed every opening visible in the Iron Wall. (p. 120)

There is an ethnic cleansing occurring in Israel. It is official. It is part of the DNA of the Zionist enterprise. And it couldn’t have been otherwise without the connivance of cynical Western and Israeli elites that sought to use the conflict with Arabs as a tool for re-shaping the Middle East, and the world, in Western interests.

That Islam has its own issues is not in questions – Sharia law, public executions, and extreme punishments for ‘insulting the Prophet’ are just a few. And yet the most backward regime – Saudi Arabia – remains a staunch Western and Israeli ally. Western governments’ blanket support for the ethnic cleansing of Palestinians has led to the warping of an entire society. Reading headlines out of Israel today is like looking into a bizarre dystopian future, yet it all too real and present.

It’s in this context that the US held its ‘festive inauguration ceremony’ for its new embassy in Jerusalem, while IDF soldiers massacred Palestinian protesters barely 60 miles away. As I’ve said before, the protesters are refugees protesting for their right, guaranteed by the UN, to return to their homes. Clearly this cannot happen. Yet if Israel has a right to exist, don’t the Palestinians as well? Or do they deserve their fate because they have the wrong identity?

Are we content to condone another mass slaughter, no matter how protracted, how stealthy its means, or how much we’ve been convinced that this particular group is evil? That those people don’t deserve to live? That they are the real untermensch for which we need a Final Solution?

No. Identity politics and ideology of any kind, whether it comes from the Left and its drive for ‘equality’ at any cost, or from the Right and its drive for ‘racial/religious purity’, have driven both the Left and Right to violent extremes, and the rest of us into very frightening territory.

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Corey Schink

Corey Schink was born and raised in the Midwestern United States, where he worked on farms and as a welder, musician, and social worker. His interests in government, philosophy and history led to his writing for SOTT in 2012 and to becoming a SOTT editor and Truth Perspective co-host in 2014. He now resides in North Carolina, where he enjoys the magnificent views of the Appalachian Mountains.

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Painting “The Return” — Hopes and History on the Gaza Border – By Ramona Wadi (MINT PRESS)

Original art by Amna Alsalmi. (Photo: Karim Naser)

“Everyone resists in their own way — the revolutionary youth with slingshots and stones, the photographer with the camera, and the artists with their pencils. All of us are delivering the same message to the world: we have the right to get our homeland back.” – Artist Amna Alsalmi

GAZA — As Palestinians marked the 70th anniversary of the Nakba — or theft of their land by the creation of Israel in 1948 — the U.S. celebrated the transfer of its embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem, in another victory for Israeli colonialism.

Palestinians participating in the March of Great Return have been organizing since May 14 in Gaza to demand the right for exiled Palestinians to return to their ancestral lands, but have faced Israeli snipers that have killed 62 and injured 2771 thus far, according to the Palestinian Ministry of Health. During a White House press briefing, Deputy Press Secretary Raj Shah dismissed the killings of Palestinians at the border as an “unfortunate propaganda attempt,” which he blamed on Hamas.

Israeli Minister of Strategic Affairs Gilad Erdan also blamed Hamas for the killings. According to Erdan, “with Nazi anger, [Hamas] endlessly shed blood to erase from people’s memories their own failures in the management of the Gaza Strip.” The death toll, he said, “didn’t indicate anything.”

The international community remained tethered to its usual condemnations while ignoring the existence of UN Resolution 194.

Between the stipulated right of return as enshrined in UN Resolution 194, and the outcomes inflicted upon Palestinians by Israel and the international community, there is a vacuum that is inhabited by dreams and legacies. Art provides the medium for communication when words alone seem insufficient.

On May 5, the Palestinian Conceptual Art Forum organized an event on the Gaza borders at the return encampments in Malacca, east of Gaza City, which brought together Palestinian artists expressing their right of return through art. Thaer al-Tawil, the principal of the organization, spoke to MintPress about the origins of the Forum and its initiative to participate in the Great Return March through what he terms “art protest.”

Artists work on original pieces in the art protest tent near the Great Return March protests on the Gaza border. (Photo: Karim Naser)

The artistic project organized by the Forum is reminiscent of a perpetual struggle. Themed “For the Return, we draw,” Al-Tawil explains the inspiration behind the event is rooted in a right that has sustained itself through generations since 1948:

The idea of this artistic project was formed when Palestinian artists wanted to participate in the Great Return March by organizing a big event that reflected the shedding of Palestinian blood on the Gaza borders.”

Al-Tawil expounds upon the link between art, resistance and return:

The art protest is also about sending a message to the Zionist occupation. The rifle, the painting and the artists’ pencil are all symbols of Palestinian unity. The Palestinian artist is humane in the fullest sense of the word. The artist is like the bird of peace that paints to impart the suffering of Palestinians over the years, to emphasize our right to return despite the persecution imposed on us by the Zionist occupation.”

Al-Tawil explains that the Forum has aims and ambitions — in terms of both psychological and artistic empowerment, as well as to enable Gaza’s artists’ recognition abroad. Sharing experiences and narratives through art is one of the main aims. The Forum provides courses for artist-students up to university. It also seeks to establish a union for artists, to safeguard their rights as well as provide protection for their creative expression. Al-Tawil continued:

The Forum was founded due to the political vacuum caused by the Palestinian political divisions between Hamas and Fatah and the absence of anybody, or party, that cares for the artists or supports them. A number of artists came up with the idea of founding a platform through which the young artists’ creativity can be channeled. That is how the Palestinian Conceptual Art Forum started.”

Communication through art is key for Al-Tawil. Despite the blockade, which has prevented Palestinians in Gaza from traveling freely, one of the Forum’s aims is to connect with artists abroad:

The Forum aims to bridge between artists inside and outside of Palestine and strengthen their relations. It also aims to have an existence abroad through artistic expeditions, traveling abroad and participating in artistic exhibitions.”

 

“For the return, we draw”

On March 30, which marks the commemoration of Land Day among Palestinians, the Great Return March protests started in Gaza. Israeli snipers targeted and murdered 19-year-old Palestinian artist Mohamed Abu Amr. Well known for his sand sculptures on Gaza’s shores, his last depiction, created and posted on his Facebook page on the eve of the protests, read “I will return.”

Al-Tawil remembers Abu Amr’s legacy and unfinished dreams. One of these was to sculpt a massive map of Palestine on Gaza’s shores:

The Palestinian artistic movement lost the martyr Mohamed Abu Amr – the sculptor who, a few days before being murdered by Israeli sniper fire, sculpted the words ‘we are returning.’ To remember his legacy, we artists collaborated to sculpt the Palestine map he had planned. We fulfilled what he had wanted to do. The largest map of Palestine ever sculpted.”

Al-Tawil explains that Palestinian collective memory has found an expressive avenue through art.  Referencing the Nakba of 1948, when Palestinians were massacred, ethnically cleansed, and forcibly displaced from their lands by Zionist paramilitaries to pave the way for the establishment of colonial Israel, Al-Tawil says it became an artistic duty “to portray and depict all of this collective memory through paintings and artwork.”

He mentions Ismael Shamoot, Ismael Ashoor, Bashir Sinwar and Fathi Ghabn as being among the first to utilize art as a form of resistance, and whose influence has lasted throughout the decades. Palestinian artists, he says, have been routinely persecuted by Israel, with methods ranging from restricting their freedom of movement to being targeted for assassination, like Palestinian cartoonist Naji al-Ali.  

 

Art, resistance, and return

Palestinian artists Somaia Shaheen and Wae Ziada discussed their participation in the art protest in terms of their art and the ongoing colonization of Palestine.

For Shaheen, her presence affirmed a message to the international community, as well as a constant yearning to return to places of which she has been deprived by Israel. Lifting the siege on Gaza and praying at Al-Aqsa constitute Shaheen’s main thoughts about the right of return. Her art, she says, conveys her feelings:

It’s a harsh feeling — knowing you would love to visit the mosque and pray there, but you find yourself unable to do so due to the occupation and the political situation that prevent us from reaching a place so close to our hearts.”

Ziada echoes al-Tawil’s musings:

I was motivated to come to the Eastern borders in order to prove to the whole world that the art, the rifle and the stone are together in the same vein.”

A view inside in the art protest tent near the Great Return March protests on the Gaza border. (Photo: Karim Naser)

Artist Amna Alsalmi shared her inspiration with MintPress. She learned about the Forum through events organized for artists and describes her experience in the art protest as “so different.”

Her art depicts a revolutionary young man with a slingshot:

As you see, the man is standing bravely in front of the occupation. I painted the background to mirror our reality — see the smoke coming out of the burned tires. The painting seeks to portray bravery and strength, in spite of the difference between our home-made weapons and the Israeli military’s latest technology.”

Alsalmi adds:

Everyone resists in their own way — the revolutionary youth with slingshots and stones, the photographer with the camera, and the artists with their pencils. All of us are delivering the same message to the world: we have the right to get our homeland back.”

Basel el-Maqosui, whose art depicts a man wearing a keffiyeh against a Palestinian background, explains his use of monochrome:

The painting is done in black acrylic. It is an expression of strength and challenge. The man masked with a keffiyeh is a Palestinian symbol that is known by all the world’s free people — it symbolizes good morals and values, and a behavior that is derived from these qualities.”

Basel el-Maqosui stands in front of his one of his paintings. (Photo: Shareef Sarhan)

Of the artist’s role in resistance, el-Maqosui states:

The artists is always the first to resist and the last to be beaten. As a conceptual artist, I work on spreading my message to the whole world — we are a nation that deserves to live. In Gaza, there is an abundance of artists, actors, authors, poets and people from every artistic field, who are conveying our message internationally. Our art is a means of resisting the occupation until return and freedom.”

 

Metaphor of the phoenix

Ismaeel Y Dahlan discussed his participation and artwork in profound detail, evoking discourse steeped in inspiration, resistance and metaphors. His painting depicted an abstract background that, at the fore, is dominated by a brightly colored phoenix.

He describes his participation in the art protest as having two distinct messages, a critical commentary that highlights the discrepancy between alienation and human rights with regard to the Palestinian right of return:

There are two messages in my participation – one to the usurper entity that we are the owners of rights and owners of this land.”

Dahlan’s emphasis on the right of return for all generations of Palestinians, encompassing the entire social structure, is the premise for his next point:

The other message is to the international community, which is not immune to this issue. Palestinian refugees have been under siege and oppression, deprived of their basic rights and forced to die, just so that the world’s attention can be drawn to their just cause.”

Ismaeel Dahlan paints his phoenix, inspired the Great Return protests in Gaza. (Photo: Karim Naser)

His painting, he says, was inspired by the Great Return March and its mobilization of Palestinians:

The movement was a source of inspiration for this painting. The youth were heading to the border — to the area of death — in order to identify their lives through the connection with the land and the history of their ancestors. The Canaanites’ symbol was the phoenix, which, according to myth, burst into flames to regenerate.

The new approach of these young Palestinians is reminiscent of this — they are pushing themselves towards the fire. Their options are returning with an injury or an amputation of one of their limbs, and a wheelchair or a crutch will accompany them for the rest of their lives. Otherwise, they return on the shoulders of Palestinians, to heaven to live a new life, just like the phoenix.”

Of his art, he speaks of continuity — both in terms of artistic expression as well as memory — that is crippled by the blockade on Gaza. The artist faces the same challenges as the rest of society and no privilege is associated with art:

I was hoping that this work would become a sculpture made out of the remnants of war and located at the return encampments to eternalize this movement. However, I couldn’t achieve this because the artist is not a separate component; he is part of the society under siege. The Great Return March protests may provide the opportunity to achieve this aim.”

Ultimately, Dahlan concludes: “We are fighting the culture of force with the culture of power.”

Bisan El-Yazuri from Gaza assisted with translating interviews in this article from Arabic to English.

Top Photo | Original art by Amna Alsalmi. (Photo: Karim Naser)

Ramona Wadi is an independent researcher, freelance journalist, book reviewer, and blogger. She writes about the struggle for memory in Palestine and Chile, historical legitimacy, the ramifications of settler-colonialism, the correlation between humanitarian aid and human rights abuses, the United Nations as an imperialist organisation, indigenous resistance, la nueva cancion Chilena and Latin American revolutionary philosophy with a particular focus on Fidel Castro, Jose Marti and Jose Carlos Mariategui. Her articles, book reviews, interviews, and blogs have been published in Middle East Monitor, Upside Down World, Truthout, Irish Left Review, Gramsci Oggi, Cubarte, Rabble.ca, Toward Freedom, History Today, Chileno and other outlets, including academic publications and translations into several languages.

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Adi Shosberger called Israeli soldiers ‘terrorists’ — and Israel has turned on her – By Jonathan Ofir (MONDOWEISS)

Israel/Palestine

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Israeli human rights activists who promote BDS (boycott, divestment, and sanctions) and speak harshly against Israeli policy are often subject to campaigns of exclusion and sometimes to death threats. While their stories pale in comparison to the stories of Palestinians (who are often shot dead just for protesting their rights), they need to be told and heard once in a while.

Thus I will tell the story of Adi Shosberger, the Israeli activist who called Israeli soldiers “terrorists” who are participating in a “massacre of innocent civilians”, telling them they were brainwashed into joining a “terror army”, as featured in a video which went viral in Israel just over two weeks ago. The incitement against her following the video release resulted in death threats, harassment and intimidation of her children, slashing of tires, garbage on the lawn etc. Adi required protection from fellow activists, as the police have taken her situation very lightly.

The video and its reason

The video drew wide condemnation from across Israeli society. Prime Minister Netanyahu mentioned it in a cabinet meeting. He opined that those words were an “outrageous absurdity” and that the soldiers have the full backing of all cabinet ministers, in order to continue “to do their holy work.” Defense Minister Avigdor Lieberman promoted new legislation, making it a crime punishable by 5 years prison to film soldiers with the purpose of “destabilizing IDF morale and the morale of Israeli citizens”. The penalty becomes 10 years if the intent is to “harm the security of the state”.

But the video coincided with another video which went viral at the same time, wherein Israeli snipers were filming themselves (through a rifle scope) shooting an unarmed, motionless Palestinian protester, and celebrating it. This put into perspective precisely what the activists were trying to bring focus to with their action and video – a “patently illegal” Israeli policy.

Shooting the messenger

Israeli denial of its wrongdoings is a common feature. Even the IDF claimed that the soldiers in the sniper video had acted “appropriately”. And a common mechanism in denial is to shoot the messenger. Thus, Adi Shosberger was to become a main target for incitement and even death threats.

For example, Adi was trashed by two radio hosts, Shai Goldstein and Lea Lev, on the Maariv radio 103FM “Breakfast Club” show. Goldstein said that he “feels like killing that woman”, called her “stupid”, “retarded”, “little bitch”, “filth” and so on – with Lev confirming his views all the way through. And this, mind you, is on centrist Israeli mainstream radio.

The Shadow

The hyper-nationalist Israeli rapper Yoav Eliasi, known as “The Shadow,” is notorious for campaigns of incitement mobilizing many of his hundreds of thousands of followers through social media, against those whom he labels as traitors or enemies. Eliasi was the main mobilizer towards the Elor Azarya support-rally in 2016 (also known as the “murder rally” or “death to the Arabs rally”), and it is telling that even for that crowd, which was carrying “kill them all” signs, Eliasi was considered just a touch too extreme, and was thus not given a stage to perform.

Eliasi noticed Shosberger’s action immediately and mobilized against her. This is not the first time – last year it happened too, and despite Shosberger filing a complaint with 22 explicit cases of death threats with documented persons, the case was quickly closed. Eliasi has found a method by which his posts are apparently just below the threshold of what would be considered criminal in Israel, but they serve as a dog whistle for followers who are far more explicit, and who are quick to get the hint and translate it to action.

Here is Eliasi’s Facebook post from just after Shosberger’s video went viral:

“Nerve warning!!

“A very grave clip by a rotten sub-human pathetic anti-Semite which shoves a camera into the face of our fighters and calls them terrorists and murderers. The name of this leftist stench is Adi Shosberger, who by the family name and behavior is obviously an offspring of Judenrat [to mean Nazi collaborator]. I ask all of you to rise and file a complaint against her”.

Protection by activists

Adi has already experienced how lightly the Israeli police take her situation, so while filing a complaint, she did not count on police protection in her situation. This resulted in the mobilizing of fellow activists who were basically taking shifts staying around the house for the past two weeks. In addition to the garbage thrown on her lawn and car tires slashed, epithets have regularly been hurled at her, and even her children at the local school (she has four boys, ages 5-12) were harassed by older high-school students. As a result, the children were kept home for several days.

When I talked to Adi yesterday (by Messenger), precisely at noontime her phone started buzzing with unregistered numbers, people who left hate messages and threats. She responded to it with equanimity – she says that those people inform each other that they need to make a harassment storm at a certain hour, and they call from hidden numbers, and she simply doesn’t pick up.

Feeling safer with the Tamimi’s in Nabi Saleh

It may seem odd for some, that the place in which Adi feels most safe and protected is in Nabi Saleh, a village which is almost daily invaded and raided by Israeli soldiers. But she does, and she feels most welcome staying with Bassem Tamimi, the father of Ahed Tamimi. Now that 17-year old Ahed as well as her mother Nariman are in prison, the house is much more lonely – but the Tamimi’s are always warm and welcoming toward activists who show understanding and solidarity with their struggle, and there is a mutual and reciprocal understanding of each other’s situation there.

A right wing activist, Yossi Levi, likened Adi Shosberger and Ahed Tamimi, and suggested Adi receive the same treatment as Ahed (on Facebook):

“Discrimintion???

Discrimination against Arabs?

Why is Ahed in jail and Adi Shosberger is still roaming free?

Share, share, share, until the law authority wakes up.

Adi Shosberger is a left activist, walks with a camera, harasses soldiers on duty, films them without permission and against their will, distracts their focus, insults and hurts them, calls them murderers and terrorists, and shames them.

Is a mental, psychological and moral hurting not worse than a slap?

Share, share until they arrest her, so that she too would be able to join Ahed Tamimi and all the other Israel-haters in jail.”

Adi herself sent me that post as an example, and said that she completely understands the comparison, and that she is highly aware of this difference of privilege between her and Ahed. This is the privilege that she is also continuously seeking to expose.

Adi’s story is one that is rather unsurprising for those who know the Israeli reality. Israeli journalist Gideon Levy has suffered similarly. He has already long been considered to possibly be “the most hated man in Israel” for his coverage of Palestinian suffering. But hell really broke loose when, in the midst of Israel’s 2014 Gaza onslaught, he wrote “Lowest Deeds From Loftiest Heights” about how “Israel’s ‘heroic’ pilots push buttons and joysticks, battling the weakest and most helpless of people.” At the time “Shade”, Yoav Eliasi, organized an incitement campaign against him, and actually hounded him in the street with a group of followers, hurling accusations and epithets against him which they filmed (here’s a video). Following this, Haaretz assigned Levy a bodyguard for some weeks.

It can be somewhat sobering to note, that Adi’s accusation of the soldiers as “terrorists” is a claim that has been indirectly made by none other than the UN fact-finding mission on Israel’s 2008-9 Gaza onslaught. The report, headed by Judge Richard Goldstone, concluded that Israel was “terroriz[ing] a civilian population”.

Goldstone, who is notably a Zionist Jew, was also subject to a relentless hate campaign in the wake of the report, both by Israel and by Jews abroad, until he succumbed to the pressure (the full details of which we may never know), and ‘recanted’ in a Washington Post article, alas without any actual new evidence (see Norman Finkelstein, “Goldstone Recants”). Notably, his whole team maintained that they stood by the findings. Of course, the Israelis were jubilant: “Everything that we said proved to be true” (Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu); “We always said that the IDF is a moral army that acted according to international law” (Defense Minister Ehud Barak); “We had no doubt that the truth would come out eventually” (Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman).

But when you let Israel off the hook like that for its state-terror, it becomes a license for more terror, and for more massacres. There were those at the time (2009) who believed that it couldn’t get worse. But Israel’s 2014 onslaught was worse. And that’s only part of this paradigm of state terror. It has many shades of black.

So Adi Shosberger and her fellow activists go over to soldiers and tell them that they are terrorists, in order to raise awareness of the paradigm. But why think about it at all? It’s easier to just shoot the messenger.

About Jonathan Ofir

Israeli musician, conductor and blogger / writer based in Denmark.

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How EU pretends not to see Israel’s calculated slaughter in Gaza – By Ali Abunimah / Rights and Accountability (Electronic Intifada)

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Why is the European Union pretending not to see how Israel is deliberately killing civilians in the occupied Gaza Strip?

On Friday, Israel killed four more unarmed protesters, including 14-year-old Muhammad Ayyoub, and injured hundreds more.

This brought to more than 30 the number of Palestinians killed by Israel in its violent suppression of the Great March of Return rallies that began on 30 March and are planned to continue until Nakba Day, the 15 May commemoration of the 1948 ethnic cleansing of Palestine.

The victims include four children and a journalist.

Thousands more have been injured, more than 1,600 by live ammunition that has caused devastating injuries likely to leave them with lifelong disabilities.

Two weeks ago, the International Criminal Court chief prosecutor warned Israeli leaders that they could end up on trial for this violence against civilians.

But as I told The Real News on Friday, the coddling and rewards Israel receives, particularly from the United States and the European Union, means that Israeli leaders feel completely immune and are continuing to carry out these killings.

You can watch the video of that interview at the top of this page.

On Saturday, the European Union called on Israel “to refrain from using lethal force against unarmed protesters” and claimed that a “full investigation is needed to understand what happened and why” four more people, including the child Muhammad Ayyoub, were killed.

This came after weeks of European officials rationalizing Israeli violence and subtly laying blame on Palestinians for their own deaths.

But once again, the EU has utterly failed to condemn Israel’s actions and is presenting itself as bewildered about what is happening, as if there has not already been a mountain of evidence collected by independent human rights and medical organizations, including Human Rights Watch, Al-Haq, B’Tselem, Al Mezan, Medical Aid for Palestinians, Médecins Sans Frontiers and a number of UN experts concerning the horrific results of Israel’s openly declared policy to shoot people who pose no conceivable threat.

This includes direct incitement by Israeli officers to kill children:

And on top of that, the slaying of Muhammad Ayyoub was seen by eyewitnesses and caught on video, showing that the boy presented no conceivable danger to anyone when he was killed:

If that isn’t enough, the Israeli army has defended the killing of Ayyoub, stating that all shots fired on Friday “were according to the rules of engagement.”

Yet let us take the EU at its word, that it believes in the need for an independent investigation in order to “understand” what is happening and find its way out of the fog.

On 31 March, the day after Israel killed 17 Palestinians as tens of thousands took part in the first Great March of Return rallies, the EU’s foreign policy chief Federica Mogherini joined UN Secretary-General António Guterres in demanding “an independent and transparent investigation.”

On 18 April I wrote to Mogherini’s usually responsive press team to ask what the EU had done in the more than two weeks since its call for an investigation to make one happen.

“Please note I am not asking you to reiterate the EU’s desire, wish, aspiration, hope, belief etc, for such an investigation,” my inquiry stated. “My question now is very specific as to what actions the EU is taking.”

Three days, four killings and hundreds of injuries later, I have received no answer.

What I can say with certainty is that in the meantime EU officials and European governments continue to pour money into Israel’s arms industry.

And they have been effusively celebrating Israel’s so-called “independence” – the founding of an apartheid state that only continues to exist due to the subjugation, exculsion and regular massacres of Palestinians.

 

The Yearly Campaign to Show the World the Horrifying Reality of Hebron by Miko Peled (MintPress)

 
 
 
 

Gaza hospitals shut down as deadly siege tightens – By Ali Abunimah Rights and Accountability

Doctors at Gaza’s al-Nasr children’s hospital say patients’ lives are at risk as hospitals in Gaza shut down due to a shortage of fuel for generators. (via Facebook)

Emergency generators have run out of fuel in at least 19 health facilities in the Gaza Strip as Israel’s deadly decade-old siege on the territory tightens.

The health ministry in Gaza announced Tuesday that the generators have shut down in 16 primary care clinics and three major hospitals, but that medical staff have been ordered to stay at their posts and do what they can to assist patients.

On Tuesday, the UN humanitarian coordination agency OCHA warned that “emergency fuel for critical facilities in Gaza will become exhausted within the next 10 days,” unless donors step in to prevent a “humanitarian catastrophe.”

But for patients and medical personnel on the frontlines, the catastrophe is already happening, and it is only the latest chapter in the forced collapse of Gaza’s healthcare system.

At the al-Nasr children’s hospital, head of intensive care Dr. Raed Mahdi said that the lives of dozens of children in his unit are at risk.

According to the health ministry, Mahdi said overcrowding and pressure on medical staff and supplies had reached a crisis point at his hospital as children were being transferred there from other facilities that had lost all power.

At the Muhammad al-Durra hospital in eastern Gaza, named for a Palestinian child killed by Israeli forces in 2000 at the start of the second intifada, doctors said at a press conference Monday that entire departments had already shut down and some patients were being turned away.

Speaking at the press conference, Jamal al-Durra, Muhammad’s father, appealed for urgent international intervention, saying that to allow the crisis to continue would be to “kill my son a second time.”

“The imposed fuel crisis threatens dialysis services for 400 patients with kidney failure in the Gaza Strip,” the Palestinian human rights group Al-Haq also said Monday.

Due to the chronic power crisis, dialysis in Gaza is already a dangerous business.

Al-Haq added that Gaza hospitals are currently unable to carry out 200 operations per day “due to the corruption and subsequent waste of hundreds of units of blood because of the lack of cooling required – a consequence of the deliberately imposed electricity shortage on Gaza.”

Hospitals closing

Due to Israel’s ongoing restrictions on Gaza’s electricity supply, the population of two million people, half of them children, currently receive electricity for no more than eight hours each day. At times that supply has plummeted to just three or four hours.

“Hospitals have already begun to close. Without funding, more service providers will be forced to suspend operations over the coming weeks, and the situation will deteriorate dramatically, with potential impacts on the entire population,” the UN’s acting humanitarian coordinator Roberto Valent said. “We cannot allow this to happen.”

“Gaza’s health system is on the verge of collapse as hospitals in the besieged territory are expected to face a total power blackout by the end of February,” Ashraf al-Qidra, the Gaza health ministry spokesperson warned.

On 23 January, the Palestinian Authority health ministry in Ramallah allocated almost $300,000 to buy emergency fuel, but that supply would only be enough for 10 days and, according to Al-Haq, “will not resolve the structural electricity crisis imposed by Israel.”

Deadly delays

While collapsing the healthcare system inside Gaza, Israel is also making it harder for Palestinians to seek life-saving treatment outside the besieged territory.

The number of Palestinians allowed in and out of Gaza, both through the Erez crossing, controlled by Israel, and the Rafah crossing with Egypt – which has been closed for years except with rare exceptions – fell sharply last year.

The exit of Palestinians from Gaza through Erez fell by 50 percent in 2017, compared with 2016, according to OCHA.

On average there were just 7,000 exits per month in 2017, compared with more than 500,000 per month prior to the year 2000.

Israel’s approval rate for medical exits via Erez fell to 54 percent, down from 62 percent in 2016 – the lowest rate since 2006, according to OCHA.

“The decline is occurring alongside a gradual increase in the absolute number of referrals and related permit applications to West Bank hospitals in the wake of stricter constraints via the Rafah crossing,” the UN agency noted.

In November, Hamas authorities handed over control of the Palestinian side of the Erez crossing to the internationally backed Palestinian Authority, in the wake of a reconciliation deal signed the previous month.

“To date,” however, “this development has had no apparent impact on the passage of Palestinians from Gaza through the Israeli- and Egyptian-controlled crossings,” OCHA said.

In most cases, unsuccessful applications were due to lengthy delays or lack of response, rather than outright denials.

“In situations such as cancer treatment, delays can have life-threatening implications for patient health,” OCHA stated.

Sometimes, delays have been caused by the Palestinian Authority in Ramallah: over the summer its leader Mahmoud Abbas imposed sanctions on Gaza, including delaying approval of medical referrals to hospitals in the West Bank, as part of his effort to bring Hamas to its knees by exacerbating civilian suffering.

Some of these delays proved deadly.

Al-Haq this week called on the PA “to remove all impediments to access to healthcare for children traveling from Gaza, and to ensure urgent cases are immediately prioritized, for all cases within its competence.”

Israeli denial

But there is no doubt where the overall responsibility lies.

As the belligerent occupier, “Israel has continued obligations to ensure the maintenance of civil life in the Gaza Strip, which includes the supply of basic services and infrastructure to the civilian population,” according to Al-Haq.

The group says that “that denial of travel permits leading to delays in accessing treatments, not only violates the rights to health and the right to life, but may also constitute inhumane, degrading treatment” that violates international law.

Yet on Monday, Israeli defense minister Avigdor Lieberman declared that there is “no humanitarian crisis” in Gaza.

That contradicted the assessment even of Israeli army chief Gadi Eisenkot who told Israel’s cabinet a day earlier, as Haaretz reported, “that the Gaza Strip is on the verge of collapse due to the worsening humanitarian crisis.”

“Feigned and simplistic”

Last week, Israeli diplomats presented a “humanitarian rehabilitation” plan for Gaza at a meeting of donors in Brussels.

“Israel expects the international community to cover the costs of the plan’s implementation, an estimated $1 billion,” the Israeli human rights group Gisha observed.

The group dismissed Israel’s plan as “feigned and simplistic,” noting that Israel’s crushing blockade on Gaza is what has caused the “dire humanitarian conditions.”

“The alarming state of Gaza’s infrastructure, its chances for economic development and the living conditions of its two million residents are largely dependent on Israel,” Gisha stated.

But Lieberman, the defense minister, made clear Israel will continue its policy of denying basic humanitarian services to civilians in Gaza as a form of political blackmail – a war crime.

Among other political goals, Israel is holding two million people hostage in an effort to get information on several Israelis held in Gaza, including the bodies of two of its soldiers killed during its 2014 invasion.

“As long as there’s no progress regarding the [Israeli] captives and missing persons, we can’t move forward with all sorts of initiatives for [helping] the Strip,” Lieberman said. “As far as its rehabilitation, it can only be on one condition – demilitarization [of Gaza].”

Gisha has also documented how Israel tightened its closure of Gaza in 2017, including a host of new restrictions “introduced with little to no justification provided as to their purpose and, it appears, no consideration of the impact they would have on the lives of Gaza’s residents.”

 

Ottoman archives hold records of Jerusalem deeds – By Yeni Şafak (Truthaholics)

Jerusalem deeds

© Unknown

There are 171,306 deeds recorded in 46 registries of Jerusalem in Ottoman archive records. Of these, 133,365 are private property and 37,671 belong to foundations. In addition to this, Turkey’s archives also have records of Jerusalem between the hijri years 950 and 1917.

Among the records of private property were 139 deeds belonging to Sultan Abdul Hamid II, 137 of which were transferred to the treasury in the past. The remaining two are in Jerusalem’s Erihav region. The records show that there is a plot of land approximately 30,000 square meters in size that is recorded under the name of Sultan Abdul Hamid II [1842-1918].

The deeds proving that Palestine belongs to Palestinians were handed to Palestinian officials. Israel did not ask for deed records from Turkey. Had Israel requested these records, it would mean that Israel would be accepting that it is occupying Palestine.

A memorandum was signed between Palestine and Jordan. Procedures such as the maintenance and repair of foundations in Jerusalem were transferred to Jordan. Therefore, in 2016, upon the request of Jordan, Turkey provided copies of the deeds of foundations in Jerusalem to Jordan.

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Russia accepts West Jerusalem as capital of Israel, East Jerusalem as capital of Palestine – what’s the deal? – By Moon of Alabama

Russia just published a quite sensational statement on Israel and Palestine. It recognizes, as before, East-Jerusalem as the capitol of the State of Palestine. But Russia now also recognizes, under certain condition, West-Jerusalem as the capitol of the State of Israel.

This statement will make quite a wave and it has to be seen in the wider context of the war on Syria. Here is the original statement in Russian on the Foreign Ministry site and the auto-translation (excerpt):

Moscow continues to consider the formula for negotiating a two-state settlement of an optimal and friendly to us Palestinian and Israeli people, as well as to the interests of all countries in the region and the world community as a whole.

We reaffirm our commitment to the UN resolutions on the principles of settlement, including the status of East Jerusalem as the capital of the future Palestinian state. At the same time, we consider it necessary to say that in this context we regard West Jerusalem as the capital of the State of Israel.

Specific parameters for addressing the full range of issues of the final status of the Palestinian territories, including the Jerusalem problem, should be agreed upon in direct negotiations between the parties.

The part marked by me in bold is new. Older statements of Russia never included such a recognition. It is bound to conditions (“in this context”) so there is no free lunch for the Zionists. But it is still a huge achievement for Netanyahoo.

For a wider context of the new Russian position we have to look at the conflict in Syria. There the pressure on President Trump to launch a war on Syria’s government (and, make no mistake, thereby also on Hizbullah, Russia and Iran) is increasing. The probably staged chemical incident yesterday was the starting point for an intense pro-war campaign.

Yesterday the Israeli Defense Minister Lieberman accused Syria:

Lieberman told Yedioth Ahronoth that Syrian planes carried out the two chemical attacks, which were “directly ordered and planned by Syrian President Bashar Assad.” He stressed he was “100 percent certain.” The defense minister said he did not know if Russia was involved in the attack.

Russia and Syria have denied that either of them used any chemical ammunition. They say that the Syrian air force bombed an al-Qaeda ammunition depot which, unknown to them, may have included chemical weapons.

Today the Israeli Prime Minister Netanyahoo called the Russian President and part of that call was a serious rebuke from Putin:

Mr Putin and Mr Netanyahu exchanged views on the incident involving chemical weapons on April 4 in the Syrian province of Idlib. Mr Putin underscored, in particular, that it is unacceptable to make groundless accusations against any party until a thorough and objective international investigation has been conducted.

But also part of that call, though not mentioned in the official note, must have been some agreement that led to the release of the statement above by the Russian Foreign Ministry.

A deal must have been made. A give and take and the West-Jerusalem release is part of the payment or reward. It is a HUGE price to win for Israel as Russia’s concession also gives cover for President Trump to make a similar announcement without messing up U.S. relations with Arab states.

We can only speculate on the Israeli side of the deal but there must be something Netanyahoo committed to. Russia would not offer the new position for nothing.

My speculation:

The mighty Zionist lobby in the U.S. (AIPAC & Co) is pushing for an immediate war on Syria. (It did so in 2013 but Obama called the war off at that time after the British parliament and later Congress rejected it.)

Netanyahoo could let it known that he prefers no war on Syria. The Zionist lobby in the U.S. would then shut up, pressure on Trump would be much relieved, a new war on Syria could be avoided.

In 2013 Putin arranged for a deal to destroy Syria’s chemical arsenal. The elimination of Syria’s strategic weapons was a huge gift to Israel. It also allowed Obama to keep face and keep away from war despite all pressure.

Now Putin is making another huge offer. Will Israel take this gift? Will Netanyahoo call off its AIPAC dogs of war?

The offer is not Russia’s last political resort with regard to Israel.

A million Israelis are of Russian heritage. They emigrated to Israel in the 1980s and 90s. They are mostly not really Jews but vote conservative. They also admire and cherish Putin. That is one reason why no Israeli politician, especially Netanyahoo, can afford a big political conflict with Russia.

Putin’s ultimate threat to Netanyahoo is to influence the Russian voters in Israel and to make them vote against him. It is a personal nuke under Netanyahoo’s seat.

But Putin does not like to issue threats. He offers and makes deals. So one wonders what the real deal behind the above acknowledgement of West-Jerusalem is. Is my speculation correct or are their better explanations?

Comment: The change reportedly took the Israeli media and government by surprise:

The Times of Israel said it regarded the Russian statement as an “unexpected, unprecedented, and curious move.”

The Israeli Foreign Ministry was taken aback by the statement.

“We are studying the matter,” the paper quoted a ministry spokesman as saying.

The Times wrote: “Recognizing only the western part of it would appear to deny Israel’s claims to the eastern part, including the Old City, which it captured in 1967 and subsequently annexed.”

The Jerusalem Post called it a “surprise” announcement.

It reported that Russia’s ambassador to Israel will meet with Foreign Ministry officials in the coming days to discuss the announcement. It said there is no plan to move Russia’s embassy to Jerusalem at this time.

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The cruel experiments of Israel’s arms industry – By Matt Kennard

© Matt Kennard
Investigator Iyad Haddad explains the injuries the different spent weapons in his office have done to Palestinians.

Round the back of Ramallah’s main hospital lies the house of Iyad Haddad, a 52-year-old human rights investigator. His home office is the shopfront of a decrepit building and at first glance it looks like a bric-a-brac shop. But the objects placed out on the tables are not household trinkets. The surfaces are, in fact, cluttered with spent ammunition, tear gas canisters, sponge bullets and shell casings.

Haddad has spent the past three decades documenting the violence of the Israeli forces occupying his people’s land. These ugly little pieces of memorabilia are his testament to that process.

Many of these weapons have been fired on peaceful demonstrators protesting against Israel’s wall and settlements in the occupied West Bank. The villages of Nilin, Bilin and Nabi Saleh have been organizing regular protests for years. To my surprise, Haddad does not approve of those demonstrations.

“Sometimes they are using us so they can know how to use each kind of weapon,” he said. “For me, these kinds of activities by the Palestinians become helpful to the Israelis because it makes this area into a laboratory to test their weapons, to develop them and make it a commercial industry in order to sell them to other countries.”

The idea that the Israeli arms industry benefits from the occupation through having a captive population it can test new weaponry on is now widely accepted.

Israel tries out weapons in the West Bank and Gaza and then presents them as “battle proven” to the international market.

The high-velocity tear gas canister has been heavily tested in Bilin. In 2009, the weapon killed Bassem Abu Rahmah, an unarmed local activist, protesting the wall slicing into that village. At the end of 2011, another protester, Mustafa Tamimi, was killed in Nabi Saleh by a tear gas canister, shot at his head.

There is a sense of weariness in Haddad’s voice. “I have seen how they are developing their tools and their weapons industry and the ways of dealing with the community,” he said. “And, in 30 years, I never heard once that there is any kind of accountability for any soldier.”

But he goes on. He must go on.

“Tested and retested”

“The laboratory of the occupied territories is where things can be fine-tuned, they can be tested, they can be retested,” said Neve Gordon, a politics professor at Ben-Gurion University of the Negev. “They can say, ‘Hey this was used by the IDF [Israel’s military], this must be good.’ And that helps the marketing of the goods.”

Later, in Ramallah, I sat down with Abdallah Abu Rahmah, coordinator of the Popular Struggle Committee against the wall and settlements in Bilin. Every Friday – for a decade – he and his neighbors have gone to the wall to protest.

For these efforts, they have been subject to night raids by the Israeli military. Abu Rahmah himself has been arrested and imprisoned by Israel a number of times.

“There are many reports about when they [the Israelis] have tried to sell military products and they told the buyers about its use in Bilin,” said Abu Rahmah. “Things like skunk water, they used it the first time in our village.”

Skunk water is a putrid smelling liquid that is sprayed at protesters in order to get them to disperse. “Because Bilin is famous, sometimes they come to our actions and they take video and photographs showing how effective the weapons are in stopping the action,” Abu Rahmah said.

Jeff Halper, author of War Against the People, a book on Israel’s arms and surveillance technology industries, said: “Israel has kept the occupation because it’s a laboratory for weapons.”

“Now, there has always been a tension,” added Halper, also a founder of the Israeli Committee Against House Demolitions. “Because you’ve had the right wing that look at the West Bank as Judea and Samaria and Gaza as Gush Katif and, of course, East Jerusalem. So they want it all as part of the land of Israel. But then you’ve got another part especially the – I would say the military and the economic people – that say, ‘Hey, this is a laboratory, this is really a resource for us, and we really shouldn’t give it up.'”

Eitay Mack, a Jerusalem-based human rights lawyer and activist, raises the prospect that Israel uses Palestinians as test subjects for foreign arms companies as well.

Testing America’s bullets

“In East Jerusalem, the Americans give Israel sponge bullets,” Mack said. “First, they started with a blue sponge bullet but then they decided – this is their statement – that because the Palestinians wore a lot of clothes, it was not very effective so then they changed it to a [more powerful] black sponge bullet, which caused huge damage and there are dozens of Palestinians that have lost their eyes and other organs of their body.”

The black sponge bullets are manufactured by Combined Tactical Systems, a Pennsylvania-based firm which also supplies Israel with tear gas.

The company’s brochure for these bullets contains a note marked “caution.” It reads: “Shots to the head, neck, thorax, heart or spine can result in fatal or serious injury.”

Israeli troops began using the black bullets in 2014.

The Israeli arms industry is dominated by four companies: Israel Aerospace Industries, Elbit, Rafael and Israel Military Industries.

More than 75 percent of all weapons exported by Israel are made by the first three of those firms. In 2015, the total value of Israel’s arms exports came to $5.7 billion.

The attack on Gaza the previous year enabled Israel to showcase some of its newest weapons. It was reported, for example, that the Hermes-900, one of Elbit’s drones, made its “operational debut” in that assault.

Israel allocates more than 5 percent of gross domestic product to the military. That means Israel spends a higher proportion of its national income on the military than even the US, the world’s only superpower.

“War sells weapons”

Some veterans of the Israeli military have developed careers as experts on the arms industry.

Shlomo Brom is one of them. A retired brigadier general, he now works at the Institute for National Security Studies in Tel Aviv.

I asked Brom if it’s true that Israeli arms companies use the fact that their products have been tested on Palestinians to gain international business. “Of course,” he replied. “Why not? Marketing [professionals] try to use any advantage and if they can use the advantage that this system was tested operationally and it worked, they will of course use it for marketing.”

Uzi Rubin, a founder of Arrow, an Israeli anti-ballistic missiles program, is now a researcher at the Begin-Sadat Center for Strategic Studies in Bar-Ilan University near Tel Aviv.

He defended the way Israel has marketed its weapons as “battle proven.”

“It is legitimate because the Vietnam War sold a lot of weapons,” he said. “War usually sells weapons. But this is not to say that Israel is seeking war in order to sell weapons.”

Barbara Opall-Rome has spent a few decades covering Israel for DefenseNews, a trade magazine for arms manufacturers. She advocates that Israel should allocate greater resources into what she calls “less-than-lethal technologies.”

In her view, the Israeli weapons industry should think beyond weapons such as tear gas and skunk water that it is already deploying in the West Bank.

“I’m talking about using the electromagnetic spectrum or high-powered microwaves to get people dizzy,” she said. “If you’re dizzy you lose your balance. You know, I’d rather people just get an upset stomach and really just have to have diarrhea right in the middle of a demonstration or puke their guts out than to be killed.”

Her comments reveal much about the sadistic mentality of Israel’s weapons-makers and their promoters. For them, Palestinians are not human beings worthy of respect but subjects in one cruel experiment after another.

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