Benjamin Netanyahu’s planned speech to the United States Congress next week has led to much talk of a rift between the Israeli prime minister and the US president, and even between their two countries.
Tuesday, national security adviser Susan E. Rice said the growing partisanship regarding Israel is “destructive of the fabric of the relationship.”
Citing protocol of not meeting foreign leaders too close to an election, President Barack Obama will shun his Israeli counterpart in Washington, and Vice President Joe Biden will stay away from the joint session of Congress when Netanyahu appears.
The dispute has taken on rancorous partisan tones with more than two dozen Democratic lawmakers vowing to boycott the speech. They charge that Netanyahu’s goal is to undermine the president’s diplomacy with Iran, and that Republican House Speaker John Boehner invited the Israeli leader to defy and humiliate the White House.
Yet all those objecting to the speech, whether in the United States, or Netanyahu’s rivals at home, where he faces an election next month, protest that their concern is to guarantee US-Israeli relations on whose strength the very future of Israel is said to hang.
But what all this sound and fury misses is that for the Palestinians, there is no meaningful Obama-Netanyahu rift. Indeed US-Israeli relations have never been stronger, nor more damaging to the prospects for peace and justice and for the very survival of the Palestinian people.
Just look at the recent record. Last December, the Palestinian Authority put forward a tepid resolution in the UN Security Council that did little more than repeat long-standing US policy on the outlines of a two-state solution. Obama’s UN ambassador Samantha Power marshaled all her resources to defeat it.
She claimed that the resolution was “deeply imbalanced” and took “no account of Israel’s legitimate security concerns.”
The next day, after disappointed Palestinian Authority leader Mahmoud Abbas signed the treaty acceding to the Rome Statute of the International Criminal Court, Obama’s State Department declared itself “deeply troubled,” accusing Palestinians of an “escalatory step” that “badly damages the atmosphere with the very people with whom they ultimately need to make peace.”
Power said the Palestinian move “really poses a profound threat to Israel.”
These words are perverse. Israel’s 51-day long attack on Gaza that left more than 2,200 people dead didn’t “damage the atmosphere” as far as the Obama administration was concerned, but any Palestinian effort to use international bodies in pursuit of justice and accountability is tantamount to an act of war.
I challenge Power to go and repeat her words to any of the 100,000 Palestinians in Gaza still living in the damp and freezing rubble of their homes, to the surviving parents of more than 500 children killed in the Israeli attack, or to the thousands who will live with lifelong injuries.
Neither the ambassador nor her president has commented on the findings of Amnesty International, which said that Israel “brazenly flouted the laws of war by carrying out a series of attacks on civilian homes, displaying callous indifference to the carnage caused.”
Few Palestinians will forget that when Israeli fire was raining down on them, the Obama administration authorized the transfer of grenades and mortar rounds to resupply the Israeli army.
Last summer’s war was something even Hamas leaders tried to avoid. After it began, armed Palestinian groups declared that their goal was a ceasefire accompanied by a lifting of the eight-year siege that has devastated Gaza’s economy and isolated its 1.8 million people from the rest of humanity.
Since the war, promises that the siege would be lifted have been broken. Billions pledged in reconstruction aid have failed to materialize. As a result, cash-strapped UNRWA, the UN agency for Palestine refugees, has suspended repairs on Gaza homes.
Israel’s view tends to be unquestioningly echoed by US officials and media: that Palestinians are at fault for the repeated surges of violence.
Despite this, the US put no pressure on Israel to end the years-long blockade.
As a result, the lesson Palestinians have repeatedly learned is that whether they fight or stay quiet, Israel will be allowed to do as it pleases. It can besiege and slaughter them in Gaza, seize and colonize their land in the West Bank, deprive them of their most fundamental rights, and Obama will have Israel’s back.
Just because Obama, Netanyahu and their partisan followers may be peeved at each other does not change the basic dynamic of full US support for Israel’s occupation of millions of Palestinians, the continuation of which guarantees ongoing suffering with regional repercussions.
Sure enough, despite the supposed rift, the US is proceeding with the sale of more of the most advanced F-35 fighter jets to Israel.
That’s why Palestinians do not see any substantive Obama-Netanyahu rift on life and death matters for them. But there urgently needs to be one.
It is long past time for the American people and their representatives to challenge Israel on its seemingly permanent subjugation of the Palestinians.
This post was first published by The Huffington Post.
[In July, 2014, the Israeli military attack on the Palestinian people in Gaza was shown to be a terrorist, genocidal move, by forcing families to be confined, and then killing those who could not escape. This continued a practice repeated many times. Notably, in the previous Israeli assault on Gaza, in January 2009, the attack on the Al Zaytoun neighborhood began with soldiers, then two days of bombing, which struck the Al Samouni home, followed by soldiers shooting to kill. 26 members of the Al Samouni family were killed, including 10 children and 7 women. The Red Cross was only allowed entry three days later to evacuate the dead and injured, the majority of whom were so critical that they were taken to Belgium, Egypt, and Saudi Arabia for treatment.
The names of children killed: Azza Salah Al Samouni, 3 years of age; Waleed Rashad Al Samouni, 17 years of age; Ishaq Ibrahim Al Samouni, 14 years of age; Ismail Ibrahim Al Samouni, 16 years of age; Rifka Wael Al Samouni, 8 years of age; Fares Wael Al Samouni, 12 years of age; Huda Nael Al Samouni, 17 years of age; Ahmad Atieh Al Samouni, 14 years of age; Mu’tassim Mohammed Al Samouni, 6 years of age; Mohammed Hilmi Al Samouni, 5 years of age.
Names of Women Killed:Rahma Mohammed Al Samouni, 50 years of age; Safa’ Hilmi Al Samouni, 25 years of age; Maha Mohammed Al Samouni, 22 years of age; Rabbab Azzat Al Samouni, 32 years of age; Laila Nabih Al Samouni, 40 years of age; Rifqa Mohammed Al Samouni, 50 years of age; Hannan Khamis Al Samouni, 36 years of age.
Names of Men Killed: Tallal Hilmi Al Samouni, 55 years of age; Attieh Hilmi Al Samouni, 25 years of age; Rashad Hilmi Al Samouni, 42 years of age; Tawfiq Rashad Al Samouni, 23 years of age; Mohammed Ibrahim, 26 years of age; Ziyad Izzat Al Samouni, 28 years of age; Nidal Ahmad Al Samouni, 30 years of age; Hamdi Maher Al Samouni, 23 years of age; Hamdi Mahmoud Al Samouni, 70 years of age.
And now, again, in 2014. — Frontlines ed.]
Eight members of the Wahdan family, the youngest only two years old, were killed in an Israeli airstrike on their home in Gaza after Israeli forces confined them inside and used their home as a military base. Continue reading
Palestinian artist captures Gaza pain in clay
GAZA CITY – Among the mountains of rubble littering Gaza after a deadly summer war, clay outlines emerge of men, women, and children with a story to tell about fear, flight and destruction.
It is astonishing that the reconstruction of Gaza, bombed into the Stone Age according to the explicit goals of an Israeli military doctrine known as “Dahiya”, has tentatively only just begun two months after the end of the fighting.
According to the United Nations, 100,000 homes have been destroyed or damaged, leaving 600,000 Palestinians – nearly one in three of Gaza’s population – homeless or in urgent need of humanitarian help.
Roads, schools and the electricity plant to power water and sewerage systems are in ruins. The cold and wet of winter are approaching. Aid agency Oxfam warns that at the current rate of progress it may take 50 years to rebuild Gaza.
Where else in the world apart from the Palestinian territories would the international community stand by idly as so many people suffer – and not from a random act of God but willed by fellow humans?
Details given in a confidential briefing this week confirm that the UN has agreed to become the chief enforcer of Israel’s ongoing siege of Gaza.
Under the guise of reconstruction, the UN will be monitoring and gathering private information about Palestinian households to be passed onto Israel, which will have a veto over which families get aid to rebuild their homes.
This was presented as part of an effort to try to entrench and legitimize the Israeli-backed Ramallah-based Palestinian Authority of Mahmoud Abbas in Gaza.
Under the arrangements, Israel will be given even more intrusive control over the lives of Palestinians in Gaza, who will be subjected to onerous ongoing monitoring as they try to rebuild their houses, communities and lives following Israel’s summer massacre.
UN agencies estimate that almost 90,000 homes must be rebuilt, in addition to hundreds of schools and other major infrastructure systematically destroyed in Israel’s attack, or degraded by years of blockade.
Protesters block unloading of Israeli ship in Oakland
By Hamed Aleaziz
Saturday, September 27, 2014
Protesters angered by Israel’s military actions in Gaza gathered at the Port of Oakland on Saturday morning in an effort to prevent a cargo ship managed by an Israeli company from unloading.
Longshore workers did not unload the ship, the Zim Shanghai, because of safety concerns posed by the presence of several hundred protesters and about 50 police officers, said Craig Merrilees, spokesman for the International Longshore and Warehouse Union. The ship is docked at the port’s Berth 59, he said.
The workers planned to reassess the situation later during the Saturday evening shift, he said. The union has not taken a position on the protest or any of the issues involved. Continue reading
[“A significant part of what the IDF [Israel Defence Forces] does is not the “title” [ie defence]. The “title” of what the IDF does in the occupied territories is ruling another people. One of the things you need to do is defend yourself from them, but you also need to oppress the population. You need to weaken the politics, you need to strengthen and deepen your control of Palestinian society so that the [Israeli] state can remain [there] in the long term … We realised that that’s the job of the intelligence.”: — from the interview with 3 of the “refuseniks”, in the 2nd article posted below. The unity of these “refuseniks” is a rejection of the colonial mission to control all aspects of Palestinian life. They do not, as a group, object to other aspects of Israel and Israeli military policy and practice. Nonetheless, their stance is noteworthy, though limited. — Frontlines ed.]
Forty-three reserve soldiers and officers in Israel’s prestigious military intelligence gathering unit, Unit 8200, have refused to take any further part in the gathering of information on Palestinian society in the West Bank.
Their stand is the latest expression of the growing opposition within the armed forces to the ongoing repression of the Palestinian people.
Refusal to enlist was once considered unthinkable among Jewish Israeli youth other than among the ultra-orthodox, but now, as one young refusenik, Shaked Harari, explained, they “are not embarrassed that we are refusing. We believe that this declaration can make an ideological change, and it will not happen if we don’t stand behind it and we are not honest with it.”
Unit 8200 is under the control of the Israel Defence Force’s (IDF) Military Intelligence Directorate, whose role is similar to that of the National Security Agency in the United States. It collects signal intelligence (SIGINT), including eavesdropping on telephone calls, text messages, and emails. As the largest part of the IDF, the views expressed must therefore reflect a much wider layer than the number who actually signed the letter.
The unit has acquired an iconic status, in part because as a result of its technical expertise a number of 8200’s alumni have gone on to found or manage some of Israel’s high-tech start-up companies. Its operations are secret and subject to censorship, while the identities of its leading personnel are never revealed.
It is therefore all the more significant that it is the ethical and political character of the Unit’s work and above all its methods that have come to public attention. While a number of pilots, soldiers and officers from combat units faced with the daily task of humiliating and arresting Palestinians—and worse—have refused service, this is the first time that anyone in electronic surveillance has spoken up and refused to enlist.
Jewish Israeli men are required to carry out three years of military service from the age of 18 and then at least a month a year of reserve duty until the age of 40. They typically spend a few weeks each year in active duty. While women are also obliged to do military service, they are not required to serve in combat units, while their service and reservist duties are shorter.
The 43 signatories, collected over a year, to an open letter to Prime Minister Benyamin Netanyahu, chiefs of the IDF and its SIGINT branch stressed that they believed that the information they collected was often used to exert control over innocent Palestinian civilians and to set West Bank residents against each other. At the same time it was an invasion of the privacy of the Palestinian, said the signatories. Continue reading
by Robin D. G. Kelley, August 8, 2014
“We know too well that our freedom is incomplete without the freedom of the Palestinians” –Nelson Mandela
Israel’s illegal, genocidal war on the people of Gaza has the characteristics of a massive tsunami.
Waged with even greater ferocity than Operation Cast Lead or any other assault since the Nakba of 1948 or the 1967 War, its destructive impact may even be worse. Masked as a war of “self-defense,” the euphemistically-named “Operation Protective Edge” is state violence at warp speed; it is completely indiscriminate yet calculated in its targeting of children and adult civilians, hospitals, schools, shelters, markets, and neighborhoods. So massive the onslaught, so swift the reports on social media, that my twitter feed resembles a ticker-tape machine. No one can write or speak fast enough to keep up with the body count.
As I write now, the Palestinian dead is inching toward the 2,000 mark, the injured close to 10,000; a quarter of Gaza’s population is displaced; about 10,000 homes were destroyed—including 141 schools; entire neighborhoods have been razed to the ground; morgues are filled to capacity as dead bodies lay strewn in streets, under rubble or placed in vegetable refrigerators or commercial ice cream freezers. The lack of electricity, clean water, food, sanitation, medical supplies, among other things, means a variety of infectious, nutritional and water-borne diseases are imminent.
If you are reading this, you’re probably familiar with these terrifying facts. Continue reading
by BAR managing editor Bruce A. Dixon, July 30, 2014
Back in the 1970s, when the Congressional Black Caucus began calling itself “the conscience of the Congress,” that was almost literally true. CBC members could be relied upon not just to reliably vote for raising wages and expenditures on housing, health care and education, but to keep the issues of full employment and opposition to unjust war near thefront of their public agendas.
By the late 1980s, a gaggle of former CBC staffers had moved through the revolving doors of elite affirmative action to become corporate lobbyists, with the same ethics and table manners as their white colleagues, but with black faces. Thanks in large part to their efforts, by 2000 a tsunami of corporate cash began filling up the coffers of incumbent CBC members, their black replacements, or in the cases of Alabama’s Earl Hilliard and Georgia’s Cynthia McKinney, their black opponents.
Only a single member of the CBC, Rep. Barabra Lee opposed President Bush’s blank check for invading anywhere he pleased in Septermber of 2001, and by the 2003 invasion of Iraq, four CBC members, some of them swimming in donations from military contractors, raced down to the White House to have their pictures taken with Bush as the bombs were about to explode over Baghdad.
By Anthony Cuthbertson, International Business Times, August 7, 2014
An app that allows users to search for a product linked to targeted companies or countries in order to boycott them has seen a significant surge in users signing up to anti-Israel campaigns.
Buycott catalogues brands and their affiliations and lets users set up campaigns to either help or avoid funding certain causes. By scanning a product’s barcode with their smartphone camera, consumers are able to determine which brands are associated with which campaigns.
The two most popular campaigns currently on Buycott are Long Live Palestine Boycott Israel and Avoid Israeli Settlement Products. Between them they have close to 350,000 supporters, over a quarter of which have joined in the last 12 hours (at time of publication).
Included on the list of companies implicated by the Long Live Palestine Boycott Israel campaign are McDonald’s, Intel, Nestle and Marks & Spencer.
“This campaign is about ordinary people around the world using their right to choose what they buy in order to help bring about an end to oppression in Palestine,” the campaign’s page states.
The National Demonstration for Gaza
London 9th August Saturday 2014
Condemn US, UK-backed Israeli genocidal bombardment of Gaza!
Condemn the killing of Gaza’s innocent women and children!
Stand in solidarity with the people of Palestine!
The Indian Workers’ Association (Great Britain) stands in firm solidarity with people of Palestine and emphatically condemns the Israeli Zionist regime for murdering 1,655 and injuring 8,900 Palestinians during their recent military offensive on Gaza. These figures were still rising as we go to print. More than 74 percent of those killed are civilian. We are seeing gruesome images of decapitated children’s bodies and innocent injured individuals being shot. The Palestinian people in Gaza have no place to run or hide and are helpless against the Israeli tanks and superior fire power. This is not the first time Israel has attacked the Palestinian people in Gaza. The same happened in November 2012 and in winter of 2008-09. These attacks on the Palestinian people are war crimes that are being watched by the US and their allies, including Britain. The western governments shamelessly exercise duplicity. Unlike their stand in Ukraine, Syria, etc. there is no call for sending in the US military or the NATO forces to defend the Palestinian people. In their eyes the people in GAZA don’t matter so intervention on humanitarian grounds is not even a consideration. On the contrary the US imperialist are poised to sell $225m arms to restock the Israeli military arsenal. Continue reading
[The people of Gaza have, in their determined resistance, brought many issues to the fore among its supporters and defenders. Central to these is the right of resistance itself — “by any means necessary” i.e., with whatever force the defenders can bring to the battlefield. The forces of self-defense and the struggle for self-determination include moral force, political force, and military force. Those who claim to support the victims of imperialist and settler-colonial military aggression, but argue against popular military resistance and armed liberation strategies, are denying the very means by which defense is made and by which liberation is won. In the essay below, Ramzy Baroud of Palestine Chronicle details the background and recent history and “debate” over this issue. (And, an important, but here secondary, difference with Baroud’s concluding paragraphs which cite ‘Gandhi’s inspiring greatness in the struggle against colonialism’ — this is disputed in India and elsewhere, as, most recently, Arundhati Roy and many others have challenged the iconization of Gandhi as a false anti-colonialist who ushered in an “independent” India without breaking the colonialist cultures and structures and laws of caste, class, and repressive state violence, and without empowering the people who, in their overwhelming majority, live today in the same same oppressive conditions that characterized the period of direct British colonial rule. But this is a side-point here, which will be further explored separately and soon). — Frontlines ed.]
Gaza’s resistance paradigm
By Ramzy Baroud, Palestine Chronicle
“Where is the Palestinian Gandhi? In Israeli prison, of course!,” was the title of an article by Jo Ehrlich published in Mondoweiss.net on December 21, 2009. That was almost exactly one year after Israel’s concluded a major war against Gaza. The so-called Operation Cast Lead (December 27, 2008 – January 18, 2009) was, till then, the deadliest Israeli attack against the impoverished strip for many years.
Ehrlich was not in the least being belittling by raising the question about the “Palestinian Gandhi” but responding to the patronization of others. Right from the onset, he remarked: “Not that I’m in any way playing into the Palestinian Gandhi dialogue, I think it’s actually pretty diversionary/racist. But sometimes you have to laugh in order not to cry.”
Indeed, the question was and remains condescending, ignorant, patronizing and utterly racist. But the question was also pervasive, including among people who classify themselves as “pro-Palestinian activists”.
Now that Israel’s latest war – so-called Operation Protective Edge – has surpassed Cast Lead in terms of duration, causalities, level of destruction, but also the targeting of civilians – the Gandhi question seems more muted than usual. To understand why, one needs to first examine the reason of why Palestinians were demanded to produce a non-violent Gandhi alternative in their struggle for freedom in the first place. Continue reading
[In California, several mass protests of the Israeli attack have grown in size and spirit, and sizable numbers of Palestinian youth have taken the lead. The Arab Resource and Organizing Center has been an important part of these developments. An AROC speaker at the July 26, 2014 demonstration in San Francisco detailed their views at this crucial juncture. — Frontlines ed.]
[In cities and towns worldwide, protests have been raised in solidarity with the people of Gaza. Many such protests have faced police attacks with clubs and gas, and media condemnation and slanders that standing with Palestinians is somehow anti-Semitic or terrorist. Yet, still we march in anger at Israel’s precision targeted killing of hundreds of civilians, hundreds of children, who are trapped in the world’s largest open air prison with nowhere to escape the Israeli bombs. And the solidarity takes many forms as the false legitimacy of the settler-colonial regime shreds, hour after hour. In California, poets established a Facebook group, Artists Against Attacks on Gaza, asking poets to write to and for the names of the dead in Gaza (see http://972mag.com/nobody-should-be-a-number-names-of-those-killed-in-gaza/93274/). devorah major, the 3rd San Francisco Poet Laureate (in 2003), wrote the following, which, she says, is a poem without end. — Frontlines ed.]
calling the dead
i start to read the names and ages
Abed whose name means worship
was a year younger than my son
and the forgiving Samih
perhaps his one year old child
the baby of seven of the Jarad family
who died together on a Friday
day of prayer as a tank
bombarded their home