Israelis protest Gaza blitz

From Middle East Online:

“SAKHNIN, Israel – Tens of thousands of Israeli Arabs demonstrated on Saturday in the northern town of Sakhnin over Israel’s week-old offensive against the Gaza Strip.

Organisers estimated that nearly 100,000 people attended the protest rally, which stretched through the city streets.

Crowds waving Palestinian flags and brandishing pro-Palestinian placards chanted “Gaza will not surrender to the tanks and bulldozers!” and “Don’t fear, Gaza, we are with you!”

Thousands of police deployed on the outskirts of Sakhnin and across northern Israel following a number of protests against the Gaza operation in recent days.

Following a minute’s silence, Sakhnin Mayor Mazem Ghanaim called for an immediate halt to the Gaza offensive which Israel launched last Saturday against the besieged territory.

The Israeli offensive has killed more than 440 Palestinians and wounded more than 2,290.

According to the UN, one quarter of the Palestinian victims were civilians.

“The Israeli occupation forces are conducting crimes in Gaza before the eyes of the international community. We call for an immediate stop to the Gaza offensive,” Ghanaim told the crowd.

He also called on Gaza resistance fighters to halt their rocket fire against southern Israel, which have killed four people over the past eight days.

Israeli Arab MP Mohammed Barakeh said the Sakhnin demonstration was “our answer to the Israeli threats against the Palestinian people in Gaza.”

“We are determined to stand alongside our brothers in Gaza to stop the bloodshed and massacre,” Barakeh said.

Israeli Arabs have staged several big demonstrations since Israeli warplanes launched air strikes in Gaza.

Some protesters in Sakhnin called Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak a “coward” and accused him of “collaborating with the Americans.”

Israel has often come under international criticism for ‘racism’ and mistreatment of its Arab minority, who are the original inhabitants of the land and today make up one fifth of its total population.

The Arab population is comprised of the descendants of the Palestinians who remained in their land despite being subjected to an Israeli campaign of ethnic cleansing during the creation of Israel.

Debunking Hasbara

Israeli spin (= propaganda = bullshit) is known as hasbara. Coordinated by Israel’s National Information Directorate, hasbara is aimed at creating an unrealistically wholesome image of Israel so the average person accepts the Zionist state’s aggressions against its neighbours and land thefts without question. In this ongoing post, I’m going to collect thoughts and links which demonstrate Israel’s pernicious perversions of reality.

From the Guardian article “Special spin body gets media on message, says Israel“:

The directorate acts across ministries and decides key messages on a daily basis. Of its core messages for the media, there has been the advice that Hamas broke the ceasefire agreements with Israel; that Israel’s objective is the defence of its population; and that Hamas is a terror organisation targeting Israeli civilians. “In general, we think we are succeeding in getting the message across,” said Vatikai.

The three slogans above are distortions and outright lies which have been exposed previously on this blog.

Uri Avnery also explains these Israeli fabrications:

As a matter of fact, the cease-fire did not collapse, because there was no real cease-fire to start with. The main requirement for any cease-fire in the Gaza Strip must be the opening of the border crossings. There can be no life in Gaza without a steady flow of supplies. But the crossings were not opened, except for a few hours now and again. The blockade on land, on sea and in the air against a million and a half human beings is an act of war, as much as any dropping of bombs or launching of rockets. It paralyzes life in the Gaza Strip: eliminating most sources of employment, pushing hundreds of thousands to the brink of starvation, stopping most hospitals from functioning, disrupting the supply of electricity and water.

Those who decided to close the crossings – under whatever pretext – knew that there is no real cease-fire under these conditions.

That is the main thing. Then there came the small provocations which were designed to get Hamas to react. After several months, in which hardly any Qassam rockets were launched, an army unit was sent into the Strip “in order to destroy a tunnel that came close to the border fence”. From a purely military point of view, it would have made more sense to lay an ambush on our side of the fence. But the aim was to find a pretext for the termination of the cease-fire, in a way that made it plausible to put the blame on the Palestinians. And indeed, after several such small actions, in which Hamas fighters were killed, Hamas retaliated with a massive launch of rockets, and – lo and behold – the cease-fire was at an end. Everybody blamed Hamas.

* * *

WHAT WAS THE AIM? Tzipi Livni announced it openly: to liquidate Hamas rule in Gaza. The Qassams served only as a pretext.

Liquidate Hamas rule? That sounds like a chapter out of “The March of Folly”. After all, it is no secret that it was the Israeli government which set up Hamas to start with. When I once asked a former Shin-Bet chief, Yaakov Peri, about it, he answered enigmatically: “We did not create it, but we did not hinder its creation.”

For years, the occupation authorities favored the Islamic movement in the occupied territories. All other political activities were rigorously suppressed, but their activities in the mosques were permitted. The calculation was simple and naive: at the time, the PLO was considered the main enemy, Yasser Arafat was the current Satan. The Islamic movement was preaching against the PLO and Arafat, and was therefore viewed as an ally.

With the outbreak of the first intifada in 1987, the Islamic movement officially renamed itself Hamas (Arabic initials of “Islamic Resistance Movement”) and joined the fight. Even then, the Shin-Bet took no action against them for almost a year, while Fatah members were executed or imprisoned in large numbers. Only after a year, were Sheikh Ahmed Yassin and his colleagues also arrested.

Since then the wheel has turned. Hamas has now become the current Satan, and the PLO is considered by many in Israel almost as a branch of the Zionist organization. The logical conclusion for an Israeli government seeking peace would have been to make wide-ranging concessions to the Fatah leadership: ending of the occupation, signing of a peace treaty, foundation of the State of Palestine, withdrawal to the 1967 borders, a reasonable solution of the refugee problem, release of all Palestinian prisoners. That would have arrested the rise of Hamas for sure.

But logic has little influence on politics. Nothing of this sort happened. On the contrary, after the murder of Arafat, Ariel Sharon declared that Mahmoud Abbas, who took his place, was a “plucked chicken”. Abbas was not allowed the slightest political achievement. The negotiations, under American auspices, became a joke. The most authentic Fatah leader, Marwan Barghouti, was sent to prison for life. Instead of a massive prisoner release, there were petty and insulting “gestures”.

Abbas was systematically humiliated, Fatah looked like an empty shell and Hamas won a resounding victory in the Palestinian election – the most democratic election ever held in the Arab world. Israel boycotted the elected government. In the ensuing internal struggle, Hamas assumed direct control over the Gaza Strip.

And now, after all this, the government of Israel decided to “liquidate Hamas rule in Gaza” – with blood, fire and columns of smoke.

Paul Craig Roberts implodes the myth that Israel is acting in self-defence:

Israel’s slow theft of Palestine is illegal under international law but protected by US “diplomacy.”

The Palestinians are no more of a threat to Israel than Jews in the Warsaw Ghetto were a threat to the Nazi state. Yet, everywhere in America–Congress, the executive branch, the print and TV media, the universities, evangelical Christian institutions–there is the belief that Israel is on the verge of annihilation by Palestinian terrorists. This ignorance, so carefully cultivated by the Israel Lobby, turns genocidal aggression into self-defense.

It fools Americans, but it doesn’t fool Israelis. The Israelis have always known that “self-defense” is a cloak for a Zionist policy of territorial expansion. The policy is controversial within Israel. Many Israelis object, just as many Americans object to President Bush’s illegal wars and violations of US civil liberties. Many Israelis give voice to their moral conscience, but they are overwhelmed by vested interests.

To further the deception and ensure the majority of the world is fed with sanitised rubbish, Israel has banned foreign journalists from entering Gaza since the beginning of its bombing attacks and during the 2 months following Israel’s breaching of the cease fire in early November.

One of the challenges of Israel’s media offensive has been to counter the disturbing images of Gaza in the conflict. “In the war of the pictures we lose, so you need to correct, explain or balance it in other ways,” said Aviv Shir-On, foreign ministry deputy director-general for public affairs.

After a successful court case by the Foreign Press Association, Israel will now deign to let in 8 journalists

Israel says it will allow eight people from foreign media organisations into Gaza each time it opens the Erez crossing into the tiny territory, despite an Israeli supreme court ruling on Wednesday that up to 12 people should be allowed to enter.

It will be very interesting to see from which news agencies the vetted journalists come.

Ian Welsh at Firedoglake translates the Israel friendly tripe fed to the world by Associated Press.

The hasbara war on Wikipedia

More on the hasbara infiltration of Wikipedia

And some more

Hasbara 2.0 (beware of bugs) – hasbara at Times Square and on Youtube.

The Hasbara Buster – an erudite blog addressing many Zionist myths.

David Shasha in his book review Crushing the Wheels of Hasbara says:

The Israeli propaganda machine has become a ubiquitous presence in the American Jewish community and any attempt to generate and promote alternative sources of information carries the crushing burden of threatening that merciless beast, a beast which can do great damage to its critics.

Techniques of hasbara

* Smearing/defaming critics of Israel, aka, attacking the messenger. This is even the terminology found in the Hasbara Handbook
* Selective discussion of issues
* Framing of issues, and setting the terminology used in discussing Israel
* Harassing media about its coverage, aka, flak
* Challenging the portrayal of an alternative narrative, and attempting to keep the zionist narrative as the dominant one.

The hasbara manual describes seven propaganda techniques:

1. Name calling: through the careful use of words, then name calling technique links a person or an idea to a negative symbol.
2. Glittering generality: Simply put, glittering generality is name calling in reverse. Instead of trying to attach negative meanings to ideas or people, glittering generalities use positive phrases, which the audience are attached to, in order to lend positive image to things. Words such as “freedom”, “civilization”,…
3. Transfer: Transfer involves taking some of the prestige and authority of one concept and applying it to another. For example, a speaker might decide to speak in front of a United Nations flag, in an attempt to gain legitimacy for himself or his idea.
4. Testimonial: Testimonial means enlisting the support of somebody admired or famous to endorse and ideal or campaign.
5. Plain folks: The plain folks technique attempts to convince the listener that the speaker is a ‘regular guy’, who is trust-worthy because the are like ‘you or me’.
6. Fear: See fear.
7. Bandwagon: See bandwagon.

More debunking of the myth that Hamas breached the ceasefire with some solid linkage.

Often those who criticise the policies of Israel are labelled by trolls as anti-semites. Here’s a great article by journalist Kawther Salam – Why Israel is an anti-semitic state:

A ‘semite’ is one who is descended from a ‘semite’ tribe of the whole entire Arabian Peninsula. A ‘semite’ speaks one or all of the ‘semitic’ languages: Aramaic, Hebraic, and Arabic. Most probably these languages descended from Sumeria. ‘Semitic’ is an adjective that, when used properly, refers to those who speak one of the languages of the ‘semites’. It is a linquistic and cutural/tribal characterization, not religious or political.

‘Anti-semitic’ is a perjorative word being used to slander and smear individuals who criticize something Hebraic. This is a false accusation. Hebrews who hate Arabs would then also be ‘anti-semites’. It is time to shut the ‘anti-semite baiters’ up.

Furthermore, most of the citizens of the State of Israel are Khazarian in ancestry, which is NOT ‘semitic’, but Euroasian. When I studied Hebrew and Arabic, I did not become a ‘semite’; I simply learned a ‘semitic’ language. When one becomes a Buddhist, he does not become a Tibetan.

Israel refuses ceasefire again – more killing to do

Palestinian Prime Minister Ismail Haniya, who is in hiding from Israeli assassins, called for a ceasefire yesterday while Israel prepared its ground forces for invasion of Gaza and Olmert postured. As a consequence of Israel’s 2 year collective punishment on its people by siege and recently bombings, Gaza is one of the most wretched, impoverished places on the planet.

“What is happening in Gaza is not normal aggression,” said Mr Haniya. “It is a real war, a war without morals, with neither principles nor laws. It is a war of elimination against the Palestinian people in the Gaza Strip. We tell the Palestinian people that you will win, inevitably.”

Earlier, the Israeli security cabinet rejected a French proposal for a 48-hour “humanitarian” ceasefire that would be used to mediate a long-term ceasefire.

“We didn’t initiate the Gaza operation to end it while Israeli towns are still under fire, as they were before the operation,” Prime Minister Ehud Olmert said.

He added that the proposal would be reconsidered when the time was right and only if international monitors took responsibility for enforcing it. As for humanitarian considerations, he said Israel was permitting an unlimited amount of humanitarian supplies to be trucked into the Gaza Strip daily.

Israel is believed to be planning a brief incursion aimed at weakening Hamas’s incentive to resort to violence in the future.

Since Israel’s slaughter is more likely to have the opposite effect of inciting more violence against it, one can only imagine that perpetual retaliation is precisely what Israel desires. When there is no suitable ‘partner for peace’ more land grabs can be justified.

Aid agencies give a contradictory and deeper understanding of the humanitarian crisis. They feel a cease fire is essential.

“After six days of Israeli bombardment, aid agencies say that Gazans are facing a humanitarian crisis with air strikes causing severe problems in getting food, medicine and fuel supplies to the besieged civilian population.

The assessment, by several international relief organisations, contradicts the statement by the Israeli Foreign Minister, Tzipi Livni, during a visit to Paris yesterday that “there is no humanitarian crisis in the Strip, and therefore there is no need for a humanitarian truce”. While relief shipments were allowed into Gaza by the Israeli authorities in the days before the start of the offensive, they came after weeks of virtually no supplies getting through, the agencies point out.

Dr Hassan Khalaf, of the main Shifa hospital in Gaza City, said that Palestinian civilians are paying a terrible price: “We are getting really badly injured people coming in every day. What is the point of saying you are allowing food in for people when you then go on to bomb them? The Israelis may say they are just attacking Hamas but I am seeing children and women coming covered in blood. What we are seeing is a war on the people. The Hamas fighters firing the rockets are at the border, they are not in the city.

“We have organised the hospitals so that different ones are looking after different types of injuries. But the common problem we face is that we are having bad shortages in lots of things, especially anesthetics and antibiotics. We are talking to the ICRC [International Committee of the Red Cross] and I hope we shall get some help.”

Christine Van Nieuwenhuyse, head of the World Food Programme for Gaza and the West Bank, acknowledged that a “significant amount” of food was allowed in by the Israelis before the start of the air strikes. “But we must not forget this came after weeks when hardly any food had got in at all. One of our warehouses is full but we have another one empty as it is in an area which has seen a lot of bombings.

“Our partners in Gaza are the Ministry of Social Welfare and their officials are not taking part in the distribution process because they feel they might get bombed for working for a Hamas government. This is a serious problem as is the fact that people are finding it difficult to move about. We are facing an acute food crisis.”

Maxwell Gaylard, the UN’s humanitarian co-ordinator for Gaza and the Palestinian territories, said “Gaza is facing a serious emergency, that is a fact. Food supplies have been allowed in but there are huge problems caused by the lack of industrial fuel and this is causing severe problems. To address all these problems we need a ceasefire.”

Does Olmert’s mention of international monitors signal an opportunity for diplomacy? if so, when? after a ground assault killing spree?

After petitions by the Foreign Press Association, Israeli courts have now allowed foreign journalists to enter Gaza..

Israel however, is not complying with the court decision and foreign journalists are still barred. A ground invasion with accompanying atrocities safe from scrutiny by the media is still on the cards.

Is this what Israel is scared the foreign press will see?

Oren Ben-Dur points out the logical outcome from Zionist terror inflicted on the Palestinian people in Gaza:

No army, however well equipped and trained, can win a combat against increasing number of people who no longer have any reason to care about dying. If there was hatred against Israelis before the Gaza massacre, the hatred after it will be of a different order of magnitude.

Israel – State Terrorist, always making excuses

MIDEAST-PALESTINIAN-ISRAEL-GAZA-CONFLICT

Palestinians carry the body of a little girl following an Israeli air strike targeting the house of Senior Hamas leader Nizar Rayyan in Gaza City on January 1, 2009. AFP PHOTO/MOHAMMED ABED/AFP/Getty Images

Nizar Rayyan was killed along with eighteen other people, including members of his family. Nice going, Israel, 18 innocent people killed to assassinate 1 unarmed public official. Another 25 people were wounded. Surely that couldn’t be a disproportionate response?

Prior to striking Rayyan’s house the IDF tried to warn his family about the imminent attack and urged them to evacuate the place, but they refused to do so.

The IDF decided in its usual ‘moral’ way

… regarding the legality of striking homes used as weapons storages when sufficient warning is given to the residents. It has been decided that this falls within the boundaries of international law and is therefore legitimate.

Thus we have the word of the IDF that the home was storing weapons and that the inhabitants were warned prior to their home being bombed. How reliable is the word of the IDF when it comes to killing Palestinian children? or others?

Israel’s actions, along with being barbaric, are incendiary. As Richard Silverstein says:

For every Rayyan Israel kills, 1,000 will take his place. And they will not only be mere soliders in the conflict. Some of that 1,000 will outdo Rayyan in devising ever greater acts of revenge against Israel for this travesty. So has it been in the past and so will it be till the ends of time or of this conflict, whichever comes first.

Elsewhere in the Ynet News story, Palestinian sources are reported saying that Israeli fighter jets attacked a school in Gaza City, killing 10 people.

The ever so moral IDF seems to have missed Article 3 of the Geneva Convention

In the case of armed conflict not of an international character occurring in the territory of one of the High Contracting Parties, each Party to the conflict shall be bound to apply, as a minimum, the following provisions:

1. Persons taking no active part in the hostilities, including members of armed forces who have laid down their arms and those placed hors de combat by sickness, wounds, detention, or any other cause, shall in all circumstances be treated humanely, without any adverse distinction founded on race, colour, religion or faith, sex, birth or wealth, or any other similar criteria.

To this end, the following acts are and shall remain prohibited at any time and in any place whatsoever with respect to the above-mentioned persons:

(a) Violence to life and person, in particular murder of all kinds, mutilation, cruel treatment and torture;

(b) Taking of hostages;

(c) Outrages upon personal dignity, in particular humiliating and degrading treatment;

(d) The passing of sentences and the carrying out of executions without previous judgment pronounced by a regularly constituted court, affording all the judicial guarantees which are recognized as indispensable by civilized peoples.

and Article 50

The Occupying Power shall, with the cooperation of the national and local authorities, facilitate the proper working of all institutions devoted to the care and education of children.

Perhaps they interpret Article 53 as justification for their wanton slaughter of civilians and destruction of civilian buildings in Gaza.

Any destruction by the Occupying Power of real or personal property belonging individually or collectively to private persons, or to the State, or to other public authorities, or to social or cooperative organizations, is prohibited, except where such destruction is rendered absolutely necessary by military operations.

Israel’s military plans are to annihilate the support for and existence of the democratically elected Hamas government. Their scope has creeped to include the destruction of all public buildings, private workplaces, killing and / or enforced homelessness of all whose homes are suspected military targets – perhaps being a Hamas voter is enough – democratic governments after all rule by consent of the people. Look, a Hamas voter! they probably have weapons in their home. Ring, ring … hello … you have 10 minutes to vacate the premises before BOOOOOOM! have a nice day.