Footballers against Israeli apartheid

The 2014 under-21 European Championships are supposed to be held in Israel, which is a bit awkward considering it just destroyed a football stadium as a novel new way of expressing its displeasure with the Palestinians. Sport, like art, is of course important to the well being of any peoples and it’s no wonder then that Israel regularly targets both.

To their considerable credit, more than sixty European professional footballers have protested against these acts and urged UEFA to withdrawn the competition from Israel:

We, as European football players, express our solidarity with the people of Gaza who are living under siege and denied basic human dignity and freedom. The latest Israeli bombardment of Gaza, resulting in the death of over a hundred civilians, was yet another stain on the world’s conscience.

We are informed that on 10 November 2012 the Israeli army bombed a sports stadium in Gaza, resulting in the death of four young people playing football, Mohamed Harara and Ahmed Harara, 16 and 17 years old; Matar Rahman and Ahmed Al Dirdissawi, 18 years old.

We are also informed that since February 2012 two footballers with the club Al Amari, Omar Rowis, 23, and Mohammed Nemer, 22, have been detained in Israel without charge or trial.

It is unacceptable that children are killed while they play football. Israel hosting the UEFA Under-21 European Championship, in these circumstances, will be seen as a reward for actions that are contrary to sporting values.

Despite the recent ceasefire, Palestinians are still forced to endure a desperate existence under occupation, they must be protected by the international community. All people have the right to a life of dignity, freedom and security. We hope that a just settlement will finally emerge.

Well done.

We didn’t start the fire

No more mister nice guy

The London Review of Books looks at the context in which the new Israeli attack on Gaza is taken place:

Electoral considerations are likely to have played a role in Israeli decision-making, but hardly driven them. Both Netanyahu and his defence minister, Ehud Barak, had been smarting since March from a previous Egyptian-mediated ceasefire, according to which they informally agreed not only to stop attacking the Gaza Strip but also to discontinue assassinations. An Islamic Jihad leader I interviewed at the time reckoned this was a climbdown too far for Israel’s leaders and they were bound to renew hostilities sooner rather than later.

Pummelling Gaza yet again was intended to remind all concerned – not least the new Egypt – who makes the rules, though it would also reassure the Israeli electorate they need not fear the prospect of Obama punishing Israel for Netanyahu’s embrace of the Romney/Adelson ticket. As expected, the Obama White House has reiterated its commitment to Israel, and Congress has been busy passing unanimous resolutions supporting Israel’s right to self-defence in its colonial possessions. The positions of most European states have been only marginally less obscene.

One of the eternal failures of the news media is their ahistorical approach to the Israeli apartheid state: news coverage only begins when Israelis are victims and anything that comes before it is ignored.

Insult to injury

The IDF did not just storm the aid convoy to Gaza and kill nine activists, they also stole their possessions:

Israeli troops have been accused of stealing from activists arrested in the assault on the Gaza flotilla after confiscated debit cards belonging to activists were subsequently used.

In their raid of 31 May, the Israeli army stormed the boats on the flotilla and, as well as money and goods destined for the Palestinian relief effort in Gaza, the bulk of which have yet to be returned, took away most of the personal possessions of the activists when taking them into custody.

Individual soldiers appear to have used confiscated debit cards to buy items such as iPod accessories, while mobile phones seized from activists have also been used for calls.

IDF soldiers talk about their war crimes

That the IDF committed war crimes in their invasion of Gaza (let’s not even mention the invasion itself was a warcrime) was known on day one of the invasion. Evidence for that however only came from such unreliable witnesses as the victims themselves, or United Nations employees, or western journalists in Gaza, so it was largely rejected by Israel and its defenders. But now the Israeli newspaper Haaretz is reporting the personal experiences of IDF soldiers during the Gaza invasion and those are less easy to sweep aside:

The testimonies include a description by an infantry squad leader of an incident where an IDF sharpshooter mistakenly shot a Palestinian mother and her two children. “There was a house with a family inside …. We put them in a room. Later we left the house and another platoon entered it, and a few days after that there was an order to release the family. They had set up positions upstairs. There was a sniper position on the roof,” the soldier said.

“The platoon commander let the family go and told them to go to the right. One mother and her two children didn’t understand and went to the left, but they forgot to tell the sharpshooter on the roof they had let them go and it was okay, and he should hold his fire and he … he did what he was supposed to, like he was following his orders.”

According to the squad leader: “The sharpshooter saw a woman and children approaching him, closer than the lines he was told no one should pass. He shot them straight away. In any case, what happened is that in the end he killed them.

“I don’t think he felt too bad about it, because after all, as far as he was concerned, he did his
job according to the orders he was given. And the atmosphere in general, from what I understood from most of my men who I talked to … I don’t know how to describe it …. The lives of Palestinians, let’s say, is something very, very less important than the lives of our soldiers. So as far as they are concerned they can justify it that way,” he said.

The IDF has ordered an internal probe into these allegations. This always is a great comfort to victims of Israeli aggression, as without exception it turns out they weren’t shot, it was all a big misunderstanding or just an innocent little mistake.

The strictly impartial BBC, operating on behalf of the Israeli government

To update an old Young Ones joke. As seen on Prog Gold, the current BBC’s director general is quite cozy with the Israeli government, which of course did not influence the decision to remain impartial by not broadcasting an appeal for the IDF’s victims. Now Ellis Sharp reminds us that he has been impartial towards Israel from the start of his tenure when in 2004 the then Middle East correspondent was transferred to Africa:

Orla Guerin’s offence was to run stories not just about the grief of Israeli families who had lost family members to suicide bombers but also stories about the grief and suffering of ordinary Palestinian families. As one blogger put it at the time:

Guerin’s real sin, of course, is to show some sympathy for the victims of the Israeli bombing (that’s enough to brand her a “terrorist”).

Within days of Thompson meeting Sharon, Guerin was sacked as BBC TV Middle East correspondent and transferred to Africa.

As you’ll remember, Thompson became director general because his predecessor had to resign after the BBC got caught on a technicality and was keelhauled for it in the aftermath of the Hutton Inquiry. Thompson was brought in as very much a pair of safe hands who wouldn’t rock the boat, follow the establishment line ever more so than his predecessors and not embarass the government. Despite this, there have been several scandals during his tenure, from running unwinnable contests to sexing up a documentary about the royal family to of course the Ross/Brands clusterfuck. This seemed to have made the BBC gunshy, prone to overreact and moreover, seemed to have lost the corporation its political nous.

So while the BBC has always been careful to not upset Israel or its zionist cheerleaders in the UK, always had an internal bias towards Israel, it used to be much more subtle about this. Even five years ago, I don’t think it would’ve been so blatant as to refuse air time to a genuinely humanitarian appeal for the inhabitants of Gaza. But because the corporation has been so battered by the same politicians and tabloids that are such great friends of Israel as well, because it has been caught with its pants down so often lately, it has overreacted. And now even those people who are normally the first to accuse it of a pro-Palestinian bias are disgusted.

Poor Auntie Beeb. It just cannot win.

Dutch government does not believe Israel has committed warcrimes

Which means the following are not warcrimes or have not happened, according to the Dutch government (in Dutch).

To Balkenende and his fellow moral crusaders, so happy to tell us what’s wrong and right, what Israel has been up to in Gaza is of no great concern. The only thing that should be condemned is Hamas violence.

Biggest douche in the universe

heckuva job Brownie

No, not socalled psychic John Edward, but heckuva job Brownie, the guy who helped fuck up disaster recovery in New Orleans after Katrina so much. You’d think somebody so monumental incompetent would shut the fuck up forever afterwards, but the fool seems to have reinvented himself as a low-rent conservative media personality, de rigeur blog and all.

Which is where the Sadly-Nosians found him, talking smack about Dr. Mads Gilbert, a medical relief worker in Gaza. Apparantly Brownie can, with his great expertise in humanitarian relief efforts, tell when a video of a Palestinian child dying in hospital is “so fake it’s funny, but only after the Kerning Kommandos at Little Green fascists alerted him to it.

Un-fucking-believable. The guy who did his best to make Katrina as big a disaster as possible, somebody who in a just world would’ve become a ditchdigger in Patagonia out of pure shame, is fisking a medicial relief worker in Gaza. It’s beyond satire, but it is fitting; it’s not like Brownie cared much about the suffering of brown people much back in 2005. Somebody who was so criminally neglectant doing his job protecting Americans isn’t going to lose much sleep on the question of why Palestinians would put together such an elaborate fake when there are so many real victims of Israeli bombs
lying around…

The real question is why this asshole can still get speaking arrangements? Who is paying for the priviledge of hearing him speak, unless it’s to applaud his job performance with an impromptu tribute of tomatoes or dogshit?

Israeli war aims: ethnical cleansing Gaza?

Israel always had a bit of a problem with Gaza ever since it conquered the territory in 1967. It’s one of the most densely populated places in the world, it houses a lot of people driven out of their homes in 1948, doesn’t really have that much going for it and is therefore less of a prize than the West Bank is. As Christopher Hitchens (!) recounts in his foreword to Edward Said’s Peace and its discontents, Gaza has always been seen by the Israelis as a trap to spring on the Palestinians; as Moshe Dayn allegedly put it, “a bridge to doublecross”. The Israeli withdrawal from it in 2005 was therefore a bit of p.r. stunt; Israel could do with Gaza much more easily than it can do without its control of the West Bank. And because they kept control of the borders, airspace and the sea, the Israelis thought they had created more or less the largest open air prison in the world, a ghetto even, which if the inhabitants got too uppity could always be choked off. As Dov Weisglass, an adviser to Ehud Olmert put it in 2006 “The idea is to put the Palestinians on a diet, but not to make them die of hunger”. Olmert himself talked of “not allowing a humanitarian crisis in Gaza” but having no intention of “making their lives easier”. Such nice, humanitarian gestures are of course much more easy to pull off if there aren’t settlers stuck in the middle of Gaza of course.

But as we’ve seen again and again in the years since the Israeli withdrawal, the Gazans have not let themselves be cowed, voting in a Hamas government despite Israeli, European and American warnings about what would happen if they did, the rockets have continued to be launched against Sderot (founded in 1951, but once the site of a Palestinian village called Najd), so talk has been turning in Israel to more extreme measures…

Back in March of 2008, Lenny reported about a plan for a possible ethnic cleansing of northern Gaza, (or as the Israelis might call it, the establishment of a security zone), based on a report by an Israeli television channel. More rumours of such a plan have been floating around ever since and ever since the war began I’ve been thinking this was going to be the IDF’s ultimate war aim. When the ground invasion began this seemed to be further confirmed and now we learn that the Israeli defence minister has been asking legal approval to “evacuate” thousands of residents of Gaza City. It may not be necessary, as already some fifteen thousands people have
fled towns in northern Gaza, after being threatened by Israeli pamphlets and radio announcements

But, as the inhabitants of southern Lebanon found out back when Israel targeted their country in 2006, fleeing does not make you safe. Even United Nations schools, known to the Israelis to be UN schools, with the UN having provided the IDF with the full details and GPS coordinates of all their buildings in the Gaza Strip, are not safe: thirty dead when an Israeli tank shelled it. As per usual the IDF blames their enemy for making them shoot the school, as the troops in question were supposedly fired upon. Of course, everytime something likes this happens, the IDF trots out the same old story and every time it turns out to be a lie.

So don’t put too much faith in all the “diplomatic efforts” being undertaken by the various bigwigs to end this conflict, especially when Tony Blair, with his usual brilliant prioritising thought the most important question was to stop Hamas getting weapons. This conflict will end when Israel wants it to end, or is forced to do so. If we don’t ratch up the pressure on Israel quickly, this will end with ethnic cleansing. When you have people like Avedon Carol talking about getting ‘a chill up my spine when I heard they were talking about a “permanent solution” to the Palestinian issue’, you know this is going to get much worse before it gets better, if it ever will. But it only will if we make the Israelis stop.

The cynical Israeli invasion of Gaza


What more can you say than what the cartoon (found at Permanent Revolution) already expresses? The idea that Israel’s aerial attacks against and subsequent invasion of Gaza are a response to Hamas terrorism doesn’t pass the laugh test. We know this attack has been planned for a long time, we’ve seen the preparations, we know it fits the Israeli strategy of ratching up the pressure on Gaza. We’ve seen it all before, back in 2006, when the Israeli army did the same in their first attempt to topple Hamas. That ended with a Fatah driven coup against the democratically elected Hamas governement which saw Hamas ousted from power in the West Bank but the opposite happening in Gaza. With Fatah now powerless or unwilling to take on Hamas again, Israel now has to effect regime change on its own. Hence the ground invasion.

table showing a huge drop in attacks during the ceasefire

The reason we cannot take Israel at its word about why they moved from economic strangulation and “surgical strikes” to a fullblown airwar and invasion is shown in the graph above, taken from official Israeli sources. What do you see? That during the ceasefire agreed to between Hamas and Israel in June last year, attacks from Gaza decreased dramatically, only picking up again after Israel started attacking in force. There’s a lot of manufactured outrage spread by Zionist apologists about these attacks, but what they forget to mention is that during the ceasefire Israel did not lift its blockade, nor stopped its policy of extrajudicial assasinations, with 22 Palestinians having been killed by Israeli forces during the truce. The number of Israelis killed? Zero.

Everything about this invasion is cynical and calculated, from the way its being justified to the date it was implemented, two days after Christmas, when all the lights have gone off in the world’s government buildings anyway. It’s been so cynical I haven’t really been able to write about it so far, as it has just made me too depressed and outraged. Fortunately, there’s Lenin’s Tomb, which has done splendid work reporting on the invasion and its background.

Breaking the Israeli stranglehold on Gaza

Activists manage to break through the Israeli blockade of the Gaza coast:

GAZA, Aug 23 (Reuters) – Two boats carrying activists challenging an Israeli blockade on the Gaza Strip reached the shore of the Hamas-controlled territory on Saturday.

The 44 “Free Gaza” activists from 17 nations, who had set out on Friday from Cyprus in two wooden boats, were met by thousands of Palestinians who cheered along the shoreline at their arrival.

“Today is a special day, we hope it’s the beginning. We have opened the path and we hope there will be more travellers,” said Vittorio Arrigoni, an Italian peace activist, after the ship anchored off shore.

Israel may have “withdrawn” from Gaza back in 2005, but took care to keep its control of Gaza’s borders; all its borders, not just the ones with Israel. The usual excuse is terrorism, but the reality is the slow economic strangulation of Gaza as part of a deliberate strategy to starve the territory into submission. Even the sea is off-limit for the people of Gaza, with Israeli warships firing on any fishing ship getting too far out of the coast. What the activists attempted to do is draw attention to this strangulation, but also to actually break the blockade. Just having another press stunt is not enough, but fortunately it seems the presence of the activists has enabled some fishermen to actually fish:

A statement by the group said the activists boarded Palestinian fishing boats on Monday and travelled with local fishermen eight miles (13 km) off shore, passing a 6-mile limit they said was generally enforced by the Israeli military.

The Gaza fishermen said that Israeli ships normally fire at them in deep waters and they had not travelled that far from shore in more than five years.

“We hope we will be able to go that far every day because it is our right, and it should not be a one-time event because of the presence of the foreigners,” said 27-year-old fisherman Fawzi al-Hessi.

The Palestinians themselves than are realistic about the chances of Israel allowing this situation to continue once the cameras have gone… To properly break the stranglehold the Israelis have on Gaza, not to mention the West Bank, there needs to be constant pressure from Europe and America and our governments need to stop supporting Israel.