Truth to Power

Posts Tagged ‘Human Rights’

What Happens When Groups Use Nonviolence, Like We’ve Been Begging Them to Do For Years?

In Gaza, Human Rights, Israel, Mainstream Media, Mideast Peace, Politics on July 24, 2010 at 6:53 am

Apparently the U.S. and Israel treat nonviolent protesters as being as much of a threat as terrorists:

Bil’in Protest organizer Abdallah Abu Rahmah was sentenced to two months of imprisonment and to a six month suspended sentence, after a five year long trial on charges clearly related to freedom of speech.

Abu Rahmah was convicted of two counts of “activity against the public order”, simply for participating in demonstrations, in one count despite the fact that “No evidence of violence towards the security forces was provided”. Abu Rahmah was also convicted of “obstructing a soldier in the line of duty”, for shouting at a police officer and refusing to leave the scene of a demonstration, of “breaking curfew”, for being in the street in front of his house when the army declared curfew on Bil’in to suppress a demonstration, and of “incitement”, which under military law is defined as “The attempt, verbal or otherwise, to influence public opinion in the Area in a way that may disturb the public peace or public order”. Abu Rahmah was convicted of inciting others to “[…] continue advancing [to their lands during a demonstration in Bil’in], claiming that the land belongs to them.

For years the U.S. and even Israel have been saying that groups (or individuals) who use violent means to get their point across, will not have a place at any negotiating table. Increasingly we are a seeing not only peaceful groups use economic boycotts and peaceful civil disobedience, but also traditionally violent groups like Hamas begin to realize the political power of civil disobedience and other forms of protest. And no, unfortunately Hamas has not renounced violence but more and more it has become clear that they recognize the power of being able to attract public attention through means other than violence. This presents a big problem for the U.S. and Israel, both of whom once called on people to use these very means we are now condemning.

I believe that the U.S. never really expected certain groups/organizations people to use civil disobedience so we never thought we would have to face a situation like the flotilla incident or the growing number of boycotts, peaceful protests in Gaza and other parts of the Occupied Territories. And what has the US response been? Have we praised groups for their nonviolent means of getting their message out? No, we have sat quietly by and Israel has violently repressed free speech, the right to assemble and nonviolent protests. We have sat quietly by as Israel murders protesters, enacts draconian laws which violate free speech and we have joined in the demonization of these protesters by changing our rhetoric- now we say things which infer that “those who attempt to deligitimize Israel…” are as dangerous to Israel’s security as those who plant bombs or use missiles to get their point across.

This is shameful on our part and shows just how the U.S. never really supported nonviolence to begin with. The same thing happened with Northern Ireland when Sein Fein began to realize the power of civil disobedience. Although because Northern Ireland is not Israel, we eventually accepted them and allowed them to negotiate a peace treaty.

Israel refers to the boycott movement as “economic terrorism” and justified killing nine people flotilla because they sought to “delegitimize” the Jewish State. That’s the big story which the media is ignoring- what happens when groups use nonviolence in the Mideast, like we’ve been begging them to do for years?

Most Americans Aren’t Buying Israel’s Propaganda About the Flotilla Raid

In Foreign Policy, Gaza, Human Rights, Israel, Mainstream Media, News, Politics on July 5, 2010 at 10:48 am

In a leaked Frank Luntz memo, the news isn’t good for the U.S. attempts to spread Israeli propaganda:

The Israel Project (TIP), an American Hasbara outfit, commissioned Republican political consultant Frank Luntz to examine the effectiveness of Israel’s public diplomacy in the US on the Flotilla debacle. TIP gave the memo to the Prime Minister’s Office, where someone promptly leaked it to Chico Menashe, Channel Ten TV News diplomatic affairs correspondent.

Luntz’s findings are grim. Here’s a summary:

1. 56% of Americans agree with the claim that there is a humanitarian crisis in Gaza;
2. 43% of Americans agree with the claim that people in Gaza are starving;
3. [Only] 34% of Americans support the Israeli operation against the Flotilla;
4. [Only] 20% of Americans “felt support” for Israel following announcement of easing of Gaza closure.

It’s time for Israel to wake up and realize there is only so much spinning that they can do. It could be that most Americans “get” that armed commandos attacking a humanitarian vessel in international waters, was, well, heavy handed.

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George Mitchell Expresses Frustration With Israel’s Lack of Progress in Proximity Talks

In Barack Obama, Benjamin Netanyahu, Foreign Policy, Human Rights, Iran, Israel, Mideast Peace, News, Politics on June 28, 2010 at 9:01 pm

Now before the usual chorus of “why is the Obama administration only asking anything of Israel!!!” lets remember that for the past year-and-a-half, it’s primarily been Benyamin Netanyahu who has been throwing up successive roadblocks to meaningful negotiations. Lets remember who the parties are, shall we? While the Israel Can Do No Wrong crowd constantly throws around all the problems Israel faces with Hamas, the reality is that Hamas is not at the negotiating table. The Palestinian Authority/Fatah is. And at this point, the PA has shown significant progress in fighting violence and extremism and trying to bolster it’s infrastructure and economy- no small task given Israel essentially makes that near impossible.

From Haaretz:

U.S. envoy to the Middle East George Mitchell is frustrated by the conduct of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu in the proximity talks with the Palestinians. Mitchell, who is due in Israel on Thursday for another round of talks in Jerusalem and Ramallah, has expressed to Netanyahu his wish to see more progress by Israel on core issues.

[snip]

The senior U.S. official also said that the administration would like Netanyahu to show more willingness for substantive discussions on core issues, and to see the Palestinians moving toward direct talks with Israel.

There have been four rounds of proximity talks so far, during which Mitchell shuttled between Ramallah and Jerusalem. During talks with Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas and Netanyahu, the two informed the U.S. envoy of their positions on the various core issues. However, the Palestinian side has presented far more detailed positions…

Honestly, George Mitchell has the patience of a saint. I don’t know he does it quite frankly.

Most of his frustration probably stems from the fact that the right-wing Likud coalition has zero interest in anything resembling a peace process, let alone a two state solution. It probably also doesn’t help that every week Mitchell is greeted with new revelations of Israel’s intransigence. The most recent revelation:

The Jerusalem District Planning and Building Committee is set to approve an unprecedented master plan that calls for the expansion of Jewish neighborhoods in East Jerusalem, a move largely based on construction on privately owned Arab property.

The committee’s proposal would codify the municipality’s planning policy for the entire city. In essence, Jerusalem would uniformly apply its zoning and construction procedures to both halves of the city.

[snip]

According to a document prepared by Ir Amim, an NGO that “seeks to render Jerusalem a more viable and equitable city,” the master plan vastly underestimates the construction needs of the Arab population in the city. While the plan calls for 13,500 new residential units in East Jerusalem for Palestinians, updated demographic studies indicate that this amount barely represents half the minimum needs for the Arab population by 2030.

Ir Amim officials also said that while the plan allows for Palestinian construction in the north and south of the capital, it barely provides for an expansion of Arab construction projects in the center of the city, particularly in the area next to the holy basin.

The group added that the plan creates a spate of bureaucratic obstacles for Palestinians who wish to build in the city. Ir Amim warns that the plan is likely to be perceived as an Israeli provocation because most of the Jewish building projects are designated for areas east of the Green Line.

Jerusalem Mayor Nir Barkat instructed his subordinates to alter the plan in line with his policy of thickening the Jewish presence around the holy basin and the eastern half of the city.

Despite the National Planning and Building Committee’s decision to designate the City of David – which sits in the heart of the East Jerusalem neighborhood of Silwan – as “a national park,” the new master plan allows for the construction of residential units in the area.

The Ir David Foundation, a nonprofit group that seeks to increase Jewish settlement in the City of David and whose heads are close associates of the mayor, has in recent years bought houses near the Old City in an effort to “Judaize” the area…

So, Bibi is coming to Washington, D.C. again to meet with President Barack Obama in early July and once again he will demonstrate that the “special relationship” between the U.S. and Israel is a one-way street- the U.S. is to give in to every Israeli demand, scuttle any international attempts at holding Israel accountable for violating international law, give Israel billions of dollars a year because they are so special, fight all Israel’s battles (most recently, our obsessive focus on Iran) give Israel preferential treatment in regards to obtaining lucrative defense contracts, equipment etc. and on and on and on. And what does the administration of President Barack Obama get in return? They get called anti-Israel, Arabist anti-Semites. Oh, and the other requirement is that whenever a public figure says the word “Israel” out loud, they are required to also include the boilerplate statement “we support Israel’s right to defend itself and protect its security interests by whichever means it sees fit…” or something along those lines. Because if they don’t say something along those lines, the AIPAC mobs will start screaming “anti-Israel!” from their perch on the NYT editorial page.

The truly pathetic part of all this? This is how it plays out year after year after year after year….and there is no end in sight.

Israel Seizes Oxygen Machines Headed for Gaza

In Gaza, Human Rights, Israel, Mideast Peace, News, Politics on June 27, 2010 at 4:53 pm

No matter how Israel spins their big “concession” about allowing more goods into Gaza, so long as they continue to play these games, most of the international community isn’t going to be fooled:

Seven machines donated by Norwegian agency confiscated en route to PA over chance generators attached could be used for purposes other than medical treatment, Ma’an reports.
By Haaretz Service Tags: Israel news Gaza West Bank PA

Israel confiscated seven oxygen machines en route to hospitals in the West Bank and Gaza based on the claim that there was a chance the generators attached to the machines would not be used for medical purposes, Palestinian news agency Ma’an reported Saturday.

According to Ma’an, the Ramallah-based health ministry said that the generators, which were donated to the Palestinian Authority by a Norwegian development agency, were seized by Israeli officials despite the fact that only one machine was bound for Gaza.

The generators “came under the category of possible use for non-medical purposes” if they were delivered to southern Gaza, the Palestinian health ministry said in a statement, adding that the six other machines were bound for government hospitals in the northern Gaza, inducing the European Hospital in Gaza City, the Rafdieyah hospital in Nablus, and other facilities in Ramallah and Hebron.

Shameful.

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Israel Approves Plan to Demolish Palestinian Homes in East Jerusalem

In Israel, News, Politics on June 21, 2010 at 8:05 pm

I’m trying to imagine what the reaction of the Glenn Beck-types would be if the U.S. government, or anyone for that matter, came along and tossed them out into the street and demolished their homes without just compensation simply to make way for housing for a more “preferable” ethnic group or simply because they wanted the space for a nice new tourist center and art galleries:

Jerusalem municipal planning committee approves plan to demolish 22 Palestinian homes in the Silwan neighborhood of East Jerusalem to make room for a tourist center.

[snip]

The Jerusalem municipal planning committee approved Monday a contentious plan to raze 22 Palestinian homes to make room for a tourist center that Palestinians fear would tighten Israel’s grip on the city’s contested eastern sector.

The plan, which affects the neighborhood of Silwan in East Jerusalem, risks more U.S.-Israeli friction just two weeks ahead of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s meeting with U.S. President Barack Obama.

Crowley said the United States was concerned about the project, though he said it was a preliminary step being taken by the Jerusalem municipality and not the Israeli government.

[snip]

Barkat says the plan gives a much-needed facelift to Jerusalem’s decaying al-Bustan neighborhood, which Israel calls Gan Hamelech, or the King’s Garden.

The plan calls for the construction of shops, restaurants, art galleries and a large community center on the site where some say the biblical King David wrote his psalms. The 22 displaced families would be allowed to build homes elsewhere in the neighborhood, though it’s not clear who would pay for them.

Ummm, I think it’s pretty clear who is not paying for them- the local government of East Jerusalem.

Netanyahu just keeps building and building in the hopes that there will soon be no more land to squander and thus no need to even discuss a two state solution. One would think such a cynical, illegal ploy would be met with firm international resistance, but the fact is, Israeli governments for the past several decades have been doing this and they have almost achieved their objective, so why stop now, right?

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