Friday, June 29, 2018

Birthright Participants Walk Off Trip to Join Anti-occupation Tour


Dear friends,
please find below a news article from Haaretz discussing the Talgit-Birthright program.  As many of you will be aware of Talgit-Birthright is funded by mulimillionaire hard right Zionist, Sheldon Adelson. The program is NOT apolitical.

It was set up to encourage young American Jews to make Aliyah. All of this is done within the frame work of the Zionist world view. As a result, the program actively downplays Israel's illegal military occupation of Palestine and the human rights abuses and war crimes carried out against Palestinians by the Zionist state.

There has been efforts over the years by young dissident Jewish activists to foster more honest engagement via Birthright in regard to the reality of Israel's military occupation and apartheid regime, including setting up alternative tour programs to allow young Jews who participated in Birthright to visit the Occupied West Bank to see for themselves the reality of Israel's occupation.

The walk out of five participants from a recent Birthright Tour has made the news in Israel mainly because there is an increasing concern within Zionist circles that more and more young Jews are not falling behind the Zionist narrative as they once did.  For more information on this see:

As Israel turns 70, many young American Jews turn away

Young American Jews Increasingly Turning Away From Israel, Jewish Agency Leader Warns

In solidarity,
Kim
***


Five participants left the program in public protest in order to visit Hebron and Bethlehem with Breaking the Silence: 'Israel tour is one-sided' ■ Birthright: We're apolitical and reject promotion of any agenda
 
Taly Krupkin
Jun 28, 2018 Haaretz

 Illustration, Birthright participantsBirthright

A group of five American Jews visiting Israel as part of the Birthright Israel program left the trip Thursday in protest of the program's treatment of the occupation and joined a tour of Hebron led by anti-occupation army veterans' group Breaking the Silence.

The group split off from the rest of the tour on the eighth day of their trip. One of those who left the group said that Birthright, the organization that brings young Jewish adults on free, 10-day visits to Israel, "is not providing the kind of education that we really need... and is telling a one sided story. This is not fair, and we deserve the truth."

The five young Americans live-streamed the incident on Facebook, where they are seen leaving the bus and arguing with their guide and with fellow participants. They also published a statement on a Twitter account.

Following the incident one of the five people who walked off, Sophie Lasoff, 24, told Haaretz that she wanted to participate in Birthright due to its significant place in the American Jewish community, and that she and her friends did not initially plan to leave the Birthright program.

(for full text of statement, see end of blog article)
 
 
“I wanted to give Birthright a chance”, says Lasoff. “We didn’t want to do something like that, but we felt that it was the right thing to do.”
Lasoff told Haaretz that the members of the group did not know each other before the trip to Israel, and did not plan the action beforehand. She explained that they felt disappointed with the program's treatment of the occupation, and therefore contacted Breaking the Silence, an Israeli veterans organization that collects testimonies from Israeli soldiers about their service in the territories, and coordinated to join their tour of the West Bank.

Another woman who left the tour, Katie Anne, claimed on the live stream that "Birthright gave us a map of Israel that does not denote the West Bank [even though] the director of our Birthright organization admitted that the majority of maps in Israel do include [it]. They keep saying they're apolitical but this is clearly to the right."

Anne added: "We love our Jewish community and that's why it's so hard for us to see Birthright systemically miseducating it. We cannot stand this injustice."

After leaving the Birthright bus, the group visited Hebron and Bethlehem.

This week, IfNotNow, an anti-occupation movement led by young U.S. Jews, launched a new campaign targeting the Birthright program. The campaign, called, #NotJustAFreeTrip, seeks to "pressure Birthright to tell the truth about the Israeli occupation to its 40,000 young Jewish participants". IfNotNow activists have been gathering in airports in the U.S. to engage with participants as they leave on Birthright trips, encouraging them to question the tour guides about the occupation.

Yonah Lieberman, spokesperson for IfNotNow, told Haaretz that members of his group met the group who left for the Birthright trip as they were flying to Israel from JFK airport in New York last week.

In response to the protest, Birthright said that it is "an apolitical project and the leading educational initiative in Israel." The organization added that "since we respect our participants' abilities to form their own opinion, we reject the promotion of any agenda and any attempt at manipulation of provocation by any political side."

In November, Haaretz reported that Birthright's education department instructed its trip providers to stop including meetings with Israeli Arabs on their itineraries.

Birthright mandates that all of its trips include meetings with Israeli soldiers. Haaretz also reported last year that Birthright is promoting a free stay for participants who extend their time in Israel beyond the 10 days offered if they choose to remain at a hostel in Jerusalem’s Old City run by an extremist rabbi aligned with radical factions of the settler movement who encourages those who stay with him to volunteer at illegal Israeli outposts in the West Bank.


Sheldon Adelson and Dr. Miriam Adelson attending Birthright's 18th anniversary gala in New York, April 15, 2018.Michael Priest Photography
 
Birthright’s single largest donor today is casino-magnate Sheldon Adelson, a major supporter of the Republican Party and of Israel’s right-wing government. Adelson and his associates have long insisted, however, that he does not intervene in any way in Birthright's itineraries.

In April, 150 students protested a Birthright annual gala in New York.

Breaking the Silence has faced severe criticism by the Israeli government, including attempts to silence the group through legislation.

Protesters from Jewish Voice for Peace outside the Birthright gala event in New York, April 15, 2018.Ben Lorber, Jewish Voice for Peace
 
FULL TEXT OF STATEMENT ISSUED VIA TWITTER: 
 




 
 

Thursday, June 14, 2018

UN Condemns Israel's 'Excessive Use of Force' in Gaza

Dear friends,
As you will be aware, Israel has repeatedly used excessive force over the last weeks against Palestinians in Gaza, killing 129 Palestinians and injuring hundreds more.  

Unsurprising, Australia - a country built on settler-colonialism like Israel, who like Israel is a serial human rights abuser - voted against the resolution and instead voted with/in support of their fellow human rights abuser. 


Once again, Australian Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull and the governing Liberal-National Party have blood on their hands.

Here is the reports on the vote from Al Jazeera and Haaretz.

in solidarity, Kim 

***

UN slams 'excessive' Israeli force against Palestinians in Gaza

The resolution, backed by 120 countries, rejected a US bid to blame Hamas for the violence that has left 129 dead.

Al Jazeera News, 14 June 2018



The UN General Assembly on Wednesday condemned Israel for excessive use of force against Palestinian civilians, in a resolution adopted by a strong majority of 120 countries.

The 193-member world body rejected the United States' efforts to blame Gaza's Hamas rulers for the violence that has killed over 120 Palestinians in the past two and half months.

The resolution deplores Israel's use of "excessive, disproportionate and indiscriminate force" against Palestinian civilians and calls for protection measures for Palestinians in Gaza and the occupied West Bank.
Presented by Algeria and Turkey on behalf of Arab and Muslim countries, the measure won a decisive 120 votes, with eight votes against and 45 abstentions.

The resolutions are not legally binding but carry political weight.

Australia, the Marshall Islands, Micronesia, Nauru, Solomon Islands and Togo joined Israel and the US in voting against the resolution, which comes weeks after Washington vetoed a similar resolution in the 15-member UN Security Council.

At least 129 Palestinians have been killed by Israeli forces in Gaza border protests since March 30 to commemorate 70 years since the Nakba (or Catastrophe), when about 750,000 Palestinians were driven out from their homes.

The largest number of deaths occurred on May 14, the day the US moved its embassy in Israel to Jerusalem from Tel Aviv. Palestinians and their supporters said most protesters were unarmed civilians and Israel used excessive force against them.

"We need protection of our civilian population," Palestinian UN envoy Riyad Mansour told the General Assembly before the vote, adding that the resolution was "intended to contribute to a de-escalation of the volatile situation".

"We cannot remain silent in the face of the most violent crimes and human rights violations being systematically perpetrated against our people," Mansour said.

Despite international condemnation of its use of lethal force, Israel said many of the dead were armed and that the Israeli army was defending itself against attacks on the border fence with Gaza. Washington has maintained Israel's right to defend itself.

The resolution also asked UN chief Antonio Guterres to report back within 60 days on proposals "on ways and means for ensuring the safety, protection and well-being of the Palestinian civilian population under Israeli occupation, including ... recommendations regarding an international protection mechanism."

No mention of Hamas

While the General Assembly text condemned the firing of rockets from Gaza into Israeli civilian areas, it did not mention Hamas, the group that governs Gaza.

US Ambassador Nikki Haley dismissed the resolution as "one-sided" and accused Arab countries of trying to score political points at home by seeking to condemn Israel at the United Nations.

"For some, attacking Israel is their favourite political sport. That's why we are here today," Haley told the Assembly.

An amendment presented by the US that condemned Hamas for "inciting violence" along the border with Gaza failed to garner the two-thirds majority needed for adoption.

In December 128 countries defied President Donald Trump and voted in favour of a UN General Assembly resolution calling for the US to drop its recognition of Jerusalem as Israel's capital.


*****
UN Condemns Israel's 'Excessive Use of Force' in Gaza, Rejects Amendment Denouncing Hamas

General Assembly passed the resolution with 120 countries in favor and only 8 opposing. U.S. tried to add Hamas condemnation, but couldn't garner sufficient majority

Amir Tibon and Reuters Jun 14, 2018
Haaretz



The UN General Assembly passed a resolution Wednesday night condemning Israel for excessive use of force against Palestinian civilians and proposing forming an international protection mechanism in Gaza.

The resolution is not expected to lead to action against Israel since any attempt to bring such a decision to the Security Council is expected to be met with a U.S. veto.

The resolution passed with 120 countries in favor, eight against, and 45 abstaining. It was put forward in the General Assembly by Algeria, Turkey and the Palestinians.

U.S. Ambassador to the UN Nikki Haley criticized the General Assembly for discussing the situation in Gaza instead of the crises in Nicaragua, Yemen and Burma. "Gaza is important, but what makes it more urgent than many other desperate places?" Haley asked. "What makes Gaza different for some is that attacking Israel is their favorite sport." She called the resolution condemning Israel "totally one-sided" and unhelpful for promoting peace.

Haley wanted to add an amendment to the resolution that included a strong denunciation of Hamas. While 62 countries voted in favor of the amendment and only 58 voted against it, that small majority wasn't enough in order to add the amendment to the resolution as passing an amendment would require a two thirds majority.

Australia, the Marshall Islands, Micronesia, Nauru, Solomon Islands and Togo joined Israel and the United States in voting against the resolution.

"By supporting this resolution you are colluding with a terrorist organization, by supporting this resolution you are empowering Hamas," Israel's UN Ambassador Danny Danon told the General Assembly before the vote.

"We need protection of our civilian population," Palestinian UN envoy Riyad Mansour told the General Assembly before the vote, adding that the resolution was "intended to contribute to a de-escalation of the volatile situation." "We cannot remain silent in the face of the most violent crimes and human rights violations being systematically perpetrated against our people," Mansour said.

Tuesday, May 15, 2018

A grotesque spectacle and a Trump Square in Jerusalem

Dear friends,
a MUST READ article by Michelle Goldberg which was first published in the New York Times and republished by the Fairfax Media in the Sydney Morning Herald.

Goldberg makes clear in her article that the Trump's Embassy move is an alliance between rightwing  anti-semites in the Christian fundmentalist (one of the bases Trump courts) and the Zionist movement.  Goldberg writes:

The event was grotesque. It was a consummation of the cynical alliance between hawkish Jews and Zionist evangelicals who believe that the return of Jews to Israel will usher in the apocalypse and the return of Christ, after which Jews who don't convert will burn forever.

Religions like "Mormonism, Islam, Judaism, Hinduism" lead people "to an eternity of separation from God in Hell," Robert Jeffress, a Dallas megachurch pastor, once said. He was chosen to give the opening prayer at the embassy ceremony. John Hagee, one of America's most prominent end-times preachers, once said that Hitler was sent by God to drive the Jews to their ancestral homeland. He gave the closing benediction.

Goldberg also draws attention to the grotesque spectacle in Jerusalem and Gaza, where Israel has massacred more than 55 Palestinians, including children.

I have included the photos from the SMH article, but not the videos. If you wish to see the videos, click on the article title below and it will link to the SMH article.
 
Please support the Nakba rallies and protests against Israel's massacre in Gaza in your city. If you are in Melbourne, please join the rally on Saturday 19th May at 12 noon at the State Library of Victoria.
In solidarity, Kim

A grotesque spectacle and a Trump Square in Jerusalem

New York: On Monday, Ivanka Trump, Jared Kushner and other leading lights of the Trumpist right gathered in Israel to celebrate the relocation of the US Embassy to Jerusalem, a gesture widely seen as a slap in the face to Palestinians who envision East Jerusalem as their future capital.


The event was grotesque. It was a consummation of the cynical alliance between hawkish Jews and Zionist evangelicals who believe that the return of Jews to Israel will usher in the apocalypse and the return of Christ, after which Jews who don't convert will burn forever.

Religions like "Mormonism, Islam, Judaism, Hinduism" lead people "to an eternity of separation from God in Hell," Robert Jeffress, a Dallas megachurch pastor, once said. He was chosen to give the opening prayer at the embassy ceremony. John Hagee, one of America's most prominent end-times preachers, once said that Hitler was sent by God to drive the Jews to their ancestral homeland. He gave the closing benediction.

This spectacle, geared toward Donald Trump's Christian American base, coincided with a massacre about 80 kilometres away. Since March 30, there have been mass protests at the fence separating Gaza and Israel. Gazans, facing an escalating humanitarian crisis due in large part to an Israeli blockade, are demanding the right to return to homes in Israel that their families were forced from at Israeli's founding. The demonstrators have been mostly but not entirely peaceful; Gazans have thrown rocks at Israeli soldiers and tried to fly flaming kites into Israel. The Israeli military has responded with live gunfire as well as rubber bullets and tear gas. In clashes Monday, dozens of Palestinians were killed and thousands wounded, according to the Gaza Health Ministry.


The juxtaposition of images of dead and wounded Palestinians and Ivanka Trump smiling in Jerusalem like a Zionist Marie Antoinette tell us a lot about America's relationship with Israel right now. It has never been closer, but within that closeness there are seeds of potential estrangement.

Defenders of Israel's actions in Gaza will argue no country would allow a mob to charge its border. They will say that even if Hamas didn't call the protests, it has thrown its support behind them. "The responsibility for these tragic deaths rests squarely with Hamas," a White House spokesman, Raj Shah, said.


But even if you completely dismiss the Palestinian right of return — which I find harder to do now that Israel's leadership has all but abandoned the possibility of a Palestinian state — it hardly excuses the Israeli military's disproportionate violence.

"What we're seeing is that Israel has used, yet again, excessive and lethal force against protesters who do not pose an imminent threat," Magdalena Mughrabi, Amnesty International's deputy director for the Middle East and North Africa, told me by phone from Jerusalem.

Much of the world condemned the killings in Gaza. Yet the United States, Israel's most important patron, has given it a free hand to do with the Palestinians what it will. Indeed, by moving the embassy to Jerusalem in the first place, Trump sent the implicit message that the US government has given up any pretence of neutrality.

Reports of Israel's gratitude to Trump abound. A square near the embassy is being renamed in his honour. Beitar Jerusalem, a soccer team whose fans are notorious for their racism, is now calling itself Beitar "Trump" Jerusalem. But if Israelis love Trump, many Americans — and certainly most American Jews — do not. The more Trumpism and Israel are intertwined, the more left-leaning Americans will grow alienated from Zionism.

Even before Trump, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu helped open a partisan divide on Israel in American politics, where previously there had been stultifying unanimity.

"Until these past few years, you'd never heard the word 'occupation' or 'settlements' or talk about Gaza," Jeremy Ben-Ami, president of the liberal pro-Israel group J Street, said of American politicians. But Ben-Ami told me that since 2015, when Netanyahu tried to undercut then president Barack Obama with a controversial address to Congress opposing the Iran deal, Democrats have felt more emboldened. "That changed the calculus forever," he told me.



The events of Monday may have changed it further, and things could get worse still. Tuesday is Nakba Day, when Palestinians commemorate their dispossession, and the protests at the fence are expected to be even larger.

"People don't feel like they can stay at home after loved ones and neighbours have been killed for peacefully protesting for their rights,"Abdulrahman Abunahel, a Gaza-based activist with the boycott, divestment and sanctions movement, told me via email.

Trump has empowered what's worst in Israel, and as long as he is president, it may be that Israel can kill Palestinians, demolish their homes and appropriate their land with impunity. But some day, Trump will be gone. With hope for a two-state solution nearly dead, current trends suggest that a Jewish minority will come to rule over a largely disenfranchised Muslim majority in all the land under Israel's control. A rising generation of Americans may see an apartheid state with a Trump Square in its capital and wonder why it's supposed to be our friend.
Michelle Goldberg is an American blogger, author and New York Times columnist.

Friday, April 13, 2018

Israeli forces must end the use of excessive force in response to “Great March of Return” protests

Dear friends,

As unarmed Palestinians once again staged protests in Gaza, Israel has once again opened fire on them.  As of today (14 April), 26 Palestinians have been murdered by Israel, including 3 children and Palestinian photojournalist Yasser Murtaja. An additional 3078 Palestinians have been injured.

Amnesty International has issued the following statement condemning Israel's actions.

Please support and join the Palestine solidarity actions in your city.

In solidarity, Kim

****

Israel/OPT: Israeli forces must end the use of excessive force in response to “Great March of Return” protests





The Israeli authorities must put an immediate end to the excessive and lethal force being used to suppress Palestinian demonstrations in Gaza, Amnesty International said as fresh protests have started today.

Following the deaths of 26 Palestinians, including three children and a photojournalist, Yasser Murtaja, and the injuring of around 3,078 others during protests on the past two Fridays, Amnesty International is renewing its call for independent and effective investigations into reports that Israeli soldiers unlawfully used firearms and other excessive force against unarmed protesters.
For the past two weeks, the world has watched in horror as Israeli forces unleashed excessive, deadly force against protesters, including children, who merely demand an end to Israel’s brutal policies towards Gaza and a life of dignity 

Magdalena Mughrabi, Amnesty International’s Deputy Director for the Middle East and North Africa.
“For the past two weeks, the world has watched in horror as Israeli forces unleashed excessive, deadly force against protesters, including children, who merely demand an end to Israel’s brutal policies towards Gaza and a life of dignity,” said Magdalena Mughrabi, Amnesty International’s Deputy Director for the Middle East and North Africa.

“The Israeli authorities must urgently reverse their policies and abide by their international legal obligations. Their horrifying use of live ammunition against unarmed protesters, and the resultant deaths, must be investigated as possible unlawful killings.

“The Israeli authorities must respect the Palestinians’ right to peaceful protest and, in the event that there is violence, use only the force necessary to address it. Under international law, lethal force can only be used when unavoidable to protect against imminent threats to life.”

Eyewitness testimonies as well as videos and photographs taken during demonstrations point to evidence that, in some instances, unarmed Palestinian protesters were shot by Israeli snipers while waving the Palestinian flag or running away from the fence.
The Israeli authorities must urgently reverse their policies and abide by their international legal obligations. Their horrifying use of live ammunition against unarmed protesters, and the resultant deaths, must be investigated as possible unlawful killings. The Israeli authorities must respect the Palestinians’ right to peaceful protest and, in the event that there is violence, use only the force necessary to address it. 

Magdalena Mughrabi, Amnesty International’s Deputy Director for the Middle East and North Africa.
Among those injured since Friday 30 March, there were around 445 children, at least 21 members of the Palestinian Red Crescent’s emergency teams, and 15 journalists.

According to the Ministry of Health in Gaza, some 1,236 people have been hit by live ammunition. Others have been injured by rubber bullets or treated for tear gas inhalation dropped by drones. The World Health Organization expressed concern that nearly 350 of those injured may be temporarily or permanently disabled as a result of their injuries. So far, at least four people have had leg amputations.

On two consecutive Fridays, tens of thousands of Palestinians, including men, women and children, have gathered in five camps set up around 700 meters away from the fence that separates the Gaza Strip from Israel to reassert their right of return and demand an end to nearly 11 years of Israel’s blockade. While protests have been largely peaceful, a minority of protesters have thrown stones and, according to the Israeli army, Molotov cocktails in the direction of the fence. The Israeli forces claim that those killed were trying to cross the fence between Gaza and Israel or were “main instigators.”

There have been no Israeli casualties.

While the Israeli army indicated that it would investigate the conduct of its forces during the protests in Gaza, Israel’s investigations have consistently fallen short of international standards and hardly ever result in criminal prosecution. As a result, serious crimes against Palestinians routinely go unpunished.

In a statement made on 8 April, Fatou Ben Souda, the Prosecutor of the International Criminal Court expressed concern at the deaths and injuries of Palestinians by Israeli forces, reminding that the situation in Palestine was under preliminary examination by her office.

“Accountability is urgently needed not only for this latest spate of incidents where excessive and lethal force has been used by Israel but also for decades of potentially unlawful killings, including extrajudicial executions, and other crimes under international law.”

The protests were launched to coincide with Land Day, and are demanding the right of return for millions of refugees to villages and towns in what is now Israel.

The protests are expected to last until 15 May, when Palestinians commemorate the Nakba or “great catastrophe”. The day marks the displacement and dispossession of hundreds of thousands of Palestinians in 1948-9 during the conflict following the creation of the state of Israel.

MELBOURNE SOLIDARITY RALLY WITH GAZA - 7 APRIL 2018


Dear friends,
my apologies for no posts for the last six week due to work, study and family taking up most of my time.  However, no doubt you all - like me - have been following what has been happening in Gaza.

Yesterday, Israel has once opened fire on unarmed Palestinians in Gaza.  As of today (14 April), 26 Palestinians have been murdered by Israel, including 3 children and Palestinian photojournalist Yasser Murtaja. An additional 3078 Palestinians have been injured.

Here in Melbourne, we organised and held a protest last weekend in opposition to Israel's murderous attacks on unarmed civilians in Gaza. I have included some photos below from the protest. Please get involved with helping to organise or please support the Palestine solidarity rallies happening in your city.

In solidarity, Kim
**

SOLIDARITY RALLY WITH GAZA - MELBOURNE, 7 APRIL 2017
(all photos are mine, so if you use them please credit: Live From Occupied Palestine and link to this blog) 




R from Gaza speaking about life in Gaza and Israel's attacks


Jewish activist, James Crafti, speaking in solidarity with Palestine

Nasser from Australians for Palestine









Zionist counter protest of about 40



Wednesday, February 28, 2018

AMIRA HASS: How the Israeli Army Got a Teen Who Was Shot in the Head to Say He Fell Off a Bike

Dear friends,
my apologies for not posting over the last seven or eight weeks, I have had pressing family and work issues. I hope to return to more posting more regularly over the coming weeks.

Over the last two months or so, a lot has been happening in particular in regard to the arrest of Ahed Tamimi, including the arrest and harassment of her family members.  Most recently, the IOF arrested Mohammed Tamimi, Ahed's cousin who was shot in the face by Israeli Occupation Forces.Leftwing Israeli political journal, +972 has documented the night raid and arrests here.

The IOF has  since coerced a statement out of Mohammed which claims that his injure was from a bike fall. This would be laughable if it wasn't so anger inducing. 

As Amira Hass notes in this article and she and many others have been noting for years. The IOF torture and coerce Palestinians into giving false statements. In particular, children are subject to this illegal behaviour.  When they are being "questioned" Palestinians, including children, are not allowed any legal representative to be present and children are not allowed to have a parent or guardian with them.

Beside the well document history of the IOF's torture and human rights abuses against Palestinian prisoners, including children - the shooting of Mohammed by the IOF is extremely well documents.  However, the main aim of the IOF is not to be factual or to tell the true, it is to to muddy the waters and to pander to the Israeli hard right as Sarit Michaeli from the Israeli human rights group, B'Tselem notes in her tweet on the issues. This is a standard trick used by the IOF and Zionists to call Palestinian testimony and actual facts into questions. It's very much an exercise in the promotion of "fake news".

As mentioned, Amira Hass outlines exactly how the IOF would have got Mohammed to saying something which can clearly be proven to be a lie.

in solidarity, Kim


****

COGAT chief Yoav Mordechai wants us to believe that friends, relatives, doctors and left-wing activists cooked up a huge lie about Mohammed Tamimi. But he was just telling investigators what they wanted to hear.
Amira Hass Feb 28, 2018 Haaretz

Mohammed Tamimi, at home in Nabi Saleh, January 2018.\ Alex Levac

Maj. Gen. Yoav Mordechai, the coordinator of government activities in the territories, expects us to believe that tens of Palestinians and a few Israelis conspired to concoct a huge lie in order to slander the Israel Defense Forces.

According to him, the liar is not only 15-year-old Mohammed Tamimi. The liars are also his parents, members of his extended family in the village of Nabi Saleh, and friends – including Israeli leftist activist Jonathan Pollak. The latter were with Tamimi when he climbed a ladder on December 15 to see what the soldiers, ensconced in an empty house in his village, were up to. The teen was shot in the head and fell to the ground in a puddle of his own blood.In his Facebook post on Tuesday, Mordechai claims, in effect, that the Palestinians are stupid because so many of them collaborated in creating a lie that is so very easy to expose. If indeed there was a lie.

Israel Defense Forces Maj. Gen. Yoav Mordechai, 
the coordinator of government activities in the territories, in 2016.

He is relying on things Tamimi told his police interrogators on Monday, just hours after a large military force burst into Nabi Saleh and into his home, before dawn, rousing him from his sleep and arresting him. Five other minors and five adults were arrested along with him, under similar conditions.

Still in the dark, half asleep and shaken, surrounded by rifles pointing at him, with air reeking of tear gas and the disgusting smell of the skunk-water sprayed by the troops – Mohammed Tamimi was taken in for interrogation. It is easy to guess what went through the mind of the wounded boy, who is slated to undergo yet another operation to reconstruct his skull in the coming weeks.


He must have been thinking: Perhaps I'll be held under arrest for many weeks. Perhaps my medical condition will get worse. Perhaps I won't even be released before going into surgery.

Tamimi told the investigators and representatives of the Civil Administration Coordination and Liaison Office, who for some reason made a point of being present, what they wanted to hear: that he was injured when he fell off his bike.

The security forces carry out hundreds of arrests and interrogations every week in Jerusalem and the West Bank. No one disputes the fact that one of their aims is to expose those who plan or carry out armed attacks. A second aim is to gather information, even of the most innocent sort, about as many people as possible and about social and political activities. Very banal, sometimes even embarrassing, information is extracted – even years later and under unexpected circumstances: when a person travels abroad, or when someone applies for an entry permit into Israel or for a residency permit for non-Palestinian spouse.

A third aim (though not necessarily the third most important) is to quash popular activity against the occupation, of which the village of Nabi Saleh has become a symbol. Palestinians are forbidden to demonstrate their resistance to the occupation, in any manner.




One of the ways of deterring individuals who may be potential participants in popular struggles is to wreak serious harm on people who are already taking part in them – by means ranging from injuring to killing; to detention under conditions harsher than those encountered by graft suspect Nir Hefetz; sleep deprivation; painful handcuffing; humiliating interrogations; ridiculous accusations like those based on "evidence" like empty tear-gas cannisters or visits to book exhibitions; administrative detentions (arrest without charges being filed); arrest until the conclusion of proceedings; and exorbitant fines.

Mass arrests, interrogations and collecting of information – these are an integral part of the control Israel wields over the Palestinians. Many of the arrests are another means whereby Israel attempts, systematically, to undermine and unravel the Palestinian social fabric in order to weaken its ability to withstand and defy the occupation.

When the detainees are minors, their jailers have a greater ability – with the help of a few slaps, painful positions during questioning and psychological pressure – to extract false incriminations and exaggerated, boastful descriptions of events from them. It is easy to manipulate and break them.

Among themselves the Palestinians are debating participation of minors in protest activities against the occupation. The ethos of the struggle is dear to them, and the loathing of the occupation runs too deep for this debate to be conducted in public, but the high price that is being paid by minors and their families is clear to everyone.

It is too early to say if a post like Yoav Mordechai’s will encourage the debate and whether it will be taken into the public domain or strengthen the position of those who say that Israel stops at nothing in order to oppress and therefore youngsters should not be denied their right to revolt.

Saturday, January 6, 2018

Interview with Ahed Tamimi's lawyer, Gaby Lasky: Her case is making people see the occupation again


Dear friends,
please find below an interview with Ahed Tamimi's lawyer, Gaby Lasky.

In solidarity, Kim
************ 

Ahed Tamimi's Lawyer: Her case is making people see the occupation again

Gaby Lasky, the human rights attorney representing Ahed Tamimi and her mother Nariman, talks to +972 about what it means for a Palestinian to be put on trial in the occupier’s military courts, and some of the dangerous precedents being set.
 
By Joshua Leifer 

Israeli lawyer Gaby Lasky (C-L) speaks with her client sixteen-years-old Ahed Tamimi (2R) before she stands for a hearing in the military court at Ofer military prison near the West Bank of Ramallah, January 1, 2018. (Activestills)

The video of 16-year-old Ahed Tamimi confronting two Israeli soldiers outside of her home in the village of Nabi Saleh has become ubiquitous, broadcast across every media platform for weeks. So have the pictures of Ahed, handcuffed and surrounded by guards in court. Posters of Ahed have even appeared on bus stops in London. What those images often fail to properly convey is that Ahed is being detained in a military prison and being tried in a military court, and how that differs from the way a minor would be treated in an Israeli civilian court.

Attorney Gaby Lasky represents Ahed Tamimi and her mother, Nariman. Lasky, a former secretary general of Peace Now and a member of the Tel Aviv-Jaffa City Council for the left-wing Meretz party, has spent much of the last decade defending Palestinians, many of them involved in the popular struggle against the occupation.

I spoke with Lasky on Thursday about the challenges of working in Israeli military court, where 99.7 percent of Palestinian suspects are convicted; about the cases against Ahed Tamimi and her mother, Nariman; and about the structural injustices built into the Israeli legal system in the occupied territories.

The difficulty of Ahed’s case goes beyond the legal challenges Palestinians living under occupation face when arrested by the Israeli army, Lasky told me. “The video shows the essence of the conflict between Israel and the Palestinians,” she stressed. Depending on where you stand, and perhaps who you are, watching the 16-year-old girl face down two heavily armed Israeli soldiers can reinforce either the Palestinian and Israeli narrative.

The following has been edited for length. 

What does it mean that the judge is wearing the same uniform as the prosecution?

The military court is not a court of justice in the regular sense; it’s an organ of the occupation. It perpetuates the occupation. Both the judge and the prosecution are wearing the same uniform, and are part of the same system, and the defense is not.

What are some of the obstacles in a case like Ahed’s that would be different if she were being tried in a civilian court?

First, it would be much, much easier to get her released from detention. I brought to court a lot of examples of adults who were released in cases where their offenses were greater than hers. [Civilian] courts in Israel do tend to release [suspects on bail]. Her being a minor would have made things even easier in an Israeli court. Cases in military court are more difficult from the get-go much because the laws are stricter, the charges are heavier, and rights are only partially protected.

But the difficulty with Ahed’s case is not only that we’re facing a military court; it’s the fact that the video shows the essence of the conflict between Israel and the Palestinians. Someone can see the narrative of the Palestinians in that video, and on the other side, Israelis can see the narrative of Israel in that video.

When you talk about an offense in a regular court, you can always talk about the circumstances of the incident. In this case, the circumstances are a 16-year-old girl who was born into occupation. The military court doesn’t take those things into consideration. It’s not an issue that is brought to the table. It’s a given. But if you want to see the whole picture, you have to talk about these things.

What is the case against Ahed?

The most serious charges against her are the ones regarding the video incident. She has 12 different charges in her indictment regarding five different incidents. Regarding the video, she’s charged with assault of a soldier, disrupting the work of a soldier, and incitement.




She has other charges regarding stone-throwing but they are old — one of them is almost two years old. Nobody thought to report it or arrest her or question her at the time. The evidence against her regarding all of the other incidents was produced only after she was arrested and they found old pictures of Ahed [on her mother’s Facebook].

But it was only after her arrest that soldiers were asked to come and give testimony regarding what they saw two years ago. They were presented with these pictures after she was in every newspaper or television program, and then asked if they could identify her in a photo line-up. That’s how they obtained all of the evidence against her.

What is the case against Nariman, Ahed’s mother, who was arrested hours after her daughter? Would a civilian court ever consider live-streaming on Facebook as a form of incitement?

It’s really dangerous that the prosecution is implying that live-streaming is the worst form of incitement. It would mean that a reporter doing a live report at a demonstration where someone says, “come join us in the demonstration,” would constitute incitement in the eyes of the prosecution. What the prosecution is trying to do is very dangerous for freedom of the press.

Ahed’s case has been all over the news, getting a lot attention for a case in Israeli military court. But what aren’t we hearing about? What’s not getting out to the public?

Most people don’t know that the occupier has courts that put on trial people living under occupation just because they don’t follow the rules of the occupier. The Israeli public doesn’t want to hear about the occupation, and it’s the same for the court of the occupation.

It is amazing that a 16-year-old youngster has forced everyone to have an opinion about the occupation, to have to deal with the fact that people are born into occupation, that their rights are infringed upon, and that they’re taken to prison when they’re 16 years old for offenses that don’t merit detention in Israel.

Some in the Israeli public think the soldiers behaved as they should, others say they were humiliated. It was this humiliation that brought about Ahed’s arrest. But even so, everyone now has to deal with the occupation and what it does to the soldiers and to the people who live under occupation. Even without wanting to, Ahed’s case opened a door that has been closed for a long time for most of the public in Israel.

Bassem Tamimi speaks to Gabi Lasky during the court of his daughter Palestinian Ahed Tamimi, in military court at the Israeli-run Ofer prison in the West Bank near the West Bank city of Ramallah, December 20, 2017. (Activestills/Oren Ziv)Bassem Tamimi speaks to Gabi Lasky during the trial of his daughter Ahed Tamimi, in military court at the Israeli-run Ofer prison in the West Bank, near the West Bank city of Ramallah, December 20, 2017. (Activestills/Oren Ziv)