Are Israel supporters accelerating its moral degeneration?

By- Dr. Paul Monaghan MP

First published by Al-Araby on 09th December 2016

 

It’s a little over six years since the philosopher and linguist Noam Chomsky suggested that people who call themselves supporters of Israel are actually supporters of the country’s moral degeneration and ultimate destruction.

Chomsky thought his suggestion correct and also suggested that, as time passes, Israel’s occupation of Palestine becomes more powerful and more overwhelming. His comments are probably influenced by the feeling that the occupation is increasingly becoming normalised and ever harder to disentangle.

In my experience, nowhere perhaps does this view fall into sharper focus than when sitting in Ofer Military Court in the West Bank watching the full might of a modern military machine dispense justice to a 14 year old boy still carrying obvious scars of having been shot in the head.

Israeli martial law was imposed on the West Bank and Gaza in 1967 when civil law, civil rights, and habeas corpus, or guarantee against illegal detention, were suspended for the Palestinian people.

Since 1967 some 760,000 people have been prosecuted within Israeli military courts. The conviction rate runs at an alarmingly implausible 99.7 percent and 8,000 Palestinians, including children, are subject to detention and transfer to prison inside Israel each year.

We should neither take these figures lightly nor underestimate the impact of them on Israeli society. The transfer of individuals from the West Bank to prisons located inside Israel is both a violation of the Fourth Geneva Convention and the Rome Statute of the International Criminal Court and is classified as a war crime.

Some might argue that no society can conduct war crimes on such a scale indefinitely without inflicting mortal wounds on itself.

“…absentee laws are used to erode Palestinian rights to hold property and to legitimise continuing Israeli settlement expansion in the West Bank”

Alongside the application of martial law, we must also understand Israel’s “absentee property” laws, which are deployed to confiscate Palestinian land through application of the legal definition of “present absentee”.

These absentee laws are used to erode Palestinian rights to hold property and to legitimise continuing Israeli settlement expansion in the West Bank. Absentee property laws act in combination with martial law to prevent Palestinians from physically returning to their homes and to render individuals unable to challenge allegations of absenteeism. The laws enable settlements.

I visited Israel and Palestine in both 2015 and 2016. On each visit I had the good fortune of meeting community leaders and senior politicians from both sides of the debate. I enjoyed each visit and feel privileged to have met some wonderful people.

Both times, I left with the view that the process of normalisation alluded to by Noam Chomsky has indeed created a situation where the prospect of future dialogue is ebbing away, and indeed a situation where some on both sides no longer easily identify the opportunities to communicate and build on common ground. And there is common ground.

“…some on both sides no longer easily identify the opportunities to communicate and build on common ground. And there is common ground”

Israel has a right to protect itself, its territory and its people, but we should be under no illusion that martial law and the phenomena of absentee property runs counter to the desire for dialogue. These laws are decimating Palestinian society and act as a block to peace and prosperity.

Indeed we might say it is a fact that the day-to-day manifestation of the occupation today is the use of military administration to confiscate property, impose curfew, restrict movement, detain or incarcerate without charge, deport, exclude or simply summon individuals to a police station.

These laws however also impact on Israeli society – in different, less tangible ways admittedly – but the impact is no less significant. Indeed martial law and absentee property laws diminish the integrity of Israeli society just as they diminish the integrity of Palestine lands.

“I was reassured that humanity is both alive and well in the most cosmopolitan communities in Israel.”

However, like most Palestinians I choose not to dwell on the negative. Having visited Israel and Palestine I can say that my strongest memory of each visit to Israel and Palestine is the strength of feeling on both sides that each want to speak with the other.

On Saturday 5th November I attended Rabin Square in Tel Aviv with 70,000 other people who were there to remember the assassination of Yitzhak Rabin. It was an extraordinary event with children, couples, families and groups choosing to remember the assassination by holding aloft posters proclaiming the rights of Palestinians. I spoke with as many of those attending as I could, and was reassured that humanity is both alive and well in the most cosmopolitan communities in Israel.

The next evening I was privileged to eat with a Bedouin tribe on the outskirts of Jerusalem. With the sound of nearby machine gun fire hanging heavy in the air, I listened as the tribe spoke of hope, opportunity and their aspiration for peace. I spoke with every member of the tribe and was reassured that humanity is also alive and well in the most impoverished communities of the West Bank.

“Every person I spoke to in Rabin Square and in the Bedouin tent was a supporter of Israel but not one was a supporter of Israel’s moral degeneration or ultimate destruction.”

Every person I spoke to in Rabin Square and in the Bedouin tent was a supporter of Israel but not one was a supporter of Israel’s moral degeneration or ultimate destruction.

Those I spoke to knew that their destiny is dependent on others they have yet to meet, and that the seeds of peace will only grow when communities have the opportunity to talk and work together.

Any one of these individuals could be taken as proof that Chomsky is wrong and that the true supporters of Israel are not supporters of a model of government that might inevitably lead to the country’s moral degeneration and ultimate destruction.

All of these people, tellingly, argue that the seeds they choose to nurture will grow and lead not to destruction but to a resolution they call “Two States for Two Peoples”.

That is an objective we should all support. Indeed we must support that objective because we owe it to people like the 14-year old boy I watched in Ofer Military Court and to everyone else who supports Israel.

‘Why evict us when we can both live here?’

This village is in Israel, not the Palestinian Territories. Its residents are full citizens of Israel. Yet they are treated as though they had no rights, no importance.

At the time of Israel’s war of independence in 1948 the villagers were thrown out of their ancestral village in a more fertile area in the Western Negev to make way for a Jewish kibbutz as part of the drive to “make the desert bloom”.

Eight years later they were forcibly moved again to their present location in the Atir valley in the less fertile northern Negev where they rebuilt their village and called it Um Al Hiran.

“It was a desert with no roads, water, houses or services. We built the village. We invested in the houses, the roads and the water pipes. Life has been tough, but we worked hard to develop this place into a beautiful and wonderful village,” said the village sheikh.Like all the other “unrecognised” villages in the Negev, they were provided with no mains electricity, no paved roads, no water, no sanitation. They had to do their best buying water from tankers and using solar panels for intermittent power.

This is not because it was remote. On the contrary, the Jewish owner of a dog-kennel only 800 metres away is provided with all mod cons. The Israelis do this solely to make life difficult for Arab villagers so they will move.

And it is not a question of money. Often if the villagers try to pave the roads, army bulldozers break them up; if they install water pipes, they are disconnected; if they build stone houses, they are demolished. The Israelis want the buildings to look temporary, ramshackle, worthless.
This makes it easier for the Israelis to sustain the myth that the villagers are Bedouin nomads who originate from other countries. In fact, while they are all proud of their Bedouin heritage, it is historically verifiable that their families have lived in the Negev for hundreds of years.
And while a few of the villagers were still engaged in the traditional Bedouin occupation of sheep-farming, Umm Al Hiran also had lawyers, teachers and doctors among its 500 residents.
Last year the leader of the Jewish settlers came and drank coffee with the villagers to ask them, disingenuously, why they were trying to block plans for the new Jewish village in the courts.
Salim Abu Alkia’n, Atwa’s brother, explained patiently: “To all the Jewish people who want to live in this town I say that people are already living in this town. We have been living here for 60 years and, even if they demolish our homes, we will stay here forever.”
Israelis can be excused for not knowing about the village, as it does not appear on Israeli maps. Even when the National Council for Planning and Building approved plans for a new Jewish town on the site in 2010, they submitted a map to the planning committee that made no reference to the fact that there was already an Arab village on the land.
When they applied for demolition orders, they claimed the buildings “had been discovered” by an inspection patrol and they had been “unable to identify or reach the people who owned the houses”.
When they applied for eviction orders, they described the villagers as “trespassers” squatting illegally on state land and the magistrate had to point out that they had lived on the land for years with the state’s knowledge and consent.
Written by Martin Linton – Palestine

Israeli bulldozers set to demolish Israeli Arab village to build Israeli Jewish town.

Emboldened by the election of Donald Trump, the Israeli premier Benjamin Netanyahu was reported to be sending his army’s bulldozers in at dawn today (Tuesday) to demolish this peaceful Bedouin village in Israel.
The Israeli government has long been planning to demolish the village of Umm Al Hiran and evict its inhabitants in order to build a Jewish village with the same name – Hiran – on exactly the same location.
For the last two years Netanyahu has been delaying the demolition because of international protests at this extreme case of ethnic cleansing, but now with Trump elected, he gave the go-ahead for the village to be razed.
The 500 Arab residents of the village have lived in the village for nearly 60 years and were ordered to move there by the Israeli military commander of the Negev who gave them a lease to build a village, farm the land and graze their sheep.
“We are not against them living here, but we want to stay here too and live together with them as neighbours…”
The village leaders say there is no need to evict them as the Jewish settlers can move onto a site next door. “We are not against them living here, but we want to stay here too and live together with them as neighbours,” says Atwa Abu Alkia’n.
They point out that there is plenty of space – 3¼ million acres – in the Negev and the settlers don’t need to move to the one small acre of land where they have been living since 1956.
The Israeli state has made it clear that the new village is for Jewish residents only and the Arabs must move out.
Written by Martin Linton – Palestine Briefing

Traumatised 12yo girl shot in both legs at Israeli checkpoint in attempted ‘Suicide by Soldier.’

Israeli forces shot an unarmed and suicidal child, Bara Esawi, 12, three times in the legs for failing to halt at Eliyahu checkpoint near Qalqilya, northwest of Ramallah in the West Bank, on September 21.

Bara Esawi, 12, was hospitalized after Israeli soldiers at Eliyahu checkpoint shot her legs for failing to stop. (Photo: Esawi family)
(Photo: Esawi family)

“In a case like this, where a child has attempted suicide by soldier, we are reminded that Palestinian children represent a vulnerable population,” said Ayed Abu Eqtaish, Accountability Program director at Defense for Children International – Palestine. “The media narrative of Palestinian children as would-be attackers does not reflect the reality on the ground.”

Bara, who was carrying only school books in her backpack, told DCIP that she missed her aunt whom Israeli soldiers shot dead at the same checkpoint in November 2015 after she allegedly brandished a knife, and wanted to “join her.” As she approached the checkpoint, Bara said she became afraid and wanted to return, but the soldiers aimed their weapons at her and spoke to her in Hebrew.

“Suddenly, one of the soldiers shot me three times, once in my left leg and twice in my right leg. I fell to the ground and my books scattered all over the place.”

“I stopped where I was because I did not understand what they wanted,” said Bara. “Suddenly, one of the soldiers shot me three times, once in my left leg and twice in my right leg. I fell to the ground and my books scattered all over the place.”

A military ambulance took Bara to Meir medical center in the Israeli city of Kfar Saba, where doctors informed her that she needed surgery to remove the three bullets lodged in her legs.

Bara spoke to a lawyer from DCIP from her hospital bed, while under guard by two Israeli soldiers. Bara said that nurses at the hospital were treating her badly and calling her a terrorist. She also reported that she was interrogated in the hospital without being informed of her rights, and without the presence of a lawyer or family member, and signed a statement without knowing its contents.

“The interrogator accused me of attempted stabbing against the soldiers at the checkpoint, but I denied it and told him I just wanted to get killed and that is why I came to the checkpoint carrying only my schoolbag, not a knife or a gun,” Bara told DCIP.

Israeli media initially misreported the incident as an attempted stabbing attack. However, following the shooting, the Israeli Defense Ministry issued a statement reporting that they found no traces of weapons when they searched Bara’s schoolbag, and the Israeli military court in Salem decided not to extend her detention.

The day before Bara was shot, 15-year-old Issa Salem Mahmoud Tarairah was fatally shot at a checkpoint near Bani Na’im after he was allegedly seen carrying a knife. A paramedic with the Palestinian Red Crescent told DCIP that he did not see a knife on the scene when he arrived to provide assistance.

Issa was killed during the most concentrated period of deadly violence in the West Bank since June, which saw four Palestinian boys killed by Israeli forces between September 16-20, three of them at checkpoints.

The fourth, Firas Moussa Mohammad Khaddour, 17, was fatally shot by Israeli soldiers after his car crashed at the entrance to the Israeli settlement, Kiryat Arba, on September 16. An eyewitness, who was in the vehicle at the time, told DCIP that Firas was not committing a ramming attack and that the crash was an accident.

A 2014 cross-sectional study published by the World Journal of Medical Sciences found that 25.28 percent of 720 Palestinian adolescents surveyed had attempted suicide. The paper stressed the need for stepped-up efforts “to reduce the escalating ideation and trend of suicide among the most vulnerable populations.”

published by Defence for Children International – Palestine: 02nd November 2016

Independent Scotland to recognise Palestine.

Our newly elected Depute Leader, Angus Robertson MP, met with Palestine’s Ambassador to the UK, Prof. Manuel Hassassian, at the UK Parliament on Wednesday as a prelude to his upcoming visit to Palestine.

SNP Depute leader Angus Robertson welcoming Ambassador Manuel Hassassian.
SNP Depute leader Angus Robertson welcoming Ambassador Manuel Hassassian.

 

Ambassador Hassassian thanked the SNP Westminster Group leader for the backing of the Scottish National Party and all the people of Scotland ‘for their unfailing support of the Palestinian people’, which he said had been particularly appreciated during Israel’s last war on Gaza, two years ago.

Angus Robertson said that ‘Scotland was a strong ally of Palestine and the Scottish and Palestinian governments shared the same values. Moreover, the Scottish people have long supported the Palestinians during critical times.’

Angus Robertson also announced that once Scotland gains its own independence, it would recognize Palestine as an independent state and open an embassy in the Scottish capital.

In their meeting, Ambassador Hassassian and Mr Robertson discussed the big challenges facing the Palestinians and ways to move ahead. The SNP Depute leader said that, as his party was now the third biggest party in the UK, it could play a leading role in pushing forward the two state solution as an honest broker. He emphasised that a space had to me made for a proper and balanced approach which would result in a two state solution and which would see a truly independent Palestinian State come into being.

Awards for SNP MPs seized by Israeli Authorities.

18th October 2016

For immediate release:

Attn: News Desks

Political Correspondents

 

Awards for SNP MPs seized by Israeli Authorities

 

A delegation of Palestinian students due to visit the Houses of Parliament for an event with SNP Friends of Palestine were prevented from leaving Palestine by Israeli authorities and awards for SNP MPs were seized. The delegation who were carrying documentation clearly identifying the nature of their visit to the UK, were reportedly given no reason for their departure being blocked. In addition, small hand carved shields which were to be presented as tokens of appreciation to individual SNP MPs were seized by Israeli authorities at the border.

 

Tommy Sheppard, SNP MP for Edinburgh East and Dr Philippa Whitford, SNP MP for Central Ayrshire, are today (Tuesday) hosting an event in the Houses of Parliament for SNP Friends of Palestine. The event was to enable the General Union of Palestinian Students to present an award to SNP MPs in recognition of their support for “continuous efforts to champion Palestinian statehood and human rights”.

 

Tommy Sheppard MP, vice-chair of the All Party Parliamentary Group on Palestine commented “This is yet another example of the Israeli Authorities preventing Palestinian citizens going about their ordinary lives. The students wanted to meet with SNP MPs to thank them for their support for the Palestinian cause and share their experiences. I would urge the Israeli authorities to understand that actions such as these are unhelpful in gaining understanding for their perspective from the international community”

 

Andy Murray, convener of SNP Friends of Palestine said, ‘This reception, which will see recognition by the Palestinian Ambassador to the UK of the SNP Parliamentarians support for “continuous efforts to champion Palestinian statehood and human rights”, will go ahead today in spite of this effort to derail it.’

 

ENDS

 

‘Former Israeli soldiers speak out against the occupation’

In this article from AJ+, former Israeli soldiers are given a voice, an outlet, by Breaking the Silence to speak out against the unjust occupation of Palestine.

Carol Monaghan MP meets with Rohan Talbot from MAP & Yehuda Shaul from Israeli NGO Breaking the Silence
Carol Monaghan MP meets with Rohan Talbot from MAP & Yehuda Shaul from Israeli NGO Breaking the Silence
 
We were lucky enough to have co-founder of Breaking the Silence Yehuda Shaul with us at SNP National Conference in Aberdeen this time last year to speak to our members, MPs, MSPs & Cllrs from around the country.
Since then Yehuda has been on hand in occupied Palestine to give tours to a number of MPs who have travelled out to see for themselves the situation on the ground.
 
We praise the work that BtS are doing to expose the immoral occupation of Palestine against awful treatment by the Netanyahu coalition and its supporters.
 

ICC to assess whether Israel stands trial for Gaza war crimes.

In a completely unprecedented move, a delegation from the International Criminal Court (ICC) in the Hague is to visit Israel to assess whether the country is to be tried for

Red Crescent ambulance damaged in 2014 attack on Gaza.
Red Crescent ambulance damaged in 2014 attack on Gaza.

war crimes carried out during the 51-day military aggression carried out against Gaza in 2014.

More than 2,200 Palestinians, including 490 children, were killed in what the Israeli military called ‘Operation Protective Edge’. Over 11,100 others, including 3,374 children, 2,088 women and 410 elderly people, were also wounded in the assault.

Israeli forces raid Gaza Strip refugee camp.

This morning, 31st August, Israeli occupation forces accompanying 4 armoured bulldozers raided the al-Bureij refugee

Israeli armoured bulldozers raid Gaza refugee camp.
Israeli armoured bulldozers raid Gaza refugee camp.

camp, located in the central Gaza strip, and leveled lands in the Deir Al-Balah district.

It was reported that four Israeli bulldozers crossed into the Gaza Strip from Israel and raided the east side of the camp as Israeli drones flew overhead. Witnesses also added that Israeli soldiers randomly opened fire, though at this time no injuries have been reported.

It is important to remember that Israel claim to longer occupy Gaza since their ‘disengagement’ in 2005. However since this ‘disengagement’ the Israeli military have continually made significant incursions into Gaza and after the last military assault on the Gaza strip in 2014, the occupation forces have maintained a presence on a sizeable tranche of land within the strip which they deem a security buffer zone, and from which they can launch further incursions.

 

As of August 22, the United Nations had documented 45 Israeli military incursions into the Gaza Strip.

US urges citizens to leave Gaza ‘as soon as possible’!

The US State Department has urged citizens to leave Gaza ‘as soon as possible’.

US State Department spokesman.
US State Department spokesman.

This warning is being widely interpreted by Gazans that a further onslaught by the Israeli military is likely expected soon.

Similar warnings were issued by the US State Department shortly before the commencement of the devastating campaigns of aggression by the Israeli military in 2008, 2012 and again in 2014.

On Sunday the Israeli Air Force launched dozens of airstrikes against targets in the Gaza Strip after a single rocket had struck the southern Israeli City of Sderot earlier in the day, causing no damage or injuries.

Israeli attack on Gaza 21/8/16
Israeli attack on Gaza 21/8/16

 

Read more here at Al-Arabiya