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Norman Finkelstein on Israel's Murderous Assault on Nonviolent Protesters in Gaza


World  (tags: expulsion, blockade, occupation, siege of Gaza-massacre 2014-2016, humanitarian, massavres gaza Strip civilians-children, crimes against humanity-israel, ICC, Norman Finkelstein, USA aid to Israel, peaceful protestors, inhumanity, Refugees&Relief, violence )

Fly
- 40 days ago - youtu.be
Norman Finkelstein says Israeli forces have conducted "a murderous assault on nonviolent protesters" in Gaza's Great March of Return, because peaceful Palestinian protest threatens not Israel, but its occupation



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fly bird (26)
Monday May 14, 2018, 10:32 pm
Norman Finkelstein on Israel’s ‘Murderous Assault on Nonviolent Protesters’ in Gaza.
May 11, 2018

Norman Finkelstein says that Israeli forces have conducted “a murderous assault on non-violent protesters” in Gaza’s Great March of Return because non-violent protest threatens not Israel, but its occupation.

https://youtu.be/KVx4h3sM62o



https://therealnews.com/stories/norman-finkelstein-on-israels-murderous-assault-on-nonviolent-protesters-in-gaza
 

fly bird (26)
Monday May 14, 2018, 10:53 pm
Israel slaughters Palestinians marching to return.
15 May 2018

Israeli occupation forces killed 58 Palestinians in Gaza on Monday as tens of thousands protested along the eastern perimeter of the territory.

Monday’s death toll is likely to climb higher as 70 were in critical condition and Gaza hospitals struggled to triage the staggering number of casualties.

The health ministry reported nearly 2,800 injuries – almost half of them by live fire.

Held on the eve of Nakba Day – when Palestinians commemorate the ethnic cleansing of their homeland before, during and after the establishment of the state of Israel in May 1948 – the demonstrations may have been the biggest protest ever held in the territory.

Monday marked the largest number of casualties in a single day in Gaza since Israel’s massive military assault that claimed more than 2,200 Palestinian lives in the summer of 2014, and was said to be the largest number of protester fatalities in a single day in the territory since the first intifada that began 30 years ago.

Protests are expected to continue on Tuesday.

Monday’s protests were held under the banner of the Great March of Return demonstrations, launched on 30 March, when Palestinians mark Land Day. The six-week protest was originally planned to culminate around Nakba Day.

Nearly 100 Palestinians, including 12 children, have been killed by Israeli forces during Great March of Return protests since 30 March.

While American officials and Israeli leaders celebrated the opening of the US embassy in Jerusalem – in violation of international law – occupation army snipers gunned down children, paramedics and journalists and its air force hit multiple sites across Gaza on Monday.

Five boys and a girl were among those slain.

Additionally, the health ministry reported that an 8-month-old baby died as a result of gas inhalation.

The Palestinian human rights group Al Mezan reported that 42 of those killed were participating in peaceful protests when they were injured on Monday.

Paramedic Mousa Jaber Abu Hassanein was among those killed:

Fifteen Palestinians, including two children, were killed when Israeli forces fired artillery shells and opened fire at a crowd of civilians east of Jabaliya in the northern Gaza Strip, according to Al Mezan.

Israel claimed that its forces killed three militants attempting to place explosives near the Gaza-Israel boundary fence near the Rafah crossing with Egypt.

United Nations humanitarian coordinator Jamie McGoldrick stated that doctors at al-Shifa, Gaza’s largest hospital, “are overwhelmed, dealing with hundreds of cases of injured, including women and children. They are stretched to the limit and are running out of essential medical supplies.”

He added that “Particularly worrying is that public hospitals in Gaza have less than a week of fuel reserves to continue their operations.”

Gaza’s health ministry put out an urgent call for blood donations to save the lives of those wounded.

On Monday, the Israeli military reported its first injury since the Great March of Return protests began. A soldier was lightly wounded and taken to hospital for treatment, the first Israeli casualty resulting from the protests, according to the United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs.

Israeli forces have injured nearly 13,000 Palestinians during the Great March of Return protests, and some 6,800 injuries have required hospitalization, more than half of them caused by live ammunition.

Jason Cone, the US director of Doctors Without Borders, stated on Friday that “Even though there is not a war in Gaza, the injuries sustained by our patients are terribly similar to what we see in conflict zones,” with fist-size exit wounds and “bone … pulverized into dust.”

Gaza’s health ministry has called on Egypt to provide its hospitals with drugs and emergency medical supplies and to allow for the transfer of patients requiring specialized treatment unavailable in the Strip.

Gaza-based writer and scholar Refaat Alareer, who was present at Monday’s protests, told The Electronic Intifada Podcast that “every single minute, you would hear a shot here or there, and then someone would fall down.”

Ten journalists were injured on Monday in what Al Mezan observed was an escalation of the Israeli military’s targeted attacks on members of the press covering the Great March of Return protests.

Photojournalist Yasir Qudih, whose work has frequently appeared on The Electronic Intifada, was critically injured. Qudih had taken an iconic photo of a protester using a table tennis paddle to hit back a gas canister during a demonstration earlier in the month:

Another journalist, Motasem Dalloul, was reportedly fighting for his life after being shot by the Israeli army while covering the protests on Friday.

The UN High Commissioner for Human Rights condemned the “shocking killing of dozens” in Gaza, calling for “those responsible for outrageous human rights violations” to be held to account.

The dissonant images of US and Israeli officials celebrating the opening of the Jerusalem embassy and of Palestinians being subjected to brutal violence in Gaza drew the scorn of many on social media.

Washington blamed Palestinians for their own deaths while President Donald Trump, whose daughter and son-in-law presided over the Jerusalem embassy opening, congratulated Israel on what he called its “big day.”

Four Palestinian human rights groups on Monday called on the UN Security Council to convene an emergency session to address Israel’s violence in Gaza and demand that Israel immediately lift its closure and blockade.

The groups called on the Security Council to “Implement all options to protect Palestinian civilians” and establish an independent and impartial investigation into Israel’s use of lethal force against Great March of Return protesters.

The Israeli rights group B’Tselem stated that “The fact that live gunfire is once again the sole measure that the Israeli military is using in the field evinces appalling indifference towards human life on the part of senior Israeli government and military officials.”

B’Tselem reiterated its call on soldiers to “refuse to comply with these manifestly unlawful open-fire orders.”

According to Israeli media, soldiers are ordered “to prevent demonstrators from crossing into Israel at any price, including use of live fire.”

If any Palestinians do manage to cross the boundary, Haaretz reported, “the orders are to shoot directly at them with intent to hit, to prevent them from getting into these communities.”

Sarah Leah Whitson of Human Rights Watch stated that Israel’s open fire policies “resulted in a bloodbath that anyone could have foreseen.

On Monday morning the military dropped leaflets on Gaza warning Palestinians that they risked death by participating in the protests.

Al Mezan reported that the military had flattened sand dunes built up by demonstrators to provide cover from Israeli fire, “indicating an assumed intention on the part of the military to improve visibility for the purpose of targeting protesters.”

The rights group also reported that early Monday morning the military used drones to fire-bomb medical field tents. One day earlier Israel denied a team of doctors from the West Bank entry to Gaza.

Two-thirds of Gaza’s population of two million Palestinians are refugees from the lands on which the state of Israel was declared in 1948. Israel has long prevented Palestinian refugees from returning to their lands and homes because they are not Jewish.

https://electronicintifada.net/blogs/maureen-clare-murphy/israel-slaughters-palestinians-marching-return
 

fly bird (26)
Tuesday May 15, 2018, 12:21 am
“Horrific, unprecedented”: Israel massacres almost 60 Palestinians in Gaza. (PODCAST)
14 May 2018

A report from the Great March of Return, after Israeli forces kill dozens of Palestinians in Gaza; excerpts of talks by Ghada Karmi, Joseph Massad, Ilan Pappe and Salman Abu Sitta.

Read more here: electronicintifada.net/blogs/nora-ba…stinians-gaza

(Photo: Palestinian protesters demand their rights during the Great March of Return, Rafah, Gaza Strip, 14 May. Photo by Mahmoud Bassam/APA Images)

https://soundcloud.com/intifada/horrific-unprecedented-israel-massacres-more-than-50-palestinians-in-gaza
 

fly bird (26)
Tuesday May 15, 2018, 10:02 am
Erdogan slams international community’s apathy for Palestine.

Palestine is the centre issue in the world, Erdogan said.
May 09 2018

International community's indifference over the sufferings of Palestinians caused by Israeli attacks shows that no society has a safe future, the Turkish president said on Monday.

Speaking at the International Mount of Olives Peace Awards at the Cemal Resit Rey Concert Hall in Istanbul, President Recep Tayyip Erdogan said: "Palestinians are the symbol of all oppressed people in the world because of the persecution, massacres and injustices they have been subjected to."

Erdogan said the Palestine cause was not an exclusive issue of a nation or a city, adding that the future of humanity would be determined according to its stance against the Palestine and Jerusalem cause.

“If the reverse happens, a dark future will be awaiting us, one in which all rights, freedoms, and moral and conscientious measures are absent or eliminated and in which tyranny prevails.”

Erdogan said what was happening in Palestine was the legitimization of tyranny, highlighting Israel’s mounting persecution against Palestinians whose sole guilt was trying to defend their own land.

"The indifference of the international community towards the Palestinians, who have had tens of martyrs and thousands of injured people during these [Israeli] attacks, is the sign of a future in which no society and individual will be safe," Erdogan said.

Erdogan accused the international institutions responsible for ensuring peace and security in Palestine, calling them “hypocrites.”

He also stressed that when it came to delivering aid, great economic powers fiercely competing with each other whenever an economic, political or military interest was at stake had fallen behind Turkey.

“And that is because humanitarian aid, totally an issue of conscience and morality, does not bring money, oil, gold, or political power," he said, adding that Turkey so far had spent $31 billion for the Syrians staying in Turkey.

http://daysofpalestine.com/post/11122/erdogan-slams-international-community’s-apathy-for-palestine
 

fly bird (26)
Tuesday May 15, 2018, 10:19 am
Today’s lead ‘NY Times’ article on the Gaza massacre is a model of dishonesty.
May 15, 2018

Today’s main New York Times article on Israel’s massacre of Gazan demonstrators — the lead front-page story in the print edition — is a masterpiece of deceit. The article, by David Halbfinger, employs the time tested tools of distortion, including classic Orientalism, dueling narratives, one-sided use of sources, and hiding the perpetrators behind passive sentences, topped off by outright dishonesty.

The distortion starts in the first sentence. “Across the Gaza Strip on Monday morning, loudspeakers on minarets urged Palestinians to rush the fence bordering Israel. . .” An Orientalist gem, insinuating that Gazan protesters are motivated by religious primitivism, instead of Israel’s crushing blockade and regular armed attacks.

“. . where they [the Gazans] were met by army snipers.” “Met” is hardly the appropriate word here, especially after another Times correspondent, Declan Walsh, has already described how far off Israeli snipers shot a woman in the stomach right in front of him on Sunday night.

“At least 58 were killed and thousands injured. . .” Passive voice; conceal the killers.

In paragraph 4, Halbfinger turns explicitly to dueling narratives. “For generations, both sides of the conflict have been locked in competing mutually negating narratives. . .” The implicit question: Who knows which side is right? This is post-modernism gone lethal, a view favored by Western liberals who sense something is terribly wrong but who are too cowardly to criticize Israel. Sometimes, one side of a dueling narrative is fundamentally true, and the other is a pack of lies.

Lower in the article are 4 short paragraphs reported from the standpoint of the Gazan demonstrators themselves.

But then immediately, a reverent respect for the Israeli military’s point of view. For 7 paragraphs, Halbfinger took dictation from the army’s mouthpiece, Lt. Col. Jonathan Conricus, who asserted that the Gazans were: “planting or hurling explosives”; flying flaming kites into Israel; trying to slip armed fighters into Israel to “wreak havoc”; launching an armed attack on the border fence; and firing “numerous shots” at Israeli soldiers — all of which amounted to an “unprecedented level of violence.”

Next, stenographer Halbfinger writes that “Israel responded with gunfire and tear gas, and Israeli jets struck five targets in a Hamas military training facility. . .” This is Orwellian. Lt. Col. Conricus makes up or grossly exaggerates Gazan actions, and Halbfinger then calls Israel’s vicious attacks a ‘response’ to things that never happened.

Conricus also alleges that “one Israeli soldier was wounded by shrapnel from what was believed to be an explosive device.” Halbfinger fails to report that if true, this would be the very first injury to any Israeli whatsoever, whether soldier or civilian, in nearly 7 weeks of protest during which Israel has killed 107 Palestinians and injured another 13,000.

You have to pause to see what is happening here. Israel has just committed the biggest single massacre since its 2014 invasion of Gaza. The Times has 3 correspondents in Gaza, including the aforementioned Walsh, Iyad Abuheweila and Ibrahim El-Mughrabi — all of them doubtless risking their lives to report from amid the mass killing, and their shorter secondary article in today’s Times is helpful. But the paper’s main report gives them 4 puny paragraphs and devotes twice as much space to unsubstantiated claims from the proven liars of the Israeli military. This is truly taking “dueling narratives” to ugly ends.

Halbfinger does not quote a single human rights group, not even the respected Israeli organization B’Tselem, which has implored Israel’s soldiers not to fire at the Gazan demonstrators. Palestinians are dying by the dozens and being grievously wounded by the hundreds — Medicines Sans Frontieres said sniper bullets are leaving exit wounds the size of a fist — but Halbfinger did not let the Palestinians speak.

David Halbfinger is a skilled reporter and he must know exactly how he is distorting what is really happening in Gaza. We suspect he is under tremendous pressure — from the Israeli government, from his editors, from some of his readers. Until the pressure to tell the truth increases, he (and his colleagues) will continue to whitewash.

http://mondoweiss.net/2018/05/article-massacre-dishonesty/
 

fly bird (26)
Tuesday May 15, 2018, 11:37 am
Events for May 15 2018

Window Rock: Nakba: Diné Solidarity with Great Return March
Across France: Protests against the Massacre in Gaza
Houston: Emergency Protest for Palestine
Cape Town: National Protest for the #GreatReturnMarch and Against Israeli Apartheid
Olympia: Commemoration of 70 Years of Nakba
Orlando: Stand in Solidarity with Palestine
Edinburgh: National Nakba Commemoration Scotland
Brussels and Throughout Belgium: Silent Circles to Remember the Nakba
Vancouver: Mark Nakba70 – End Canadian Complicity
Washington, DC: Nakba Teach-In at Schumer’s Office – Free Gaza, Free Palestine
Ankara: 70 Years of Nakba
Johannesburg: Palestine Picket at the US Consulate
Amsterdam: Remember the Nakba – Stand for the Right of Return
San Francisco: 70 Years of Palestinian Resistance and Resilience
Copenhagen: Nakba=Catastrophe
Chicago: Emergency Rally – Reject US Embassy Move & Israeli Massacres
Winnipeg: Al-Nakba 70 – Hope Lives in Remembrance
Tucson: Nakba Day Vigil
Boston: Remember and Resist – 70 Years of Ethnic Cleansing in Palestine
15 May, Odense: Commemoration of al-Nakba
Aalborg: We will never forget al-Nakba!
Washington DC: 70 Years too Long – Nakba Vigil and Storytelling
Oslo: Marking the Nakba, 70 Years of Exile
Helsinki: Protest 70 Years of Nakba
Gothenburg: Demonstration for Palestine
London: Gaza – Stop the Massacre, Emergency Protest
Buenos Aires: Stop the Genocide of the Palestinian People
Rome: Solidarity Demonstration for Palestine
Stockholm: 70 years of displacement – Rally for a Free Palestine
London: Nakba Candlelight Vigil 1948-2018
Athens: 70 Years of Nakba, the struggle continues until the liberation of Palestine
Berlin: 70 Years of Nakba – Solidarity Demonstration for Palestine
Adana: 70 Years of Nakba
Albertville: 70th Anniversary of the Nakba
Brussels: Stop the Gaza Massacre! Protest for Gaza
Dublin: Nakba Day Vigil – in Solidarity with the #GreatReturnMarch
Paris: Rally against the Massacre in Gaza
Calgary: Emergency protest for Gaza – Palestine
Sydney: Protest for Palestine – 70 Years of Nakba
Malmo: Film and Conversation – Al Nakba, 70 Years of Exile
Manchester: Solidarity with Student Prisoners! Resist political detention!
Montevideo: 70 Years of Al-Nakba, 70 Years of Resistance
Istanbul: 70 Years of Nakba
Edmonton: Emergency Rally for Gaza Palestine
Bologna: Enough with the Israeli crimes!
Sevilla: Nakba – 70 years of the occupation of Palestine
Santiago: 70 Years Resisting the Nakba – Manifestation for Palestine
Valladolid: Rally to commemorate Al-Nakba
Barcelona: 70 Years of Resistance in Palestine, 1948-2018

http://samidoun.net/events/2018-05-15/

Events for 16 May 2018

Paris: Rally against the Massacre in Gaza
Stains: Solidarity with the Palestinian People
Lille: Stop the Massacre in Gaza!
Toulouse: All to Capitole for Gaza and Jerusalem

http://samidoun.net/events/2018-05-16/

Events for 17 May 2018

Saint-Etienne: Rally in support of the Palestinian People

http://samidoun.net/events/2018-05-17/

Events for 18 May 2018

NYC: Nakba Day 2018 – Rally and March for 70 Years of Resistance
May 18 @ 3:00 pm - 5:00 pm
Times Square, Times Square
New York, NY United States

Cleveland: Nakba70 – Gaza – Jerusalem
May 18 @ 4:00 pm - 5:00 pm
Public Square, Public Square
Cleveland, OH United States

http://samidoun.net/events/2018-05-18/

http://samidoun.net/events/
 

fly bird (26)
Tuesday May 15, 2018, 11:57 am
Events for 19 May 2018

Bonn: 70 years of expulsion and occupation are enough!
Clermont-Farrand: Nakba – Gaza – BDS Demonstration
Montpellier: Stand with Gaza – Protest the Massacre
Florence: Protest to support Palestine and its resistance

http://samidoun.net/events/2018-05-19/
 

Colleen L (3)
Tuesday May 15, 2018, 8:08 pm
Totally insane. I pray for PEACE. Thanks Fly
 

fly bird (26)
Wednesday May 16, 2018, 2:57 am
Ben Gurion ’48 letter barred return to Haifa.
27 May 2015

Over many decades, Israel’s self-serving deceptions about the Nakba in 1948 have been exposed for the lies Palestinians already knew them to be.

It was long accepted in the west that, as Israel claimed, Palestinians left their homes because they had been ordered to do so by neighbouring Arab leaders. The lie usefully distracted diplomats and scholars from the much more pertinent question of why Israel had refused to allow 750,000 Palestinian refugees to return to their homes after the war finished, as international law demanded.

The myth about the Arab leaders’ order, which had been steadily undermined by the work of the “new historians” of the late 1980s, was decisively punctured two years ago by an Israeli scholar who was given the wrong file by Israeli army archivists. It showed the story of the Arab leaders’ order was concocted by Israeli officials.

The same files should also have ended an equally diverting and lengthy debate about how many Palestinian villages Israel ethnically cleansed in 1948. Most Palestinian scholars were agreed it was well over 500; Israeli experts variously claimed it was between 300 and 400. Not that hundreds of ethnically cleansed villages was not bad enough, but Israel was happy to engage in a debate designed to make Palestinians look like inveterate exaggerators. Again, Israel’s archives confirmed the Palestinian account, with 530 villages razed.

Now another, related deception has been exposed. For decades Israel’s supporters have been arguing that Haifa, one of Palestine’s most important cities, was not ethnically cleansed of its population. The tens of thousands of Palestinians who fled under Israeli attack in April 1948 were later urged to return, according to Israel’s supporters, but they chose not to. Further proof, it seemed, that the Palestinians had only themselves to blame for losing their homeland. They chose to stay away.

Strangely, none of Israel’s propagandists ever seriously tried to suggest that the other 700,00 or so Palestinian refugees had been invited back home. It seemed as if the welcome supposedly extended in Haifa was reason enough for all Palestinians in exile to put aside their fears of Israel’s shoot-to-kill policy at its new borders and make the journey home.

But now a letter signed by David Ben Gurion, Israel’s first prime minister and the engineer of its ethnic cleansing policy in 1948, shows that, far from Haifa’s doors being thrown open, Ben Gurion ordered that the refugees be barred from returning.

Written on 2 June 1948, the letter was sent to Abba Khoushy, soon to become Haifa’s mayor. It states: “I hear that Mr. Marriot [Cyril Marriot, the British consul in Haifa] is working to return the Arabs to Haifa. I don’t know how it is his business, but until the war is over we don’t want a return of the enemy. And all institutions should act accordingly.”

Of course, that policy was not reversed after the war, as Ben Gurion hinted it might be. And one can wonder how much more specific his orders were to his army commanders if this was what he was telling civilian administrators.

The myth about Haifa was encouraged by Golda Meir, who wrote in her autobiography that Ben Gurion told her: “I want you to immediately go to Haifa and see to it that the Arabs who remain in Haifa are treated appropriately. I also want you to try and persuade the Arabs who are already on the beach to return home. You have to get it into their heads that they have nothing to fear.”

Meir added: “I went immediately. I sat on the beach there and begged them to return home… I pleaded with them until I was exhausted but it didn’t work.”

Heartbreaking – if only it were true.

How much longer must we wait to explode all the other myths associated with the Nakba, and much of Israel’s history ever since?

www.haaretz.com/news/features/.premium-1.658179

https://www.jonathan-cook.net/blog/2015-05-27/ben-gurion-48-letter-barred-return-to-haifa/
 

fly bird (26)
Wednesday May 16, 2018, 11:56 am
No More U.S. Weapons to Israel.

Sign this petition to the U.S. government:

End the provision of free weapons to the government of Israel.

https://act.rootsaction.org/p/dia/action4/common/public/?action_KEY=13358
 

fly bird (26)
Wednesday May 16, 2018, 10:07 pm
Deconstructed with Mehdi Hasan

The Killing Fields of Gaza.

Israeli activists speak out on the occupation of Gaza.

https://theintercept.com/2018/04/30/israel-palestine-netanyahu-idf-gaza/
 

fly bird (26)
Thursday May 17, 2018, 9:04 am
Why Do So Many Denounce Authoritarianism From Trump and Putin — but Not Israel’s Benjamin Netanyahu?

We hear a great deal from liberals in the West these days about the rise of authoritarian and illiberal governments across the world: from Putin’s Russia to Orbán’s Hungary; from Trump’s America to Erdogan’s Turkey; from Modi’s India to Duterte’s Philippines.

We don’t hear so much about Netanyahu’s Israel — despite the fact that the country, as former Israeli Foreign Minister Shlomo Ben-Ami has conceded, “is succumbing to its deepest ethnocentric impulses” and is “now well on its way to joining the growing club of illiberal democracies, and it has Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu to thank.”

Some might say “on its way” is an understatement. According to Hagai El-Ad, executive director of B’Tselem, the Israel Information Center for Human Rights in the Occupied Territories, the Jewish state could be considered a founding member of that particular club because it has enjoyed a “significant head start” on the rest. For example, the practice of “describing the opposition and specifically human rights organizations as traitors, and then also calling for their criminal investigation … may sound familiar to listeners from various countries … in which authoritarian governments are on the rise,” he tells me on the latest episode of Deconstructed, “but, hey, Israel has been there way before.”

Consider the array of “anti-democratic” laws that have been passed by the Knesset, Israel’s parliament, over the past decade; laws which have had a chilling effect on freedom of speech and expression. In 2011, there was the “Boycott Law,” which made any Israeli individual or organization that calls for a boycott against Israel liable to be sued for damages. There was also the “Nakba Law,” which authorized the Israeli finance ministry to cut state funding from institutions that reject Israel’s character as a “Jewish” state or mark the country’s Independence Day as a “day of mourning.” In 2015, there was the “NGO Law,” which targets foreign-funded human rights organizations inside Israel and was described by Meretz politician Mossi Raz as a “semi-fascistic law that harms democracy and silences dissent in a way that is reminiscent of Putin’s Russia.” (Of 27 organizations threatened by this law, 25 of them are left-wing or human rights groups.)

Then there is Israeli public opinion, in which the shift to the authoritarian and racist right has been remarkable in recent decades. According to polling by Pew, nearly half (48 percent) of Israeli Jews now support expelling Arabs from Israel, while the vast majority of them (79 percent) believe that they are entitled to deserve “preferential treatment” over non-Jewish minorities in Israel.

On Deconstructed, I also spoke to Avner Gvaryahu, a former paratrooper in the Israel Defense Forces who now serves as executive director of Breaking the Silence, an Israeli NGO that is “particularly reviled among right-wing Israelis” because it collects anonymous testimonies from Israeli army veterans about abuses they either committed or witnessed during their service in the Occupied Territories. According to Gvaryahu, the Israeli right has created “a toxic environment that I think will backlash in the future, but at this point, it’s pretty much destroying what’s left of the liberal values in our country.”

For making such provocative claims and exposing possible war crimes perpetrated by the IDF in the Occupied Territories, Gvaryahu, El-Ad, and their fellow human rights activists in Israel have not only been targeted by anti-democratic laws, but they have also been subjected to verbal abuse, harassment, and death threats. Senior members of the Israeli government have piled in, too. You think Donald Trump calling CNN “fake news” is bad? Netanyahu has attacked Breaking the Silence for spreading “lies and slanders [against] our soldiers around the world.” Defense Minister Avigdor Lieberman has accused members of B’Tselem and Breaking the Silence of being “complete traitors” who are funded by “those same foundations that fund Hamas.”

I asked Gvaryahu how he reacts to such vicious and personal attacks from the most senior officials in his country. “We sort of joke about this … amongst the members of Breaking the Silence: At what point did we become traitors? Was it … the first time we read a left-wing blogger as soldiers? Was it when we read … some book when we were guarding [Palestinian prisoners] that this idea popped into our head, and we started questioning what we’re doing — were we traitors then as well? When we shared our experiences coming back home, speaking to some of our family members — were we traitors then? Or did we only become traitors once we … [began] breaking our silence publicly?”

In recent weeks, IDF snipers have come under heavy criticism for shooting and killing dozens of unarmed Palestinian protesters, including children and journalists, at the border with Gaza. For Gvaryahu, “the truth of the matter is that there are soldiers who are probably on the border now who will be part of Breaking the Silence in the future. Are they already traitorous at this point?”

El-Ad says he is isn’t surprised by the hostile rhetoric. “For 50 years, we’ve been defining any Palestinian opposition to the occupation as incitement. Then why wouldn’t we start defining Israeli opposition to the occupation as incitement and gradually closing the gap between the two sides of the Green Line — but in the wrong direction?”

With El-Ad, Gvaryahu, and their organizations under constant attack from right-wing Israeli officials and news outlets, isn’t it shameful that leading liberals in the West aren’t speaking out in loud support of them? That they are so keen to denounce the illiberal and authoritarian behaviors of Trump or Vladimir Putin, but so willing to give Netanyahu a pass?

This current Israeli government — the most right-wing, anti-peace government in living memory — is bent on demonizing and delegitimizing its domestic critics, especially human rights activists and civil society groups. Freedom of speech and expression be damned!

Why? Because Jewish criticism of the Jewish state has always been harder to dismiss or ignore. Whether it was Albert Einstein and Hannah Arendt in the 1940s … or Natalie Portman earlier this month. The Israeli-American actress provoked uproar in Israel after refusing to attend an awards ceremony in Tel Aviv because she said she “did not want to appear as endorsing Benjamin Netanyahu” and objected to the “mistreatment of those suffering from today’s atrocities” in Israel. And what was the response from the Israeli government? Cabinet Minister Yuval Steinitz claimed Portman’s boycott “bordered on anti-Semitism.”

Anyone who speaks out against the Israeli government’s repressive behavior, both inside and across the Green Line, must be silenced. That is now the authoritarian and ultranationalistic mentality that dominates not just inside the Netanyahu cabinet, but in the Knesset, too. Earlier this year, Israeli legislators gave initial approval to an amendment allowing the education ministry to ban organizations critical of the IDF from entering schools. Members of the Knesset explicitly singled out Breaking the Silence while debating the amendment.

Gvaryahu believes such a sweeping and draconian measure would be difficult to defend in the courts. “But more interestingly,” he tells me, “is even though this has been in discussion and there is pushback on schools that invite us, we’re still invited. We had this pretty amazing experience a few months ago where high school students invited us, and their principals were actually scared from the pushback. And they decided to cancel.”

Nevertheless, the Breaking the Silence boss continues, “the students themselves said, ‘You know what? We’re going to meet them in our own time, in our own home’ — 17-, 18-year-olds! Like, how do you motivate 17-, 18-year-olds in this time and age to do anything? And they, on their own time, out of school, said, ‘We’ll invite you.’”

Gvaryahu, therefore, says he is an optimist and has no plans to give up his campaign against Israel’s illegal occupation or human rights abuses anytime soon — no matter how much pressure is applied from above, and no matter how little support he gets from liberals in the West. The former soldier believes that he and his fellow activists can continue “breaking the silence” in front of more and more Israelis, especially younger ones. “They’re closing a door,” he tells me, “we’re going in through the window.”

Deconstructed with Mehdi Hasan

The Killing Fields of Gaza.

Israeli activists speak out on the occupation of Gaza.

https://theintercept.com/2018/04/30/israel-palestine-netanyahu-idf-gaza/
 
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