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How the Gaza Massacre Exposed International Cowardice

Society & Culture  (tags: Gaza massacre 2018, impunity, HumanRights, middle-east, news, palestine, media, israel, world, violence, usa, 'CIVILLIBERTIES!', death, crime, corruption, Refugees&Relief, freedoms, UnitedNations, war, terrorism, corruption, propaganda, lies )

- 158 days ago -
As Palestinians were getting killed in Gaza, political leaders around the world switched to their usual doublespeak


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fly bird (26)
Wednesday May 16, 2018, 10:53 pm
How the Gaza massacre exposed international cowardice. (VIDEO)

As Palestinians were getting killed in Gaza, political leaders around the world switched to their usual doublespeak.
Andrew Mitrovica


No other word suffices. No other word captures the signature essence of diplomats - from Canada, the United Nations, Europe - and their obscene, code-word-laced responses to the massacre of Palestinians, including an eight-month-old child.

When the shocking, sprawling human carnage that revealed itself in Gaza on Monday demanded an unequivocal denunciation of the state-sanctioned murder of innocent children, women and men, predictably, they equivocated.

Worse, in prevaricating, they sided, in effect, with the murderers, as cowards are apt to do. In that urgent moment, they hid behind strikingly similar tweets or press releases to point an accusatory finger at the victims; to absolve the perpetrators of their complicity and guilt; to refashion history by insisting that the "violence" did not constitute a massacre, but a "conflict" between two equivalent adversaries; to imply that the victims invited their fates; and to suggest that the victims are propaganda props of "terrorists".

So, it doesn't matter what these genteel diplomats say or do at the UN or anywhere else. The transparent cowardice on display since the Bloody Monday massacre in Gaza will always be their contemptible, incriminating legacy.

Exhibit A: Canada's foreign minister, Chrystia Freeland. After remaining silent while Palestinian after Palestinian was summarily executed week after week by Israeli soldiers, Freeland finally and, no doubt, grudgingly, posted a 45-word tweet oozing with gooey insincerity where she feigned "concern" and "sadness" for all those "dead" Palestinians.

Of course, in her perfunctory tweet, Freeland failed to describe how all those suddenly "dead" Palestinians had been shot in the head and stomach with butterfly bullets by Israeli thugs in uniforms. Instead, she wrote that "all parties to the conflict" bore the responsibility to "protect" civilians.

Despite oodles of eye-witness accounts and photographic evidence, the former journalist was unable to discern that one "party" - armed Israeli thugs - are doing all the killing and maiming, while unarmed Palestinians are doing all the dying and suffering.

Still, Freeland left it to a compliant underling to invoke the ever-at-the-ready Hamas card to infer that all those Palestinian children, women and men were being killed and maimed because of the "involvement [of a] terrorist organisation" in orchestrating a bold Palestinian expression of human dignity and self-determination.

In this tired, inevitable regard, Freeland was parroting Donald Trump's historically illiterate mouthpiece at the UN, Niki Haley, who told the Security Council yesterday that while she was also "concerned by the violence in the Middle East," Israel had shown admirable "restraint" in the face of Hamas' and Iran's "provocations" and "incitements."

There you have it. Canada and America agree: Iran and its new "proxy", Hamas, not Israel, bear ultimate responsibility for the massacres in Gaza. The revisionism is as instructive as it is appalling.

That Freeland's "people" denounced Hamas, on cue, was serendipitous. In 1997, Canada recalled its ambassador to Israel after it was revealed that bumbling Israeli spies were carrying doctored Canadian passports in a botched attempt to poison Hamas leader, Khaled Meshaal, in Jordan.

The ensuing bi-lateral furore prompted Israel's foreign minister to promise the then Liberal foreign minister, Lloyd Axworthy, that his country's assassins would never use Canadian passports in such plots again. (Israel lied and resumed poaching Canadian passports for covert ops while Axworthy was shaking hands with his duplicitous opposite.)

Exhibit B: UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres. The tweet by the UN's top diplomat about the butchery in Gaza was a near-verbatim facsimile of Freeland's and Haley's statements. He wrote that he was "concerned by the escalation in violence" and urged "everyone" to show "restraint."

Guterres' stammering, fill-in-the-blanks diplomacy and false equivalency belie the fact that 109 Palestinians have been slaughtered since the Great March of Return began on March 30 and not one Israeli soldier has been killed or injured in that time.

Given this lethal equation, it's Palestinians who have demonstrated remarkable resiliency, purpose and "restraint". Indeed, "restraint" has never been part of the Israeli army's lexicon. The countless dead and scarred Palestinian refugees in Lebanon, Gaza and the West Bank are an undeniable testament to that fact.

The UN's shameful false equivalency even extended to the minute of silence observed by members of the Security Council who met in an emergency session yesterday to ostensibly "discuss" the mass murder of Palestinians.

"I should like to take a moment to remember those killed yesterday in Gaza, as well as all those Palestinians, Israelis and others who have died as a result of the conflict that has endured for far too long," the Security Council's president said, with all the solemnity she could muster.

There was no "conflict" in Gaza on Monday. There was a massacre. On one side of a barbed-wired fence, cowardly Israeli snipers, sporting high-powered weapons, picked off their quarry with precision, impunity and the blessing of a rancid, racist right-wing Israeli government and millions of complicit Israelis.

On the other side of the fence, brave Palestinians marched as one people - defiant, proud and free - intent on returning to their stolen homes on stolen land.

At the end of the awful day, 60 Palestinians were dead, with thousands more grotesquely injured. One of the killed was eight-month-old Laila Anwar al-Ghandour. She died of tear gas inhalation at dawn on Tuesday at the supposed behest of Hamas, the diabolical theory goes.

Exhibit C: The European Union. The EU's statement was slightly more verbose. But drained of the de rigueur language, it repeated, like a metronome, the words "conflict," "restraint," and "Hamas". Once again, the word "massacre" wasn't employed.

Meanwhile, over at the somnolent Hague, the International Criminal Court's chief prosecutor kept huffing and puffing about how she was keeping a studied eye on Gaza and would "take any action warranted" to prosecute crimes.

These blue-chip diplomats and officials want to deny what we have seen. They not only want to blur the monstrous truth but bury it deep inside a maze of diplomatic double-speak. They want to re-write the horror of what has happened and is happening in Gaza. They want to mollify the murderers at the expense of the ceaseless pain and loss of their victims.

Others, thankfully, have resisted and taken a laudable stand in solidarity with Palestinian humanity and righteousness.

The Irish Prime Minister Taoiseach Leo Varadkar said he was "profoundly shocked" and summoned the Israeli ambassador to convey the Irish people's outrage and dismay directly. Turkey and South Africa have recalled their ambassadors from Israel.

However symbolic, these important acts are a powerful and tangible antidote to the cowardice of charlatans who claim to be "saddened" by the "violence" in Gaza, but do nothing while Palestinian kids are slain and dismembered for playing football on a beach, flying kites and waving flags in Palestine.

Andrew Mitrovica is an award-winning investigative reporter and journalism instructor.

UpFront VIDEO:

Gaza protests: Will Israel stop using deadly force?

fly bird (26)
Thursday May 17, 2018, 8:47 am
Events for 17 May 2018

Pensacola: Pensacola Stands for Palestine!
May 17 @ 4:30 pm - 5:30 pm
Martin Luther King Jr Memorial Plaza, N Palafox St
Pensacola, FL United States

Regina: Emergency Rally for Gaza
May 17 @ 5:00 pm - 6:30 pm
Victoria Park, Victoria Park
Regina, Canada

Milan: Protest for Palestine outside the RAI
May 17 @ 6:00 pm - 8:00 pm
RAI office, Corso Sempione
Milan, Italy

Siena: Rally in Solidarity with the Palestinian People
May 17 @ 6:00 pm - 8:00 pm
Piazza del Duomo, Piazza del Duomo
Siena, Italy

Cologne: 70 Years of Nakba – Solidarity with the Palestinian people
May 17 @ 6:00 pm - 8:00 pm
Hauptbahnhof – Köln, Hauptbahnhof
Cologne, Germany

Saint-Etienne: Rally in support of the Palestinian People
May 17 @ 6:30 pm - 8:00 pm
Place d’Hotel de Ville, place d'Hotel de Ville
Saint-Etienne, France

Events for 18 May 2018

Toronto: Emergency Action for Palestine at Chrystia Freeland’s Office
May 18 @ 12:00 pm - 4:00 pm
Chrystia Freeland’s Office, 344 Bloor St W
Toronto, Canada

Venice: Mobilization Against the Giro d’Italia
May 18 @ 2:30 pm - 3:30 pm
Via Brigata Aosta and Via Zateri, Via Brigata Aosta and Via Zateri
Nervesa della Battaglia, Italy

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

Chicago: Jan Schakowsky – Justice for Palestinian Protesters
May 18 @ 4:00 pm - 5:00 pm
Jan Schakowsky’s Office, 5533 N Broadway St
Chicago, IL United States

Rome: Rally for Palestine at the US Embassy
May 18 @ 4:30 pm - 5:30 pm
Piazza Barberini, Piazza Barberini
Rome, Italy

Nottingham: Gaza – Stop the Massacre
May 18 @ 5:00 pm - 6:00 pm
Brian Clough Statue, King Street
Nottingham, United Kingdom

Tampa: Emergency Rally to Reject US Embassy Move and Israeli Massacres
May 18 @ 5:00 pm - 7:00 pm
N 56th St and East Fowler Ave, N 56th St and East Fowler Ave
Temple Terrace, FL United States

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

Events for 19 May 2018

Glasgow: End Israel’s Bloody Massacre in Gaza
May 19 @ 11:30 am - 1:00 pm
Buchanan Steps, Buchanan Steps
Glasgow, United Kingdom

London: End British Support for Israel! Solidarity with Gaza!
May 19 @ 12:00 pm - 2:00 pm
Barclays Bank London, Tottenham Court Road 190
London, United Kingdom

Cardiff: Gaza – Stop the Massacre
May 19 @ 12:30 pm - 2:00 pm
Nye Bevan Statue, Queen Street
Cardiff, United Kingdom

Bonn: 70 years of expulsion and occupation are enough!
May 19 @ 2:00 pm - 4:00 pm
Münsterplatz, Münsterplatz
Bonn, Germany

Clermont-Farrand: Nakba – Gaza – BDS Demonstration
May 19 @ 3:00 pm - 5:00 pm
Place de Jaude, Place de Jaude
Clermont-Farrand, France

Montpellier: Stand with Gaza – Protest the Massacre
May 19 @ 3:00 pm - 5:00 pm
Place de la Comedie, Place de la Comedie
Lyon, France

Florence: Protest to support Palestine and its resistance
May 19 @ 3:00 pm - 5:00 pm
Piazza di San Marco, Piazza di San Marco
Florence, Italy

Hamburg: Freedom for Palestine – Stop the Massacre in Gaza!
May 19 @ 3:30 pm - 5:00 pm
Hamburg Hauptbahnhof, Hachmannplatz
Hamburg, Germany

Milan: March in support of Palestinian Resistance
May 19 @ 5:00 pm - 7:00 pm
Piazza San Babila, Piazza San Babila
Milan, Italy

Events for 20 May 2018

Anaheim: Nakba 70 and the Great March of Return
May 20 @ 12:30 pm - 2:30 pm
611 S Brookhurst St, 611 S Brookhurst St
Anaheim, CA United States

Boston: Commemorating the 70th anniversary of the Nakba in Palestine
May 20 @ 4:00 pm - 6:00 pm
City School, 614 Columbia Road
Dorchester, MA United States

fly bird (26)
Thursday May 17, 2018, 9:00 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.

fly bird (26)
Friday May 18, 2018, 7:19 pm
‘Killing Gaza’: A New Documentary on Palestinians Under Siege. 23:15
May 18, 2018

In their new film “Killing Gaza,” journalists Dan Cohen and Max Blumenthal capture the harrowing stories of Palestinians who survived the 2014 Israeli assault, and their struggles to recover and persist under a crippling blockade. Watch video.
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