Apparently Google Play has just pulled from its virtual shelves a new hit game – “Bomb Gaza”. The game – previously available for both iPhone and Android – required the player to bomb military targets in virtual Gaza while avoiding killing civilians wherever possible!
It’s hard to think of a game that could dredge the bottom of the bad-taste barrel any more effectively. Not only does it caricature the suffering and death of so many Gazan people but it simultaneously supports the Zionist narrative that allows the blood-letting continue by depicting the assaulting army as a group of concerned humanitarians, only wanting to defend themselves against faceless assailants armed with all sorts of scary weaponry.
My feeling is that rather than retire the game, a greater service would be done to the online community if the rules could be re-written so as to make the game more educational by bringing it into greater accordance with reality.
For a start, the object of “Bomb Gaza” should be for the assailant to simply destroy everything – combatants, civilians, men, women and children, civilian infrastructure, schools and hospitals, with special bonus points being scored for every mosque or church that’s hit while worshippers are still inside!
This would make for satisfying gameplay, I’m sure, even if a little less challenging to begin with. But in the rewritten game, the real challenge would take place at the end of each level where, once the village has been flattened and every creature that had breath has been extinguished, the player would have to convince ‘the boss’ that all civilian deaths were actually unavoidable accidents!
At this point the player would be able to choose from a variety of well-worn excuses, ranging from outright denial to sophisticated obfuscation:
- We cannot confirm that the school was actually targeted
- That UN compound was actually hit by Hamas rockets that missed their targets
- Hamas was storing weapons in the hospital’s basement
- Hamas was using the murdered children as human shields
These would be high-scoring defences. Less effective defences would include claims that a ‘mistake’ was made or that there was ‘collateral damage’. Appeals to The Holocaust would entail a loss of credibility points.
Perhaps this sort of diplomatic work is beyond the scope of the small-screen-game-playing demographic? I don’t know, but when I look at the list of excuses used to justify the murder of so many people in Gaza, one does wonder whether the Israeli propaganda department is run by a 12-year-old child.
Having said that, high-level politicians and dignitaries around the world continue to pay homage to the propaganda of the Israeli military machine. It does make you wonder what sort of game they are playing!
Here’s another wonderful offering from Uni Avnery, founder of Gush Shalom (the Israeli Peace Bloc). It’s his review of the now famous “5 Broken Cameras”.
I haven’t seen this movie yet. Hopefully it will start appearing on Australian screens soon. In terms of influencing public opinion, a good movie can achieve more than a thousand pieces of media propaganda!
“Ich bin ein Bil’iner!”
THIS DOES not happen every day: a Minister of Culture publicly rejoices because a film from her country has NOT been awarded an Oscar. And not just one film, but two.
It happened this week. Limor Livnat, still Minister of Culture in the outgoing government, told Israeli TV she was happy that Israel’s two entries for Oscars in the category of documentary films, which made it to the final four, did lose in the end.
Livnat, one of the most extreme Likud members, has little chance of being included in the diminishing number of Likud ministers in the next government. Perhaps her outburst was meant to improve her prospects.
Not only did she attack the two films, but she advised the semi-official foundations which finance Israeli films to exercise “voluntary self-censorship and deprive such unpatriotic films of support, thus making sure that they will not be produced at all.
THE TWO documentaries in question are very different in character.
One, The Gatekeepers, is a collection of testimonies by six successive chiefs of the General Security Service, Israel’s internal intelligence agency, variously known by its Hebrew initials Shin Bet or Shabak. In the US its functions are performed by the FBI. (The Mossad is the equivalent of the CIA.)
All six service chiefs are harshly critical of the Israeli prime ministers and cabinet ministers of the last decades. They accuse them of incompetence, stupidity and worse.
The other film, 5 Broken Cameras, tells the story of the weekly protest demonstrations against the “separation” fence in the village of Bil’in, as viewed through the cameras of one of the villagers.
One may wonder how two films like these made it to the top of the Academy awards in the first place. My own (completely unproven) conjecture is that the Jewish academy members voted for their selection without actually seeing them, assuming that an Israeli film could not be un-kosher. But when the pro-Israeli lobby started a ruckus, the members actually viewed the films, shuddered, and gave the top award to Searching for Sugar Man.
I HAVE not yet had a chance to see The Gatekeepers. In spite of that, I am not going to write about it.
However, I have seen 5 Broken Cameras several times – both in the cinema and on the ground.
Limor Livnat treated it as an “Israeli” film. But that designation is rather problematical.
First of all, unlike other categories, documentaries are not listed according to nationality. So it was not, officially, “Israeli”.
Second, one of its two co-producers protested vehemently against this designation. For him, this is a Palestinian film.
As a matter of fact, any national designation is problematical. All the material was filmed by a Palestinian, Emad Burnat. But the co-editor, Guy Davidi, who put the filmed material into its final shape, is Israeli. Much of the financing came from Israeli foundations. So it would be fair to say that it is a Palestinian-Israeli co-production.
This is also true for the “actors”: the demonstrators are both Palestinians and Israelis. The soldiers are, of course, Israelis. Some of members of the Border Police are Druze (Arabs belonging to a marginal Islamic sect.)
When the last of Emad Burnat’s sons was born, he decided to buy a simple camera in order to document the stages of the boy’s growing up. He did not yet dream of documenting history. But he took his camera with him when he joined the weekly demonstrations in his village. And from then on, every week.
BIL’IN IS a small village west of Ramallah, near the Green Line. Few people had ever heard of it before the battle.
I heard of it for the first time some eight years ago, when Gush Shalom, the peace organization to which I belong, was asked to participate in a demonstration against the expropriation of some of its lands for a new settlement, Kiryat Sefer (“Town of the Book”).
When we arrived there, only a few new houses were already standing. Most of the land was still covered with olive trees. In following protests, we saw the settlement grow into a large town, totally reserved for ultra-orthodox Jews, called Haredim, “those who fear (God)”. I passed through it several times, when there was no other way to reach Bil’in, and never saw a single man there who was not wearing the black attire and black hat of this community.
The Haredim are not settlers per se. They do not go there for ideological reasons, but just because they need space for their huge number of offspring. The government pushes them there.
What made this first demonstration memorable for me was that the village elders emphasized, in their summing-up, the importance of non-violence. At the time, non-violence was not often heard about in Palestinian parlance.
Non-violence was and remains one of the outstanding qualities of the Bil’in struggle. From the first demonstration on, week after week, year after year, non-violence has been the hallmark of the protests.
Another mark was the incredible inventiveness. The elders have long ago given way to the younger generation. For years, these youngsters strived to fill every single demonstration with a specific symbolic content. On one occasion, protesters were carried along in iron cages. On another, we all wore masks of Mahatma Gandhi. Once we brought with us a well-known Dutch pianist, who played Schubert on a truck in the midst of the melee. On yet another protest, the demonstrators chained themselves to the fence. At another time, a football match was played in view of the settlement. Once a year, guests are invited from all over the world for a symposium about the Palestinian struggle.
THE FIGHT is mainly directed at the “Separation” Fence, which is supposed to separate between Israel and the occupied Palestinian territories. In built-up areas it is a wall, in open spaces it is a fence, protected on both sides by a broad stretch of land for patrol roads and barbed wire. The official purpose is to prevent terrorists from infiltrating into Israel and blowing themselves up here.
If this were the real purpose, and were the wall built on the border, nobody could fairly object. Every state has the right to protect itself. But that is only part of the truth. In many regions, the wall/fence cuts deeply into Palestinian territory, ostensibly to protect settlements, in reality to annex land. This is the case in Bil’in.
The original fence cut the village off from most of its lands, which were earmarked for the enlargement of the settlement now called Modi’in Illit (“Upper Modi’in”). The real Modi’in is an adjacent township within the Green Line.
In the course of the struggle, the villagers appealed to the Israeli Supreme Court, which finally accepted part of their claim. The government was ordered to move the fence some distance nearer to the Green Line. This still leaves a lot of land for the settlement.
In practice, the complete wall/fence annexes almost 10% of the West Bank to Israel. (Altogether, the West Bank constitutes a mere 22% of the country of Palestine as it was before 1948.)
ONCE EMAD BURNAT started to take pictures, he could not stop. Week after week he “shot” the protests, while the soldiers shot (without quotation marks) at the protesters.
Tear gas and rubber-coated steel bullets were used by the military every week. Sometimes, live ammunition was employed. Yet in all the demonstrations I witnessed, there was not a single act of violence by the protesters themselves – Palestinians, Israelis or international activists. The demonstrations usually start in the center of the village, near the mosque. When the Friday prayers end (Friday is the Muslim holy day), some of the devout join the young people waiting outside, and a march to the fence, a few kilometers away, commences.
At the fence, the clash happens. The protesters push forward and shout, the soldiers launch tear gas, stun grenades and rubber bullets. The gas canisters hit people (Rachel, my wife, had a big bruise on her thigh for months, where a canister had hit her. Rachel was already carrying a fatal liver disease and was strictly warned by her doctor not to come near tear gas. But she could not resist taking photos close up.)
Once the melee starts, boys and youngsters – not the demonstrators themselves – on the fringes usually start to throw stones at the soldiers. It is a kind of ritual, a test of courage and manhood. For the soldiers this is a pretext for increasing the violence, hitting people and gassing them.
Emad shows it all. The film shows his son grow up, from baby to schoolboy, in between the protests. It also shows Emad’s wife begging him to stop. Emad was arrested and seriously injured. One of his relatives was killed. All the organizers in the village were imprisoned again and again. So were their Israeli comrades. I testified at several of the trials in the military court, located in a large military prison camp.
The Israeli protesters are barely seen in the film. But right from the beginning, Jews played an important part in the protests. The main Israeli participants are the “Anarchists against the Wall”, a very courageous and creative group. (Gush Shalom activist Adam Keller is shown in a close-up, trying out a passive resistance technique he had learned in Germany. Somehow it did not work. Perhaps you need German police for it.)
If the film does not do full justice to the Israeli and international protesters, that is quite understandable. The aim was to showcase the Palestinian non-violent resistance.
In the course of the struggle, one of Emad’s cameras after another was broken. He is now wielding camera No. 6.
THIS IS a story of heroism, the heroic struggle of simple villagers for their lands and their country.
Long after Limor Livnat will be forgotten, people will remember the Battle of Bil’in.
President Barack Obama would be well advised to see this film before his forthcoming visit to Israel and Palestine.
Some years ago, I was asked to make the laudatory speech at a Berlin ceremony, in which the village of Bil’in and the “Anarchists against the Wall” were decorated for their courage.
Slightly paraphrasing President John Kennedy’s famous speech in Berlin, I proposed that every decent person in the world should proudly proclaim: “Ich bin ein Bil’iner!”
This week, veteran 60 Minutes producer Harry Radliffe threw Overtime a real plum: the story of Taybeh.
He and correspondent Bob Simon stumbled on the tiny village of Taybeh while they were in the West Bank, reporting on the Holy Land’s vanishing population of Christians.
What makes Taybeh the last all-Christian village in the Holy Land? The village has no mosque and is home to three distinct Christian communities: Roman Catholics, Greek Orthodox and Melkite Greek Catholics.
Taybeh’s roots are deep, and for Christians, important: the biblical name of the village is Ephraim. According to the Bible, Jesus Christ came to Taybeh from Jerusalem before his crucifixion. John 11:54 states: "Jesus therefore walked no more openly among the Jews; but went thence unto a country near to the wilderness, into a city called Ephraim, and there continued with his disciples."
The name of the village was changed from Ephraim to Taybeh around 1187, by the Islamic leader Saladin.
Today, Taybeh’s population is dwindling, down to around 1500. The majority of Christians there are Greek Orthodox.
But have faith. The town’s resident Roman Catholic priest, Father Raed Abu Sahlia, isn’t going anywhere. As he told Bob Simon with a smile:
"I will assure you that even if all the Christians of the Holy Land will leave, and I will remain alone, I will get married, we will start another new generation."
Click to view video: www.cbsnews.com……
The following press-release was issued by Israeli peace group, Gush-Shalom (Hebrew for ‘Peace Block’).
Urgent appeal – please write to Israel’s Defense Minister Ehud Barak, by fax and email, and either use the sample letter in the end or make your own. Why it is needed, you find in the following press release.
Press Release January 30, 2012
Occupation rule’s cynical game with the small village of Aqaba. Brigadier General Almaz makes a personal visit, promising to "look into the complaints"
Then, his representative issues 25 demolition orders – in a village consisting of 45 houses in all
In a letter to Defense Minister Ehud Barak, Gush Shalom warns of a cynical game played by the occupation rule in the small village of Aqaba, the east of Jenin, which is over many years the target of repeated raids by the Military Government’s Civil Administration, destroying houses and basic infrastructure. "A month ago they were here last time," Mayor Haj Sami Sadeq told Gush Shalom. "They destroyed our access road, which we call ‘The Peace Road’ and demolished several houses. When the children who had been thrown out of their homes were crying, the soldiers posed for souvenir photos on the bulldozer, smiling and laughing".
In recent years, there was some interest in the village of Aqaba on the international scene, when an American human rights group called "The Rebuilding Alliance" raised the issue in meetings with Representatives and Senators and invited the village’s mayor to a lecture tour in the United States. Following this international interest in the issue, the Civil Administration head Brigadier General Motti Almaz, made an unprecedented personal visit to the village.
I "He sat with me at the local council offices. I told him: ‘You’re destroying our homes and we build them again. What else can we do? This is our village, we have nowhere else to go. I told him that in our village there had never been clashes with the army, neither in the First Intifada nor in the Second one. For years the army carried out training with live ammunition among the village houses, villagers were killed and wounded. I personally, the mayor, was hit at a young age and remain in a wheelchair for life, and yet I feel no bitterness or hatred. I support peace. I just ask that they live us alone. I asked Almaz to approve a zoning plan for our village so that we can build legally. I asked him to allow us to rebuild the access road to the village – with our own money and labor, just that they don’t destroy it. I asked him to let us build a school on 42 dunums of state land which are in the middle of the village and which we can’t use. To allow us to be linked to the water pipe, so that we will no longer need to fetch water by tankers, at twenty Shekels per cubic meter. I told him that ten years ago, the electricity pylons at the entrance to the village were pulled down, and in 1999 Knesset Members wrote to Defence Minster Ehud Barak and he gave instructions not to touch our electricity – but still, two months ago they came and again pulled down twenty pylons. I put all problems and issues to Brigadier General Almaz, and for everything I said he answered ‘We will look into it’, ‘We will take care of it’. And he went off.
What happened next? A few days later there arrived in our village the local representative of the Civil Administration, a man named Yigal (he does not tell his family name) and started handing out demolition orders. Demolition orders for houses, for cattle sheds, even for the tabun bread ovens. Seventeen demolition orders in total. And he told us, this whole village is illegal, everything must be destroyed. Is this the ‘looking into it’ which the Civil Administration Head promised us? Then the Head of the Jenin Area Civil Administration, located at the Salem Chekpoint, came to our village. I asked him ‘Why did you send us Yigal with the demolition orders?’ And he said: ‘No, I did not sent him, this did not come from me’. And then. after another few days Yigal came back with another eight demolition orders. Demolition orders also for our kindergarten and clinic. A total of 25 demolition orders for a village which consists of 45 houses in all. So what am I to do now? What can I tell villagers who ask me ‘You are talking about peace. Where is your peace?’ "
Adam Keller, Gush Shalom spokesperson, wrote to Defense Minister Barak: "There are two ways of interpreting this, one of them bad and the other even worse. Either the Civil Administration plays a cynical game of ‘Good Cop, Bad Cop’, or in truth the Civil Administration Head does not control the people who are supposed to be under his command, and they run their own independent policy. In both cases, this abomination must be stopped. The residents of Aqaba should have the right to live safely and in dignity at their homes and in their village."
Meir Margalit, Israeli Committee against House Demolitions +972-54-4345503