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Free Palestine

I reprint below an excerpt from an article by Steven Sahiounie – a Syrian journalist and friend. The bulk of this article, published in the Middle East Discourse, is an interview with Palestinian writer and political analyst, Jafar Ramini, who points out that this savage attack on Gaza may, ironically, serve to bring unity between the various Palestinian factions – something that the Palestinians have struggled to accomplish on their own!

Father Dave


How can we look at Palestine with no moral compass and no sense of justice or fair play?

“This is truly a massacre that cannot be described,” said Dr. Al Reesh at the al-Shifa Hospital which received the bodies of 10 Palestinians killed, including eight children, and 15 people wounded by an Israeli air raid on the Shati Refugee Camp in the Gaza strip in the hours of Friday night and Saturday morning.  Among the dead were visiting relatives of a family on the second day of the Al-Fitr holiday.

Shati is the third largest of the Gaza Strip’s eight refugee camps and one of the most crowded, with more than 85,000 refugees, according to the United Nations refugee agency.

The crisis began Monday, following days of protests against the forced expulsion of Palestinian families in Sheikh Jarrah, a neighborhood in East Jerusalem. Israeli security forces brutally crackdown on the peaceful protests, and further inflamed tensions with a raid on the Al-Aqsa mosque, preventing prayers in the holy month of Ramadan. This unprovoked Israeli aggression led to Hamas firing rockets at Israel.

The Israeli bombardment of Gaza has killed at least 139 Palestinians, including 40 children, and wounded more than 920 since Monday. Palestinians in the occupied West Bank began protesting at security checkpoints in solidarity with their countrymen in Gaza under siege. Israeli forces have killed at least 13 in the West Bank while Palestinians who hold Israeli citizenship rose in protests in mixed cities such as Lod, where Jews attacked their Palestinian neighbors and damaged homes and businesses.

To better understand the current crisis, and the underlying root causes, Steven Sahiounie of MidEastDiscourse reached out to Jafar Ramini, a Palestinian writer and political analyst and activist born in May 1943 in Jenin, northern Palestine. He was educated at Jenin local secondary school and then completed his education in London where he has resided for the past 53 years. In January 2021 he moved to Perth, Western Australia. Jafar lectures, and writes, and appears regularly on various international TV networks explaining both the history and modern-day politics of the Palestinian NAKBA.  At 78 years old he is still as passionate and as vocal as he has always been and has traveled extensively through Europe, the Middle East, and North America looking for the answer to a question that still eludes him.  Why have successive US Administrations since Harry Truman, supported Israel and its land-grabbing theft and ethnic cleansing of Palestine so blind-folded? And why do the UK, Canada, and Australia follow their lead without question? It would seem, says Jafar that we look at a country and a people with no moral compass and no sense of justice or fair play.

1.  Steven Sahiounie (SS):  What is your opinion of the report by Human Rights Watch labeling “Israel” as an Apartheid state?

Jafar Ramini (JR):  Of course I support the Human Rights Watch declaration that Israel is an Apartheid state.  It is about time it was recognized as such having been practicing Apartheid, albeit undercover, since the inception of the Zionist state.  Now with the Nation-State Bill passed into law on1 May 1918 declaring that only Jews in Israel have the right to self-determination it is an unapologetic, unashamed admission of Apartheid as you could get. Israeli Arabs may have, so far, the right to vote but their vote is of little consequence and in all other matters they are second or even third-class citizens in Israel. As for the West Bank, occupied since the six-day war of June 1967 with citizens having no rights of any kind and for Gaza, continually under siege and especially now with this latest savage bombardment the Palestinian people have been described by Bishop Desmond Tutu under a worse version of Apartheid than South Africa in the 60s and 70s.

read the rest of this article here.

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I thought this was anti-Semitic fake news. Then I saw it confirmed on the Amnesty International website! Surely the world will not tolerate this sort of blatant race discrimination? Surely the people of Israel will not tolerate this? 

The following details come from an article by Ramzy Baroud, first published on Countercurrents.

There is no legal or moral justification for Israel’s action. The Fourth Geneva Convention of 1949 asserts that an Occupying Power has the “duty of ensuring and maintaining … the medical and hospital establishments and services” with “particular reference” on taking the “preventive measures necessary to combat the spread of contagious diseases and epidemics.”

Even the Oslo Accords, despite their failure to address many crucial topics pertaining to the freedom of the Palestinian people, oblige both sides “to cooperate in combating epidemics and to assist each other in times of emergency,” the New York Times reported.

Not all Israeli officials deny that Israel is legally compelled to provide Palestinians with the help required to contain the rapid spread of the pandemic. This admission, however, comes with conditions. Former Israeli Ambassador, Alan Baker, told NYT that, while international law does “place an obligation on Israel” to help in the provision of vaccines to Palestinians, Palestinians must first release several Israeli soldiers who were captured in Gaza during and after the 2014 war.

The irony in Baker’s logic is that Israel holds over 5,000 Palestinian prisoners, including women and children, hundreds of whom are imprisoned without trial or due process.

The captured Israelis are held in Gaza as a bargaining chip, to be exchanged for the easing of Israel’s hermetic blockade on the densely populated Strip. One of the Palestinians’ main demands for the release of the soldiers is that Israel allows for the transfer of medical equipment and life-saving medication to the two million people of the Gaza Strip. International and Palestinian human rights groups have long reported on many unnecessary deaths among Palestinians in Gaza because Israel deliberately prevents Gazan hospitals from acquiring cancer medications.

Long before the onset of the coronavirus, Israel has weaponized medicine, and Gaza’s dilapidated health sector is a standing testimony to this injustice.

Perhaps, the overcrowded Israeli prisons remain the glaring testimony of Israel’s mishandling of the COVID-19 outbreak. Despite repeated calls by the United Nations and, particularly, the World Health Organization, that states should take immediate measures to help ease the crisis in their prison systems, Israel has done little for Palestinian prisoners. Al Haq reported that Israel “has taken no adequate measures to improve provision of healthcare and hygiene for Palestinian prisoners” in line with the WHO “guidance for preventing COVID-19 outbreak in prisons.” The consequences were dire, as the spread of COVID among Palestinian prisoners continues to claim new victims at a much higher ratio compared with Israeli prisoners.

Israel’s intentional hampering of Palestinian efforts to fight COVID is consistent with a trajectory of racism, where colonized Palestinians are exploited for their land, water and cheap labor, while never factoring as a priority on Israel’s checklist, even during the time of a deadly pandemic. Israel is an Occupying Power that refuses to acknowledge or respect any of its basic obligations as an Occupying Power under international law.

For the complete article, click here.

 

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Thank you to Julian Borger for having the courage to raise the question that nobody dares to ask – why is there one standard for Iran to adhere to when it comes to nuclear weapons and a totally different one for Israel?

The Israeli nuclear stockpile is the elephant in the room in every discussion about the Iranian nuclear program. Since 1986 we’ve had conclusive proof that Israel has an enormous stockpile of nukes, thanks to the self-sacrificial actions of my dear friend, Mordechai Vanunu. Vanunu took pictures of the bombs under construction and his photos revealed an arsenal larger and more advanced than anybody had guessed, and it must only have grown since then!

Even after completing 18 years in prison, Morde Vanunu is still in virtual captivity – unable to leave Israel and live a normal life, free from the constant harassment of the security services. Borger’s article also gives us a clue as to why Israel insists on this continued confinement. The state is probably afraid that Morde will report on the complicity of the US, France, Germany, Britain and Norway in the development of Israel’s nukes.

In the context of the self-righteous Western rhetoric about Iran, Israel’s nukes are the ultimate tragic irony.

Father Dave

Mordechai Vanunu and me in 2004

with Morde Vanunu – the man who proved that Israel had the bomb – after his release in 2004

source: www.theguardian.com…

The truth about Israel’s secret nuclear arsenal

by Julian Borger

Israel has been stealing nuclear secrets and covertly making bombs since the 1950s. And western governments, including Britain and the US, turn a blind eye. But how can we expect Iran to curb its nuclear ambitions if the Israelis won’t come clean?

Deep beneath desert sands, an embattled Middle Eastern state has built a covert nuclear bomb, using technology and materials provided by friendly powers or stolen by a clandestine network of agents. It is the stuff of pulp thrillers and the sort of narrative often used to characterise the worst fears about the Iranian nuclear programme. In reality, though, neither US nor British intelligence believe Tehran has decided to build a bomb, and Iran‘s atomic projects are under constant international monitoring.

The exotic tale of the bomb hidden in the desert is a true story, though. It’s just one that applies to another country. In an extraordinary feat of subterfuge, Israel managed to assemble an entire underground nuclear arsenal – now estimated at 80 warheads, on a par with India and Pakistan – and even tested a bomb nearly half a century ago, with a minimum of international outcry or even much public awareness of what it was doing.

Despite the fact that the Israel’s nuclear programme has been an open secret since a disgruntled technician, Mordechai Vanunu, blew the whistle on it in 1986, the official Israeli position is still never to confirm or deny its existence.

When the former speaker of the Knesset, Avraham Burg, broke the taboo last month, declaring Israeli possession of both nuclear and chemical weapons and describing the official non-disclosure policy as “outdated and childish” a rightwing group formally called for a police investigation for treason.

Meanwhile, western governments have played along with the policy of “opacity” by avoiding all mention of the issue. In 2009, when a veteran Washington reporter, Helen Thomas, asked Barack Obama in the first month of his presidency if he knew of any country in the Middle East with nuclear weapons, he dodged the trapdoor by saying only that he did not wish to “speculate”.

UK governments have generally followed suit. Asked in the House of Lords in November about Israeli nuclear weapons, Baroness Warsi answered tangentially. “Israel has not declared a nuclear weapons programme. We have regular discussions with the government of Israel on a range of nuclear-related issues,” the minister said. “The government of Israel is in no doubt as to our views. We encourage Israel to become a state party to the nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty [NPT].”

But through the cracks in this stone wall, more and more details continue to emerge of how Israel built its nuclear weapons from smuggled parts and pilfered technology.

The tale serves as a historical counterpoint to today’s drawn-out struggle over Iran’s nuclear ambitions. The parallels are not exact – Israel, unlike Iran, never signed up to the 1968 NPT so could not violate it. But it almost certainly broke a treaty banning nuclear tests, as well as countless national and international laws restricting the traffic in nuclear materials and technology.

The list of nations that secretly sold Israel the material and expertise to make nuclear warheads, or who turned a blind eye to its theft, include today’s staunchest campaigners against proliferation: the US, France, Germany, Britain and even Norway.

read the rest of this article here.

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The New Evolutionary Movement (The N.E.M.) is on the march today.  You will notice in the mailing pasted below that there has been another historical development in the universal Christian Church.  You will also notice that David Brog (who’s Jewish) is quoted in the article for balance.  Brog is CUFI’s Executive Director, and he works closely with Pastor John Hagee (7:24).  Brog and Hagee work so closely together that no light can be seen between them.

Please read this article very, very carefully (full of care).  Those of us who are familiar with Ann’s Blog can see Ann Hafften‘s hand in this development.  Ann’s husband is a Lutheran Pastor in Texas.  Texas is Brother Hagee’s home state.  We can also see the hand of the Reverend Dr. Stephen Sizer (26:15) who’s an Anglican Priest in the UK.  Stephen was one of the presenters at Sabeel’s Fifth International Conference in Jerusalem in April of 2004.  It was at that conference that Sabeel offered the Church a viable, intelligent, comprehensive, deeply satisfying Christian alternative to Christian Zionism.  We can also see the hands of Richard Toll, Doug Willbanks and Don Wagner in this development.  These men are among the leaders of the Friends of Sabeel in North America.  Richard is a retired Episcopal Priest.  Doug is active as a layman.  If I remember right, Doug is non-denominational.  Don is an ordained Minister in the Presbyterian Church.  Notice how robust the Presbyterians are becoming:  Presbyterian network opens new dialogue on Zionism.

Everybody on the ML has been informed that Secretary of State Kerry had an usually productive Meeting at the Vatican yesterday.  Peers, we now have sufficient reasons to be enthusiastic in our optimism about the eventual outcome of the HLPP (the Holy Land Peace Process).  “Naysayers” and “Gatekeepers” would do well to take cover.  For peace … like war … is in the process of being waged.   Please read on.

Peace,
Roy+  

Father Roy

Father Roy

source: www.buzzfeed.com/mckaycoppins/new-evangelical-movement-seeks-split-from-pro-israel-line

(nb. highlights by Father Roy)

New Evangelical Movement Seeks Split From Pro-Israel Line

Dissent within the fold. “This message is resonating with the rising generation,” says Brog.

WASHINGTON — Figures with deep roots in America’s religious right have launched a quiet effort aimed at pushing evangelical Christians away from decades of growing loyalty to Israel and toward increased solidarity with the Palestinians.

The campaign by a coalition of religious leaders, international nonprofits, and activists has taken place in recent years largely behind the scenes and away from the prying eyes of the political press — and it’s being driven by a generation of Evangelicals alienated by the way their faith was yoked to Republican foreign policy during the Bush years. Now, organizations like the Telos Group and the large Christian nonprofit World Vision have joined a small army of ministers and Christian opinion-makers working to reorient Evangelicals’ stance on the Israeli-Palestinian conflict — producing documentaries about the plight of Palestinian Christians, providing theological rationale for a more “balanced” view of the issue, and taking Evangelicals on trips to the Middle East.

The goal is to soften the bulletproof political alliance between American Evangelicals and Israel — forged over decades of successful courtship by Israeli governments and pro-Israel forces in the U.S. — and to make room on the religious right for Palestinian sympathies. If the movement is successful, it would represent a move toward mainline, politically liberal Christian denominations that have long been aligned with the Palestinian cause. The Presbyterian Church USA, for instance, briefly adopted a policy of divesting from some companies doing business in Israel.

The campaign has alarmed America’s most committed Christian supporters of Israel, who acknowledge their rivals’ message is gaining momentum within the church.

“This effort is being led by Palestinian Christians who, while not always Evangelicals, are quite adept at using evangelical language and imagery in their effort to blame Israel and Israel alone for Palestinian suffering,” said David Brog, executive director of Christians United For Israel, a key group in rallying American Christians to the Jewish state. “The movement has gotten louder because they have more money to spend. So we’re seeing more anti-Israel Christian films, speakers, and conferences. It’s very much grasstops, not grassroots.

Brog said his rivals’ fledgling success should push Zionists to engage more actively in the evangelical debate over Israel.

“We’re also seeing some signs that this message is resonating with the rising generation of Evangelicals — the millennial Evangelicals,” Brog added. “So we can’t afford to wait. We must speak out and correct the record before more of our young people are led astray.”

One of the evangelical leaders calling for a more “nuanced” view of the conflict is Todd Deatherage, who spent five years in the Bush State Department before co-founding the Telos Group to expose Evangelicals to the complexities of the issue. He said their purpose is not to persuade Christians to turn against Israel, but rather “to affirm and support the dignity of all the people of the Holy Land, to be truly pro-Israel and pro-Palestinian at the same time.”

To achieve this, his group organizes about 15 trips to Israel every year, where American participants — mostly Evangelicals determined to be open-minded and influential in their respective communities — meet with peace activists, victims of violence on both sides of the conflict, and members of the Bethlehem Bible College, which trains Arab Christian pastors. The objective, Deatherage says, is to “change the conversation” among conservative Christians in the U.S.

“We want people to go on these trips and then go back and change others’ minds by talking about their own experience, taking the things they’ve learned and using them to help others understand what it means to be global citizens,” he said.

Lynne Hybels, an evangelical writer and minister heavily engaged in what she calls the “pro-peace” movement in Israel, was even more blunt about their intentions. She said they hope to “build a political constituency that supports peace and supports policymakers with the courage and commitment to work for peace.” As Hybels sees it, that means occasionally standing up for Palestinians — and not allowing Christian critics to get away with accusing them of “abandoning God’s chosen people.”

There has always been a small vocal minority of American evangelical provocateurs who rail against modern-day Israel at progressive political rallies and in the pages of Sojourners magazine. But the current campaign is attracting attention in large part because its leaders boast the kind of conservative Christian credentials even Mike Huckabee could appreciate.

For example, a 2010 documentary questioning the wisdom of Evangelicals’ unwavering commitment to Israel was endorsed by a top official at World Vision, one of the largest Christian humanitarian organizations in the world. The film has since been screened several times at World Vision events, and it received a favorable review in America’s leading evangelical magazine,Christianity Today, which declared, “Christian Zionism is officially on notice.”

read the rest of this article here

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What is Ehud Olmert up to?

For a man who contributed NOTHING to the Israel/Palestine ‘peace process’ during his term in office, it seems a bit rich of him to come out now criticizing Netanyahu for not taking peace seriously!

Having said that, what Olmert says is entirely correct. Now is an opportune moment for Israel, with no real enemies threatening her, to help establish a viable Palestinian state that will ensure Israel’s own long-term survival in the region.

Perhaps, like so many ex-presidents and ex-prime ministers, Olmert is finding his true voice after leaving office. Or perhaps this is part of a hair-brained scheme to regain power? Either way, I hope the Israeli public take what he says seriously.

Father Dave

Olmert with Rice and Abbas in 2007

Olmert with Rice and Abbas in 2007

source: www.vnews.com…

Olmert Believes Peace Is Possible; Former Israeli Prime Minister Speaks at Dartmouth College

Hanover — Former Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert insisted Tuesday that peace between Israel and Palestine, based on two autonomous states, holds the key to long-term peace in the Middle East.

I n a speech before an overflow crowd at Dartmouth College’s Cook Auditorium, Olmert also endorsed current efforts of the Obama administration and its Western allies to seek some accommodations with Iran over its nuclear capabilities, despite serious objections by current Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu.

“An agreement between Israel and Palestine is the one thing that can help provide the backwind for a wider peace process in the Middle East,” Olmert said. “Israeli leaders need to get rid of this cloud and help deprived people of Palestine attain fundamental human rights. This is in the best long-term interest of Israel. Can it be done? I have no doubt.”

That statement triggered applause from the audience, although at the end of the speech about a dozen young people chanted protests before leaving the hall. Outside, they handed out leaflets stating that their protest was a “die-in” against Israel military operations in Lebanon and the Gaza Strip when Olmert was prime minister between 2006 and 2009.

Olmert, 68, looking trim in a dark suit and red tie, displayed an experienced politician’s métier with flashes of humor and forceful right jabs at the air. He argued that, strategically, Israel is perhaps now in the best position to explore a serious peace initiative with the Palestinians.

Asked in an earlier luncheon with students why Israel seems reluctant to explore peace with the Palestinians, Olmert blamed what he termed a “failure of leadership” by Netanyahu.

“He believes in something very different from me,” he said. “He wants to keep the status quo forever and that is not tactical. Plus he is unable to compromise because 18 out of 20 members of the Likud (Israel’s major center-right party) would not support him.”

Olmert explained his differences with Netanyahu over the Iran negotiations.

“President Obama is trying to find out whether they (the new regime in Iran) are serious or not,” he said. “If not, we will find out. Until then, we owe it to the stability of entire world to find out if Iran is serious.”

Read the rest of this article here.