Category Archives: Israel

To Israel – if you want peace, end the occupation.

Once again the conflict in Israel/Palestine has reached the pages of our media and the screens of our TV. As usual this is because it is Jewish Israelis that are the victims of the violence. When Jews in Israel get killed or threatened it is world news. When Palestinians suffer the same fate, our media is strangely silent. Yet it is Palestinians who suffer most of the violence.  On an almost daily basis some Palestinians are subjected to violent aggression by Israelis, often resulting in deaths. The aggression by Israelis, whether illegal settlers or the army, is so pervasive and so regular, that it has ceased to be regarded as “news”. Violence of one kind or another against Palestinians is the norm. It is only when there is a massive Israeli invasion of Gaza or as now, when Jewish Israelis are the victims that the rest of the world sits up and takes notice.

Violent attacks against Jewish Israelis should not come as a surprise. What is surprising is that there are so few instances of violence against Jews. After all Palestine is under occupation. And people everywhere tend to resent occupation and try to resist in all ways possible, including the use of violence. Israeli journalist, Noam Sheifaz succinctly sums up the predicament of Palestinians: “The Palestinians are always subject to the violence of the occupation, which is daily as it is arbitrary, while Israelis primarily enjoy quiet and prosperity. The “Israeli-Palestinian conflict,” most of the time, exists for one side and one side only. The Palestinians are prisoners in their own land. They cannot move around freely, they cannot enter and exit their country. Receiving visitors is dependent on the goodwill of the Israeli military regime. The same goes for keeping roads open and building new neighbourhoods and even individual homes. They are entirely dependent on the goodwill of Israel for protection against attacks by Jews, and the Israeli army has never viewed protecting the Palestinian population as part of its mission in controlling the Palestinian territories. They are judged in Israeli military courts, they can be imprisoned without charge or trial, and on and on. And of course, they have no political rights like voting or political representation.”

It cannot be emphasise enough that for Jewish Israelis there is no conflict or violence for most of the time. When they do suffer from a violent outbreak they always blame the Palestinians. Very few Jewish Israelis ever stop to think about why Palestinians resort to violence. If they were to stop and reflect for even a moment they would quickly realise that the root cause of Palestinian resistance and violence is the occupation. To quote Noam Sheifaz again: “We have to remind ourselves over and over and over again: the occupation is the ultimate terrorist infrastructure. One must be especially blind to think that extreme inequality and more than half a century of oppression could bring about any other result.” Both quotes are from a recent article by Sheifaz, Israel still holds all the cards, for the online magazine 972.

The power to end the violence remains with Israel. Only Israel can act to halt settlement building and begin the process of ending the occupation. Alas without outside pressure from the BDS movement this is the one thing that most Israelis are unwilling to do. Much easier to just blame and keep on killing Palestinians.

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In Defence of Hamas and Hezbollah

One of the persistent attacks on Jeremy Corbyn is to portray him as anti-semitic and a friend of terrorists. He has met all kinds of apparently nasty people and has defended both Hamas and Hezbollah. These two organisations are still regarded by the establishment as terrorist organisations. However Jeremy Corbyn is quite right to speak up on their behalf. Their designation as terrorists is meaningless. It is also worth noting that they are very different organisations, working in different countries. They do have some things in common though. The leadership of both tends to be very socially conservative and strict in religious observance. Many of their followers will also fall into this category, but by no means all. For both Hamas and Hezbollah are also providers of social, welfare, health and education services.  But above all both are primarily resistance movements. Which means, like all resistance movements in history, they will when necessary, resist with arms. And this is what the British, American and Israeli establishments most dislike about them.

There are significant differences between the two organisations. Hamas operates solely in Palestine. Like most Palestinians its members are predominantly Sunni Moslems. It was formed to offer a more steadfast resistance to the Israeli occupation of Palestine. An occupation which is illegal under international law and contrary to almost all UN resolutions. Despite this Israel continues to steal Palestinian land. What remains of Palestine in the West Bank, East Jerusalem and Gaza is effectively an open air prison. Israel controls just about everything, including the right to travel, both within Palestine and without. Unlike Fatah, which sold away almost all of the Palestinians’ cards with the Oslo agreements, agreements that Israel has never honoured, Hamas refuses to willingly accept Israeli demands for yet more subservience.

For this refusal to accept permanent second class rights in their homeland, Israel has repeatedly tried to obliterate Hamas as a movement, with regular invasions of Gaza and incursions into the West Bank. Israel clearly does not care that in waging war on Hamas their military murders thousands of innocent Palestinians, with their massive reservoir of jet fighter planes, tanks and warships. These Israeli wars are nothing less than the slaughter of innocents. Yet it is Hamas that gets called the terrorist. Welcome to the double speak of the western world!

Hezbollah on the other hand is a purely Lebanese movement. Unlike Hamas, Hezbollah is primarily a Shia Moslem movement. It was formed to represent, protect and advocate for the rights of the Shia minority in Lebanon. The Lebanon is a multi religious country with three main communities. Historically the Maronite Christians have been at the apex of Lebanese society and have dominated the offices of the state and the economy. Second in importance came the Sunni Moslem community, with the Shia more or less at the bottom of the heap. They were among the poorest and least represented people in Lebanon. However over the past decades the Shia have grown in numbers and by many unofficial estimates, due to the lack of any official census, the Shia may well be the largest community in the country. Alas for them they still remain third in the pecking order for state and government positions.

As well as representing and advocating for their own religious community, Hezbollah has always been at the forefront of resistance to Israeli aggression and occupation. It seems to be somehow forgotten but Israel has a nasty record of invasion and occupation of Lebanon. The south of the county has borne the brunt of these illegal invasions and occupations. And the south of Lebanon is where most of the Shia community resides. So it was not surprise that it was Shia groups, the largest and most important of which was Hezbollah, which led the resistance and fight back against Israel. Yet once again as with Palestine the aggressor, Israel gets off with barely a slap on the wrist from the west, while the victims, Hezbollah, get tarred as terrorists.

Absent further Israeli invasions of Lebanon, Hezbollah is most unlikely to get involved in any action against Israel. Its prime concern is the welfare and rights of the Shia community in Lebanon. As such they deserve our support and understanding. As does Hamas. As the main standard bearers of resistance to Israeli aggression, which goes on unabated, and mostly unreported in the west, Hamas will remain in the sights of the Israeli military. We should not be surprised if they from time to time choose to respond in kind.

In both Lebanon and Palestine the real aggressors and promoters of terror is israel and its unrelenting determination to absorb all of Palestine. Time for Justice for Palestine.

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Filed under Israel, Middle East, Palestine